If It’s Just Me

The end of the school year is upon us. The waves of finals are crashing all around me. Goodbyes are looming. I won’t be a junior this time next week. Senior year is daunting. It’s overwhelming, toilsome, maddening….

Or maybe it’s just me.

I struggle every day with my expectations for myself. I am my own hardest judge and worst supporter. I build things up in my mind to a far greater importance than they hold in the grand scheme of things. I take pinpricks like the blow from a club. I am going back and editing this entire post after every sentence I type because I am a perfectionist.

I frustrate myself more than anything else does.

Finals determine a major portion of my final grade, but does my entire future balance on if I know the difference between E-major barre chords and A-minor ones? Probably not. It’s not dependent on my knowledge of geometric theorems. My life is not going to be planned out based on how much Spanish I know (or, in my case, don’t know).  In reality, I have a pretty good handle on most of these things, and what I don’t feel firm enough in, I can study. I’m a good studier. I’ve got this, really. Kristen, stop psyching yourself out!

Ugh, it’s just the little things being added to my frustrations, like friends who disappear and reappear two months later, people you hardly know who lecture you because you don’t have a Snapchat account, movies that are so stupid but everyone else votes to watch, boredom of school being no more than movies and review for two weeks, the fact that the next book in my favorite series isn’t coming out until October, confusion about my summer drivers’ ed course…. Ugh….

These are the burdens I place on myself.

But who can cut the ropes and let them roll off my back? I can. I don’t need to worry. As one of my friends reassured me, I’ll do well on my finals if I just believe in myself. As I told another friend, I don’t care about social norms (and what social media accounts I have or don’t have). Summer’s almost here. October will come. Everything will be fine.

Really, Kristen, it’s just you.

“I’ve got no problem holding on
I’ve got no problem being wrong
But if you’re gone, then after all
Well, it’s just me

I’ll take a walk, clear my thoughts, move along, no questions asked
Take whatever’s left of me and leave you in my past

No more crying, no more scars
I’d love to stay, but I got to say
I’d rather be free if it’s just me…”

-“If It’s Just Me” by Hunter Hayes

 

I think I’ll close with an open letter to my worries and concerns.

 

Dear Worries,

     It’s over. It’s just not working anymore; in fact, it never was. I’m replacing you with happy thoughts and song lyrics, because I like those a whole lot better. You are a control freak, and I can’t live like this anymore! I’m walking away because I don’t love you, I don’t need you, and, quite frankly, I’d rather be free. Without you, you know what I can have? Hope. Peace. A clear mind and a singing heart. Oh, and don’t call me crying, because we are never getting back together, like, ever!

Really, it’s not you, it’s just me.

-Kristen

 

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen

Advertisements

A Different Kind Of Confident

Image

 

I lit things on fire at school on Tuesday. I was interviewed by both the local newspaper and the school news team about it.

Relax, it was for a project.

Tuesday was the science department’s annual Science Expo that we put on for the local elementary and middle schoolers. Each student in an honors science class was required to run a booth with a Bill Nye the Science Guy/Steve Spangler type demonstration. I did mine on pyrotechnics, the science of fireworks, with a “safe for indoor” version of black snake fireworks. Basically, the project was a small pile of sugar and baking soda soaked in charcoal lighter and lit on fire (which hurt my fingers A LOT, by the way). Nothing too impressive, I thought after repeating the experiment half a million times. But like moths, people are also drawn to open flames, I mused. Everyone from the visiting second graders to the older high school crowd passing through on their way to class stopped by to check out my mini fireworks show. “I’ve never been so popular in my life,” I joked with my sister, who was making bouncy balls at the booth beside of me.

