How Are You Doing?

How Are You Doing?

Everyone walks around and asks each other how they’ve been since the last time they met, starts conversation about some vague topic that comes to mind, and then parts ways feeling as if they either wasted time or found more of a bounce in their step. Your coworkers will ask how life outside of work is, and you’ll answer with some ambiguous one liner. Your classmates will ask how your other classes are, and you’ll answer with some half-hazy description with a nervous chuckle. Everyone asks and there are people who wish to care but, in reality, the generalized answers and questionable comebacks are our ways to indefinitely give an undetermined response. Because, really, no one knows how they are truly doing.

We walk around in our little atmospheres only ever defining success or happiness when looking at the comparison of someone else’s life against our own. But since there is no true value in reflecting against something that doesn’t even match our circumstances, the answer to that one simple question remains undefined.

How are you? How are you doing? How is life? How are things?

Truthfully, the answer is, “I don’t know.”

My dad is weakened by his health yet takes on the burden’s of the world onto his shoulders as he stresses about how to pay the bills with where the cash is flowing. My mom is constantly straining herself to find a third job to pay the bills while boring herself at a desk job she is overqualified for – just not on paper. My older sister is awaiting a response from the dozens of medical schools she applied to while working full-time and managing to finish a two year program in one.

My dad has his health. I have mine. We both struggle daily to get through the days with the constant pain we have found ourselves burdened with. Some days it’s near impossible to get out of bed, or do anything other than sit still at our desk. But it’s hard to say anything.

Driving is an issue because of my health. Being in late night classes is an issue with my health. Working more hours isn’t possible with my health. Do you know how frustrating it all is?

You tell me, how am I doing?

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So Much Has Changed

So Much Has Changed

It’s not that I don’t care about you. It’s not that I don’t remember all the moments we shared together. It’s not that I cloak my confidence in worry and stress.

I learned to live without you. For years, my friend was out of reach and there was nothing either of us could do to change the past. I don’t blame you. Actually, I am grateful that you don’t blame me. But we both know we have to walk forward and figure out where things stand here and now, not reminisce in where things used to be.

My heart skipped the first time I saw you after a couple years of basically silence – worse than silence. I didn’t know what to expect. I honestly prepared myself mentally to be hit by a tsunami of the past. I was ready to feel the pain. But it never was like I thought it would go down.

You actually apologized for the year of torture. You apologized and took it upon yourself to apologize for how tormented I was. And, that itself, meant a lot more to me than the others could possibly know. I couldn’t thank you enough. Despite, I was silent that day.

Now, it’s been a while since we both walked back into each other’s lives. But, really, I still don’t know where you stand with me. I still can’t give you an answer to that question you had asked. “You meant a lot to me, maybe you still do. Maybe you don’t at all, or somewhere in between. I don’t know…” I had told you that first night. I didn’t expect you to have an answer either. But the discomfort in this unknown makes me ponder.

I see you standing there, as a person I used to want to share the world with. But we can’t deny how much things have changed, how much we have changed as individuals.

I see you standing there, but I can’t disregard everything else I have going on. The chance and need of losing the house I’ve called ‘home’ for the past eight years. The stress and worry my parents are going through, and trying to hide from me. The sickness in health I deal with on the daily, and the distress the pain my dad goes through each and every day. The campus I’m about to leave, and the one I’m about to enter. The nervousness and the excitement in “starting over”. So forth.

It’s not that I don’t care about you anymore. It’s not that I don’t wish you the best. It’s not that I don’t want to share life with you and have you in my life still.

It’s that neither of us know where we stand, and neither of us have much more room on our plates to spend too much time figuring it out.

I apologized for how preoccupied I am. I apologized for how much I’ve changed. But I refuse to apologize for how much I’ve grown during the past couple years without you here.

Phone… Laptop… What About You?

Phone… Laptop… What About You?

I wake up in the morning and reach for my phone. I don’t have a visible clock when it’s dark in my room. Sometimes I scroll past the notifications – messages, emails, reminders, etc. – and sometimes I simply groan at how early it is and lie on my back until I fall asleep again.

When I’m getting ready in the morning, my phone is often playing music that keeps me up and going. I easily fall asleep if I stay in bed. I push past the urge to stay in bed and go to wash my face. Face wash. Acne medication. Brush my teeth. Brush my hair (sometimes). Go get changed and get out of the door.

