Lemonade

“I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” – Queen B

If I asked a room full of people whether they’ve had a year of ups and downs, I’d like to think that a majority of them would have their arms raised. There would be a few lucky (or in denial) individuals with their palms firmly on their laps, but only a few.

Well, if you’re reading this and mentally raising your hand because this year has been tumultuous – I am right. there. with. you.

In the last year I graduated from college, saying goodbye to friends who had been like my family. In the last year I have made life-changing decisions that I don’t regret…and some that I do. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve faced depression. I’ve wrestled with self-doubt.

I’ve suffered with this nasty little thing called anxiety that makes it easy to zero in on and blame myself for everything that didn’t turn out exactly as planned. It’s exhausting – and as others with anxiety know – sometimes debilitating.

But here I am. When hurting, it’s easy to forget of all that you are capable of. It’s easy to forget that while you are standing there nursing your wounds, you are, in fact, standing.

One of the most healing things I’ve learned this year is to let go of the hurtful nonsense that couldn’t be controlled, and to forgive yourself (or someone else) for what could have been controlled. Also, what others think of you truly, sincerely, does not matter. Tell yourself that. Okay, now tell yourself again.

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I don’t want to sound preachy. It’s just that it’s taken me quite some time to get to this place where I truly am thankful for everything that has happened in my life, bad and good, because it’s made me into someone who I really like being. I have a wonderful job, family, loyal friends, a loving boyfriend, killer music taste, and a planet full of opportunities that I have yet to experience (if you ever forget what you have going for you, write down the good things. There’s more than you might realize).

If I can help even one person to feel a little better about what they might be going through, that’s enough. Basically, here’s my advice if you’ve┬áhad a roller coaster year (or life):

  • Laugh at yourself. It’s good for you.
  • Forgive yourself every night and recommit every morning.
  • Stand up for yourself when necessary.
  • Always try to be kind.
  • Do what you love, and fuck the rest.*

Shyanne

*Ten points if you can guess what movie that’s from.

Is Long Distance the Wrong Distance?

Nobody wants to be in a long distance relationship. They’re inconvenient, messy, and prone to miscommunication and mistrust. Yet almost everyone has been in one at least once in their lives. This is because, despite the fights and the loneliness they can cause, the love that you carry for someone can simply outweigh logic. Love is a welcome inconvenience. While love is the main driving force behind most long distance relationships, it by no means can lead a couple to the light at the end of the tunnel by itself. It needs help from its friends: trust, patience, forgiveness, understanding, communication, etc.

I have been in two LDRs in my life. My first experience was right out of high school, with my high school sweetheart. I was optimistic. I just knew that we could make it work, graduate, get married, and live happily-ever-after. He was not so sure. Needless to say, we crashed and burned. I was crushed, and carried with me one huge chip on my shoulder. I became convinced long distance didn’t work.

And then Brandon came along. Cute, silly, and very kind. Brandon became a huge part of my life the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college. I told myself, and him, very early on that I didn’t know where this was gonna go since I only had one semester left. We decided to keep dating and just not get too serious. Inevitably, what started as a small crush on a classmate turned into something very deep and by the time I was finished with my last semester of college, I wasn’t ready to let go of him.

So when I moved back to Southern California to find a job and start my life, we tried long distance. And it sucked. I got jealous easily, despite how loyal he was. I was horrible at communicating. To be fair, we both definitely had things that we could work on. It had been a roller coaster of ups and downs, but every time I was eager to push him away and let it go (because long distance just doesn’t work, it was too hard, I was lonely, etc.) he pushed back and made it clear that he still wanted me just as much as ever. And finally it clicked: long distance doesn’t mean shit when you have found another person who is just as stubborn and determined to make it work as your are.

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It can work. It won’t be easy – but it can work. Both parties just need to be on the same page, and that’s why that out of all the qualities a long distance relationship can have, I think that communication is the most important. Talk a lot. As much as you can. About important things, unimportant things, and everything in between. Tell your partner when you’re hurting, or when you’re happy. Ask for the same in return, because no one can read minds. Speak up and let your needs be known, it will help the both of you out so much more in the end.

Luckily we live in a time when long distance isn’t confined to letter writing (though a hand-written letter every now and then is a nice touch) so get on Skype, FaceTime, or shoot them that “thinking about you” text.

Speaking of the convenience of technology, keep an eye out for my next post. I’ll be reviewing some of the Apps and tools Brandon and I have used to make the miles between us seem a little smaller.