Old at Heart


“You’re so mature.”  “You’re old at heart.”  “You’re only 18 [21, 23, insert current age]?!  You seem so much older.”  Between my mom, other family members, friends in college, & coworkers, these are all phrases I’ve heard quite consistently throughout my life.  The vast majority of the time they’ve been meant as compliments (I think), though as a teenager naturally I found such comments a bit upsetting because they seemed to highlight exactly how uncool I really was.  However, I also realized that the very things that made me uncool at the time were the exact things that would make me successful later in life.  (I suppose the ability to realize that really was a mark of maturity.)  Once I was in college such comments bothered me a bit less because once you’re out of high school being cool stops having so many rewards while being intelligent, well-read, & capable of carrying on conversations of actual depth become much more important characteristics, all of which I was (& am) proud to possess.

In any case, of late I’ve noticed a bevy of articles on Buzzfeed, Thought Catalog, & other such websites about the reality of adulthood after college, your early 20’s vs your late 20’s, & signs you’re nearing 30, etc, etc.  A former coworker of mine posted such an article on her Facebook yesterday: http://viralpoop.com/30-signs-youre-almost-30/.  Reading this article made me recall all the times I’ve been called “old at heart” & the mixed feelings these types of comments always create.  As I read the list of “30 signs you’re almost 30” I realized once again how many of these things are true for me & more importantly how many of them have been true for me for YEARS now.  Perhaps some of it has to do with being an introvert who has always preferred casual nights at home with friends to wild nights at loud bars & crowded clubs.  Or perhaps I really am just “old at heart.”

youths

Whatever the reason for this, I’ve decided to embrace it.  Being old at heart might mean I get invited to fewer bars, clubs, & parties, but it also means I have a solid group of close friends whom I can truly count on in good times & bad.  Being old at heart might make me boring in some people’s eyes, but it also means I have a good career & am financially savvy.  I might be out of touch with popular music, but if you want to veer off the beaten path, I’ll be happy to introduce you to a long list of lesser-known but extremely talented musicians & bands.  I might own the world’s oldest I-pod (I refuse to upgrade until it breaks because I see no need to replace something that works just fine), but I also own dozens of actual CDs which I am always happy to lend to friends so they can discover awesome new music.  Being old at heart means I am ghostly pale in the winter & have tan-lines in the summer, but my risk for melanoma will be a lot lower than all of my cohorts who zap their skin in tanning beds or forego sunscreen on a regular basis (not to mention when I do hit 30 I’ll probably look a lot younger than they will).  I will never wear skinny jeans & cannot stand almost every major fashion trend of the past few years, but the clothes I do buy are classics that will stand the test of time & can be worn for years to come.  (And if boot-cut/flare jeans aren’t classics, then I truly do not give a damn.  I’m rocking them anyway.)

tanning bed

I’ve often heard it said in life that the things we criticize about ourselves the most or  the things we feel most self-conscious about are exactly the things that make us fascinating, unique, & beautiful.  For example a friend of mine once told me that he had always felt self-conscious about his nose.  The ironic thing was that I had always thought his nose was exactly what made him uniquely attractive.  As another example, I’ve always been self-conscious about the fact that I’m eternally clumsy, always tripping or dropping something.  However, my coworkers affectionately call me “Clumsylina” & tell me how endearing my clumsiness is.  I also feel self-conscious about my hair at times.  I hate styling it (or having anyone else style it) because sitting in front of a mirror fretting over my appearance has always struck me as an absurd waste of time.  Therefore I sometimes worry that my hair looks unkempt & fear that I give off an “I don’t care” vibe when really I just hate fooling with it.  However, the reality is that I get more compliments on my hair than on anything else appearance-related.  (Apparently having naturally wavy/curly-ish hair is a blessing that I’m only just starting to appreciate.)  If you want an example in the media, consider Jess on Fox’s New Girl.  One of the most common descriptors for her character is quirky, thanks in part to her unique outfits, her naiveté, & her propensity for turning anything & everything into a song, & at times she is quite self-conscious about these things.  Yet it is exactly these quirks that Nick can’t resist & that attract audiences across the world to watch the show.

beauty in faults

The point of all this is that it’s often our quirks, even our supposed “faults,” that define us, that make us unique & exciting, & that attract others to us.  Perhaps being old at heart is my greatest quirk & instead of being embarrassed by it, it’s time to embrace it & realize that being old at heart doesn’t have to mean I’m boring.  It’s just who I am, & I like myself this way.  Therefore I am going to embrace it, & the next time someone calls me “old at heart” I will smile & thank them for the compliment with no second thoughts.  And if I do have second thoughts, I’ll remember this blog post & why I wrote it.

