What You Learn

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.

 

 

Poetic Graduation Speech

The most meaningful video to me as I graduate…

As some of you may know from reading my past posts and/or (maybe?) my profile, I’m graduating from high school.

You might also know from my profile and past posts that this whole blog began as a semester-long assignment for my creative writing class (it will be continued, by the way).

Well, at the end of my last creative writing class, our (super-amazing-awesome) teacher played this video for us. At first, I thought it was whatever. Then, about a minute in, I was in complete awe of this guy.

Whether you’re graduating or not, check out this video. It’s a graduation speech given through spoken word poetry, and it’s the best speech ever. I am such a fan, and I honestly can’t express the extent of my emotions for this. Just watch it, and you’ll understand.

This link will take you to YouTube to watch the video (I couldn’t get the video here on my blog, sadly, so a link was the only option. Apologies).

It ends at about 5:30. After that is just a bunch of applauding.

This is just so incredibly relatable for me, and I love it so much. I wish I was good at spoken word poetry. Maybe one day…

 

 

The Best of Music

Trust me, I’m a wannabe writer.

Let me start by saying: I’m not picky when it comes to music.

I love all kinds of music. Rap, country, pop, hip hop, Christian, instrumental, rock, acoustic, dance, Celtic… I like them all.

But I also hate them all. See, the music I like depends on the day. Some days I’m feeling something upbeat. Some days I want to listen to something soft. Some days I need something in between.

I’m sure many of you are in the same predicament as I am. In the case that you are, I’ve found the best way to deal with my ever-changing song needs is by making a playlist that includes every song I’ve ever liked and just sticking it on shuffle.

I may eventually hate some of the songs on the playlist, but I never get rid of them. I’ve learned the hard way that getting rid of songs only leads to future regret.

It makes it difficult for picky friends to listen to my music, but if they’re gonna be difficult, they can deal with it.

Plus, my song choices are great. I am very good at choosing good music. Trust me, I’m a wannabe writer.

If you’re thinking that this post is totally random, it half is, half isn’t. I’ve just had the song “I Am Stretched On Your Grave” by Sinead O’Connor (special thanks to Mitza for getting me obsessed) stuck in my head all day, and I was thinking about how it’s such a strange song to like where I’m from, yet somehow I still love it. And then I thought, wow, I have no real song preference beyond my own humble opinion of what good music is. I should write a post about that.

And then I decided to write this post.

Anyway, you should totally listen to that song. It’s great, especially if you like Celtic music.

 

A Miracle in My Life

Do you believe in miracles?

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Miracles are real.

I know many people don’t believe in them, and I understand why. It’s nerve-wracking to try to believe in something so unknown, something that can’t be controlled. It’s overwhelming to believe that a situation can turn from one end of a spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye.

It’s scary to believe in the impossible.

But I’ve seen proof that miracles are real. At many points throughout my life, I watched as my family and friends fought to be strong when it seemed there was no strength left, and I watched as they wept when they thought I wasn’t watching. They believed I would fall apart if I saw them falling apart, and, being the youngest in the family, they had to be strong for me.

I’ve always let them do this because I know it will help them be strong if they have someone to be strong for. However, in every instance, the moment I was alone, I knelt down and prayed.

I prayed that the situation would turn out okay in the end, that things would happen the way God planned them to. I prayed that my friends and family would find strength in Him, and that He’d help them find peace no matter what became of the situation. Sometimes, I asked Him to save whoever it was who needed the miracle, but usually I just asked Him to give me strength to deal with the outcome. I trusted Him, and I trusted that he would do things His way, and I trusted that His way would always be the best way.

So why am I saying all of this?

Because, my friends, I recently watched an impossible miracle unfold in a person very near to me, and I just don’t understand how people can deny it being a miracle.

You see, in early March, I was talking to my mom late at night, when she said she needed to call my brother at Purdue and tell us something very important. My brother answered, and we cheerily asked what she needed to tell us.

Neither of us expected her to bring up my dad’s recent skin care check up, nor did we expect her to tell us that the doctor found a dime-sized grayish-brown spot on the roof of his mouth.

Melanoma, she told us.

And not just one of the small cases he usually got from visiting Florida and spending too much time in the sun. No, the doctor had already said that it was one of the worst cases he’d seen, and they’d have to do a biopsy on it. Maybe more… But they’d talk more about it when the time came.

