the process of becoming

a blog for twenty-somethings trying to navigate the world and follow your dreams


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I’m not going to apologize for being “crazy”

This post is for the woman.

The woman who was brought up to be guarded, dare I even mention the word “submissive,” and proper.

The woman who felt then—and still does—SO. MANY. EMOTIONS. Who just wanted to be heard, noticed, appreciated. Acknowledged that having those emotions was, and is, perfectly okay. Whether that’s being really really happy, a little (or lot) depressed, or just plain moody.

Whether you were raised in the church to always “guard your heart,” whether your parents or relatives were good at discipline and children had to be “seen not heard,” or whether there was a boy who just couldn’t “handle” your tears, I’m here to tell you not to change.

I’m not going to apologize for being emotional, for feeling everything, for “being crazy.” And neither should you.

You are either 1) not crazy, so stop thinking/saying/feeling that you are, or 2) that “crazy” is the beautiful hot mess that is you—goofiness, wonder, passion, interests—all bursting out during moments of energy. I love it. Keep it up, okay?!

I had a rough time in high school where I couldn’t decide whether sharing my emotions was going to turn people off from being my friend. I was moody, dark, somewhat depressed, and I wore black a LOT (long live the band T-shirts). I knew that I had a lot of empathy for basically everything under the sun, but I didn’t know about anxiety disorders back then or the chemical cause of depression. I thought having a boyfriend meant that he’d take you as you are, emotions and crying episodes and all. I didn’t know how not to feel.

And I remember feeling inadequate when I was rejected for showing my feelings. For being “crazy.”

And then, halfway through college, I realized that I didn’t need to apologize anymore.

I don’t need to apologize to my now husband for bursting into tears unexpectedly. I don’t need to apologize to the world for not feeling well enough to venture into another crowd. For being too anxious to pick up the phone. For feeling depressed.

Men, this doesn’t just apply to women, obviously.

I’m simply referring to the generations before us who taught us that women “shouldn’t” you-fill-in-the-blank.

I’ve slowly and gradually learned that there’s only so much you can do to “self-improve.” Find where that stops and celebrate who you actually are.

There’s no stopping my emotion train, but there is therapy or medication for anxiety disorders for those who need them. And then there’s just really emotional people, and sensitive people, and artsy people. And poets. (I could go on)

And I am so so blessed to have a husband who recognizes me and my emotions for who we are and lets me be me. I’ve stopped apologizing and spent more time bursting into laughter over emotional breakdowns now.

Women, stop being sorry. You are beautiful for all the neurons and brainwaves and things you feel. KEEP FEELING THEM. Don’t apologize.

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life moves forward

Lately, I have found myself energized. Which, in my current state of struggles with physical problems due to my job and the absence of my husband due to finals week, is actually kind of a miracle to me. I suddenly do not mind the fact that, in my free time this week, I haven’t watched too many episodes of Netflix! Instead, I have:

1) edited my LinkedIn profile profusely, over and over again.

2) had a Google Hangout interview with a nonprofit organization that I am SO SUPER EXCITED ABOUT. You literally have no idea. My husband had to watch me run around our apartment with all my pent-up energy after reading everything I could soak up about this organization online. I’m debating telling you what it is right now. Of course it is no guarantee I will receive the internship. But everyone I have told says that it is perfect for me and who I am. I should move on to point three before I type in all caps again.

3) finished a hand-made Christmas gift for my sister. It took hours, months actually, and every minute of it was completely worth it. The sense of pride I felt upon seeing it finished on my floor was astounding. It is definitely one of the biggest projects I have ever undertaken, and I didn’t even know if it would work, but the fact that I stuck it through and finished it is the best part. I hope she loves it. (Shh, no of course I can’t tell you, what if she reads this?)

4) created and refined a portfolio website right here on WordPress! During this week I was mulling over how to share my portfolio of writing (and photography) with my interviewers, but when I went to find my old portfolio website I made during school, I found it deleted!! D: No sign of those blog posts, blogs I was following, nothing. But it took me 5 minutes to decide to just make a new one! It still has some kinks I am figuring out, but I am proud of having it considering the “dry spell” I have had with writing in the past year. See it here!

Making it reminded me that I DO have writing to share and be proud of, even if it wasn’t written yesterday.

Now, I find myself encouraged. I can do this. I can get out of the post-graduate funk where my mind was telling me I had to be awesome and already be climbing the corporate ladder and be published in 8 places to be a successful grad. But I don’t! I have a mind chalk-full of ideas for articles about marriage, relationships, and singleness, my faith is becoming less confusing after that killer theology class last year, and I have a clearer idea of what I want to accomplish in the next year.

writingAnd no, this has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions! I completely forget about those every year, to be honest. I like making them throughout the year and focusing on one at a time. More room for success (: But with my Passion Planner that will be coming in January, I am excited to be planning goals all the time in a more concrete form.