How about you?  What quirks about yourself make you self-conscious but make others love you?  Has anyone ever called you old at heart?  If so, how did it make you feel?

Processing Grief During the Most Wonderful Time of the Year


A week from today is Christmas so I know I “should” be writing some kind of joyful, uplifting post about how this is the most wonderful time of the year.  And in many ways it is.  But I work in a hospital so whether I like it or not I’m confronted with the fact that Christmas can actually be a very sad & difficult time of the year for many people because of sickness, accidents, mental illness, drug abuse, and of course death.  My own family has lost several members over the past year & this will be our first Christmas without some very special people.  I don’t mean to be depressing, but I just feel like I need to address this subject because I know I’m not the only person who is feeling very conflicting emotions at this time of year.  Part of me loves all of the decorations, parties, Christmas music, & general “cheer” that the holidays bring.  But part of me also feels the weight of grief in knowing that this Christmas will be a bit different than those of the past.  This leads me to a greater topic that I want to address.

grief

A friend of mine recently posted something on Facebook about how sad she thought it was that some religious people believe that grieving, even at funerals, is wrong because the focus should be on the loved one being in Heaven.  I was very struck by that post because I too have witnessed this sad phenomenon.  I have been to lots of funerals in my life and over and over again I have heard the same basic phrases: “She’s better off now.  She isn’t suffering anymore because she’s with Jesus in Heaven.  Don’t despair.  You’ll see her again someday.”  To be perfectly honest, until my grandmother died five years ago I was quite guilty of saying some of these things myself to other people whose relatives or friends had died.  However, when Granny died I realized how completely unhelpful such things are.  I know that people mean well when they say these things, but standing in the line at the visitation the night before Granny’s funeral, I realized that the only words that really comforted me at that time were these: “She was a wonderful person.  We all loved her so much & we will miss her forever.  I’m so sorry for your loss.”  I needed people to recognize that, yes, this WAS a major lossAnd I had every right to feel sad, depressed, and even angry at the fact that she was gone.  (To be honest I’d worked through a lot of these emotions even before she passed away because of her being on hospice for quite some time, but even so the pain of losing a loved one is never easy.)  I remember going to her funeral and wanting to cry so badly but feeling like I couldn’t.  Now, this is largely my own fault I suppose for not feeling comfortable enough to cry in front of my own family.  How ridiculous is that?  My sister wasn’t afraid to cry, but I was.  I never once cried in front of my family when Granny died.  I only cried when I was alone or with my now-husband (then boyfriend).  There are a lot of underlying reasons for why I only felt comfortable enough to cry in front of him, and I am still working through those reasons even now.  But I can’t help but feel one of those reasons was that for so much of my life I’d been inundated with the never-explicit but always strongly implied idea that grief was somehow sinful, somehow selfish.  I don’t know exactly where this idea came from and I am blaming no one in particular for it.  It was just there.  Maybe I made it up, but I don’t think so.

When I was a junior in college one of my OB nursing professors told us a very personal story about her own miscarriages and the eventual birth of her first child who was either stillborn or died within a few hours of birth.  The point of the story was that there was so much grief involved with losing this child and that she had to learn to work through it.  She learned that no matter how much she tried to just “move on with life” and push it away, the grief was still following her.  I’ll never forget that lesson.  I remember so strongly sitting in that class, thinking about how it had been a year since Granny’s death and I had done everything I could to run away from that grief because I was busy with nursing school and just didn’t want to deal with the grief of her passing.  I just didn’t feel like I had the stamina to process it so I kept pushing it away.  And just like my professor said, the grief kept coming back.  It kept haunting me.  It wasn’t until I heard her speak about how she finally learned to confront the grief, to handle it, to honor it, to accept it, to process it, that I realized how much I needed to do the same thing.