It felt nice, I’ll admit, to have people coming to my table, asking me about my project, and telling me how cool it was. I’m not the type of person who is quote/unquote “noticed” all of the time by everyone. I often worry about my own social ineptitudes and my famous awkwardness. But I also realized that I didn’t particularly care if anyone else liked my project or even noticed it. I don’t particularly care if anyone else likes me or even notices me. I used to care a lot. I used to worry why I didn’t have many friends or why I didn’t feel like people cared that I was around (and by “used to,” I mean, like, the beginning of this school year). As someone who has had to “begin again” so many times, I carry around a lot of worries whenever I enter a new environment. It’s hard to teach yourself what everyone around you already knows. It’s hard to get used to people and for new people to get used to you. However, I have learned that the most important thing is not what others think of you, but what you think of yourself.

I was processing the extremes of Tuesday when I came across the link to this blog in my Twitter feed:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vh7TmQtpXEV-djRKE0sH-e3dLehYvrBSpiECmr9LEiY/edit?usp=sharing

It was written by an actress from one of my favorite shows. Basically, she talks about how she used to worry way too much what people thought of her and found confidence in their opinions of her, because other people’s opinions are what give you success in Hollywood. However, she goes on to explain how she learned that she needed to find her confidence in God rather than in other people, and in God was also where she needed to place her confidence. “You can be confident not because of who you are, but because of whose you are,” she writes. And that is where I am trying to place my confidence in- God.

When my confidence is in God rather than in other people, I’m free from the worries that come with trying to impress those around me. Rather, I’m trying to live the way that He would want me to. When my confidence is in God rather than in myself, I’m also free from acting out of contempt or trying to be “wordly.” When my confidence is in God, I want my peers to know what makes me different. I’ve found myself going out of my way to help my friends.  I’ve caught myself  treating people I don’t particularly care for with uncharacteristic kindness.  It’s nice, not being so worried about what other people think of me anymore. Now, I need to focus more on what I think of them- each one of them loved by God, and therefore deserving all kindness and good will I can show them. Even the difficult ones.

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen

 

St. Mark’s Day

“Tis now, replied the village belle,
St. Mark’s mysterious eve,
And all that old traditions tell
I tremblingly believe;
How, when the midnight signal tolls,
Along the churchyard green,
A mournful train of sentenced souls
In winding-sheets are seen.
The ghosts of all whom death shall doom
Within the coming year,
In pale procession walk the gloom,
Amid the silence drear.”

-English tradition

Today, April 25th, is the Church holiday of St .Mark’s Day. Now, I know that you are most likely unaware of there even being such a thing as “St. Mark’s Day,” because there really isn’t much that is special about it. But it’s one of those medieval  things that is steeped in tradition and folklore. One of my very favorite books is based around St. Mark’s Day tradition. According to these old traditions, if one sits on the church porch from eleven to one the night before St. Mark’s Day, on St. Mark’s Eve, he will see the spirits of those who are going to die in the next year. Creepy, yes, but it makes for a good story, as well as a nice metaphor. You know how much I like my metaphors. 🙂

In light of St.Mark’s Eve, I thought yesterday about what it would be like if I could have sat on the metaphorical church steps this time last year and seen the parts of my life that were going to “die” to me in the coming year. Quite frankly, I would have seen most of my life! Perched on the porch steps, I would have seen the school I attended then, the people I knew, and the way I thought the rest of my high school career was going to play out. These would have been followed by everything I thought I knew about public school and the stereotypes I held towards the people there. I would have seen a lot of my never going to happen ‘s and my not in a million years‘s. I would have been so afraid to know how much was going to change, but as the year progressed, I would have realized, like I have anyways, that things in life are always going to work out according to the Lord’s plans, not mine. Those plans always work out for my good, too.

