God Is Watching

I have never felt entirely comfortable with the notion of God constantly watching me. When I’m in the shower or the bathroom, I want privacy. When I’m sleeping, I don’t want to be stared at. Because I am deeply unsettled by ceaseless observation, I’ve had some doubts about getting close to God. He’s already close enough, isn’t he?

Yes and no. God has promised that he will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:8). He won’t throw us into the wilds to fend for ourselves, nor will he abandon us in our time of need. However, I don’t believe God is watching us all the time–not if we don’t want him to. Because God loves us, he respects us. There is no love without respect. If we don’t want God to be looking at us, he won’t try to sneak glances. He knows when we want privacy. So, no. God isn’t necessarily watching us all the time; at least, he isn’t if we’re looking at the word in a purely literal sense.

God is watching in that he is aware of where we are and what we’re doing. He does not watch me in the shower, but he knows I am taking one. He does not see, but he does understand. If I were to fall and crack my head open on the faucet, he wouldn’t be blind to the situation. God does not peer over my shoulder and stare at my computer screen, but he knows that I’m writing on my blog. He is there when I call. He is there if I want him to turn around and see. God has not left me, but he has left me be. God is not always watching me, but he always aware of me.

You do not have to sacrifice your privacy to have a close relationship with the Lord.

 

 

All About You

You’re walking down the hallway and you hear two guys calling a girl “easy.” You were a desperate romantic in the seventh grade, and they went to your middle school, so they must be talking about you. How could you have been so horrible?

You texted somebody a while ago, and they’ve read your message, but they haven’t replied. You know they don’t care about you, right? You’re boring. You’re irrelevant. You must have pissed them off. They’re probably talking to better people. 

A buddy of yours puts a selfie on Instagram of them with another friend. Why aren’t they with you? You’ve been replaced. It’s probably because you aren’t a very good person. You’re not very special anymore.

Some girls are laughing in the gym locker room. They’re pretty close to you, and you aren’t wearing the cute bra today. Surely they’re laughing at you. You’re disgusting. Put your shirt on as quickly as possible so they can’t laugh even more. 

Nobody’s laughing at your jokes today. They all seem sort of grumpy and out-of-it. It’s because you’re lame. You have an awful sense of humor. Why do you even try, anyway? Just lock yourself in a room so nobody has to hear your boring crap. 

Somebody else is being shown love and affection. Why aren’t you being paid attention to? Have you ever been shown love like this? When and where did it happen last? Keep track of this. You don’t want that other person to be loved more. If you were upset, maybe people would care. But they don’t, because you’re horrible. They hate you. They like that other person better.

Or…

You’re walking down the hallway and you hear two guys calling a girl “easy.” There are a lot of girls in this school. You don’t really fit the bill. Besides, it wouldn’t matter even if you did. They’re obviously assholes.

You texted somebody a while ago, and they’ve read your message, but they haven’t replied. Life gets busy sometimes. People forget. People don’t want to talk constantly. Maybe they felt your comment didn’t need a reply. You know, you don’t always reply to things, either. It’s nothing personal.

A buddy of yours puts a selfie on Instagram of them with another friend. It’s cool that they seem to be having a good time! You’re happy for your buddy. And you know, people have other friends. That doesn’t make you any less of one. Everything is okay. 

Some girls are laughing in the gym locker room. They’re pretty close to you, and you aren’t wearing the cute bra today. Who knows what they’re laughing about? People laugh at random things–including you. Besides, who would even care what your bra looks like today? Would you care about someone else’s? Don’t worry about it.

Nobody’s laughing at your jokes today. They all seem sort of grumpy and out-of-it. People aren’t always in a good mood. Sometimes people don’t feel like laughing. How could you know how the rest of their day has gone? Do you know the circumstances? When you’re upset, do you laugh at things you’d normally find hilarious? Take a deep breath. Everything’s alright.

Somebody else is being shown affection and love. It’s nice that someone is being paid attention to. You aren’t the only one who needs love–everyone does. Keeping track of when people express fondness for you is only going to cause you upset and drive you into a tailspin. Comparisons will only destroy your confidence. Be secure in what you’ve been given and how appreciated you are. Remember, if you were the only person who was ever loved in this world, it would sure be a dark place. It’s fine. You’re not horrible, and nobody hates you. 