My professor was so right.  Grief is a process.  It isn’t something that goes away overnight.  For some losses, the grief will never totally disappear, but no matter how much we feel like we can’t handle dealing with our grief for whatever reason, it will never go away at all until we start to process it.  Indeed, grief will haunt you forever until you learn to really work through it.  This can mean so many different things for different people (and can be different even for the same person depending on the nature of the loss).  I think it’s fair to say that most people process grief at least partly through tears.  I know there are exceptions to every rule, but the majority of people do cry when they’re sad.  But sadness is just one part of grief.  There’s so much more to it than that.  Grief can encompass anger, frustration, and so many other feelings because whenever we experience a loss in life there is a part of us that wants to shake our fist at the sky and ask “Why?  This is so unfair!”  And quite often it is unfair.  And there is nothing wrong with feeling that way!  It’s just part of human nature, of experiencing life.

charlie-brown-christmas

So my challenge to myself and to anyone reading this is to really think about the losses you’ve experienced in life, especially any unresolved grief that might come back to haunt you at Christmas, this time of year when memories can seem stronger than ever.  And instead of trying to just forget it or push it aside, really confront that grief.  Begin to process it.  Sometimes we think we’ve moved past a loss only to realize months or even years later that the wound is as fresh as ever.  And that’s ok too.  We just have to find ways to process our grief.  For some of us that means listening to music or reading a book or writing a poem or song.  For some it means seeing a therapist or counselor.  There’s no right or wrong answer here.  The point is that we need to be honest about our grief.  We can’t try to hide it or deny it.  As families and friends we need to support each other and not be afraid to show our “weaknesses.”  If this is your first (or second or tenth) Christmas without a loved one, don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry or just not be as “jolly” as perhaps you usually are.  It’s ok.  Just be honest with yourself and your family and friends about your grief.  You never know who else may need your encouragement to process their own grief as well.

I hope this post wasn’t too depressing but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year and felt like I needed to write for my own sake as well as hopefully to encourage others.  Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all my lovely readers!

10 Reasons Why Growing Up Doesn’t Actually Suck


It doesn’t take a genius to realize that our modern society values youth very highly.  Turn on the TV or flip through any magazine & you will be greeted with a veritable host of ads showcasing products that proclaim they can “erase wrinkles,” “cover up greys,” or “give you the energy of youth,” etc, etc.  In the media we are constantly assaulted with pictures of young hot celebrities & on a more day-to-day level we inevitably hear people making comments about how much getting old & growing up sucks.  Since graduating from college I have even noticed a difference in the things I see on Facebook.  I now see a lot of statuses about how much “real life” sucks & there seems to be a ridiculous amount of nostalgia going around for the innocence & simplicity of childhood.  Now I for one spent a great deal of my childhood & adolescence pining for adulthood & the freedoms it would bring.  Perhaps in some ways it’s sad that I didn’t just enjoy my life to the fullest at those stages as I suppose most kids/teens do.  But I have to say that even though being an adult is hard, I for one am not disappointed at all.  I am happier now than I’ve ever been.  One of my greatest goals in life is to always retain the energy & vibrancy of youth while balancing this with the wisdom & serenity of getting older.  So today I thought I’d compile a list of reasons why growing up doesn’t actually suck.  In truth there are a lot of things I LOVE about getting older & I think our society could certainly use a reminder of these things from time to time, so here we go:

