distractions

There are those days when I don’t feel like socializing or putting on pants. That’s when I either a) lock myself in my apartment with a Modern Family DVD and thin crust pizza b) put on a skirt, grab a cup of coffee, and suck it up. It’s more often the latter due to the never-ending responsibilities that life hands me (class, work, deadlines, due dates, friendships, internships, family obligations, the list continues on and on and on…), but there have been many moments when I wish I could crawl under my covers for hours at a time and not see the light of day. There have been some moments when I’ve done just that. Because I just. can’t. think. anymore.

I have a brain that works at an impossibly fast rate, bouncing from point A to point B to point F to point Z. It’s a distraction, and often times I have trouble finishing the project I started because I’m thinking about the other 1,000 goals and projects and ideas I have. I have wondered before if I suffer from an attention “disorder”, but I have not been medically diagnosed and I don’t think I’m at the point of needing medication. More than anything, I take it as a personality quirk.

 If you know me personally, you also know that I can talk about a million miles a minute. And although I articulate myself well (thanks to years and years of acting classes and tongue twisters), it goes to show how easily my mind bounces around. Which can be very, very problematic. Sometimes I wonder how I ever get anything done.

So I’ve come up with a list for those bouncy, all-over-the-map, mind-racing-a-million-times-a-minute kind of people. I know you’re out there! I know I’m not alone! And if we can establish some good habits, we may actually finish something before its deadline. *Knock on wood*

When you’re crunched for time, when you have a deadline, or when you just want to be goddamn productive, do this:

Put away your phone.

1. *GASP* I know! It’s crazy to think that the technological extension of our bodies will be gone for any point in time (I mean we practically sleep with Siri), and you don’t even have to put it on silent if you’re expecting an important phone call or text, but put. it. aside. Turn up the volume if necessary, but then place it across the room from you and don’t pick it up unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Find your sanctuary.

2. Find out which kind of atmosphere you’re most productive in. For me, it’s a coffee shop or café. Some people cannot work with any noise whatsoever, but I like being surrounded by hustling and bustling people. It actually helps me focus better than being in a quiet library or in my own home. That’s actually where I am right now to write this post, so find your sweet spot, and go to it.

Find out if you work better together, or alone.

3. Do not hang out with distracting people when trying to get something done. For me, this is primarily a problem when I’m studying or doing homework. There are some friends that I can study with and get a lot done. In fact, I prefer to study with people who are in my same classes because it’s really helpful to have other minds to bounce ideas off of, but if you do not have those kinds of individuals to surround yourself with, then opt for being alone. There have been far too many times when I’ve sat down to study and ended up chatting with my buddy across from me for three hours and then had to stay up ’til 3 am finishing a paper. No bueno.

Give yourself a break.

4. Give yourself breaks and time them. How often and for how long is up to you, but for me, I give myself a 5 minute break every 30 minutes if I’m working on an intense project or paper. I cannot concentrate well after about 30 minutes of pure focus anyway, so giving myself a break to either chat, check my phone, or browse the interweb usually helps me get back on track. But that’s only, only if I set a timer for my breaks. Otherwise those 5 minutes turns into 50…

Say goodbye to Facebook stalking.

5. Temporarily deactivate your Facebook. I don’t find this necessary unless I’m facing a particularly difficult finals week… but for some of you, Facebook is the ultimate tool for procrastination. If you are one of those people, just temporarily deactivate your account and don’t reactivate it until you are free from finals or midterms. Just that action alone will probably save you a lot of time.

Caffeinate, caffeinate, caffeinate.

6. Drink coffee (but not too much). This seems obvious coming from a Seattleite, but seriously… Coffee is my life and it helps me stay energized and focused as long as I don’t overdo it. And if by accident I do, then I end up being far more jittery and don’t get anything done. Be careful… but treat yourself to that double shot vanilla latte!

Reward yourself.

