What I’ve Been Up To

Before I said I didn’t want to post my art on social media so it wasn’t influenced by other people. However, I want to try and do more commissions, and who’s gonna want a commission if they don’t know what I’m capable of, right? (If you want a commission, hit me up. Also, I’ll be doing a post about it soon with more information.)

Something else I’ve been working on is just not caring about what other people say. Being an artist, and writer, I’ve gotta put my art somewhere. Instead of just avoiding comments I might not like, I want to learn how to just ignore them, and not let them get to me.

So, here’s some art I’ve been working on. (By the way, the two people in the dark are just blank figures. There is no nudity.)

Hugs and Thank Yous

Because of my love of hugs, I hug a ton of people. There are a lot of people at my church that I love, and that kinda feel like family, so I almost have a list of people that I hug whenever I’m at church. Nobody really thought anything of it, but recently I’ve gotten a few thank yous when I hug people.

Some people love hugs, but are too introverted to go up and hug someone. Sometimes people need someone who’s not afraid to break boundaries, because it can be harder for them to break those boundaries themselves. Or, sometimes we’re in a hard spot in life, but we don’t know how to talk about it, or we don’t want to talk about. So, when we get that hug, it’s kinda like someone’s saying, “Hey, I’m here for you, and I love you. Keep going.”

There are a lot of reasons someone could be thankful for a hug. I know I’m really thankful for hugs. I’m the type of person who does a really good job of not showing it when I’m hurting, or when I need help. Not that I won’t ask for help, I just don’t let what’s going on rule my life (on the outside). So, when I get a hug from someone, or when I give a hug, there are a few moments when I feel better. When I’m hugged, I feel loved, and supported, and like I’ve got people who are continuously supporting me.

I love it when people say thank you when I give them a hug. It’s like that’s the thing I can do to brighten someone’s day, or love them, or make them feel better. However, hugs aren’t always a huge deal to people, and some people don’t even like hugs.

I’m reading a book right now about Love Languages. I haven’t gotten very far in yet, but it’s really interesting. It’s explaining that not everyone gets love from the same things. Some people need words of affirmation, or physical touch. Everyone’s different, but this is something I can do to love on people, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world.

Skills

It was a delightful afternoon. I was sitting there, doing my math, and thinking, “Why couldn’t I have a useful skill?” I mean, not that I don’t like the skills that I do have, but why couldn’t I be good at math, or history, or science, or something that’d actually be useful in life?

My mom likes to joke about how my sister and I are both really good at all the things that are notorious for making people go broke. We’re good at art, music, photography, writing. Basically, if it’s impractical, we got it.

While I was doing my math, I wasn’t exactly annoyed; but I was sitting there wondering what the heck God was thinking when he made me. After the initial, “What the heck?!”, moment I had, I started to think about all things I can do that no one else can.

Through my art, I’ve really been able to reach people, and be raw with them, in a way I’ve never been able to before. I’ve been able to inspire people, and make them laugh, and show them beauty in so many different ways. I’ve been able to tell my story, and multiple others. I see the world differently, and through my art I can show people what I see. I can bring little joys into their lives.

I did a painting once that didn’t exactly turn out how I hoped, but I think it really became what it was supposed to.

It shows me swimming in a tranquil pool of my own thoughts, and creativity (that’s what the colors are). And, for all the sometimes my creativity is the exact opposite of what I need, it’s who I am, and it’s what I’m good at, and it’s what I’ve got to bring to the party. Everyone has their own stuff that they’re good at, and without everyone’s uniqueness, the world would be boring. It would become an unseasoned meal. So much potential to be tasty, but it’s just not there.

So, I decided to embrace my creativity and talents (not that I hadn’t already). I’m really good at what I do, and I’m really thankful for all the things I can do with it.

My Necklace

I’ve got this necklace that I’ve been wearing since ninth grade. It started as kind of a friendship thing with one friend, but I got a few more charms over the last couple years, and it’s turned into more of a blanket friendship thing. If I get a charm, or a ring, from a really good friend, it goes on the necklace.

I was thinking the other day about what I’d do if, when I grew up, I wasn’t friends with any of the people that have charms on my necklace. Then I started to think of how cool it would be to someday tell my kids, or my grandkids, about some of the coolest friendships I ever had.

