banksy art phone

Art courtesy of Banksy.

It’s difficult to find true connection, commitment, and friendship in the 21st century. It’s not easy to bust down the barrier of our technology-filled lives; it’s like breaking and entering into somebody’s heart. Everybody’s got theirs completely surrounded by gadgets and gizmos of all kinds – phones, Netflix, laptops, Facebook, iPads, computers, stereos, Twitter, kindles, Instagram, TVs, blue-ray, Snapchat – the list goes on and on and on. And I’m guilty of it, too. Focusing on my phone when I should be focusing on the person in front of me. Trying to multitask with 3 different social media sites when I really should be focusing solely on my homework. Answering phone calls when I should be answering the people I’m sitting across the table from. I’ve made the deal with the devil, too, and I’m suffering for it just as much as the next person.

Just yesterday I was at a going away party for a friend that’s moving to France for two years. We were all laughing, reminiscing, and chatting most of the night, but we all had our phones in our hands… at beck and call just in case anybody were to text or snapchat us. After the party, I decided to stop and visit a friend that just moved into his new apartment on my walk home. We were catching up and making plans and talking, but he kept looking down at his phone to respond to texts or change the music on his stereo. And I couldn’t help but feel entirely disconnected from somebody I usually feel a really authentic bond with. I knew I was competing with his virtual reality, and I knew I was losing.

This morning I was reading an article on Elite Daily called How Sex Isn’t The Only Form of Infidelity These Days, and it was ridden with examples of how incredibly dull and drab our relationships have become due to our incessant obsession with the World Wide Web. It was focusing primarily on romantic relationships, but I think it points at some valid truth about all types of relationships and friendships: we care far more about the people we follow on Instagram than the people who are sitting right in front of us. We don’t hesitate to “like” photos of strangers and their seemingly perfect lives, but we don’t tell those we love how incredibly valuable and beautiful they are to us. We would rather subtweet our frustrations or hurt rather than confront and be honest with the people who have caused us pain.

I don’t understand it. I don’t see the value in that type of behavior, and I know that I’ve a culprit in this game just as much as anybody else. Who are we becoming? What kind of future are we creating for our children if we perpetuate this kind of barren and disconnected communication? What are we setting ourselves up for? Sad, lonely lives, I think. Lives that are lived online, but never in Love.

I’m not advocating for a technology free life. I see the value, importance, and immense progress we’ve made through the development of technology. What I am advocating for is a step away from technology. A step away from the obsession we have with the lives of others and what they post online, so that we can learn how to whole-heartedly live our own.

Free-Sign[1]

Today is September 2nd, and I’m welcoming Fall with open arms. This past summer, hell all of 2015, has been the most difficult, most challenging, most debilitating, and most rewarding time in my entire life. I’ve been dealing with demons within myself, and within my relationships with others. They so often go hand in hand, and it’s funny how true it is that when it rains, it pours. I’ve built up a lot of anger and resentment towards certain individuals in my life that have done me wrong. People who have hurt, disrespected, and dehumanized me. People who have seemed to come into my life just to fuck with me, then disappeared entirely without closure or communication or understanding. The worst kind of heartbreak is the kind you just don’t understand. Because it haunts you. It sits with you and all that you do.

And as my summer break comes to a close, I’m starting to recognize that some of these individuals are going to be in my life once again. People I haven’t seen in months that I’ve felt hurt or betrayed by are going to be around once I start school back up again, and I’m going to have to face the pain that I’ve learned to process alone. I guess I’m just nervous because it is much different to see somebody face to face and figure out how to react than it is to plan out with your girlfriends what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it in the months leading up to it. Often times, the pain that you think you’ve worked through comes right back when you run into the person that caused it. I know this because it still sits with me when I’m alone even still. I know it’ll make a stand when I’m faced with the real live individual(s) that I wish I could all together avoid.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to handle it, I guess, but I’m fairly certain with how I hope to handle it: with kindness.

Kindess is free (which is incredibly good news to me because I’m a broke college student).

It’s easy to be kind to those who have done you no harm. It’s a walk in the park to smile at someone that hasn’t left a significant scar in your heart. It’s effortless to say hello to a friendly stranger, acquaintance, or classmate. But it takes courage, strength, and confidence to be kind to those who have hurt you most. It takes a lot of will power to not walk up to the person and call them out, or more realistically, run to the bathroom and cry/puke (I have this really weird thing where I get sick when I’m overly emotional… TMI? sorry).

Along with kindness not costing a damn thing (except perhaps a little bit of my pride.. but screw the ego), the impact kindness can have is also priceless. You never can fully comprehend the power kindness can have, and often times it leaves a much larger impact than you necessarily expected. Perhaps the person that left you heartbroken is the person that needs kindness the most. Or perhaps not. Perhaps they really don’t care what you think of them or how they made you feel. But either way, there’s so much freedom is letting go of the past, and embracing the best parts of yourself when handling difficult situations. And the way you confront the heartbreak you experience in this life says a whole lot more about you than it does the heartbreaker. So do you best to handle it with Grace.

As I read through this post, I’m slightly chuckling at myself because there’s a part of me that sees this as incredibly naïve. Do I really expect myself to me calm and collected in this situation? Well, the answer to that is no, but I’m sure as hell going to try.

Who knows how I’ll handle bumping into mystery person(s) in the near future, but I’m going to do my best to be kind, graceful, and strong. Above all, I owe that to myself.

I’m an Americanized and Westernized white woman. Society has told me a million times over what that means, what that should look like. In many ways, I fit the mold that was built for me. I’m a middle-class, relatively spoiled college student who was born with female anatomy and identifies as such. I’m a product of my environment absolutely, but I’m also a product of my choices. And although my choices are partly products of my environment as well, there’s still this thing called free will that I supremely and whole-heartedly believe in. My decisions have defined my life, and I’ve tended to always, always make the decision to never give up.

