It’s Only Been One Year

Today I looked in the mirror and for the first time in a very long time I wasn’t ashamed of what I saw.  And I cried.

I can remember being unhappy with how I looked as far back as fifth grade when my jeans started getting tight.  I would beat myself up because I wasn’t a straight line like the rest of my friends.  I was more the kind of line that you get when you draw with a sharpie and hesitate and let the ink bleed.  Nothing I wore was sleeveless because I didn’t like my arms and I didn’t wear skirts or shorts because my legs were too big.

It got worse when I started high school.  I was shy and quiet, only a handful of friends, and I blamed my appearance for that.  All the popular girls were skinny and had loads of friends and confidence to boot, at least on the outside.  I was just as good as them, so naturally the only thing holding me back was the fact that I didn’t look like them.  So I decided to change that.  Towards the middle of my freshman year I joined the tennis team and I worked my ass off, literally.  I lost twenty-five pounds in four months and I was so happy because for once I started to see myself as pretty.  And then everything stopped when an older girl shoved me in the hallway and called me ugly Betty.  I cried for an hour after that.

I feel so bad when I think of that.  It was just one comment from one girl whose name I didn’t even know and I let it completely shatter every bit of self-confidence and appreciation that I had built through months of hard work.  I feel like I should’ve been stronger, like I should’ve been able to handle that better, but I can’t really blame myself for simply being in the headspace I was back then.

I became obsessed with my weight after that.  I would get on my scale at least four times a day, usually more, and I would just stare at the screen and hope the number would be different from what it was an hour ago, but it never was.  I hated that thing.  I remember one night after dinner I went into the bathroom and stared at the toilet, contemplating whether or not I should throw up.  To this day I’m certain that I would have if it hadn’t have been for the fact that we only had one bathroom in the house and eventually someone would’ve found out.  I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on with me.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me like they felt sorry for me.

After that first night in the bathroom I went back countless other times.  I would stare at the toilet and I would be tempted.  Sometimes I would cry, other times I wouldn’t, and eventually I would go back into my room.  And then I had enough.  I put the scale up on a shelf and closed the toilet lid and decided to pretend that they didn’t exist.  I wasn’t in the least bit close to being comfortable with how I looked, but I figured I would probably start feeling better about myself if I pretended that scale didn’t exist.

So I tried my best for the next two years to push my weight out of my mind and focus on better things instead.  I applied to schools, said goodbye to my friends, and headed off to college after a much anticipated graduation.  My life completely changed after I stepped onto campus.  I became friends with amazing people I never imagined I’d meet, I found my independence.  I fell in love.  I don’t know exactly how I did it, but over the course of the year I took advantage of the blank slate that college offered me and I changed myself.

The thing I’m most proud of is my wardrobe.  I went to college with one pair of jeans and a slew of baggy boy t-shirts and now, a year later, I own nothing but dresses.  They’re all sleeveless, too.  Fifth grade me would cringe.  But every morning when I put one on I look at myself in the mirror and I think of her and marvel at how far I’ve come.  I wish I could talk to fifth grade Sara and tell her that she doesn’t need to be ashamed of who she is.  I wish I could show her the pretty dresses that I wear and tell her how happy I am and show her that she’s going to be okay.

Yesterday I voluntarily stepped on a scale for the first time in three years.  I was utterly astounded when I saw that I lost 30 pounds since my doctor’s appointment in January.  I didn’t even realize it was happening.  I fell asleep confused, went to the mirror this morning, and I cried.  As happy as I thought I was, I didn’t realize just how unfair I was still being to myself.  I looked in the mirror this morning and what I saw was so drastically different from what I saw yesterday that I can hardly believe it’s only been one night.  It’s incredible.

I don’t really know what else to say now.  I’ve caught up to the present, so there’s not much else I can share.  A big part of the reason I wrote this was to let someone know because I’m that kind of excited where you need to share with somebody, but I hope somebody out there will find it helpful.  I say that a lot when I write these kinds of posts, but I really do.  If I can let someone know now what I wish I could’ve told myself years ago and help them out, then I would be so happy.  I hope you see how beautiful you are.

~Sara

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The Nature of Hatred

So I’ve been watching a lot of Scandal recently (great show, totally recommend it) and watching Fitz and Olivia, which I totally don’t approve of by the way, has had me thinking a lot about the nature of hatred and what it really means to hate someone.

