don’t think about it too much

I’m so exited for the future. All throughout high school, I would dream of traveling and writing and exploring (as you can see by my previous blog posts). But now it’s actually happening, and it’s better than I could’ve imagined.

Nothing played out how I thought it would, and I can honestly say I think that’s for the better. In high school, all these things felt like a fantasy. Traveling to places featured on calendars. Driving across the country in a van full of almost-strangers. Exploring remote islands. Hiking in wooded areas where the air was thick with flies. (Hiking definitely seemed like a fantasy). Exploring nearby cities I had only ever read about, not explored.

But with all of this excitement comes a lot of fear, too. Sometimes I think about how much easier it would be to just stay where I’m comfortable. Play it safe. Every summer I spent in my hometown, I thought of all the other places I could be. But now I’ll be far away, and I can’t help but think about how easy it would be to stay in my hometown or current town. Hanging out at local coffee shops. Spending time with old friends. Driving on country roads, listening to classic rock music. Grocery shopping at the same store I’ve been going to for many, many years.

But I’ve made up my mind already. I’m not taking the easy route. As someone who often makes things more complicated than they need to be, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. However, I’m a planner. I currently have no idea what I’m doing, which is a bit unsettling. Everyone tells me, “you’ll figure it out. This summer will make it clear to you what you really want.” Will it though? Or will it confuse me even more? Because the more places I go and the more people I meet and the more things I try, my heart becomes even more scattered, leaving me torn between small town life and big, bustling cities, hip-hop and rock n roll, hard news and creative writing, living in the moment and obsessing over the details. I don’t want to choose, and I want to believe I don’t have to.

It’s hard to be committed when you love everything (maybe this is why I don’t have serious romantic relationships haha). In all seriousness though, I want to believe people when they say I’ll figure it out. That exploring more will solidify my beliefs and goals and the world I want to see. But instead, I’ll be drifting back and forth, in a constant state of “I don’t know what’s best for me.”

For now, you’ll find me listening to “don’t think about it too much, too much, too much, too much” on repeat. That is, until I decide I’m more in the mood to listen to Catfish and the Bottlemen instead.

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almost

Why is every relationship

I maybe, almost had

prefaced by “almost?”

Like remember that time

you almost admitted that

you liked me and I almost

did the same and we almost

could’ve been something

and it’s almost a shame

that you left and I moved on.

You almost complimented me

but thought, “hm, better not,

I’ll just insult her instead

and hope she knows that I like her.”

I’m almost not any better.

I almost asked you out

but played it off as a joke

like hahaha, you almost thought

I was serious?

 

And I almost texted you a month later

but saved it as a draft.

I almost sent it again

but moved it to the trash.

Maybe you almost called me

or maybe you didn’t.

I’m tired of guessing.

I almost want you to tell

me how you really feel

but maybe this is my fault

because I almost don’t

want to know.

 

to the meninists out there

Dear meninists,

I won’t ask you why men make more than women. You’re so predictable, I know you’ll say something along the lines of “they choose lesser paying jobs” or “they don’t.”

Really, Ryan? And why do you think women choose lesser paying jobs? It must be a genetic trait, right? Just like how our DNA makes us like romantic comedies and flowers.

But anyways, I didn’t ask you that. However, I know that even though I didn’t ask you, there’s a 90 percent chance you’ll tell me because you think I always care what you have to say. As a man, your opinion matters.

To that you’ll say “you’re making generalizations about men! Men have issues too! Men though!”

Just because I acknowledge that men have privileges that women do not have doesn’t mean I think being a man is one big, fun party that I wish I would’ve been invited to. I know that men have issues too, but there are certain privileges that men have just by being men. Yes, other factors come into play, but they don’t erase the inequalities women face for simply being women.

“You’re playing the victim,” you’ll say any time I point out something that’s unequal.

You’re right, meninist. Women have no issues. We’re just so inherently dramatic and emotional that we create all of these problems for enjoyment. Why would we be successful business people (notice how “businessman” is the phrase we commonly use in our language? Couldn’t possibly be the result of sexism or gender roles or anything) or badass journalists when we could be victims? Why would we write comics with female heroes when they could be saved by men instead?