My phone follows me downstairs, to the car, to school, to work, back home, and goes to sleep by my head on my bed each and every night. It’s the one friend that always sticks by me. I reach for it when I’m walking to and from classes. I check instagram as if it’s a newspaper that gets updated every other minute. I check my messages as if I really get any. I check my email and scroll past the spam. I check the time and the reminders that yell at me to get a real meal.

My phone gives me everything I need. I put everything on my calendar. I put all my reminders into that app. I have connections to my family and friends. I have my emails. I have my instagram. What else do I need?

Well…I went to lunch with my boyfriend and his sister (also a close friend of mine) yesterday. I went on and on in the car. I complained about how loud the music was. I stared out the window, amazed at the sunlight growing through the trees that we pasted by.

I set up a instagram for the new member of their family, Rylee the cockcpoo – @rylee_discoveringlife

We started posting pictures. We went in to get seated. And then shortly after I found all three of us on our phones once more. I silently wished for us to put our phones away and actually be present with each other in the short time that we actually get to spend with one another.

Every time I see my boyfriend, I can never get tired of being in his arms. I latch onto him the second we get some time alone, wanting to be closer to him. I always miss him when we can’t see each other. And when we do, I love the conversations. I love the face-to-face time we actually get. I loved walking up behind him as he washed his hands and hugged him from behind. I loved sitting in the car with him, holding his hand, and just enjoying the music and the sunny sky. I loved being present.

And that’s exactly what I’m missing when I rely on my phone too much. I love being able to put it away but I know I always need to stay updated with my sister and my parents, at least. I love being able to just enjoy the moment and not worry about anything else.

My “New Year’s Resolution”:
1. Spend at least 3 days worth of time (72 hours) a week without my phone. I can listen to music but I have to be disconnected.
2. Spend at least 2 days worth of time (48 hours) a week without my laptop. I can listen to music but I have to be disconnected.
3. Practice my cursive – aim to get better at calligraphy (1 hour a week)
4. Draw a piece of work twice a month
5. Take 20 good photos a month

Let’s see if I can keep this going for the rest of the year!

Swim. Don’t Drown.

Swim. Don’t Drown.

“The shark that doesn’t swim drowns.”
“Akula, kotorya Ne plavayet, Ne tonet.”

It’s been four years since I started to get questions about my future career. It’s been four years of pressure to get into a field that has a good payment, and a good reputation. And, honestly, I hadn’t gotten anywhere until a few months ago.

Since the beginning, I felt as if I was always facing a white canvas not knowing what the heck to do about it. I looked out into the world through a broken glass, unsure where to go next that won’t backfire. But, instead in the mist of asking others what they think I would be good at, I had forgotten to ask myself where I want to be in life. And, for that, I stood still for those years.

I didn’t venture out to see what opportunities I could have. With all the questions and the pressures to go into one field versus any of the others, I simply closed up in a shell where all I saw was darkness. I didn’t think I could live up to be what my parents wanted me to be. I didn’t believe I could do anything that would be worth of them bragging about me. Most importantly, I didn’t believe there would be a place for me to stand in the world when I grew up.

I started to lose parts of myself I was always defined by. I began to loose sight of what I had always wanted to do in life: be happy while making a difference. I started believing the words people yelled my way that told me I wasn’t worthy of the traits I held close to heart, or that they weren’t good enough in order to give me a good reputation. All the words, all the comments, all the pressures from everyone around me did the opposite of encouragement.

It wasn’t until I got away from what others had to say. I started going to school more; I ditched the old study room in which I felt trapped and trading it for a clean library desk where I felt impossibly free. I went back to my roots; I started picking up the pieces of myself I knew were worthy despite what anyone else had to say. I began exploring my options and talking to people who didn’t have a biased opinion that pressured me to walk down any certain path. I started swimming.

In my eyes, it wasn’t until then that I truly felt like myself. Before, it was always about reputation; it was always about how others perceived us to be. There was never any room for me to grow on my own because the person I was supposed to grow up to be was already molded and framed in my parents’ mind. I couldn’t learn from my own mistakes, because everything had always been planned out and simply told to me to execute. I wasn’t being me, no, I wasn’t being human; I was simply a robot.

