The Life of a Dreamer

It could be said that, as a dreamer, I have my head in the clouds. I actually disagree with that statement–it’s quite limiting. No, I’m a dreamer with my head in stars, planets, and nebulae. My feet are in the clouds.

All my life, practical tasks have been a struggle for me. I avoided chores, telling my parents, “I can’t change the house when I’m too busy changing the world!” Organization is my weak point. In elementary school, when we were graded on such things, I had to fight just for a satisfactory. Leftover food was shoved in my desk. Papers were everywhere. As a high school student, I’ve improved a little bit out of dire necessity. Even so, I’m still notorious for losing things. My backpack is littered with crumpled papers and the smell of dirt. (Funny thing is, I haven’t put anything dirty in there.)

The here-and-now is a difficult place to be. I seem to live in the past and future, recalling and imagining. Creating and wishing. Sometimes I’m so caught in my thoughts that I’m not even seeing what’s around me. In the car, I’ll be looking out the window and suddenly realize where I am (thank God I’m a passenger). I’m spacey. In elementary school, I remember skipping around the playground like it was America, Ukraine, a medieval village, a fantasy land–everything! Indoor recess was even better, but when it wasn’t possible, I took my writing and drawing outside.

I’m a hopeless romantic. Everything in life is subject to my dreamy idealization. All through childhood, I fell in love often. When I fell in love, I fell hard. Around age eight or so, I chased boys around the playground. A year later, I was naming water bottles and marrying them (William Thomas Dasani–Dasani brand, obviously). During my middle school years, it was not uncommon for me to write gushy letters of professed adoration–and yes, I sent most of them. I planned the entire relationship with my future husband–from first meeting all the way to marriage. Never mind not knowing who it was. “I know everything except the man himself,” I would say. Thankfully, I’ve matured in this area. All of the love I had in those earlier years has been stored in a special place in my heart, and it shall be released selectively. My focus remains on depth rather than breadth. Still, I very much admit to fantasizing all about wedding colors, flower crowns, rings, beautiful evening walks–and yes, I still want to be married in April.

Along the same lines as romance, I’ve fallen in love with more than just people. I’ve courted blue skies, tall trees, creeks, and of course, swings. My heart was always on my sleeve. I was very affectionate towards those whom I loved. Today, though I can seem fairly calm, I’m still bursting with appreciation for my loved ones. I do everything I can to make people feel loved. Gifts, hugs, compliments, jokes exchanged–I just want to love. If I care about you, I’m probably hugging you in my mind.

I’m easily excited by things, not only for their actual value, but for the meanings they hold. In a grocery store today, I began to jump for joy in an aisle full of gummy candy. When I looked into the giant mirror on the wall (somehow a giant mirror in the grocery store) I saw everything and was touched. I began to think about our place as humans in the world. How we’re surrounded by so much, how much of a maze life is.

I march to my own drum. I desire ambiguity in school-related environments. The vaguer the instructions, the more room there is for self-expression. When I was in fourth grade, the teacher took the class out to the courtyard and asked us to bring our books. Little Abigail brought her clipboard and pencil. “But I’m reading what I’m writing!” I responded as I was sent back to class to get the proper materials. We had table groups, and I attempted to secede and form my own nation. All throughout school, we were given writing prompts, and I made everything up. Or, more frequently, I didn’t complete them. I just couldn’t write when I was asked to–the inspiration seemed to halt.

I’m extremely introspective. I’ve been keeping a daily journal for over two years, and I could probably count how many times I’ve missed an entry. When I was younger, I’d wonder about my place in the world. I had a very soft heart, and I was quite loyal to my faith. For a month, I kept a prayer journal, and asked God for anything and everything–my own aspirations, the health of my family, and certain classmates of the male gender. The devotion to faith has taken many beatings, but it’s still there. My relationship with God is very sisterly and personal. The flame of sensitivity still burns.

Yeah, maybe I’m bragging on myself a little bit. I’m just so passionate about imagination, and I’m proud of that in myself. In writing this, I want other dreamers to feel that they have someone to identify with. I know there are more. But the thing about dreamers is that most of those universes remain within us. We can be a bit elusive. Elusive is such a pretty word, isn’t it?

There I go again with a tangent.
Goodnight. ❤

Speaking, Writing, and “The Little Switch”

I was always a writer. Speaking wasn’t easy for me, especially in front of other people. I stumbled over my words and became very awkward. Writing allowed me to truly be free with my thoughts and opinions, mull over what I was going to say, and take some time to think everything over. I quote myself from December 2013:

“I only feel interesting when I’m here behind a screen, where I can think my words over. I’m a writer, not a speaker. Speaking is not for me. So I email, text, blog, IM, pass notes–I don’t say as many silly things that way. And also, I’m just better at it. I can express myself more.”

I never would have expected that to change.

Sometime in September, during a seminar, I spoke up and talked to my classmates about the importance of self-care and self-esteem. It just came out of me, and from a place of inspiration and passion. I did surprisingly well. It affected people deeply. I was thanked for that speech even months afterward. Somehow, that one seminar changed me. I began giving more speeches. I became more vocal about things that matter to me. When giving presentations, I put my own personal spin on things. That one seminar gave me confidence.

Yes, I am a writer. Most of the time, I’d rather reflect on what I say before saying it. But I can finally also say that yes, I’m a speaker. I’m able to think as I’m talking now. I can “wing it” when I need to. Public speaking fills me with life. It fills me with life because I know that I’m inspiring people. I’m strengthened and empowered. I take every opportunity I can to do this.
I find a balance, really, in preparation. I work best when I have some points jotted down. If for nothing else, it helps focus me and make me feel secure.