The biopsy was to occur on March 31st. The doctor had wanted to do it sooner, but my dad was determined to go on his mission trip and wanted to make sure he could help us move to our new house as soon as he got back. And, of course, he wanted me to be able to enjoy my senior year Spring break before having the surgery, just in case it didn’t go well.

My mom asked us to pray for him, but stayed away from the details. My brother and I were careful not to sound upset or ask too many questions, because she already looked and sounded like she was on the verge of tears. It was one of those silent agreements. My mom could think she was being strong for us, but in truth, we would be strong for her.

I went up to my room after that, plopped down on my bed, and prayed. I don’t know how long I prayed. I just started talking to God, asking Him to give me strength, to give my mom strength, to give me guidance and acceptance. For a bit, I talked about what I thought life might be like without my dad, and I started crying and begged God not to take him from me. Then I calmed down and told Him that I trusted Him and if He took my dad from me, I would be strong because everything happens for a reason. I’d grow stronger and things would turn out okay.

Eventually, I felt more at peace with the whole situation. I thanked God for listening and always being there for me, praised Him for the way He’s moved in my life and the great things He’s done, and went to bed.

I actually forgot about it within a couple of weeks. I lost track of time and got completely caught up in practicing. It wasn’t until I got home from guard this past Thursday that it came up again.

I was sitting in my room, reading and minding my own business, when my mom came in with a big grin. I immediately tensed up, not knowing what to expect. My mom sat down on the bed next to me and rolled her eyes at my reaction before asking if my dad had told me the good news.

I was confused. What good news? What could the good news be about? She looked like she was just barely keeping herself from jumping up and down, so I was just a bit worried about what it could be (why I always worry when someone looks that happy, I have no clue. I’m just very defensive).

She took a deep breath and told me my dad had gone to the doctor’s office today (I figure it was probably the hospital, but she knew from past experience that I would freak out if she told me my dad had gone to the hospital, so she went with the other term), and I immediately remembered our past conversation. March 31st. It was March 31st. And if she looked so happy…

My mom explained to me that the doctors had already hooked my dad up to the IV and were ready to give him the anasthesia when they double checked for the spot in his mouth.

They were shocked to find it completely gone.

They pulled out the pictures they’d taken of the spot, double checked his mouth multpile times, did a full examination to see if it had moved, but it hadn’t. They had picture proof that it had been there, that the doctor who had examined him originally hadn’t been seeing things. But the spot was no longer there.

The doctor who had origianlly made the diagnosis was completely overwhelmed. He said he’d been worrying about my dad ever since making the diagnosis, told him it was the worst case of melanoma he’d seen in a long time. He said he’d been nearly certain that the biopsy wouldn’t be enough and was worried they’d have to go into the bone, which would be much worse.

He stated quite clearly that things like that don’t happen. Melanoma that bad doesn’t just disappear. It was impossible.

He looked at my dad dead in the eyes and said, “This is a miracle.”

My mom told me all of this, and all I could do was shake my head in awe. My dad accepted it readily with little surprise. My mom didn’t even question it, as she was overcome with relief. I don’t know if my brother accepted it, or if he’s still in denial because it’s just so impossible, but I get the feeling he’s having trouble wrapping his head around it.

As for me, I’m amazed and awestruck, but not surprised in the least. Like I said before, I trust God with all my heart. I don’t know how or why. Usually I have trouble trusting, but not with Him. Maybe it’s the childish innocence that makes up a great portion of my soul. Maybe it’s because I already have more than enough proof that I can trust Him.

Whatever the reason, I knew things would turn out okay in the end. I can’t say I expected exactly what happened, but I must have subconciously expected something along those lines because I felt very little actual surprise. Rather, all I felt was joy and awe and the same wonder I always feel in these situations.

Miracles are real. This right here is the greatest proof I have ever seen. The impossible just became possible. Disaster has been averted. I’ve been given more time to spend with my dad.

Miracles are real. The proof is right in front of you.

All you have to do is believe.


 

Picture source: crosswalk.com

Things You Should Know

A response to A.M. Homes’s short story, “Things You Should Know”.

When I was in elementary school, my teachers called me stupid.