That mentality is surely a product of societal pressure. In the United States, our culture is permeated with the idea that if you’re not busy, you’re not achieving anything. And if you give up, you’re less of a human for it. Everything is do, do, do, and everyone is go, go, go. A busy schedule is something to brag about, and down time is something frowned upon. If you want something, go for it. If it doesn’t want you back, push harder. Limits are only boundaries you create for yourself, and boundaries are only created to be broken. Push, push, push. Go, go, go. Force, force, force. Never stand down. Never give up. On anything.

Well I’m here to call bullshit.

Learning to let things go often takes so much more strength than holding on, and there’s incredible value in giving up on the idea of the person or life you think you ought to have. Forcing things to go your way is a way to instill a false sense of control, and we all like to think we have it under control. Whatever that “it” may be: school, friends, relationships, work, life. So often the action of forcing something to unfold or unravel in the way in which you envisioned is actually the action of pushing it further away and corroding it into something it’s not meant to be.

Giving up is often not a bad thing. That relationship you’ve been holding onto. Or that job that you think you should keep. Or that past version of yourself that you are trying so desperately to get back. They’re gone. They’re not meant to be yours. At least not now, and perhaps they never will be. The more you hold onto something, the more space in your life you take up with negativity and fear. The less room you have for the people, experiences, memories, stories, and opportunities you are meant to have. By holding onto toxic energy and people, you are selling yourself short of the life you are destined to live.

There is a huge upside to giving up. When something isn’t rightfully yours to hold, you know it. You can feel it in your bones and in your spirit. Even if you aren’t ready to let it go right away, you are far more intuitive and knowledgeable than you give yourself credit. And if only you choose to act on that gut, you’ll soon realize that the unknown that we are all so desperately trying to escape is the greatest adventure of them all.

There are many things in life that I will never give up on: myself, my family, Love, and God. But what I’m trying to do now is learn to let go of the things that aren’t mine to hold. Because I trust that indeed there are far better things ahead than any I leave behind. My only job is to practice patience and trust. And when I am faced with a choice, to always Choose Love.

If you bump into somebody on the street, apologize. If you fender bender somebody’s car, apologize. If you ungraciously hurt another’s feelings, apologize. If you clearly make a mistake, apologize. But stop apologizing for being who you are. We live in a world that is so consumed by fitting a particular model of what it means to be a person that we forget to spend our time actually searching for said person. If somebody doesn’t particularly like you, you can wonder why. You can think about if it’s a legitimate flaw to concern yourself with. If you were an asshole to them, then it’s probably a good idea to identify that and do your best to change and move forward. In those cases, it’s probably a good idea to apologize. But don’t apologize for plainly being yourself. You can be the kindest and sweetest soul, and there are always going to be people who don’t like kind, sweet souls (welcome to the Seattle freeze). You can be the funniest and most light-hearted person, but there will always be someone who criticizes humorous and bubbly people. You can be vivacious and hard-working, and there will always be people that feel threatened by you.

You job is not to please others; your job is to live as authentically and as in-tune as possible with the life you are meant to live. Your job is not to stroke the egos of those you know; your job is to feel stable and steady in your own shoes. Once you’ve learned how to do that (and you never fully will, there will be ups and downs and in-betweens), you will be able to treat others as they deserve to be treated. You will be a better friend, daughter, student, worker, lover, human. You will attract the type of people who are living unapologetically, too; people who are on a similar path as you. People who just get it.

Apologize when necessary, but don’t apologize for who you are. You are radiant and beautiful and fallible. You are human. Embrace it, love it, cherish it, work with it.

You Are Enough Photo

There’s a kind of peace that can never be matched once experienced. It’s the kind of feeling that you get when you’re sitting alone with yourself and your thoughts, and you realize whole-heartedly that you are enough. In fact, you are more than enough. You are full of spirit and life and flaws and beauty. Your soul is pure divinity, a slice of heaven. And your body is just the expression of the human experience you are having. You sit there, and although you know it’s just you, alone in that room or on that path or in that coffee shop, it hits you that you are never really alone. In between the moments of silence, your breath steadies you and you think “My God, I am alive!”

You think of all the moments that brought you here. The tears, the laughter, the confusion, the heartache. You think of the people that you’ve shared your time with.. Whether it was for a brief moment, or for the entirety of your life. Even if they brought you deep sadness, you think of them fondly because you know that you gave a piece of yourself to them, and they did the same for you. And there’s something incredibly beautiful in that, even if it was brief. Even if it was heartbreaking. You know that you wouldn’t be here.. In this moment.. Realizing your worth if you had not experienced that pain. Because every moment, good or bad, has brought you here. Without them, you would be somewhere else doing something entirely different. And this moment is nothing short of experiencing a slice of true authenticity. A true connection with who you are and all that you have witnessed in this life.

You think of all the moments that you aspire to have. And although they haven’t arrived, you trust they are coming. You know they are coming. You can feel it in each breath, in each bone, in each thought. And even though they’re on their way… You refuse to wait for them. They will catch up to you. Because they will occur when it’s right, and you know that this moment is the most precious asset you have.

You are Enough. Not because you’ve accomplished something commendable. Not because you’re beautiful, or well liked, or admired. You are Enough because you exist. You’ve entered this world whole, you are whole now, and you will always be whole. Even when you feel broken, even when the burdens seem too much to bear… You are exactly as you ought to be. And the person that you are now is the very companion you need to guide you along the path that is solely yours and yours alone.