I Matter

I’ve talked about it before, but for those of you who don’t know, I ended up in an emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship that went on for a year and a half. During that time, I was invalidated as a person. My feelings, emotions, mental well being was called into question by a guy. Things were put on me that should never have been my burden to carry. When I first started this blog, I talked about it for the first time ever. Now a year out of that situation, I’ve learned several things.

The most important thing is that who I am and what I feel matters. I still struggle with it because even before everything, it wasn’t my first instinct to put myself first. I hated, and still hate, inconveniencing people. I would rather go out of my way so that they are not put out. It was this very thing that put me in the position in which I was emotionally manipulated by him. He knew that was something I did, and he used it for his advantage. After him, I felt so incredibly destroyed inside, but I didn’t tell anyone. I was the good Christian girl who had everything I could ever want. I had no reason to feel the way I did, so I told myself to suck it up and deal. But that broken feeling never really went away. I thought it did, but other circumstances made me realize that it hadn’t.

Recently, I found myself in an eerily similar situation to the one which led to that terrible relationship. While I knew that this guy would never hurt me, he started to say the same things as my ex. He put burdens on me that should not be mine to bear, but I wanted to be there for him. So I shouldered those burdens because I wanted to help.

The day I knew it was too much and that I needed to start taking care of myself and my feelings instead of just his was when I started to dread phone calls or texts. The focus had so become him and his feelings, that I had simply become the quiet party. The problem with that is a relationship cannot work that way. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to made, but I knew that for once I needed to come first. I needed to be heard and I needed to be protected and most importantly, my feelings needed to be accepted despite what he had going on.

The second thing I’ve realized is that it doesn’t matter how long it has been, how much I’ve prayed, or how much I’ve talked about it, there are going to be things that will always remind me of what happened. Somethings I’ll be able to get over, but other things I won’t. And that is okay. The things that I won’t be able to get over are things that are going to protect me later. I know now that I will never be able to get past a guy telling me that my feelings don’t matter. That’s something I should never get over.

One day when it is God’s timing, I am going to meet a better man who will never tell me that my feelings don’t matter. He will be able to see what I’ve gone through and I will be able to learn to trust again.

I will get over what happened. I won’t think about it every time I drive a certain street back home. I will learn to let someone in again and trust them without questioning their motives, but I will never again let someone tell me that my feelings don’t matter. I matter just as much as they do, and anyone who thinks otherwise is welcomed to see themselves out.

To all the girls out there, your feelings matter and so does his. Remember that you are worth more than the value he puts on you. You are priceless. I know that it is hard, and society tells us otherwise. But you matter!

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Moving On and Growing Up

I’ve always been a homebody. I would much rather watch Netflix and bake cookies, then have a night out on the town. I’m much more of a binge watcher than a marathon shopper. I consider a good day out as a day that I can fit in a long run or go hiking. That being said, the house where I grew up has always been home to me. Well, until recently.

My first three year of college when I said I was going home, I meant I was going back to that house where I had my own room with my posters and things on the wall. The room where I could leave things out or have my bed unmade and close a door because no one would see it. The room that hosted many sleep overs and many surprises. It was the room that held the bed that I’ve cried in and laughed in. It had all sorts of memories that made it home. With the perfect view of my best friend’s house down the street and the brilliant view of my favorite ocean, I knew when I walked through that door I was home.

But more than that, home was where my parents were. It was the loud music being played on a lazy Saturday to get us all up so that we could eat breakfast. It was the smell of our Christmas tree when I came home for break. It was the sound of chaos when all of us where home. But most of all it was the place that I knew I was always safe and accepted. It was my escape from all the craziness of college and not always getting along with roommates.

And I always knew that one day things would change. That one day I would walk through that blue door and feel like I was a guest visiting my parent’s home. I knew that at some point, the place I was living would be home and where my life was instead of the house I grew up in. Slowly, I was preparing myself for that day.

This summer I realized that the day I was officially grown up was coming sooner than I had expected. Before I left for my last year of college, I began to take those memories that made that house home down. Down came the pictures, the frames, the posters of movies that I used to be obsessed with. Away went the stuffed animals from my childhood and the various trinkets that decorated the tops of shelves and cubes. Gone was the bed that I had since I was a toddler and the tea sets that were kept in that monstrous wooden cabinet that used to be mounted to my wall. In the end, all that was left was my books in their cubes, classified by author and genre, the containers of yarn skeins that held projects yet to be discovered, and the bow and quiver mounted on the wall. Some of the books shifted to the wall, floating magically and displaying my favorite collections. But despite it still being my room, it was no longer my childhood room.

