“Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.”
This morning I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I woke up, so I started surfing Tumblr for quotes.
Maybe it’s because I’m a journalist and a writer, but I love hearing what people have to say, especially the stuff worth quoting. I could go hours just sitting on the internet searching for words of wisdom and writing them down to remember later on. I have made collages for the walls in my room that are covered in quotes.
I wear a compass pendant every day, and when people notice it, they don’t realize that on the back of it says “There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” I love jewelry like this, they’re just simple reminders that I can keep going, and to me, that matters more than any gold locket or diamond necklace ever could.
What interests me most about quotes is that even though many times they’re pulled out of context, and they may not mean to one person what they meant to the person saying them, they can still resonate with people enough to have an impact. Words are one of the most powerful weapons that we have, and I’m drawn to them constantly. I could sit around all day just looking for quotes, in fact, I have done it before.
My best friend and I spent an entire day last summer making matching quote collages that we keep in our rooms to remind ourselves that we’re there for each other, even though we were two hours apart. We’re probably doing it again, even though I’m already running out of wall space.
I’ve learned so much about myself just from hearing other people’s words. I’ll hear something that I can identify with, and it helps me understand more about myself and what it is I want out of the world. And it’s healthy for me to do that, I think.
“I am a paradox.
I want to be happy,
but I think of things that make me sad.
I’m lazy, yet I’m ambitious.
I don’t like myself, but I also love who I am.
I say I don’t care, but I really do.
I crave attention,
but reject it when it comes my way.
I’m a conflicted contradiction.
I just can’t figure myself out,
there’s no way anyone else has.”
Quotes are often a driving force for my writing too. I’ll start with something someone else said, and I’ll bounce off of it for inspiration. It’s the easiest way for me to start my journaling when I’m stuck, and it’ll always be my go-to solution when I have writer’s block. I’m inspired by other people and the words they say. It’s easier to write about people when you have something to work with.
It’s been pointed out to me that when I try to isolate myself and keep my interactions with others to a minimum, my life becomes “less interesting,” and will prevent me from keeping my writing going. While the interesting may be exhausting, and there are some nights that I just want to plop down on the couch and remain undisturbed, I know that’s not me. My favorite part of my day is coming home, sitting on my balcony and writing about everything going through my head, and in order to do that, I need the inspiration.
As long as there’s people and words out in the world, I will always have something to write about.
“When reading, we don’t fall in love with the characters’ appearance. We fall in love with their words, their thoughts, and their hearts. We fall in love with their souls.”
“When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you got two new people. Maybe that means — hell, it’s complicated.”
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
Everyone who I’ve known before this semester, met this semester, or reconnected with this semester has probably had a bigger impact on me than they realize. It’s been a crazy semester, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons about myself, and how to keep my head up and keep going.
I keep a journal that I started writing in at the beginning of the semester, and have been barely able to put down since. I started writing in it on a very exhausting night after spending three hours in the emergency room due to a long boarding accident. The journal had 150 pages inside just waiting to be filled with whatever thoughts were floating in my head.
As of last night, I have 45 pages to go until the book is finished, and my goal is to have it complete by New Year’s Eve. It seems like a lot of writing that needs to be done, but on nights where I do feel inspired to just pick up the pen and go, I’ve written upwards of five pages in one sitting.
I love free writing, because it helps me figure out my own thoughts. Because I’m a journalist, any time I’m writing on the computer or anything else digital for that matter (even text messages and emails), I get the inclination to copy edit, restructure, and generally overthink everything that I’ve said. Sometimes it’s almost like I’m censoring myself, and so when I’m hand writing in my journal, everything I’ve said is the honest to God truth, and I can’t get that anywhere else.
When I’m writing in my journal, I let myself say whatever it is that’s on my mind, and I don’t apologize for any of it. I’ll look back on the pages and reread them to familiarize myself with how I feel about things. Sometimes I’ll laugh at myself for how dumb I was just a matter or weeks ago, other times I’ll be proud of myself for the choices I made. Sometimes I’ll surprise myself with how I’ve handled a situation, and other times I’ll scare myself because of how close to the edge I once was.
