Forgiveness Is…

Letting go of anger. Anger that feels powerful, but in reality is a leech that takes all the power of love out of your heart.

Giving second chances when possible, remembering that forgiveness does not mean to put yourself in harm’s way time and time again.

Writing an angry letter, and signing it “Love, ”

Acknowledging intention, imperfection, and background. Acknowledging that their actions are not representative of how they may have wanted to act — that they might have meant to say one thing and ended up saying another.

Choosing love because people are souls who deserve love, who need love, not mere bodies who have to earn it. And that love can mean stepping away.

Breathing when the hurt wants to fill your lungs with hatred instead of air.

Wearing your favorite outfit, taking a bath, and listening to your favorite music without accusing anyone of ruining these things for you. Forgiveness is allowing yourself to continuing loving other things, too.

Not easy.

Stepping outside of yourself.

Stepping into yourself, letting yourself live your best life.

 

Life updates! I’m currently taking a summer semester at BYU and I am loving it. I am in a program with other students who also regularly attend other universities, all of us here to build community and to dive deeper into our identities and to learn, of course. And I am so happy.

As for the message above, I’d like you to know that I am well. Totally. I just had some time to reflect on times I’ve been hurt, which comes from specific moments by specific people, but also just from the woundedness that comes from being a human being who feels. I didn’t plan on writing about this, but I opened up my blog because it’s been a hot minute, and all of a sudden I had typed this up.

Sending you love from Utah, missing you if you are not here with me, and wishing you all the best in your life —

Love, Emily ❤

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L i f e

Hey. It’s been a while.

In case you’ve forgotten who I am, my name is Emily, I am a college student, and I enjoy writing about my life and thoughts on the world being a goober.

Lately, I haven’t been inclined to write on this blog because I haven’t been sitting around pondering random stuff the way I used to. My writing process is often spurred by watching/listening to/reading something thought-provoking, something I feel the need to explore through the written word. But given that today alone I have spent about five hours in chemistry classes and then a few hours more working on chem homework (and no, I am not a chemistry major), I think it’s fair to say that I am in a different season in my life.

But I do miss writing here. Really. So maybe I won’t be able to give you something eloquent today, but perhaps in the future I will. For now, I just want to talk about my life.

I have an incredible life. It is full of opportunity and growth. I have a family who loves me a lot (like, a lot a lot). I get to face new challenges every day, and I have friends who bear me up when I’m down.

I am currently in pursuit of a degree in biology as well as a minor in math and science education so that I can become a teacher, because the people who have changed my life have all been teachers (by profession or by nature or both). I spend an hour a week in a first grade classroom — I fell in love with the kids at first sight.

I also struggle. I mess up a lot. I don’t take care of myself particularly well. I often feel lonely. Under stress I usually either go into denial or crumble a little (see: current me writing a blog post instead of studying for my chemistry midterm, future me yelling at inanimate objects in frustration at ~the system~).

But I am well. And I am grateful. I’m excited for the time in the future when I can come up with nice metaphors and write something interesting and well-spoken, but here I am for now.

Much love,

Emily

Peaks

It is incredibly easy for me to let myself believe that I peaked in high school.

No, really. I’m serious. As far as I know, I was well liked, I was good at what I did, I had leadership positions, I got awards. I worked really hard, and I achieved everything I desired for myself.

Nowadays, it’s a little different. No one knows who I am, I have no idea what I’m doing, I have no tangible achievements from anything, and I don’t really have those feel-good intangible achievements from anything either. I work really hard and yet see few results in spite of my efforts.

This is a lesson that has been expressed to me again and again, but I haven’t internalized it until now: College is a place of new beginnings. Several months ago, my friends and I — seniors in high school — were chatting with friends who had just begun their first year of college. We made fun of them because we, seniors, were technically higher in the social hierarchy than they, freshmen, were. But did that not have a little truth? We were valedictorians and presidents of organizations; they were anonymous numbers lost in a sea of college students.

Flash back to eighth grade English class, my first Socratic seminar, where we were discussing what gives a person value. Comparing an incarcerated criminal and a young child, we discussed whose life path had more worth. I was often too shy to speak up in class, but for once I spoke with confidence: “The child, because she has more potential.”

Potential.

And where does potential come from? Opportunity. Drive. I’m interested in everything, and I have the whole world at my fingertips. How can I have peaked when I’ve still got so much further to go?

