Update on my Life (Well, Kinda)

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My life is pretty crazy right now.

And I don’t just mean being-in-grad-school-while-working-70-hours-a-week crazy. (Although that’s crazy, too. End of the semester, I’m waiting for you.)

I mean crazy in the sense that I’m living an amazing life with all of these incredible opportunities popping up. Doors keep swinging open. Just like Jesus promised, I keep asking, and I keep receiving.

Exactly three weeks from today (WHAT?!) I’ll be taking off for Madrid, Spain, with my best friend of 20+ years, where we’ll close out 2014 and ring in 2015 in the city square. I’ve never been to Europe, so I’m beyond thrilled!

Six weeks to the day from when I get back, I’ll be on a plane again, this one headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to volunteer in an orphanage and refugee home for former trafficking victims. My heart has been aching to help again ever since my trip to the Dominican Republic last summer, and I’m so excited to have another opportunity to do so.

(There are more amazing, life-changing opportunities coming up in my life that I can’t share yet, but be on the look out!)

This crazy life has me gone more often than I’m home, facing new challenges and circumstances more than having a stable environment, and frequently leaves me unsure of what’s around the corner.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

No Matter How Your Heart is Grieving, if You Keep on Believing…

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It’s hard to be a dreamer sometimes. It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply. Even when I was a little girl, I would get lost in my daydreams and hopes for the future, only to be extremely disappointed to learn that, in fact, there was no such thing as Making Ponies Happy University. The crush of disappointment after a letdown is just as strong as the tingle of anticipation leading up to an event. My pillow was soaked with bitter tears many nights (both as a kid and an adult, I admit.)

Cinderella would have been my favorite Disney Princess when I was little had it not been for Pocahontas.  I fell in love with the Disney film when it was released in 1995, despite the horrifying historical inaccuracies. (I was only four. Give me a break.) All I knew was that Pocahontas was brave and strong, had an awesome raccoon sidekick, and great hair. Plus, John Smith was slightly more involved in her life than Prince Charming was in Cinderella’s. Did you know he only speaks a grand total of 47 words in the film? It’s true. I looked up the script to prove it.

Anyway, despite the disgust I felt toward Prince Charming, I still liked Cinderella, and not just because I would pretend to be her whenever I had chores to do around the house. A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes: this was my motto, and my little girl heart so innocently and completely trusted in her faithful refrain: “In dreams, you will lose your heartache: whatever you wish for, you keep.”

Pure poetry, I told myself, staring with wide-eyed adoration at the TV while hugging my Pocahontas doll.

As I grew older, I turned my attention to books and the magical worlds contained within them, particularly Anne of Green Gables. “Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions,” Anne told me. “I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

She’s completely right, I sighed dreamily, chin in my hand, as I stared out my bedroom window at a world of possibilities.

My dreams slowly evolved and changed as time went on. I gave up my dreams of being a “Ponytologist” when I was informed that it was a word that I had made up and no such job existed, and switched to my goal of being an actress. When my preteen years hit and I struggled with debilitating shyness, my goal became to be a surgeon. Wanting to someday be able to be home with my kids, I set my sights on being a journalist when my college years arrived. It was perfect: I could travel to the Middle East, write, and solve the world’s problems. Fast forward two and a half semesters of writing music advertisements and news articles of invented car crashes, and I switched my major to English faster than you could say, “Inverted pyramid.”

“Why are you changing your major? You’re one of the best students I’ve ever had,” my Media Writing professor mourned when I made my decision.

“Because I really, really, really hate writing this stuff,” I replied.

He blinked. “You do?”

“So much.”

“Oh. Well, if you ever change your mind….”

I compromised by getting a concentration in professional writing so that I could get back into journalism if I should ever want to, and turned my sights on grad school so I can teach someday.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will: “You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll never travel. You’ll never help anyone. You’ll never get accepted to University of Michigan; are you kidding? Do you know their acceptance rate?”

“No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.” ~Cinderella

“It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?” ~Anne Shirley

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” ~Psalm 37:4

Don’t ever give up on your dreams.

