Home is Where I Think it Is

Home is not a place. Home is a feeling.

I’ve heard the phrase, “home is where the heart is” all my life, but I didn’t really internalize it until I went through a series of changes that forced me to adjust to new normals and new places of living, over and over again. I always thought of home as just the place where my stuff was, where I slept, where I showered. Home was just the place I left from and returned to more often than anywhere else. When that physical place of home became more and more inconsistent, I had to revisit and reconstruct my idea of what ‘home’ really means.

It’s weird to hear other students living on campus talking about “going home for the weekend.” It throws me off because this is home for me. This is where I live right now; this is the only place I live right now. There is no ‘home’ for me to go back to over the weekend or over winter break. There is no bedroom with my furniture set up, waiting for my return. If I’m not staying here, I am a guest in someone else’s home. I can see that my life is made up of frequent adjustments to my ever-changing normal. My ever-changing sense of home. And I’ve gotten good at it. Adjusting. Making a place feel like home instantly because I need it to be home for me. Holding loosely to things and to my station, knowing it can be easily lost or changed at any moment. I never thought my life would be like this and I certainly never imagined I’d like it so much.

The more unstable my physical place of residence is, the more I see that home is something I can take with me. Something I must take with me – must create for myself – if I want to stay sane. Home is wherever I choose for it to be. Home is that feeling of belonging, that comfort and security of knowing where you are and not ever needing to ask or answer the question of why you are there. That feeling of home can be in a number of physical spaces. When I visit those little places I used to go with my mom, I’m home. When I’m having dinner at my Dad and Stepmom’s house, enjoying the sounds of my wonderfully woven-together family, I’m home. When I am curled up next to my boyfriend, watching documentaries or silly comedies, I’m home. When I’m outside and the sky is covered in clouds, but the birds are still chirping, I’m home. When I’m sitting in my dorm room, in this most temporary of living spaces, remembering how far I’ve come, how far the Lord has taken me, I’m home. Home is everywhere and nowhere. Home is where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. Home is where I think it is.

The Cliché “What I’m Thankful For” Thanksgiving Post

Happy Thanksgiving! I just felt like taking a couple minutes to write some of the things I’m thankful for. Thinking of all the reasons I have to be grateful has been a powerful tool for me in battling anxiety and depression… I guess that’s one of the things I’m thankful for 🙂

I’m thankful that every time I think I have nothing, no one, nowhere to turn, no hope, no one who loves me, I’m wrong.

I’m thankful for God’s grace, unmerited favor, steadfast love, strength, goodness, and sovereignty.

I’m thankful for all the people who love me and all the people whom I love and the fact that the Venn diagram of those two groups overlaps quite a bit.

I’m thankful for strangers.

I’m thankful for those whom I love and have lost.

I’m thankful for those friendships that I never expected to blossom, but did.

I’m thankful for vulnerability and how it connects us all.

I’m thankful for stories whether true or fiction.

I’m thankful for the difficult things in life that God uses to make us grow.

I’m thankful for the ability to write.

I’m thankful for the ability to read.

I’m thankful for language.

I’m thankful for music and how many different kinds of music exist and will exist in the future.

I’m thankful for food and the fact that I don’t have to eat the same thing every day.

I’m thankful for empathy.

I’m thankful for colors.

I’m thankful for art and those who make it.

I’m thankful for emotions and the fact that I can feel them after periods of feeling nothing.

I’m thankful that I live in a place full of diversity.

I’m thankful for inspiring teachers who actually give a crap.

I’m thankful for education.

I’m thankful that there is always more to learn and I can keep learning for the rest of my life.

I’m thankful that we don’t have to be grammatically correct to be understood.

I’m thankful for how language evolves.

I’m thankful for the many ways people express themselves.

…I’m thankful that if I had more time to write this, it could be much much longer than this because the number of things I have to be thankful for is uncountable.