Now, I don’t say this to make my parents feel bad, and mom and dad, if that is what happened, I am sincerely apologetic. What I am trying to say is that part of growing up is moving on and one day moving out.

I still left for school feeling like that house was home, but then I moved into my apartment at school. Sure it is small, but it is cozy. Yeah the walls are thin, but that’s part of college. The bedroom is small, maybe five feet of space between my roommate’s bed and mine. The kitchen doesn’t fit both of us in it and if the fridge door is open, you can’t get past. But with each box, each tack, each picture, and each piece of myself, it became my home. Those memories that I had packed away from that house I grew up in, exploded into my apartment. Pictures decorate my wall of my best friends and my family. My race medals and bibs hang proudly on the wall. It looks lived in and not just lived but loved.

Dishes are in the sink, towels hang haphazardly from hooks in the bathroom. Sometimes beds are made, but other times everything seems to explode everywhere. New memories are made. Laughter during movie nights are cemented into roommate bonding. Dinners cooked with friends reminds us that we are doing this on our own. Frustration from homework reminds us that its okay if we aren’t quite ready to be completely on our own yet. I hope our parents walk into the apartment and feel like this is our home now.

But the true realization of my tiny apartment with my hilarious and awesome roommate being my home was this last week. I went home for a wedding of a high school friend, and for the first time, I walked through that blue front door and felt like I was arriving at my parent’s home. It was still the house I grew up in, but there wasn’t that same feeling. I  was only a visitor and I was perfectly okay with that. For the first time, I put my travel sized shampoo and conditioner in the shower and I was truly visiting.

And I realized that home is not where necessarily where you grew up or where the person you love is, but it is the place where you make memories that you cherish. It is the place you know, and it is the place that allows you to recharge and rest. For me, it is currently a tiny apartment at my college, but I know that when I graduate in May, my home will change. But no matter what, the memories created in each place will be what defines it as home.

Time Management (aka figuring out how to do everything you want to plus everything you need to)

The ironic thing about this post is that I had planned for this to be written last week, but instead of misjudged my time as well as my commitments so my blog got pushed to the back burner. That was mostly because I knew my grades wouldn’t be affected and I wouldn’t offend anyone if I didn’t get this posted as soon as I wanted to.

School. College. University. Death by books. Whatever you would like to call it. We’ve all experienced some level of learning time management by force through school, whether that was elementary school, middle school, high school, or beyond. If you didn’t learn time management in school, then you learned it when you started your first job.

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. My first semester of college, I was all work no play. I got up early, went to swim practice, went to class, went to practice again, went to work, did homework, and then went back to bed. No time for anything other that what I had to do. Occasionally, I did things with friends, but not very frequently. My friends had to essentially kidnap me and force me to celebrate my birthday. Before I start college, I had a whole Pinterest board dedicated to how to manage your time. I got a planner. I wrote everything down. I scheduled, scheduled, scheduled. But I forgot to schedule time for myself and time to be social. To be fair part of that was because I was introverted and college itself was completely overwhelming to me.

However, I’ve also been on the side where I didn’t schedule anything, didn’t write anything down, and just did things as I remembered them. While my grades didn’t drop significantly, they dropped enough that I knew I needed to focus and find the medium between the two extremes.

Now I realize that there is more to college then just doing homework and passing classes. As I learned better time management, I made more friends and got more involved at my school. The more involved I got, the more opportunities I received. My schedule got hectic quick, and I had to find the happy medium in saying yes and no.

I don’t know how many of you are like me, but I have a hard time saying no to people, especially professors and my friends. I tend to want to do everything which means I have to manage my time carefully.

I’m still not perfect, and I am learning everyday better ways to do things. But here are some tricks that I learned.

1. Get a Planner

I know, I know. I sound like your mom. My mom always made us have a planner when we were in high school. To be honest, I hardly used it. I would start each school year with good intentions, but then I would get lazy. But when I started college it became a lifesaver. IMG_5525.JPG

This is my planner. I got it from Staples at the beginning of summer. I love it and carry it with me everywhere.

2. Write in said planner

Now, you don’t have to do it the way I do. I color-code everything so that I can look at it quickly and see what homework is for what class without having to write too much information. I also color-code work and social as well. I find that that color-coded helps me keep track better.

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I have a section in my planner for homework that I can check off as I finish it. I write things in a way that I remember and that I can read quickly and get it done. I keep a paperclip on the current week and can quickly flip to it look at what I have to do.