Sometimes, you’ve got to catch yourself in the middle of irrational conclusions. Take hold of your thoughts and turn them towards reality. Eventually, you’ll start doing it more automatically. It’s difficult. Of course you’ll still be caught sometimes. Of course you’ll get nervous. You’re human. But you will feel freer once your mind has been trained to see the world without a negative, stormy lens. I promise your life will feel fuller and more stable.

You can’t control other people, nor can you assume their motives. But this I can assure you: it’s not all about you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Survive School As A Sensitive Person

School is difficult in some form or fashion for everyone. Sensitive or emotional people often have great difficulty trying to get through life in the educational environment. As a sensitive person who has been in the public schooling system for more than a decade, I’d like to share some tips on how to get through the day well. (And you don’t have to be sensitive to benefit from these tips!)

I. Day-to-day maintenance

These are tips you can practice every day in order to prevent freak-outs and breakdowns.

  • Take advantage of opportunities to relax. During lunch, I like going to the library. It’s easy to rest my mind when in the presence of so many delicious books. My school also has a free period, during which I find a hallway to sit down and take a break from working. Technically, I’m supposed to be in a classroom–which is why I choose the most secluded area of the school to avoid confrontation with patrolling administrators. 🙂 If that would stress you out, find an authorized place where you know you don’t have to be working.
  • Schedule your breaks for when you need them. Last year, right before my geometry class, I would find a bench to sit on and listen to a calming music playlist. Sometimes I got to class a tiny bit late, but that bit of relaxation was vital to help me through the period. Most of the time, though, I learned to budget my time well.
  • Allot yourself some break time during a class. No, this is not an excuse to slack off–you’re still responsible for your work like everybody else. But to maintain sanity, it’s necessary to take a minute to stare off and breathe. I enjoy keeping a “jar of daydreams.” All the thoughts I’ve collected during the day are like treats. Periodically, I reach into the jar and allow myself a little morsel of daydreaming.
  • Choose something to look forward to at the end of the day. For me, it’s my afternoon snack and nap. Look at the day not as one large chunk, but as many, smaller chunks. It really helps put things into perspective. Tell yourself, “I’m just going to get through the next ten minutes.” Keep saying that until you’ve made it to the end of the day.

II. Preventing upset

If you feel yourself starting to get tearful or weary, use these tips to help ease yourself back into a pleasant or neutral state before things get out of hand.

  • Listen to yourself. What are you feeling–sad, overwhelmed, irritated, tired? How are you feeling physically and emotionally?
  • Try to evaluate the situation. Recognize what might be causing your unpleasant state of mind.
  • Once you’ve figured out how you’re feeling and what might be influencing you, you can start looking for solutions. If you’re feeling tired, maybe you need to drink some cool water. If you’re sad, maybe you need a quick bathroom break to release your emotions and gather your thoughts.

III. In the middle of it all

Things have gone from bad to worse. Here are some ideas to help you when you’re in the middle of it all.

  • Take a bathroom break. I cannot tell you how often I’ve done this or how much it’s helped me. It’s my personal cure-all. Find a bathroom that’s empty–schools have several bathrooms to choose from if one has lots of commotion. When you’ve found the bathroom, just cry. Talk to yourself or to God. Close your eyes and enjoy the relief (the bathrooms I’ve been in are cool, calm, and have good acoustics). Wash your face. Sing. Anything, really. Do what needs to be done.
  • Talk to somebody. Excuse yourself to make a phone call. Text someone for support. Or, if you think it would be helpful, see the guidance counselor (I usually don’t recommend this one much because most people aren’t comfortable with it–but if you are, this is an option).
  • Be mindful and close your eyes. It’s cliche, but the deep breaths thing is actually very helpful for many different predicaments. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing helps shut out what’s going on around me, at least for a moment.
  • Practice discreet crying. Sometimes you’re just gonna cry before you can go anywhere. There are ways to hold back the rivers until you can find a safe place to let them free.
  • Go home. No, you can’t just go home whenever you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or upset. This is the last resort for when shit has really, really hit the fan. If you are having a full-on nervous breakdown, school is not the place for you. You’re not going to learn anything anyway. Think of this as if you’re throwing up uncontrollably or having a very high fever. Your mental health is no less important than your physical health.

Emotional, not very emotional, or somewhere in the middle, I wish you the best of luck in maintaining sanity in the stressful education system. Listen to your needs and act accordingly.