And, also, I’m thankful that people actually read my blog. Thank you 🙂

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Best Friends Aren’t For Everyone

Over the past few years, a lot of my friends have been getting married. As is customary, each of these friends has had to choose someone to be the maid of honor or best man. This led to me thinking about who I might choose to fill that role in my own (currently hypothetical) wedding. Thinking about this brought me to a realization that, at first, was a bit distressing. I have plenty of really good close friends, but I don’t actually have a best friend anymore. There is not just one friend who I spend the most time with or who knows the most about me or whatever it is that makes a best friend a best friend. There is not one friend who I feel closer to than all other friends. There are definitely friends who are closer than others, but there is nobody in first place. Nobody who stands just slightly higher than the rest. I’ve had best friends in the past for sure but over time, due to whatever circumstance, we grew apart or just came to a point where we weren’t quite so close or involved in each other’s lives. And that’s fine, really. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s sort of how life goes.

But I remember when I was younger, I thought that having a best friend was essential to life. Other people had best friends – that friend who had almost everything in common with them or that friend who had known them, like forever or that friend that had just always been there in the difficult times, etcetera. But that’s just not something that I can find in any one person anymore. Not currently anyway. When I came to the realization that I don’t have a best friend, it really bothered me. I started to think that maybe there was something wrong with me. I started to think it was really sad. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: best friends aren’t for everyone (at least not for everyone while they are single… I would hope that married people would consider their spouse to be their best friend… that’s the ideal, anyway).

I had to ask myself if I was really lacking anything in terms of friends. Did I really need a best friend? Wasn’t it enough to just have a few really good friends? Honestly, when I look at the friends that I have, I am so thankful and so satisfied with who God has placed in my life. I like the fact that different friends can relate to me in different ways. I have some friends who have just been in my life for a really long time and have been with me through so much that we have a deep bond. I have other friends who totally get all my geeky/nerdy things and we can just be super weird together. I have friends who understand my creative side and we can encourage each other and talk about our creative process and other things of that nature. I have other friends who fill other parts that I don’t even know how to put into words. And having a varied group of friends also means that I have friends who relate to each part of my rather wide-ranged sense of humor and my varied taste in music, movies, books, etc. And I know my relationships with all of them go even deeper and can be even more complicated than that, but I don’t even know how to explain that here… you probably get it without me having to spell it out. The more I thought about all of these things, the more I realized how well off I am in the area of friendship. I have so much. I am so wealthy in this regard that it is absurd for me to think that I am missing something.

Some people do have a best friend, and that’s great. A best friend is a special thing indeed. But, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we all have to have that one person that fits that label in our lives. It is not essential. As stated before, best friends aren’t for everyone. Right now, having a best friend isn’t for me. I’ve had them in the past, maybe I’ll have one in the future, but I’m not going to think about it too much. After all, I’m pretty dang happy with the close friends I’ve got. I don’t like one friend better than another, I like them each differently. I love them each uniquely for who they are as individuals and I am so blessed by how each one of them has made my life better.

Too Old

I’ve recently realized that I have – on some level – been making decisions based on the belief that I am “too old.” I know, I know… I can just see your eyes rolling. At the age of 23 I do understand that I am still very young. I most likely have many years of life ahead of me and I still have a lot of opportunities. But, somewhere, on my way to this stage in my life, I picked up these ideas about which opportunities I have passed up (never to encounter again) and where I “should” be in life by now. Two of the biggest examples of this (the ones that have affected me the most) are these:

  • I’m supposed to get married in my  early-to-mid-20’s and therefore should already be in a serious relationship that is heading in that direction.
  • Continuing my education, other than just getting some kind of certification, is out of the question because I’m too old. Most of my peers already have their Bachelor’s Degree or beyond at my age. All I can do now is work.

I didn’t really realize for a long time that I had been actually thinking those things. And, honestly, typing those thoughts out, knowing that people will read them is kind of embarrassing. But, I feel like this kind of thinking is quite common. We have these ideas of where we should be and what we should be doing once we’ve reached certain ages and when we pass those ages, we think we’ve missed something. We think it’s too late.

