Here Again

So, I effectively neglected this blog for a full year. I tell myself it was never intentional. Seriously, I did a ton of things last year. I finished my grad program. I had my first adult vacation in California with a great person. I picked up my life and moved away from my comfort zone that was western NY for seven years to a place where I know absolutely no one and I’m building a life I’m so incredibly happy with.

Let’s take a look at my goals from last year:

  • Eat & sleep well. Indulge a little.
    • Okay, so I slacked on this. I indulged a bit too much.
  • Enjoy the little things.
    • Definitely did this, but could have done more.
  • Celebrate the little victories even if I’m my own cheering section.
    • This was so important. Definitely did this.
  • Stop comparing – what other people think of me or do is none of my business.
    • Check!
  • Exercise regularly for a whole year.
    • um…
  • Stop texting so much and call more often.
    • I discovered the other person totally has to be willing.
  • Let the little things go. If it doesn’t matter in five years then it doesn’t matter.
    • Still true.
  • Never lower my standards for anything. I have standards for a reason.
    • This has created lots of stressful situations with my work, but I still stick to it.
  • Never wait for others to encourage me to do something – just do it.
    • Every day of my life.
  • Take a risk. I may live to regret it, but at least I lived.
    • I freaking moved my whole life

The best part of not writing here for a year is rereading that list a year later and actually being pleased with how well I did in some of those areas. I am most proud of taking a risk. I firmly believe that making the move to the Boston area was one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken.I was craving adventure and wanted to do something that scared me.

The past six months have been full of so much learning about what’s important to me. While I do not believe I love my job as much as I expected to, I would make the decision a million times. I found such amazing friends (rather unexpectedly) and met someone who makes me so incredibly happy, but has challenged me to be better each day.

So, my list for this year is much shorter.

  1. Wake up earlier to take advantage of having breakfast, coffee and writing. Yes, writing here (or at least reading for inspiration).
    • I started this because I was inspired by my friend Jackie. She’s great with it. I want to keep with it this year.
  2. Pay more attention to my finances since I will be finally getting an apartment that that’s not provided as part of my employment compensation.
  3. Eat & sleep well. I’ll thank myself in a year.
  4. Continue to take risks and rise. I’m capable of more than I realize.
    • Part of this includes having more honest interactions with others. Even if they do not respond well, I’m a better person when I say what I feel.
  5. Do something that makes me happy each day – even on that tough days.

 

Being Independent and Knowing When to Ask for Help

It wasn’t until this past Friday that I realized what it means to be truly independent. Somehow, with my fear of the dentist, I went in to have my wisdom teeth removed. All four – include one cavity that needed to go too. Only an adult willingly goes to the dentist to have five teeth removed at one time. It was in that moment I realized how adult I really am. However, the aftermath made me realize just how independent I am and have been for awhile.

Most people will have a significant other, close friend or family take care of them after that type of procedure. It’s recommended the patient stays with someone for at least 24 hours for the sedative to fully wear off. Living alone six hours away from family, I don’t have a significant other, close friend or any sort of relative nearby to provide that type of care. Being independent also forces you to realize when you need depend on someone else and I had to bite the bullet to ask a co-worker to take me to and from the oral surgeon on Friday. The procedure went well and I had my apartment all set up for my return so all I had to do was sit on my couch with Netflix. Apparently, the anesthesia was awesome and I was bit loopy for about an hour or so after the procedure. I e-mailed my boss’ boss, I texted my ex-girlfriend for the first time in months and I may or may not have called the receptionist an annoying bitch because she kept talking as soon as I woke up. Fortunately, my co-worker has experienced wisdom teeth removal and knew that I would need someone to stay with me awhile. He took some time away from work and sat at my apartment kitchen table while I was on my couch feeling higher than a kite.

Once it wore off, I urged him to go. I was embarrassed he needed to stay in the first place. Since then, I’ve been quite good by myself. I’ve been remember to take medication when I’m supposed to, eating all the right foods and even drove to the grocery store this morning for more mashed potatoes and ice. While I’ve been pretty good so far in my recovery, I couldn’t help but realize that just because I can do things like this alone doesn’t mean I should. I should be a bit more proactive about knowing when I need help and when to ask for it. It doesn’t make me weak or annoying. If the person I ask is annoyed, then I’ve clearly asked the wrong person. I didn’t realize what a good friend I had in my co-worker before this weekend. While I’m proud that I can handle situations like this, it’s nice to know I don’t have to do it alone.