growing up

  1. Growing up means no longer having to obsess over every facet of your appearance.  I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but when I was a teenager I spent entirely too much time worrying about every tiny bit of my appearance.  If even one hair was out of line, I was sure I looked horrible & that everyone was secretly laughing at me.  Though I’ve never been the type to really follow fashion trends, I still felt the need to be as “in style” as possible.  Well, one of the great things about getting older is the ability to just not give a crap about such things.  And to know that you are better off because of it.  I don’t mean that I don’t care about looking my best; I certainly do.  But if I have a “bad hair day” or a day when my acne is acting up & making my face look like a teenager’s all over again, I have the maturity to know that this too shall pass.  I also know that if anyone thinks less of me for not wearing the trendiest clothes or not having perfect skin or anything superficial like that, then those people aren’t worth worrying about anyway.  I’m far from the confident person I hope to be someday but I’ve also come a long way from the girl I used to be, & I’m proud of that.
  2. Growing up means realizing that your mom was right when she said it was more important to be respected than to be liked.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m a born people-pleaser.  It just comes naturally to me to want to make others happy & to be well-liked by everyone.  But I have learned to temper that when necessary because I have discovered that it truly is impossible to please everyone all the time.  And that’s ok.  It’s just life.
  3. Stemming from the last point, getting older means having the courage to say no to people who are just trying to use you to their own advantage.  It means having enough self-respect to not waste your valuable time on people who don’t actually care about you.  Getting older means realizing that your worth is not diminished by those who do not recognize or appreciate you.  This gives you the confidence to say no to those who do not actually have your best interests at heart.
  4. Getting older means not having to panic every time something doesn’t go “your way.”  It means realizing that just because you’ve had a bad day or even a bad week, month, or year, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have a bad life.  And getting older means realizing that your attitude is the greatest determinant in your own happiness.  (This is both scary & enlightening.  I could write a whole blog post on this subject & I probably will soon.)
  5. Getting older means learning how to agree to disagree.  It means building friendships with people who are vastly different from you & instead of trying to “convert” them you are content to learn from each other & use your differences to build a stronger relationship.
  6. Getting older means independence.  Ah, what a glorious word!  This is what I longed for so much as a child.  I know most people end up regretting such longings because they say the price of freedom is too great.  But I disagree.  I think if you make good decisions in life, you will set yourself up for success & you’ll be able to reap the rewards of independence to the fullest.  I love that as an adult I can choose my career, my spouse, where I live, what house to buy, what to wear, who to be friends with, where to go to school, what to eat, basically everything!
  7. Growing up means realizing that there is no one right way for everyone in life.  There’s nothing more freeing than understanding that there is no exact prescription for success that every person must follow.  Growing up means having the freedom to make mistakes & learn from them.
  8. Growing up means realizing that sometimes life sucks.  It means looking evil in the face & realizing that this world is a cold & scary place.  (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme…)  I know this must seem like a bad thing.  And it’s this loss of innocence that so many people mourn so greatly.  But I’ve never understood why people celebrate innocence so much.  It’s nothing more than an illusion.  For of what value is happiness if it’s based on something that is fake?  To me that’s what “innocence” is.  It’s the happiness that comes from not realizing how bad the world can really be.  I think the happiness we can experience as adults is all the greater because we have had to see so many of the dark sides of life too.  Which is of greater value: the happiness of a child who does not yet understand the world or the happiness of an adult who has looked into the pit of hell, faced the monsters of the world, & come out alive?  Maybe I was a weird child (ok, who am I kidding, I was DEFINITELY a weird child for a number of reasons), but I don’t ever remember feeling the type of blissfully ignorant happiness that people always talk about children experiencing.  In any case, I believe the happiness & love we can experience as adults is all the greater because it’s a real choice.  We have chosen to seek joy even though we have seen that life is often cruel & unfair.  We have chosen to seek peace even though we know that life can be violent to even the meekest of us.  This thought process requires a bit of mental gymnastics at times but I truly believe I am happier now than I’ve ever been.  Yes, I have days when I look at the world & feel like there’s no hope.  But those days aren’t the norm & when they do happen I have the wisdom to know those feelings will pass.  Whew, that was a deep one.
  9. Growing up means realizing that the journey is as important as the destination.  It means understanding that life is short & we truly must live every day like it’s our last, as cliché as that may be.
  10. Getting older means realizing that just because your life isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t great.  It’s so easy to look in the mirror & think “I’d be so much prettier if my nose were just a little straighter” or “I’d be so much happier if I could afford that fancy car I’ve always wanted” or any number of such things.  It’s so easy to compare yourself to your friends, coworkers, or even celebrities & feel like your life just doesn’t measure up.  But growing up means realizing that everyone’s life isn’t measured against the same yardstick.  We all have our own meter for success & happiness & that’s the only one that really matters.

