Things I learned this year

1. I am a major nerd and embracing that is so much fun.

I went into college thinking I would major in journalism and minor in design. Then I started taking college classes and remembered how every subject intrigues me. I try to go to all events that I can and I just really, really love to learn. I didn’t used to think I would go to grad school. Now I realize I might keep going to school for many years because I want to learn everything.

2. I can get a BS and still be a badass.

During my first semester, I learned about growth vs. deficiency motivation, which basically means there is no such thing as a bad decision, just a decision made for a bad reason. I used to make a lot of those. I used to hold myself back with the dumbest excuses. I originally wanted to get a BA to be different. I wanted to do so many things just to be different. But even though I’m going to get a BS now, I’m still different. I’m still the same person and I should make decisions without worrying about other people’s opinions of me.

3. I have a lot of inner strength.

I’ve had to regularly deal with some interesting people. I spent much of this year listening to people freak out about the littlest things and convincing them that it would all be okay. But in turn, I realized that all of the little things I used to worry about aren’t a big deal and I’m a stronger person because of it. I’ve embraced the idea that “you live and you learn,” because even some of my worst moments have been great learning experiences. As long as I’m learning, I’m growing stronger, and I don’t regret the mistakes I’ve made.

4. I shouldn’t wait around.

I often wait for people to approach me. This actually only applies to my relationships with people because career wise, I go after what I want. People have questioned me about this, asking me why I fearlessly approach my career goals but shy away from letting people know what I really think. I guess I don’t have an answer. What I will say is that the song “Almost” by Bowling For Soup is basically my love life in a nutshell because it seems that every story I have about relationships contains the word “almost.” I have this problem where I don’t want to appear needy or too interested, but then I just look like I don’t care at all and people get bored. One time, I almost took control and went after what I wanted. My goal is to delete “almost” from that sentence.

5. I’m always learning.

As I said before, mistakes are cool. Mistakes build me into the person I am. And mistakes used to terrify me. Now, I’ve messed up so many times that it really doesn’t faze me that much. It all goes back to growth vs. deficiency motivation; if I had a good reason for doing something and it had a bad outcome, I don’t want to regret it. Because not doing something because I’m afraid of screwing up is definitely deficiency motivation.

6. I don’t know what I’m doing (and it’s beautiful).

I used to find comfort in being “sure of myself” and having everything together. Then my second semester of college rolled around and I started juggling so many things because of my numerous interests and I started waking up right before class (I used to go to class half an hour early). Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to do so many things. I have to prioritize and maybe some people think my priorities are misguided at times (I know they do. I’ve been told). But if I tried to pretend like I knew exactly what I was doing, I would never discover anything new. Before I started college, I didn’t even know what anthropology was and now I’m studying it. It’s pretty cool, and avoiding the opportunity to grow like that is no fun at all.

7. I should be more spontaneous.

I would say that the majority of my best experiences were not planned whatsoever. Unexpected things change you and you can’t predict it.

8. I should prioritize my health too.

I often choose to drink coffee rather than sleep. I sleep for about two hours per night. Then I got sick one day and slept through my classes and the doctor mentioned mono. I realized that I can’t let myself get to the point where I put everything else before my health.

9. My career doesn’t have to be what I always planned on it being.

Over the weekend, I had a bit of an identity crisis, which I admittedly have fairly often because I’m interested in so many things. I started thinking that I’m not sure if I can spend all of my time writing about cool things instead of doing cool things. I try to do both, but it can be difficult to manage. Even though no one ever told me to be a journalist, it’s what I’ve planned on for so long that it just feels like what I’m “supposed” to do. I recently remembered that the possibilities are endless, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring those possibilities. I am a writer for sure. But I am also many other things and I want to create a career where I can use many of my passions. I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing if it doesn’t make me happy. My career isn’t about them or what they want; it’s about me and what I love.

10. Embrace new beginnings. 

Have I ever been in love? Yes. With my fall semester of college. I just have so many feelings about my first semester of college and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still find something new. I’ve been trying to hold onto that semester, re-watching the films I watched in class before walking home on fall evenings, listening to the songs that I played on repeat as I discovered more about myself, missing the buildings and classes where I met my first college friends. My fall semester was magical, and I can by all means hold onto that magic. But there is magic elsewhere too. I tend to view everything in terms of “the end.” The end of the semester. The end of the year. The end of the relationship. The end of the best moments I’ve ever had. Instead I should focus on the beginning. I should trust my ability to discover and create magic again, even if it’s not the same as before. It could even be better. But I’ll never know if I’m so caught up in the ending, dwelling on the perception that the best moments have already concluded.