When You Apologize – Mean It

I’ve always known this to be true. I was unaware of how much more difficult this would be as I got older. Apologizing to friends, co-workers, family is almost a hard thing to do especially when you know you made a mistake. Recently, I had to apologize to a student who works for me because she was put off by a few things I said to her on multiple occasions. One time, I could chalk it up to a bad day or being distracted, but multiple times? Here’s the worst part, I didn’t even remember the examples she mentioned, but I could tell she did by the look in her eye.

I had to apologize. Not just for what I did, but not even remembering what I did. It would have been so easy for me as her boss to brush it aside and move forward. Seeing in her eyes what the apology meant to her and the courage it took for her to tell me, I promised myself two things. Always apologize when I mean it and pay more attention to words I say.

Sometimes we avoid the apology because it creates an uncomfortable conversation. Sometimes we avoid the apology because it forces us to not only admit to ourselves we made a mistake, but it forces it us to say to another person that we were wrong. Use your apologies sparingly. Don’t apologize just because it will make a fight end faster or because you just don’t care. When we overuse it, the meaning isn’t there when we want it to be. Which is why when you apologize, when you apology, you better mean it.

Privilege

This weekend I was required to go on a field trip for grad school called the Rochester Reality Tour. As described to me, our class (along with any community members or surrounding schools who wished to participate) would get on a school bus head to downtown Rochester with a few scheduled stops. The trip is designed to be bring awareness to the situation in downtown Rochester – a lot of homelessness, substance/alcohol abuse and among so many others.

Our tour guide (but not really) was an older black man who used to be homeless. He told us his story while driving through downtown and this man truly amazed me. He lost his job over ten years ago, lost his apartment, kicked out of the homes of his family members and turned to the streets. He was able to explain what it means to be homeless in Rochester in such a way that opens your eyes to how some people just fall without a parachute.

I have been so guilty of passing so many homeless people on the street avoiding eye contact, not giving money assuming that my money would be used for alcohol or drugs and that it is the fault of the person of being on the street. It’s definitely not the case. With the man who was showing us around, he was able to tell us that living on the streets brings people to a point of desperation that is so difficult to imagine. People on the streets abuse drugs not because there’s nothing better to do, but can you imagine for being on the street for years with no relief in sight? I have no idea what type of stress that brings and what it would bring me to do. The part that struck a chord with me was our guide saying that the most hurtful thing a person can do is to pretend the homeless is invisible. Part of the reason why Rochester has a true problem with so many people living on the street is because so many people turn a blind eye to it. If I cover my eyes, it’s not really there, right? Wrong. A friendly hello, a smile and yes, possibly some change is enough to bring that person happiness that you or I have never felt.

Many homeless people actually have jobs, but so many owe so much money for varies reasons that most of their wages are garnished and they can never make enough to get off the street. We stopped by The House of Mercy which is homeless shelter downtown. What is special about this particular shelter is that no form of ID is needed to come inside to eat. It was started by a nun in 1985 and has been running ever since. It has provides shelter and food to over million people since it began. I learned so many shelters have so many stipulations before you get a bed or a hot meal that ends up hurting homeless person in need. House of Mercy leaves the door unlocked 24/7 and anyone is welcome. The shelter runs purely on donations and the support of volunteers from the community.

I don’t declare myself an expert on poverty after one experience, but I am more aware of the needs of the community in which I live. We all need to do a better job at checking our privilege and realize that although we may have had a bad day, we struggle with not knowing what to have for dinner or that our iPhone died, there is someone in our own community that unsure of where their next meal will come from. I have not done this tour justice in this blog post, but checkout the website and see what you can do in your own community to give a helping hand.

The Best Gift

Every Tuesday night I have a staff meeting with my RA staff. This week, one of my RAs wanted to have a team builder and she asked us all to bring something of significance to explain. I realize that whenever I have this activity, I always pull out the same item because it means so much to me. It’s a gift that was given to me at my 18th birthday party. Here’s the thing about the gift. It is not necessarily flashy or expensive, but it is thoughtful. It is by far one of the (if not the) most thoughtful gifts ever given to me.