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When I Grow Up, I Don’t Want to Be Like Taylor Swift

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I’ve always been a little bit weird. Not the cute, quirky, endearing weird, but the kind of weird that makes people eye you warily as they slowly back away.

I used to give rocks to people as presents when I was a little kid.

Plain, gravel rocks.

Not polished, pretty ones.

Just gray rocks.

I thought it was cool. I had no idea it was weird until someone said, “Why would I want this rock? It’s not even pretty,” and then threw it. I watched it sail through the air and bounce off into the grass and I realized that giving rocks to people was, in fact, weird. I stopped doing so.

As I grew older, I learned to possess and maintain a sense of self-confidence that allowed me to ignore what other people thought of me. It’s worked pretty well; I graduated with my BA in English with a concentration in professional writing in April. I recently got accepted to University of Michigan for grad school. I’m working hard, paying my bills, and saving for the future. Usually, I’m too busy pursuing my goals to worry about the fact that society believes I should be out clubbing with my girlfriends and trying to find a boyfriend and returning home wasted to my own apartment. I actually forget that the way I choose to live my life isn’t normal. I talk about my Saturday night spent reading a book or watching cartoons with my little sister. And people stare at me and I’m just like:

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(Except minus the glass of wine. I don’t drink. *insert horrified look here*)

Sometimes, though, someone comes along and shatters my view of my life.

“What do you mean you don’t want to come to the bar with me tonight?”

“We’ll find you a boyfriend. Don’t worry.”

“Still living with the ‘rents, huh?”

“Doesn’t it bother you that you _________?” (Fill in the blank with any of the aspects of my life that go against society’s expectations….so, pretty much all of them.)

And I feel the need to defend myself and my choices.

Wild Side

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….which usually has the opposite effect that I wanted it to. It’s a mess.

So it leads to me thinking, which leads to me writing, which occasionally leads to me blogging about it.

When I picked up my little brother and sister from skating with their friends the other day, “Let it Go” from Frozen was playing when I walked in. I knew my sister would be happy about that and would most likely sing it all the way home. As we got in the car, however, my sister said to me, “They played that Taylor Swift song.”

“Which one?” I asked.

“‘Trouble.’ Does she only sing about her ex-boyfriends?”

“Basically,” I answered, glad that she chooses to listen to artists like Beckah Shae rather than Tswift.

“I was cracking up the whole time,” my little brother interjected from the back seat. “She sounds like a hurt goat when she sings, ‘OHHHHH!'”

“It’s dumb,” my sister said. “She should write stuff that can influence the girls who listen to her all day.”

“She should,” I agreed. “A friend of mine rewrote one of her songs once when I said that same thing.”

“Can we hear it?”

So I handed over my phone and they pulled up the YouTube video right then and there.

When I turned 22, everyone sang lyrics from that Taylor Swift song at me. Catchy tune aside, I couldn’t relate to any of it. My little brother so kindly pointed out to me, “I don’t think you’ve ever dressed up like a hipster and made fun of your exes.”

When I complained about Taylor Swift’s childish view of life at the time, my wonderful friend (who recently started a blog on here; follow her on Monsters of Mine) promised me that she would rewrite the song for me as a birthday present. I present: “22: A Song Taylor Swift Would Write if She Had Normal Priorities.”

By the way: the rock story I told you about? My uncle passed away recently. I was at my aunt’s house last week when I heard my Grandma question, “What’s this?” and picked up a (particularly) big, gray rock from the bookcase.

My aunt gave a teary smile and said, “I found that in his closet. Katie must have given it to him; it was in a little box marked ‘My Katie rock, 1995.’ He kept it all these 20 years because it was a present from his niece.”

Yeah.

Take that, person who made me feel like an idiot when I was five years old.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of society’s lies. It’s tempting to change ourselves so that we’re socially acceptable. It’s hard to remember that the way we are is enough.

But we are.

Besides, I don’t know about you, (haha, see what I did there?) but I like the above version of Tswift’s song much better.

Keep living your life the way you are, guys, even if (and maybe even especially if!) it goes against society’s norms. #WOGO: We Only Get One. (It’s my version of YOLO.)