7. And lastly, give yourself goals to achieve and reward yourself when you do. They can be as small as getting yourself a treat after you finish at least half of your term paper, or they can be bigger like buying that extremely cozy sweater you’ve been dying to have if you get an A on your term paper. Either way, set yourself up with a reward system and stick to it. Treat yo’self.

Those are some of my tips and tricks for staying on track and gettin’ shit done. As I enter my junior year of college, this has been something I’ve been thinking about… Along with about a million other things… And I hope it helps you, too! Hey! Kudos to you for finishing this entire blog post without getting distracted. Now get off the internet, and get back to work! But promise you’ll come back and visit me soon. xx.

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I have a campus job that allows me to meet new people, talk about my college experience, and occasionally get homework done or scroll through the interweb. I can’t complain! It’s the perfect part-time gig during college. Lately, I’ve seen lots of new faces around. Usually, this is a rarity. I go to a pretty small university, and most of the faces I see around campus, I’ve seen at least once before. But the new faces actually don’t come as a surprise seeing that it’s the beginning of a new school year and freshmen are swarming in every direction – trying to find class, trying to find friends, trying to fit in. I find myself chuckle with familiarity.

This on-campus job provides me with a lot of opportunity for people watching. My coworkers and I get exposed to a lot of situations and stories, as college life plays out right before our eyes. The confused, excited, and overwhelmed expressions I see planted on the faces of new college students passing by has gotten me thinking about my freshman year – some things I did wrong, some things I did right, and everything in-between. I get a lot of questions about college life from my readers and viewers, so I thought I’d share a list of freshman year “do’s and don’ts” that may help ease the transition a bit.

Do push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If that means joining your school’s improv team, sitting with strangers during lunch, or reaching out to get to know your professors, just do it. This is something I wish I had done a lot more of during my first year of college, and I’m insisting you do it now. The absolute worst thing that could happen by doing this is that you feel slightly awkward or uncomfortable, but more likely than not, this is how you’re going to meet your social circle, this is how you’re going to bond with your favorite professor, this is how you’re going to have an absolute ball during your 4 short years of college.

Don’t isolate yourself by clinging to the first friend group you meet. Most people completely change their social circles throughout the first year or two of school. Don’t attach to the first group of people you meet without leaving wiggle room for new friends and new experiences. If you authentically connect with people, then be grateful for meeting them and nourish the friendships! But make sure you put yourself out there to meet others. Widen your social circle and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people in your classes, on your hall, or in your study groups.

Do go to your professor’s office hours. College is fucking expensive – RIDICULOUSLY expensive. You are paying a lot of money for this slip of paper you’re going to receive at the end of these 4 years, so make sure it’s worth it. Of course you’ll learn a lot in actual classrooms or lecture halls, but I found that some of my most fruitful discussions and lessons have come from going to my professor’s office hours and just chatting with him/her. A lot of the time I go in with specific questions for assignments or tests, yes, but I also try to build a bridge between my professor and I, and get to know them and their story. I know the culture of larger universities may frown upon this, but screw the people who do not see the value and importance of taking advantage of your college experience as much as possible. It’s going to fly by – so make every penny count.

Don’t jump into a relationship your first month of school. I know, I know… There are so many new people! There are cute boys and girls every way you turn, and you want to explore the dating scene and find your college sweetheart. Well, don’t. Focus on your friendships first and foremost when it comes to your social life. Those are far, far, far more important than the cute baseball player that sits next to you in your English 101 class. You don’t want to be the person who gets wrapped up in the first romance you come across because it’s exciting and new. Give yourself time to settle into college and connect with friends, then open yourself up to dating. If you do, however, meet somebody you just can’t pass up (because it definitely happens!), make sure you don’t make them the center of your world. I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes college students of all ages make when they’re young and in love.