Did any other graduates have the same problem after graduating? What encourages you to keep moving forward with your writing (or other loves)?

 


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christianity and the zombie craze

This is a little outdated (okay… more than a year), but since I never got around to submitting it to Relevant Magazine online, I thought I’d still show it to the world somehow. Here is one of the first articles I ever wrote. OH, and can I also mention that I do not quite agree with myself anymore. I’ve grown a lot since writing this. I enjoy most horror/suspense movies now, regardless of whether you think super intentionally about why you’re watching or not. No judgment.

The virus has infected the whole world, and you are alone. A scraping sound fills your room, the door rattles, and your heart lurches as you look down and realize your ammo is almost out. Growling drowns out the sound of your heartbeat as the door bursts open… Yep. You guessed it. Another zombie movie.

If you find yourself fascinated with the zombie apocalypse film genre, you’re not alone. Zombie movies are off the charts, taking up genres such as comedy, romance, and classics as well as horror. And they are multiplying. A Google search will show 665 zombie movies, and AMC-created television series The Walking Dead to top off the past decade’s zombie-movie success. Its Season 3 finale had 12.4 million viewers.

It seems as if this generation is being overtaken. We all know the craze is everywhere, and with the millions they’re making, the zombies are here to stay. But why are they so popular? What is it about this genre that keeps us coming back? And, most importantly, what are Christians to do with these films?

Many critics and journalists have explored possibilities, suggesting critiques on society, obsession with violence, or a reflection of our discontent in life. These reasons are not new. Ever since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead shocked audiences in 1968, the zombie movie has done something more; it has said something to us about our human condition. And it’s way more than just “brains!”

Mark Muska, associate professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Northwestern College, thinks the reason is twofold. On a surface level, our generation is merely self-absorbed and over-stimulated. We continually seek the next thrill and satisfaction. “Zombie movies are like roller coasters in that way,” Muska says. “They take us on adrenaline highs, and we always return for more.” 

Many can’t deny their love of haunted houses, horror movies, or exploring places for fun at night. It’s just simply our culture. But since horror has been around for so long, the movies now get creative. Zombies are perfect because we don’t understand them, and they’re hard to kill. When the zombies leak into other film genres, it is simply combining two loves and desires into movies that will keep the box offices making millions.

But the other level of appeal is much deeper. Muska acknowledges the secret draw towards the films. He says they reflect our longings and interest in life, humanity, and mortality, even for Christians. “The genius of it all is that they don’t raise it directly,” he continues. The characters may not be Christians, but they have things to say about where the world is going. This results from a curiosity towards the afterlife and the end of the world but is often not blatant or obvious unless you’re looking. Also, in a way, the movies force us to imagine being stripped of everything distracting us from what matters most. What would happen if we had to face humanity at its worst? If we really looked, it would show us what we value: beauty, companionship, and sacrifice.

Though the genre doesn’t reflect the Bible in a literal way, the movie makers can often be quite intentional in their underlying messages. Hershel Greene, a character in the TV series The Walking Dead, states to another character in one episode, “I can’t profess to understand God’s plan. Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.”

As Christians ourselves, the question we must ask ourselves is how we need to respond and evaluate the craze. Do we turn a blind eye and deem the movies as “sinful,” or do we just exercise caution by thinking about it first?

That’s for each person to decide for him or herself, but the point is to check one’s own interests, standards, and convictions. What needs to be addressed is how we think about and interact with the films and their values even when the TV is off. The Bible doesn’t give a “yes” or “no” concerning horror. Muska reminds that “we are given a lot of freedom in this area.”

Though almost everyone has a special curiosity for the afterlife and the apocalypse, Christians see it differently. On one hand, the zombie apocalypse could be a metaphor for our fallen humanity. Ultimately, these films reveal our depravity and the human nature that would exist on an earth without our redemption. But though the world may not actually be overtaken by zombies, the genre adds something to our values. We can see how it causes us to think about our culture in a new way.

Thus, for Christians, there are two extremes. One would be labeling these films as junk, and the other would be consuming them without a second thought. Middle ground and wisdom are the key, so find what works for you. The importance is your intentions behind why you watch them.


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recap

This post will be short and a little random. It’s based off a draft I started back last November. Yes, folks, I will admit. I have disappeared for just short of a year!

So I think I should give you a timeline of my ridiculous year and just leave it at that!

November 28, 2013: My wonderful boyfriend proposed to me overlooking a valley at sunset, amidst giving thanks for our many blessings. Naturally, I said yes (many times).

