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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when life gets the best of you

March has been a crazy month for me.

One, it is the time to scramble to submit applications, cover letters, resumes, and writing samples to all the publishing houses I have envied and admired for the past few months. I had been waiting for March to come for so long, I panicked when it finally got here. The pressure is now ON. And as time goes on, I am reminded again and again of how under-employed I am and how much I want my literary and publishing dreams to come true. I just need to keep telling myself that life will go on if I don’t get an internship, and I can find other ways to get my foot in the door.

Two, I was reminded by my lovely body of how my biological clock is ticking. That is sarcasm (but really I am totally fine with my body… this is just related to health things I can’t seem to control). I woke up with some serious tooth pain the day after we came back from being out of town. This just after I had researched dentists and picked one out–only to find out that she wasn’t in office on Wednesdays. So I Googled emergency dentists and found one close by that had great hours and specialized in people who just needed to get an issue taken care of.

Turns out, I needed an immediate root canal. Not only am I the biggest baby when it comes to dentists (hence why I haven’t been in a while–that and lack of insurance), but I am an even BIGGER baby when it comes to pain. I haven’t even had my wisdom teeth out yet! After it was over, I went through two complete weeks of mouth and jaw pain, trying painkillers that weren’t working, and all around just being miserable. Lesson learned: I will religiously floss my teeth now. And probably give this place a mixed review, because they didn’t take my pain seriously until after a week, and even now 3 weeks later I am still having pain. Not. Fun.

Lastly, as you may know, I am a caregiver at a very medical group home, so basically every day I am unsure if I will have to call 911, stay with a resident at the hospital, or deal with copious amounts of texts to the house nurse. I plan on doing a humor post about being a PCA soon because I am now at the point where I can laugh about how crazy my job is. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

But here’s what I’m learning: 

I am learning that it’s okay not to have it all together. 

My theme right around two years ago was trying to find a life that is okay while not being okay. (And then I fell in love with Looking for Alaska by John Green). It was when I realized that most of us are dealing with pretty rough things, but life doesn’t even slow down for us. We just have to push through. It’s okay to be honest about the pain you’re going through, but if it’s an every day thing, then express your hope as well. Even if that hope is just looking for the silver lining or enjoying the sunshine for thirty minutes.

I am learning the value in my job and the lives that I assist.

You can tell me that being a PCA is an under-employed filler job. It pretty much is. But there are people who make their careers in working with people who have special needs. I admire them even while I know it’s not for me long term. But instead of wishing I was an employed writer, I’ve decided to start writing about my work and about my friends and co-workers and clients and everyone who is affected by the special needs community, which is everyone. I just finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and am running through my head the ideas of the value of life and what makes a life valuable. Which leads me to my last point…

I am learning what life is about and how I want to live mine. 

Who I am, who I’m going to be… those are not questions that end when you find yourself an adult living on your own. Those are ideas I get to ponder my whole life, and I don’t plan on waiting. I’ve decided to stop being apathetic about spiritual growth just because I’m angry at my past and try to move on already. I’m learning that the meaning of life is maybe just to love (and hopefully be loved in return), which means selflessness is a thing that’s not just for the super religious or church enthused (the old me).

(Source: Tumblr)

(Source: Tumblr)

If you’re reading this, basically know that I am still in my 20-something funk, but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. No… I take that back. I have no idea what that means because I’m pretty sure we never leave the tunnel. To think that one day everything is going to be perfect is a lie. This world is pretty messed up, humans are messy, but there’s beauty found in all of it. I am finding my hope.

When life gets the best of you, find a way to move forward. Floss your teeth, eat more fruit and vegetables, and read good books, all the while trying not to worry as much. We’re so young.


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the jumble of my brain, growing up, and other messes

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Do you ever have something you really really want to say, talk about, or bring up, but you don’t know how to do it?

This is me when it comes to my Christian, fundamental, homeschooled upbringing.

Yes, that is a Lion King quote. But if you’re around my age, maybe you remember and relate to that move as much as I. It was my favorite, and I thought of this quote when writing this post.

I don’t know what to say about my past because I don’t want to bash – I didn’t hate it, and I mean no disrespect to anyone who endorses all that. I love my parents and am thankful for their excellent parenting in many areas (pretty sure I turned out all right!).

But I’m realizing now how much I disagree with many of the books I read, concepts I was taught in churches, and leaders who spoke to me throughout my entire life – including my private, Christian university. I’m having trouble sorting it all out, what’s “good” what’s “bad” (if those categories are even okay!), and whenever I’m asked about it, I want to explode. So many thoughts in this brain.