This wrong thinking (along with a few other things) greatly contributed to a sort of “waiting around,” kind of lifestyle that I’ve found myself in during the last couple of years. I lived believing that the next step in my life was to become a wife and mother and I was just trying to “sit tight” until the right guy came along. I lived a life forbidding myself to have any ambition or dreams as a single woman, thinking that my every step should be toward being a good wife and I should aim to rid myself of this “single” status [Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that fulfilling the roles of wife and mother would be a tremendous blessing and those roles are such high callings from God. These are roles that I wish were more valued and appreciated in our society. But there is something very wrong with putting time limits (or age limits) on these things. And there is something even more wrong with living a life solely focused on those roles]. I had set my vision of the future on this rigid path and would not allow myself to look around at other paths that might actually be a better way for me. And so I stifled those desires, that drive to do something more, without looking to see if pursuing those things might actually be the best road for my life. It made me much more willing to settle, which is almost never a good thing.

I’ve found that we operate on these arbitrary standards based (most likely) on the “average” or what we see most around us. I think we forget that reality is more complicated than that. Life doesn’t happen the same way for everyone and I don’t really understand why that would be considered a bad thing. Can we really say that Person A has a better life or better life circumstances than Person B, because Person A got married at 25, while person B got married at 45? Or because Person A finished school at 22 while Person B finished at 29? I think that most people would acknowledge the absurdity of that thinking, but we still often live with that kind of mindset. There is no magic number. There isn’t even a magic formula (you can live a content and happy life without a degree or a spouse, too!). Everyone’s life story is different and I think there is something astoundingly beautiful and interesting about that.

[Life update for those who are interested: due to this and a few other “revelations” so-to-speak and after much thought and prayer, I have come to the decision to go back to school to get my Bachelor’s Degree. It’s very scary for me, but I’m pretty excited about it! It’s going to take a while, but I think I am at a good place in my life to do this. I have much more ambition than I had before. I’m hoping to major in Linguistics – though, I might have to start out majoring in English due to some complications – and minor in Asian Studies with a focus in Korean 🙂 There are so many possibilities for the future and I am excited to get started!]

Why I Stopped Writing

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post… and even my last one came after quite a long hiatus. I’m not sure I know how to do this anymore…

It used to come so easily. I used to write all the time and would post blogs a few times each month. I wonder at how easy it was back then. [But maybe it was harder than I currently remember; nostalgia often accompanies altered memories.] I don’t really know what happened, but somewhere down the line, writing got harder for me and I was no longer really feeling encouraged to keep at it. It started to seem like this silly dream that I’d been chasing while I was in college and now it’s time for me to grow up and face the world. This world of adulthood where surviving is all that matters and writing isn’t going to take me anywhere because I’ll never be a great writer anyway. Take this line of thinking (part realistic, partly flawed) and add major anxiety issues complete with panic attacks and periods of depression and… well, maybe you can see why I’ve stopped writing.

I think that somewhere in the midst of all that, I forgot that writing is a part of me. Writing is important, even if I won’t ever be able to make a living from it because when I am not writing, there is a hole that grows bigger and bigger inside of me until I no longer know who I am or what I’m doing. If I lose writing, I lose a part of myself.

I think I also forgot that it’s okay for me to be bad at this. Writing has been my “thing” for a while now and I often feel like my friends and family are expecting everything I write to be phenomenal. I live in constant terror that everyone will find out that I’m not that good at writing, that I’m just a poser with her head in the clouds. This is why I often don’t let people read stories I’ve written and have even deleted some of the things that I wrote. And I know it’s so stupid and unproductive, but sometimes my fear gets the better of me.

