Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm a Writer, Dottie.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.

I suppose I’ve had a lot of external reasons for that—good ones, too. I got engaged to a dreamy, dreamy man, I planned a wedding, I got married, I went on a big amazing honeymoon with said man, moved, painted my entire apartment (the living room, twice, because I need a couch and a nice therapist), Gilmore Girls came on Netflix (priorities), and don’t even get me started on the name changing process (seriously why is that so hard?).

But mostly, I’ve just felt kind of stuck. The kind of stuck where when you think about writing, nothing comes to mind. You wonder what Jesus has been doing in your life, or how things are taking shape, what life has taught you, and you know there are a million things you could say, but then you go write it down and you end up with N-O-T-H-I-N-G. It feels like I’m staring at a shoreline. There are a billion tiny grains of sand I could talk about, but it’s hard to pick one up and look at it for any length of time without deciding to move onto another. And the horizon is both in constant flux, and always the same.

Okay yes, I’ve gone through huge changes. The kind that took me from single to married, the kind that took me from living with my sweet, sweet roomie to living WITH A BOY, and even the little weird kinds of things like, I don’t drive myself to work anymore—I ride shotgun in my husband’s car. While this has made it much easier for me to apply makeup on the way to work (it was getting bad, you guys), it’s still weird for your daily habits to totally change, and that kind of stuff can throw a person off her game for a while.

I could say that all of this has presented good reasons for me to stop writing for a bit. But that would be a big fatty-fat lie.

Sorry. I know that was sort of a bait and switch. I’m tricky.

The real reason I haven’t written in months and months is very adult, and very mature. Because I’m an adult now. I’m married and everything.

The real reason is this: I’m scared. Also I think the Internet is stupid.

Yep. I have developed a new found fear of writing. Even the thought of publishing this feels crippling. I know. NEAT.

 Not too long ago, I went through the experience of having something I wrote become that week’s trash—the bloggers picked it up, twisted my words, and made me miserable. It lasted one week, and then it was (pretty much) over, but it really hit a nerve for me. The way blogs and websites and social media can be so used for hate and anger absolutely took my breath away, and suddenly, all I could imagine was more of the same. 

I began to see my own name in print as an embarrassment, and when I was asked if I was planning on changing my pen name with my marriage, I didn’t hesitate. YES. Yes, I would love to put that ignorant girl behind me. I would love to detach from that one blog post that made everyone mad. I wanted to be done with her...but then, I sort of wanted to be done in general. I stopped seeing how any good could come from writing something down and putting it out into the world. And then I started wondering what I was supposed to do with myself, if not write. Something anonymous, preferably.  

So I looked a careers, I hid behind editing, I complained to my lucky new husband, I watched a loooot of Netflix (why are there so many seasons of Grey’s Anatomy? I have to watch them ALL), I decorated my new apartment, and I sulked about my loss of purpose. Like I said, I’m mature.

This went on for several fruitless months, until the truth has finally settled back into my bones. I was made to write. I stare slack jaw into space, I monologue in my head, I’ve been writing in journals religiously since I was four-years-old, I read other writers and feel horribly jealous and anxious about how I will never be as good as they are…I’m a writer. I’m not saying I’m a good writer, I’m just saying, I’m ah writer. I just am. I can’t help it. And if I can’t do the thing God has called me to do, then I can’t fully be the woman God has made me to be. Apparently I can’t change everything about me and become someone else. I know. Lame.

When you hit publish, when you send it to your editor, when you see it “go live,” that’s it. You have to own it. It’s tough—especially when you’re a people-pleaser, a pride-seeker, a “be-my-friender,” and a bit of a bleeding heart. It’s tough to stand by something when you realize it might have offended someone—anyone.  But as my husband recently reminded me, the Gospel is incredibly offensive, so sometimes we end up being a little bit offensive, too.  I think maybe my husband forgets that I’m a pansy, but still, bless him.

So here I go.