Now, I believe that people are born unaligned. I don’t think anyone is totally good or totally bad when they’re born, they develop that sense on their own over time. Babies can be douchebags. They pull your hair and they’re selfish, but they also like for you to hold them and they’re sweet. Then, as they grow up they are taught the difference between what’s right and wrong and, depending on their personalities and their outlook on the world, they begin acting on those principles accordingly.

This leaves plenty of room for a wide range of different people, anywhere from saint to evil, and nobody is ever quite the same. People develop different tastes and preferences, different personalities and identities, and no person is ever exactly the same as someone else. There are two things, though, that are universal and connect everyone together, and those are compassion and empathy.

These two traits are shared by everyone in the world, although some may have more than others. Everyone has the instinct of looking at something and understanding or identifying with it. It doesn’t even have to be another person. It could be the sad, hungry-looking stray dog you pass by on the street or, if you’re like me, the one stuffed animal that’s sitting alone away from all the other ones. You feel bad for it, you want to help, or celebrate if the situation is different. This instinctual feeling of connection and understanding is what makes us human, in my opinion anyway.

I don’t think it’s possible to hate someone. Or, if it is, it’s crazy difficult. When you hate someone, you hate them. You make the conscious decision to hate everything about them. You can’t feel empathy or compassion for them, you have to give that up entirely. By doing that, you’re no longer looking at them with any semblance of respect. They are worth less to you than a stuffed animal, if the case above can apply to you. You can no longer feel bad when someone they love dies or if they’re experiencing heart-wrenching trauma, you can’t feel anything for them anymore except for hatred. By doing that, you give up the one thing about yourself that connects you to every other person on the planet. You have to give up what makes you human, your own humanity, just to hate someone.

I don’t think that’s possible. It shouldn’t be possible, and if it is I wouldn’t expect anyone to want to do it. I couldn’t. I couldn’t give up my humanity for someone else, especially if I didn’t like them. Could you?

~Sara

Second Semester

Well, it’s the eve of the beginning of my second semester in college. I go back to campus tomorrow and I have to say I am way beyond excited. I’ve been sitting at home on winter break for over three weeks and in that time it’s been crazy how much I’ve noticed my life has changed since I started school in August.

My brain feels like mush. I am so ready to start classes again and actually have to use it since this whole break it’s done nothing but rattle around in my skull and watch Netflix and look at Tumblr. I’m not saying those are bad things because I totally like doing them, it’s just that three straight weeks of it can start to wear on you. My brain needs my Game Studies class and ethical reasoning and questions about Tolkien (Oh yeah, I’m taking an entire class on Tolkien literature. How freaking awesome is that?).

I actually miss being around people. Growing up, I was never the person who liked being around people that much. They either ignored me or bothered me way too much, with hardly any happy medium to entice me any further. I figured that when I went to college I’d find maybe one or two cool people to be friends with and stick with them whenever I wasn’t sitting around in my dorm room preoccupied with either school work or Netflix (I realize that I have already mentioned Netflix twice in this short post. Netflix is a big part of my life and I am not ashamed to say it). Now I have a group of seven people that I hang out with so much that I’m hardly ever in my room anymore. I even miss sitting in the crowded cafeteria, although the noise bothers me sometimes. I’ve become someone who enjoys being around people now, and that is a weird concept for me to get accustomed to.

They’re not really huge changes, but when you look at them and compare them to the amount of time that I’ve been at school it’s a pretty cool thing. I’m happy with them, anyway. College has been good for me in tons of different ways and I am so ready to go back and see what kind of changes I’ll make this semester.

~Sara

The Twentieth Year

Kani, my friend, you are exceptional. I can’t even begin to thank you for becoming my friend at Bridge Builders and helping push me out of my shell. That karaoke night really was one of the very first steps to my becoming the different person that you saw at our staff reunion just the other week. Your confidence and who you are really are an inspiration and I hope you have the best birthday!

Naturally Kani

This entire year I’ve blogged under the category “The Twentieth Year”. Since my birthday is New Years Eve’s Eve, I spend the entire year prepping for my day of birth and getting excited. While I’ve spent practically the whole year as a nineteen year old,this year marked my twentieth full year on the planet. And it has been a crazy year of growth; I’m so thankful that you out there in cyberspace have stayed along for the ride.

I’ve written about things that infuriate me, things that inspire me, things that make me happy to be alive. This year has literally flown by and I’m so amazed by the sheer awesomeness of it. Y’all, I spent so long in the shadow of the valley death, when years roll around that don’t scare me, I have to thank God for reassuring me of His grace. The years that are unmarked…

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Get in the Spirit of the New Year!