Now, a year since I’ve turned away from being cooped up in a cage and a few months since I uncovered a part of myself I knew was always there, I feel whole. I feel independent; I can take care of myself and I can get through by myself. I feel like I have a chance at everything the world has to offer as long as I go out there and achieve the best I can. I look into the mirror and, though I might not have everything figured out, I can see the girl I was always meant to be.

I’m finally working towards the future, my future. And I couldn’t be more proud.

Hi.

Hi.

I know I deserve better. I know I have the right to expect more. I know better, now.

I know I have a choice of who to let into my life. I know I have a choice of who I keep close and who I let go. I know I have a choice to stay or to walk away.

I know I have a choice because this is my life. I know because I have come to recognize my future as something only I have the power to write. I know because everything I have gone through has lead me to this point and now I understand.

I know I have come a long way from where I used to stand. I used to be confused. I used to wander around aimlessly trying to fight for something that wasn’t worth my breathe. I used to grasp a hold onto something that wasn’t there. I used to play pretend as if that would solve the world’s problems. But, no, it doesn’t.

This is my life and I have to live it, for me. I am the only one who has to deal with the decisions I make, so they better be good ones. I am the only one who has to live the future I plan out now. I am the only one who can do this, for me.

I know I am better than who I was in my past. I know I am better than the pain that aches in my chest. I know I am worth more than some people give me credit for.

I know I’ve made mistakes in the past. I know I’ve really messed up more than just a couple times. I know I had a lot of growing up to do, and that’s what I ended up doing.

I know I deserve better. I know I have the right to ask for better, and if it cannot be provided than I have the choice to either fight for it or let it go. Sometimes ‘it’ doesn’t deserve a fight though. Sometimes ‘it’ is simply better to let it go. And that’s what I did.

I got tired of waiting around for a knight in shinning armor to come around and safe my ass. I got tired of always wanting someone to tell me everything was going to be okay. So I got up and saved my own ass. I got up and did something with my life so I know it will be okay.

I know better now. I know I can do better. I know I can get better.

I am sorry. But, now, I know. I learned. I made a life for myself. I walked away when you decided to leave, one more time. I’m done.

I am sorry because you never got to say the goodbye you wanted to. I am sorry because I will not give you the comfort of hearing the words ‘good’ and ‘bye’ come from my mouth.

I am sorry. I am done.

Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

Since day one, I had medical issues. For as long as I can remember, and even before that, I saw a cardiologist who monitored my growth, my capabilities, and my strength compared to a normal growing child. During the past few years, I have been waking up each morning with a small handful of pills and have been struggling with symptoms a lot of people cannot relate to.

This week, I had been told there’s a possibility of fixing one new health issue, regarding my heart, that has become a new problem to add onto my list of growing conditions. At 19, who would’ve guessed this would be my life? It seems like it is. And despite seeing everyone’s relief when hearing there might be a chance of taking care of the issue without another open heart surgery, I refuse to get my hopes up.

Let me explain:
For the past 2 years, my chest pain and the medications I have to take in order to make the pain tolerable have been growing without any kind of resolve. I’ve been to doctor after doctor, have tried medication after medication, and have been told in every which way that I will have to try something else. I have been told countless of times how sorry they are for not being able to help me despite how many attempts they have made. I have been turned away and I have been brushed off. I had began to lose faith in doctors because there wasn’t a solution in sight.

Then, one day, the nerve block injection worked. After nights of waking up to immense pain, tears rolling down my cheeks and my entire body frozen with fear due to how much it hurt, my specialist wanted to try the injection. And it worked. It made the pain tolerable, or as tolerable as it was before it began to flare and wake me up again. That, that day of relief, is when I was hit with the news that the pain I feel every waking day will never go away. It was permanent, and there was nothing they could do but give me medications to make it tolerable.

When my new cardiologist continuously said how I might still need open heart surgery after this procedure I am going to go through, I doubt the new doctor who claims he can fix me with this simple tube. But, I get it, I should be grateful that I do not have to immediately go to open heart surgery; I shouldn’t be freaking out; I should trust my NEW doctors (complete strangers). But I don’t, and I am.

I have woken up nearly screaming from a nightmare in which I am coughing up blood in the ICU after my procedure. I have woken up crying. I have woken up shaking, stone cold with fear. I have woken up several times for the past couple weeks with a broken heart.

I don’t know what to do…