I’m going to put one key in front of another. I’m going to write until it feels like it was what I was made to do again. I’m going to write until I start hearing myself on the page, until I can stand again on my wobbly legs—until I can believe again that writing is what God called me to. I’m going to do it for myself, because I love it. I’m going to do it for God, because He’s a deeply creative God, and this is how I process His love. And I’m going to do it for readers, because I want nothing more than for my words to give people even an ounce of hope, and a knowledge that there is a Jesus who loves them

Also I’ll probably write dumb stuff here too, like Bachelor recaps and odes to coffee. Just FYI.

I still can't believe I let one bad experience completely derail me. But maybe that happens to all of us at some point. Maybe this was just my turn, my time to take a break from myself for a little bit. Whatever it was, I'm glad it's over. I feel like I'm breaking a fast, and my hungry little fingers have SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT. That came out weird, but you know what I mean. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Twenty-five(ish) Things 7.5 Years In My Twenties Taught Me

I don't know if you know this about me, but I’m the kind of person who has spent most of her life expecting a piano to fall on her head every time she walks outside. Every time I fly, I make sure I say very intense goodbyes to the people I love. And then I have to take Dramamine so that I don't sit up and feel the nausea that comes with the impending mountain crash I'm positive will happen. 

At Christmas, I look around the room at my sisters and nieces and nephews and brother-in-laws and parents and think to myself, Welp, this will probably be the last year that we’re all in this room together. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, exactly, but it’s the way I’m wired. In college it used to plague me—the anxiety of loving people, the possibility that the people I loved might die someday. 

I remember when my sister had my first niece, I loved her so much that it almost hurt. She was so tiny and stupid, and she didn't know her butt from a hole in the ground, and I feared for her every day for a long time, simply because she was so very little. She just turned 11, my oldest niece, and she’s doing just fine. I’ve had to learn that I can’t worry about her—that worrying about her won’t make her any safer. I learned this in my twenties, because I had to. My sisters have (separately…wait, what?) made four more babies in the last 8 years. Five doe-eyed, sensitive little weeble wobbles I've fallen in love with. Five. I had to mellow out. It was that, or lose my mind.

I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about how to handle life, I suppose. And when I’m feeling sentimental, or when I’ve been home sick, and alone, for too long (Me. Today.) I take the time to look back on them and reflect a little bit. I am wiser than I was at 19. I’m in better shape than I was at 22. I have better hair than I did at 24 (can I hear an amen from anyone who knew me during my dark period? Yikes. Thank you, Jennie, for dying it back to blonde for me, for free, over the span of an entire weekend. You have saved my hair more times than I know. I hereby dedicate this blog post to you.)

Oh, by the way, it is very, very good to be friends with a beautician. Like, it’s the best.

So, I’ve decided to write some of this newly-discovered knowledge down. I hereby present what 7.5 years of twenty-something life has taught me. You are welcome. Or I am sorry.  