Just because life is changing doesn’t mean I lose the people that I’m close to. Sure, things will be different. I might not see them very often, if at all. We might not talk much. But, I will always have memories of those friends, and I’ve learned some pretty amazing things from them that I’ll never forget.

You ever think about why God created us to be social creatures even though life is constantly changing, and we often get pulled away from the people we’re close to? Well, I do, and I think I know why. I think it’s because of all the things we learn from so many different people. Part of the reason I have so many friendship charms is because with every stage of life, things change. God knew I would need different people to teach me different things. I met my first bestie in seventh grade, and I needed her because my family just switched churches, and I needed someone who was good at loving people, and making friends, so I’d feel welcomed at church and would be able to have good friendships in the future.

Not everyone likes changes (I don’t usually), but that doesn’t mean they’re not important, and not good for us. One of the biggest changes in my life was switching churches five and a half years ago, and it has made a huge impact on me. I’ve learned so much about people, my relationship with God has grow a ton, and I’ve learned a lot about the body of Christ. I’d never really had a church family until we switched churches, and it means the world to me.

Relish the Moment

You may be wondering why, in my last post, I decided to take 1,152 words and tell you all about my weekend. Part of the reason was because there were so many things I was thankful for. But, I also wanted to remind myself of all the good things that happened.

Because my anxiety tends to run on the social side, it can be really hard to want to go out and do things that I used to love doing. I’m a social person, and the only thing keeping me from doing some of the things that I really love it to do, is fear. So, by talking about all the good things, and all the things that went well, I’m reminded of all the fun that could happen.

There are a lot of ways you could remember the good things. Most often I’ll text my bestie with something like, “I ate breakfast today!” Or I’ll journal about the good things from my day. Even just talking to myself about it and acknowledging that I’m okay really helps.

When life just feels awful all the time it can be really hard to get out of your own head. And, by, “out of your own head”, I mean escaping the fear that things will never get better. It’s so easy to get in the pattern of things being hard that you develop this mind-set that things will never be easy again. That everything will be scary, and everything will go wrong. And when you get stuck in that mind-set (at least, I did), I started to get more depressed, and more anxious, and I was in this vortex of never-ending pain. It just got worse and worse until I stood up, pulled on my big girl panties, and decided to get my butt off the couch and do something. Don’t get me wrong, it was really hard. It’s not like I stood up and was perfectly fine. It took a lot of hard work, and it still does.

I did some Googling and found out that part of the reason I could be feeling so bad is my schedule, and my diet. I hadn’t really had a good sleep schedule, with being anxious all the time eating was kind of a struggle (although I did still eat), and I’m notorious for not doing a good job of drinking water throughout the day. So, for me, “pulling up my big girl panties” meant making myself eat, making myself go to bed and get up at the same times, and making myself drink water. It was kinda hard to get a good schedule down, but it’s only been a week and a half of the schedule and it’s helped a lot. I’ve had little to no anxiety since last Friday, and it feels amazing. I’m not depressed, I’m not anxious, and *pause for dramatic effect* I’m happy about things. I’m actually excited to go see my friends, instead of curled up in a ball of tears and panic.

When I realized all this crap I’ve had to deal with over the last three years or so could’ve been fixed just like that, I was not excited. I mean, I was, because now it’s a pretty easy fix, but I was so shocked that it took me this long to even consider that my schedule could be at fault. It made me think about how easy it really is to sit in your own little rut, feeling bad for yourself, instead of trying to find answers. (I definitely did try to find answers as to why I felt bad, but there were also plenty of times I just wanted to lie in bed all day because I felt so defeated.)

Anxiety and depression are finicky little creatures. There are lots of different reasons you could be depressed, or anxious, and they all vary depending on the person. They don’t always have an easy fix. For me, it did (although I’m probably gonna have to fight it every now and then). For others, not so much; and I really feel you. I know what it’s like to feel your world spinning by and you have no idea how to make it stop. It sucks, and I’m sorry. But, you’re not alone. I really hope my journey through anxiety has helped at least one or two of you (if not more). My “journey” isn’t over, and it probably never will be. But, now I know some great ways to help myself, and others.

(Apparently I did another post similar to this one called Count the Wins.)

I Is a Thankful Duck

I spent this last weekend home alone (not completely, but my sister was at work most of the days, so I was pretty much by myself), and so much happened that I’m really thankful for. So, for this post, I’m basically gonna tell you about my weekend, and some of the things I’m really thankful for.