 

 

 

Discreet Crying Techniques

I am a masterful crier. When things go wrong, I cry. When things go right, I cry. Sometimes I cry for no reason at all. I’ve had to find ways to function in society being the tearful person that I am.

A brief history: I discovered the art of discreet crying in seventh grade. I’d used to count how many times I cried each school year, but I quit once I entered middle school. Classes, teachers, and homework became stressful. People were ruthlessly mean. I constantly “fell in love” with boys and therefore felt heartbroken, in some form or fashion, a significant percentage of the time. I didn’t want to start sobbing in front of my classmates (the ones who usually made me want to cry in the first place). So I began devising plans. Mentally drafting techniques. Searching for ways to keep my sanity intact, at least partially. In several more years of being a frequent crier, I’ve really gotten the hang of that specific art and science. Here’s some of what I’ve learned…

  • Yawn. This is one of the most vitally important skills to know. It will explain any tears in the eyes.
  • Keep your eyes open fairly wide. Obviously, people are going to notice if your eyes are the size of dinner plates, so be reasonable. Raise your eyebrows some. Squinting eyes will force the tears out.
  • Blink sparingly. Blinking too much will cause the tears to be squeezed out, but not blinking at all will provide no barrier between your tears and the rest of the world. This is really something that can’t be explained–it’s all a matter of practice and timing. Also, blink lightly. Any tears that come out will be smaller and more manageable than if you’d blinked hard.
  • Don’t talk. Talking is one of the worst things to do if you’re trying to avoid crying. Your voice will crack a little, and you’ll be sobbing more than ever. Communicate with body language and facial expressions–most people won’t even notice if you’re good at it.
  • Inhale very deeply. Take in as much air as you can. It’s soothing, and helps take care of any nose-dribble without the obvious sniffling.
  • Breathe slowly. Breathe too quickly, and people will hear your runny nose.
  • Wipe your eyes. If tears have already started to flow, the only thing you can do is wipe your eyes. Do it quickly, giving people less of a chance to notice.
  • Fake cough into your elbow. It clears your voice some, so you won’t have as many tearful voice cracks. And it seems gross, but your elbow can wipe off any residual nose-dribble. (You gotta do what you gotta do, right?)
  • Make noises. It’s kinda hard to explain this one. Groan or make sounds of exasperation. It’s another way to clear your voice. People might ask what’s wrong, but you’ll usually have a window of time in which to confidently say “nothing” or make an excuse before returning to your state of self-preservation.
  • When you must speak, keep your eyebrows raised and your voice tight. Usually your voice will go up a pitch, but it will keep you from voice-cracking.
  • Proceed with confidence. Look the part. After you’ve used some of the previous techniques, you’ll be able to smile and appear okay between breaths.

You’ll eventually figure out some of your own crying techniques. Hopefully these will serve as a springboard. Remember, crying is not inherently bad. It’s healthy and necessary, but it’s not always appropriate in every setting. Please release and express your feelings as often as possible–it’s not a good idea to live like this in the long-term.

Happy (or sad) crying!

 

 

Pain Fantasies

I never wanted to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Those last few minutes of the day, when all was still and quiet, were my gold. It was the time I could let myself indulge in the wilds of my imagination. Sure, sometimes I wandered, but even at a young age I realized that not all daydreams are created equal. I followed a mental map to my favorite spots and stayed there, in the very best fantasies, until I finally slipped into the unconscious.

The earliest “favorite” daydream I remember having is when I was eight. It was a slow-motion clip of me pushing a classmate out of the way as an angry sixth-grader threw an enormous, golden brick across the cafeteria. The brick would hit me in the head, making me collapse in a puddle of blood. Sometimes I got sent to the school nurse. Others, I had to be piled into an ambulance in critical condition. And on some nights, I decided that I wanted the daydream to end in death–a noble, sacrificial, public death.

That daydream got old after a while, so I created a new one. I was on a school field trip, clowning around and being sort of annoying. The tour guide got so irritated that she threw me into a rushing river and shot me. I had to struggle back to the shore, in front of my whole class, flailing around and chasing my last breaths.

