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2016

I started 2016 by shouting “Happy New Year” in a small room with my friends from high school. I’ve always liked how the first word I say of every year is “happy,” even if I don’t feel happy at all.

The first six months of 2016 I spent (as my readers know) working for the Boston Globe as an intern. While it was stressful adjusting to a 40-hour work week all while still going to college, I enjoyed my job generally.

In March, I turned 20 and had a crisis. I was spending all my time in work or school. I had stayed on campus alone over spring break. I had been going to therapy for anxiety and depression, but it didn’t seem to be helping and I was thinking about quitting. My dog had died, and my family was ripping at the seams. My article was on the front page of my section but it had been edited so thoroughly it barely felt like my own work…and my boyfriend, the only one I felt like seeing in my lonely, plastic life, was studying abroad in Mexico. I couldn’t remember the last day I hadn’t cried. My dad told me he wanted to see me pull out of the darkness. I did too.

In April, things picked up externally. On April 4th an article of mine was on the first page of Metro, gaining me my first fan main (and, almost more exciting, my first hate mail). I was writing a novel daily, piece by piece on my blog, which was growing in popularity. It felt good to be writing again. On April 16th, a date I had been looking forward to for months, my boyfriend came home for what I thought would be a short lived reunion. I met him at the airport with coffee, had dinner, and he was gone again. I moved back home to an angry house. I felt like April was toying with me, holding a carrot just out of my reach.

June. On June 9 we found out that one of our fellow interns and one of my best friends at work had committed suicide. On June 24, After two months of driving into Boston, spending 3 hours daily in rush hour traffic, my internship was finally over. What should have been a bittersweet goodbye to the company I had enjoyed working for was nothing but relief. No more driving, no more long work days…and no more walking past his desk where his handwritten notes still hung to the corkboard.

July and August were when I tried to grow. I learned how to cook more. I spend time editing my novel. I prepared myself for study abroad. I worried myself over making friends. I saved money, writing about farmers markets for the local papers. I dreaded leaving my boyfriend again. I was scared.

In September, October, and November, I went to the Netherlands, Berlin, London, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, France, and Switzerland. I made friends I know I will have for life, friends I am closer with than I ever imagined possible. I have done things I never dreamed I would get to do. I grew. I found inner peace. I found independence. I found courage (which I was sorely lacking). I cried exactly once–when my flight was cancelled back from Berlin–a great improvement over “every single day.” I was happy. I liked my life.

In December, I was glad to come home for awhile. I got a puppy, Lacey, who I already love. I discovered a healthier and deeper relationship with my boyfriend which has left us both with less stress and more joy. I patched things up a bit with my sister. I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. I got a new internship with easier hours at a creative literary magazine. I secured housing for all of 2017. I was still happy, even though I wasn’t in some amazing place anymore.

On January 1, 2017, my first word was, once again, “Happy.” Only this time, I meant it.

I don’t know what will happen in 2017. I don’t have a plan anymore, and that’s good for me. I want to write more. I want to read more. I want to discover more about myself and the world. I want to be a better friend. I want to lead a healthy life. I want to stop thinking about myself so much. But most of all, I want to continue the positive path I am on. I no longer feel anxious or depressed most of the time, and for 2017 I want to keep that trend going no matter what happens.

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No, you’re not allowed to be sad!

Am I allowed to complain about how stressful travel planning is? I’m so lucky. I’m so infinitely lucky, so is it even valid for me to be stressed out? To be a bit sad?

I’ve heard things over and over in my life, both to me and to others about how if you have it good, there can’t be anything bad to complain about. However, I’m a firm believer that just because one has a house, a family, a comfortable life, doesn’t mean they can’t be sad. Or stressed. Or depressed.

In fact, people constantly telling them how lucky they are may amplify that sadness.

I bring this up because I think I may be in the stage of travel where the culture shock gets to me. I changed all my clocks to military time and all my calendars to date/month/year, and this little change has had me railing. Not to mention I started all of my classes today, and had to book a flight with crashing internet, and had to deal with the library for the first time and smacking my head off the underside of my bunkbed and ahhh!

But I’m in a freaking castle in the Netherlands. I’m so lucky. I should appreciate it–I DO appreciate it! I appreciate it so much. I know I’m so lucky. I know I shouldn’t complain about these little things, or that I miss my family and friends.

That’s another thing–am I allowed to miss my family and friends? After all, I left them. It was my choice, nothing made me go. In fact, I fought hard to make this happen, and now I have the gall to complain about crashing internet and a bit of stress?

The irony, of course, is that this all just keeps raising my blood pressure. I’m sure I’m just overthinking. Travel is stressful, for everyone. A new place, a new country, is hard too. Being away from literally everyone you’ve ever met is challenging. Not to mention, starting a new semester of college. I suppose I’m allowed to be a little stressed.

But then again, it’s a castle. How could I possibly complain?

If only

I’m writing a novel wherein all the characters quantify their future happiness by what they will achieve. They think that they will be happy if they could only get that job, only find they right person, only do this, only do that…

That doesn’t work. I know that, I’m writing this book about it. And yet I don’t apply it to my own life.

Part of the reason I took a break from blogging is that I became slightly obsessed with views and likes and follows. Charts and stats don’t make you happy. I forgot that blogging was supposed to be my way to keep writing every day, even if I didn’t particularly feel like it.