I’m only a year removed from all of that – a year since graduation. I’m not removed from my faith, I just attend a different church than I did even while at college, and I am surrounded by friends who don’t constantly bring our childhoods up. But when one of us does, and we have childhood stuff in common, it’s like I’m a top that can’t stop spinning. Or we exchange similar memories one on top of the other like caffeinated pre-teens.

I guess I’m writing this post because I literally do not know where to start. I want to share what I am learning and the opinions I am forming about stuff I’ve known about my whole life but that looks so different to me now. I want to talk to 20-somethings who grew up similarly to me, about things we were all taught, about youth groups, Christians who hurt us, Bible verses and concepts that hurt us, books that confused us, maybe even people who judged us. But to talk about it all in order to sort out the good that existed, that came, and that continues.

I’m tired of being angry or hurt.

And I don’t just want to talk about faith and the Christian church. However, that is the lens through which I used to look at every single thing on the planet. So to think about my childhood and teenage years while excluding Christianity is like trying to look through purple sunglasses without seeing any purple. It just can’t be done.

So bear with me, if you are interested, in the jumble of my post-college and growing/changing-of-my-faith brain.

And as I invite you to participate in the ramblings, please don’t hesitate to share your experiences too! I think it’s time our generation spoke up about homeschooling, fundamentalism, the Purity Movement, or whatever burden you are carrying around unspoken about. And then turned it into a conversation about how we can do even better for the next generation.


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8 ideas for the overwhelmed post-graduate

Intelligent-Husky-Graduates-College-Still-Doesnt-Know-What-To-Do-With-His-DegreesFinishing undergraduate college can be a truly overwhelming experience. Suddenly you’re on your own. No dorms, cafeteria food and dining funds, professors giving you advice, and learning simply put in front of you. Everything takes effort and intentional work now – including earning money based upon your degree.

I can personally attest to feeling adrift and lost for the whole year after I graduated in December 2013. My story may be different from yours since my brain has dealt with depression since high school, but the post-university blues are a real and documented thing.

I went back to one of my college part-time jobs after graduation to “take a break” from the stress of senior semester (for example, I couldn’t read a single book or learn anything academic). Soon after, I felt stuck, stressed, and lost. I knew I needed more internship experience, but I needed money to pay for my wedding and didn’t have time besides. I didn’t even know how to look for jobs in my field, and worst yet, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’m still figuring it all out!

Most importantly, I know I am not alone. For more information on on awareness of college graduates and depression, read these articles from The Guardian, The Independent, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Take a deep breath and remember that you’re not the only one. Here are some ideas to keep in mind and do as you go through this time.

1. Renew your perspective. 

Going through college gives you expectations that may be actually unrealistic! You’re only in your twenties. Talk to people. Many of them didn’t get a job they loved (or in their field, etc.) until they were much older and much further out of college. Try to view your life from another person’s shoes, and you may be surprised to see how blessed you still are. And don’t forget to admire your degree a little!

2. Re-think your expectations. 

Like I stated above, our college minds are taught about the “real world” in terms of expectations for us. In turn, we develop ideas. When we don’t meet those ideas, we may not have made a Plan B and thus fall into negative thinking. Making smaller goals (like making a list of places to apply or attending a resume workshop) can be an easy first step in heading in a more realistic direction. Then you can realistically expect to be in your field, say, five years from now. Don’t go overboard too soon!

3. Narrow down your strengths (and weaknesses). 

Unsure of what you want to do? Write down your interests and then separate the hobbies from the things you could do as a career (this benefited me greatly!). Research your field and find out what you may be a perfect fit for. Write down your strengths for interviews, and also decide on what your weaknesses are should you need to work on those (public speaking, interviewing well, etc). College was spent learning about so many subjects that you may have skipped learning about yourself professionally.

4. Find out how to prepare. 

Maybe you were that student who listened to your college’s career center and practiced interviewing, resume-writing, and job searching, but I wasn’t. I barely had time for homework much less preparing for what I would do afterward. If you feel “stuck” in your current job situation, go back to your strengths and weaknesses and figure out what you could work on. Research actual jobs in your field, ask questions, and do the small things that are helping you become more learned in the area of the real world rather than maybe what you studied. Sometimes this is the best thing you can do while you wait for that call back or interview.

5. Don’t be afraid to try new things. 

Yes, we’re all taught that we should use the degree we got all those student loans for. But honestly, maybe you decided on that major as a junior or senior in high school and were too afraid or far along in college to explore other options (also known as me). Perhaps you want to deviate a little because you found an amazing organization or a line of work you never knew existed. Explore! Take a class now and then if something interests you. Volunteer one night a week or month. Or maybe you might find you love being an Esty-shop owner, barista, or waiter/waitress – that’s perfectly okay! More job experience is more life experience, and all these things can make you well-rounded and wiser.

