I’ve been on this quest to discover who I am for quite some time.

I think it started with my move to Germany. There I was in a brand new country with absolutely nobody who knew anything about me. That type of situation is just ripe for a new start, to begin again and truly start learning what makes up a person.

In that time, I learned that I can be bold when I need to be. When put into a situation when I really needed to start making friends and meeting people, I practically invited myself to this restaurant/bar-hopping event that led me to this wonderful group of people I’m still so lucky to get to call friends. Similarly, I had to navigate through train stations and countries that I had never been in before, knowing almost nobody. I was going to meet friends in both Paris and Switzerland, but much of my time in France was spent by myself. I learned that I can figure out solutions to almost any problem, which is an incredible feeling after thinking for years that I was just some hopeless waste of a person.

During that year, I also really started to cultivate my love for the written word. I started journaling almost daily and began to realize that when I actually tried, I had just enough natural talent to make an impact on others with my writing. I got several very encouraging emails from friends I hadn’t personally seen in years, and that support meant everything.

When I moved back to Texas, things were a little different. Looking through last year though, I’ve learned a few more things about myself. I’ve learned that I’m resilient. Being around people who actually knew about my marriage and who learned about all the actions that lead up to the divorce helped me see that I’m much stronger than I give myself credit. I can defeat those monsters and still have the ability to continue believing there is more for me out there.

I’ve also been a lot more emotional this past year than in the several years prior. I used to think of emotions, especially expressing them, as a sign of weakness. Even in the last twelve months, I’ve been so embarrassed when crying in front of someone. As a very wise friend told me once, after I apologized to him for losing it during a very difficult night and bawling my eyes out, that it was a real moment and I should never be ashamed of that. I was in tune with my emotions and trusted him enough to show how I was actually feeling. Learning my emotions has also made it possible for me to read other people’s emotions easier as well, which in turn allows me to help them through an uncomfortable situation or just to provide comfort.

So here I am, a bold, impactful, resilient, sensitive, and introspective person. I’m proud of those adjectives. They aren’t words I would have ever used to describe myself a few years ago, but I’m trying to be more confident, to be more invested in learning to appreciate who I am. People constantly preach “love yourself!”, which has always seemed like a selfish act, but I’m realizing that nothing can truly fall into place, nobody can really see the person that you are, if you aren’t willing to do that for yourself.

I typically don’t address any readers in my posts, because I like to think of this as a way to just get all of my thoughts out on a page, but if you are reading this, I encourage you to really sit down and practice this: get out a piece of paper, think through any hardships you’ve had in the past few years, act like they happened to somebody else, and choose words to describe that person after they’ve made it through to the other side. We often encourage others far much more than we encourage ourselves. Try to encourage yourself. It works wonders.

Israeli West Bank barrier - March 2014
Israeli West Bank barrier – March 2014

listening to: Tame Impala

Ten Years of Advice

I have this strange fascination with what I can only call “instagram poets*”. There are probably literally thousands of them out there now, but two of my favorites have been around for a while and will both be published authors soon. Imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that one of them decided to create a 30-day writing course.

I signed up right away. I’ve been whining and moping about this epic case of writer’s block I’ve been battling, so I figured this would be the push I needed to start getting over it. The two authors who created this course came up with writing prompts for each day and included other questions and quotes to mull over each day. It’s only been going on for three days as of today, but I think it’s already been really helpful if for no other reason than just delving deeper into my own thoughts and feelings.

The first day’s prompt has been my favorite so far: we were supposed to write a letter to a 10-years-younger version of ourselves. I’ve done a similar exercise before, but you always get something different out of something like this. In an attempt to get my words out of myself, I’ve decided to publish the responses to the prompts I really enjoyed through this blog, starting with a letter to the fifteen-year-old me:

“I know you’re stubborn and aren’t really fond of anybody giving you advice, so I won’t. I won’t warn you about the decisions and choices you’re bound to make because you’ll refuse to listen and you need to learn for yourself.

You’ve got so much ahead of you. You’ve yet to really get to know the friends that will become your tribe of people- the family you’ve dreamed of for years. You’ve got adventures headed your way. In fact, this summer, you’ll fly to Germany and experience your first real love. No, not some boy, but a place and culture that you fit into so well, it’s almost as if you should have been born there.

You’re also going to experience more pain than I can express. I know it would be more practical to tell you to try and avoid making the decisions and mistakes I’ve made, but they’ll be what makes you great. Being an overcomer will be your greatest quality- trust me when I tell you you’ll make it through, even in the darkest of moments still yet to come.

I know you are incredibly boy-crazy right now, but don’t worry about it so much. I’m not going to lie and tell you that the perfect guy will come along any time soon, because I’m not even sure I’ve encountered that magical person yet. Just don’t get so desperate to finally get that boyfriend and first kiss that you settle. You’ll eventually find somebody in a few years, but don’t take the friendship side of it for granted. Be a better communicator. If you don’t, you’ll lose years and years with someone who could be one of your best friends.

Speaking of communication, work on that with your family as well. Spend as much time as humanly possible getting stories from your grandmothers. They’ve lived such interesting lives and are incredibly strong in their own rights. However, age will inevitably catch up to them and their memories are stories will be lost forever if you aren’t careful. Eventually this will also happen to your parents, so soak up time and memories with them instead of avoiding them every second of every day.

College is going to be a weird experience for you. You won’t finish or be very traditional about it, but don’t worry about what that says about your character or intelligence. You’re much smarter than you give yourself credit, you just haven’t found the correct outlet for your creativity yet.

Writing is going to really help you find clarity when your life takes a nosedive. Trust your friends because they will turn out to be completely loving and loyal. Don’t lose your faith in humanity even when some guys down the road treat you without a speck of respect. Hold on to your love for the world and helping others.

When your gut screams that something isn’t quite right, follow the gut feeling. You might still have that pride that’s unwilling to let anyone see you’ve made a bad decision, but you have to let go of that. That pride will be your downfall. That pride will drive you straight to the pits of hell. Don’t let your pride define your decisions”

Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland (July 2014)
Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland (July 2014)

listening to: Portugal. The Man.

*poets mentioned in the beginning: Tyler Knott Gregson and Christopher Poindexter