You either won’t understand my sarcasm and agree with me, or you’ll call me a radical, stereotypical feminist. You’ll say “women are equal.”

And the fact that you feel the need to explain the experience of being a woman to me shows that feminism is still necessary.

The fact that when I share my opinion, you’ll call be a bitch or a whore, you’ll call me ugly or hot, shows that feminism is still necessary.

You can’t disprove feminism by critiquing my appearance when I’m trying to talk about issues.

You can’t disprove feminism by explaining feminism to me.

You can’t disprove feminism by telling me that women choose to stay at home or choose to be the victim when I can turn on my TV and hear men talk about what women should or shouldn’t be able to do.

“If you believed in equality, you’d be advocating for both women and men,” you’ll say.

But I do. You must not have heard that part when you were talking over me or sending aggressive messages on Tinder.

 

late night ramblings, to no one in particular

The difference between you and me is that right now it’s midnight and you’re drunk and I’m sending off professional emails. That’s not to say that I think I’m better than you. I don’t think that at all.

I just don’t know if two people can be so different and still be compatible. During daylight, I feel as though we are the same. There are still clear differences between us. We’re not the same in the way we speak or walk or whatever else. But when every aspect of us comes together to create who we are, we are the same. We’re like that quote from Wuthering Heights: “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

And maybe that’s all we need. Maybe midnight can look different for us and yet we can still be the same.

I’m most likely not going to meet someone else who sends professional emails at midnight. And if I do, that person will probably annoy me. Some of your characteristics annoy me. That’s inevitable. But you don’t annoy me. You don’t, even when you do.

Maybe that’s what relationships are built off of; the idea that a person can annoy you yet still not annoy you. A person can be completely different from you yet still make you feel like you have a true connection. Maybe our differences make us the same. And maybe the fact that I like you and you annoy me and it’s midnight makes me say things that don’t make sense at all.

an open letter

If I were a text message, I would not say, “hey, what’s up?” I wouldn’t keep it simple or overly casual. I wouldn’t worry about being “too obvious” or “too eager.” I wouldn’t be a “yeah, that’d be cool” in response to, “we should hang out sometime.” I’d be a, “what time are you free?” Upfront. To the point. Shameless. Calm.

Sometimes, I would be “k.” Misunderstood. Taken out of context. Overanalyzed.

I’m misread, sarcasm mistaken for seriousness.

I’d be a double text because after I said something stupid, I’d realize what I actually wanted to say and words are important to me.

If I were a text message, I would be a paragraph with lots of stories and questions.

Who,

What,

Where,

When,

Why,

I need the details.

If I were a text message, you’d see me because I wanted to talk to you or ask you something. I wouldn’t just make a regular appearance for no reason. I don’t want to just chill in your inbox all the time,

Unanswered.

Unread.

Ignored.

I’ll get bored. It’s not a fun place to hang out, and I know that somewhere else, someone would read every word. Someone would take the time to understand. To answer. To think. Their response wouldn’t have to be long or complex or overly thoughtful.

But they’d simply be there, in my inbox, waiting to be

Answered.

Read.

Acknowledged.

If I were a text message, I’d be a paragraph length story in response to “hey, what’s up?” I’d be a long story in response to “what are you doing this weekend?” I wouldn’t be a “cool” in response to your story, or an “oh.”

If I were a tweet, frankly, I’d be more than one. I wouldn’t be just 140 characters. I’d go on and on and on. Not because I’m overly interesting or complex, but because I babble. I tell stories. And I tend to not hold back.

I’m a shameless double text. I’m a who, what, where, when, why.

If that annoys you, I could send you less. I could be “hey, what’s up?” and “oh cool.” But don’t expect to read or know more. Don’t expect me to “open up more” if you left me, in all my honesty, unread.

a little growing up to do

Going into college, I thought I was a super mature person ready to conquer the adult world. I thought I had it all planned out.

I wrote for a few websites. I had an internship. This was before I turned 18.

Surely, by the time I was actually 18, I would be spending my summers in New York City in a big magazine office. Surely, I would have a neatly organized resume and I would have everything figured out.

