My greatest struggle

anxiety

From Adultolescence by Gabbie Hana, I think. I saw this on someone’s Instagram.

The beast that sneaks up on you on little cat feet. It rears its head after a long period of hibernation. Anxiety, a modern ailment that tends to strike at night when I’m worn out.

This is what I felt to write about two days ago after minor bouts of anxiety about finding a new full-time job and the future of my relationship. The night passes and I wake up feeling an ocean away from the sleep robbing, a few tears producing concern.

While I cherish days off from work, a part of me misses the structure and definitely feels ready to go back after leisurely days like today. I was supposed to apply to one job, instead I made boba. At least I spent morning time with the Lord while walking around the park and worked out. The time spent walking laps around the park while praying are hallowed spots of time. I love the canopy of trees, the way the light filters through them and the peace this time brings.

While my relationship is on hold these next few months and until I get a new job, I need to remember, Lord you are in control of my life. My boyfriend tells me to say that when I’m anxious. Bringing everything to Him by prayer and petition with thanksgiving a la Philippians 4 also works.

I guess part of being an adult is worrying about money. Saving money won’t help you, you need to make more, aka get a full-time job. Thanks, Dad. Time to transform my worry into action.

 

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On feeling fat or feeling ugly and learning to love oneself instead

 

 

Feeling pretty

Taken from my favorite blog, Cup of Jo. Illustration by Gemma Correll.

Feeling fat or feeling ugly- two feelings I’ve let overtake me and cause me to hate on myself for spells in my teens and early twenties. You see in high school, suddenly I developed really bad acne and had bad skin for years. So I’m always astonished now when someone says, “you have good skin,” or otherwise doesn’t believe that my skin used to be the bane of my existence. Thank you time and thank you Bare minerals makeup.

I like to think that all those years of wearing sunscreen daily because the acne medication makes you more susceptible to burns means my skin will be great when I’m old. Also, oily skin tends to wrinkle less than dry skin. So, I’m hoping I’ll be the one with good skin compared to my peers when we’re elderly.

Ugh, feeling fat, a paradoxical phrase, but one I’m guilty of speaking aloud. I started to consistently feel that way immediately post college during my two years in Bible school up until a year and a half ago. I did lose the weight I’d gained, like 15 pounds, but also how I feel about myself shifted.

What changed

Hard to pinpoint, but I think I’m not as hard on myself, not as critical. At 27 I love the skin I’m in. My boyfriend has been a good example. His attitude is all I don’t have to ask if I’m good looking. I know I look good! He finds confidence attractive. Being a shrinking insecure violet is not attractive. Some of the change in how I see and accept myself is related to him. He thinks I’m cute even when I’m in sweats and glasses and a turtleneck sweater, my library study outfit. He’s seen me without makeup and had no reaction or comment whatsoever. His acceptance of me has helped my own. I’m more likely to not wear makeup now. And saying I feel fat or ugly has been mostly removed from my vocabulary, especially with him.

But how I feel about myself goes beyond him. Sure, I’m not as skinny as my lowest weight in college or high school(although in college I had an eating disorder), but I don’t care. I like the way I am. If anything my boyfriend is bummed that I lost weight, especially my booty, but I think my weight is perfect. For the first time in years, I’m not trying to be low carb or gluten free or a restrictive vegetarian portion measurer like I was in college. I eat when and what I want to.

One of my best friends back home in LA is trying to lose weight. I want to tell her that accepting myself and finally not worrying or trying to lose weight is what got me back to normal, the weight my body naturally wants to be at. And you’re perfect the way you are right now too. Society tells us “the skinnier the better”, but actually some guys prefer more meat. Not that what a guy likes should dictate your weight. My boyfriend doesn’t like the stick skinny look and I think he nicknamed me kitten and not cat because he thinks I’m little. Own who you are right now, the face and body the good Lord has given you. For as the good book says we’re all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God who formed our inward parts and wove us together in our mothers womb (Psalm 139:13-14).

“I don’t know just what to do with my time” and other Friday thoughts

Flowers

I didn’t understand the true excitement of Friday until I started working. My roommate said people greet each other with choruses of “Happy Friday” at BMW.

While of course I relish the weekend and sleeping in and stretches of nothing to do, that’s become a quandary. What do I do with all this free time? Parking myself on the couch post work with a glass of gingerade kombucha and some hot cheetos, while perusing the internet, reading blogs and the NYT has gotten old. So has watching more tv show episodes and movies in the last few weeks than have during the last year.