It’s officially that time of the year again. It’s officially that weird floating week that just kind of sits in between Christmas and New Years. This is usually when I’ve run out of things to keep me occupied during my school break, so, partially out of boredom and partially out of excitement, I throw myself into the spirit of the new year and come up with a list of resolutions, as so many people do.
The problem with that, though, is that I can never really think of anything to list. So, to remedy that I take to the internet and look at other people’s lists for inspiration. I already have my list, so I figured I would share it just in case there are any other people looking for inspiration like I always do.

  • Draw more, you’re losing your touch.
  • Learn to unapologetically say no.  It’s ok, you can do it.
  • Appreciate yourself.  If you don’t, no one will.
  • Don’t give a shit about what others think about you.  Other people are great and all, but at the end of the day it’s only going to matter what you think about you.
  • Try to be more approachable.  I know you don’t mean to, but you tend to scare strangers.
  • Talk to people more.  You feel bad that you think you’re bad at it and don’t do it, so change it.
  • Have more solo dance parties in your room.  Practice makes perfect.
  • Have more public dance parties.  Your solo dance parties have only showed you that you can’t dance.  You should share that with the rest of the world so that they know, too.
  • Take a risk or two.  It could hurt, but it could also be so worth it.
  • Stop going on your phone when you’re bored or uncomfortable.  Appreciate those awkward moments because they’re always hilarious when you remember them later.
  • Learn to stand up for yourself more.  People should care about what you have to say, so show them.
  • Don’t fear the unknown.  Flip it off and keep moving.
  • Pay attention to your body language.  This has a lot to do with that whole unapproachable, scaring strangers and not talking to them thing.
  • Go on adventures, even little ones.  Explore a new building on campus or take that 30 minute walk to the Chinese buffet across town.  It would be even more fun if you brought your friends.
  • Learn to vent without complaining.  You know you tend to complain, even if you don’t mean to.  It’s not attractive and people don’t like to listen to it.  There’s a difference between the two.
  • Work on your physical appearance and on getting a more positive body image.  College has been a huge confidence boost in that department, but you still have bad days and you shouldn’t have to.  I know you’re self conscious about putting yourself out there, but what’s on the inside should be on the outside, too.  You owe that much to yourself.
  • Get back into your blog.  You really loved it, but you let it slip.  Get on that.

So, those are my resolutions for the year.  What are some of yours?

~Sara

Oral Hygiene: It’s Important

So, I’ve been gone for a while now, but, hey, life happens. Also, college is a thing.

These past three weeks have been a weird, stressful, emotional roller coaster and honestly I think I’m still trying to process it. I moved out of my house. My college classes started a little over a week ago. A week before that my grandma died.

Quick warning: stuff’s about to get heavy.

I haven’t addressed it. It’s been two weeks and I haven’t addressed it and I feel like I should. I haven’t talked to anybody about it, except to tell someone that it happened, and I have a bad track record with keeping things bottled up. So, in keeping with my goal of using my time at college to become a better person, I’m going to try to chip away at that problem and open up.

It’s been hard. Or, I guess it kind of hasn’t. It was hard at first, a definite shock, but after that first night I kind of blocked it out. I remember that my dad and my sister came and got me, told me that grammy had died, and that we had to drive to her house to meet my mom. Let me just tell you, shock is very real. It may be hard to understand and you may be a little skeptical if you’ve never experienced it (as was I), but after you do you’ll never doubt again. I was in shock. After a few minutes of sitting in silence, though, I just started to cry. They were such weird tears, too. They were the kind of tears you see actors cry in movies that you think are so obviously fake because they don’t do anything that everyone normally does when they cry. When you think of crying you think of sniffling and sobbing sounds, and squinched faces. Just a general aura of deep sadness. But those actors don’t do anything except stare straight ahead with a blank face as their tears fall, so that can’t be real, right? Wrong. Those are the worst kind of tears. Those are the tears when you know something affects you so deeply that, even though you can’t process it yet, your subconscious already knows how to react. You don’t even feel sad, your body is just doing it by itself. It knows that if you were thinking correctly you would be crying, so it just figures it’ll have your back and just go ahead and do it. That’s when you know something is going to hurt a lot.

The silence was horrendous, too. Everyone was quiet and that silence felt physically heavy. It was like it was pressing in on me from all sides, like it was hard to breathe. And suddenly I just had this burning need to get out of the car, to escape that silent pressure. I needed to talk to somebody, needed to take away the silence. I needed to call my friend.

