Two and a Half Weeks In…

It seems that there has been a lot of hate in the world since Jan. 20, aka ever since Trump has come to office. And yeah, I went into this administration full of hope and full of faith in our new POTUS.

However, my hopes for a peaceful and united country are now shattered.

In a period of two weeks, Donald Trump has managed to do several amounts of damage. This includes: banning seven Muslim majority countries from entering the country, withdrew funding for organizations that provide abortions, and begin work on a wall in Mexico (that the U.S. taxpayer will pay for).

And, that’s not even all of it.

All of this is in a period of two weeks. I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.

It’s been only two weeks, and I am scared about this administration. Every morning now, it has become a routine to see what Trump did today. And that is sad. This is our country, and that is our president. I shouldn’t have to think ‘what crazy thing did he do/say today?’ I shouldn’t have to worry about what he does.

But, I do.

Now, I am a liberal, and I am still extremely disappointed in Hillary’s loss. I want it to be known that my fears and concerns are not coming from my disappointments. I want it to be known that they come from me being a concerned American, someone who is deeply worried about the future of my country.

I am 22 years old, a college graduate and someone who wants change. I want my friends to not have to worry about the crippling effects of student loan debt for the rest of their lives. I want accessible birth control and health insurance for every American who wants it or needs it. I want each and every person who wants to get married to have that right. I want my friend Manuel to be able to enter this country so he can spend time with the love of his life.

In Trump’s America, I am unsure if my wants will be realities.

Donald, you promised your voters that you would make America great again. This is not great. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t. I am not President, nor do I think I’ll ever qualify for that role, but I do have the knowledge that this is not the American way.

Your job is to make America great again, right? Well, this is what I think you need to do to get there. Listen to those who protested you and marched the day after your Inauguration. Listen to those who are worried about their families, before you insult a nationality. This isn’t a reality show Trump. This is America. And, there is a significant difference between those two things.

What I Learned in My Jewelry and Metals Class 

During my last semester as a college student, I took a jewelry and metals class. My train of thought was this: Oh, jewelry. I like to bead and do wire working things. I need a free elective. Why not?

It soon became the biggest mistake ever.

I soon realized that it wouldn’t be wire or metal working. Instead, it was using metal, and hardware stuff to make small pieces of jewelry. And, if you know me, I don’t know anything about tools and carpentry.

Needless to say, I struggled. And hurt myself.

There were many times I questioned whether or not I would actually pass the class. I spent several nights at the jewelry lab, desperately trying to catch up with my classmates with their projects. My weekends were spent sanding down my projects for the next class.

And want to know what I told myself?  Well, I’m sure you do, because if not, you would not be reading this. I told myself that it was okay to struggle and not be good at the class. Why? Because I had never even touched this stuff in my life, and it’s something that I have no experience in. So, I was supposed to not be good at it.

By having that attitude, I somehow persisted and got a C. But, that class taught me more than I should never, ever go near power tools again. It taught me to not give up, even though something was challenging for me. It taught me to keep going, ask questions, and try something new when the first thing didn’t go as planned. It also taught me to accept that I am not good at something, and do whatever I can to gain the skills to be good at that very thing.

And, that is the best lesson that I could have ever gotten as an undergraduate. Having that amount of patience with myself has become handy, especially at my job where I have a very limited working knowledge of a clinical mental health background.

So, taking a jewelry class may not have been the best choice for me, and I probably will never use the skill set that I gained again (I think my professor can breathe a sigh of relief.) However, I still am glad that I took the class because I still managed to learn something. How about them apples!

What They Don’t Tell You About Post-Grad Life

A few months ago, I graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, proudly wearing my cap and gown complete with tassels and eagerly walked the stage to get my long awaited degree.

A few months later, I am in this thing called the real world.

Now, the real world is this funny little thing. It is completely different than anything I have ever experienced before in my life. For instance, last month I started a full time job at a trauma-based mental health clinic. I now have business cards, access to benefits, and a plaque. It seems like I shed my status of student quickly, as I am now an adult.

Whatever that is.