Gone are the accolades and honors — the badges of recognition I once proudly bore. And maybe that’s uncomfortable because I put too much of my identity in them. Which is easy since they are tangible, but they are also fleeting. I am not a number or a certificate or a plaque. And maybe it took a reality check like this to realize it. But seriously, a piece of wood and plastic cannot possibly encompass the complexity of a human being. However even if we put the material of it aside, an important fact remains: It is from the past, and it remains in the past. The future has so much more to offer.

Don’t ever let yourself believe that you’ve hit your peak. Every single person has so much potential, so much more to learn, so many more people to love. There is always room for growth — there is always room for a little more of yourself. Give yourself permission to be more.

Long-Term Gratification

I said it in my previous post, and I’ll say it again: I hate change. I have been living at Berkeley for two weeks, and it has been the single most overwhelming experience of my life. In the first week, I cried a good deal . . . My body rejected the idea of staying here a moment longer. My body craved comfort.

Things I took for granted when I lived at home:

  • Being alone right before I go to sleep
  • Looking into a crowd of people and recognizing at least one person
  • Playing loud music whenever I want
  • Feeling safe night and day
  • Spending time with people who make me comfortable
  • Always knowing there is someone who really loves me nearby

Lately, I’ve spent more time feeling lonely than I ever have before. The thing is, I chose Berkeley so that I could get out of my comfort zone. I just want to be on the other side of these growing pains — to have all the rewards of challenge without the challenge itself. However my opponent is no burly, armed savage; it is patience, who sits silently, who is only defeated when I forget he is there.

I promise I’m not here trying to throw a pity party for myself. I assure you, there are moments when I feel a distinct sense of belonging. Like when my friends taught me two chords on the guitar, and we proceeded to belt the text of 19th century poetry to the only two chords I know on guitar. Or when I find myself constantly feeling head-over-heels in love with my classes. Or, my personal favorite, on those rare occasions when my roommates and I are all in the same room, and we start talking, and we realize that all of a sudden it is two in the morning. These are the moments I feel incredibly well and whole.

Even so, I do think it is important to share that I have struggles here. It seems like everyone around me is well adjusted and has their life together. And for the sake of being honest, I can tell you that I identify with neither of those feelings. I do not know how exactly I will survive this year.

But I do know I will survive.

One of my favorite words used in the scriptures is “long-suffering” — the quality of being able to endure in patience, to endure with a quiet strength. And in the quiet, you’ll find pieces of the person you’ve been trying to become. “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” : This is how I will come to find joy and fulfillment in this new phase of life. Long-suffering is the path to long-term gratification.

We’ve all heard of the experiment on long-term gratification — yes, the one with the children and the marshmallows. I like to think of my time here at Cal as a test to see if I can wait for the second marshmallow. Now, I really like marshmallows (both literal and metaphorical).

So I think I just might be able to pull it off.

HelloGoodbye

Hello ! I’m back !

Yes I said I would do a lot of blogging this summer, no I did not follow through with that, yes the pressure of keeping to my goal kept me from wanting to come back, no I do not plan on trying to make any more unreasonable goals for the blog anytime soon.

Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to put out into the world the fact that I’m making the first big move of my life. I’ve lived in one place for eighteen years, and now I’m leaving all of what I know and all of what I am comfortable with to go to a school that I’ve seen exactly once.

So byeeeee.

It’s hitting me a little bit at a time. And like one of my closest friends says, it won’t truly hit me until I say goodnight to my roommates for the first time. And then it will really really hit me about a month later when I realize I’m not on a vacation or at a summer camp.

Of course (being the sap you already know me to be) I am feeling really sentimental about “lasts” and “goodbyes”. The last time I see so and so, the last time I go to the Kettle, the last time I will be at my church building. I will meet new people, find a new go-to restaurant, and attend church in a new building. And I am well aware that this is not the last time in my life that I will talk to these people and go to these places.

But still :/

I just realized how much I will miss the people I have in my life now, and how it becomes more difficult to talk to them, and how casual interactions become more scarce. And I don’t like that. I really really really don’t like change. In fact, I hate change. And yet I crave change.

I watched this thought provoking video by Hank Green in which he explores how incredibly human it is to want conflicting things. I want to stay and I want to go. How do you grapple with that?? In the end you win and you lose. But if I were to figure out a way to drop out now and stay, I would not win and lose.

