Revisiting High School

I recently rediscovered all the music on my iTunes. It’s all music from high school, and every time I listen to it, I am inundated with memories. The thing is, I hated high school. Sure, I have some good memories, but, for the most part, it wasn’t my peak.

I was verbally bullied (and once physically). I was made fun of. I wasn’t the pretty one or the smart one or the talented one. I just sort of…was there. I was the little sister to all of my guy friends, even the guys I liked. I was a band nerd. I was on swim team. Nothing set me apart, and I felt like everyone else had something I didn’t. That idea really had an affect on me.

I started thinking I would never be good enough, and that thinking really hasn’t entirely disappeared.

I like the music, and I’m listening to it again, but it brings back some of those painful feelings. Because that’s where it started. I never understood the lyrics behind a lot of the music that was popular. The lyrics to Milkshake, for instance, always baffled me. I actually still remember one interaction with someone I thought was a friend where I expressed this confusion, and she ruffled my hair and told me, laughing, “you’re so innocent” before walking away. I was naive, and no one missed an opportunity to remind me of it. So as I was listening to this music again recently, I chuckled because now I get it.

When I was younger, I thought I was the only one who had this experience. As I’ve grown up, though, I’ve thought that maybe I’m not. And it’s my desire to help other girls through those awkward stages and let them know they aren’t alone and they will come into their own. God has a plan for you.

. . . . .

What was your high school experience like? Do you remember it fondly or not?

What would you tell your high school self now?

I Want A Refund

Adulting is hard.

If I had known it would be this hard when I was kid, I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up so quickly. I wouldn’t have desired the responsibility and “coolness” that came with being a grown up. If I had really known what awaited after college, I might not have been in such a hurry.

If I had really known what having a full-time job was like, I might have enjoyed my downtime more. I might have gone more places, done more things, on my days off. Now I feel like I have such a limited amount of time to do all the things I want to do. Now I’m tired all the time.

There’s a lot of things that if I could have known the future, I would have done things differently.

If you had told me this season, this hardship, would lead me to a new church, I would have never believed you. If you had told me it would lead me to new friends, I would have laughed (then cried) in your face. If you had told me it would allow me to grow in myself and my faith, I would have never believed you.

And yet…here I am. This season has caused me to do a lot of firsts and a lot of discovery (and re-discovery). That is how I know God is there–because even in this storm, He has blessed me.

If I had really known what all this was going to cost, would it have really changed anything? I don’t know. We can’t live in hypotheticals and unanswerable questions. But I do know this: I may not have known what it would cost, but I think I got more than I thought I would.

So maybe I don’t want a refund after all.

(Not) Exceeding Expectations

“It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.” – Professor Dumbledore

The Harry Potter novels are full of wisdom and life lessons, usually found in the words of Albus Dumbledore. There is meaning in most everything in the novels, and many people, myself included, have examined these meanings and written about the themes present throughout the series. All my best learning seems to come from Harry Potter.

Perhaps that is why my favorite podcast has become Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Although this podcast has been around for over a year, I have just started listening, and I started from the bottom (Book 1, Chapter 1). But one session in particular made an impact on me: “Expectations: The Journey from Platform 9 3/4.”

The quote the session began with is what hit me hard and got me thinking (and crying) in my car: “Expectations are resentments under construction” – Anne Lamott

And it really got me thinking about the expectations I have had in my (short) life.

I was told that I sometimes make people feel like they’re just part of some plan I have in life. That hurt to hear, but then I realized that maybe there is truth in that.

I romanticize just about everything. (Not necessarily intentionally, and not necessarily consciously either.) In my Creative Writing course in college, my instructor told me he loved my story concept, and that I should keep writing it, but that I may have to end it in a way I hadn’t anticipated: with an unhappy ending. I gave up the story immediately because I love happy endings. I couldn’t put my character through the struggle I knew I would have to write because I wouldn’t want to go through it. I had an expectation going into writing that could not be met as I developed the character and the story. So I got upset and never wrote another word on it. Because I knew there was no way the ending could turn out any other way.

Choices show what we are, so what does this choice say about me? That I wasn’t ready to face the expectations I knew couldn’t be met.

I create these expectations of situations and people around me that no one can ever live up to. When those expectations aren’t met, I can become frustrated and angry, which only hurts the other person, me, and whatever relationship was there. It creates resentment because I just think “how could this expectation not have been met? was it that difficult?” And, of course, all that does is grow into a tumor of resentment in the back of my head.

I always thought growing up meant making all these plans and packing up ideas in a box with a neat little bow on top and presenting it, saying, “here’s the solution!” That’s what I expected from everything in life: school, marriage, a career. And that tumor would just continue to grow. But I’ve recently realized that isn’t the case.

If I learned just one thing in the seven years I was participating in higher education (and the one year I’ve been out), it is this: college is not reality. Do not base your expectations for life on what you experienced in college. Because in school, everything is packaged neatly: you have specific classes you need to take (with a few of your own choices scattered here and there), you have deadlines for assignments and exams, there are office hours with professors, you have a plan to lead you to graduation… That is all well and good, but life does not mirror that one bit.

I thought having these types of expectations for a person showed I cared, but, in reality, they breed resentment (remember the aforementioned tumor?).

Why?

Because no one can live up to romanticized expectations that sound like they’re out of a storybook, and life isn’t “once upon a time…”

When someone doesn’t meet those expectations and I become upset, it makes it seem as if I am trying to change that person or fixing something to be the way I want it to be, even if that was not my intention. It makes them feel as if they are just a cog in my machine of a plan of life and not the player or partner in it they should be.

My mom has often give me this little nugget of advice: don’t expect someone to do something (or act in the same way) you would because they are not you. Even if they began as good-natured expectations, those types of expectations will always breed resentment. Because you are expecting someone to act in a way that may not be in their nature. It leads to implications that their nature, who they are, is an inconvenience to you.

I have heard that a few times: that because I had the expectation of a plan, I was making the other person feel like an inconvenience. So these expectations can not only make us resent others, but they can also make others resent us.

Since hearing this perspective-altering quote, I have decided to adjust my perspective, to change my expectations. Sometimes, it’s best not to have any.

If choices show what we truly are, what does this choice say about me? I hope it says I am willing to recognize my faults and weaknesses and make things right when needed.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll go back to writing that story…