I’m a pretty open person most of the time, but there are times when there are things that I can’t even tell my friends. Like that sometimes, I’m more sorry for my screw-ups than I’ll let on. Like sometimes, I wish we could just call each other up every day to keep touch, even with our conflicting schedules and busy lives. Like sometimes, how I wish I could go back in time to freshman year, where even as crazy as things were, they were also much simpler, because we had one common goal in mind: stay alive. Survive freshman year, and be able to prove to ourselves that we can make it in college.
Sometimes it’s forgotten, at least to me, that I still have that commonality with everyone still, even when we can’t find common ground anywhere else.
This semester’s been long and grueling, and as finals week approaches, I keep reminding myself more and more of that. I think back to last August about how different things were: I came back to Tampa thinking I was going to be working a completely different job, doing completely differently in my classes, and hanging out with totally different people. It’s funny how much things can change in a matter of months, and the kind of hell that I’ve had to go through to see those changes.
As things change, I realize that there’s people who were once a big part of my life who just aren’t there these days. And it’s not because I don’t want them there, it’s just about finding time, sharing interests and relatability and still reminding each other that we want to live and survive, together. There’s certain people out there who I just want to help them be the best version of themselves, and that’s how I know I truly care about them, even if it’s not completely apparent.
It’s traditional to have a New Year’s Resolution, but I think I have more goals for wrapping up this year on a good note than I will for the New Year:
- Try to reconnect with people who I’ve distanced myself from this semester. We don’t have to hang out all of the time or be conjoint at the hip as we maybe once were, but I want them to know that even though we never see each other anymore, I still care. I’ll always still care, even if I do a crappy job at showing it.
- Finishing that journal of mine, and reminding myself that I’m am entitled to my feelings and not having to surpress them. You can’t help how you feel, and neither can I. I’m not going to let people try and make me feel like my feelings are irrelevant, because they’re mine and I have control over them. My journal helps me accept, recognize and be confident in my feelings. It helps me figure myself out, and that’s why I have to keep writing.
- Accept the fact that I deserve better than I’ve allowed myself to accept this year. The year started off with me just getting out of a three and a half year long relationship, having to nurse my dog back to health, and freaking out about how I was going to make a new job, internship and 16 credit hours work all at once. Spring was stressful, summer was a piece of work and a long road of finding myself, and fall became chaotic, daunting and required even more soul searching. I got it in my head that because I was such a mess, I deserved a mess, and I’m starting to realize that I deserve better than that. Everyone does.
From all that’s happened this year, I know I can survive it, and whatever is still going to be thrown my way. So my goal is to realize that I deserve better, and go for it, no matter what.
Having to just sit around waiting can be one of the most frustrating things in the whole world.
And maybe sometimes, you’re not really “just sitting around,” but you’re continuing on with your day-to-day routine, hoping a certain something is going to happen, and as you wait, and wait, and wait, you realize it’s just not coming.
Not now, anyways.
Currently, I’m waiting on my classes to be over, new opportunities to start, and my bills to be paid. I’m waiting to see my family for the holidays, help my best friend move to Tampa, and for all of the stories that I’m working on to finally be finished. I’m waiting for a fresh start in the spring, with a new class schedule, finally having my car back and the preparation process for a volunteer abroad trip in May.
Sometimes, it feels like all I’m doing it planning. And list-making. And worrying.
It may seem like the easy way out is the best way out when you grow tired of waiting. Settling for the crappy grade, a less than stellar job, or a rushed trip. Not waiting can mean instant gratification and feeling like you’ve gotten everything you wanted — but the feeling won’t last. You’ll realize you could’ve had something better if you just waited a little bit longer, held on a little bit tighter, and stayed just a little bit stronger.
A lot of times, especially since I left for college, I’ve wanted to take the easy way out and just settle. On more things than I can count. And I’ll admit, I probably did do it a few times since I’ve moved just because I realized that you need to take it easy every now and then. The thing that I learned about taking the easy route though is that in the end, it wasn’t nearly as gratifying and satisfying than it was when I worked and worked and accomplished the harder task.
For me, it’s the greatest feeling to be able to not only get what I was waiting for, but to know how hard I worked for it while on the road to getting there. Finding a job because I searched for weeks and gave my all to the application process. Getting high grades because I put my heart and soul into my assignments. Meeting new, interesting people because I branched out and decided to talk to those I wouldn’t have normally talked to.
