There’s a famous saying by Charles R Swindoll that says “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”. Our attitudes have such a major impact on how our life pans out, or even just our day. Moods are always changing, even from minute to minute. Its funny to me how quickly they can change, and the things that make them change. You could be having the worst day, but a smile from a stranger makes you smile, turning your day around. And vice versa. Your day could be amazing, but one bad moment may send it completely spiraling. I’ve often been told that sometimes I look mean. Its not something I mean to do, and sometimes I’m not even aware of it. But thinking back, I wonder if my poor facial expressions ever changed the course of someone’s day. I often wonder about how my mood can impact the moods of others. Its only recently that I have really begun to work on this. I’m not perfect. I never will be. People will need to forgive me if I have a bad day and it affects them. But I’ve been trying to build people up instead of break them down. Little by little. With something as simple as a smile. Or listening to them. If everyone realized that they can have such a great impact on others, maybe our world would have less bad days. Just the other day I was happy as could be. But so quickly my happiness turned to sadness, just from the smallest gesture from someone. Of course, maybe some people should have thicker skin. Or maybe we shouldn’t care so much what others think of us. But we do. I do. I will surely act tough, pretend things don’t matter to me. I’m habitually downplaying my true feelings. But I just wonder if someone knew they made me feel bad, would they rethink the way they interact with me? Its been said too many times, and I will say it so many more. Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. But we as humans should realize we have the opportunity to forget the bad interactions with people, and take our mood into our own hands. I left work today, on this beautiful day, allowing something small turn my happy day into a discouraged day. I quickly changed my mood back to happy with an impromptu trip to a little park. I sat in the sunshine, letting everything out. I’m sensitive. I know it. But I decided in that moment to forget about what had bothered me, let the sun warm my face, and be happy. I’m leaving the park with a smile on my face and a better attitude. We can’t change ourselves overnight. I’m fairly certain I will always be sensitive. But I realize it. And I work on it.
Knowing what I do now, I lived a sheltered childhood. My town was small. The kind of town where everyone knows everyone, we didn’t lock our doors, and no one felt scared walking down the street. I didn’t get everything I asked my parents for, but I was fortunate to get more than I ever needed. I’ve been called spoiled many times. I’m not spoiled. I know how lucky I am. I would consider myself to be blessed. Blessed to have parents that showed me that hard work pays off. My parents taught me to always work hard and fight for what I believe in. I can honestly admit that I don’t always work hard. I’ve slacked in all aspects of my life. Work, school, relationships. But I know that the lack of hard work has negative consequences. If I didn’t work hard in school, my grades suffered. Not working at my relationships could have meant a breakup or a failed friendship. I know I have been the cause of much of what I have gone through. At this age, I have learned to work hard for what I want. I know I put a lot of effort into my school work. I know I want to be a damn good nurse. I want to help people. I want to save lives. I work hard for my future career and future patients. I also work hard for my relationships. I value the people in my life, no matter how long they are a part of it. I will give my relationships the same effort I expect back. I expect honesty, respect, loyalty, kindness (to name a few) from my family, my friends, and my significant other, so I will work hard to treat people the same way. But life isn’t fair. No one ever said it was. So people won’t treat you well all the time. This is where the hard work comes in. You can make a decision. Remove that person from your life, or continue to treat them the way you feel you deserve. I’ve done both. The risk is worth the reward. If I feel like the reward is worth it, I will take a risk on you.