Dustin, who’s been my friend longer than anyone else. We’ve been best friends since 4th grade and somehow managed to stay in contact all this time, despite all the moving around we’ve both done. He’s the funniest person I know and some part of me knew at that moment that I needed him. When we pulled up at the house, I walked out to the garage and called him. He sounded so happy when he picked up (we hardly talk on the phone) and I felt bad that I was probably going to ruin his day, but as soon as I heard his voice I broke down. And he listened to me sob over the phone while I told him what happened. He told me he was sorry and asked me how my family was doing, specifically my mom. Then he started talking about other stuff, just random things to keep my mind off of things. We talked about how he was going to break the record for having the most children, how we were going to both become poor English teachers and live off the kids’ salaries and his brother’s eventual musical career, how we’re gonna get married when we’re old and live above the country bakery I’ll open. And it was just what I needed. There’s just no room to feel sad when you’re laughing.

That’s the reason I threw myself into YouTube again. Anyone know any great Let’s Players? Chilled Chaos? Seananners? Cryaotic? Cry’s the best, let me tell you. Those guys might as well be my family. I go to them anytime I’m feeling unlucky or depressed, whenever I need a good laugh in general. They’re always there playing games, joking around and being happy. It’s easier to feel happy when you’re watching someone else be happy. They’ve helped me through some tough times. YouTube is a godsend.

Then my uncle came down from Oregon, only the second time I’ve physically seen him. It was easy not to feel sad then. I even put together the slideshow of pictures of my grandma to show at the funeral and it wasn’t hard. But then the funeral came around. I was fine then, too, until the man stood up at the front and started talking. And I crumbled. Mirisa was there, which was good. I needed that support. Then the funeral ended and we went to the outside room for people to come give us their condolences and I had to leave. I find it extremely difficult to cry in front of people and show that vulnerability, so when I saw the first person coming I hugged my dad and ran to the bathroom. I collected myself as I looked in the mirror, then went back out after most of the people had already left. I’ve been fine since then, with the exception of right now when I’m writing this.

We still go over to her house and it feels empty. I have pictures of her up on my dorm room wall and when I look at them I have this weird feeling that I can’t quite explain. They feel empty, kind of like the house. Any pictures of her feel like ghosts. I had a nightmare the other night about her ghost coming back and haunting me and my sister. Now, that messed me up. She’s the first person in my life that’s died that I’ve had any attachment to and that’s a weird adjustment to make to your view of the world. I still feel sad when I look at pictures of her, but it’s some foreign sort of sadness that I’ve never felt before. Almost like a hollow kind of sadness where, if you were to look inside of me, a part of me empties out when I look at the pictures.

I try not to think about it too much because it makes me sad, but it’s hard to think about all the stuff that’s going to happen to me that she won’t get to see. She saw me graduate, but she won’t get to see my sister. She won’t get to see either of us graduate college or get married. She won’t ever be a great-grandma. She was so concerned about my moving away to college, but she never got to say goodbye.

I feel so bad for my roommate right now. She’s getting ready to go out tonight and I know the sniffling sounds coming from my side of the room are anything but pretty right now. I’m almost done though, so at least there’s that. Sorry, Brit.

I guess I’m going to leave off with giving that old advice that everyone gives after experiencing the after effects of death. Don’t wait around. You don’t know what’s going to happen or when, so don’t put off telling someone something because you assume you’ll have the chance to tomorrow. That’ll just lead to regrets, and those are the cavities to your life candy. They’ll just grow and get worse with time, causing more and more pain. You can’t enjoy candy with cavities and you know they won’t make your teeth look better. So, just remember to brush your teeth, kids, with…uh…words I guess? Heartfelt confessions? Something like that. Tell someone you love them and give them a smile every day, even if you feel like crap. If anything, you’ll brighten at least one other person’s world and that should be worth it.

That’s it. Thanks for sticking around if you did. I kind of feel like pretty much all of my posts are really heavy, and I’m sorry if you’re not into that, but that’s just the stuff that’s easy for me to write about. That’s the kind of stuff that feels real to me, so that’s the kind of stuff I want to share. I don’t want to lie to you guys because I love you. Yes, this random girl you’ve never met loves you. Deal with it. Also, you’re beautiful. Goodnight.

P.S. Did anyone read the title and become quickly confused when you actually started reading the post? Because that’s awesome. Your teeth are important though, so get on that.

~Sara