These kind of things don’t happen to everybody. They happen to those who take risks. To those who dream for better things and accomplish them. To those who don’t settle. To those who work for them.
… to those who wait.
“The brights lights,
I was taken in by the spotlight coming from the stare
of your wanting eyes,
like a Vegas green glow.
Yeah, grasping, wishing I could roll the dice again.
You can can always love, but you can’t win.
A heart is like the money you blow.
- Casino by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio (Nashville Cast)
When you’ve been hurt before, even just once in your life, it becomes hard to trust someone new.
But more than anything, it becomes hard to trust yourself again.
It’s hard to tell yourself that what you’re feeling is okay, and that what’s happening between you and this new person can actually go somewhere. Once you’ve been hurt, it’s the most difficult thing in the world to be able to muster up the courage to tell yourself three little words:
This has potential.
Once you’ve been hurt, you want to experience those moments that you felt before you were hurt. You want to be trusting, hopeful, and always blushing. You want to remember what it was like to walk into something new blindly, and without prejudice toward the pain you felt in past experiences.
You want to fall for someone again, but now that you’ve seen the end result, it becomes difficult — because you’re terrified that this next time will be your last fall, and you won’t be able to get back up this time.
Picking up the pieces is one of the most excruciating things that people who are in love have to go through. Whether it’s our own, or someone else’s pieces we’re picking up, we know and remember that feeling. We know what it’s like to feel like we’re not good enough, like we’re not going to be worthy of being loved by someone ever again, like we’re meant to be on our own because there’s no way we’ll ever find love for or with someone else ever again.
We’ve been hurt, and it’s made us more jaded than we ever thought it could.
Those of us who have been hurt: we can’t be saved by being told over and over again that we just need to get up and keep trying. We need to believe in our hearts that we can try again. Only we can save ourselves from drowning, and we have to give ourselves a reminder of what it is that we fought for in the first place.
We fought for those moments of laughter where we were able to hold hands and peck each other on the lips.
We fought for the morning texts and the afternoon hugs and the evening phone calls that reminded us we were on their mind all day.
We fought for the “I love you”‘s, the “I need you”‘s and the “I want to be with you forever”‘s.
We had them once, and we fought to keep having them again and again. They were the simplest moments that we remember, and there was nothing tainted or fake about them. They were valuable, innocent and pure. And even if we haven’t yet experienced those things first-hand before, we’ve seen them in other people and we fought for them because more than anything, we wanted them. We knew their worth even without having them, and knew from the get-go that those little moments were worth fighting for.
That’s the thing though that those of us who have been hurt always forget: we have to keep fighting.
We can have those beautiful moments again, if we keep trying. They’re probably not going to come back right away. They may not come back in the exact same way that they did before. And hell, they’re most likely not going to be with the same person that they were with before. But we can have those moments back, we just have to keep fighting for them.
We have to keep allowing our hearts to become exposed again. We have to keep allowing people to see the dark sides of us, and opening ourselves up to the pain. We have to trust, confide and hope again.
We have to love again. It’s all we’ve got.
It’s the only way we’re ever going to find those simple, innocent, pure and untainted moments again. The common denominator is love. It’s being vulnerable, opening ourselves up to anything thrown our way, and letting the people who care about us come in without fear. We have to expose who we truly our, so people can love us for who we truly want to be loved for.
If we fake who we are, and fake what we feel, we’re only going to get fake in the end. And there’s nothing gratifying about fake.
If you care about someone, tell them. If someone means the world to you, let them know. Now. Allow yourself to be completely exposed to them, because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to show to them that you’re fighting for them. If they don’t return the fighting in return, then you know there’s another battle out there that you should be out there searching to fight for.
And you won’t have to waste your time any longer fighting for the wrong battle.
Loving people is a lot of getting hurt. It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of wondering why you did what you did, what you could’ve done better and how things could’ve been different. It’s a lot of crying, wishing, praying. It’s a lot of venting to your best friend over the phone who’s hours away, and a lot of writing long paragraphs in your journal about why you’re upset. It’s a lot of late nights with no sleep, a lot of chick flicks with a pint of ice cream, and a lot of averting eye contact when you see those people in public again.
