Six

I am way too young, and I won’t stop running…

Inspiring words. Well, maybe “inspiring” isn’t the right word. More like, I hear those words, and I feel determination worm its way into my chest and give me the ambition to get up and tackle a day. Won’t Stop Running in its entirety makes me feel like that, actually. The lyrics are not actually saying that everything will be okay, spoon-feeding me a bunch of syrupy crap that will make me feel better for the moment but eventually wear off. No, this song sticks with me throughout my day. It’s saying that yeah, life can suck, but your life isn’t over and it is not time to give up. You’ve just got to keep running, fight through the fog even if your hands are tied.

Speaking of this song, I cannot stop listening to A Great Big World’s new album (shocking, right? I can just picture my friends reading this and getting shady as all getout; I can already hear the sarcastic “wow, really?”s in the distance). Like many did, I got attached to this band when Say Something was released and have been hooked ever since. When the Morning Comes is phenomenal. I listen to it at least eight times a week, having to repeat certain songs on a loop before I’m satisfied and able to move on to the next. A lot of the songs remind me of finding light where there seems to be only darkness, something I wish for constantly, and I think that’s really a theme that should have more light shed on it (ironic). There’s a lot of talk about fighting the toughest of battles for whatever might be ahead, about moving through the darkness because you just refuse to accept that that’s all there will ever be. I love that. It’s relieving to have someone who is at a good point in their lives remind you of that, to push you to keep going when all hope seems lost. It’s encouraging and gives me hope, which is a good thing to find in 2016.

Actually, this band was kind of teaching me that even before the album was released. If you don’t know much about the band, there are two members: Ian and Chad. Last year, Chad posted a video on YouTube explaining to their viewers that he has to live with multiple sclerosis. When I first watched it, I was like, “yeah, go you Chad, that’s pretty badass”  because he literally saw a video about a diet that helped people suffering from MS, decided to try it, and fought back. A few months after I watched it, though, I was diagnosed with EDS, aka Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. EDS can come in various forms, and you’re not really sure what type or how hard it will affect you until you actually experience it. Which, like, sucks. I recently saw a video about how a woman who suffers from EDS had to live with her mother because she was so dependant on her. When I was diagnosed, I felt like my future was in the middle of a see-saw, it could either plummet or skyrocket. If you know me, you’re most likely assuming that my brain focused on the plummeting side of things, and that is one hundred percent accurate. What if I end up having to rely on my mom for everything? I want to work in music and go somewhere outside of Illinois, not live at home and hope for the best. I want to do things, see things, help people, help myself

Deep breaths.

I remembered Chad’s video a little while back, when they announced the upcoming release of their new album, and I decided to watch it again. I remember sobbing my eyes out, which is strange because it’s a fairly uplifting video. But, like, seeing Chad was so inspiring. He didn’t listen to what everyone said about MS. The treatment they gave him was making him worse, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and figure out a way to help himself. Now, he says he’s never felt better. And you know, maybe that could be me. Chad lives with MS and is still a singer who goes on tour and does all the stuff musicians do, so why can’t I live with EDS and do the same? Shoutout to Chad for keeping me from believing that my future was a dead end road.

It’s crazy how certain things can be brought into your life for a reason. Was it fate that I would stumble upon Say Something and fall into obsession over the band because I would one day need a push to keep going and not drive myself insane with what ifs? Maybe. Could also be because they make some seriously amazing music (really, go give the new album a listen, you won’t regret it).

I think the reason this has been on my mind so much lately is because they announced that they’d be stopping in St. Louis for their tour, and I cannot wait to see them. Yup, can’t wait to sob to nearly every song. It’s gonna be a great time.

It’s crazy to think about how trialling life can be. When we’re kids, we don’t think of things like depression and anxiety and diseases like EDS or MS, we can’t even fathom the thought of those things threatening our lives. You know what we think of as a hardship? Monsters under our bed. It’s not until a few years pass that those monsters come out from under the bed and crawl inside your head. It can be hard, at times, to battle them off. Sometimes they’re too big to ask your dad to ward them off with a flashlight (or sonic screwdriver, in my case), and you wonder if they’ll ever leave. I know I have. I keep wrestling with them, though, because as A Great Big World Says, I am way too young. And I won’t stop running.

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Five

First blog post of 2016! That’s a weird thing to say. Have you ever watched an old movie that talks about their predictions of the future, and they’re going on and on about flying cars and robot servants and a cure for cancer, then all of a sudden they say something like, “Yeah, the year two thousand is going to be wild!”

That’s so funny to hear, to me. We didn’t even have iPhones in the year two thousand. Wait. Did we? (We totally didn’t, I just checked and the first one didn’t release until 2007. Yeah, I didn’t think so. I’m really dumb sometimes.) They thought we would have a cure for cancer… Boy, wouldn’t that be wonderful.

