Sydney, Plain & Simple

“Woah, woah, woah, Syd, what’s up with the new title and subtitle and about page?”

So here’s the thing. Recent events have made me feel like a very new person. I started this blog about a year ago, and I am a very different person than I was then. My blog is meant to be an open invitation to see inside my brain and heart, and I felt that the changes were necessary to reflect who I am now.

Speaking of which, check out my about page if you haven’t. Glennon speaks to my soul and she explains perfectly why I write these public posts.

There are about a kajillion and one thoughts running through my head, so this may be a bit of a mess. I’m a mess, though- I think we all are. Welcome to my brain, which makes a connection between organic chemistry and Friends in about .2 seconds. I live a weird life and it’s awesome.

I’ve recently noticed that when people start to feel comfortable around me, they call me Syd. Once they call me Syd, they never go back. I really like it.

I want you to feel like you know me by reading my writing; I want you to be able to call me Syd. I am not trying to write perfectly or even coherently on occasion. I am not trying to make myself appear to have all my ish together. In fact, I’m trying to do just the opposite- I want to be open about my failures and flaws and the hard lessons I’m learning. I want to show you all my imperfections, because in showing each other our imperfections we are able to grow. However, I also want to celebrate with you. Life’s too hard to not occasionally stand up and shout about how you’re loving yourself.

This is why I have changed the name of my blog from A Klutz’s Kerfuffle. I’ve decided that my words and thoughts do matter, and I want to be as open as possible. I want to be real with you and with myself, because if we can’t be real with each other then we’re all just kind of wasting our time.

This is my story. This is my journey into hellIMEANADULTHOOD. This is my love offering.

(Go read my about page)

(Brace yourself for a lot of writing soon. Being over a writer’s block is freaking awesome.)

This is going to be fun.

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Plot Twists

The woman sitting across from me in the basement of memorial has a story. So does the guy upstairs in line for a bagel and coffee. Even my organic chemistry professor from last semester has a story, and they are all completely different from my own. It’s really easy for me to sit here and realize that these strangers have unique experiences and lives that make them who they are and be able to appreciate our differences, but when I get around friends I tend to really struggle with that. When I am around people with similar interests, I start comparing myself and where I am in my story to where they are in theirs. I have friends who are living across the country, getting engaged, married, accepting incredible internships, learning multiple languages, etc. etc. etc. A lot of times it feels like I’m getting left behind.

I was talking with one of my friends over winter break, and she pointed out that all through grade school, we have major life events happen around the same time; we get our ears pierced in elementary school, start driving around 15, have our first real relationships sometime in high school, and go to prom junior or senior year. We get through school in 4 years and graduate with the same group of people as we went in with. Even when big events don’t happen at the same time, they’re usually in the same time frame. After high school, our significant events start spreading way out. We no longer get through school at the same time or pace; certain undergrads will graduate a semester early, whereas I’m going to struggle to get my degree in 4 years, and some will take an extra year. Others aren’t even in school and are doing something completely different with their lives. Some kids my age are married, and others are barely dating at all.  We are no longer able to compare ourselves to each other to determine how we’re doing, which can be both beneficial and extremely frustrating.

My story is different from the woman sitting across from me. It’s different from my friends from high school and the girls in my small group. I don’t even know what I’m going to eat for lunch, so how on earth would it be fair to compare my life and my decisions to those around me? I’m trying to love my story for what it is; I’m trying to embrace being open to lots of possibilities for my future, and enjoy this time where I can live without being attached to someone else. However, I also want to celebrate that other people have entirely different, sometimes huge, things going on. It can be hard to not get jealous of the accomplishments and exciting times of other people, but those times will hopefully come for me too one day. Some people have plot twists a lot earlier in the book, but I’ve always been a fan of them at the end.

Love is a Verb

I know, I know, I’ve now named two posts after John Mayer songs. Let me live my life.