I also wondered what kinds of things I would see if I’d been able to sit on those same metaphorical porch steps last night.  Perhaps it would’ve gone a little bit like this:

     Huddled against the unusually cool night, Kristen pulled her blanket tighter around her shoulders. I should not have come, she thought miserably, I’m just going to wind up regretting this. There had been a thousand and one thoughts painted the same color as these plans had been made, yet here she was anyway. There was, after all, only one St. Mark’s Eve a year. She sat up straighter when a cool breeze tickled the side of her neck. They were coming; the spirits of the coming dead were on their way. Kristen leaned forward into the night air, trying to make out the hazy shapes creeping their way to the edges of her vision. Sudden fear seized her heart, dripping anxiety into her chilly veins. This is it, she shuddered. No turning back now. And then she smiled. A complete and utter paradox to absolutely everything she had ever been told about St. Mark’s Eve, Kristen smiled. She saw her doubts float by her, followed by her weakened faith. They were soon followed by A-Day lunchtime, her cold and lonely friend. Kristen couldn’t help but smirk at the next passer-by. There she was, trudging to school with the cumbersome case of Earl, the guitar towards which she’ d had ambivalent feelings all year. There would be no more of that. And then an unfamiliar trio blew by her. “Who are you?” she whispered. “What are your names?” But then she realized that she knew, somehow without ever having known before. She knew these three: Solitude, Self-Deprecation, and Spite. As the last three , these were the ones she’d kill. This year, she would overcome them.

Next year is my senior year. There are so many things coming, and yet so many things going. But I’m excited for it, so so excited. I think that it’s a good thing I can’t really go out on St. Mark’s Eve and see what’s going to change in the coming year. That would only add worry and take away the wonder. So, rather than concentrate on all of my worries for the coming year, I’m going to do my best to look ahead towards all the good things, all of the coming wonders. Because for every thing that “dies” in this coming year, a thousand and one better things are going to come alive.

*Sidenote- Shoutout to my twin sister who got accepted to the college of her dreams yesterday through an early admission juniors program. So proud of you! 🙂 *

 

Don’t worry about what’s going to change in the coming year; rather, stay tuned for coming attractions! Happy St. Mark’s Day! 🙂

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen

 

Just Getting Started

Okay, so, the most exciting thing happened to me last Tuesday. It may not seem as incredible to anybody else, but it made me over-the-moon with elation. 🙂 You may have inferred from previous posts that I am a hardcore fan of Nickelodeon music group Big Time Rush. You may also be aware that BTR member James Maslow is on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars this season. You may not, however, be aware that he has a weekly blog about said competition show. Well, on this blog, James answers questions from Twitter. I, an avid Twitter-user, have asked him several questions.

Then this happened:

from James Maslow’s Parade blog

 

So, yes, James answered my question, and I’m pretty much still smiling about it. Anyways, James’s answer, as well as his being on Dancing in the first place,  served as a reminder that Big Time Rush is over as a television show and on a break as a band (which makes me sad 😦 ). Though the guys are still a band, they’re going their separate ways for now. It makes me think of their song “Just Getting Started,” which I believe is about how “it ain’t over” for them as a group, even though Carlos is married and Kendall has his own band and James is starting a solo career and Logan is doing who knows what… It ain’t over! It all serves as proof that you can move on from something while at the same time it stays a part of you.

I’ve done a lot of that in my life. Three high schools and 800 miles later, the people, places, and experiences that I loved are still a part of me, even though they’re not with me anymore. They helped me become who I am, and I will always, always hold them in my heart. One of my favorite songs by Kendall’s band Heffron Drive goes, ” I keep building walls/but you’re always on my mind/Won’t let them fall down./I’m tired, can we give up, /the art of moving on?” Even though it’s hard, even though it gets rough, even though I still miss them terribly and want them back every single day, I keep going, keep moving. The bridge of the song says, “…we chose to say goodbye but I choose you…” I believe that even as we keep going and moving forward with our lives, we can choose every single day to keep in our hearts those people and places that we said goodbye to.

Even though I’ve had a lot of finalities and goodbyes these past few years, I have realized that my life is just getting started. Just like the four members of BTR, I am getting ready to move on to bigger and better things. I’m getting ready to sign up for dual enrollment and AP classes for next year so I can earn college credits early. I received a National Honor Society acceptance letter yesterday. It’s the last quarter of junior year. I’m starting to plan for college and the rest of my life. It’s crazy, and… it’s only the beginning…

Right now, feels like it’s the last page
But we’re just warming up the stage…

The night is young
And we’re just getting started
(We’re just getting started)
The best is yet to come
And we’re just getting started now.”