I do it in other aspects, too. I’ll be happy in the future if I could only get a book published; that’s one I have said a lot. But if I push myself to think beyond the moment of publication…I won’t be constantly happy. I will want it to get more recognition, I’ll want better reviews, I’ll want to publish another book.

There’s something innately human about never being satisfied. One could always be better, stronger, faster, smarter. That drive probably kept our species alive for so long. It’s also likely tied to individual humans’ demise.

Maybe this is just another “if only.” If only I could just accept things and be happy!

I go through stages in life where the most important question to me changes. For awhile it was “what is the meaning of life?” Now, it’s “how can I be happy?”

The strange thing is, I should be happy. I am, a lot of the time. I’m also not, a lot. Is this okay? It’s hard to tell what’s right. It’s hard to know if what’s right is right, or not. All I know is, I’ve done the “right” thing a lot, but bending the rules has gotten me a lot as well.

I guess this new phase in my blog, this “three weeks before Europe” phase, is a heavily existential one. These are the kind of posts I’ll look back on in a few years and roll my eyes so hard they hit my brain. So “emo,” aren’t they?

Ah. I’ll be okay. Maybe it’s not happiness that one should chase, but contentment. I am content, so I am okay.

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“Family”

I imagine the guy in the featured image of this post is wearing a party hat, not a dunce cap.

I wish there were two separate words for immediate family and extended family without having to call them both “family.” My grandmother once sat down with a pen and paper and counted over 100 cousins, stretching into second-, third-, and fourth- categories and even organizing them by twice-removed and so on. Are they all “family,” to me, too? Even though I’ve never met them?

I’ve never found “family” to be a value of much importance. I love my family, sure, and I’m lucky to have a decent one. But do I love that extended family?

Only out of principle, and therein the problem lies. It’s a fact that I don’t know my family well out of the essentials, and yet I am obligated to say I love them.

I’ve mentioned before that we need different words for romantic, familial, platonic, and objective love. Perhaps if we redefined “love” and “family” I wouldn’t even be having this problem.

This is all stemming out of me having to spend the Fourth of July with a section of my extended family.

Why? Why do we force ourselves to socialize with people we don’t like? Why do we lie about liking them?

Ugh. I’ve been in a pretty bleh mood lately. Pretty pessimistic. The problem when I get in these pessimistic ruts is that pessimism is the most realistic way of thinking.

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Acceptance

You have me in denial

Daily begging for you back.

I’m angry that you never showed

A warning of attack.

It’s depressing that I’ll never know

What you would’ve become.

I’m waiting for acceptance

That I doubt will ever come.

 

What words that could have calmed you?

Where were you all last week?

Am I hopeless as I’m feeling?

Did you ever think to speak?

It’s depressing that you fought with darkness

While flashing me a smile.

I’m waiting for acceptance

But it’s taking quite awhile.

 

Perhaps I’m being selfish

Or perhaps I’m being vain.

But I can’t help but feel guilty

That I never saw your pain.

It’s depressing that you sat beside me

Just that afternoon.

I’m waiting for acceptance

That I hope is coming soon.

 

I know these words are futile

As they’re words you’ll never read.

But writing out my feelings

Seems to be just what I need.

Thank you for the time we had.

You’re one I won’t forget.

I’m sad but I’m surviving—

Though I can’t accept it yet.

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Wallpaper

She sits backstage, she cares

She watches him, she wears

Camouflage costume

Her hair, it likes to fall

Paper curling off the wall

In aging bedrooms

The months go by, she never sees the sun

He cooks a feast of time for everyone.

 

She sleeps into the winter

Her teeth are tasting bitter

Stained with wine

Made of glass and ether

Pull the rug out from beneath her

I am fine

The days go by, she acts despite her fears

He lets her go, she never disappears.

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This too shall pass

I told someone last night that because yesterday was such a good day, today would likely be terrible. I was right.

Maybe today is only bad because I expected it to be, like when you assume a new food will taste bad and it does, but the things that have gone poorly since I woke up about five hours ago are so many and so monumental that I would have a hard time accepting it was all placebo.

Beyond having several things go poorly at work and during the drive in, I also found out someone very close to me in my personal life had been lying and hiding something from me for over a year and a half.

It’s times like these that I ponder what makes the universe tick. Is life truly all a random smattering of events, strung together loosely and caused by nothing but atoms bumping into one another? Or is some higher power pulling the strings, throwing this or that at us in strategic ways?

Sometimes I feel like a science experiment. What happens if we give her one extremely busy week followed by a week doing next-to-nothing? What happens if we make everything go right for twelve hours and then make everything fall apart?

Maybe it’s karma, or some other balancing force that operates on rules I’m not accustomed to. The problem with the theories of higher power or experimenters or cosmic forces is that I feel too unimportant for them to care about me. What would an all-powerful force want with me, anyway? An introverted blogger who spends too much time in front of a computer writing about herself is hardly an interesting subject.

I don’t know. I’m having a hard time focusing. When I’m feeling down I always write these deep, existential blog posts about what the meaning of it all is. Like the one about how there’s never a happy ending, life just keeps happening. Or the ones about how I feel overwhelmed and anxious so often.

I guess what I have to keep in mind is that this too shall pass.

No one ever uses that phrase on happy days, do they? Happy graduation…this too shall pass. Congratulations…this too shall pass. But it’s no less true. Everything passes. Things happen, and then they end. Nothing is forever, which is both comforting and terrifying.

This too shall pass.