In prep for my parents to leave, we were considering what to do if the power went out. We had a super bad snow storm two weeks ago, so we were trying to figure out what to do if we lost power (who we’d call, where we could go with our two dogs, etc.). My mom mentioned it to one of her friends, and almost immediately she said “Oh, they can come to my house.”

Thankful thing #1: how giving, and willing to go out of their way, so many people have been while my parents are gone; I’ve had multiple people make sure we had rides if we needed them, and be willing to go out of their way to help us

My parents left on Thursday. Thursday was a good day. I basically did whatever I wanted (and some school). There wasn’t much that happened, but I really enjoyed the peace and quiet. I was nervous about being left completely home alone because I didn’t know how I’d do if I was anxious or depressed and alone. But, it went great. I did pretty well not being anxious about things I had planned for later in the weekend, too.

On Friday, I didn’t do so hot. I did my best, but I was still pretty nervous about my best friend coming over later that night (my anxiety tends to pop up in social situations), so I spent a lot of the day battling anxiety and trying to calm myself down. Eventually, I called one of my youth leaders, and she really helped. She calmed me down, and she talked with me on the phone as long as she could/ as long as I needed to so I’d be distracted. Of course, when she had to hang up, my best friend hadn’t shown up at my house yet. I started getting nervous, but then I calmed myself down and when my bestie showed up I ran out and gave her a super big hug. We had a super fun night, and it was exactly what we both needed.

Thankful thing #2: people who take time out of their day to help me, and be there for me; even if it’s hard, even if it’s ugly, or scary; they’re still there

Next comes Saturday. Saturday morning we had puppet practice at church, and I was ecstatic. The lady who’s in charge of puppets said she’d pick us up and drop us off (even though she doesn’t live anywhere near my house). What made me so excited/ happy about puppet practice was that I felt completely normal. I was awake, I was ready, had no anxiety, and no nausea. Usually, when someone comes to pick me up, I’m a wreck. But, I felt just as normal as I did long before any of this even started. Saturday night I had a small group party, and the same thing happened with that. I felt happy, and excited, and not the least bit nervous.

Thankful thing #3: I have a friend who lives nearby who was able to give me rides Saturday night through Sunday afternoon; so, if I felt bad (anxious, nervous, nauseous), I had someone there who knew what to do, could help me, and wouldn’t ask many questions or worry about me because she’s pretty in the loop

Sunday morning was one of the primary things I was thankful for. If I’m anxious, Sunday mornings are always the hardest, so I had no idea how I’d feel that week. I woke up super early on Sunday (not on purpose), so I had plenty of time to wake up, and get a good state of mind going. As far as anxiety goes, I had a little. (That’s primarily because I had some sort of bug this week, so my stomach was upset, anxiety or not.) I think I did really well with managing what little anxiety I had. I went to church, felt great, and felt normal. I was able to do all the things I used to, and I really enjoyed them.

A friend of mine really started getting me into talking to people about my anxiety, and not being afraid to talk about what’s going on in my life. So, while I was helping in the 2’s and 3’s room that morning, I didn’t shy away from talking about it when some friends of mine asked how I was doing. These friends of mine are adults, one of which being my friend’s mom, and they’re the dopest (that’s a technical term).

I don’t normally hug this friend’s mom (nor do I normally hug random people, as hard as that is to believe), but I did that morning because it just seemed to fit, and she’s dope, and I figured she’d like hugs. So, I gave her a quick hug, but then she held onto that hug way longer than I did. So I stayed there, and while we were hugging she told me a verse that has to do with anxiety. I don’t know if she was trying to be encouraging, but she totally did, and it really helped. Not only is scripture helpful, but knowing that I have people in my life who love me, and are willing to help me, makes going to church, and doing anything, a lot easier. (And, hugs in general are great.)

