Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Self-ish

I used to want to be brave, to be a hero, to change the world.  I don't know when that changed.  I think it was a slow process, a disillusionment with the world around me, a part of growing up.  I mean it doesn't have to be a part of growing up, I know plenty of adults much adultier than I that still want to be a hero, to change the world, but that's not me anymore.

That isn't to say that I don't want to make the world a better place, because I really do, I've just seen that you can't do it on your own, you can't be a one woman hero that changes everything and makes it better like some magical storybook.  In the real world you don't get clean cut endings that tie everything in a bow, in the real world there are some things that can't be fixed or saved.

So I find myself at an impasse.  When I was in college one of my favorite professors asked the class if we were optimists or pessimists, I'm not either.  I don't see the world as a half full or half empty glass, I see it as water in a glass.  I'm a realist.  I've accepted that I may not be able to accomplish something great or something huge that changes the world, but I can do small things that make me a better person and through that make the world around me a little better.

I know that small changes won't change every one or fix everything, hell they might not even fix anything, but just because I don't want to be the hero anymore doesn't mean I don't want to be something.  I'm not saying that my small acts will create an Elysian paradise in the world, but I'm not above trying to create one for myself.

That sounds selfish, it is selfish.  Growing up has made me a much more selfish person, but I think there's a difference between selfish (lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure) and what I call Self-ish (the capitol S is important).

Self-ish is an internal focus on your Self, on what makes you inherently you.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to make yourself happy, you don't have to put your own happiness beneath other people's because in the long run you're hurting yourself.  You don't have to be a martyr be a good person, you don't have to be selfless to make other people happy.

I am Self-ish.  I believe that my own happiness is just as important as other peoples, but not more important.  Given the choice half the time I will put other people's happiness before mine, but I try to avoid it when that makes me unhappy or sad.  I want my friends to be happy, but in recent years I've realized that I want to be just as happy myself. 

So this is a call to action.  I want you to be Self-ish today.  I want you to spend time doing something that makes your soul happy even if it doesn't benefit another person.  When you're making a choice between your own happiness and someone else's I want you to seriously consider whether or not making them happy will take away from your Self. Try it, just for a day and see how it feels, maybe you'll love it, maybe you'll hate it but you can't know until you try. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MPH dreams

I've been having more and more moments of clarity that last week or two about the future and it's a really exciting feeling.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I want to go to grad school or law school after I figure out what I want to do when I grow up so here it goes, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up but now I know what direction I should be going.

I took a class in college about health communication, we got to plan, execute and evaluate a health campaign and it was the most fun I've had in a class, it was also stressful and challenging and I loved that. I didn't realize it at the time, but that class put in on a new path, or maybe I came to a Spork in the road and ventured into unknown territory.

Here's the thing, I want to get my MPH (Masters in Public Health), I want to move out west to do it because I'm all about exploration and living in new places, and most MPH programs require or 'suggest' you have two years post grad experience before applying. Well, I'm currently 4 weeks into post grad experience so I'm heading in the right direction at least.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time researching different MPH programs and it turns out that as long as I do alright on the GRE I should be able to get into a top 10 program (finally all those late nights in college are paying off, woohoo for 3.55 GPAs and diverse classroom experiences).

So here I am, four weeks into my year of service and I now know that I need to do another one, preferable in some health related field.  I don't want to stay here for that year because it's a great big world and I've only seen a tiny part of it. I'm hoping that this time next year will bring me away from the East Coast and the Rust Belt to somewhere totally new.  I'm thinking Arizona, Colorado, California or Washington State.

I'll try to keep you all posted on my next great adventure, but for now this adventure is shaping up quite nicely, it's not a fiasco just yet (that's my word of the day, I had to throw it in there).  I'm feeling great, like I'm ready to take on the world - or maybe that's the pot of coffee talking.  Either way, I'm sucking the marrow out of life, Thoreau would be proud.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

True Life: I'm a Walking Accident

When my parents were helping me move down to South Carolina I half jokingly pointed out every urgent care center and every hospital we drove by.  I say half jokingly because anyone who has known me longer than a week can probably tell you that I'm a magnet for injury; I've been put into casts twice, have knee surgery just as many times and spend a good chunk of my yearly salary on first aid related items (this is only a slight exaggeration, band-aids and gauze can get really expensive).

That being said, anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear that it took me almost a month in South Carolina before having to drag my ass to the urgent care center.  Remember that spill I took early on Sunday morning? That little (it wasn't little) fall had me in the urgent care not once, but twice in the last 3 days.

You would think that after countless cuts, scrapes, sprains, broken bones and bruises that I can handle a few flesh wounds, turns out I was working with faulty information because when I went into urgent care on Monday after work I was told that I was using too much Neosporin and it was causing my wounds to not heal.  They put me on an antibiotic, cleaned it up for me and sent me on my merry way.  All good things.