 As an addendum, if anyone wants to help me create better titles for my blog posts, that would be awesome.  I like to think I’m a pretty decent writer but when it comes to creating titles for papers, essays, poems, or blog posts, I’m always at a loss, as you can clearly see by the super clever title of this post.  😉

All Kinds of Kinds


Now some point a finger and let ignorance linger/If they’d look in the mirror they’d find/That ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning/It takes all kinds of kinds . . . ~ Miranda Lambert’s All Kinds of Kinds

People take different roads seeking fulfillment & happiness.  Just because they are not on your road does not mean they are lost.  ~ Dalai Lama

Dalai lama quote

Currently my mind is awash with various ideas that I want to write about but nothing much of value seems to be coming out of all this muddle.  You know that feeling when you have so many ideas that you can’t really settle on any of them?  Yeah, that’s where I am right now.  It’s times like this that I so desperately need to write & yet often when my mind is so overwhelmed like this I sit down to write & the words run away from me the way I run from a snake when I see one.

In all of this madness the two quotes at the beginning of this post keep coming back to me.  I’ve heard that Miranda Lambert song on the radio a few times lately & I keep finding myself looking it up on YouTube to listen to it again because the words strike such a chord with me.  The Dalai Lama quote is something I came across on Facebook last week & instantly loved.  This idea that there is no one right way for everyone is one of those universal truths that as an adult I keep stumbling upon.  I stay stumbling upon because it’s an idea that I really cherish & yet it’s one that I think we all struggle to really remember from day to day.  I don’t have any scientific backing for this, but I’m pretty sure it’s wired into our DNA somewhere to compare ourselves to each other, perhaps women being the worst perpetrators here.  As much as I love the internet & truly believe that social media can enhance our lives for the better, sadly such things can also encourage that innate drive to compare ourselves to everyone around us.  The unfortunate result of such comparisons is usually one of two things.  First, we often find ourselves feeling inadequate because we inevitably see others who we PERCEIVE are prettier, skinnier, richer, smarter, more successful, etc than ourselves.  Second, we often find ourselves criticizing others because we do not agree with certain aspects of our lives.  I believe it is a sign of our own insecurity that we are so often quick to judge others instead of relishing the fact that not everyone is just like us.  Instead of feeling either inadequate or self-righteous when we see others living differently than us, we ought to be thankful that in truth “to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds.”  Just think how boring the world would be if we were all alike?  One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life is that when I open myself up to new ideas, new ways of thinking, & new experiences, that is when I really learn & that is often when I feel most alive.

Now I realize this thought process could lead to some dangerous territory if we took it too literally.  Obviously there are some things like child molestation & murder that as a society we have to reject as immoral.  We cannot accept ALL behaviors or else the world would be even more chaotic than it already is.  As with almost everything in life, it all comes back to “everything in moderation.”  I truly believe if we could all learn these concepts, the world would be a better, more peaceful place.

As I’m writing this I sincerely hope I don’t come across as arrogant or preachy.  I’m as guilty of not following these principles as anyone.  But I’m working on it.  And that’s what matters: the everyday continual process of effecting change, & that process always starts inside each & every one of us.  As with everything, some days it will be easier than others.  And some days it will be harder.  I am grateful that I have so many friends from so many different walks of life with so many different belief systems who continually challenge me & help me to become more & more tolerant, educated, & compassionate toward the world at large.  Y’all know who you are.  And I thank you for accepting my Type A, mildly OCD (but only about some things!), high-anxiety, questionably crazy kind.

A Student of Life


Essentially my entire memorable life I have thought of myself principally as a student. Being a student is what I have always been good at. I was one of those really weird kids who actually enjoyed school & not just the part about seeing friends or playing kickball in gym class. Actually, I usually hated gym class unless I got lucky & had some good friends to suffer through it with me. But that’s a side note. I actually really liked going to class, reading my textbooks, & sometimes even writing papers.  My point is I have always loved learning. It’s what inspires me & feeds my insatiable curiosity about life.