3. Remember to save time for yourself

I’m an introvert. I’ve gotten better as I’ve worked through college, but being around people still overwhelms and exhausts me. I’ve had to learn that I need to schedule in time for me to watch something on Netflix or to read a book or whatever is helping me destress. Stressed Bethany is not a place I want to be.

4. Remember to eat

I know it sounds stupid, but I’m being real here. When you are running around like a chicken with their head cut off, you can sometimes forget to eat. Don’t worry I’ve very guilty about this. Not only do you need the food for energy and such, but eating also gives you a chance to sit down and breathe. You can take a moment even if it is just five minutes to sit and take time to yourself.

 

I hope these things help. I apologize now for my posts maybe being a little sporadic as I adjust to being back at school.

We Don’t Have To Agree

At the risk of some people getting upset with me, I am going to brave this rather uncomfortable subject. Most people would rather mumble it or just avoid talking about it. That’s right the t-word.

Tolerance

This is a hot button topic right now, especially in regards to human rights. Now, let’s be clear. I am all for tolerance, especially when it comes to how people are treated. Every person on this planet deserves respect and dignity because let’s face it we are all humans. About to get real sciency here for a moment, hang on. At the very root of who we are, our species is the same regardless of what part of the world we or our ancestors are from. We are all, say it with me, Homo sapiens. Some of you may be like, homo what now. Homo sapiens.  This is the genus and the species that humans belong to. It’s Latin, and the cool thing is that it translates to “wise man”. Cool right?!? Clearly I’m a bit of a nerd, blame the science background.

Anyways, now that we got our species established as being the same whether you live in California (like me) or you live in South Africa or you live in India or you live in Indonesia…or any place else in the world, we can move on to being tolerant.

First of all let’s establish the definition of tolerance. According to dictionary.com, tolerance is:

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

That sounds good. I like that. Basically is someone likes pizza and you like tacos, you need to accept that they like pizza. Except now, let’s put that on a bigger scale. If someone is Muslim and you are atheist, you need to accept that they believe something different than you. Just like me as a Christian understands and accepts that a Muslim has different beliefs than me. Now, I may not agree, but I’m not going to go around and treat them like they are less than human because that is not fair.

The definition of tolerance does not state that you must agree with the person to be tolerant of them. If you agree with the person there isn’t an issue. Tolerance is looking beyond yourself and realizing that everyone is a person and deserves to be treated as such regardless of their views.

Now a note for my Christian readers: I am not saying that within the Christian community we should be tolerant of each other’s sin. In that case if the person is a Christian and is sinning, the Bible is very clear that we are to lovingly confront them as it is laid out in Matthew 18. I’m talking about when you and the other person are not in the same religion, racial group, political group, etc.

If I am talking to someone about something and they disagree and then start to put me down, this is not tolerance. Now, if I am talking with someone about something that they disagree on, but they still treat me like a person–that is tolerance.

We don’t have to agree with everyone to get along. We just need to be kind and respectful of other people. We all have opinions and sometimes they differ, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

Not Lost, Just Taking the Scenic Route

Most people go to college (or university) with a bunch of different ideas of what they want to do after graduation. They take classes to figure out what they like and what they don’t like. And three to four years down the road, they graduate with a degree in a field that they discovered they like (hopefully). I also know people who did not do the college thing, but after high school graduation found a job that they just fell in love with. But in both of these cases, people narrowed down their choices of what they wanted to do-starting from a lot of choice and ending with only one.

However, I was the complete opposite. Since sixth grade, every action and basically everything I did was because I already knew what my dream job was. I knew what I wanted to do so I made choices to support that. Yes, I also am majoring in a degree that I love. It was a huge blessing that I loved the subject I needed to study in school for my dream job. But in the last three months, God has taken that dream job away from me. I talked about that in my post Letting Go. Now, I suddenly have a million different options (not really, but it feels like it) and I want to do all of them. It seems like everyday, a new idea or option comes up.

But the reality is that I won’t be able to do all of these. Nor would it be smart to try to do all of them because something would have to give. So how do I figure out what I am going to do with my future. Which of these amazing options are the best for me to pursue?

When everything went down with God taking away my dream job in one of my many conversations with my mom, I realized something. My dream job was my dream job because I would be helping people. Serving in the Coast Guard would help my local community while also serving my country. It was the best of both worlds. I could provide hope for people and be there when they needed me. So I realized that my dream job was actually helping people not serving in the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was just one avenue to that. What took me nearly eleven years to figure out only took other people a year or so to figure out about me.