I would only lose.

Just last evening, I was sitting on my patio at an hour far too late with people I’ve known for far too long. We sat under the lovely string lights, where everything feels a little more nostalgic, and they poured into me advice they wished they had been given when they were my age. I was told that at least once a year I should do something that I was certain I would fail at. Doing so redefines your idea of failure — failure becomes not trying instead of not apparently succeeding.

I suppose it’s just another one of those things where I want something that I know I don’t actually want. Does that even make sense? I want something that I’m aware isn’t in my best interest. What’s good is that I also want something that is in my best interest. I’m not stuck. But I’m also struggling to let go of things that are no longer good for me.

It should be noted that this is a common theme for me. I am not good at letting go, at saying goodbye. But now more than ever I need to remember what Jeffrey R. Holland said in one of his (always) incredible talks: “The past is to be learned from, not lived in. Faith is for the future.”

Here’s to the heartfelt goodbyes that are soon to come — though it isn’t bye forever. Here’s to rewriting my definition of failure. Here’s to having the faith that I will find success (even if it’s well-hidden, even I have to fight tooth and nail to get there) in the unknown that is my future.

Wish me luck 🙂

 

Hank Green: https://youtu.be/98NZlpscMtk

Jeffrey R. Holland: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland_remember-lots-wife/

Reading vs. Social Media (I’m rooting for the former, but the latter is winning)

I grew up as an avid reader. In fact, that’s probably an understatement. If you wanted me to do something while I had my nose in the book, you would be able to count on the fact that it would not get done until I had finished the chapter (or, if the book was really engrossing, until I had finished the book).

Now, I am eighteen years old and — brace yourself — I struggle to read. Yes, you heard it from me, it’s really difficult. I cannot sit as I once did for hours on end (or even an hour? Yikes, it’s bad) and find myself immersed in a book. I am constantly enticed to watch an interesting Youtube video or keep up a text conversation with someone. And those are things I legitimately want to do; I take those actions intentionally.

And the digital world I am a part of is instant. No waiting. Just tons of information at my fingertips, available and ready for mass consumption. It poses the (unfortunately fake) opportunity to multitask. I can talk to a friend while listening to Hamilton while reading an article about the history of sleep (which is fascinating, I promise). Or I can try to learn everything about life by watching TED talk after TED talk, flooding my senses with information.

But such floods don’t give me the opportunity to reflect, to have an opinion, to ponder. When reading, however, you can easily take a moment to question or comment on the text. In fact, doing so is encouraged!

So how do I find balance??? I deleted my Snapchat for a while because I felt like it didn’t add anything to my day. But after two weeks or so without it, I realized that it wasn’t worthless — I have so much fun making a fool out of myself and sending dumb videos to my friends. SO MUCH FUN.  So those extremes don’t work for me. Maybe I should just spend a few hours a day with all of my technology off. And my schedule is far too variable to keep to a specific timetable, so I’ll do this: I’ll spend two hours of my waking day with my phone and computer off.

Part of my ideology for this blog is to hold myself accountable to my goals. So far, you are keeping track of me with . . .

  • Choosing to be bold
  • BEDOSB ! (aka blog every day of summer break)
  • Spending two hours a day with my technology OFF

And I’m gonna throw another in:

  • I want to finish a book by the end of June: either Hidden Figures (44/265) or Alber Camus’s The Fall (10/147 . . . I started it today without knowing anything about it and I love it so far)
    • I will set another book goal when July begins 🙂

Okay yay thanks for listening to this rambly post. Let me know if you have any good tips on how to have a healthy relationship with social media or if you’re also struggling to get into reading (especially if you’ve been inundated with school reading and summer reading for the past 7239810374 years).

Here’s to my goal to become an avid reader once more. Cheers!

Impermanence

My blog is permanent. Everything I publish stays on the internet forever, if not for the immortality of the virtual sphere then for the fact that I do not know how to erase my writing from the internet with absolutely no way of retrieving it.

I am not permanent. I am not even constant — I am ever-changing, ever-moving. And music is not permanent. Even recorded music is only ever enjoyed from moment to moment, as opposed to a painting, at which you could stare for hours if you so desired.

A pal from choir gave a speech on impermanence, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. How something that is fleeting is beautiful because it is ephemeral. Because no photography or acute memory does that moment justice.