I’d particularly like to find more beneficial and soul-satisfying leisure activities. If only, I liked cooking. I can’t relate to my friends who cook nice dinners everyday for themselves if its just for them.

Again, I’m coming back to this space, thinking up topics I can regularly write about. My favorite blog nailed it when I saw a post addressing Harvey Weinstein, “On Sexual Harassment.” It did what all good posts should do, provoke thought. First the most obvious incident I’ve experienced surfaced. The one that made me think differently of my co-worker at the Daily Cal the next day. I realized there’s a fine line between aggressive pursuing and harassment. Another more recent coworker, later turned boyfriend comes to mind. Sometimes a guy poking your side or touching your arm is welcomed flirting. If it’s coming from a guy you find creepy or just don’t like, it’s not.

I couldn’t help but read almost every new development on Harvey Weinstein. It’d be a dream to break news stories like that. You hit publish and send reverberations through the country.

Forever Student No Longer

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Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

It’s day 3 of my new job and I appreciate the stillness of the morning. Granted I’m hardly waking up that early, 8:40am usually, but the novelty has yet to wear off. I’m full of gratitude for how my life is completely different than it was a year ago. New apt, new roommates, new status-employed at a job! and new level of comfort in my relationship that comes from being together for one year.

I get a kick out of walking to and from work everyday. Fourteen minutes of getting my vitamin D and singing and calling on the Lord or pray-reading a verse until I get to the 2nd floor of the University at Illinois Chicago’s Eye Research Institute. Having my own desk and work computer, a Macbook Pro, makes me feel official and important. I only have 5 co-workers and one boss. They’re all scientists and one newly minted MD. I’m the resident science editor, though my offer letter called me a research associate.

As biblically ordained back in Genesis after man’s fall, humans were made to work. Being productive everyday makes me happier. Sure there are brief moments where I my eyes glaze over as I’m reading a block of text listing genes names or statistical models I don’t understand, but this beats lazing around at home trying and failing to get work done. The fact that I finished a personal science blog post yesterday adds to my sense of fulfillment.

mari andrew

Illustration by Mari Andrew, her Instagram is the best!

This is me. My career path won’t be linear. There’s no telling what it’ll look like yet. I think my dream job is to be either a science writer/editor for the CDC in Atlanta or the NIH in Maryland. That could change.

On relationships in 2017

preach

Spotted on my Twitter feed and related immediately

It’s 2017 seems like an appropriate response to most anything these days. The fact that I read an NYTimes article this week that said something like, the President broke the news on his Twitter account this morning. Or when I saw other women dressed in sleeveless dresses or shoes that looked more club than workplace at a job interview. I thought: It’s 2017. Maybe I missed the memo, that that’s okay now.

It’s 2017! If only that were a good thing, implying that society has improved. I read the above tweet and felt compelled to get on my podium. I don’t interpret the above tweet as please don’t interrupt us because, I’m a strong feminist woman, who ain’t need no man. What this means to me is, we have plenty of wonderful friends and loving family members. We don’t need another texting buddy, fbook messaging buddy, (insert other form of messaging or dm-ing here). If I want a new friend, I’ll make one. If I want someone to text or message, I have my friends.

In 2017, there’s this ridiculous frustrating gray area between no relationship and relationship. In that gray area, fall guys who randomly text you for weeks, months, sometimes even years in a manner that is flirting and would make any person think they’re interested. But then, they never do anything. He doesn’t ask you out on a date. He never calls you up on the phone. Women, myself included, get tricked by this weird gray area. You start to be interested too. You have hope. Why else would someone keep trying to talk to you if they weren’t interested?

I was so used to this kind of behavior that when my boyfriend came along, I had low expectations. Or no expectations. I thought he’d just randomly text me all semester long, like other guys had. He gets major points for also picking up the phone and calling me during that time period. And when he did tell me he liked me, it wasn’t over a text message, but on the phone, in words so jumbled, I wasn’t sure I’d heard right.

This rant is for all my single friends and all ladies. Men, you too, take note! You see an amazing, beautiful woman and your options are 1) do nothing 2) do something beyond being a texting, messaging buddy. Call her, ask her out on a date. I’ll admit that if all you’d like to do is pay us a classy compliment, those can be a welcome ego boost too.