It’s a lot of nauseating things, but there’s also a lot of beauty in love.
There’s a lot of heart. A lot of happiness. A lot of laughter, enjoyment and fulfillment. There’s a lot of photos, videos and mementos that you get to keep, even if things don’t work out in the end. Love’s a lot of secret-sharing, story telling and trusting someone when no one else can be trusted. It’s having someone to hold when you can’t explain how you feel. It’s looking up at the stars every night and just being thankful you’re there with them, in that moment. It’s a lot of crazy things that many people haven’t been able to truly figure out, but we keep fighting for it because we know it matters.
So keep fighting for it, even when it hurts. Because the pain will be worth it.
“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.”
- Tupac Shakur
You can’t blame yourself for the choices other people make.
You can’t tell yourself that if you had done something, anything differently, they wouldn’t have made the choice they did. People are going to make dumb decisions, and they do it all on their own. And you can’t blame yourself for any of that, because it’s not going to help you at all.
People who are lost and confused try to take others down with them so they don’t feel so alone. Misery loves company, it’s as simple as that. You can try to help them work through it, but be prepared to feel the same things they probably do: pain, frustration and alone. You can care about them with all of your heart, but sometimes people just can’t be saved. At least, not by anything of this world.
Not everybody makes good choices. Not everybody considers other people’s feelings when it comes to decision making. And not everybody wants you to be happy, because they’re looking out for number one. It’s a disgusting feelings realizing that you’re coming second in their eyes, but just because you’re coming second in their eyes, doesn’t mean you are second. Remember that they’re just one person, and they have no power over your self worth.
You decide what place you’re in, and you should always come first.
Not second, not third and most certainly not anything less than that. Anybody who tells you otherwise is not worth your time, and you need to remember that. They can push the blame all they want — make it seem like what happened was in no way, shape or form their fault at all — but the truth of it all is that everyone is to blame because everyone gave their time to the situation. It’s not worth deliberating over who’s more at fault, because all you should really be doing is moving.
Find someone who’s worth your time. Find someone who makes you want to get up every morning and do crazy and exciting things. Find someone who pushes your limits in good ways, and makes you feel happiness that you’ve never felt before. Find someone who’s going to look you in the eye and say “You matter more than anyone else to me,” or “I will always be here for you, no matter what.”
And find someone who not only says these things, but means them too.
You deserve someone who’s going to fight for you as much as you fought for them. You deserve someone who’s going to make you stronger and feel invincible, and show you a love that has no limits.
Some people deserve each other in the worst kind of way. They’re going to destroy each other, even in the smallest way. People accept the love they think they deserve, and sometimes they do that because they don’t want to try, other times because they don’t want to work for something that they’re capable of getting if they push for it. These people need to push harder, but they never will because they don’t have the motivation. Or the strength. Or the courage.
But you do.
That’s not to say that you don’t deserve someone either, it means you deserve more, and everything happened because there’s not a chance that you should be stuck around someone like that for the rest of your life.
Don’t let this destroy you. In time, it will heal and you will feel powerful and confident again. You will find someone who makes you feel completely and does nothing but lift you up, but you have to wait for it. Rushing it won’t make it come any faster, it’ll make it flawed. And you don’t want flawed. You deserve amazing and wonderful, just as you are.
Don’t settle for anything short of what you deserve just because you think it’s what will help you find love again. It’s only going to disappoint you in the end. I promise you, if you wait it out and work on doing things for yourself for now, it’ll all come in time.
And when it does, it will take your breath away.
We had been together for years, and it only seemed natural to continue the relationship after I went off to college.
I was (and probably still am) a hopeless romantic, and I always believed that if two people were truly meant to be together, they would make it through anything, including distance.
We just weren’t those people.
We stayed together for my first semester away at school, but things were rocky from the beginning.
Every time I finish a journal entry, I picture this thought in my mind, and instantly have to shake it off.
The thought of picking up my journal, walking over to someone, throwing it down in front of them, walking away and letting them do as they will with it. It’s the scariest situation I can imagine, and what makes it scarier is that it’s a very attainable and possible situation if I want it to be.