I’ve had my heart set on writing about a couple things, and this topic happened to win out tonight. Don’t fret, I’m sure I’ll put off writing my biochem paper again soon so I can rant all about my other topic. Speaking of which, I am putting that paper off right now because I took an organic chemistry test tonight and that really sucks the motivation out of you. I was sitting with my friends before the test when they informed me that they’d begun looking at housing for next year and had forgotten to tell me that I was one of the roommates. Rewind about an hour, and I am once again bugging one of my best friends for housing info without much success; it really poked at my friendship and relationship-related insecurities. If she didn’t want to live with me, I didn’t know who would, and I once again started to feel as if my perception of relationships with people is skewed.

This took a really different turn than I was originally intending, but I feel as if you might need some brief background information to get a basic understanding of my insecurities; all through elementary school, people told me I was annoying. I was told my laugh was annoying and I talked too much and people who I thought were my friends would intentionally leave me out of stuff, which helps to explain why I continue to have this underlying fear that all of my friends don’t really like me. My demons are very easily fed, and they know how to attack me at the core of my own issue.

(I didn’t realize this was as big a deal for me as it is until right now, actually. Like I said, what I had planned on writing was going to be much more sunshiney and encouraging, but that’s not always how life works.)

When I was told that some of my not super close friends had just assumed that I would live with them and had gone so far as to start planning, it took away a lot of that alone feeling. I have talked to so many people who have this same issue, where we have an awful habit of thinking that nobody cares for us when in actuality we are so much more loved than we realize. Personally, I get so caught up in rejection that I sometimes forget about others’ acceptance with open arms.

I think we’re all a lot more loved than we know. We aren’t always told when boys are interested in us or when our friendship is valued or when we are missed. I’ve realized that the lack of telling people what you think of them is almost as bad as telling them that you don’t like them. This is probably super cheesy, but I can be a bit of a cheese head; you are loved by so many people, many of which you may not understand the extent of their love for you. It’s kinda awesome and crappy at the same time, but that’s sometimes how life goes.

I want you to take a minute to let that sit with you.
You. Are. Loved.
You will always be loved, even when it’s not laid out in black and white.

Dude, take a chill pill.

Sometimes I have to fight the urge to tell people to “take a chill pill” because apparently the cool kids don’t say that anymore. Maybe we should bring that phrase back.

If there was such a thing as a chill pill, I would’ve needed quite a hefty supply of them from about Kindergarten to last year. I can’t ever figure out if I’m just really good at playing off my stress or if it’s so apparent that it’s just become a part of me, but people tend to be rather shocked when I tell them about how stressed I get over everything. Last year I cried way more than what is healthy, and that’s not even factoring in my homesick cries. I have this need to feel busy and productive all day every day and it drives me into the ground. I’m not sure if it’s from stress or just my body taking on a new challenge, but I’ve had a couple panic attacks the past few months, and I’ve basically taken it upon myself to keep that from happening again.

The sad thing is I know way too many people who are the exact same way. We have this awful mindset that if we are not doing something, we are wasting our precious time. When we jam pack our schedules so that we are doing something all day every day, our mental health suffers. When we’re busy we swear we’ll take more time to relax, and when we’re relaxing we feel guilty because there’s probably 5,000 things that need to get done.

(side note: if you ask how I’m doing and I say I have less than a trillion things that need to get done, that means I’m probably having a pretty relaxed week)

I was not happy last year. I stayed up until midnight every night doing homework and then did more homework on the weekends and was disappointed in myself if I didn’t make it to the rec every day and the list goes on and on. I stayed in my room most of the time and didn’t want to go out with friends unless the plans had been in place for weeks. My campus ministry meetings started to feel like a chore because they seemingly took time away from school. I was not happy. Now I am.