My friends, you deserve someone who makes your life even better. Someone who makes more effort then just sending you all manner of e-messages. You deserve to be wined and dined. Someone who is there for you. No guessing games as to when he’ll text or contact you next. Make that no games at all. In 2017, there are still real relationships that haven’t deteriorated into other non-committal relationships, friends with benefits, hookup buddies, who knows what. There is hope. All you have to do is ask God for what you want and don’t settle for anything less.

I realize that ending sounds too tidy, too easy. Like I’m just trying to wrap up the post in a neat bow. But really, know your worth and don’t accept crumbs from crummy men or men who just aren’t that into you. Always, in this and everything else, “let your requests be made known to God,” a la Philippians 4:6. There’s no need to be anxious.

A case of the blahs

William

The passage of time is currently my enemy. You’d think with three stories left, stories for my master’s capstone, I’d be in a state of panic. Instead I’m practicing avoidance. Although, if I sit quietly I feel the knot in my stomach and teariness that could easily be summoned.

I hate school, but I love writing. Therein lies the contradiction. I also hate bad writing and I’m terrified of sucking.

Will Ferrell’s words are ringing through me, my fear of failure should not approach my fear of what if nor my fear of regret. Heck, he’s still  afraid. I think fear is especially tied to creative endeavors. There are no rules. Each time you’re creating something no one else has. I should add that I don’t usually abide by Will Ferrell’s words in life, but his recent USC commencement speech was relatable, laugh-out-loud hilarious and motivational.

I guess I’m also scared of disappointing my family. My dad’s always encouraged me to pursue what I love, when the rest of the world seems to value titles like engineer or programmer. The common response to hearing I majored in English was, “oh you want to be a teacher?” For the love of God, NO!

Being in this state of delaying the inevitable work that I’m giving myself less and less time to do puts me in a persnickety mood. People tend to be less friendly, surrounded by their clique, like the funny black guy in my data class. Mike told me some of the black students at Medill call themselves, “the Black Medill.” While it’s awesome that there are so many of them, maybe they’re also missing out by being clique-y. You can learn from people who are different than you.

A recent text got me thinking about people who divide themselves off into a clique based on, we record music together, we’re so musical. Well if you’re so musical why don’t you make a living off of it? I know a girl here who majored in viola performance and is playing for the Chicago civic orchestra.

It’s scary to follow your dreams. But the regret I know I’d feel if I never at least tried to be a journalist got me to choose journalism school over law school.

I could also use encouragement. Fear can be paralyzing. And while the peace of working alone on my projects/stories can be a pleasant vacuum where it’s just me and my work, sometimes it feels terribly isolating. It always helps to hear from others that fight through those moments of self doubt and thinking you can’t do it or make it.

Appreciating where I am now

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The view from the downtown newsroom

Why was I so anxious? In retrospect I can say that of my anxiety filled early post-college years. I was anxious about what my life would be like right now. Would I get into graduate school? Will I always be alone and lonely? Now I’m living what was then my future. Perhaps, it is easy to feel relieved since those concerns worked out.

Once you’ve had anxiety and it’s clear you’re prone to it, it’s easy to revert back. I’m facing another huge transition the stepping off of the cliff from what I know in graduate school to the abyss of the unknown that follows. I could be worried about the future once again, but I’m not really. Getting older has stabilized my inward being. Sure the ripples of anxiety still come, but I try to manage the heck out of it.

A sense of gratitude subtly infuses my daily life. Yes, I have peers who are at different places, perhaps already married or already working. What does it matter. No need to rush and marry the wrong person, I have my whole lifetime to be married, one or two years more makes negligible difference. And who at the end of their life has regretted not working their desk job for one additional year or two? I’m doing work that I love that fills me with joy! And hey, it’s relief for everyone else if I get all my question-asking urge satisfied by the end of the day.

I used to not look forward to getting older. I’ve always had milestones in my head. I want to be married by 30. Run a full marathon at 26. Have my first kid around 30 or 31, if I get married before then. A part of me still hates the lack of control surrounding some areas of life, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how things have happened so far. In a year I imagine I’ll be in a completely different place personally and location-wise.

(Today’s post was inspired by this beautifully written piece on Aging from my favorite blog, Cup of Jo)