6. Explore your world. 

As an autobiographical writer, I know I’m probably not going to get something big published while I’m young. It just makes sense that I would need to live a little longer and more. For that reason, I know it is important for me to travel and discover new places, and what’s great for my budget is that they might be just down the road. If you can’t afford to fly somewhere, read your state’s magazine and discover all the gems the locals talk about (Minnesota Monthly and Mpls St. Paul Magazine are my favorites for Minnesotans). If it’s not intimidating, meet new people around you and learn their story. In a small way you are broadening your perspective and becoming more learned in the ways of the world. Don’t underestimate your life and experiences.

7. Enjoy your friends and family. 

It’s true – you may not have the same community of professors and students you had at college. But now that you don’t have the same “busy with finals” excuse, you can use an allotted time each week to reconnect with friends and family you don’t want to lose touch with. Isolation is the worst for depression (as tempting as it is, I would not recommend binge-watching Netflix, at least not for months at a time). Talking to people and being encouraged by them is one of the healthiest things you can do.

8. Get help if you need it. 

Lastly, seek professional help if your depression simply isn’t letting up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of by any means, but it can be hard to find someone without the free services of college right there. Though your college’s counseling center isn’t able to directly help you, they’re usually more than willing to give you a list of services in your area. If that’s not up your alley, then seek out a mentor through your church or perhaps a past professor who would be willing to listen and encourage you.

Are you or did you battle with the post-graduate blues? What are your ideas for battling depression and feeling lost in the job-searching world? 


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3 simple ways to find encouragement day to day

I haven’t spoken about it on this blog a lot, but like many twenty-somethings navigating being adults, I struggle off and on with anxiety and depression. It influenced my life for many years until my senior year of college, when a friend encouraged me to seek counseling help. I was amazed when I finally had an adult acknowledge the way I constantly felt and affirmed me in my wishing it could be something separate from me. 

And it can. She told me that depression and anxiety don’t have to be YOU, they can just be something we deal with more than others, or that affect us greatly in our day to day lives. And I agree. But more on mental disorders and health another day.

Because I have these struggles that don’t just “go away” and won’t just be banished by extra prayer or having “more faith” (concepts of some Christians that I extremely disagree with), I have to find a way to push through every day. Some days are way better than others and surprise me, and some days are just in a “funk” that I have to accept and deal with.

I have noticed that, despite how I feel, I can choose to act and live a little differently than I have before. I make mistakes constantly, but something I am noticing is the small little victories that occur when I try something new, try something remembered, or choose to see through a different perspective.

Here are some ways, and some perspectives, that help me make joy happen in the moment:

1. Read quotes. Inspiring, motivating, positive quotes. 

They are WONDERFUL. I cannot appraise them enough. Obviously there’s a lot of leeway when it comes to amassing a collection of them or choosing which ones you want to see. I have continued the process of writing them down immediately, whether that be journaling, re-pinning on Pinterest, retweeting, bookmarking a link, etc.

OR, what really helps me be inspired by positive and upliting quotes is printing them out or writing them down and putting them on my walls. My bedroom used to be covered with them, and I find that when I am reminded of that awesome quote, I am reminded of the positive feeling I associated with it when I first read it or what it inspired me to do. That’s a pretty fantastic way to find joy.

For example, a quote from Kate Arends, a speaker I heard last week at Creative Mornings Minneapolis: “If you can’t see how blessed you are, even the best things in your life can look dull.” #wordsofwisdom

2. Talk to friends (like one-on-one coffee dates). 

I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without the many times I have sat sipping coffee with a good friend. These times of exclusive listening and time-giving are when I feel most comfortable, loved, and noticed. Having coffee with one friend gives me the space to share what’s really been on my mind, and it gives me a chance to listen to them as well! Nothing beats connecting over what you have in common and encouraging each other, whether your struggles are similar or not.

In this world of busy career life post-college, it is important to make time for friends. Even if I only get to visit with one or two in person a week and max out my coffee shop budget before the end of the month, every minute is completely worth it for me. Since I don’t have the blessings of the dorms anymore, being intentional is absolutely essential!

If you’re not able to meet in person or spend money, shoot a text or, if you’re braver than me, a phone call to say you need a little extra encouragement or just to share your thoughts about something. Staying connected is key.

3. Seek the little things. 

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s absolutely true and worth repeating. Find what small joys you have in your day and seek them out. Remember them! Write them down! They can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee that tasted so fantastic and woke you up, or maybe the book you’re reading is amazing, or maybe working out makes you feel really good. Great! Do that thing.

As twenty-somethings, we get to decide how to shape our lives. We get to decide where we find joy and then pursue that thing.

