“Humans see what they want to see. You’re very stubborn—er, persistent, that way.”
– Grover Underwood in The Lightning Thief
“Humans see what they want to see. You’re very stubborn—er, persistent, that way.”
– Grover Underwood in The Lightning Thief
You know, it’s strange how nothing is ever certain.
In seventh grade, I decided I loved both math and writing. I realized that I needed both to be happy, not just one or the other. I couldn’t choose. When I wrote too much, I found myself losing touch with reality. And when I did math too much, I found myself too grounded. I needed a balance between the two, needed to live in that equilibrium where facts and dreams collided as one, where the limit was always infinity.
So in eighth grade, I decided I would be both an actuary and a writer.
All through high school, I jumped between other ideas and possibilities of who I could be in the future, but I always came back to those two things. And so, when I went off to college, I was certain I knew who I wanted to be.
Except, I wasn’t.
It’s strange how a change in surroundings can so quickly change your perspective. I still know that math and writing are both a part of me, and they will always both be a part of me. And I know that they will both be a part of my future. That is a basis of who I am, and I know that it will never change.
But now, I know I will never be an actuary. I know that I do not enjoy business, or management, or economics, but I love statistics. I know I love math, but only computing math. I can’t stand mathematical theory. I’m uncertain if I actually like research, because I don’t like planning out and leading an entire project, but I don’t know if all research is like that.
And back in high school, I hated technology, and it hated me too. I wanted nothing to do with it, stayed as far away from it as possible. Now, I love coding. I’m teaching myself every coding language I can, trying to take courses in computer science. If only everyone in high school could see me now…
And now, I know that I don’t want to be a general writer. I want to be a poet. I mean, sure, I may write some short stories every now and again, maybe publish some novels whenever I finish them, but I love poetry and want to focus on it. Maybe I can even publish one day.
And I understand things now that I never understood before, things about life that don’t make sense until you go off to college.
I know that many people don’t want to give advice, and sometimes it’s better that they don’t because, sometimes, your personality and morals are the deciding factors.
And for some people, all they want to do is give advice. And you have to learn to take their advice graciously, but always follow your own heart in the end when you make decisions.
I know that things don’t always work out the way you want them to, but that’s okay, because they work out the way they need to.
And sometimes, it really hurts when they don’t work out the way you want them to, because you really wanted them to work out one way. And it’s hard, but you have to keep going and keep the same pace. Because if you doubt yourself for even a moment, you could miss the opportunity to be something great.
I know that it’s important to do crazy, unexpected, last minute things to take your mind off of life for a bit, especially if you have an important exam coming up.
But there are also times where you have to think realistically and say no to a crazy adventure.
I know that you have to take every opportunity as it comes, because as soon as it passes, you’ll wish you had taken it.
But you have to be careful to set limits and know when enough is enough, because if you chase after everything, you’ll spread yourself too thin and lose everything.
I know you should appreciate people and things while you have them, because someday, you won’t have them anymore.
And when that someday comes, you’re allowed to mourn and be sad. But you also have to accept that it came, and keep moving forward, because life won’t wait for you.
I know that it just goes to show how strong you are when you face the world while you’re losing everything, whether you succeed or not.
And you’re not weak if you need to ask for help. And if you’re not feeling well, you’re never too little of a concern for people to take care of you.
I know that you should always look up at the world around you so you don’t miss something incredible, like a guy in an ape costume chasing a guy in a banana costume.
And that a hanging stuffed animal shark head thing is one of the best investments that you can make.
I know that, in the grand scheme of things, a C isn’t the end of the world, and honestly, neither is a D or an F. It’s a setback, but you live and learn.
I know that you don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy, and honestly, you’re better off not getting into one until you’re comfortable with the environment.
I know that meals in dining courts are a great place to catch up with your newest friends when life gets busy.
I know that it’s worth it to find the time to contact the people who were most important to you before college.
I know that you can’t succeed at everything. Everyone fails sometimes. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect. How fast you get back up is the real proof of your success.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons, it’s that you can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it.”