books

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that since graduating from college & no longer officially being a student I often find myself feeling a bit adrift in life. Of late I see more & more of my friends going back to school including many of my nursing school classmates. When I see these things I hate to admit it but I am quite jealous for I fear that I am falling behind. After all I graduated at the top of my class in both high school & college, so I always thought I would be the first person (or one of the first I should say) to go back to school for an advanced degree.  After all I went to nursing school with the sole intention of becoming an NP, preferably within five to ten years of graduating. Well, here I am two years into my nursing career & I find that the last thing I want to do right now is go back to school & that I have no idea if becoming an NP is what I actually want. Yes, bedside nursing is far from the perfect world that nursing school tries to portray, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that I really do love this career, more than I actually I anticipated I would. And I am really quite good at it! As much as I often doubt myself, deep down I know I’m a great nurse. I wouldn’t be serving as a charge nurse and a preceptor if I weren’t.  I don’t want to be a bedside nurse forever but I don’t want a “desk” nursing job either, so basically I have no idea where my career is going which is both scary & refreshing.  Is it even normal to think about such things at 24?

I like to think that since I am no longer an official student at any school/university, I am now a student of life. And I guess what life is teaching me right now is that life isn’t a competition, at least not with anyone other than yourself. And if in my heart I don’t feel this is the right time for me to go back to school, then it isn’t the right time. And it’s ok. Yes, I still may feel a twinge of regret when I see colleagues or friends “advancing” beyond me in their careers, but no, I do not have to wallow in guilt over feeling that way. So many people have told me “Go back to school before you have kids. Do it as soon as you can!” In so many ways I know that would be the easier path, & yet I find myself day dreaming much more often about becoming a mom than about becoming an NP. This is quite jarring for me because even as a kid I always fancied myself as more of a “career woman” who might eventually “settle down into mommyhood.” Indeed it’s only in the past year that I have started truly desiring to have children at all. And it’s still a pretty far-off wish. I know I’m not ready right now, & yet the idea of going back to school even in the next few years strikes fear in my heart. That sounds ridiculous in light of how much I really do love learning. But it’s the truth. I spent so many years of my life devoting myself so fully to school & I have no regrets over that (well, no serious ones). Thus I am inclined to wonder if perhaps my mind is just seeking a different path for a while. So I am writing this as a way of trying to make peace with myself over the idea that “just” being a student of life for a few (or maybe even a lot) more years is more than adequate.

I’m a big believer in technology & the ways that it enriches our lives. For example, one of my dearest friends lives in England & if it weren’t for the Internet we would not even know each other at all, much less communicate on an almost daily basis. But the downside to modern-day technology is that things like Facebook & Pinterest (the latter of which I refuse to join for this very reason) make it very easy for us to get caught up in comparing our lives with everyone else, everything from our hair & clothes to our homes, careers, & children. Such comparisons inevitably lead to depression, anxiety, or general dissatisfaction with our own lives. It’s the rat race on steroids. I’m not suggesting we need to forgo these technologies in order to be satisfied with our own lives. But I do have to remind myself often that the only person whose opinion of my life truly counts at the end of the day is ME. And I cannot base my life decisions on what other people are doing or what is right for them at a certain point in their life.

When I think back on all of the major decisions in my life (where to go to college, getting married, applying for & accepting jobs, buying our house, etc), I’ve always had a certain inexplicable sense of just knowing that I was making the right choice at the right time. I wish I could explain it scientifically but I can’t. With that in mind I am slowly learning to rest in the knowledge that when I’m ready to go back to school I’ll just know. And when I’m ready to become a mom I’ll just know. And it doesn’t really matter in what order those things happen for one of the greatest lessons I have learned as a student of life is this: There is no one right path for everyone. And that is what makes life so beautiful. As my Psychology 101 professor once said “Some things in life are not good or bad, better or worse. Only different.”

The Seasons of Life


Today I went to the pool for what may very well be the last time this summer. I’m still calling it summer because technically it is & since I’m no longer in school I never feel like it’s truly fall until late September when the weather actually begins to cool down & the leaves start to change colors (although as I discovered last year the leaves in Raleigh don’t really start changing till October). There is always a part of me that feels sad whenever I go swimming for the last time each summer. As a kid I thought swimming was the ultimate thing to do in the summer & I just couldn’t stand to be around a lake or pool or any body of water & not be in it as much as possible. I’ll admit that as an adult most of my time spent at the pool is now spent reading BY the pool, not actually in the water, but I always make time to get in the water at least a little while to cool off & just enjoy the feeling of the water around me. It really is a magical feeling that brings back a lot of good childhood memories.

