The 110% Girl

It’s hard being the girl who is 110%. The girl who would move heaven and earth and anything in between to make her friends happy. The girl who chases after friendships and pours her all into them. The girl who does all of this and doesn’t ask for anything in return. She’s a bit proud of her loyalty. When she befriends someone, she intends to keep them as a friend for life, or for as long as possible.

But it takes a toll on her. She puts on a smile when someone bails and says “It’s okay, I get it,” but late at night, the tears come hard and fast, and she wonders why she isn’t enough. When people just walk out of her life with no followup, no “hey, it’s been awhile,” no explanation; she struggles to feel like she’s enough. When all she gets is a “maybe next time,” she knows that it means never and maybe she should just give up.

I know exactly how she feels because I too am that 110% girl.

It’s hard to talk or write about this because it feels like I’m complaining. I hear myself voice these feelings and I feel ashamed. I have really great friends in my life who have supported me. I have friends who I don’t see that often, but we can pick up right where we left off. For that I am grateful. These people remind me I am enough.

But on the days when I reach out to a few people who have disappeared from my life and I get the feeling they’re okay with things staying that way, those are the hard days. Because I find it so hard to let people drift out of my life, I have a really hard time when people so easily let me slip out of theirs.

But I also don’t want to be intrusive. I don’t want to be the friend who forces others to spend time with someone they don’t want to. I don’t want to always be the first to text someone or initiate plans. I don’t want to chase people. It’s exhausting.

It’s exhausting because sometimes I wonder if I stop chasing people, will I lose them? If I stop initiating, will they just assume I don’t care anymore? I’m afraid that if I don’t reach out, I’ll realize that this friendship was one sided and the reason they even did things with me was because I asked and they didn’t want to hurt me by saying no. I don’t really want to find that out, to be honest.

But what I (and others) need to remember is that my worth is not dependent on what others do or how they react. And because I give 110%, people in my life know my loyalty and care for them as people. I can live with that comfort, and remember that on days when giving 110% is especially hard

Look, you love harder than anyone I know. It’s tough to match.”

– Ann Perkins, Parks and Recreation

Some of us love harder than others. Because sometimes, people need that constant reminder that they’re valued. And if I am the one to remind them of that, then I will continue to channel my inner Leslie Knope and love hard.

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The Great Unknown 

My horrific semester ended last Wednesday. Okay, it wasn’t really horrific, but it sure wasn’t great.

Thursday morning at 5:07 am, I waited in 16 degree temperatures for a train to take me to Philadelphia. From there, I got on a plane, waited an hour while mechanics tried to fix said plane, and finally 6 hours later, landed in Los Angeles.

The moment I landed, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’m not sure it’s because I idealize California, or if it was my soul finally feeling free. Maybe it was the realization that my only commitments were a Christmas concert at church on Sunday. It might have been the 60 degree temperature. Whatever it was, I felt relief wash over me.

There’s something so special about reconnecting with old friends. When I was in California last time, I only had a few short hours with Kristi. I knew that wasn’t enough. This time we had about two and a half days together and it was so rejuvenating.

When you spend time with someone who just “gets” you, you feel so valued. We talked through some things that I had been pondering, as well as writing about, for a while. I think my thoughts are slowly starting to come together. This semester did not allow much breathing room. Having time to process some things was very freeing.

I know I’ve said this in another blog post, but California fits me. I love the laid back and chill attitude, the warm sun, and the palm trees. It feels like home. Something in my soul sighed contentedly.

Of course, the idea of moving is overwhelming. It’s a huge change from my small corner of Pennsylvania. And I don’t know if it ever will manifest in a move, but feeling a sense of belonging there made me realize that moving to California isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s something I might end up pursuing. I’ll be finished with school  by this time next year, and I’m way more open to a big move if given the opportunity.

Last night I was thinking about all these things while designing some Christmas gifts in Illustrator. NEEDTOBREATHE came across my playlist and this line spoke to me

Cause if you never leave home, never let go, you’ll never make it to the great unknown.”

Okay NEEDTOBREATHE, I hear you.

I think it’s true, though. I have to be open to leaving behind my comfort zone. If I never leave, I may never experience the great plans God has for me. And I know God can use me wherever I am, but I also want to take a great leap of faith.

This winter break I’ll be putting in more time and effort into an editing job. My dad is a general editor of a book for a very specific theology, and he’s taking me on as a copy editor. I’m really excited to start this job of editing. It will be something I can show potential employers and that’s thrilling and terrifying.

It’s all starting to fall into place. I am reminded every day that life is a series of following God’a path. You never know where that will lead you.

Hope Will Be Our Anthem

Tuesday after class, I drove to a place that played a large part in my faith as a child. I pulled into the familiar parking lot, noting the absence of my favorite boulder and tree. I followed the “Vote Here!” signs down to the basement entrance to my childhood church. I pulled open the door and walked into a fellowship hall that holds so many memories. I had Sunday School class in a section of that room. We had fellowship dinners and funeral meals. Good and sad memories came flooding back, but at the heart of it all, was a solid Christian faith base.