– Hermes in The Sea of Monsters
“A gypsy soul isn’t lost and looking. A gypsy soul is one who loves movement and finding the pulse in nature and flight as a metaphor. One who thinks everything is music. One who knows and holds an inward and therefore outwardly contagious kind of freedom.”
– Victoria Erickson
If you ever wanted to understand how trust works, here you go!
I’ve determined that trust is a snowball.
More precisely, when you give people any amount of trust, you give them one of your own personal snowballs of trust. And, in turn, they give you one of their personal snowballs of trust. So then you each have one of the other person’s snowballs of trust.
Yeah, I know. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
1) Usually, you give someone a snowball of trust as soon as you meet them. Yes, I know, why would you trust anyone as soon as you meet them? Shouldn’t you get to know the person first?
Well, in order to let the person get to know you to any extent, you have to give them some amount of trust, right?
So, the moment you meet someone, you give them a snowball of trust.
There are, of course, some exceptions (as there always are), but generally this rule holds.
2) The snowball you give them can come in a variety of sizes, depending on who you are and who (you think) they are.
For example, I generally give everyone an apple-sized snowball of trust when I meet them. Give them something to work with, you know?
(Note that I actually have trouble trusting people, which you might think conflicts with my previous statement. Continue reading, you’ll understand somewhat by number 4, entirely by number 7.)
3) The snowball you give them can also come in a variety of shapes (spheres, cubes, pyramids, dodecahedrons, etc.), colors (white, black, purple, rainbow, clear, etc.), and even materials, though most people stick to the usual snow.
Though I do know someone who gives rubber snowballs… They’re very hard to work with, and I’m still trying to figure out how to work with mine.
Anyway, I personally usually stick to a regular white sphere made of snow, though I have varied the shape on occasion, and maybe even the color once or twice to see what would happen.
4) You may also choose to vary the conditions in which someone can build up the snowball in order to make it more difficult to build up trust.
This is one way that I deal with my trouble with trust. You see, there are dozens of weather conditions that you can face people with while trying to build up your snow(wo)man. You can give people sticking snow, of course, but you can also give them non-sticking snow, ice, force them to work in a blizzard, increase the temperature, decrease the temperature, whatever.
It may seem rude to make it so difficult to build up the snowball, but this is your trust we’re talking about. If they’re willing to fight through a blizzard in order to build up your trust, then you can be certain that you can trust them.
5) You don’t always necessarily give someone the snowball. Generally, you give someone the snowball and they accept it graciously because manners, but there are other ways to go about the snowball exchange.
The friend that I discussed this with said that one of her best friends from high school basically just stole one of her snowballs and went crazy building it up.
On occasion, I choose to throw one of my personal snowballs at someone. It’s a bit of a risky move, of course, as they then have to take the time to gather up the snow bits covering them, but if it works out, they usually end up being one of your closest friends.
6) The ultimate goal is to build a snow(wo)man, which generally means building up three or more snowballs of trust and stacking them on top of each other as you would with a snow(wo)man.
This can be interpreted many ways. Perhaps you and the other person each build up the other’s snowball of trust, then you build one up together and stack them into a snow(wo)man.
Or, perhaps, you each have layers of trust, and you must build up one snowball for each layer, and you each end up with separate snow(wo)men of trust (or perhaps a very large combined snow(wo)man of trust).
Or perhaps you work together on each snowball that you add to the snow(wo)man, or perhaps you go through some other process entirely. Honestly, this part of the process varies the most between relationships.
7) You may choose to throw some sludge in while someone is trying to build up your snowball. Or you might accidentally kick some sludge in. Or someone else might throw the sludge in without your consent.
However it works out, the person you’ve given a snowball of trust may be forced to work with sludge. This generally leads to two possible outcomes: either they give up on making the snow(wo)man because now the snow’s ugly and it’ll never look good enough, or they’ll continue building the snow(wo)man regardless of how it might look in the end.
Now, remember how I said I have trouble trusting earlier? And that messing with the conditions is just one of the ways that I deal with my trouble with trust?
The primary way I deal with it is by throwing sludge into the mix. Sometimes, I do it intentionally. Sometimes, it’s entirely unintentional.
(I have a very good example of this, but you’ll have to read through to the end to see it.)