I’ve come to the realization that although grades are very important, they are not everything. I’ve realized that I should run in order to relieve my stress and stay healthy rather than because I feel like I need to. I am present at my church-related events because they supplement me in a way that nothing else possibly can. My Nana gave me a calendar with an uplifting quote on every day, and I take a few minutes every morning to let it sink in. I spend a little more time with friends and make actual plans for the weekend because a social life is crucial to your well-being. Believe it or not, stressing over a test does not make the test go away; it only makes you stressed and study inefficiently and basically hate everything. It’s only been a couple weeks, but I have been trying so hard to work better, not necessarily harder. Working better allows you to take time to enjoy the change of seasons instead of stressing over catching your bus. Working better allows you to spend time doing things you enjoy with good people. It keeps your grades up without putting your confidence and health and joy down the drain.

I saw a quote somewhere that says, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” I don’t want my major and job to be everything, so these are small steps I’ve taken to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want to be intelligent (I mean, who doesn’t?), but I want to be kinder. The biggest thing that keeps me from being kind is my stress and the way I have handled it in the past, and I’m not proud of that.

Although I probably have more stress with my classes this year than last, I am happier. I am working on being better and kinder and more loving. I’m trying to live for the moment and appreciate this part of my life. It’s a good feeling.

Why millennials are leaving the church

I’m not one who has necessarily left the church, but I am nowhere near as involved as I used to be and it’s because of a lot of the reasons listed here. It’s refreshing to know that so many others feel the same.

CNN Belief Blog

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

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Freshman Year Advice Nobody Else Gave You

If you’re anything like me, the “advice for your freshman year/college/blahblahblah” lists are way too tempting to pass up; what if there’s some life-changing tip that you don’t read and then your freshman year is a failure and you become a hobo all because you didn’t read that one blog list?! Upon reading advice blog after advice blog, you realize that most of the advice is more or less the sameish. Now it’s pretty much all good advice and you should read those and listen carefully, but there are a few things that I learned last year that won’t show up on any of those lists. Without further ado, here they are:

1. Whatever you do, do not waste your time and energy looking for a relationship.
I know, I know. You’re in a pool of thousands of other people and there’s going to be pressure to find someone to date. If you happen to find someone, awesome. If you don’t, awesome. If you happen to not find someone, put that energy into meeting new people that you can develop true, honest friendships with. In my opinion, making awesome friends enriched my freshman year more than a boyfriend probably would’ve (but that’s just me). Oh, and get really used to people asking why you’re not in a relationship and assuring you that you’ll find someone at some point- it’s easiest to just let it happen, let other people worry about your love life, and keep on being you until someone great comes along.

2. Always always always drive a drunk friend/acquaintance/a friend of a friend home.
Even if it’s 3 a.m. and you haven’t slept at all and you have a test the next morning. There are things more important than an extra hour of sleep, and making sure people get home safely is one of them.

3. Friday nights at the rec are the best Friday nights.
Oh you mean you hate going out (like me) and typically spend your weekends watching Netflix and knitting with your best friend (like me) and as usual, have nothing planned on a Friday night?! Go to the rec. It’s boring, I know, but you typically share the entire place with like 4 other people and can use any and every machine your heart desires for as long as you want. As an added bonus, there usually aren’t creepy people trying to check you out while you’re attempting to work off that extra helping of froyo and oreos you ate at lunch. And as an extra added bonus (get excited), while everyone else is out working very diligently on their beer gut, you are getting a little closer to having abs (maybe). Way to go.

4. Make friends in your major.
I kid you not, the best thing ever is when you have a group of like 6 people you actually like who happen to be suffering through the same major as you and who understand how difficult all of your classes are. They will forever have your back with labs and missing class and when you accidentally wake up from a nap late and tell your TA what’s going on while you sprint a mile with a heavy backpack on. They also force you to get your lab writeups and homework done way before you would have on your own because they’re just great people like that.

5. Give people from your high school another shot.
Some of my best friends now are people I went to high school with but were never really friends of mine. Nobody is ever how they appear to be at school, and usually they end up way cooler than you thought. Give them a shot and you will probably be pleasantly surprised. You can also carpool home with them which is great.