Until it wasn't so good anymore. I spent Tuesday limping around, my foot swollen and a little red, my ankle tender to the touch, then I woke up today after sleeping with it elevated and found it still swollen and red.

That's how I ended up spending 2 hours at the urgent care this afternoon.
Step 1: Get a tetanus shot because my last one was in 2007 (whoops, I should have gotten that on Monday)
Step 2: Have a nurse practitioner poke and prod by foot and ankle trying to find where it hurts (hint: everywhere)
Step 3: X-Rays because they think it might be broken (it's not, thank god)
Step 4: Get blood taken because they're worried (I'm worried too) that the antibiotic isn't working and that I'm going to have to get my food cut off (okay, so they didn't think that last part only I did but don't you dare judge me I could have been dying).
Step 5: Find out that the blood work is good and that my ankle is definitely sprained and that I should avoid too much pressure for the next few days.

Needless to say I was kicking myself for not bringing crutches down here with me, but there's nothing I can do about that now.

But here's the thing, spending all that time in the urgent care made me realize something, I really am an adult now, at least in the independence aspect of it.  I had to go pick up my own prescription, I had to make my own appointment (yes urgent care takes appointments) and I have to get better all on my own.  Sure, I can call my mom and tell her what's happening everyday but she can't fix it for me anymore.  Adulting for the win (not really).

My word of the day today is unbridled, uncontrolled or untrained.

I won't say that I have an unbridled joy for adulthood but I do have an unbridled gratitude for the staff at the Immediate Care Center on East Main Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  That team of nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors work like a well oiled machine and I can honestly say that it's the best immediate care center that I've been to (I know these things, I was a frequent flyer in Buffalo as both patient and driver).

I want to end with one last thing, the caregivers at the center I went to really go out of their way to take care of the patients both physically but also emotionally.  They should serve as a model of health communication done right.  10/10 would go to again (let'shonest, knowingwing my track record I'll be back by December but hey fingers crossed, maybe I'll finally grow into my limbs).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Laughing

Since my last post I have had no less than ten people reach out to me and empathize with how I've been feeling and that makes me feel so much less alone.  This weekend has been one for the record books for me. 

Last night I laughed so hard that I cried 6 separate times, I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard 2 times and I realized that sometimes the best nights come as a complete surprise.  I was home and thinking about bed by 9:15, so naturally around 9:45 people were at my apartment and it was the start of an epic night that went until 3 A.M. and ended with a missing hotdog. 

I'd like to preface this story with the fact that I had people over on Friday night and managed to only get around 4 hours of sleep so by the time Saturday night rolled around I was ready for an easy night in.  Lucky for me, I only had 4 beers in the fridge so I did manage to have it easy on that front, but according to science being exhausted can make you feel drunk, so there you go. 

My roommate never had the 'college' experience so this year we're trying to give it to her.  Last night we played card games and blasted out music too loud.  We jumped on tables and sang Rent, we went swimming at midnight, we went on a 2 A.M. food run.  The night culminated with me chasing after my friend Melissa because she wouldn't share her fries, if you know me at all you know that I'm a klutz at the best of times. 

I bit it, hard, I've got some nasty looking road rash on my leg, but I was laughing and I feel good.  My roommate tried to sleep in a bathtub, it was a good night, even if my hot dog went missing. I'm convinced that they didn't put it in the bag to begin with.

So since my last post I feel better, sure I miss home and my friends and family, but I have my new friends down here who have all been checking on me and making sure that I'm okay.  My abs hurt from laughing.  Last night was the most fun that I've had in a really long time.  

There's a Regina Spektor song that says, "you laugh until you cry, you cry until you laugh, and everyone must breathe until their dying breath."

That's what I'm doing, I'm laughing until I cry and I'm crying until I laugh.  This week will be better because now I know that I'm not alone, I've got people here who are going through the same thing or who have been through it before.  I'm making connections with people and the pit in my stomach is shrinking even smaller. 


Friday, August 7, 2015

Cathartic

Just a warning to my lovely readers (do I even have readers) that this post isn't full of sunshine and rainbows and optimism.  I'm having a bit of an off week which is why I haven't really been writing and I'm just going to lay it all out here.

This week I came to the very frightening realization that I am in fact an adult now.  It's a truly terrifying thing to realize because I don't think I'm ready for this.  Sure I'm prepared for the idea of adulthood, but not for the actual reality of it.  It's a big change and even though I'm adjusting to life down here and I'm making some really great friends I'm starting to get this pit in my stomach that feels a lot like loneliness.