Do go to college events. Your university will have some kind of student-led group that plans activities and events on and off campus. You may think you’re too cool for school, and you’d rather hit up that party down the block instead of going to a movie night in one of the dorms, but I’m telling you… These events are often way more fun than you realize, and whatever party you’re going to, it’ll probably be filled with annoying frat boys and shitty drinks. I’m not saying to refrain from the party scene entirely – I’m just saying that it’s important to balance it with college events that will allow you to meet and connect with sober individuals.

Don’t act like somebody you’re not to gain approval from a certain social circle. Every college freshman is confused out of their mind, and is searching for some kind of social interaction to make the transition easier. Everybody’s putting up a front and protecting their egos, and that’s natural and okay. But make sure you’re not doing it so much that you’re losing your identity and bonding with the wrong group of friends for you. I think the best way to avoid this is to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Join clubs, go to sporting events, and reach out to people who you have stuff in common with. Ignore the bitchy girls on your floor that think they’re the hottest things since sliced bread, and make room for the people who will be super impressed by the collection of Harry Potter posters you have plastered on your dorm room wall (this was definitely me my freshman year).

All right.. I’m stepping down from my soapbox. Above all, don’t worry too much about anything. Give yourself time to settle in, call home often to check in, and keep reminding yourself to make the most of your college years. I’m halfway through and I feel like I was in my 1st year orientation last week. I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true, though… College has the potential to be some of the best years of your life. Get ready for one hell of a ride!

If you have any more questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to leave them below or tweet me so we can chat! Best wishes and best of luck to all new college students! xx.

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Today is my last day of summer; tomorrow I start the first quarter of my junior year of college. So naturally, it’s time to do a little summer recap.

This summer has been a summer of healing. It has been one of deep sadness and grief. It has been a summer of a loss of identity, and a summer of renewal and growth. It has been by far the most difficult, and most rewarding, time in my life. And as  I turn a new chapter in my story, I stop and look at the one I just finished. I am overcome by how much I gained among all the loss, and how much I found within myself. I found the ability to feel deep depression. I found the strength to step out of that depression. I found self love, compassion, and courage. I found God more than I ever have before, and in that, I found myself, too.

The past few months weren’t like the summer before this one. They weren’t filled with days at the beach, and nights I can barely remember. They weren’t filled with friends, booze, and a deep urgency to lose myself in something external. This summer was about me; helping myself, loving myself, questioning myself. And not in an egotistical way. Not in an inauthentic cover-up kind of way. In a truly beautiful and honest way. In a way that will undoubtedly help me give myself more freely to others and all that I do.

I think the saying is true that time heals all wounds. But I also think there’s an important piece that is left out in that. It’s not just time that heals all, but time with God. Time with yourself. Time to feel, process, understand, misunderstand, start over, question, and begin anew. Time to develop a deeper understanding of your purpose, your relationship with who you are, your relationship with something Bigger, something Grander than whatever you’ve just lost. Time with the Infinite.

Perhaps you’ve just gone through something similar. Just maybe this post resonates with where you’ve just been, or with where you are. Or you may just be starting this journey. You may be in one of the valleys of your life, just wishing, hoping for another peak.

All that I can share is that wherever you are right now, that is exactly where you ought to be. This is a part of your story. And every story has problems, valleys, struggles, dilemmas. It wouldn’t be a story without those pieces. It wouldn’t be life without the downs to compliment the ups. So breathe. Be at peace with where you are. You will come out of this, I promise. And if you let the pain guide you, it may just guide you home. Into exactly who you are. Into exactly who you want to be. Into a true acceptance, peace, and happiness with the beautiful life that is yours.

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I’m sitting in the living room of my childhood home. My family dog, Wayne, is snoring to the left of me, and the wind makes a familiar whoosh sound through the open back door.

Just three more days until I head back to school, and I’m in denial that I’m going to be a junior in college. I look back and realize how slowly the days go by, yet how quickly the years fly. And here I am, back at home, just days before a new school year, packing up my childhood bedroom.