Thankful thing #4: I’m thankful for all the people at my church who love me, and tell me that; there are so many people I could go to if I needed anything, even if that’s just a hug

Thankful thing #5: all the BEAUTIFUL kids at my church who bring joy to my life; they probably don’t know it, and I doubt they ever will, but they’ve really made this time I’ve been anxious a lot easier (anytime I’d feel anxious, or like I really didn’t want to “people”, I knew I could go and get a hug from one of my kiddos; it really made me feel a lot better)

And, Thankful thing #6: I am thankful for all the super cool moms I’ve gotten to know through working with kids at my church; all these moms show so much love, and they treat me like a person, not just a kid; they encourage me, and treat me like a friend; I don’t know why that’s always stood out to me, but I do know that there’s this crazy band of strong, godly women in my life, and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to call them my friends

Disappointment

This was my senior year of High school. At the beginning of the year I was determined to do as many things as I could. I was gonna hang out with friends, go to as many Youth Group activities as I could, be on the Youth Group worship team (and maybe join the worship team on Sundays). I was gonna be someone the middle schoolers could look up to, and I was gonna be there when my friends needed me. I had a plan, and I was gonna do it all. Guess what? Plans changed.

It hasn’t been a lot (although it feels like it), but I’ve had to miss a some things because I either haven’t felt well, or because of my anxiety. And, to be honest, there are times when I’m really upset about it. I’m not really upset that I’ve had to miss things, but I’m upset because I let myself miss things. I let myself get so anxious that I had panic attacks. Let myself hide from the hard things. Let myself tell people I couldn’t help them. It “feels like” (we’ll come back to that “feels like” in a minute) I’ve been a bad friend because I couldn’t be there for people. And a bad youth grouper because I wasn’t there being an example for the other kids.

Everything I wrote above is a “feels like”. It “feels like” I was a bad friend. Doesn’t mean I was. “Feels like” I’ve been a bad youth grouper. Doesn’t mean I was. Most often these “feels like”s have a truth to them that show you how wrong you really are. It’s pretty nice.

Now, back to the main point. I could spend all year long disappointed in myself because of all the things I couldn’t do. But, even with everything that I’ve been battling this year, I did some pretty cool things. Observe:

  • I stayed on my church’s puppet team
  • Went to as many youth groups as I could
  • Made some new friends
  • Stayed on the youth group worship team
  • Made my preexisting friendships stronger
  • Did every single offertory I signed up for; despite anxiety, and despite fear
  • I got to know some really cool little kids at my church
  • I’ve made it through some really busy mornings at church

To be honest with you, I could keep making that list longer, and longer. For every one thing I may have done to disappoint myself, I kept thinking about one thing I did to encourage myself. Basically, I had this conversation with myself: “Remember that one time you skipped out? Sure. But do you also remember that one time you kept pushing even though it hurt, and then you won?”

We aren’t going to be perfect. We can’t do everything. It was kinda stupid of me to try to do all the things. Because, anxiety or not, I’m not perfect. The cool thing is, that even though I had anxiety and was pretty much terrified every time I went to church, I still went. I still did a lot of things. Sure, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. None of this year has really been what I wanted. But, it’s what I got. And, I’m making the choice to learn from it, and use it. That’s what I’ve had to do my whole life, and that’s what I’m gonna keep doing.

So, to sum up (you better get used to my rabbit trails; they’re not gonna stop): Everybody has something they’re fighting, or working towards. If you’re giving your all, don’t hate on yourself because you think you’re not “doing enough”. Be thankful for what you have been able to do, and remember that you did your best. That’s all any of us can do.

Sorry, Not Sorry

My whole family has spent the last month or so being sick. At first, I didn’t feel too bad, but the more I went on, and tried to do all the things (hanging out with friends, youth group, church), the worse I felt. Not just physically, but emotionally. At this point, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need more time (especially when I just don’t feel well). I just have to let go, and take some sick time. Even if I don’t want to.

I’ve learned that, when life is busy, there are going to be times when I just need to take a break. At the moment, I can’t do as much as I may want to. Which is okay. But sometimes I feel bad. I feel bad when I can’t go to church and give my best friend a hug because I don’t feel well. I feel bad when I have to cancel (sometimes multiple times) because I just don’t feel well. HOWEVER, I can’t do everything. Maybe the lesson here is that I need to cool it a little with my scheduling. But, what I was originally getting at was, I’m not sorry. When I feel awful, and I have to cancel, I’m not going to say I’m sorry anymore. It’s not like I’m sick on purpose, or like I’m emotionally exhausted on purpose. I just am.

The moral of the story is to stop apologizing so much. I’m not going to be sorry that I feel bad, because that doesn’t fix anything. If anything, it makes it feel worse by making this whole thing seem like my fault. And, sure, some parts of it are, but focusing on the fault isn’t gonna fix anything. What’ll fix things is focusing on what can happen next, and how I can move forward. Sometimes that’s by taking sick time, and sometimes it’s not.