I didn’t go into this post convicted with an opinion or a message I was dying to share. Just a feeling that moments are precious.

I graduated high school a week ago tomorrow. Of course it hasn’t hit me that I’m finally out. That all the times — good and bad, excruciating and blissful — are behind me. That I’m no longer part of the organizations that were my life and passion. I’m still grappling with all of that. And day by day I’m bombarded with flashbacks. Some make me laugh, some bring tears to my eyes and pain to my chest.

How am I to live when every millisecond feels like gold dust slipping through my fingers? When nostalgia seems less like an occasional daydream and more like the ringing in my ears: I only feel it when it’s quiet, I always feel it when it’s quiet.

I don’t at all have an answer to that, except to just keep living in the moment and to fill empty spaces with gratitude.

Being a sappy and emotional person is weird, but hey — it’s also kinda lovely:)

A Life Well-Lived

About a year ago, a lovely friend asked me what my favorite part of my body is, and I replied, “My hands.” I adore my hands. They are soft and thin. I have nails that naturally look like a French Tip from the nail salon. I think my hands are really nice.

About a week ago, I went rock-climbing with my brother. It was my first time, and while I didn’t expect it to be easy, I definitely did not expect it to be so . . . uncomfortable. The rough holds pulled the skin on my chalky hands taut from the weight of my body below. Thinking of the callouses and scratches I’d seen on my brother’s fingers, I reached for the next hold gingerly. However, such delicacy only got me a good five inches off the ground.

In order to ascend, I needed to be a whole lot tougher.

Sweat. Shift my weight. Reach. Grasp. Pull (because I don’t know how to push with my legs yet). Remind my self to breathe. Holler “TENSION” just as I slip from the wall. Hang awkwardly in the air. Rub some chalk on my hands. Get back on the wall. Climb a little more.

I was two feet away from the top; I knew I was going to make it, but I had no idea how. My arms ached, and I was spending more time in the air than I did on the wall. I said a little prayer — my way of approaching the seemingly impossible — and tried to come up with one last strategy to get me to the top. Pushing, pulling, gasping for air, and finally I was fully up at the last hold, over twenty feet in the air. My brother lowered me to the ground, where I landed gently on my back. I laid there, breathing, clearly exhausted, and had a Knives Chau moment as I breathlessly mumbled, “That was so . . . amaaazing.” We laughed together, and I looked at my chalky hands.

My skin was torn on several fingers.

I had one of those dramatic moments where my life flashed before my eyes, except it wasn’t my life — it was my hands’ . . . ? I remembered every compliment I’d received: “Wow your hands are so soft!”, “Do you play piano? You have such long elegant fingers.” I thought of every hand I’ve ever held. There I was, baffled at the fact that I would have to chose between a piece of my identity and a sport for which I could feel a budding passion.

Calloused hands, sore arms, chalk on all my clothes — that’s a well-lived life. And I’d much rather live well than sit around waiting for someone to admire my hands.

That’s not in spite of the fact that I love my hands, it’s because of the fact that I love my hands. My hands can take me up a twenty-foot wall. My hands can draw careful calligraphy on a sheet of paper. My hands can spill colorful ideas from my head onto keys that translate my amorphous thoughts into a blog post. Our bodies are truly far more incredible than we often give them credit for.

A few months ago I wrote about how I want to focus on being bold this year. Such a transformation takes practice — practice that I have not made time for up until now. So with every passing opportunity to choose between timidity and courage (whether the choice be trivial or significant), I will encourage myself to choose the latter. I would encourage you to do the same. Don’t stress about the aesthetics. Don’t worry over preconceptions. Serve, try new things, bravely sprint into inevitable failure. Live your life well.

Imagine People Complexly

When I was a kid, my favorite household appliance to play with was our label maker. Even to this day, I love typing out some category on the label maker, printing it out, and pasting the thin slip of paper onto a box or drawer. I love to put things in packages.

I’ve gone back and forth between considering myself an introvert and an extrovert. Sometimes I think I am an open person, and then I remember how very private I can be. I consider myself an academic, except when school is the last of all my priorities. I’m a story-teller and an analyst, a Romantic and a Realist, bubbly and meditative, scientific and spiritual.

Labels help us make sense of the world. But they’re tricky. They miss the nooks and crannies. Labels take an armful of what they can — haphazardly, recklessly — dropping the pebbles you collected as a child, the thank you note you gave your fourth grade teacher, the old pennies you keep because something about old change fascinates you.