My word today is exacerbate, which means to make a problem or situation worse. I think I've been exacerbating my maladjustment to adulthood by trying to deny it.  I don't deny it out loud or even to myself, but on a subconscious level I still feel like I'll be going back to school in a couple weeks.

I've been receding into myself this week.  I've been avoiding extended social interaction because I feel like I'm on the verge of tears constantly and I can't put my finger on exactly why.  Sure, I miss things about home and I miss my people but, it's not that.  It feels sort of like I came here to find a missing piece of myself and I'm so close to finding it yet so far away.

I thought that last week was a bad week on a personal level, not an emotional level though.  I had a friend from college pass away and got some sad news about a really old family friend but I still felt okay.  I think it's all hitting me this week, like maybe I'm not as strong as I though.  I'm sad about all of it, I feel small because I can't fix it and because everything feels so damn ephemeral (see what I did there).

Nineteen year olds shouldn't have brain tumors, 22 year olds shouldn't die from heart issues.  It's all bullshit and I'm not handling it nearly as well as I thought I was. But even as I write this, as I admit it to myself I'm starting to feel better.  Not better in a sense that I'm not sad and angry but that pit in my stomach doesn't feel as heavy anymore.

I barely cried about anything last week.  I wouldn't let myself feel sad because it was my first week of work and I wanted to be strong and stoic.  I am not a stoic individual, it was absurd for me to even feign that.

Today I cried, not just a tear or two but an ugly, full body, blotchy faced cry in my car outside of my apartment because I finally let the walls fall.  This stupid song came on my Spotify and the floodgates opened, but here's the thing, it was cathartic.

Maybe it's okay to be sad. It's definitely okay to be sad when things happen to you or around you.  My roommate is a big believer that no one handles change well, I don't disagree with her but I also thing that some people handle it better then others.  I won't lie anymore and say that I'm handling it like a pro because today I ugly cried in my car for 20 minutes, but that was less about moving 600 miles away from everyone I've ever known and more about outside circumstances that would have made me ugly cry anyway.

I'm letting myself be sad.  I won't let it consume me but I'm letting it be a part of me.  I feel a lot like Riley from the movie Inside Out.  If you haven't seen it yet and don't want me to ruin it for you stop reading right now because SPOILERS. At the end of the movie Riley admits that she's sad and her emotions work together because it's possible to be happy and sad at the same time.

That's what I am, I'm happy and I'm sad and I'm scared and I'm ready for adventure.  I am all of those things and more because I know that I need to be here.  I know that some days will be harder and others will be easier.

Sometimes it's cathartic to cry, sometimes it's cathartic to write out what's bothering you and sometimes it's okay to miss a place or a person or your dad's cooking or your mom's ability to know when you're having a bad day.  I'm 600 miles or more away from all of my best friends and my family and it's okay for me to miss them.  I shouldn't feel stupid because I miss them but I shouldn't feel alone here either because I've met some really great people who are going through similar situations.

This next week is a whole new adventure that I'm ready to undertake now.  Thanks for reading, it helped to write it all out.  It's funny how just putting it down on paper (or a blog) can make everything clearer, it's cathartic.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bibelot

I'm a huge advocate of collecting moments, not things, but with that being said I have a few trinkets that are around my office.  I mention these trinkets because the word of the day today is bibelot, which is defined as a small, decorative ornament or trinket.  These trinkets make my office feel more like home, which is nice because I'm here 40 hours a week.

These things that I've collected all have meaning, they represent a moment to me so I think that though they are still things they are more like moments to me.

I look at my small elephant that I have next to my phone and I see the art festival where I got it, the smell the kettle corn and the roasting turkey legs, I feel the sunshine on my face.  It is a thing, an object, but it is a physical representation of that day, of that place.

It's nice having those reminders, but at the same time the physical things can weigh you down in a way that memories can't. I don't want to collect more bibelots on my adventures this year, I want to collect moments that I won't soon forget.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mondaze

Monday always get's a bad rep, you're just coming in from the weekend and even though weekends should be for resting you cram everything into them that you wanted to do all week.  Mondays are exhausting because you come into the day already exhausted.

There's a new term, or maybe it's not new and I'm just not hip to what the kids are saying anymore, called Mondaze.  It describes the feeling of being in a daze because it's Monday and you're tired.  This morning I was in a Mondaze.

I don't like that feeling of being unproductive and out of it so I drank some coffee, then I drank some more coffee and finally after my fourth cup of coffee I was out of the daze and into a productive rhythm.  Hopefully next Monday it won't take that much coffee but there's nothing I can do about it now.

One of my goals for this year, a goal unrelated to the tasks that I'll be doing for the Urban League and the Spartanburg community is to change my attitude.  I think there's a lot to be said about the power of positive thinking.  If you wake up and think that you're day is going to be awful then there's a good chance it will be, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the flip side of that if you wake up and think that today is going to be a good day there's a good chance that you'll be right.  I understand there's a level of uncertainty going into each day, that you can't know for sure if it really will be a good day, but if you go into it with a positive attitude you might surprise yourself.