6. Ladies, master the art of “no makeup makeup.”
I’m sure you’ve seen this on Pinterest before. If not, look up Maskcara’s version. This is your new beauty routine when you feel like actually putting on makeup because most days you’re going to be really proud of yourself if you can manage to wash your face and throw on some concealer over those zits before you head to class. It also goes flawlessly with your new wardrobe of t-shirts, sweatshirts, athletic shorts, and glasses. If this scares you a little, just know that you will come out of this year loving your 100% natural self.

7. Last, but not least, treat yourself well.
Maybe this ends up on all of those other freshman year advice blogs, but that’s because this is really huge. Taking care of yourself does not have to be huge, however; carry a water bottle with you to class, wash your face twice a day, go to bed before 1 a.m., workout at least 4x a week (30 minutes is better than none), and call your family (they will often remind you that you are loved no matter what grades you get). If you are religious, treating yourself well also means going to church when you can. I didn’t do this first semester, and the difference between how I viewed myself/my life between first and second semester was huge. You may not think so, but I promise that you need a daily dose of God.

Like I said, these aren’t necessarily the most important things anyone will ever tell you about your freshman year, but I’m hoping they help a little. You will have times where you think you’ll never live through this year and times when you never want it to end. I promise that if you stay true to yourself and really put everything you have into this year, you will absolutely love it.

Good luck.
RICHARD NIXON

You Can’t PR Every Day

“If you had a friend that spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?”

For as long as I can remember, my answer to that question has been about 4.2 seconds. I am vicious towards myself, and I always have been. I never realized how truly self-destructive I am until this summer. In order to make my life a *little* easier and more enjoyable next semester, I am taking Calc II over the summer. I am also working a lot so that I won’t have to worry about a job and my grades while I’m at school. One of my big goals for the summer is to drop my mile time by about 1.5 minutes. Individually, all of these things are very doable and not super stressful and can actually be somewhat enjoyable (I mean except for Calc because it’s going to suck no matter what). In fact, most people are able to do all of these things at the same time with grace and ease.

Not me. I look at my progress in class and I see, “well you should’ve pulled some all-nighters and spent every waking minute doing math problems so you could get better scores,” when in reality I always go into tests feeling like I understand the topic and did everything to the best of my abilities. The same goes with running- I have been unable to run for about 2 and a half months because of an injury to my IT band. Here’s a picture of it because it’s actually kinda cool if you’re into sciencey things:

Iliotibial band friction syndrome

So yeah this lovely muscle has kinda ruined any plans I had for staying in shape the past couple months. Luckily, I’ve been able to start running again very recently. That alone is kinda a big deal, but after every run I end up disappointed in myself because I’m not running under an 8 minute mile and sometimes I have to walk due to my IT band hurting or simply because I’m out of shape and that makes me feel like a failure. It’s actually disgusting when I look at how I talk to myself; I should be proud of myself for getting through 5ish miles after not running for so long and being up late at a wedding the night before and trying to break in new shoes and only having a couple Shot Bloks for breakfast, but I’m not. Like I said, I’ve always been this way- I used to cry when I got a 2 instead of a 3 in elementary school.

I’m trying to change this. If freshman year swim team taught me anything, it’s that you can’t PR every day. I’m realizing that’s exactly what I’ve been expecting of myself.

It’s difficult to break a habit that has been who-knows-how-many years in the making, but it’s slowly getting better. It was during one of my many “I’m still up at midnight trying to get homework done and I have physical therapy early in the morning and I don’t understand what’s going on in math and I suck at life” breakdowns that I realized I can’t keep doing this to myself. Whenever I start to become overwhelmed or disappointed/upset with myself, I try to look at the situation like my parents or a good friend would. They would never just focus on what didn’t go exactly according to plan; they would remind me of the circumstances that may have influenced my test score or running time or whatever and be encouraging. They would remind me that I’m doing the best that I can, and that’s all I can really ask of myself. 

Although I still have to work really hard at it, simply telling myself that I’m doing the best that I can has caused me to be much more at peace with myself than I would have ever thought possible (especially during this summer). Turns out that in order to PR, you have to go through a lot of days when it feels like nothing is changing, and that’s okay