Labels have no concept of nuance.

And that includes labels that go beyond personality. That includes labels that venture into judgement. GoodBad. Oh I don’t like her, she’s weird. I don’t talk to that guy, he’s a real jerk. Wow I adore her, she is perfect. Put-downs and Pedestals are equally dangerous.

I know I do both, I admit to that. I’ve found it’s a lot harder to deal with pedestals; I have a habit of thinking praise is inherently good and criticism is inherently bad. I thought love and kindness meant overlooking faults. But when someone fails some grandiose image you have painted of them, it’s utterly heartbreaking. How dare they do something wrong — they don’t make mistakes, remember? They’re supposed to be perfect. You grow angry, you feel betrayed.

What we forget about judgement is that it isn’t a mere label, it’s an entire wall. A barrier that leaves both parties hurt.

For a while I’ve been pondering a thought experiment that goes as follows: There is a chamber that resembles a long hallway. At the very end of the hallway is a room in which you can listen to every nice thing anyone has ever said about you, in your presence or not. But there are rooms that you must go through before you make it to that last room. In each of the rooms prior to the last, you have to listen to mean things people have said about you. As you draw closer to the last room, the comments get more and more scathing.

I wonder if I could make it to that last room. I’m curious how far I could go. I wonder what mean things people have said about me, since I have been so blessed as to rarely have been insulted to my face. But what I’m most curious about is who gossips about me. I don’t have any judgement for them: I’m not mad at these people nor do I want to seek them out. I just have an intense hope that these people see me complexly. In fact, I hope the people who have said kind things about me see me complexly too.

My challenge is to be aware of how you view others. Be acutely conscious of what you think and say. Do not mindlessly type out labels to print and paste on people’s foreheads (including your own) as if any person and the intricate workings of their soul can be described in a single word. Remember that you are not defined by a mistake or even a personality trait. No one is. We have to think about people complexly.

The Fourth Quadrant: A Discussion on Well-Being

Because I woke up five minutes before I was supposed to leave my house this morning, I showed up at school in sweats and a comfy t shirt.

Welcome to Utter-Exhaustion Emily.

I have a really bad habit of sleeping very very late despite having to wake up at a very early hour. And ultimately that is a reflection on my priorities: sleeping well, eating well, and other means of taking care of myself tend to become low priorities for me.

Let me explain this graph that a dear friend once blew my mind with:

 

We as people are pretty good at doing things in three of these quadrants —

  1. Important and Urgent: taking someone to the hospital
  2. Urgent but Not Important: answering a text
  3. Not Important and Not Urgent: watching TV

Yet we struggle to complete tasks that are in Quadrant 4 — Not Urgent but Important: Exercise. Doing creative projects and pursuing hobbies. Making goals. Reading a book. Sleeping early. Establishing a healthy diet.

Of course it just so happens that most (if not all ?) of the constituents of this fourth quadrant are crucial to our health — emotional, physical, and mental. And these three things are inextricably intertwined.

Utter-Exhaustion Emily is not well in any of these three categories of health.

I have a really big problem with cultures that don’t uphold the stuff in the fourth quadrant. For example, the academic culture I’m in currently does not suit me because I am not by any means encouraged to go do my calligraphy for an hour or to read books outside of school. And while I don’t think these are things that should be extrinsically motivated, I do think that a community of people who are well has to be one that has concern that its members are taking care of themselves. That means sleeping. That means doing something you love. That means reaching out to a friend you miss. Those are the tasks that make difficult tasks or experiences bearable. When we set out to satisfy Important but Not Urgent needs, we are grounded, stable

I haven’t blogged in weeks because I’ve been so busy. I also stopped doing other things that ground me. So here I am, trying to get back on the horse. Yes, it will be a struggle, since I will continue to be oh-so-busy for the next three weeks or so, but I really really am going to do my best.

I encourage you to do something that fits into the fourth quadrant today. I hope that you won’t say “Tomorrow I will” or “I just don’t have time right now.” Make the time. And ask someone you love about their fourth quadrant stuff. Ask about their hobbies. Text your friend who loves horseback riding or songwriting and ask how their endeavors are going. Make a ripple in your work-obsessed culture — remind everyone that a lack of urgency does not mean a lack of importance.