To people who don’t journal, it may seem like no big deal; it’s just a book with some words in it, and there’s not a whole lot of damage that can do, right?
Au contraire. Words have much more power than many realize, especially mine.
I’ve always been told not to write anything down unless I was prepared for anyone to see it. And I learned that early on as a kid, too. I remember one time in elementary school, I was riding the bus home and my best friend’s older brother had found my password journal in my backpack and managed to crack it open.
(To a 7-year old, it’s traumatizing to know that your password journal doesn’t require the password to be ripped open using force by the school bus bully.)
He opened it and read pages out loud to his boneheaded friends on the bus, and I was in tears. My friend tried to get the journal back, but what’s an older brother going to do? Apologize and surrender right away? Hell no; he pushed her back down and kept reading. Those kind of things made me always believe that my words had the power to make me or break me, and I need to choose them carefully.
Lately though, I’ve become more ballsy when it comes to my journaling. I let everything just pour out when I have that book and pen ready, and I don’t stop until I’ve said everything that I need to say. Thoughts get scattered, mistakes scratched out, and if I think of something more to add even 10 minutes after putting the journal down, I pick it back up and keep going.
I’m taking more control of my words and not being scared out of saying what I want to say just because someone else may read it. So what if they read it? If I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t have written it down, and why should I be ashamed of honesty?
It’s my story, and no one can take that away from me.
Occasionally, I’ve let my friends look at individual entries and give me feedback on what they thought of it. I’ve watched them laugh and be surprised at some of the things I’ve written, and I think the interesting thing is that when I look back at my entries, I surprise myself too. Sometimes I scare myself with what I write.
I go and go and go, and before I know it I’ve written 3 pages, 4 pages, 5 pages. It’s a freeing experience to flip through what I’ve just produced. Writing it out was like an exercise because I kept at it and nothing stopped me. I held nothing back, and now that it’s written it will always be there, and I’ll always remember.
This has proven to be especially helpful with recalling faded memories and nights that sometimes can’t be remembered off pure recollection, because I’ll rush to my journal, write everything down and be able to remind myself the next day what it is that happened and how I felt about it. I’ll never be forced to forget.
That’s also the terrifying thing about my journal — I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget my long boarding accident, the stupid crap that I went through last summer, or every time I’ve been mad at somebody. I won’t forget the pain, the anger, the disgust that I’ve felt at times, and that’s a hard thing to let go of when you can’t forget it.
I start a new journal every time something monumental happens. Usually it’s a new school year or semester, a new relationship or a new job. I started two different journals over summer — once when my summer classes began, and another when I left town for a month and was trying to get a cleared head and a fresh start. It’s like pressing a reset button, and I don’t have to look at all the crap from my past if I don’t want to, because a new book’s been started. If I want to revisit it, I can because the books of the past are on the shelf, but nothing’s forcing me to revisit the bad things, the times I can live without thinking about.
But then there’s also the happy times. There’s the accomplishments, the funny memories, the flirty encounters I’ve had. I look through my journal every now and then because it’s like a trip down memory lane, and it’s nice to remember the things that make life worth living. And those things make me want to crack open the old books, because once again, I can never forget.
It’s a scary thing imagining someone reading my journal because they’ll be able to see me at my most vulnerable. My thoughts are all over the place, and nothing is held back. Meaning if you want to get inside my head, you just need to glimpse at my journal and voila!
I’m conquering this fear little by little by letting my friends look at my entries every now and then, and it’s making me more comfortable with sharing how I really feel about things. I’ve written a little disclaimer in the front cover of my journal that warns people that if they read-on, they must remember three rules:
- No gossiping about anything you read.
- No getting mad at me for anything you read.
- No asking questions about anything you read.
The things I write won’t always make sense to people and will probably piss them off on occasion. It’ll make them want to talk, and maybe they won’t look at me the same way afterward. But if I’ve let someone look inside my journal, I’ve let them inside my heart. I’ve decided I trust them and I don’t want to hold anything back from them anymore.
So even though they may not take what I have to say very well, hopefully they can realize I’m putting everything out there for them, and can accept it. Part of the reason I’ve written it all down is because I need to make sense of it and accept it too.
And for me, words just flow more naturally on paper than anywhere else.