Fall leaves at RU, October 2009

Fall leaves at RU, October 2009

I love all four seasons of the year, each one for different reasons. But if I had to choose I would say fall is my favorite, especially now that I’m out of school & can really enjoy fall for all the fun things it brings instead of just associating it with the beginning of another school year. (Not that I hated school, in fact in many ways I loved it & miss it dearly, but nonetheless I do feel like I enjoy fall more now that I’m out of school.) I’ve often heard people say they would love to live in Florida or Southern California or some place like that where it feels like spring & summer all year. Even as a kid I never thought that sounded too spectacular because I have always loved all four seasons & can’t imagine life without them. To me the seasons have so much to teach us about the seasons of life & the good & bad things that each of those seasons brings.

One of the things that has made life after college somewhat confusing for me is that I no longer really feel like I have something specific that I’m working toward. I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person so being in school was very good for me because I always felt like I had something to work toward. I could focus on small goals like acing my math test at the end of the week or larger goals like graduating from college & starting my nursing career. Either way I always felt like I had an end-goal in mind. In a way the freedom of no longer being in school is fabulous & I obviously really enjoy it because I’m no longer in a rush to go back to school like I always thought I would be. Yet at the same time I often feel like I’m just drifting around, not sure on what to focus my enthusiasm & hopes for the future.

What I am slowly learning though is that drifting isn’t so bad. There is nothing wrong with having goals in life; indeed I’m a big believer in having goals because in aiming to achieve them we so often push ourselves to bigger & better things than we ever imagined. However, I am also learning that it’s ok to just relax & enjoy the seasons of life as they come. As a kid I was always in such a hurry to grow up. I just wanted to be an adult so I could have the freedom & respect that adulthood provides. I am very happy to say that adulthood hasn’t disappointed me yet & I’ve never once looked back on childhood with any real nostalgia. If that sounds depressing, I promise you it isn’t. What I find depressing is the people who look back on high school as “the good old days.” That just screams to me that they are disappointed with their current life. I don’t ever want to look back on any part of my life as the best time. I want every season of my life to be the best season, & I truly believe it can be if I continue to strive to enjoy every moment of my life as it comes without focusing too much on the past or on the future. I’ve read a lot of books (fiction) & seen a lot of movies whose message is to “live in the moment” & I am slowly learning how important that really is. It is of course necessary to remember the past so that we can learn from ours & others’ mistakes. And it’s also necessary to have a plan in place for the future. For example, the only reason I have a good career, a wonderful husband, & a house at a fairly young age is because as a teenager I thought ahead to the kind of future I wanted & made good decisions so I could get there.

However, in a world that feels rushed 24/7, I find it increasingly important to focus on enjoying every season of life as it comes. By season I mean both the literal seasons of winter, spring, summer, & fall as well as the metaphorical seasons of college, young adulthood, parenthood, etc. It’s so easy for me as a young married woman with a good career to feel like I have to think ahead to becoming a mom or going back to school or just achieving “the next big thing” in life. There is of course nothing wrong with any of those things, but I am learning to find peace in just enjoying this stage of my life. I am also learning that the more I truly enjoy each stage of life as it comes I the less I look back on the past with regret. Yes, I miss college quite often, mostly because I miss seeing my friends on a daily basis, but I also realize that I’m a different person now & that stage of life no longer suits me. I enjoyed my college days to the fullest & thus I can look back on them with a smile knowing I have no regrets.