So anyway… lately it seems that every time I try to write (which is not as often as it should be), I end up writing a lot about how I can’t write anymore (yes, I am aware of the irony). A few people have been asking me about my writing and I’m beginning to realize how weak my excuses are in comparison to how good I feel when I am writing… no matter how hard I have to work at it. And I know that I need to just write and keep writing whether or not I’m feeling it. That’s what writers do. They write. They write because they have to. They write because they love it (and maybe hate it a little too). They write because they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t writing. I have come to that point where I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. So I’m going to start writing again. And if it sucks, it sucks. I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to try to post blogs more often (I’m not sure if I’m going to make a regular schedule yet, but that is a possibility) and I’m going to start writing stories again… even when I don’t have any ideas. I’m also toying with the idea of creating another blog, separate from this one where I can just post writing prompts and free-writes just to keep the ideas flowing and for accountability (we’ll see). 

So… I guess I’m back to blogging. Some of my next posts might be more rambling about how I can’t write anymore, so I’m sorry in advance. I might need to do that a bit just to get past this terrible case of writer’s block… or whatever it is I’m blaming this all on. 

Oh! And, if you are one of the people who sees me in person on a regular basis: please bug me about my writing. I need to be bugged! (You know what I mean)

See you soon!

[PS – I think it is obvious how rusty I am. Thanks for putting up with the awkward flow and lack of structure that characterizes this post.]

Midlife Cri-…wait…no….Quater-life Crisis?

My brain does this thing every so often. Sometimes it’s once in a month, sometimes it’s every other week, sometimes it leaves me alone for about three months and then starts up again. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this thing but it is something like panic…very close to an identity crisis, but that’s not quite what it’s about.

It starts either with one little comment from someone else or with a thought from my own mind, apropos of nothing (well…maybe not nothing). It starts with a comment like “If you could be doing anything and money were no object, what would you be doing?” or “man, I love my job,” or “I really have a passion for [insert hobby/job].” Or it starts with a thought like, “I love writing, but I don’t really do it like I used to,” or “what is a writer without any ideas?” or “I already finished school and I’m nowhere near starting a family yet; what on Earth should I be doing with my life?” and so on and so forth. That’s when it happens. My mind begins to flood with all these semi-toxic thoughts until I begin to feel dizzy and worthless and utterly confused. And then the weight comes. This horrible, heavy monster that likes to plop himself right down on top of my lungs, and he sort of grins this fuzzy brown grin while he’s doing it. It is at this point that I start to wonder if I’m going completely insane.
After a while of this sensation, my slightly-more-logical side decides to show up and starts to re-think things, but all my crazy just starts to shout abuse at her until she just throws up her hands, sighs loudly and sits down, beginning to feel numb. It is at this point that my head goes quiet, I stop thinking about the matter of what I should be doing with my life altogether and proceed to go back to the way things were. [Sluggard that I am]

[[Usually, about a week after this fiasco, I again realize that God is sovereign and that my life should be lived completely for Him. I remember that I just need to keep trusting and serving Him and moving forward, but I still have that nagging feeling that there’s some turn in the path that I’m just missing outright. Like if I He gave me the skill and love for writing, shouldn’t I be using it?]]

Maybe someday I’ll actually get somewhere with this. Oh well…

Oh, the silence.

Lately I have not really been upset about losing my mother, I haven’t been missing her as much as I did when it all happened. Today I realized why that was. I have been surrounding myself with noise. I have been subconsciously guarding myself from thinking about her by never letting it get quiet. I always have music playing, or the television on in the background, or I have friends over, etc. Today I decided to not turn on anything for a while, thinking it might be relaxing. But I came to realize that the silence causes me to feel and think the things I was trying to suppress. I keep tearing up because suddenly my mother is all that I can really think about. Suddenly I miss her more deeply than I have before. 
All that noise is ruining me. I have shut myself off to who I really am and what I really feel and think.
Today I just feel…odd. Things are not the way they should be, and they haven’t been for quite some time, but I haven’t allowed myself to stop and think about it, so I didn’t realize it until now.

I guess I need to remember how sobering silence is and take the time to shut things off and realize where I am and what I am doing.