In the past month, I have met so many different people whose faces have molded into one, and am trying to stay afloat as I find my way in a company with about 200 employees.

Despite the fact I am no longer in a classroom, I still feel like I am learning. I am learning the concept of being an adult, which has become blurry to me. I am learning. I have learned the importance of checking your grammar, niched writing, and the importance of remembering who your audience is. From someone whose only had teachers and editors, this is a bit different than what I am used to.

But, I think it’s okay.

And while I learned how to write a great lead, learned the concepts of layout using InDesign, and managed to learn a thing or two about literature, it is safe to say that I did not learn how to adapt to this change. Instead, I got those skills from my therapist.

The thing about change and transition is this. Our bodies are overwhelmed by it, because like or not, we fall into a routine. I sometimes question whether or not it is me or the fact it is something that I have to get used to.

But, the good thing about change? Eventually, our bodies do in fact learn to adapt to it.

The key word here is eventually.

So, to all of the recent college graduates out there who are learning to make their way out in the world, please note one thing – I am there with you. To my peers graduating in the spring, I hope you know that it is okay to not know at 22 what you want to do with your life. I know I don’t, despite the fact that I have my job.

My advice to those who fall in that cohort, which is something that I should note for myself, is that you are going to be okay. Just be willing to learn and do the absolute best that you can to get there.

 

 

Who Are You To Tell Me How To Feel?

If I had a dollar every time someone told me to (or not) feel a certain way, I would have enough money to pay for the car I want to buy in full. Don’t feel this way because it’s not worth it. Don’t cry about that boy because he is not worth it. It’s been this amount of time since you’ve broken up-why don’t you start dating again?

It is almost as if we have to shut our feelings off and push them in the back of the closet, because feeling something, any kind of something is a crime. Happiness, okay you can feel that. However, anger, sadness, and anxiety? No, you can’t feel that because it is much too harsh for us to deal with on a daily basis.

Too bad it doesn’t work that way. Many times, we are asked to ‘suck it up’ when something happens. After six months of grieving something (a relationship/a death/whatever), we have reached the maximum time that we are allotted to feel sad. After that, you no longer have the right to cry at night, because you are still hurting from your break up. That is the time when you are expected to suck it up and move on.

But, that’s not how it works.

And, I absolutely hate it.

I wish I could meet the person who made those rules, so I can slap them in the face and tell him that they were stupid. I wish that I can get a megaphone so I can scream to people “it’s okay to feel upset sometimes, you will heal eventually.” I wish that I could hug every person who is feeling sad, anxious or depressed right now and remind them that what they are feeling is truly valid.

Since I do not own a megaphone, this is the closest feeling that I can get to that. It is the power of the Internet.

So, it is okay to cry. It is okay to admit that you are sad. The thing is, by admitting that you are sad, you are one step closer to reaching the point where you are healed. By repressing those emotions, it is only going to explode one day. And, that is definitely not healthy.

The thing is it is going to take time to get back up. It’s going to take time to heal your emotional wounds, and to reach the point of true healing. However, with that being said, there is no end date to the hurting. So stop creating one, and focus more on healing you.

After all, it is your opinion that matters the most, doesn’t it?

A Letter to The New President

Dear President Trump,

Three days ago, you’ve inherited a country that is divided. Two days ago, millions of women all over the world marched to make their voices heard.

Throughout your campaign, you have made several derogatory comments about women, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQIAA and countless others. You have threatened, you have Tweeted and you have made your voice heard.

Now, I want you to hear mine.

Trump, this country needs a leader to make them feel that they are included. This country needs you to listen to the people who occupy it, the people who are different versus trying to build a wall to keep them out. This country is made of a melting pot of people with different points of view, different ethnic backgrounds, and different experiences. Listen to each and every one of those voices, because right now they feel as if you are going to shut them out.

That is something that a President should not being doing.

You promised that you will make America great again. Well, part of that promise is to not take away the access people have to affordable health care and birth control. Part of that promise is to not repeal all of the gay marriage laws that people have fought years to have Yes, there is a lot of fault in the system. I am not denying that.However, you have the power to make it better.