I have to feel confident about what I’m speaking about, and that I know when I’m about to speak. I need to feel that I’m in a safe environment. When those criteria are not met, I despise being the center of attention and will avoid it at all costs. The other day in geometry, I had to present a problem in front of the class. Geometry, obviously, is not something I feel comfortable talking about in front of others (or ever). It takes me time to open up in a new environment, and that still hasn’t happened with my geometry class. Sometimes it never happens. So, I was quite upset presenting. I didn’t really know what I was doing, everyone was staring at me, and I was seriously considering faking passing out. As soon as I finished–it seemed to go on forever–I actually fled the classroom and spent quite a while collecting myself in the bathroom. Hopefully this will not be a regular experience.

Before speaking or engaging in any sort of non-solitary activity, I turn on a mental switch. This switch allows me to interact and gain maximum enjoyment. Without the switch, I’m disoriented and uncomfortable. So, before seminars and speaking opportunities, I’m able to collect my thoughts and turn on the switch. This switch can remain on for a period of time, which varies based on my mood or situation. After overuse, it automatically turns itself off. At this point, it’s like a computer overheat. I need to cool off. The switch returns to its quiet state, during which I can write, think, and pray. Conversely, leaving the switch on its quiet state for too long causes freezing conditions and restless dysfunction. At this point, it turns itself on.

I digress. My point is that sometimes, the things we think we’ll never do end up coming to us. It just takes a little time, or perhaps an enlightening moment of confidence.

Antarctica: Misconceptions

Antarctica has long been associated with penguins, polar bears, and blinding blizzards sweeping across a soft, snowy plain. The general populace is sadly blind to the true wonders of the earth’s fifth largest continent.

The most common misconception concerns the habitats of polar bears and penguins. Polar bears live exclusively in the Arctic, ranging from the Hudson Bay in Canada to as far as 80 degrees North. Penguins make their homes in the Southern Hemisphere, primarily on the coasts of Antarctica. These creatures would survive for only a very short time in the far North. Although penguins can swim, they are not equipped to do so for very long distances. The Arctic is composed mostly of oceans that freeze over in the winter. When the ice melts, many animals are forced to swim to find food. Polar bears, for example, have been known to swim up to 100 km. Additionally, penguins have very few natural predators. With polar bears roaming about in the hungry autumn, penguins would make for an easy meal. These polar bears could survive longer in the Antarctic than penguins could in the Arctic, but it would eventually lead to disaster. Excessive hunting could lead to a scarcity of food, ultimately leading to starvation.

Another widely held belief is that the southern continent is a land of blizzards. Antarctica is, in fact, the world’s largest desert. When there is precipitation, it settles and never melts, which explains the presence of snow and deep ice. Furthermore, Antarctica’s mean annual temperature is a bitter -50 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the North Pole averages around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s no wonder Santa lives in the Arctic!

From glaciers to mountains, penguins to seals, Antarctica remains the most pristine area on earth–the last wilderness. With research stations situated in this land of southern beauty, there is a sense of international collaboration that will forever serve as a beacon of peace and hope. Let our voices rise–“Long live Antarctica!”

Sensitivity

I’m sensitive. I’ve always been that way. When I was little, I cried if you so much as looked at me sideways. I got overwhelmed, overstimulated, too frustrated–the list goes on. That sensitivity can become extremely unhealthy if I don’t actively restrain it. When it gets out of control, I have two (or, usually only two) responses: withdrawal or hell-fire craziness.
The withdrawal is obviously less apparent to others. Something hurts my feelings or overwhelms me, and I hide out in my internal vacation retreat. Except this vacation retreat is actually a garbage dump full of rat feces, shattered car parts, and rotten toothpaste. (Can toothpaste rot?) I’m in this little hole, and I won’t come out. It’s safe and warm and very conducive to sobbing. After a while, I just get more and more withdrawn until nobody actually knows what the hell is going on.
Hell-fire craziness is scarier, but much, much more short-lived. It usually includes screaming, flagrant insults (towards myself), and loud crying. Or, in a more public situation, passive-aggressiveness, subdued rage, and, well, crying. Hell-fire craziness rarely exceeds an hour, but its effects can be quite lasting.

I can, have, and will restrain this sensitivity. Today I had an interesting realization: our unhealthy traits are actually just gifts from God that have been twisted. It’s important that we work on turning them around and restoring them to what God made them to be.

When I feel extremely sensitive, I take a step back and do a quick connect with God. I need to get some fresh air, separate myself from stimulation, and piece my thoughts together. If I can get those few minutes of peace and quiet–peace and quiet with the Lord–I can usually bring myself back to a normal, or at least functioning, level of stability. In this case, however, it’s important that I pull back into the good and hopeful part of my imagination rather than the “vacation retreat.” If not, I go into the withdrawn state.
Another option is to reach out externally, rather than internally. Take a deep breath, get a hug, and verbalize my emotions. This option works best for the batshit sensitivity. (It wouldn’t make sense to reach out into the external when the external is overwhelming you.)

When I’ve dealt with the immediate issue, I can begin turning things around and looking at the big picture. God made me sensitive for a reason, and I am actually grateful. I can feel other people’s emotions. My emotions bring an abundance of creativity and insight. My rich inner life is teeming with ideas. And hey, crying on demand can actually be quite useful. You know when you just need a good cry? Bingo. I’ve got the tears right there.

Our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses. God is the one who can help us grow those beautiful plants.
And, for our overly optimistic trope–you can’t grow a plant without water.