Something about going to vote in a place that taught me so many things about Christ, his sacrifice for us, his unending love, and acceptance was a baffling feeling. The choices we have been given this year in the election are so antithetical to the things I learned there. In my opinion (which is strictly that — MY opinion), no candidate reflected any of those qualities that I was taught to value.

For awhile I cared about the election so much. I cared so much to the point it literally made me ill. I couldn’t sleep. My heart would start to race and I scoured the internet daily to find a shred of evidence to calm my nerves. It’s not surprising that I didn’t find it there.

But while I was out of the country, I was able to forget about the election, or at least not be bombarded with political news every single day. It was refreshing, to say the least. When I returned, it was hard to not fall right back into that routine. It became even harder when a particular candidate said very offensive and threatening things about women. Don’t get me wrong, I was still informed. But I tried really hard to not let it consume my thoughts.

When I walked into that basement, I wasn’t entirely decided on a candidate. There was one I absolutely knew I would never support, but I knew that a year ago. And to be fair, who I voted for was not a candidate I could fully support either. But at least this candidate did not threaten minorities or demean women. Both of those things do not come from Jesus, and it was important to me to make sure my choice reflected that.

So in a new era of presidency where we hear things like sending refugees back to terror-filled lives and building a wall between us and another country, I am saying NO.

I won’t accept that hate. I can’t change a president’s policy, but I can choose to love instead of hate. And as a friend said earlier,

If society builds walls, I will raise my children to tear them down”

I think he nailed it on the head. Our job now is to speak out against hate and to raise our children with the values that come from Jesus. The values that I learned nearly 20 years ago in that basement are going to shape my life and will be my prayer.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-9) 

We must continue to live that command. 

Season of Change

Two months ago I was in Verona, Italy. Today I’m sitting at my desk at home. Instead of wandering cobblestone streets, eating gelato, and listening to Italian conversations, I sit amidst books and papers.

Somehow, Italy feels like a year ago, and also only yesterday. It hasn’t actually sunken in that I was actually there. It feels like a dream. I might actually even doubt that I was indeed there if it weren’t for the 687 pictures I have to prove it.

I feel like I still haven’t adjusted back to life here. I remember other people talking about how after a long trip, they never felt settled back into real life. I admit, I kind of rolled my eyes and thought “well, just try harder to settle back into it.”

And now I am one of those people. I get the urge to just get up and explore a lot more than I used to. I get more worn out emotionally than before leaving, although that could also be attributed to the constant arguing that our current political climate incites. I can’t explain it, but I feel there is so much stuff filling my heart and head and I don’t know what to do with it. I feel so restless, so out of sorts.

It’s like I belong here, but not really. I spoke about being adopted a few weeks ago in church, and one of the questions was how adoption shaped my sense of belonging or not belonging. I always felt like I was born into my adopted family, but I also was very aware that I wasn’t and I was different. And for some reason, I felt this way returning from Italy. I don’t feel settled.

Three weeks wasn’t a very long time to be gone, but it was enough for some things to change. I came back home and jumped right back into classes. School is overwhelming this semester with a professor strike, classes I don’t really enjoy, and almost no friends on campus anymore. I only have 21 more credits to fulfill which means I have to start thinking about real life and what I might do after graduation. I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do. I want to go so many places, yet I want to stay where I have a great support system. But I’m so scared I’m going to chicken out and end up settling for something I don’t actually like or feel passionate about.

And to be fair, I don’t think this restlessness and uncertainty came from that three week trip. I think it’s just that point (again) in my life where I need to think beyond a few months and take a good, hard look at my future. A lot of it comes from the fact that currently, my heart and head aren’t aligning.

I don’t wait well. At times, I’m pretty impatient. Because of this, I started a devotional called “Waiting on God” and Sunday’s thoughts were pretty poignant.

 

The same is true for God’s timing and our preparation. Our job is to not run ahead of Him or lag behind. We should take natural, commonsense steps that are in line with His Word so we will be ready when He delivers our heart’s desire. As we step out in faith, He will show us the way by either opening doors or closing them. Sometimes that will require we do a new thing, and sometimes it means doing what we already know to do.”

I admit it, reading that didn’t absolve me of my worries or fears instantly. But it was the reminder I needed in this time where things feel so unsettled. Ultimately, all I can do is continue to step out in faith and live. Doors will close or open and I will follow those openings, knowing that God is with me.

 

 

Italia. 

Capri

I started writing this while sitting in a bed and breakfast outside of Pascara, Italy. I have just under a week left in this beautiful country.

Traveling hasn’t always been easy. I like routine. We’re almost always in a new place each night and adjusting is sometimes hard. But I’m getting to see so much of this country and I love that aspect of this trip.

I love that two years ago I sat in an art history class learning about things like Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel and sculpting his Pieta. Now that I’ve seen them in real life, I really can appreciate his talent so much more.