Everyone you encounter has some sort of baggage. Even people who have never seriously dated before carry around their inexperience and possible insecurity. People experience so much in relationships, they hold onto it, and it affects their future relationships, whether they realize it or not. I never thought I was the type to have baggage. I mean, I have had some bad relationships, but I really only took them to be life lessons of what not to do again. Recently, I realized I carry a large amount of baggage after David. I can’t blame it on him, and I won’t. I thought I had my life figured out. Once David and I moved in together, we talked about getting married. He was always the man I saw at the end of aisle. I knew I could build a life with him, and I would be happy. David admitted to me that he had even looked at engagement rings. But we rushed. We were not in the place to be making a decision that drastic and life changing. Everyone wants the fairy tale, but truth be told, life is far from a fairy tale. David and I both need to grow up, and we need to do it separately. Knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life doesn’t even come close to classifying me as an adult. I can still be immature, and I crave moments when I have no responsibility. A person in my place is not ready for marriage. But like I said, I thought I had it all figured out. I thought my life was completely planned. And when it wasn’t. I was lost. I lost all control. And there is my baggage. I am absolutely terrified to get to a place where I have it all figured out again. Where I feel like I can trust someone, or care about someone, or allow myself to be vulnerable with someone only to let it all go up in flames again. I find myself telling people who are apprehensive about getting into a relationship that they will “never know unless they try”, or “life is all about the risks we take”. I seldom take my own advice. Because that gives me the possibility of being hurt, and then adding to my baggage. I think its important to know what kind of baggage we carry, and to realize that everyone has baggage. Its hard to break down the walls of people who have constantly been hurt. No one is going to believe you when you say you won’t hurt them, because that hasn’t been true for anyone before you. Actions speak louder than words. If you want to prove to someone you won’t hurt them, then don’t hurt them. Give as much of yourself as you’re asking of them.The golden rule applies to every situation. Always treat someone the way you want to be treated.
I can easily think of moments that have become incredible memories. Not incredible because they were always great, but incredible because they changed my life forever.
When I was 9 years old, my idea of a Friday night was dinner and hanging out with my mom, sister, grandma, and grandad. My granddaddy was the most amazing man, next to my dad. I never realized truly how great he was until I grew older. I learned to admire and appreciate all the things learned about him. Back then though, he was the man who let me sit on his lap and mess up his hair. It would always just go right back to where it originally was, only to let me mess it up again. He wasn’t a millionaire but he didn’t want his family to need anything. He took care of us all. He was always there to see me cheer, and we drank peach milkshakes like they were water. He was diagnosed with cancer, and I knew it was bad, but not the extent that I do now. My mom told my sister and me he would have surgery, they would remove the cancer, and then everything would be fine. The morning of his surgery he drove over to our house so my mom could take him to the hospital. He was early, so he decided to walk me to the bus stop. Hand in hand we went walking down the street. That was the last time I would spend any time alone with him. His surgery went as planned and they got all the cancer. We went to see him in the hospital, and jumped all over his bed, trying to play with him despite his fatigue from surgery. I remember saying I love you as we left. I thought he would be home soon and we would enjoy family dinner on Friday like always. My sister and I came home from school a few days later to my mom and my uncle sitting on the couch. Why weren’t they at work? My uncle walked out of the room, mumbling something about not being able to handle it. Handle what? Then my mom said it. “Granddaddy died”. How could he die? We just saw him. The cancer was gone. Unfortunately, he had a blood clot that travelled from his leg up to his heart. My world stopped. In my moment I knew what it was like to truly hurt. He was supposed to walk me down the aisle, along with my dad. He was supposed to see me graduate high school and then college. He was supposed to always be there to take me for a peach milkshake or tell me how proud he was to be my granddad. Now he was gone. Over the years, I learned how imperfect my granddaddy was. He made mistakes over the years, but in the end, family was most important. Every year February comes around and I feel my world crash down on top of me again. Im reminded on the anniversary of his death that this world lost a great man. But sometimes when I accomplish something big, I think about how proud he would be. It keeps me working on my next goal. I always want him to look down and be proud.
This past September I was given the opportunity to stand next to my sister as she married her soulmate. Heather and Jason met 10+ years ago. It took 2 years for Jason to finally commit. They moved in together, and 8 years later, he asked her to a his wife. Heather was involved in a horrible accident, and it was in a sterile hospital room that he proposed. They were married back at home on the water. I’m aware of how emotional I am. I come by it honestly, as my mom is the same way. But on her wedding day, I was a wreck. Everything was great until I saw how nervous she was. I mean, I know she was getting married but she didn’t get nervous when it came to Jason. My whole life I have been around divorce. Both sets of grandparents, my parents. It’s not like I don’t know what true love is, but it was right in my face for the first time. On her face. She had absolutely no doubt that Jason was the man she wanted to marry. Cold feet were nonexistent. As her maid of honor, along with my mom, I helped her into her dress. At this point, I was only seeing the back of the dress, as we all took turns buttoning the millions of buttons that ran down the back. When she turned around, immediately I felt the tears come to my eyes. She was the most beautiful bride I have ever seen. There are so many great pictures of me and her that day, but my favorite is the picture where our heads are touching at the forehead and our eyes are closed. We were trying not to cry. Cry tears of absolute joy. Joy that she was about to walk down the aisle to happily ever after. I collected myself and was able to keep it together until we were about to walk down the aisle. When it was almost my turn, I turned around to see my sister and my dad, arms linked. I started to cry again. She told me “It’s okay, bee”. Well, of course it’s okay. She was comforting me, but I was truly comforted by the fact that I was officially getting a new brother, even though he has felt like my brother for years. My sister, my protector, has someone who will always be there to protect her. From that moment on, I promised myself I would never accept a proposal unless I felt like I would be like her on that day. No doubt. No cold feet. Only excitement to start the rest of my life with someone. And I want that person to let me know they don’t have doubt either. Heather and Jason have taught me what it looks like to love someone. Everyday. For the rest of your life.
Life is what you make it. I look at moments as opportunities to learn about myself, people around me, and find out what I want.
It wasn’t long ago I was excited about my job in mental health. I spent my college days studying about mental illness, along with the many facets of psychology. You take an abnormal psychology class but you never really think you will see half of what appears in your textbook. On my first day at NVMHI, I saw it all. Bipolar, depression, schizophrenia. All of it. It took a little longer before I became familiar with any type of personality disorders. As of now, I have only worked with individuals with borerline, antisocial, and narcissistic personality disorders, though I have seen features of others. I constantly think about the prevalence of mental health issues in our country. The statistic states that 1 in 4 people are diagnosed with a mental disorder. Those are terrible odds. Sure, people can live long, happy, productive lives with a mental health diagnosis. But why would we want to? The barriers, setbacks, trials, and tribulations are so great. On a more dramatic note, can you imagine what it feels like to have schizophrenia? Your thoughts are not truly your own. You don’t grow out of this disorder. You battle the delusions/hallucinations your entire life. With meds. Meds that cost more than buying a car. Well, not quite that much, but close. Individuals with schizophrenia also have very little insight into their disorder, which makes treatment difficult. On top of it, the social stigma that surrounds mental illness does not allow people to truly get the help they need. Picture this. You hear voices. At first, they are manageable. Maybe you don’t hear them all the time, or they stop when you are with others or keeping busy. But finally, they get to a point where you can’t handle them anymore. You want to tell someone, get some help. Then you overhear someone talking about schizophrenia. You hear them say that people with schizophrenia are “crazy” or “violent”. Why would you want to get help then? Someone may just think those things of you. The best thing our society could do right now is to take mental health more seriously. Educate our nation on the signs, symptoms and CORRECT facts. Let’s not put it out there that individuals with schizophrenia are violent. They aren’t. Obviously, some can be. Maybe that’s why the thought is out there, but any person without schizophrenia can be violent too. Let’s make it easier to get help for individuals that need it. Make it more available, bring down the cost. The issues with mental health are not the reason why I decided to go into nursing and leave mental health. Our body as a whole needs to be maintained, taken care of. I want to help people take care of their whole body, not just the mind. But I will continue to advocate for mental health in our country, because everyone deserves our best effort, not just those individuals who are thought to be lucky enough to escape a mental health diagnosis. For now, my job is in mental health, but my career will eventually be in nursing.
I remember the very moment I first saw David. I was at a sorority sister’s party and he walked in with some friends that happen to be in SAE, a fraternity I often associated with. David is the epitome of “tall, dark, and handsome”. Over the course of a month I started to see David more and more when I was out. Thanks to the help of alcohol, I decided to walk up to him one night at an SAE party. When I said hello, he replied with “hey woman”. I told him not to call me that because that’s not my name. We spent the night talking and I told stories, often the same one over and over. By the end of the night, he was able to finish my stories. I invited him over to play Mario Kart, and after losing many times, we had our first kiss. I had butterflies every time I saw David but this sent them soaring. We didn’t kiss again for a whole week, although we saw each other almost everyday. We would meet at the library, and after a night of studying, David would walk me home. It wasn’t until Amy asked David what our deal was that I knew that we were “talking”. I was confused. If we were talking, why hadn’t he kissed me again? Well, that changed. He pulled me into the bathroom and kissed me in the most passionate way I’ve ever been kissed. Another week went by and on April 16, right after he competed in a hot dog eating contest, David asked me if I wanted to “take it to the next level”. We were inseparable after that, until school ended. I graduated and David decided to move back to Northern Virginia. I thought it would be over, but for the next year, we had a long distance relationship. We saw each other every 2 weeks, skyped nightly, and took a vacation to Disney. I finally decided to move up to Northern Virginia and be closer to David. Originally I looked at apartments for just myself, but eventually we decided it would be better to move in together. We moved into an apartment that over the course of our relationship we ended up hating. David and I had a great relationship. Like any couple, we had our ups and downs, but we prided ourselves on our open communication. It’s our communication that allowed our relationship to be strong and last as long as it did, and it’s also the thing that kept our breakup from being worse than it was. In our 3 years, we took amazing vacations. In addition to Disney, we went down to the OBX, across the country to the Grand Canyon and New Mexico, cruised to Bermuda, and spent a weekend at a cabin in the woods. David had a great sense of adventure and was eager to explore the world with me. David also captured the hearts of my family. He fit in with us so well. They adored him, and it was mainly because he treated me so well and truly cared for me. It was like they knew I was taken care of. David treated me with an immense amount of respect. He never raised his voice to me, and I knew he felt like I was his princess. He was supportive, and was always trying to keep me positive about life. David is one of those people who is always happy, looking for the brighter side of everything. I tried to absorb that quality. David and I started to go in obviously different directions, which cause the end of our relationship. I won’t dwell on the hurt and pain of our breakup, mostly because there was so much happiness throughout the 3 years. Our love didn’t change, but sometimes love just isn’t enough to withstand the trials of life. David is still one of my best friends. He continues to be such an important part of my life. I don’t care that our friendship doesn’t make sense to others. People wonder how I can stay so close to my ex. People can continue to wonder. It’s no one’s business but our own. David and I would never stand in each other’s way to happiness.
A small phrase that can take on a lot of meaning. Beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, sexy. All of these words are compliments women love to hear. But sadly, there are compliments I hate to hear. It’s not that I hate it exactly. But they feel less genuine. They don’t give you the same warm feeling the others do. Hot. Cute. Fine. I hate having a grown man come up to me and call me hot. Strangers. Strangers think it’s perfectly acceptable to give me that compliment. Once, at a gas station, I bent over to get something in between my seats as my gas was pumping. From behind, I heard a man say “Damn. What do I have to do to get with that ass?” How about treat me with respect? Like, really? Do men truly believe the cat calls and dirty compliments will have me swooning? Cute is almost just as bad as hot. Cute could be nice. If I were a 5 year old. Or a puppy in a basket. Cute doesn’t make me feel anything, other than annoyed.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need these compliments. But the warm feeling you get when someone, especially someone close to you, or that you respect, calls you beautiful. That warm feeling makes me happy. I truly believe I’m beautiful. Not because I’ve been told so often, but more because I like the way I look. And more than that, I like to think I’m beautiful on the inside too.
Winning my heart isn’t a hard thing to do. It’s keeping it that proves to be more difficult. For me to even notice someone, there needs to be an obvious physical attraction. If you can’t make me notice you with your good looks, then it’s doubtful that I will notice you at all. You don’t need to be a 10, because Lord knows I’m not a 10. 9.5, sure, but not a 10. I just want to look at you and have my heart beat a little faster, and some sweaty palms can’t hurt. What makes the butterflies appears is all in the way you treat me. Have manners. Be a gentleman. Open a door for me once in awhile. Comfort me when I’m sick. Show me you care. I don’t need a man who cries while watching the Notebook. But at least show you’re sensitive to my needs. I’m happiest when a guy has similar interests as me. We don’t have to like all of the same things, but it’s nice when you like many of the same things. You don’t like my football team? That’s cool. But please, at least like football. Man, it would never work with a guy who didn’t like football. And it also wouldn’t work if I can’t trust you. You don’t need to be an open book, but open up enough so that I don’t feel like you’re hiding anything. You have lots of friends that happen to be girls. Awesome, tell me about them. The less you tell, the more suspicious I might get. Give me a reason to know you won’t hurt me. Let’s spend our time building each other up, instead of tearing each other down. You have goals? You should. And I will support your goals, and whatever makes you happy. Just do the same for me. When I have a rough day, don’t say “it’s okay”. It might not be. Let me vent, help me figure it out, then I can move on. Just brushing over my problems won’t make them go away. Above all, try to have a positive attitude. It’s hard. Trust me, I know. But if you at least try to have a positive attitude, I feel like the rest will take care of itself.
Every so often, maybe once a week or so, my life slows down and it makes me realize how lonely it can be to live alone, and far away from my family. I moved up to Northern Virginia with the belief that I would always be living with David. Well, life never works the way you planned.
David and I didn’t spend every minute together. He did his thing and I did mine. But he was there. He was always there. I felt a sense of calm and comfort because I had someone there all the time. I never realized how dependent I am, until I was left alone. Sometimes the loneliness is unbearable. I know that my personality type needs people. I need the energy from others. It’s silly, but sometimes I find myself going out to the store or the gym, just to be around people. I don’t need someone to talk to all the time, but just knowing someone is around gives me that calm, comfort again. The way I’m living isn’t healthy. I need to be able to be alone without needing others so much. People advise me to find hobbies, so I’ve been trying to do that. But I need hobbies that require me to be alone. I need to be okay with being alone more often.
I never want to sit here and trash talk people. People are an aspect of my life that have shaped me into who I am now, whether our encounters were positive or negative. But in an effort to treat them with respect, though they may not have done so to me, I will change names if I feel the need to protect their identity.
Misery loves company. I have heard the saying over and over. Never did I know what it really meant, until I met Sarah (name has been changed). When I started my job almost 3 years ago, Sarah was the girl who showed me the ropes. She was a burst of sunshine and seemed excited to teach me. Over a few months I learned Sarah was a lot like me, or so I thought. She was in a long term relationship, ready to settle down. She was ahead of me in that aspect, engaged to her boyfriend. David and I were invited to her wedding, but unable to attend due to his college graduation. Time passed and Sarah and I became close. We went out to happy hours often, and shared personal stories and life lessons. Our job can get intense, and when it does, you want good people to protect you. Sarah was always there to have my back. Less than a year after she was married, her relationship started to take a downward spiral. Thinking back on it now, I don’t know who carries the blame. All I know is that two people ended up getting hurt. Her husband decided he was done with their marriage and done with her. She fought for him and I wish she hadn’t. I wish she had more self-respect than to constantly make effort for a man who wasn’t worth it. Because I think he changed her. I think he took the good parts of her and crushed them. After it all, she wasn’t the same. She kept a smile on her face, and no one really knew how badly she was hurting. It wasn’t until David and I ended our relationship that I started to really see how broken she was. David and her ex were completely different. David was always building me up, even to this day. He supported me and made me feel like I was the only girl in the world. He would look at me and say things like “Did I tell you how beautiful you look today?” when I could be just out of bed, with no makeup, messy hair, and morning breath. But Sarah would bash David, as if she felt I needed it. I didn’t. David and I didn’t break up because he treated me badly. We broke up because we needed different things. I didn’t want to hear her talk about him in a negative way. It wouldn’t help the pain. Truly, talking with David was the only thing that helped. He was the only person that understood our situation. But this was the start to the end of our friendship. Sarah always felt like she knew what I needed. I will give her credit for being there for me so often. She helped me take my mind off of everything, encouraging me to remember what made me happy and spend more time doing things for myself. Putting myself first. She went with me to find my new apartment. She was continuously checking up on me but it’s hard to be there for someone when you haven’t dealt with your own problems. Her problems started to overshadow the manner in which she consoled me.
I started working out frequently. It was the only thing I felt I had control of. I could watch what I eat, and I could be active. I had gained weight in my relationship, and getting back into shape felt great. Overall, I lost around 35lbs. Sure, I was smaller, but I was at a healthy weight. Sarah always had issues with her weight. Although she was encouraging at first, when people began to notice my weight loss, she started telling me I needed to stop losing weight because I was getting too thin. The one thing I controlled was now turned into a negative.
Then Will happened. An unplanned situation. Will and I began after a drunken night of a happy hour and bar hopping. A coworker, that with a little alcohol and flirting, turned into something more. When it started, we were nothing more than friends that enjoyed the company of one another. We both didn’t need anything more than that. Inevitably, feelings began to form. But at the time when Sarah was involved in our lives, we were just friends having fun. We spent a good amount of time together, and in Sarah’s mind, this meant we had to be dating. Which meant Will should be treating me like a princess and arranging his life in accordance to my needs. The reality: Will has always treated me with respect. I didn’t need his world to stop turning for me. But Sarah was convinced that I needed more from him or that our relationship was farther along than it was.
The straw that broke the camel’s back. I made plans with Sarah to go out for a night of drinking and dancing in Clarendon. Although Will told me he didn’t want to go, I guilted him into it. Everything started great. We had drinks at my apartment, then ended up out at the bar. Will bought us shots, and when Sarah went to the bathroom, Will and I took shots alone. This started the decline of the night. Sarah felt like she was the 3rd wheel. Despite reassurance from both Will and me, she began to cry and make a drunken scene. Will’s fraternity brothers were at another bar so we decided to go there. On the walk, Sarah escalated to a point of no return. I felt horrible for dragging Will out only to have him deal with Sarah and her issues of insecurity and loneliness. At one point, I walked away from Will to lessen the exposure to Sarah’s drunken ranting. I tried to calm her. Over and over. It didn’t work. The fight culminated at the point where she got physically aggressive, pushing me into the wall outside the bar. She continued to do so in an effort to keep me from walking away. It only ended when a random lady walking by asked if I was okay. I took to opportunity to leave and join Will back in the line for the bar. All 3 of us ended up in the bar, and we tried our best to enjoy what was left of the night, while Sarah was asked to stay far away from us. I actually did enjoy that brief part of the night, as Will and I were able to dance together. I saw another side of Will. He hadn’t wanted to go out, he dealt with my friend’s out of control episode, but when we were heading home, he made sure Sarah was with us. He slowed our walking to her pace. I felt awful for what I put him through. He didn’t hold it over my head though. He and I moved on past that night.
Sarah and I were a different story. I was so angry with the way she acted. I will never be okay with someone thinking it’s acceptable to be physical with me. I, more than most, know what’s like to get too drunk and let my emotions dictate reckless behavior. But I will never disrespect someone enough to physically hurt them. That night gave me the realization that although Sarah offered me support, she has her own issues she needs to work on and they cloud her ability to be a good friend to me. She made me believe that she had my best interest in mind but when it came down to it, she was happiest when I was miserable.
Since the fallout, she has attempted to contact me multiple times. I have seriously thought about reconciling our failed friendship. At the end of the day, I decided I’m better off without her. I’m working on myself, and bettering my life. I’ve made great strides, not without setbacks. But I only see her as a setback now. Setbacks are inevitable, but I have the ability to prevent this one.
Daily Prompt: Brilliant Disguise