I’ve been blessed to have gone to small Christian schools through high school. In middle school, I had this amazing science teacher who I can’t even begin to thank for everything he did for me. Not only did we learn science in the classroom, but we went on some pretty sweet field trips. I was already in love with the ocean, but when this teacher took us to Catalina Island for science camp, I knew that I had found my home away from home. Now, why am I telling you this?

Because this science teacher discovered something about me that at the time I didn’t even know about myself. In fact, only yesterday did I put two and two together. When it came time for me to move to high school, he gave me one of those soft cover picture books that also had information. Mine was all about the different rescue services that exist around the world. Everything from lifeguards to the Coast Guard. To this day, I still have it.

Yesterday, I was going through my bookshelves and stumbled on this book. I hadn’t thought about it for a while. I flipped open the cover, and there was a short note from my teacher about why he gave me this book. The jist of the note was that he knew that whatever I did with my life, it would involve helping people.

Hold up…Back it up…

My middle school science teacher knew that I would help people because it was ingrained in my character. Even I didn’t know that. Remember how I said that only recently did I realize that my dream job was helping people.

So despite no longer have one clear path, I know that helping people and serving them is my end goal. And I want to thank that teacher for recognizing that even in the quiet, weird eighth grade Bethany. Because yesterday, your words gave me the confirmation that I didn’t really know I was looking for.

While I don’t know what my job title or official description will be after I graduate, I know that the unofficial description will involving helping those in my community and those around me who need help. And I may not know exactly how I am going to get there, I know that as long as I trust and keep walking, the path through the trees will get clearer. One day, I will emerge from the forest to the place where God has appointed for me to go.

Letting Go

I don’t know about y’all, but I like to dream. They aren’t crazy dreams, but more dreams about what will happen down the road. I’m a planner, you see, so I like to dream out my life in advance so that I can plan for everything that may come my way. In recent years, I’ve been learning the hard lesson of letting go and letting God. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy and like something out of a Christian magazine, but I’m completely serious. I’ve been continually humbled and pointed in completely different directions by God when I’ve thought I had everything completely figure out. By now I should’ve learn that I should stop planning every last detail, but yet again, I plan everything (and tell everyone) only to have God straight up tell me no. However, this last time hurt worse than before.

Since I was in sixth grade, I knew what I wanted to be growing up. Everything that I’ve done-what college, what major, what extracurriculars-was for this dream career. And I thought everything had finally fallen into place. There had been a few changes along the way, but nothing that derailed the ultimate goal. With only one year left of school, I was within arm’s reach of my dream. I could almost taste it. My whole life revolved around it, and I was certain that because I had the same dream since sixth grade that it was what God had planned for me. I had even gotten so confident as to tell people that.

Nothing to prepare me for what God truly had planned for me. God is love, but sometimes love is tough. Think of it as the way parents discipline. They still love us, but sometimes they have to be “mean” in order to teach us a lesson. Unfortunately, even though I had seen all the warning signs I didn’t change my behavior. I continued to act like I was the one who knew the way my life was suppose to go, and while I acknowledged God, I was so focused on my goal that I didn’t see him pointing in the other direction. Like Jonah, I made the choice to go where I wanted instead of where he wanted. Thankfully, God didn’t have a giant fish come and swallow me up, but sometimes I wonder if that would be less painful.

Two weeks ago, I received some news that drastically altered my so called “perfect” life plan. Sitting in the doctor’s office, my whole world came crashing down. Don’t worry, I’m okay and it’s nothing life threatening, but I found out that I have a medical condition that disqualified me from my dream job. Thankfully, my mom was at the appointment with me, otherwise I don’t know if I would’ve been able to drive home. All I could think was “Keep it together, Bethany” and “Don’t cry”. When my parents asked me if I was okay, I gave them a quick “fine” and bolted up to my room. In reality I was far from fine. I was absolutely devastated, and I didn’t even know where to start processing the news (hence, the rather delayed blog post about it).

Sitting in my room, I stared at my Bible, trying to sort out my thoughts. I thought that I had everything planned out and that everything was going to be working out. I had been praying about it. As I sat in my room and then later when I finally cried with my parents I realized something. My heart had already moved onto better things, but my mind hadn’t. I was so fixated on a goal, that I completely missed that my heart wasn’t in it anymore. Standing in the kitchen I told my parents that I was most upset that my decision was taken from me. I no longer had the chance to choice whether I wanted this career or not.

My heart had let go long before my head did. I’ve spent a lot of time crying and wrestling with what to do now, but I’ve also spent a lot of time simply listening to God instead of telling him what I was doing. He’s given me an amazing opportunity to pursue the thing that I love most in the world which is science and the ocean. And He’s given me the best support system a girl could ask for to work through this time of uncertainty. I have an amazing group of friends here at home who I regularly gather with for Bible study and to share life.