It’s almost the end of the semester. Or maybe it’s almost the beginning of a magical summer, an extraordinary second year of college, and more adventures to come.

This realization hit me yesterday and I proceeded to change the wallpaper on my phone for the first time since last summer. In the morning, I went to a building I’ve never gone into before. I decided that I want to live on the opposite side of campus instead of staying where I am. It’s the simple things that change your world. And I’m beginning to realize that I can’t expect to change the world while leaving my world untouched and unchanged and unaltered. You have to screw up a few times before you can do things right.

Dream big,

Paige

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something better

I admit it: I dwell. I don’t mean to. I would love to just move on, but that’s hard for me. Instead, I constantly think about what I could’ve done differently. I wonder what I did wrong. I try to reimagine those moments and keep them even though they disappeared months before.

I’m easily reminded of pieces of my past. Nostalgia gets to me and never really stops.

Until I find something better.

In my moments of dwelling, I used to think I’d found nothing better than what fell apart because I couldn’t get anything better. I somehow convinced myself that I had already achieved the most that I ever could. That I already met the people I clicked with the most. That I couldn’t move forward, only take a few steps back.

When I think of “moving on,” I think about coming to turns with something. Not being happy. Not feeling fulfilled. But accepting the fact that things aren’t the way they used to be and dealing with it.

And if that were the case, the whole notion of “moving on” would suck. I’m not sure if anyone else thinks about it that way, but I only ever thought that I could “move on.” I never really considered the possibilities of moving forward.

Until I allowed myself to have something more.

Because the world doesn’t just hand you everything you want. You have to go find it for yourself.

Dwelling stopped me from searching. From finding. From discovering.

Something better wasn’t just going to appear out of nowhere if I didn’t go out there and try to make something happen again.

It wasn’t impossible to find something better. It was actually easy. I just had to go out into the world and take a chance on people.

It’s not the same as before. My memories still resurface. But this time, I won’t obsess over what I could’ve done better. I’ll keep trying and learning. I’ll do better.

caring

Whenever I care about someone who doesn’t seem to care as much as I do, I feel stupid. I feel stupid and pathetic when I wait for messages that never come, when I spend so much time thinking about people who probably never think about me, when I let people who I’m so unimportant to become so important to me. Yet I continue to do all of those things, not usually on purpose.

In the past, if I would’ve been able to not care, I would’ve taken the opportunity. Not caring is easier. Not caring hurts less. Not caring keeps you moving towards your goals and focusing on yourself rather than spending so much time and energy on this random other person who probably doesn’t care about you at all anyways.

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t check my phone for messages. I would keep writing stories and dreaming and believing in myself.

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t waste time on social media searching for hints and answers. What went wrong? Why doesn’t this person care about me as much as I care about them? Why why why?

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have to wonder why I care. I wouldn’t play back scenes in my head over and over again. I wouldn’t try to re-create the magic. I wouldn’t over-analyze every situation. I would just let those moments be as simple as they were. As beautiful as they were.

If I didn’t care, the memories and songs and places I used to love wouldn’t start to annoy me. I wouldn’t think of a person whenever I walked a certain way or heard a certain song. I could just go about my daily life, aloof and apathetic and unaffected.

But I’ve realized that I don’t want to be any of those things. I would rather care than go through life only concerned with issues that directly impact me. I would rather care than not know what it feels like to love or care about someone, even if they don’t share the feelings. I would rather feel hurt than feel nothing.

And that’s what it truly comes down to: feeling something or nothing.

The “something” is complicated. It’s messy and painful and wonderful and amazing and awful and brilliant and annoying. It can be all-consuming at times. It can make you feel lost and lonely and unsure when you felt okay before. When you were fine on your own before.

But the “nothing” is exactly what it sounds like: nothing. Okay. Fine.

We’re okay on our own. But when we let other people’s worlds melt into our own, when we open our hearts up and share our stories, when we let other people’s stories touch us in a way that we can’t escape, we hurt and we wonder and we feel. We see something more. We become something more.

It’s never easy. Listening to people talk and reading tragic headlines and opening your heart up to new people is painful. But I’ve come to one conclusion recently: caring isn’t stupid.

I refuse to see myself as an idiot because I was honest with myself and the world. Because I let other people’s words travel onto the pages of my life and become part of my story. It doesn’t matter if my name makes it to their stories. I’m Paige. I’m learning and exploring and opening myself up to the world around me. And I’m not stupid.

Keep caring,

Paige

risk

I want to be the kind of person who takes risks. Sometimes, I pretend I’m the kind of person who takes risks. I convince myself that the actions I take are risky, even though they probably aren’t, and I pretend not to worry even though I spend all of my time worrying. The reality of it is that I am afraid of a lot of things. The reality is that instead of taking risks, I play the board game RISK with my friends. The reality is that I am always the shadow of a person who takes risks, trying to follow along but always lagging behind. Always less bold. 

What are you so afraid of? I wonder to myself.

Everything. Absolutely everything. I’m afraid that nothing will work out the way that I want it to. I’m afraid that nothing will work out the way that it should. I’m afraid that I will constantly fear everything that I also love. I’m afraid that things will stop being the way that they always were. I’m afraid that nothing will change at all. I’m afraid of every possibility, when I could see so many chances within those possibilities instead. 

In my mind, those possibilities exist for the kind of people who take risks: both the good possibilities and the bad possibilities. In order to achieve something good, we must take a risk and accept that not everything will turn out how we imagined it. The reality of it is that I can’t avoid possibilities. I can’t avoid the world and everything in it. The reality of it is that by avoiding risk, I do not protect myself; I stop myself from getting what I want.

The reality of it is that I should stop trying to be the “type” of person who takes risks and instead, simply be a person who takes risks when she believes in something. Be a person who still fears what she loves, but loves it enough not to let the fear stop her. I am not the shadow of the “type” of person who takes risks. I am the shadow lagging behind who I want to be.

What are you so afraid of? That I’ll never catch up. That I’ll always follow the path of what I wanted without immersing myself in it. Without leading the way.

I’m trying to leave the fear behind instead. I’m trying to guide the fear and let it motivate me and encourage me and challenge me and even scare me without letting it control me. My fear exists; I can’t deny that. I feel it. Often, even. It belongs to me. But it doesn’t have to encompass me. 

Dream big,

Paige 

 

Letters to you.

Whenever I start something new, I become so focused on it. I’m passionate about it to the point where it’s practically all I think about. And with a combination of this blog, a new story I started writing, and a new hobby I picked up, it’s pretty clear to me that I should probably be spending more time on my homework. But when I have something to write, I write. At this very moment, I have a ton of other things I should be doing aside from blogging. It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, though, and I had this desire to write that just wouldn’t go away.

Do you ever have this fearless, anxious feeling when it seems as if you’re about to do something totally crazy yet totally worth it? When you’re at the edge of taking a huge leap of faith, and your heart is full of so much hope that you can hardly sit still? When you’re just so jittery and scared and excited and happy and a little unsure?

On Friday, I wrote love letters to strangers. I got this idea from moreloveletters.com. More Love Letters is such an incredible organization. I started writing love letters because I love to write, and I love to inspire people. I love to spread hope. But also, I started writing love letters because I really, really love getting mail. Nowadays, everyone knows that letters are hard to come by. With texts and emails and blogs, papers and envelopes get forgotten. Letter writing is significant to me because it’s an art form beyond the words on the pages. It’s an art form beyond the sentences and paragraphs. I believe that there is art within the way people dot their “i”s. I believe there is art within the loops and slants of handwriting, within the smudges of ink and the creases of pages. So I gathered up some paper, colorful pens, envelopes, and a sheet of sparkly heart stickers, and made my way to a coffeeshop with one of my best friends.

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(a letter written by my friend Kelsey)

To me, the most interesting thing about writing love letters to strangers is the fact that they’re not actually strangers. Not really. Everyone is unique, different, and original. And yet everyone is also a lot alike. Someone out there is feeling the same way as you are. And the fact that we can use letters to spread these messages is truly amazing. You won’t know who finds the letter. The person who finds the letter won’t know who wrote it. Somehow, that makes it even better. It makes it even better knowing that someone who doesn’t even know you understands you and believes in you.

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(a letter written by me)

With each letter I wrote, I stepped closer to the edge of a mountain. I’m about to leap. I have this idea that’s completely all or nothing. On Taylor Swift’s Speak Now album, she said, “I don’t think you should wait, I think you should speak now.” To me, this refers to so much more than literal speaking. To me, “speaking” means taking chances. Speaking means chasing a dream that perhaps seems a little bit crazy. Speaking means throwing your ideas out into the world, not knowing what kind of response you’ll get. Speaking means doing rather than dreaming, creating rather than imagining. Speaking means taking that leap of faith, stepping from the edge of the mountain and diving in, not knowing whether you’ll fall or soar.

Speaking means doing everything you always dream about doing, but always hesitate to do. Don’t wait. Don’t ponder any longer if it’s something you truly believe in. The clock is ticking, and the world can’t wait to hear your words. ♥

Dream big,

Paige