Yes, there are always going to be situations that we don’t love and are tedious (job searching, everyone?). But what I’ve found is that, by seeking out “me time” or encouragement from something every single day instead of waiting for it to come to me, my day gets a little bit brighter.

What are some ways YOU find encouragement every day? 


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thoughts on One Thousand Gifts

one-thousand-gifts

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp is a spiritual journey book about finding joy in your every day life. A mother and wife, Voskamp wanted to live her life intentionally and well, and found that a simple challenge to write down things she was thankful for transformed the way she lived. “‘How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?’” (Amazon). This book is a guide to discovering God’s blessings and learning to be present in Him.

My mentor recommended to me this last summer when I expressed a similar hunger for what Voskamp talks about. The description of the book sounded like a guarantee – a fool-proof way to have joy in your life. Maybe it would have been if I had kept up the gratitude journaling, a concept that launched Voskamp’s spiritual journey and shaped the entire book. The first chapter intrigued me so much, and I was sold! I started my journal right then and there. But as I read on, I was so turned off by her confusing and wordy writing style that the joy simply petered out.

I really want to love this book. The concept is wonderful of course, and I appreciate her fascination with small things, making our “mundane,” every-day lives full of joy. She is a breath of fresh air, and I am thankful for my mentor recommending this to me.

However, her way-over-the-top lyrical style, love of poetry, and bad metaphors started annoying me to no end. I found my inner (and outer) editor cringing and wanting to “fix” this book. It had so much potential!

I can relate to her because I love lyrical essays. But during my undergrad, I got failing grades for writing stuff like this, so I am a little frustrated that this mess was publishable. Certainly wanting to be an editor myself isn’t helping things. And maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe it did undergo a transformation before being published. But if so, it wasn’t enough to pull writers in.

I did take things away from it and I tried to read each page with an open mind and less criticism. However, it was slow-going and my own thankfulness journal didn’t kick off because of it. I didn’t study the craft of writing to ignore execution. I did a lot of underlining in my copy though, and one day I’ll go back and craft some quotes and thoughts from those great pages.

Conclusion: This book may change your life. It certainly taught me things I will carry long beyond the writing style (I hope). Some people truly adore this book, otherwise it wouldn’t be a New York Times best seller! My recommendation is that if you are writer, take this book with a grain of salt (if you attempt to read it at all).

If you are a twenty-something seeking joy, give it a try. And if you are not a writer with an inner editor, definitely go for it! Put it in the church library, gift it to friends wanting to find joy (after reading it of course), and find its gems.

Review on Goodreads


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10 simple items for an emotional-health “kit”

Given all the emotions us twenty-somethings and college students experience in our day-to-day lives, my mind has been searching for an emotional first-aid kit, if you will. A list where, when I’m apathetic or truly raw, I can pick off a number and do that item in the hopes that, for a few moments, I can either forget my many emotions or better process them. Quick fixes to curing depression don’t really exist. Instead, I want to offer and be offered small, general steps for when you recognize you need a little TLC. These are good reminders for anyone in that moment of emotional need. emotional first aid kit 1. Stopping to breathe! Tell yourself that times will not always be like this, and whatever emotion you’re experiencing will eventually settle down.

2. A hot drink. Even if that’s not your favorite, even holding some hot water in a mug can be very calming.

3. Taking a walk. Outside, if you can. If you live in the Polar Vortex (like me), then find some hallways, stairs, or pace around. Getting moving can be an emotional break and help relax you.

4. Reading that letter to your future self. I stumbled across one today in a journal from a year ago that basically told me to calm down and remember that nothing is as big as it seems in the moment. Write one to yourself now and store it in a safe place.

5. Stretching.  Sometimes I think my day would benefit greatly by giving my muscles a moment to relax or be used in gentler ways. It leaves your body feeling refreshed.

6. Relaxing media. Whether that be a playlist of your favorite, emotionally-freeing songs, funny YouTube videos (cats or laughing babies are my favorite), or an inspiring Podcast. For example, sometimes I need hip hop dancing and sometimes I need a Spotify “mood” playlist.

7. A Disney movie. Or, if those aren’t your thing, just a favorite film that always incites good memories. And maybe a warm blanket and a friend to watch it with.

8. Blank sheets of paper. To journal, or rant on, or color, draw, paint – you name it! Getting something written down or out of your system can be very therapeutic.

9. Someone to talk to. A phone call, text, or Facebook message away. Admitting you need help or sharing thoughts is healthy. For me, an external processor, it’s almost essential at times.

10. Doing nothing. That’s right – just lie down on the floor and stare at the ceiling for a while. Your mind’s been busy! Give it a break.