December 20, 2013: I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature & Writing from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul! At least I think it was that day. I was relieved, burnt out, ready to be done and I never ever ever wanted to look back. Except… well, it doesn’t work that way. And I was engaged to a continuing student.

Fast forward a few recovering months…

Around the Spring of 2014 I started really planning my wedding (procrastinator much?).

May 2014: Transferred to a different ACR home (more medical). Got hired as the Marketing and Development Intern at New Life Family Services in Richfield, Minnesota.

July 13, 2014: Finally married my best and amazing friend Andy Waller.

July 15-something, 2014: Honeymoon to Vancouver Island, Canada and Seattle, Washington (some of the most beautiful places on earth let me tell you!)

August-present: Continued working at ACR and finished my internship on October 10th.

Three months of marriage and a whole lot of work later, here I am. Ready to post, ready to grow, ready to move forward out of the place I am in. You will be seeing lots of me from now on!

Best,

Sarah Waller


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my inspiration

Image

Some people get their inspiration, their spark, from nature, some from photography, some from food, or feelings, or stories, or people, or other art. 

I think I get it from all of those things, too. But the biggest source of inspiration for my writing are words. Words like the short poems I read on Tumblr quite often: unpublished, raw, real words. I don’t go to book stores to be inspired, I go to bookstores to drink in published works. But when I want to write myself, I read what is unedited, rough, and dripping with recent emotion. 

Here is an example of what I read and what makes me want to type and scribble until my fingers turn navy blue. 

“i could live with a life of
adjusting your collar,
ironing down shirts
and our future.
i could live with a life of
kissing the top of your head
while you bandage my scraped knee.
i will love you at 2 am
over sandwiches and
silliness,
sitting cross-legged on the
kitchen floor.
i could live a life with you 
of not only dancing in
the rain,
kissing in the rain,
but sharing together the
unspeakable joy
of standing in the midst
of a storm and
each other,
getting drenched, and
laughing out loud
with each other and
God.
and so, we will help
each other hang up the
laundry
which muffles what
our hearts want to say, and
when we don’t feel like
dancing, we will look
at each other and leave
that up to our eyes.
when your heart hurts 
because it’s been a long
day and you can’t help
but wonder why you can
bandage people up but
sometimes they never
heal,
i will sit on the floor with
you and hold your hand
and tell you that you
are the strongest person
i know.
and when there is no joy
in the storm
and the rain never seems
to stop, and it soaks
our shoes and makes 
us utterly miserable,
like coming down with
a cold in june,
please understand that i am
equally miserable without
your company.
this is what i have to offer you.
i hope you can live with the
weight of my words
and the girl along with them. 
i hope you can love me,
not just now,
but when i am old, 
and only my soul
is beautiful.”
 


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a long, mess blog post (like me)

I am beginning to discover things about myself. Things that require a brand new bio (and I am a new creation, even if I struggle to know what that means). I am never permanent. I can’t depend on myself for anything, which is hard to comes to terms with, but it draws me ever closer to the loving embrace of my Father.

But really, without the sugar coating, who am I really?

1. Lover of chocolate, coffee, and tea.

– But I’ve expanded my horizons. Instead of getting excited over Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, I crave a ciocolatta calda or a latte macchiato from Martin’s bar back in my little town of San Lorenzo. I miss plain espresso shots, cappuccinos, and hot brioche in the morning. I like coffee shops here in the Cities like Spyhouse, Coffee Grounds, or Common Roots.

2. An avid fan of relationship.

– Since I have been dating for almost 9 months, it has given me lots of time to realize how much I used to judge all the “Northwestern couples” and every single other reference to dating, engagement, and marriage. Now (not to brag, seriously, but), I’ve realized the beauty of a committed relationship, especially the yucky stuff. Really. It’s not easy, so I’ve found myself admiring even more the marriages that have lasted and the relationships that have persevered. And yet, I still remember the pain of being betrayed, heartbroken, and forgotten, so I do not disqualify things that are beyond one’s control. Love, in friendship form as well, is a precious thing.

3. Over-dramatic storyteller who sometimes speaks before she thinks.

– Often in ways that are not good, but it’s simply a trait about me. I can’t stop reacting in fun and silly ways to make life interesting, and I can’t stop my emotions when they want to actually react to disappointing circumstances. My mouth likes to speak faster than my formulating thoughts. I’m working on this.

4.  Struggling writer.

– I go through fruitful times and I go through dry times, sometimes questioning myself, my major, and my career. I have a problem with wanting to be perfect and hating the process of perfection. I like raw reality, because we can’t edit our real lives. Let’s write what actually happens.

