Seventeen

I’m turning seventeen today. It’s about one in the morning, and I’m listening to country music on YouTube. I’m wearing my pajamas and I’m under a big blanket–it’s not cold outside in the slightest, nor am I feverish. I’m not running from the past and I’m not chasing the future. I’m not reflecting on the past year or speculating on the next few. I’m right here in this very moment.

And in this moment, I’m okay.

Hypothetical Realities

Tomorrow is going to be difficult. I have an extra long period of one of my least favorite classes. Looks like I’ll end up digging deep into my stockpile of daydreams.

Daydreams. Are they really daydreams? I’m not usually making up fantasy worlds, as fun as they are. Mine can be likened more to ruminations. I’m creating realistic hypotheticals that evoke an emotional response within myself. I have filing cabinets in my mind filled with those hypotheticals. I choose the emotional response I want, and I pick its corresponding rumination. Then I just repeat it, over and over, over and over, zooming in and out as I please. My own television, except I create whatever I want. I’m entertained not necessarily by the thought itself, but by the feelings it creates in me. If anything grows stale, I can mold the daydream or pull out another one. Sometimes, if an idea strikes me, I create an entirely new daydream. Those are the best moments. The tantalizing array of emotions that lie within my ruminations make it so much easier to endure the mundane reality.

Stop Apologizing

Apologize if…

  1. You wrong somebody. “Will you please forgive me for doing that? I apologize.”
  2. You accidentally bump into someone. “Oh, I’m sorry!”
  3. You ran out of orange juice yesterday and you can’t give any to your friends, even though they really wanted it. “I’m sorry. I ran out of orange juice.” 
  4. You forget something important. “I apologize. It just slipped by me.” 
  5. You’re late. “Sorry I’m late.”

Don’t apologize if…

  1. You’re having a bad hair day. “I’m so sorry. I know I look horrible today.”
  2. You haven’t even done the thing yet (whatever it may be). “Sorry if I mess up.”
  3. You’re just venting to a willing ear. “Sorry I took up all your time with my whining.”
  4. You’re simply existing. “I’m sorry for being here.” 
  5. You’re sarcastic. “Oh, I’m totally sorry. My sincere apologies.”

Chances are you’re apologizing for things that aren’t your fault, or that don’t need to be apologized for. Be yourself. Don’t feel the need to admit guilt to your audience before you sing a song–and don’t apologize for making any mistakes during the song. Never say you’re sorry for breathing or living. Your existence is not a stain to be scrubbed off. It’s a candle flame meant to burn brightly, boldly.

Unapologetically.

Who Is Your Master?

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. -Matthew 6:24

The first time I read this verse, I didn’t really see its applicability to modern-day, first world life. Nobody has masters, at least not in the sense that people did during the time period in which Matthew was written. We are free, autonomous, independent individuals who serve nobody.

Are we?

I have never known a person who does not serve a master. Some are enslaved to their finances (the second part of the aforementioned verse says that one cannot serve both God and money). Some serve their job or education. Some serve other people. Some serve their whims and desires. And yes, some do serve God. Whether we acknowledge it, everybody is motivated by someone or something. It’s the nature of man. We have been created by God, so therefore this nature is God’s will for us. It is not innately bad. However, as all flawed humans do, we twist it into something it wasn’t meant to be. Other people and things become our masters.

I am a people-pleaser. I find it distressing when I’m in somebody’s doghouse, so I try to be as nice as possible in order to avoid conflict. Admittedly, I have elevated other people above God. As much as I try to make God my one master (although I am naturally deterred by the word “master”–perhaps I’ll write on that later), I always find myself returning to my people-pleasing ways. Somehow, I think that I can put God first and remain beholden to other people. This directly contradicts Matthew 6:24. When I put my fellow man first, I become angry and spiteful towards God when there is any sort of relational distress. I am devoted to humans and against my Lord.

Where you put the majority of your focus determines who you serve. If you are fixated on your career, you will see it as superior to God–whether you acknowledge it or not. When you see that career as superior, you will push God’s will out of the way in order to chase what you think is best. You go against him. To whom do you want to devote yourself? That which is eternal and unbreakable, or that which is fleeting? Think. Choose. It is up to you to determine where you will put your focus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Absence and Maturity

It’s May already. It was warm enough to wear a tank top and shorts the other day. My winter coats are nowhere to be found. The world around me is fully green, fully alive–and so am I. Around this season, I start to realize the personal theme or lesson of the current school year. The distinction between who I was and who I am now becomes more clear. I didn’t think there would be a marked change in my personality this year, because my identity is no longer the fluid, pitiful, angsty thing it was in middle school. Each year I think this, and each year I discover that I’m wrong.

In September, I was convinced that after high school, I was going to buy a converted school bus and spend a year wandering across the country, blogging, and “finding myself.” Thus, I had no sense of urgency. Life was just a dreamy playground for me, and I treated it as such. Homework assignments were left unfinished. My peers stressed about college, driving, and adulthood while I spent hours relaxing, completely unconcerned. I stayed up late doing leisure activities, fell half-asleep during my morning classes, and returned home in the afternoon to nap. Rinse, lather, repeat. It wasn’t until January or February that reality hit me hard. It dawned upon me that I didn’t have years to just screw around and be a dreamer while remaining dependent on my parents. No. I realized that I’m strapped on a conveyor belt to independence, whether I liked it or not. So I started working. Everything became about my looming adulthood. Having trouble opening the carton of ice cream? Not ready to be on my own. Lost my purse? Not going to make it in the real world (whatever that means). These thoughts aren’t upsetting as much as they are practical. If I don’t know how to do something, I try to figure out how to do it. If there’s a problem, I fix it. This is my life now. I know what’s realistic and what isn’t. I know how to motivate myself. I’ve found a singular dream, a clear path upon which I’m excited to tread. Maybe, just maybe, I’m becoming an adult. And that’s both scary and invigorating.

Back in eighth grade, when I started this blog, I wrote about being concerned that I’d lose myself as I grew older. I worried that I’d become boring and cardboard. Sometimes I still wonder that. I’m not as spacey as I used to be. I’m not so much of a dreamy do-nothing. But have I really lost myself? I don’t think so. I’ve just matured some. The sparks of passion I had for a myriad of dreams have joined to form a burning flame for just one dream. I’m capable, focused, and competent–but I’m still silly old me, and that brings me comfort.

The drive for success I’ve described here has been the primary reason for my relative absence on this blog (compared to writing once or even twice daily). I’m in high gear. My education is important to me, and I’m owning it. Yes, I’m troubled that I’m not writing as much as I promised myself I would back in September, but my priorities have shifted. Those were different times. Of course I won’t give up on blogging. It’s just going to be hard, but summer will bring more freedom. More opportunities. More growth.

And I just can’t wait to discover it all.