A lot of people talk about becoming a “new you” at the start of every year. I’ve noticed a trend. Tyler Glenn got a new hairstyle and said, “new year new do new you.” We all ponder over the promise of a new year and think, yeah, things are going to change for the better in the next twelve months. This is the year when my life is totally going to flip around. I’m going to treat myself better and make some adjustments to my life. Whether it be to get into shape, to stop biting fingernails, or to finish writing a novel, a lot of us make goals that will help us work towards a better day. We call them resolutions.

Me?

I don’t know, man. I don’t like thinking about resolutions. It seems so overwhelming, to make all of these promises to myself and wholeheartedly believe in them. (Okay, that sounds really lazy, let me try to rephrase this.) When I was a kid, it was easier (I think one year I made a resolution to eat more tomatoes because I loved them so much), but now making changes that will better my life aren’t so simple. It involves things like working up the courage to look in the mirror in the morning and smile in acceptance about what I see. It involves things like fighting my paranoia and going outside. It involves things like trusting people.

I think I do have one main “resolution” to focus on this year, though. It’s a very prominent problem in my life right now. In recent years, I’ve struggled a lot with friendships, maintaining them and whatnot. I’m going to be completely honest: I’m not a very good friend. I try my best to be, but it’s a struggle when I’ve got all of these emotions swirling around that are tossing my mind back and forth. I’ve got a group of superheroes who have stuck by my side through the ugly, though, and I’m so grateful for them. There’s also some people who I thought were superheroes… but turns out that they’re not as amazing as I originally pictured them. These are the friends that, when I hang out with them, usually make me feel great. Wanted, even. Then something happens, like they’ll ditch me because someone better wants to hang out with them, and my thoughts start to twist around.

You know how it makes me feel when something like that happens? When someone drops out of our plans because somebody better wants to hang out with them? Like I’ll never be enough for them.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we take the guilt and blame ourselves for someone not wanting to appreciate us? If they were really our friends, they wouldn’t ditch you for “someone better” and make you feel like you’re anything less than good enough! I should really take my own advice, but like I said, I’m working on it. That’s officially my goal. It’s emotionally draining to put someone up on a high pedestal and stand by politely while they cut you down. It’s not right. In fact, that can be very toxic. It’s taken me a lot of work to get to this point of acceptance of myself, and it doesn’t take very much to set me spinning off into the belief that I’m worthless. So, when I write down on paper all of the things these people are doing to make me feel that nasty phrase — not good enough — I realize how stupid I’m being!

So, why haven’t I just cut them out of my life yet, you ask? Well, that part is a little harder to talk about.

I think there comes a time in everyone’s life where they just want somebody to hold on, to stick with them through their rough patches and still be offering a hand when they reach the light at the end of the tunnel. I know that I’ve felt that many times. On a daily basis, practically. Being friends with me comes with an extreme amount of forgiveness and patience and understanding, so I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world if I decided to just give up on somebody because they were being rude! Especially if I’ve been friends with this person for a long time.

I asked my friend Ashley for advice one night, looking to her for guidance about what I should do. I asked her when I’m supposed to know that it’s okay to cut ties. I see it all over the internet and on pamphlets in counselors’ offices: it’s okay to eliminate toxic people from your life! Really, pamphlet? Because last time I checked, it’s a terrible thing to do to just leave someone, to give up on them, to back out of a friendship when you promised to always stick by their side. Ashley told me something along these lines: “If it comes to a point where they’re hurting you more than benefiting you, it’s okay to let go.”

At first I was like, well, that helps a ton! I made decisions in my head that night and planned to put them into action the next day. But then one of the toxic people asked to hang out, and I said yes. And honestly? I can’t really give you a straight answer as to why. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through so much with them, and part of me secretly hopes that this is all a rough patch. They only started acting like this (kind of, not really recent) recently, and maybe they’ll move on and remember they love me…

… see, I tell myself these things instead of coming to terms with the fact that they’ve changed, and I’m never going to be “enough” for them. Maybe I was at one point in time, but not anymore. That’s my plan for 2016, I think. In addition to the little things, I want to stop lying to myself for the sake of holidng on to things that I know in my heart are not good for me. Because you know what? I have a lot of things that are good for me! I have friends that listen to me rant about Pentatonix even though they’re not a fan, and friends who will let me cart them around in my red minivan and force them to listen to High School Musical soundtracks… like I said, lots of patience and forgiveness is involved in being friends with me. For that matter, I have two nephews who think I’m one of the coolest people in the world! One of them likes hanging around me so much that he’ll agree to help clean my room if it means that he gets to talk to me.


And, if you’re reading this: if you have friends who make you feel you’re not good enough, please reevalutate the relationship. Just think about it. Because you are good enough.

Happy new year, everyone!