It’s true that I’ve always gotten along better with people who are older than I am. I feel more in my comfort zone in an office building than at a party. But these things alone don’t mean that I’ve completely “grown up.”

What I’ve learned is that college is about learning, and I still have more of it to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually awesome. It’s actually an adventure.

Things have shifted. Some of the people and places that used to feel like home don’t anymore. Some still do. And I have some new relationships that I value more than I could’ve ever imagined.

The same work doesn’t excite me anymore. I’ve found new endeavors. I’ve kept some of the same ones. I’ve finally learned to quit, because before, I just kept making new commitments without giving any up. I’ve learned to prioritize. I’ve learned that not everything goes as you expect it to, but everything works out in some way or another.

A year ago today, as I was sitting in a high school classroom, did I think I’d be spending one of my first days of summer blogging in a local coffeeshop that I’ve been going to all my life? No. Of course not.

But am I unhappy here? No. Of course not.

I’m happy to be here. I’m happy with the work I’m doing. Everything is a learning experience, and I truly believe I need this summer at home. I need to do some soul searching in the most constant, familiar place I could be.

A few months ago, I planned on attending a conference on campus. Instead, I slept through half of it then woke up with a fever. I went to the doctor’s office instead of the conference. That isn’t the decision I would’ve made months ago. Months ago, I would’ve said “no, I’m fine” and I would’ve gone to the conference. I would’ve thought it was the most “adult” decision I could’ve made. But it wouldn’t have been. I needed to see a doctor. I needed to rest. I needed to take a break.

And being able to know when that’s the case, and not ignoring it, is a new skill I’ve acquired.

I thought I’d be spending my summer in New York, working at a magazine and keeping up with my online work. In reality, I’m quitting most of my online work. I haven’t outgrown my clothes in years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t grow mentally and emotionally. I’ve outgrown certain experiences and places. They may still find their way into my life, but that doesn’t mean I should keep wearing them just because they fit.

Yesterday I bought a pair of “adult” shoes. Heels. Shoes that I used to not be able to walk in. Those shoes don’t make me an adult. But they make me feel confident. I’ve outgrown my flats that keep me closer to the ground. I’m ready to stand taller and dream bigger.

I used to think dreaming big meant doing as much as I could. Now I see it as doing what makes me happiest. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone to do what feels best for me.

They say, “if the shoe fits…” but it shouldn’t simply fit. It should feel both comfortable and uncomfortable. It should make you feel both lost and amazing.

To some people, maybe the work I’m doing is less impressive now. Maybe the heels make me look like I’m trying too hard. But I don’t care. This is the time to try on new things. I shouldn’t just keep settling for what kind of, sort of fits if it doesn’t make me feel awesome.

Paige Sheffield 

If this were a movie

College was not what I expected in any way. That’s not really a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just the truth.

Today I went to a choir concert and there, I released the emotions I had held back. I started crying in the middle of a choir concert for reasons I couldn’t quite identify.

If this were a movie, it would fade to black right there, with me sitting in the back row of a crowded, dark concert hall, directly in the center and crying as the singers slowly and soulfully repeated, “no one’s gonna hurt you.”

And I thought, “well, that’s where you’re wrong.” I sat surrounded by people yet alone. So close yet distant, so many accumulated moments leaving me with nothing but empty yet crowded rooms and vague songs in the background.

I thought about how this year was so many things then nothing. And people did hurt me. And memories hurt me. And fears hurt me.

When movies end that way, I often interpret it as the main character being broken, as life just not working out the way people want it to, as nothing making sense.

Nothing makes sense. I don’t know what I’m doing. The artsy films I watched in class last semester feel like my own old, distant memories. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift takes me to the deep and vivid fall colors when I thought I was starting to understand. “Style” takes me to spring when I drank lots of coffee in the weak sunlight, everything slowly unraveling around me. The artsy movie would make it seem like I only went backwards. Like I knew who I was before I came here, and then all of that was ruined.

But the truth is, college taught me that I never really knew. I’m not back where I started. I’m starting somewhere new. I sit in the back of a dark auditorium. And I think the guys singing know that people will hurt me. I think they know that not everything will always be okay. But I think they know, and I know, that in these moments, we grow.