It was funny, really. They called me stupid when they knew I was brilliant. They yelled at me when I couldn’t remember how to spell a simple word, then stared at me in disbelief when I solved a middle school level math problem.

They knew I wasn’t stupid, but they couldn’t figure out what I was, so they called me stupid.

I stopped paying attention to them early on. All they did was talk and wave their hands around, and the other kids seemed to think that was great, but I didn’t.


A few times, I tried to pay attention. Then I’d hear something, like the tapping of a pencil.

Tap tap tap…

I’d press myself to listen, to focus.

Tap tap tap tap tap…

I gave up almost immediately. It didn’t seem to be worth the fight.


I missed information all the time. I managed to teach myself the important stuff because it was easy and made sense when the world was quiet, but I missed all the details because it’s hard for a kid to teach herself details.

I couldn’t figure out spelling because there was so much to memorize. I got an F in citizenship because I didn’t pay attention and chose to talk to other students who could pay attention but didn’t want to. I hated science and history because there were a million different pieces and details to them, and I couldn’t keep up.

I loved math and grammar. With those, there was a basic set of rules that seemed to carry through everything, even the weird exceptions. There was no memorization, just basic understanding. And then more complex understanding based on those basics, and it kept growing in complexity.

Yet, it all always seemed so easy to me, especially when the world was quiet.

When there was noise, even math and grammar became difficult.


In fifth grade, I went to a different school.

We didn’t move or anything. I’d just taken a test, and some people who acted like they knew everything determined that I was “smarter” than my age, so they put me in an extended learning program. I switched to a different school in the district that year so I could be in the “smarter” class.

The class helped some and hurt some. It was very free reign, so it didn’t matter so much if I payed attention or not, but I could never figure out what I was supposed to be doing. The teacher only gave information once and then expected us to handle ourselves. I had trouble hearing the information the first time.

But the harder work was wonderful. It wasn’t too hard, not for me, but it was difficult enough to keep my mind entertained for longer periods of time.

Memorization was still an impossible feat.


Halfway through my fifth grade year, my teacher had a meeting with my parents. She suggested that they take me to get tested for attention disorders.

My parents agreed. They were so excited about it, saying that I might finally be able to focus like a normal person.

They never said I’d finally be normal, but somehow, I knew that it was implied.

I went with it, because what kid would complain about missing the first half of the school day for a whole week?


I was diagnosed with ADD.

“Attention deficit disorder,” they told me. “This explains why you’ve never been able to concentrate, why you’ve always been behind in school!”

Actually, I’m ahead, I thought but never dared to speak. I’m in the extended learning program and everything!

Instead, I just smiled and nodded as they explained how I would have to go to the nurse and take medicine. They put emphasis on how I shouldn’t be ashamed.

Well, I wasn’t ashamed. I was annoyed that they thought that I was ashamed, and that they thought I was abnormal enough to need medicine. But I humored them and agreed.


One month.

One month was all it took for me to discover the world I’d been missing.

For a ten years, teachers called me stupid, and I thought they were stupid because obviously I wasn’t stupid.

If someone had just cared enough to actually help me, to notice my issues and use their brain, to solve the equation that was me, I could’ve skipped all that worry.

But no one cared, not until fifth grade.

And after a month of taking the medicine they gave me (one pill in the morning, one pill at lunch), I was starting to realize what I had missed.

I still noticed every bit of motion around me, every sound and every flinch, but I could finally look past it all. I could focus in on one thing in particular, keep track of what I was doing, listen to a teacher as they talked.

The tap tap tap of a pencil still distracted me, but not nearly as much as it once had.

In one month, my world had changed entirely. I suddenly knew things that I’d never realized I didn’t know. I could focus. Instead of a myriad of images, my world could become just one thing.

How could anyone have let me go so long without this?


I stepped up to the front of the room, wincing at the rapping sounds of the paper in my quaking hands.

“My teachers used to call me stupid.” I began.

My teacher coughed and I looked at her. She had always been good to me. She’d never once called me stupid. In fact, she’d told me multiple times that I was one of the most brilliant people she’d ever met.

I met her gawking gaze and offered a small smile. “It’s true. For ten years of my life, teachers called me stupid.”

I turned to look at the rest of my class. “Some of you think I’m stupid, too. Because I’m different. Because I like to work alone, in silence.”