My mom’s selling our house. It’s a long, complicated, and sad story, but it’s time to let it go. I’ve known all summer. And I live on my own now, in the city, somewhat distanced and removed from the suburban life I grew up in. I still have enormous amounts of stuff in my childhood bedroom. It’s ridiculous how much one can accumulate in a mere 20 years. I feel like a hoarder.

I’ve told myself time and time again that I’ll come home and clean out my room. It’s a daunting task, true, but for more emotional reasons than anything else. I’m packing up my life, letting the stagers come in and take over my bedroom, so they can turn it into something entirely different to sell it to some new family. So they can build new memories and new stories in-between these four walls.

I didn’t have the perfect childhood, but I was a very happy child. I saw a lot of pain and struggle, but I was a very happy child. I witnessed a lot of neglect and abuse, but I was a very happy child.

As I put years of elementary, middle, and high school into boxes, I think about how lucky I have been to have a home to create so many memories in. Good or bad, these memories have shaped me. And I think I’m starting to like who I am.

I’m feeling grateful for not only this home, but my wonderful, eccentric, and slightly disturbed little family that made this house a home. As I grow and learn and begin anew, I’m starting to realize regardless where I rest my head at night, my home is always with them.

ghosts hand

Dear you,

Yes, you. You know who you are. And I know that you’re reading this.

What a sad thing that this is our only form of communication now. You checking up on my life over the internet instead of having the decency to ask me directly how I’m doing and what I’m up to.

You hide behind your computer, your phone, your lies. You hide behind the version of yourself you give to the world, hoping nobody catches on. But I did. I caught on. And you ran –  far, far away.

By far, far away, I mean about 10 blocks. On the corner of fearful and immature. On the corner of closed, quiet pain, and self-told lies. How is it there? How does it feel to be you?

You’re broken, fragile, fearful. You’re dishonest, cowardly, hurtful. You’re nowhere near the version of yourself that you present. You’re nowhere near the man that you pretended to be. You’re a little boy in a man’s body. How discouraging, how disillusioning.

For a long while, I felt pretty claustrophobic in there, in the box that you put me in. The walls were airtight and it was pitch black. I could barely breathe, barely see, barely remember how things used to be.

I wonder sometimes if you’ll ever open the lid again – to apologize, to say hi, to say anything. 

Because you came and went so fast. I blinked and you were gone, and it’s been three whole months without a single call, text, word, concern, thought. Nothing.

It hurts to hear about the other girls. It hurts to know that you’re moving from one to the next, knowing that I was just one of the many. You cling and connect with someone, but you flee at the first sight of their flawed humanity. How cruel of you. How hypocritical.

But regardless of who you’re dating today, tomorrow, next week, nothing hurts worse than the silence. Nothing hurts worse than the unanswered questions.

Didn’t you ever learn how to truly respect another person’s humanity? Didn’t you ever learn how to love?

You have so many friends and acquaintances. A quintessential social butterfly you are, as people pine and admire you from afar.

You don’t let anybody close enough to see how incredibly disturbed and alone you really are. And when I came along, when I was the one person you let in, you made me believe in you, you made me believe in us. And then you sucked the life right out of me.

I’ve built a beautiful castle from the ruins you left behind. I’m the queen in my life, completely independent and happy without you. Free, honest, alive.

But I can’t help but wonder how it’ll be in just a few short days when the memories of the past are in the present once again. In your smile, in your laugh, in your eyes.

I wonder what you’ll do when you see me. I wonder what you’ll do when I’m around again. I know you once loved me, once cared for me. I know because of how distanced you’ve become. How much space you’ve put between you and I. So it makes it easier for you to pretend. But the space is closing in on you now, stranger, and you must now face the damage you’ve caused.

Dear stranger, you’re not a stranger to me. I know you. I see right through you. I understand who you truly are, and what you’re truly capable of. And one day, so will the rest of the world.

Truth always has a funny way of revealing itself. And you know what it has revealed to me? You have taught me far more than you could ever take from me. Thank you.