-“Just Getting Started” by Big Time Rush

With the people and places and experiences that made me who I am held tightly in my heart, I’m ready to move on to whatever’s next in God’s crazy plan for my life. It’s just getting started. 🙂

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen

Wildcard

“And baby you’re my wild card
My perfect little twist of fate
You’re my first spark, shot in the dark
Favorite part of everything
And baby you’re a sweet surprise
Lucky like a shooting star
You’re a strong, free, just what I need, wild card”

-“Wildcard”by Hunter Hayes

 

Before the start of spring break, we were assigned partner projects in English class. My class has an odd number of students; I got permission to do it on my own. So, I completed the assignment- make a Prezi about a poem (mine was on “The Garden” by Ezra Pound, the first one I saw listed in the book). Thinking it needed a little something extra, I added music. Being the person that I am, I added traditional Irish bouzouki music (which is especially wonderfully when dueting with a banjo, I might add). I asked the teacher to check my project and make sure it was the way he wanted it to be. He asked if he could use it for another class. I forgot to mention the bouzouki music.

I thought we wouldn’t be presenting until next week, but when I walked into class on Tuesday, the teacher smiled at me and said, “You’re on today!” I went through my oral presentation awkwardly, accompanied by the Irish background music (which actually helped calm my nerves 🙂 ). I finished it with the only hitch being the music’s volume (my teacher had to  turn it down halfway through my presentation).

And that’s basically everything you need to know about my school career.

These past few weeks, I also received an application for National Honor Society. Whoop whoop! I’m currently in the process of filling it out. When I began, I thought to myself,“You’ll never get in anyway; you haven’t had any school involvement or anything noteworthy to write down.” But as I continued, I realized I was wrong; I was so,so wrong. I filled in the appropriate spaces on the application:  Interact Club, Literature Clubs, lead role in school play, Handchime Choir… It definitely gets weirder as it goes on. Laughing to myself, I realized my application would stand out as a smorgasbord of all that I’ve collected during my journey through three different high schools. I smiled, remembering Hunter Hayes’s new song “Wildcard.”

I’ve mentioned before how I find Hunter’s lyrics totally relatable and his music totally spectacular ( I believe my exact words were Hunter Hayes basically writes my life 🙂 ), right? Well, with his new album’s release date FINALLY set, I was super-excited to hear his newest song. And of course, I found it to be… perfect. My second-favorite lines come from the second verse: “I’m an unexpected dreamer/Just watching through my every day/You don’t follow any leader/You make your mark, and make a change…” They remind me that it’s okay to be… not average. It’s okay not to feel like you have to fit a certain stereotype. It’s okay to wear Vans instead of boat shoes. It’s okay to listen to  Big Time Rush and not One Direction. It’s okay to read when otherwise you’d be sitting in awkward silence.  It’s okay to like random Irish music. It’s okay to be a wildcard.

 

‘It’s funny when you tell me you don’t think you’re all that interesting
I beg to differ, with you I’m out here on the edge of my seat
And every minute guessing, holding my breath and fueling that fire…”

It’s those of us who dance to the beat of our own drum that are able to fuel change in this world. In the wise words of another blue-eyed, blonde country singer, this one a few feet taller and a few Grammies more famous than dear Hunter, “If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.”

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen

 

Lemons

I have hardly been in class this week.

Kristen! you chide me. What is a good and responsible student like yourself doing skipping class?!

To which I reply: No, I have not been skipping. This week’s schedule has been screwed up.

I missed Monday because I was out of town for the weekend on a retreat (which, by the way, was very awesome; I loved it). Tuesday we spent second period in “study hall” because sophomores were taking a nasty standardized test (I feel for them; remember the beginning of my year? 🙂 ). Wednesday I had class all day, but we hardly did anything first period and watched a movie last period… And that brings us to today, the day of my very first field trip in public high school! You know where we went? The local community college for a career fair. It was so much fun (note my sarcasm).