8) Some people won’t ever even try to build up the snowball. You’ll meet hundreds up people throughout your life, and they’ll all meet hundreds of people throughout their lives, and you can’t build up everyone’s snowballs of trust, and not everyone can build up yours.
Sometimes it’s because they don’t care, sometimes they don’t have times, sometimes they have more friends then they can count, sometimes they just can’t. There are a variety of reasons why someone might not build up the snowball you give them, or you might not build up theirs.
(The important thing to remember is that this all goes both ways. Not only do you give someone a snowball of trust, but they also give you a snowball of trust.)
If someone just tosses away your snowball of trust, don’t be upset. It’s okay. You can’t build a snow(wo)man with everyone. Just focus on building snow(wo)man with the people who want to. They’ll be enough, I promise.
9) Sometimes, people will build a giant snow(wo)man with you, then tear it down. It happens, and it hurts. Of course it does! When someone puts so much time and effort into building up your snowball of trust, manages to build a freaking snow(wo)man of trust, then goes and tears it down?
Not only does it not make sense (because why would someone spend that much time and effort just to tear it all down?), but it hurts because you let them.
Everyone goes through this. I went through it at least three times with the same person. I gave her a snowball of trust, but I was desperate for a friend and I made it far to easy for her to build it up, gave her perfect conditions to build the snow(wo)man.
When she tore it down, I was upset, but then she apologized and asked to try again, and I was all too happy to let her. She built the second one even faster, having had practice with the first, and it ended up being even bigger and better than the first.
The second time she tore it down, I wasn’t as quick to forgive. It took quite a bit of convincing before I gave her a third chance, but that time, the conditions weren’t nearly as good and she struggled in building the snow(wo)man. That time, she eventually just gave up and left the snow(wo)man unfinished.
The important thing to remember is, when you go through a situation where someone tears a snow(wo)man down, you aren’t alone. Look around you. Look at all the other snow(wo)man people have built from your snowballs of trust. No matter how much it hurts, you’re never alone.
10) Every situation where a snow(wo)man is built is different, and sometimes the strangest situations build the best of friends.
For example, I did not make it easy for my best friend to build up my trust. From the very beginning, it was crazy. Rather than exchanging snowballs, we started off with a snowball fight. Then, when we finally settled down and agreed to actually exchange snowballs, I gave her a stella octangula.
When she asked what she was supposed to do with it, I responded that she was supposed to roll it. So, after first rolling her eyes, she complied.
She didn’t make it far before I threw some sludge into the mix. She glared at me and asked, quite simply, why? And I just told her to keep going, and after a few more moments of glaring, she complied.
I continued throwing sludge into the mix every once in a while, and every time, she would glare at me before continuing in her attempt to build a snow(wo)man. Of course, seeing as she was working with such a strange shape, it wasn’t an easy task.
Then a terrible and unexpected thing happened in my life (which I explained in my post “The Darkest Night: The Essay“) and I found myself chucking a whole pile of sludge at her because I honestly didn’t know what else to do.
I’d never done something like that before, actually, and I can’t tell you why exactly I did it for her. You see, sludge can be a tricky thing. I use it often to test whether I can truly trust people or not, but I only use small amounts of it. There generally already has to be a snow(wo)man present for me to chuck even a handful of sludge into the mix.
But with my best friend, I chucked a whole bucketful of sludge into the mix before she’d even finished building up the first snowball.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know what I was expecting. And I definitely don’t know what I would have done if she had just given up then and there.
But she didn’t leave. Instead, she did something absolutely insane. She used the giant amount of sludge to fill in the gaps of the stella octangula I had given her, and when she was finished, she had a nasty, dirty sphere to work with.
And she built a snow(wo)man out of it. The biggest snow(wo)man anyone had ever built out of my snowballs of trust.
Since then, we’ve started building snow(wo)man together just for fun, then blowtorching them because why not? But we’ve never torched the original sludgy snow(wo)man. Honestly, I think it’s the most brilliant snow(wo)man I’ve ever seen.
And that’s basically how it goes. This is the easiest way to understand how other people trust. The more you understand, the stronger your relationships can be.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– Winnie the Pooh
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
– Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban