First Two Days Back

My winter break ended Saturday when my parents and little sister drove me almost 3 hours to my college (they don’t make me take a train, and I’m very grateful for that). Though I’m excited about my class schedule this semester because I don’t have calculus, have two biology classes, and have better class times, I was a little depressed to be back. I have spent the past precious month with my family and two closest friends, and I didn’t want to let go. It actually made me reconsider my decision to enroll at a college so far away rather than, say, a community college.

Today I felt a lot better; these feelings mostly arose because I feel lonely here sometimes. This semester is dedicated to finding true friends, which will probably include some awkward situations when I begin to drift away from my current “friends”, but in the long run it will be worth it. Honestly, the only thing I don’t like about my college, other than being a fair distance from my hometown, is trying to find people I fit in with.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy myself with my current friend group, and sometimes I even feel like I’m really a part of the group. But too many times I fall silent because I have no interest in the conversation. Worse, I feel distance from the group, mostly due to slight-but-not-so-slight differences in lifestyle: aka. , drinking or not. I don’t mind if my friends drink, I just feel out of place when they get excited about getting drunk. It’s just not my thing, you know?

After breakfast I got to spend some time chilling in my room, doing some reading for a class on Tuesday among other, less productive actions. Other than a trip to Walmart to get some items I forgot and showering, my biggest accomplishment of the day was texting one of my sort-of friends from last semester. She actually moved out of my building, which made me sad because I thought we could be good friends, but she actually invited me to hang out with her at her new dorm whenever.

She even suggested I go to fencing practice, even though I don’t want to join. Apparently other kids just go, chill and play games? I was interested until I looked up the games she listed were all fantasy board games, which I’m not really a fan of.

Tomorrow classes start, and I’m really excited to begin my classes. I have a really good feeling about this semester, even now as I struggle internally about my personal social issues. I am confidant I will find my people.

Bis Später!

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Goals for 2015

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Happy New Year everyone! Even though January 1st is literally just another day of the year, being the arbitrarily picked first day of the new year, I think we have reason enough to celebrate. Notwithstanding all the pitfalls and atrocities we’ve witnessed this year, we’ve survived.

I’ve always stood by the idea setting goals is important to success; you have to outline exactly what you want to make it easier to get exactly what you want. Because I’m on break from college right now, this list is also sort of a “What I Want to Accomplish During My Second Semester”. In 2015, I want to:

1) Read 10 books. I realized in my first semester that college does not leave you a lot of time to enjoy novels. I read 6 books in the past year, and hope to increase that number slightly.

2) Exercise at least 3 times a week.

3) Blog and write regularly. Though maintaining a blog that very few people read can be tiresome, I will not “go gentle into that good night” (Thomas).

4) Keep my GPA over 3.0. This is the bare minimum if I want to keep my scholarship and get into an exceptional graduate program.

5) Befriend at least one professor. Connecting with professors is also important to success in college, especially in the sciences, as you can often get research experience by working alongside a professor on their projects. I didn’t utilize my professor’s office hours during my first semester, but plan to change that in the new year.

6) Find real friends at college. Like I said in my 2014 Reflections post, I feel like I just latched on to the first people who would accept me. Though they’ve been wonderful to me, I just feel like I could connect better with other individuals.

7) Go to RTX, an annual gaming and internet convention held by Roosterteeth.

8) Visit 6 places from my book 1000 Places to See Before You Die. Now that I’m officially an adult, I want to utilize the freedom of my college years and make some memorable trips with friends and family.

9) Become an educated citizen. I feel incompetent when I’m unsure of what’s going on in our world, and feel that it would be beneficial to be more informed; that way, when an issue is discussed, I’ll actually have something intellectual to say. I haven’t registered to vote yet, so I need to do that, and I should start checking out reliable-or at least as reliable as they come-sources for news on a weekly if not daily basis.

10) Never grow up. It’s a trap.

11) Cope with depression and anxiety. I don’t have the 12-step program or exact recipe to accomplish this daunting task, but with every day I’m making progress.

12) Do what makes me happy. Do I want to go to this social event hosted by the college while my friends just want to go out, party and drink? Screw my friends, I’ll find someone else and go to the event I choose. Happiness, contentment with your personal decisions, is the ultimate goal in life, so, despite its ambiguity, I really can’t think of a better goal than to be happy.

May your 2015 be filled with laughter and love!

Bis Später!

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2014 Reflections

So on Tumblr one of the posts that came across my dashboard was the following:

tumblr_nhf2hrAWBu1rkdkz1o1_1280I decided, seeing as it is New Year’s Eve, I should do some more reflections on the past year. Even though I’ve already posted today, hey, why not make another post. It is a holiday after all.

1. Wow, they sure start out tough. My first thought was that I have no freaking clue if I’m happy with my life right now, so maybe that’s something I want to work on in 2015. I’ve been trying to isolate something in my life that is constantly bringing me down, but I haven’t been able to find it yet. I’m happy that I’ve stopped caring as much about what other people think of both my appearance and actions. I’ve accepted my introvertedness and have been working towards improving my anxiety.

So maybe I am pretty content with my life right now. I’m just sort of in the middle of things.

2. I’m passionate about literature and mental health, and plan to take Creative Writing and Psych 101 next year. This year I really want to stick to the biology plan; a whole year studying a subject should give me a clearer idea of whether said subject is right for me. I’m passionate about video games and YouTubers, and I think maybe I should not be so cheap and buy myself a video game every now and then. I’m passionate about social justice, and maybe can get more involved in actual movements rather than simply reflagging posts on Tumblr.

3. I feel like I have some college friends who are weighing me down, so the goal for this next semester is to find true friends. This semester I think I just clung to whoever would take me because I didn’t want to be alone, but now I really want to start connecting with people. Social anxiety is also weighing me down. I think I should make a legitimate program for myself of how I’m going to cope with my anxieties, but that’s for another time.

4. I need to forgive myself for my own perceived awkwardness.

5. I think I felt truly alive at various moments throughout the year. The ones that come to mind include vacationing with my two best friends, the first week at college, introducing my AP English teacher at the National Honor Society induction ceremony, the All Time Low concert, and when I was just listening to music and dancing along and not caring how I sounded or looked. Music and those who I love most were usually integral to these moments. The first week of college was hopeful, before I felt I was lagging behind others in making friends.

6. To promote self-love daily, I need to stop being so hard on myself, which I think I’ve already started doing. When I make mistakes, I can remind myself it’s okay, and that if I want to mope around a bit, its understandable; I don’t have to be perfect or happy all the time. However, if I’ve been moping for too long, I need to be able to shake myself out of it. Usually I can do this by forcing myself to accomplish a simple task that puts me right back on track.

7. I want to let go of the idea of what I should be imposed by others. People expect certain things of you, and sometimes when we know what’s expected of us we conform to those standards. I want to act according to my will, and my will alone.

8. I want to dedicate 2015 to self discovery. Now is the time that I need to figure out why I’m not happy with my life as it is, and to sort of uncover what I want for the future. I want to try new things, meet new people, visit new places, be as fearless as possible when new opportunities appear.

9. I learned that I don’t need romantic love. This was always a hard concept for me, one that I always preached but never followed. Getting away from my ex made me realize all his faults, all the reasons I don’t need him anymore. In fact, the most important people in my life are my family and two best friends, and I can survive just fine with those two people. I have some crushes, but I’m not obsessed with them. Since going to college, I’ve been focusing more on myself, which is exactly what I need at this point in my life.

10. I think 2014 represented closure; the end of one chapter and moving on to the next. There are the obvious reasons, like graduating from high school and moving on to college. But I faced the reason I was depressed in the first place. I stepped away from many other things as well, such as my ex and high school soccer, which made me feel incompetent. I stepped away from caring what others think, to a degree.

As I ponder my goals for 2015, I will use these answers as a guideline. Though this post was more for me than anyone else, if you made it this far, thanks for listening, and I hope and pray you have a fantastic 2015.

Bis Später!

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2014’s Goals Revisited

We’ve reached page 365 of 365; the end of another year. Before I draft an overly ambitious goal list for 2015, I’d like to take some time to revisit the goals I set for 2014.

In 2014, I wanted to

1) Read 25 books by the end of the year; in reality I read 6. I knew that was a challenging goal, so I’m not disappointed.

2) Visit 12 places from my book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. I don’t think I visited any new places this past year.

3) Get a job. Well, that’s one goal accomplished-I worked miserably as a painter for my home town’s school district over the summer.

4) Maintain all A’s. Well, if we’re referring to high school, that was easy; college is another story. I got an A- in German 201, a B+ in Calculus I and my research-based introductory biology course, and a B- in introductory Chemistry. These grades are high enough to keep my scholarship, and I believe I can improve in the next semester.

5) Continue to blog and write regularly. I would not say I accomplished this goal, though I still haven’t given up blogging entirely, and that’s the most important thing. Besides, I’m realizing this blog is more important because it allows me to express my thoughts, not because people will be able to see it and take something away from it.

6)Memorize Hamlet’s To Be or Not To Be soliloquy, both the more popular Folio version and the First Quarto version. Well, that never happened…I have a Hamlet scarf now though, does that count at all?

7)Hold an end-of-school-year and/or end-of-summer camp out with my closest friends in my backyard. Another one that didn’t happen.

8) Go to Wildwood with my friends over the summer-without parents. Finally, a goal I actually accomplished! This was one of the best vacations I’ve had, and it just affirmed to me how much I truly love my two best friends, and how I need them in my life.

9)Exercise at least 5 times a week. That didn’t happen either, though I was pretty dedicated to working out twice a week during college.

10) Learn to straighten my hair…still don’t know how to do that…

11) Upload all my pictures from my camera and start actually using it. Oops, never found the cord…

12) Be happy. The ultimate question of whether this  year was successful or not. Was I happy? Most of the year I spent struggling with depression. I had some wonderful moments though, most of them inside jokes between me and my friends or my sister.

I guess many of my goals were left unfulfilled, but as Michelangelo Buonarroti said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it”. Here’s to another year of grandiose aspirations and incomplete objectives!

Bis Später!

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It’s Kind Of A Funny Story Response (Spoilers)

So I haven’t blogged in awhile, for various reasons, but finishing books usually involves a plethora of emotions that demand to be released, and It’s Kind Of A Funny Story is no different.Funny_Story_front

I bought the book immediately after reading the back cover, which stated the main character Craig almost kills himself and checks into a psychiatric hospital. Mental health is a big issue for me-I’ve been contemplating delving into some psychology classes at college-and I figure if there’s a book that could help explain to unaffected individuals what depression and anxiety feel like, I should read it. He pretty much hit the hammer on the metaphorical nail. I feel the fact that Ned Vizzini, the author, himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital was a major factor contributing to the accurate description of depression/anxiety, at least based on what I have experienced.

The last chapter is usually my favorite part of the novel. This is where the author realizes he has to get his final word in before the pages stop, and he or she reveals any last minute philosophical ideals or emotional revelations before leaving you with your own thoughts. And this last chapter was astounding. Its almost as if Craig has just finished a book, and his senses are heightened; he breathes in the spring air and takes in all the sensory input surrounding him. He thinks about his life, all the possibilities, all the things he can do, because, notwithstanding the crap his brain had to deal with, he has chosen life.

On Tumblr there is a post that circulates on my dash every now and then about how you have the choice to literally change your life any time you want: you can just get in the car and drive somewhere, or decide to learn another language or instrument, or decide to text your crush and throw caution into the metaphorical wind. Throughout finals week my life was pretty monotonous: take finals, study, eat, sleep, and, if I had time, find some mindless activity like watching YouTube videos to allow my brain to relax.

Coming home for Christmas break, though less stressful, consisted of watching more YouTube videos, reading occasionally, and playing Sims. All three felt like a waste of time and, more importantly, boring. It never hit me until I had progressed heavily into It’s Kind Of A Funny Story that I realized that I now have the time to actually do things. My sister got a new guitar for Christmas, so I could take her old one and teach myself to play, or go for a bike ride, or go shopping with friends or read every single book I own. Finding the motivation to do so might be bothersome, but I can try.

The end of It’s Kind Of A Funny Story instilled the same inspiration to act. After finishing the last page, I just kind of sat staring at the wall, letting the waves of emotions warm my body. Someone finally understood exactly what I had been feeling, put it into words, and convinced me I had a life to live. Immediately I began making a list of all the ways I could utilize this sudden burst of inspiration: I could make a blog post about this novel, about how it made me feel, or even a lengthy review on it. I really want to watch the movie version of the novel. I could begin reading other mental health novels and do reviews on them too. I could share the importance of the novel with my friends and family on Facebook. Because I doubt many of you will read through this protracted rant, I may even try vlogging as a new way to get my ideas out,though I am first and foremost a writer.

The first thing I wanted to do, however, was get into contact with Ned Vizzini and propose some questions about different aspects of the novel (okay, I really just wanted to know why he had to forge a romance between Craig and Noelle, which was the only part of the novel that frustrated me. Romance, in reality, is not the way to solve any mental health problems. Your new boyfriend doesn’t have all the answers). I wanted to thank him for such a marvelous book, so I went to almighty Google and typed in his name, believing his website, listed under his biography, would be one of the first things to pop up.

Instead, I was greeted by blue bolded words: Ned Vizzini Commits Suicide. He jumped off his parents roof on December 19th, 2013, over a year ago.

My heart broke. This talented man, so concise and clear in relating a difficult subject for many to bring up, who gave me inspiration, who I felt like I almost had a real connection with because he understood what it is to have a mental disorder, committed suicide. We’ve lost a lot of beloved icons in the past year, but none of them have torn into my heart and soul like Ned Vizzini’s death. I wanted so desperately to reach out to him, unlike many authors I’ve read in the past, and now it’s impossible.

It didn’t just make me sad; it made me angry. How dare depression and anxiety and all the other agonizing mental diseases plague people, terrorizing them to the point of suicide? Why does this happen?

I think I’ve given everything I could to this post, and don’t wish to prolong it any longer. But before I go, please take the time to read the last few sentences from It’s Kind Of A Funny Story. As aforementioned, I believe the last chapter of a novel is one of the rawest, and therefore the best.

Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to say here. 

So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live. 

Live. 

Bis Später.

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The Little Things

This morning I was walking back from the dining center alone because everyone else was still sleeping, recovering from last night’s partying. It was truly a blustery fall day, and as a car drove by, the wind blew. It was almost as if the car had brought the wind with it, and leaves chased the wheels of the car. I notice this scenic occurence a lot, and it never fails to make me smile. This consequently made me think of how the little things are always the most beautiful, and I’d like to share more of these moments with y’all.

At my college, and I’m sure at many universities, Sunday is the day most kids catch up on all the schoolwork they ignored over the weekend. Feeling like I might make a difference, I posted the following on YikYak:

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Though I don’t particularly like YikYak because giving individuals the power of cyber anonymity breeds some pretty nasty results, it can be utilized in positive ways. I was really happy when someone made the comment. Eventually, my Yak was upped by 95 people (9 people upped the comment). It made me feel good, that maybe my insignificant social media post had brightened someone’s day.

One day I wandered from my room on the third floor of my residence hall to the second floor (the cleaning lady was working in the third floor girls’ bathroom and I didn’t want to disturb her). I was pleasantly surprised that, while I was washing my hands, I was bombarded with at least thirty sticky notes that had been posted all around the mirrors. They each had little motivational quotes on them, telling visitors to smile and reminding them they were beautiful or intelligent. Many addressed body image issues, which is a major problem in today’s world, and it all made me really happy.

My mom is also excellent when it comes to using little reminders to encourage me. Many children and adolescents with depression or anxiety have unresponsive parents who don’t really understand and assert their child’s issues are not serious medical conditions. Though I don’t think my mom truly understand depression and anxiety yet, she does her best to work through it with me. For example, in my package before coming to college she included a magnet with an Apache blessing as well as my daily inspirational quote book. That magnet proudly hangs on my bulletin board in my dorm room.

Challenge for this week: Go out and do a random act of kindness. My favorites include leaving motivational notes for people to find later, but there are so many opportunities to be kind. Comment below if you have a random act of kindness/little thing you would like to share!

Quote of the day: 

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed” (Khalil Gibran).

Bis Später!

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…It’s November?

While the month of September dragged on, October seemed to momentarily flash before my eyes before dissipating in cold fall air. This speed of life always heightens my anxiety and depression because I have trouble dealing with the passage of time.

The past week has been pretty productive; I accomplished all tasks I needed to while keeping my brain from exploding from overwork. However, I experienced an emptiness, a lack of concrete ambition. Though I was motivated to keep moving forward, which is an improvement from earlier in the year, I don’t have an end goal.

This past Friday-Halloween-my aunt picked me up from college and drove me the two and a half hours back home so I could attend my parents’ Halloween party and go trick or treating with my friends. Though I look forward to going home, my anxiety increases around my family. The nostalgia was overwhelming as I trekked the path I had taken on Halloween for the past few years, and I couldn’t help myself as I recounted the “old times” with my friends, little sister, and cousin.

My wonderful psychiatrist, who usually only comes to the office Mondays and Wednesdays, met my mother and I on Saturday so we could discuss new options for treatment. Lexapro has not been effective at all, so he suggested Effexor, which is a serotonin-norepineprhine re-uptake inhibitor, whereas Lexapro simply affected serotonin in my brain. Lexapro only treats general anxiety disorder. In addition to treating general anxiety disorder, Effexor supposedly helps with social anxiety disorder, which, if effective, would be really nice. So this week I’m weaning off Lexapro and starting Effexor, which automatically boosts my mood; hope for recovery has been renewed.

After a day with my family and a sleepover with my best friends, which included the Rocky Horror Picture show and Settlers of Catan, I returned to campus. I’ve opted to tentatively apply for five rather than four courses for the next semester. This will allow me to stay on track for my Biochemistry/Molecular Biology major and German minor. However, this is extremely tentative.

I hope your Tuesday is wonderful! Here’s a parting quote taken from “The Daily Book of Positive Quotations” by Linda Picone:

“A child becomes an adult when he realizes that he has a right not only to be right but also to be wrong” (Thomas Szasz). 

Bis Später!

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