Have you ever heard the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?  Well, I have decided this week to rephrase that just a tad: “When life gives you lemons, throw them back at it so hard it wishes it never even met you.” Why or how would one do this, you ask? Don’t just “make the best” of bad situations; refuse to accept them.

Tuesday I was so tired after my very full weekend away. However, I tried my very best to fight the exhaustion and make it a good day nonetheless. As I was walking back over from interning at the elementary school, I was trying to figure out a way to make myself feel better when I saw my friend’s car. I decided to sit in the grass and write a note to stick on her windshield (with a PS saying, “If this isn’t the right person’s car…. then this is awkward…. Hope you have a good day anyway!” just in case 🙂 ). I almost instantly felt happier, knowing I was spreading happiness to someone else.

Wednesday was when I coined my rephrase of the lemons saying. It was going terribly. After first period, I had accidentally carried Earl (my stupid, heavy guitar with whom I have a love/hate relationship) to geometry class rather than putting him in the band room closet. Realizing my stupid mistake, I got a pass from my teacher to return to the band room. It is a long walk, and in this state, we have hot winters. As the day progressed, I forgot to eat and had four English tests I’d almost forgotten about and had to watch a really boring and partially disturbing documentary about Mozart. But I tried my best to keep a good attitude through it, I really did… try.

Quick question- do you have any idea how much fun it is to pretend to be extremely interested in something you care absolutely nothing about? That’s what I did at the career fair today. 🙂 I mean, it wasn’t boring, but I’m not really that interested in managing a self-storage facility, or dental assisting, or career counseling, or banking… But hey, I got candy. Pretty sweet deal, right? It semi-makes up for a few awkward run-ins…

But, like I said, throw the lemons back at life. If you keep your hands full of lemons that you’re collecting to turn into lemonade, what else will you be able to hold? So, that is why I say, throw the lemons back at Life. Show it who’s boss, and be the master of your own day. Each day is only what you make of it.

Excelsior, no lemons in hand.

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen

Excelsior

       Imagine this: you have two huge tests, you forget about a quiz until the morning before, there’s one day you have to sit through a college’s presentation twice, you dragged your guitar all the way to school only not to need it on a day you almost left it at home out of sheer laziness, you’re assigned nearly 60 math problems (your least favorite subject since time began), you leave your cookies at home, and you are one dime short of being able to purchase a Vitamin Water, all in the same week. That’s basically how my week has gone.

      So, I have been everything from bored out of my mind to frustrated beyond belief over the course of five days. And to tell you the truth, it’s not been that fun. But I have found myself trying to find the good, the highlights, the silver lining, because otherwise, it really is a bad day. Past experience has taught me that it is up to you how happy you are. You can either let all the bad stuff weigh you down, or you can let it roll off your shoulders so you can keep looking up. I prefer to stand in the sunshine.

      Therefore, I will choose to let it roll off my shoulders and keep looking up. Let’s rethink that first paragraph:

     Imagine this: you rock two hard tests, you ace a quiz you nearly forgot about, you get to spend two class periods watching funny videos created by film production students from a visiting university, you are going to learn to play a song by your favorite band on guitar, you are almost finished with all your homework, you bought a delicious dark chocolate bar and shared it with your sister, and you ordered two books that will be delivered later today, all in the same week. That’s basically how my week has gone.

     There. Much better.

     And thusly, we will move onward and upward to my favorite part of the week: the weekend. I have an exciting one planned, one that involves going out of town for a Christian girls’ retreat and reading those two new books I bought (sidenote- something funny I realized about those books: one of the main characters has the same first and last name as my uncle 🙂 ). I can sum up my anticipation in a single word: Excelsior. Excelsior is a Latin term meaning “higher” or “loftier” and is used in the English language as an exclamation meaning “forever upward.” It’s also kind of my new favorite word. 🙂 I keep telling myself, “Keep going, no matter what. Remember: Excelsior!“So, onward and upward and to the weekend.

Excelsior!

Stay strong and fearless,

Kristen