I was not one of the women who marched on Saturday. I also did not vote for you, and was sickened about the fact that you won the election. However, I am hopeful that you will at least try to make this country better. I am hopeful that you will improve the economic climate of this country. I am hopeful that you will at least think before you Tweet.

And, I am also hopeful that you will listen.

Make America great, Mr. President. Please. But, before you pull the trigger, please think about the people who your new laws may be effecting. This country is counting on you.

Sincerely,

Natalie

A Thank You Letter To My Therapist

A few weeks ago, I left my therapist’s office for the last time. Leaving my therapist’s office, I had realized how everything had come full circle since I had first attended therapy about ten months ago.

It is safe to say that my 2016 was spent in a therapist’s office. I started going to therapy in February 2016 to find the cure for why I was a hot mess who cried at the drop of a hat, and why I was so stressed out.

What I got out of therapy was much more than that, thanks to my therapist Jessica. Going to therapy changed everything about me-who I was, who I am, how I approach the world and my perspective on it. I would like to think that Jessica was the catalyst of that change, however, I realized that I was the one who was doing all of the work.

Before going to Jessica, I had gone to my campus’ counseling center. For me, the experience was less than satisfactory. My therapist was nice and wanted to listen. However, it always felt that he had a game plan for me, one that was similar to a checklist with meditation and eventually anxiety medication. Those steps were the only steps. I had never had the desire to even attend my therapy appointments, because I had always felt that I was falling short of the steps that my therapist said. Little did I know, those were not the only options for curing anxiety?

When I met Jessica, what I liked about her was her approach to therapy. It was different. It was laid back, and she was approachable with an interesting take on everything. This was something that I really liked about her, because she was more interested in seeing what works for me, rather than a quick fix that was used on everyone.

Since going to Jessica, I began to notice a change in myself, and the way I perceived things. For example, I learned to take something that may not be the most fun, such as finals week, and insert a treat or something positive in to make it bearable. I learned to distract myself whenever I felt overwhelmed, whether it may be to take breaks when I feel overwhelmed, or to rub my hands in lotion to transport myself from the stressful office to something more positive.

Most importantly, I learned how to live with my anxiety, and become a normal human again who is truly happy. I thank Jessica for the ability to live without panic attacks, because I know not to let it get to that point in the first place. And for that, I thank Jessica every day.

It is safe to say that I am not the same person who I was when I first entered her office ten months ago. However, I am proud of the person I am now, as I am a strong person who was able to conquer her anxiety and learn to manage it.

And, I have Jessica to thank for that. Thank you Jessica for everything. You have no idea the impact our sessions had one me.

Sorry (So) Not Sorry For Double Posting

Every now and then on Instagram, I would see people posting a few times a day, for whatever reason. These people would then caption the photos with ‘sorry for double posting…’

My question is why?

I am going to admit it. I am in fact guilty of double posting on more than one occasion. I am that person who posts pictures of her dog, pictures of her coffee/dessert if they look good, or take a thousand pictures of a hike that I go on if the scenery is beautiful. And, I am so not sorry.

I get it. Sometimes, it is annoying to see a continuous amount of pictures from the same account. This especially applies to those people who consistently post a thousand selfies or themselves or with their their significant other. Those people are the ones who I want to scream “yes, we get it, you know how to do the duck face! Do you need to post 10 pictures of you doing that,” or “yes, we get it, you are in love-why do you need to broadcast it on Instagram every day? I just saw you guys yesterday!” We all have at least one of those friends. I bet you could think of one person on your newsfeed that is guilty of this.

With that being said, sometimes it is hard to pick just one picture to post. Sometimes, I want to post the picture I took with my friend on our hike, as well as the picture I took of the pretty waterfall. Or, I wanted to post a bunch of pictures that I took with people that loved from my graduation (I triple posted that day). And, screw your unwritten rules of only being able to post one photo per day. I am going to post both of those photos, cause I want to.

Yes, I said it. It is okay to double post. Hell, it is okay to triple post on some occasions. You can post as much as you want to, because it is your Instagram. It is your choice to post as much as you want. And for those who object? Well, there is an unfollow button. If they get annoyed, then they can use it.