They got more intricate and specific as I got older. Instead of just replaying a daydream, I would build upon it. Create alternate endings. Use it as a springboard for more mental possibilities. No longer did I have just one favorite daydream. I had many favorites to choose from. And, in the event that I got bored with one, I’d throw it away and think of something better. I’d return to it later if it caught my interest again. These stories could occupy me for hours. It’s hard to explain, but I could physically feel adrenaline when I indulged in these daydreams. Adrenaline and…something else. A strange and intense mix of wonder, energy, and delight.

All of those daydreams had the same theme: pain. I loved pain, yes, but not for its own sake. I never would have daydreamed about getting a paper cut. I never would have fallen asleep thinking about being shot and left to die alone with nobody knowing I was gone. My fantasies were always intense, outlandish, flamboyant, and public. Even the ones where I suffered in solitude (these arose in middle school) were imagined from the perspective of others, or with the knowledge that others were watching. It was less about the pain than it was about the drama. 

I have not outgrown those pain fantasies. They’ll always be a part of me, and I’m grateful for them. But it’s definitely not something to be concerned about. I control, moderate, and channel these fantasies. I love my life more than I can describe, and I value my happiness immensely. I don’t ever want these daydreams to become reality! They’re just thoughts. Stress relievers, writing inspiration, portable entertainment. And it’s not like I don’t daydream just as much about positive dramatic encounters, like delivering a life-altering speech or going on national TV for a bestselling novel. It’s not like I don’t daydream about new universes or things that aren’t about my life. The pain fantasies make up only a portion of my mind.

They’re just misunderstood enough to warrant their own blog post.

 

 

Am I A Shitty Christian?

Maybe. I don’t know. I’ve always sort of felt like one. At least, there’s an image in my mind of what a Christian looks like that I certainly don’t live up to.

I swear unashamedly, if my title didn’t already give that away. I think creationism is crap. I’m staunchly pro-LGBT. I don’t really believe that all of the Bible is concrete fact. I don’t know if I believe in hell. I have an actual sex drive and don’t mind expressing it. Worst of all, I barely read the Bible, and I only pray when I need something.

Some of that is stereotyping. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you have to be a creationist. There are plenty of Christians who are pro-LGBT. But some of the other stuff…well, I can’t help feeling kinda bad about it. I definitely want Jesus in my life–there is an undeniable hunger there. I do love him, I guess. And when I don’t, at least I want to love him. My faith is important to me, and I’ve written about it more than a few times on this blog.

I guess the real question is, then, what does it mean to be a good Christian? Does such a person exist? Works can’t get us in to heaven, and we’re all equally in need of saving grace.

That’s all I know right now.

People-Pleasing Individualist

You could say I’m a people person. Not the kind who chit-chats with strangers in checkout lines, but the kind who’s fascinated by others on a deep level. As a kid, I rarely drew anything other than people. I’m deeply interested in psychology. It’s extraordinarily important to me that I be liked, and personal relationships create the lens through which I see the world.

That being said, the idea of being hated fills me with dread. I want to be on everyone’s good side; I want to likable. And I am. To my knowledge, I have no haters. I’m the nice girl, self-effacing almost to a fault. I try to keep negative feelings towards others to myself because I don’t want to cause disagreement or chaos.

I often find these people-pleasing inclinations to be in conflict with my deep need for individualism. I want to belong, but I want to stand out. I don’t want to cause trouble, but I want to speak my mind and let my personal convictions be heard. I want everyone to like me, but I won’t change for anyone. Neither side of me ever wants to compromise.

Striking a balance between these two sides is a continual learning process for me. There are some days where I feel very fluid and easily-influenced, and others where I’m stubborn and staunchly iconoclastic. It can be a pain at times, but generally, I’m thankful for the way these contradictory traits make up who I am. After all, our purpose can only be fulfilled, the world can only be changed, if we decide to embrace and cultivate who were made to be.

 

 

Codependency on God

Save for a few precious moments, I have gone through the majority of my life feeling somewhat removed from God. I never really felt that God was a reliable source of comfort and friendship for me, so I turned elsewhere. Most of the time it was other people. That never worked out well, either. For several years, I had off-and-on issues with codependency and love obsessions. It took a whole lot of time, effort, and growth to begin using my own soul as my primary life force. I am proud of my newfound independence.

Additionally, I have grown up in the public school system, in a markedly diverse and liberal area. I’ve been taught to congratulate and reward myself for achievements. Critical thinking and self-reliance have been emphasized as some of the most important life skills one could ever develop.