By taking the time to listen to him, I’ve learned to let go. It’s like things like telling someone that I “hope” to study marine science and get my master’s degree. God works all things for the good of those who love him, and when I trust in him, I get to experience an amazing life. I’ve let go of one dream, but I’ve been given a desire for so much more in life. I know that God is going to use me in an amazing way, but for Him to do that I need to trust completely in him. This doesn’t mean I can’t plan, but I need to realize that my plans are earthly and tentative. God’s plans for me are eternal and have my best interests in mind.

Lessons Running Taught Me

I’ve been an avid runner since my sophomore year of high school. Coincidentally, it was that same year that I was told I needed surgery on my knee if I was going to ever swim, run, or really do anything again. It’s been a long process, but I gradually got strong enough to run again after the surgery. Ultimately, my love of running overran my love of swimming. For the past five year, running has taught me a lot of things about the sport as well as about myself.

Running is a community.

First of all, running is an individual sport. You aren’t on a team in the same way you would be in you played soccer. It’s all about you and the clock. Despite that there is a connection among runners. While you may never talk to another runner while you are out on a run, generally there is a shared camaraderie when you pass other runners. Whether in the form of a “you’ve got this” nod or a friendly wave, there is a community. Another place this unique community is seen is during a race. You would think that everyone would be focused on themselves, but I’ve witnessed numerous scenarios where another runner will stop and run with someone who is struggling, encouraging them and making sure that they cross the finish line. When you cross that finish line, everyone is cheering. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not, people are ready to celebrate your accomplishment with you.

Running is “inexpensive”

The beauty of running is that it doesn’t require a gym membership. Really all it requires is workout clothes and running shoes. However, it does start to get expensive when you begin running with the goal of racing. And when you begin to collect all the different type of gear. But at the very heart of the sport, give someone a pair of running shoes and they can conquer the world.

Running can be a way to workout, a hobby, or a lifestyle

Being a runner doesn’t always mean that you run marathons or run 100 miles a week or something else crazy. A runner is anyone who goes and runs whether it’s 1 mile, 3 miles, 13.1 miles, 100 miles. But as you increasing mileage, running transitions from just being a way to workout to being a hobby, and then you get to where I am where it’s a lifestyle. Now I don’t quite eat, breath, and sleep running, but much of my life revolves around running.

There is no amount of stress that a good run can’t help lessen

For me, completely exhausting myself is a good way to blow off steam. There is something relaxing about the rhythm you get into as you run. Most of the time I run with music, and basically stop thinking for the length of the run. Most of the time, I am significantly less stressed after a run compared to before a run. It does mean I have to be super focused after a run because I just spent an hour of my time running. But it is a significantly better stress reliever than watching Netflix or stress eating.

Running gives me an opportunity to think

I tend to get stuck in my own head a lot and internalize things. As I’ve gotten more into running, I’ve realized that my long runs present a perfect opportunity to think. And in that hour or more that I have to think, I can actually process things in a healthy way instead of bottling it all up inside.

I am capable of so much more then people think

Keep in mind when I say people, it is a generalized term. After my knee surgery, there were some people in my life who were skeptical of my desire to run, swim, and do triathlons again. All three of those things are more mentally taxing then physically (At least for me). So I had this desire to run and swim, but I also had people in my ear telling me I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. But now five years post-op, I’m preparing to run my second half marathon. Every day that I pulled on my shoes, I told myself that I just needed to run a little more or a little faster than the last time I ran. The doubts of some people also gave me motivation to prove myself. I don’t like when people tell me I can’t do something physically so I view it as a challenge and a chance to prove myself.

The human body is capable of going and going and going

I knew that with my knee surgery there could be the chance that I would be racing and my knee just wouldn’t be able to continue anymore. That first race after my knee surgery, I had prepared myself for that fact. What I found was the complete opposite. My head and mind was ready to give up before my body was. After my knee surgery, I had hoped to run again, but I never expected it to be more then a 5K or maybe the occasional 10K. Over and over, I’ve crossed the finish line in complete surprise of what I’ve been able to accomplish.

Running fosters a sense of pride

Whether you are running to get back in shape or training for a race, there is a sense of pride that comes with you. For me, it’s that moment that I cross the finish line of a race. It doesn’t matter if I was off pace or something went wrong. All I can think about it the fact that I finished and all my training paid off. In that moment, I couldn’t be prouder of myself. I didn’t give up, and I accomplished my goal.