  • First of all, and most importantly, don’t spend your twenties waiting to find a man (or a woman). It won't make him show up any sooner, and when he does show up, it will only make you seem desperate. Just live your life. Even better, love your life, love your neighbor, and love God. That’s all.
  • You aren't tied down to doing whatever it was that you went to college for. I went to school to be an English teacher—turned out, I totally sucked at being an English teacher. I was made to be a writer, and at some point, I had to find the courage to believe that, trust God, and go for it.
  • Money will either serve you, or you will serve it. And you will not have any money in your twenties unless your life’s passion is to be a financial consultant or something or something. My friend Heidi’s husband is an actuary (I think), and he totally makes money and does things like, “flies out to New York,” and all sorts of things I can’t wrap my head around. But she is the least money-oriented person I know, so I think it’s kind of poetic. I like it.
  • Don't give up on the Church. Find a church that you can call home, with people you can trust. But know that they'll still, at some point, probably let you down in some way. The Church is the imperfect Bride of Christ. Keeping that in mind will make all the difference.
  • Call your mom, even if you’re fighting.
  • Love your friends' kids. They have them now, and they're new at this, and loving their kids lets them know that they're doing a good job as parents. And that their having kids and your maybe not being there yet is not something that separates you from each other. Your friendships will only deepen, I promise. Love your friends' kids.
  • Truly Jesus-loving, Bible-hugging, Scripture-studying, bleeding-heart individuals can look at issues and come up with different answers. I am not inherently right. Neither are you. That’s what grace is for.
  • Embrace the weirdness in your weirdest friends. You will have so much fun with them, and you will have the kinds of conversations that you’ll look back on with so much fondness when you enter into a period of your life when the most intense conversations you have are about money or jobs or where you’re going to live. In those times, you’ll be thankful that you had someone to reflect with. To talk about God’s glory, or to sit and stare at a fire with for hours and talk about how cool it is to watch stuff burn. Or how weird it is that society forces us to wear underwear when no one can see if we’re wearing them or not. Liz.
  • You might actually deserve the kind of person who respects you, your body, and your boundaries—namely because they respects themselves, their bodies, and their boundaries just as much.
  • Along with that, the past mistakes you've made in other relationships do not determine the caliber of your “right” person. Let me know if I ever need to repeat that.
  • Make a big deal out of your friends’ birthdays. We’re all so caught up in our own lives all the time—take the time to celebrate each other.
  • Don't be too afraid to miss out. If your couch is calling you, it's calling you. You're no spring chicken. Get some rest and promise yourself you'll go out with everyone next time. Your friends will not hate you for this. They get it.
  • For the love of Pete, start a savings account. Even if you have $50 in there to start, it will be something. And that's better than nothing.
  • At some point, you will get a phone call you never wanted to get—saying that your dad is in the hospital, or someone close to you is struggling with drug abuse, or your grandpa is gone. Those phone calls are imminent, and we waste our time trying to fool ourselves into believing that they won’t happen. God will never leave your side. In times of sorrow and trouble, he carries you through.
  • Keep being creative. Don't let adulthood suck that out of you. 
  • Thirty isn't as old as I used to think it was. I’m so close. Like, I’m the I-wear-night-cream-to-bed kind of close. I now find thirty to be the new twenty. It is very, very, very young. Do you understand? It’s young.
  • God is working to bring his children back to him—but nothing you or I say will ever force someone back to Christ. Trying to do so has the potential to border on abuse or manipulation. Jesus loved people where they were. He told them the truth, but he never clubbed them over the head and dragged them to repentance. And I suppose that means we can’t, either.
  • There is a fine line between dressing “maturely” and dressing “like an old lady.” Like, a super, duper fine line. Yeeesh.
  • A guy can buy you drinks and dinner and a ticket to your favorite museum/concert/play/whathaveyou, but at the end of the night, all you owe him is a thank you.
  • Thrift stores are magical places, full of fun. And also, full of furniture you can spray paint so that you have matching furniture. Same color = matching. Everybody wins.
  • Wine is for celebration. And it is delicious.
  • You will probably date a lot of different people before you find the right one. Or maybe you won't date anyone for a really long time, and suddenly you'll find the right one. I've seen both. Patience is the craps, but you have to have it.
  • 99% of the time, you can’t really have close, super-deep, platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex. Well, my friend Jenn can, but she’s Canadian. I've only experienced heartbreak or breaking hearts in those situations, and when you find the right person, you suddenly have awkward male friendships that you need to slowly ease out of. Except for my childhood forever friend, Caleb, but he doesn't count because he’s like a sibling. Or Cory. Because he's Cory. I'm getting distracted.
  • Anyway, use your single time to get closer to friends of the same sex. They’ll last longer, they’ll be richer friendships, and once you have that right person, you’ll feel awfully lucky when you get to have time with those girls who don’t mind when you need to talk about your newest hair color or your desperate need of chocolate or how much that last Bachelor season sucked or how cute Olivia Pope’s clothes are (I want every single piece in that flawless wardrobe, pride be damned) or commiserate over your deep understanding of the word “hangry.”
  • Or maybe, guys, y’all bond over that stuff, too.
  • But seriously. Hanger is real. I definitely learned that in my twenties. Keep snacks nearby.
  • You will always have stuff you're working on. Always. Ask my closest friends how I am at answering my phone, or returning phone calls, and they will give you an earful about the areas where I need some work. Ask my fiancĂ© how my culinary skills are (thank you Jesus for giving me a man who knows how to cook). Ask my sisters how I am at not spacing out during conversations. Haha...I dare you. The point is, I'm still figuring out many, many things. We all are--I mean, right?
What’d I miss? What’d you learn in your twenties?