5. Christ-follower.

– but if you could even call me that! Honestly, I feel like a terrible representative of Jesus pretty often. Why would someone who knows the Hope of Glory be so depressed sometimes? I sin all the time, and some days I just don’t know what I am doing for Him. Yet there are still times when His Word GLOWS and I get overly excited about the Gospel.

6. Sweater-wearer.

– Winter is important, because sweaters. And blankets. Mittens. Layers and layers, and I can wear big baggy hoodies and zip-ups without being judged.

7. A learning cook.

– I am making progress, but living in a small apartment shared with three other women often dampens my enthusiasm for cooking. Lack of fridge/storage space, FUNDS, good recipes, and time are what get me. Buuuuut it makes it all the more rewarding when I do make food (:

Really. I am a pretty big mess.

But that’s the cool part. That’s why His grace is so important to me. I love the brokenness of life and of people because it is through it that I find His beauty. I am in a theology class right now, discovering more about the character of God and discovering that I will never ever be the perfect college senior I once wanted to be. Many days I just don’t want to be responsible for anything, but He’s working on me!

Things that are on my mind with all this: 

– I want to be a balance of “okay” with a life that is not always okay.

– I don’t want people to expect me to be together all the time, because 89% of the time, I am not! I love it when people sit down at coffee shops or living room floors with blankets in our laps, make eye contact, and ask “how are you really?” and then just listen. I think everyone should write personal essays and then let me read them.

Life is an adventure whether we want it to be or not.

All for now.

In Christ,

Sarah

PS!!!!!  I promise to learn how to keep future blog posts short. Bear with me (:


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remembering, and coming back to… where?

Whoa. Hey. I’m back.

But the question I ask myself is… where, exactly? This blog name is temporary, this post will only be seen by few before even I forget about it, my apartment lease is only for 12 months, I won’t even be a STUDENT anymore come mid-December… oh my gosh, nothing is permanent.

Nothing is permanent.

I will graduate, have to find a new job and a new apartment, write stuff (?), maybe change my marital status, do ministry, expand my family, live in other countries, make a difference….? Such lofty dreams for a 21 year old who feels as fragile as papyrus.

Nothing is permanent except Christ and His glory. That I can take faith in. He promises He won’t change, and He is just – yesterday, tomorrow, today.

Yet I rarely take real and true (as in … tangible, that prevents me from stressing) comfort in the promises of the Bible these days. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I am undergoing so much change, and my limbs are flailing out towards a grip in the midst of foaming rapids, or because I just feel… dry these days, but I’ve been facing a lot of lies. And I really need something to hold on to. My faith is still there, even if I still forget, still worry if my next paycheck will cut it, still worry about the rubble of student loans awaiting me in a few months, still doubt myself to the point of tears on random nights where I should instead be rejoicing.

Life is hard. It’s more than we can handle.

I watched footage of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers today, in remembrance of September 11th, 2001.

My nine-year-old self slept in that day, until right around 9 am. Shortly after finding breakfast, I walked to the downstairs of our small Minnesota-suburb home to start on my schoolwork for that day (this was shortly after my parents started homeschooling me).  I picked up a grammar book (Dad taught grammar and English in the morning before switching with my mom and going to work) just as my dad ran down the stairs and flipped on the TV in front of the couch. And for two hours we did nothing but stare at the screen.

I don’t really remember what emotions were going through my head. I wish I could find my journal entry (I was an avid writer even back then), but I can only see the screen. Falling debris. Ebony smoke rippling into the sky. Ash everywhere. People running. I didn’t understand…

Years later, I can’t remember exactly, the Christian radio station my mom listened to constantly in the car played an audio drama of one man’s phone call to his wife and children from one of the top floors of one of the towers. Mom cried. I cried. I think it wasn’t until then that I felt like I was in the shoes of those who were impacted. I had felt affected before, but that moment stands out in my mind more. I pray for those who lost family members and friends, and I still feel like I’m nine and I’m watching it for the first time. I shocks me every time.

I just finished the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which made me want to start writing fiction again.

Slowly but surely I am realizing who I am and why and how experiences shape me into this person. But I am also learning about who I want to be. I don’t want to be someone who casually shrugs off what’s happening in this world, but I also can’t be the other extreme of crying over the little things (not spilled milk, but like… similar things. I am such a girl).

Anywho, my heart is heavy today as I write this, for more than the reasons listed, but I have this strange hope I haven’t felt in a long time… like God is answering my prayer to get me out of this desert and make me into a sturdy book instead of a fragile thin sheet. I will wait on Him for as long as it takes… which means my whole life.

This is worth it.

More later. My thoughts are a little scattered right now. But hey… I’m back. To here, at least.