So naturally, with these experiences, I cannot help but feel queasy when I hear people attribute their personal growth and achievements primarily to God. It makes no sense to me. Giving God all the glory and credit takes out all the hard work they put into their success–their hours, their tears, their brainpower. Their main refutation is that “God made it all possible.” But did he? God was not the one who directly put in all that hard work. They made it happen. Their inner strength and willpower made it possible. (I must also add that God can’t even be proven. The inner psyche, however, can.)

Giving God all the credit could lead to a lack of belief in oneself. I grew up thinking that “believe in yourself” was a sick, secular platitude uttered only by lost heathens. God was the only one to be believed in. Having no faith in oneself is dangerous. What happens if God decides to go silent–as he often does? What happens if someone drifts far from God? They are left feeling helpless. Even if they believe God will always be there, they won’t always feel like it. But they’ll always be there for themselves. They can look in the mirror and see their reflection. Isn’t their physical presence far more reliable than a theoretical, invisible deity who supposedly lives inside them?

Even worse is the advice to “constantly dwell on God.” I have heard Christians say that they can’t get him out of their heads. To me, that’s just as bad as being obsessed with a significant other (see almost every love song known to man). Nothing should be constantly dwelled upon. That leads to codependency and obsession. The mind is designed to wander. Thoughts are supposed to have variety. Trying to train oneself to think only on one thing is unnatural and probably unhealthy. And I cannot be convinced that a codependency on God is a good thing. Codependency by definition is destructive. It steals, depletes, and sucks life.

It’s relevant for me to add that one cannot completely rely on oneself, either. Humans were made for each other. We need relationships to survive. That is why a healthy support system consists of ourselves, several people, and, if one chooses, a higher power. No one thing or one person should be someone’s “everything.”

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to believe in God, or that it’s unhealthy to trust in a higher power. Faith can be–and has been–a lifesaver to some. But it’s sad to see somebody completely overlook their own abilities and achievements for a god. It’s not normal for somebody to obsess over one thing or rely on one person. We are mixtures, containing many complex parts. So is life. Discover and utilize that beautiful variety.

 

A Friendly Letter to Tumblr

To be completely honest, a large percentage of this website has a stick up its ass. Get over yourselves, take a breath of fresh air (I mean actual, outside air) and realize that the real world doesn’t revolve around you. People aren’t going to cater to your every sensitivity, nor are they going to hand you everything you want on a silver platter. Nobody’s going to walk on eggshells to avoid offending you. You’re going to be offended sometimes. That’s life.

Sometimes people have different opinions, and that’s fine. The whole world isn’t going to conform to your vision of perfection all the time. For a site full of supposedly tolerant individuals, you act pretty closed-minded sometimes. If somebody’s opinion–no matter how wrong you feel it is–isn’t personally targeting anyone, is it worth arguing about? If something’s really awful, and you think it’s absolutely imperative that it should be discussed, at least try approaching it differently. People aren’t going to respond well to, “you piece of human trash, go choke on your bigoted beliefs!!” 

And honestly, I can’t pretend I haven’t acted whiny before. I’ll admit it: one of my faults is arguing on Facebook. Whenever one of my precious values is trod upon, I feel like I have to be a hero and “correct” the poster. It’s something I’m having to work on. Internet debates rarely do anything but make people mad.

There’s nothing wrong with standing up for your beliefs–yes, even on the internet–but you’re going to have to pick your battles. Sometimes you’re gonna have to let things go. Again, that’s life. Get off Tumblr. Most of you even admit that you spend too much time there. The real world is tough, but a lot more rewarding in the end. You’ll accomplish more out there, anyway.

Ache for Freedom

We live in a society where almost everything is listed, labeled, and scheduled. We’re evaluated based percentage points and numerical scores. Our lives revolve around agendas of hours and minutes. Maybe some people work well within those structured systems, but not me. I long for a free life.

One day I’ll escape all this. I’ll spend my days relaxing and deciding how I want to spend my time. If I want to sleep from 2-11 AM, I will. Maybe I’ll write some short stories or become a professional blogger, setting my own hours. I won’t be graded or given GPAs, nor will I have to worry about SATs and strict exams.

I am a human being. Ten thousand words cannot fully describe me. How, then, am I supposed to live up to a single letter? It’s unfathomable. I don’t want to spend my precious days shackled to labels. I ache for freedom.