For me, it’s really hard not to apologize. I hate it when people comment on how I’m not at church (especially because sometimes it’s not my choice to go or not). If someone makes a comment on it, my first inclination is to never miss another day of church again. However, that’s a BAD REASON (and, yes, I am using caps as emphasis; DEAL WITH IT). What’s the point in going to church if you’re just trying to avoid people’s potentially stupid comments?

I get accountability. Accountability is good, and important, and sometimes we do need a kick in the butt to get back to church. But, if you’re thinking about making a “comment”, even if you’re trying to be funny, maybe consider why you’re making that comment. Even if you’re trying to be funny, sometimes it can really hurt someone.

On the flip side, those “comments”, are just people saying stuff. If they wanna choose to be rude to you, then that’s they’re problem. It’s not your responsibility to do ANYTHING (there I go again with the caps) to make them happy. Make sure, though, that you don’t hear them say, “Hey, I’ve been missing you at church lately. You okay?” And then think they’re saying, “Yo, what the heck? How come you’ve been lazy and skipping out?” It’s really easy to hear one thing, have it go through your emotional lens, and think someone’s saying something completely different just because you’re hurting (see here for more information on hurting people).

What To Do? Pt. 2

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of not fixing things for other people (again, see why in, I’m Such A Mom), and not pressuring them into things. And, that’s true. We can’t make anyone do anything, and we can’t force anything down their throats. BUT, sometimes we need to confront people about things. Pointing something out to them, or talking to them about something once or twice, is completely different than fixing things, or pressuring them.

As Christians we’re called to look out for each other, and confront each other, and help each other out. The difference being when you try to control someone, or parent them. That’s not good. It may come from a good place, but it’s not a good thing. One of the side effects of pressuring people to do something (even if it may be good for them) is that they may get tired of you. They’ll get sick of you trying to tell them what to do, and it’ll usually keep them from wanting to do whatever it is you think would be good for them.

So, there are two perspectives. The first is from someone trying to help, and the second from the someone who may need help. We’ve touched on pretty much everything I can think of from the first perspective, and now it’s time to discuss the second one.

No one likes to be told what to do (for the most part). But, sometimes we need it. With my anxiety I’ve really struggled to go into social situations, so I talked to my mom and she’s agreed to make me do what’s scary. I need that push to be brave and do things so I remember that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes we need someone to come into our lives and give us that hard push.

There comes a time when we all need to put on our big girl panties and fight whatever’s bothering us. And we can’t do it alone.

I think I’m going to give all my blog posts relating to anxiety their own category. This being my current stage of life, I have a lot of thoughts on it, and I’m learning a lot about it every day. Check back next week for a post relating to when it’s time to stand up and fight (it’s a working title).

What To Do?

Sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes for us, and sometimes for other people. We see those people struggling and think about all the times we wish someone was there for us when we felt bad, so we do everything we can to keep that person from feeling the pain we felt. We try to fix their problems for them.

I get wanting to help people. It’s generally a good thing. But, sometimes helping looks different than we think. Most often, if I’m going to someone with a problem, it isn’t because I need them to fix it. And, if they fix it, then I won’t learn it as well (see this post, I’m Such A Mom, if you’re interested in more thoughts on this topic). I’m a smart kid. I know that if something’s really wrong, I need to go to my parents. But, sometimes life just sucks, and I need someone to talk to. Sometimes I go to a friend, or a youth leader, and I just need to talk, or vent. I don’t need them to fix everything for me, I need them to listen. Not every problem is a crises that needs fixing.

Some of my favorite youth leaders have always done a really good job of not fixing things for me. they’ll ask me questions to make me think through things. They’ll listen when I need someone to talk to, but, when they see something they think is important to point out, they talk to me about it. Without pressuring me. They give me space to screw up, and always remind me that they’re there when I need them.

When life is hard we don’t always need answers, or solutions. Sometimes we just need to cry. Just need to vent. Just need to talk. We don’t always need fixes, or people pressuring us to fix things. We need to be reminded that we’re loved, that the people who love us have our backs, and that eventually we’ll learn our way through what’s going on, and we’ll be stronger in the end because of it.

I think what I wrote is valuable and important, but I also think there’s another side to it. Check back on Thursday at 5pm for the second half to this story.