They stared up at me with wide eyes. It was strange, having them stare at me. They never stared at me. They rarely even looked at me. I was out of their realm of understanding. I was never on their list of “Things You Should Know.”

I slowly set my paper down and leant back against the table behind me. My hands no longer shook as I observed the people before me, the ones I had just a moment ago thought knew the world better than me, because they had known it the way I finally knew it for far longer.

Turns out, I had always been one step ahead.

“How many of you know what ADD is?”

The Death Grip

The apparently strange and deadly way that I hold a pencil.

Everyone always comments on how I hold a pencil.

Every year, I get at least one comment. Usually, I get a comment from every teacher. Sometimes, I even get comments from students.

Either way, I always get comments.

Now, I know nearly everyone holds a pencil differently. Everyone has some sort of weird grip. But I’ve been told time and time again that mine is by far the craziest.

Don’t believe me?

Refer to the picture below.

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That, my friends, is how I hold a pencil. I am, indeed, right-handed. You may notice that it’s the same grip as how one holds a violin/viola bow. That was not intentional. I didn’t learn to play the violin and viola until sixth grade. I’ve been writing like that my whole life.

Needless to say, my orchestra teacher was more than a little surprised when he realized the bow grip was the most natural thing in the world for me.

As was I.

While I was writing this post, my friend told me to name it “The Death Grip” because the way I hold a pencil is so painful. I disagree. I think it’s the only comfortable grip possible. It gives complete control, yet enough freedom to write fluently.

My handwriting may suffer because of my grip, but I can write incredibly small, so I think that makes up for all the chicken scratches.

… Okay, you know what? At least my handwriting is legible.

My elementary school teachers put up a fair fight. They told me every day how to correctly hold a pen or pencil, even moved my fingers until my grip was perfect. They told me to always write that way. I’d nod and smile.

Then they’d walk away, thinking they had won, and I’d roll my eyes and go right back to my usual pencil grip.

They eventually gave up, which I was so thankful for. Seriously, they should have realized way sooner that it was pointless. I was a bit of a rebel, and I wasn’t going to let them change how I write!

People always try to copy my pencil hold, just for fun, but they rarely succeed. I don’t understand what’s so complicated about it. It feels simple to me.

But none of that matters. I don’t mind if people think it’s strange or painful or cool. I don’t care if they want to tease me about it, nod in acceptance, or ignore it entirely.

All I care about is that it’s comfortable to me. It’s how I write, and I’m not changing that any time soon.

I’m proud to be unique.

I’m proud to be me.

 

My Mom’s Prom Dress

Passed down to me, to be passed down for generations.

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The photo you see above is me wearing my mom’s prom dress for Halloween a few years ago.

I saw the dress hanging up at my grandma’s house and immediately fell in love with it. Seriously, isn’t it just gorgeous? It reminds me of the dresses princesses wear in fairytales.

Which is where I got the idea to wear it for Halloween. I didn’t want to be a princess, so I opted for the masquerade look instead. I had a mask to go with it and everything.

You can’t see the dress fully because of the cape and the angle, but it’s strapless, very form-fitted at the top, and poofs out immediately at the waist before flowing beautifully down to mid-calf.

My mom had to pull it in quite a bit around the torso. Turns out, when my mom was my age, she had a slightly larger waist than me and a much larger bosom.

We actually failed in bringing the bosom in quite enough because there are wires holding it in place, but we pulled in the waist enough that it still stayed up without any problem.

Thank Heaven my mom and grandma are highly talented seamstresses (at least, in their free time)!

It’s funny. When my grandma told me it was her prom dress, I got really excited and thought my mom had the best taste in the world. But when I showed my mom the dress, she looked at my grandma in shock and asked why in the world she kept the thing.

Turns out, she never liked the dress. I guess that’s not all that surprising since she hates lace. It’s one of the few things we really disagree on when it comes to fashion. She hates lace. I love lace.

But when I decided to wear it for Halloween, she didn’t argue. I loved wearing it, and I think she was just glad to have it out of her hands.

When I have kids, I hope I have a little girl so I can pass the dress down to her when she’s old enough to care for it. And if I don’t have a girl, then maybe I can pass it down to a granddaughter. Who knows? But I can just imagine them loving the dress just as much as I do and wearing it just to feel like a princess, if only for a moment.

But that’s a long way away. For now, the dress is mine to adore.