That's how I pulled myself out of my Mondaze.  Sure the coffee helped (a lot), but I put my best foot forward and I didn't let the little things get to me.  If I can't change it or I can't fix it I shouldn't worry about it. When the wifi went down I didn't let it get to me, I worked on a hard copy of my plan, when I forgot my lunch I remembered the snacks I had stashed in a drawer of my desk.

Though positivity can't take you all the way, it can start you in the right direction. I started my week in the right direction so it should be a good week.

And because I know you're just dying  to know the word of the day is interlude,  an interval, break.  An in-between period of time.  A pause between acts of a play.

I suppose there's a chance that when I look back at my life I'll see that I'm in an interlude right now, a period of time between ending college and starting my life, but you probably don't know you're in an interlude until you're removed from it.  I'm going to live this year like it's the first year of the rest of my life, not like it might be a pause in my life. I can't stop myself from growing up, I can't take a break from life and hope for the best.

So here's to a week without interlude, to a week of positivity and forward motion.  Here's to a week full of coffee and smiles but above all of that, here's to the next week of the rest of our lives.

Happy Monday Y'all (looks like the south is getting to me).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Offing

Today's word is offing.  On offing is the most distant part of the sea that is seen from the shore, it is beyond the anchoring ground.  I'm going to ask you to hang in with me for a few minutes while I relate this word to my life and life post grad. 

To get anywhere by sea you have to venture into the offing, it can be a scary thing because you don't know what's there, what's beyond the horizon. Back in the days of old they though that the horizon was the end of the world, that you'd fall off it you sailed too far into the offing.

That's what life is about.  You have to take a risk, you have to sail into the offing to get somewhere new.  When I went to college in Buffalo I ventured a little bit away from the shore, into the sea but I could still see the safety of the shore behind me, ready for me to come back if I needed to.

But on this adventure I've lost sight of the shore, I'm in the offing.  I've moved toward the horizon, but the thing about the offing and the horizon is that they keep moving as you move. There is no edge of the world that you'll fall off if you sail out too far, but that won't stop me from trying to get there.

There's a quote I really like about taking a chance in life, "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."

We were made to leave out harbors and sail to distant lands, or at least I think that I was.  Just over two weeks ago I set sail from my safe harbor and arrived in a place that I didn't know and I was terrified, but that feeling of apprehension, of fear, that means you're living. 

Maybe I'll never make it to my destination, maybe I'll be drift in the offing until the wind catches my sails again, but while I drift I know that I'm going to end up where I was meant to be.  I don't mean that in some cliche way, I don't mean fate will take me where I'm meant to be because I think that fate is bull shit, we make our own destiny, you do what you can with what you've been given. 

I'll end up where I'm meant to be because I've decided to go there, whether it was a conscious decision or gut instinct.  Going into the 'offing' was something I had to do to change my own life,so while I'm here trying to find the right wind for my sails I'm going to enjoy the ride - I have a feeling it's going to be a wild one. 


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Halcyon

I never understood the joy of a weekend, in college and high school I worked on the weekends and even if I wasn't working I had something to do, whether it was for a club or homework. As an adult with only one job I have an actual weekend which is a new experience entirely.

Last night I had a Friday night where I didn't have to work or worry about a paper, I had no responsibilities.  So naturally I went and got pizza, drank some wine with some of my coworkers and was in bed by 11.  If this is adulthood I can totally get down with it.

This morning I woke up around 10, made breakfast and then went to the pool for 4 hours.  I almost feel guilty not being at the library haphazardly trying to finish a paper that's due on Monday, key word being almost. I mean I guess I'm getting my comeuppance in the form of a pretty nasty sunburn but it was well worth it.

Though I'm sure I'll soon bore of this halcyon lifestyle I'm going to try to appreciate it while it lasts. For those of you who are tuning into this program already in progress I have a word of the day app that I'm attempting to weave into my life and today's word is halcyon.

Halcyon - happy, sunny, carefree, serene, tranquil, quiet.

My weekend has been halcyon and I'm learning to enjoy that or I'm trying to at least.

I'm currently sitting at Starbucks with my roommate and another girl in our program, all of us half ass working on some project or another, slightly burnt from the sun, drinking our iced beverages and I am feeling completely content.  It's a relatively new feeling at this juncture in my life, no anxiety about money (for the time being) and no worries about the future because for the next 360 days I've got plans and for now that's enough.

This next week I am going to try to be the embodiment of halcyon- smiley, upbeat and peaceful.  I don't know if I can manage the quiet bit, but I'll give it a shot.

Until next time my friends.