I also had a professor that same semester who told me and a friend of mine that we should go and spend a summer in Italy. It seemed such a far off possibly then but here I am.

Italy is truly amazing. There is so much history here. The buildings have so character and there’s obviously a story behind each one.

But something I’ve loved the most about being here is the people. I had this preconceived notion that Italians might be a bit snobby towards me, an American. But the few that I’ve spent more than an hour around have been anything but snobby.

We spent two nights at two different bed and breakfasts. Both places were very charming and homey. Both owners treated us as if we were family that had come to visit. It was there specifically that I hated the language barrier. I’m starting to be able to pick up the basic idea of a conversation but I can’t understand specifics. It’s like when my mom speaks Pennsylvanian Dutch. I get what she’s talking about but I can’t understand details. Having to rely on someone to translate is frustrating for me because I’d like to contribute on my own.

The hospitality we were shown in those two bed and breakfasts was overwhelming. I wanted to stay and just soak it all in. Also Italians know how to eat well and the food just kept coming. Let it be known that their cappuccinos and croissants are about 5 levels above almost anything I’ve had anywhere else. I think I’ll be visiting La Dolce Vita in Lancaster City a lot more now.

We only have four more days left. We have Venice, Verona, and one other place left. We’ll get into Switzerland (long enough to say I was in Switzerland), see Lake Como, and then we fly back to America.

I’m ready. This has been a trip to remember. I want to come back again and now I know where I want to spend more time. But I miss my friends, family, and routine. I’m even ready to start another semester.

I also miss Oreo. He’s probably taken over my bed, but he’s a cat. We can just share.

BE HERE LONG

When I sat down to write last night, I had every intention of writing about something else entirely. But something pushed me towards  H A R D L O V E instead. That right there sums up how I write. The words and ideas sometimes become their own, and I just follow where they take me.

After I moved on from H A R D  L O V E, I found this other song called B E  H E R E  L O N G. I was driving home from a really long day, and was thinking ahead to my upcoming trip to Italy.

I am so thrilled to go on this trip. But yet, I am also dreading it. Not because I don’t love adventure or would rather stay home. Part of my dread is just fear of the unknown. The other part stems from this serious syndrome called “Fear of Missing Out.” Basically, I have a hard time committing to things because I’m always so afraid I’ll miss out on something else. I didn’t know this was even a thing until a friend told me he suffers from the same thing.

In the last few weeks, friends have been planning things for August, and since I’ll be gone for three weeks, I’m going to miss a lot. Wrestling with my choice to be gone so long has caused me quite a bit of anxiety, to be honest. I have struggled with anxiety before and it’s not easy.

So as I drove home last Tuesday and this song came home, the one phrase that jumped out was

We don’t get to be here long.”

And I realized that for me the opportunity to go to Italy is a now or never chance. Although, I hope this isn’t the only time I get to go to Italy. What I mean is I can’t let my fear of leaving and missing out on things keep me from trying something new. I know if I skipped out on Italy, the regrets would be immense. NEEDTOBREATHE just reminded me of that simple fact.

Of course as I listened to the song again (and again and again…) I soon realized the song was more about a relationship. I still think it’s relevant though. Just like I’m kind of dreading missing out on things at home while I’m gone, I have a fear of losing people. I’ve had my fair share of goodbyes in the past year, and I’ve learned the value of being here and being present with those you love. Just because someone may leave doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the most of the time you have. None of us know how long we have and really, we need to start living like it.

H A R D L O V E

July has been a great month for me, music wise. Switchfoot, Relient K, and NEEDTOBREATHE all put out new albums and they are pretty incredible. You should give them all a listen. I’m trying to give each album significant time to absorb each one individually, but I already have favorites I keep going back to.

I got so stuck on H A R D  L O V E by NEEDTOBREATHE. There’s this line that says

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love.”

About two years ago I was going through a really difficult situation. Some days I would wake up and wasn’t sure I would be able to get out of bed and face the day, let alone people. My heart felt ripped into pieces. I felt as if the floor had bottomed out from underneath me.  My faith was being challenged in a way that it hadn’t before. I wanted to run from everything, including my faith.

But something deep inside of me refused to be broken. I knew my only option was to hold on to faith that God had a bigger plan. Even though I struggled every day with the idea that God was using this situation to teach me something, I knew I couldn’t give up.

As time went on, I realized I was slowly coming back around. Each day got easier. My faith grew stronger. I was able to encourage others going through similar situations.

Looking back on it, that dark time was the fallout I needed to change. For far too long, I had depended on myself and others for my happiness. God was a great thing to talk about and believe in, but when it came to happiness, I didn’t look there.

There is nothing better in life than the peace that Jesus offers.  Sometimes it takes being stripped down to heartbreak to bring us back to that mindset. It shouldn’t, but humans can be hard to teach. God has to use hard love on us every once in awhile.

You just have to get back up and try again.