After all, it is your Instagram. You can post as much as you want to, whether that may one photo or 100 photos. Instagram is about taking snapshots of what you are doing, and sometimes, it may take more than one photo to do so. And, you do not need to apologize for using the medium to share.

Honest Thoughts About Dating

Let me be bluntly honest by stating that I freaking hate dating. I hate the awkwardness of first dates, the whole DTR (defining the relationship) concept and the rules about what is okay to do at what given stage. I find it both crazy and confusing, and I graduated college with a 3.0 GPA, so I am not that dumb.

Now, I have written a lot about dating and my opinions of it on my blog and other places throughout my career as a writer thus far. I probably will end up repeating some of the things that I have mentioned in those posts, but hopefully whoever is reading this can find some humor in my opinions.

I am currently single, in case you all were not aware. As a single woman in my early 20s, I have friends that are committed in relationships (which I am happy for by the way), and even know a few that are even married. I see these couples, both online and around me, and I can not help but feel like I am the lone single girl (a little melodramatic, but you get the idea) who whines where’s my guy?

While I do crave a relationship some of the time, my current state of mind most of the time is that I am not interested in dating. It is not although I want to remain single forever. It is not that I want to say “fuck you” to the opposite sex and want to never get married or anything like that. It is just that for right this second, I do not see myself dating someone. And, I think that is perfectly okay.

I feel like dating is similar to shopping for the perfect pair of jeans. Sometimes, you get lucky and the first pair that you try on is the perfect pair for you, the kind that fits in all of the right places and makes you look thin. Other times it can be a trial and error process of going to several different stores, and spending several hours trying on different colors and sizes before giving up because you spent the entire afternoon at the mall looking for it, and just want something to eat.

The same rules apply for dating. Sometimes, the first guy you meet after ending a relationship who is the person that makes you laugh and makes you grin like an idiot whenever you think about him/her, and ends up being the next person you are committed to. Other times, it takes kissing several frogs before you find the one, and even taking a break to work on yourself by meeting new friends and trying new things. And both scenarios are perfectly okay.

In the novel “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, Sincero writes that in order to get what you want, you can not force or chase it. I believe that is true. So, I am taking the lunch break before finding that perfect pair of jeans, or in my case, my Prince Charming (who is a tall, nerdy guy who has both brains, a sense of humor and is a sweetheart) rolls up in his white horse.

Now, I can probably hear my friends out there say no! Don’t give up! Keep on going out on dates.  To shut them up, I can assure you that I am not giving up. I am just taking that lunch break, because I am frustrated with trying on several different guys that do not feel right.

Let’s face it, dating is stressful (mostly for me, as dating me is the best experience that the guy can ever have). With that being said,dating is about the only way to try people on, just like the only way to get clothes is to face the harsh lights of the dressing room to try everything on. Both scenarios are stressful, but to get what you want, you have to deal with them.

With that being said, I am 22. I am still young, and have another 20 years before I need to take up knitting and adopt a bunch of cats. While I wait for my next boyfriend, I plan to hang out with the community of good friends, family and my dog. I plan to read all of the books I can get my hands on, I plan to explore and truly learn to be happy. I feel like there is a huge empathsis on dating, on having that relationship, that we often forget the most important thing is to love ourselves. That way, the relationship will be a healthy one, which is the kind of relationship that I want to have.

I don’t know when my next relationship will be, as my Magic 8 Ball refuses to tell me no matter how many times I shake it. But, util then, I loudly and proudly to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’, and spend Saturday nights curled up with my dog Maggie (who is currently looking at me as if to say ‘hey sissy, are you almost done writing your blog entry?’) reading chic lit novels and living vicariously through their protagonists.

A Reflection of 2016

Let me be the first to tell you that 2016 was the year a lot of legendary stars passed away-from Carrie Fisher, Prince, David Bowie and George Michael. It was a year full of tragedy, and change in the world, a year that we learned the importance of coming together, rather than coming apart.

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My best friend Gabu and I at my college graduation.

Personally, 2016 was a strange year, one that was full of personal growth, and victories. One of those victories was my college graduation a few weeks ago. While I was not on the traditional four year plan, there is no better feeling than completing my Bachelor’s Degree with a 3.32 GPA. College is not easy, and not everyone can do it. I was not on Dean’s List all of the time, however, being able to say that I graduated and worked hard for the degree, makes it worth all of the stress and hard work. Well, almost (kidding).

However, my graduation is not the only thing that I am celebrating. This year I dealt with anxiety, as a result of having too much on my plate, between work and school. At the beginning of 2016, I was stressed out, and frustrated as to why nothing would change in my life. This year, I realized that to truly become happy, I was going to have to change things in my life. I also realized that I was going to have to change myself and the way that I looked at things, whether it may be dating, school, and life in general. I learned when enough was enough in work. I learned to look at positive things in the most negative of situations.

As I approach 2017, I am content and happy with my life and have so much to look forward to. The changes that bought me to this point were a direct result of therapy sessions, and reading several different self help books. I also was lucky to have the support of a community compromised of friends, family, employers, professors and countless others who just wanted me to do well, something that I am grateful for.

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A shot of some friends that came to support me, along with some members of the Luther House community.

As I overcame my anxiety later on in the year, I was given the opportunity to speak at Luther House to share my story. The outpour that I got, whether it may be from fellow members of the community, friends, old teachers and even strangers was beyond overwhelming. It was a great thing to do, and I am so happy to be able to inspire those dealing with the same symptoms I did.

While sharing my experiences was not easy, I am glad that I did it, because so many readers/audience members felt that they can truly relate. And for me, that was honestly the best part about it.

Dealing with the effects of anxiety suck, whether it may be the panic attacks or the feelings of uncertainty. It is safe to say my anxiety was the central theme of the year. But, that is not going to be the theme of 2017. I have decided that 2017 is going to be my year, although I am uncertain of what it will bring. And, that’s perfectly alright.

So, 2016, you were pretty great. Thank you for the challenges that I overcame. Thank you for the memories that were made. But, let’s take a moment to celebrate 2017. Here’s to a new year, one full of new opportunities and new adventures. Of course, everyone says that on Dec. 31, but this year I believe it.

Happy New Year everyone.

I Am Not Fragile

There is something that I want every single person out there who is reading this to know about my anxiety and about me: it does not make me fragile.

Anxiety causes me to be a bit more sensitive than a person who does not deal with anxiety symptoms, and the smallest of things can often turn into the biggest of deals. Sometimes, I have panic attacks. But, so what?

Just because I deal with (or I should say dealt with, as I am happy to announce that the majority of my symptoms have subsided, and I have not had a panic attack for the past five months) with anxiety does not make me weak or fragile.

In fact, I would like to argue that it has made me stronger. After all, I had just spent a year in therapy learning how to deal with them on my own, and investing time and energy into growing myself. I learned how to deal with it, to truly learn how to be strong, and maintain a positive outlook on life. I grew stronger and more independent, and I am pretty damn proud of this person that I have become.

And what did you do this past year?

Lets face it-having anxiety sucks. However, I learned to deal with the symptoms. Let me say this once and for all: not everything gives me anxiety, and it is not up to you to control my anxiety. My anxiety does not have to do with a lot of things that I deal with daily. I am not anxious writing this blog post. I am not anxious petting my dog, going to the store, buying a coffee, you get the picture. And, even if it did, it is not up to you to help me deal, although I appreciate the support. It is my problem, and I think that I  do a pretty good job dealing with them.

That may be harsh, yes. However, whenever I tell someone that I have anxiety, I often feel that they treat me as if I were made out of glass and easily broken. And, that frustrates me. Just because I have some sort of mental illness does not mean that you have to treat me like I am a child and protect me. I can do that by myself, thank you very much.

So, the take home message here? Just because someone has anxiety (or any other mental illness for that matter), does not mean that they are weaker than you. It does not make them fragile. It makes them strong, and that is why they deserve to treated as every other damn human on the planet, with a bit more understanding of course of what they went through, because they went through hell to get to the point where they are at today. We are not the label that we possess-we are so much more than that. Be sure to remember that.