Tonight, I felt weird showing this gift. When I normally show this gift, I tell a story about how I met my best friend Danielle. We met while on a debate club in high school and were introduced by mutual friend because we both like Cher. The mutual friend figured Danielle and I would be friends because we like Cher. I automatically was turned off by the friendship just because of how we met. As it turned out, Danielle was pretty persistent with wanting to talk and I thought she was pretty (teenage hormones). What started out as a “eh” friendship, turned out to be out to be one of the best friendships I ever had. Danielle truly became my person. From sophomore year in high school and all through college, we talked constantly. In high school, it was over AIM and having conversations until way after midnight (big deal in high school). In college, it was not as often because we were off doing our own thing, but we were always able to fall back into things without effort.

For my 18th birthday, Danielle made me poster with a letter attached. It as a Cher collage of some of my favorite pictures. Danielle made it as something I can take with my to college and to remember her by. Ever since that day, this collage has lived wherever I have lived. Even when I had to temporarily relocate this summer while the hot water was being worked on in my residence hall for a few weeks, I took this with me. It is something that makes me feel at ease and gives me a taste a home. It reminds me what it was like to have such a great friend with that person never needing to ask for anything in return. After we graduated college and spent time transitioning into real world jobs, Danielle still did her best to keep in touch over text. There was never a detail we kept from each other (most of the time) and she is truly one of the most patient people I have ever met.

I felt weird about showing this gift tonight because for the first time, I couldn’t tell that story. I could not tell about how Danielle and I are so close and talk all the time. This summer, Danielle and I had a fight. Truthfully, I had a fight with myself texting Danielle and Danielle decided she had enough. In retrospect, it is amazing that Danielle didn’t drop me as a friend sooner. At some point, it became the friendship where I asked for everything in return and somehow it was never enough. I took for granted that no matter how mean I could be there, Danielle would still be there. I had to learn a lesson the hard way this summer about what it means to lose a friend as an adult. While I like to think that most days I’ve proven that I can function without Danielle, there are days when I just miss it. It has been instinct for long to have her be the first person I talk to in the morning. Danielle got me through some of the darkest times in my life all while being hundreds of miles away most of the time. I needed to be more patient and I needed to be more understanding about what her needs were. I don’t blame her for deciding to take a step back and not talk to me – there’s no way I can. I showed Danielle a pattern of behavior that said that I wasn’t willing to change and Danielle showed me that a person never deserves to be treated that way.

As sad as it is to lose Danielle, I still smile when I think about her. Danielle taught me something major about what it means to be an adult. I have to learn how to let the little things go, love a little bit more, forgive more often and understand that truly isn’t about me all the time. These past few months showed me that I can’t depend on her and I needed to learn how to survive on my own. It’s not fair to take out my bad days on someone I love. It was never fair to manipulate situations that made her feel like the worst human being. I’m glad I had a chance to realize those things and I am glad I had a chance to realize it with her. Whether or not she knows it, her last act in our friendship was the biggest act of love a person could show me – she forced me to grow up.

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The best gift ever. Thank you, Danielle.

15 Things We Forget To Be Grateful For

Thought Catalog

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1. The moment we wake up in the morning.

That moment when you open your eyes and breathe in a new day — it in itself is a wonderful blessing to live and see the world another day.

2. The pale blue sky, the summer rays and deep blue ocean.

Nothing feels more ‘alive’ than sitting on the beach and just taking in everything around you — that fresh and liberating feeling of admiring Nature as Time gives you halted seconds of beauty.

3. The love, care and support from our parents.

Parents are our most crucial lifelines. They are there from kids until we grow old, and will never stop supporting us until we reach our dreams. You can call them a nagger, but they will always be your greatest source of strength.

4. The high school friends who were there throughout the years.

These guys remind you…

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Being Alone vs. Being Lonely

It’s such a fine line. There are moments when I come home from work and it’s quiet in my apartment and I assume I’m lonely because I’m alone. Then there are weekends when I have absolutely no plans and I stay in PJs for two days in a row. While sometimes that’s something we all need, other times, I desperately want someone else there.

The truth is, since I am alone, I am never sure when I am just alone or I’m lonely. I definitely know the feeling of being around people and still feeling lonely. It’s so hard to tell when you live alone and you’re single. Most days, I enjoy the time I have to myself. I like not being accountable to anyone’s time or having family obligations (pros of living six hours away from family). Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely days when I enjoy having plans and the company of others. There are just days where time goes by slowly and I can’t help but think about how lonely I am. I don’t believe today was one of those days, but weekends leave me with being alone with my thoughts for two days. It’s always struggle to be social at work Mondays after so much alone time.

I don’t necessarily believe one is worse or better than the other. I just keep hearing there’s a difference between being lonely and alone. I know it’s a fine line, but I don’t know where that line is.