I’ve been seeing lots of posts on Facebook this week from people who can’t wait for fall to really get here. But today I’ve decided to enjoy the last few days or weeks of summer & when fall gets here I’ll greet it with loving arms. But until then I’m going to bask in the glorious sunshine. So often I also see my friends posting on Facebook about going back to school or having babies, & I sometimes feel the need to “catch up” lest I should “fall behind” in life. And as some of you may know I have been thinking a lot about becoming a mom lately, not any time soon but in the next couple of years. This is a huge step for me since just a year or two ago I was quite convinced I would never want to have children. But for right now I’ve decided to just enjoy this stage of life to the fullest while it lasts. When else in my life am I ever going to have the freedoms that I have right now coupled with the enthusiasm & energy of youth? The answer is never. Someday I’ll be a mom & someday I’ll go back to school, but I think I’ll enjoy both all the more because I didn’t rush into them.

So my challenge to you today is to enjoy whatever stage of life in you’re in right now. When you find yourself saying “I just can’t wait for this or that to happen,” take a deep breath & remember that just like the seasons of the year, no season of life lasts forever & they all have their own unique treasures.

The “Aha!” Moment: I Finally Understand Myself!


Today a friend of mine from nursing school posted a link to a personality test on her Facebook. I’ve always been intrigued by personality tests, though quite often they seem to be mostly crock. However, this one appeared pretty legitimate (it’s quite famous actually; I had just never taken it before) so I decided to take the test. The resulting description inspired quite an “Aha!” moment for me. Never has a personality test described me so accurately as this one! I want to share this because I really feel like reading this is helping me to understand myself & to focus on the positive aspects of my personality, & I believe it could do the same for you! Here’s part of the description for my personality type,INFJ (introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging):

“Even though their presence can be described as very quiet, INFJ personalities usually have many strong opinions, especially when it comes to issues they

consider really important in life. If an INFJ is fighting or something, this is because they believe in the idea itself, not because of some selfish reasons.

INFJ personalities are drawn towards helping those in need – they may rush to the place of a major disaster, participate in rescue efforts, do charity work etc. INFJs see this as their duty and their purpose in life – people with this personality type firmly believe that nothing else would help the world as much as getting rid of all the tyrants. Karma and similar concepts are very attractive to INFJs.

These tendencies are also strengthened by the fact that INFJ personalities have a unique combination of idealism and decisiveness – this means that their creativity and imagination can be directed towards a specific goal. Few other personality types have this trait and this is one of the most important reasons why many INFJs are able to eventually realize their dreams and make a lasting positive impact.

INFJs are masters of written communication, with a distinctively smooth and warm language. In addition, the sensitivity of INFJs allows them to connect to others quite easily. Their easy and pleasant communication can often mislead bystanders, who might think that the INFJ is actually an extrovert.”

See http://www.16personalities.com/infj-personality for the full description.

Anyone who knows me reasonably well will probably agree that this is a pretty darn accurate description of me. I am often described as quiet (see my last blog post about being “too nice” to like rock music) & yet I do have many strong opinions, though I like to think I’m flexible & capable of seeing other points of view as well. (I always want to laugh when people call me quiet because I think “If they only knew all the things I’m thinking in my head!”) Despite being somewhat “quiet” I don’t mind voicing my opinions & I don’t shy away from leadership positions. In fact I often volunteer for them, not because I like telling people what to do but because I love having the power & ability to make a positive difference. This leads right into the next part of the description about helping others. Obviously I do love helping others or I wouldn’t have chosen to become a nurse. And as the description states, I do strongly believe the world would be a better place if we got rid of tyrants. (I have strong opinions on freedom & individual liberty as some of you may know, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

My favorite component of this INFJ description is the part about the unique combination of decisiveness & idealism that makes this personality type capable of fulfilling their dreams & making a “lasting positive impact.” Ever since I was a child I’ve always dreamed of making a difference in the world. When I was a kid I thought I would be a failure in life if I didn’t become famous someday. Now I realize of course that was a silly way to think, & I actually cringe at the thought of being a celebrity. But I still want to make a difference in the world, even if it’s just the small sphere that I inhabit for whatever time I’m allotted on this Earth.

INFJ’s are also talented writers which I like to think I am. At the very least I certainly enjoy writing which is one of the majors reasons I started this blog!

Lastly, I do think I connect & empathize easily with others, which probably explains why I scored so high on the F (feeling) part of the test. I like to think this is part of what makes me a good nurse, both for my patients & their families as well as for my coworkers.

I hope I don’t sound arrogant or self-centered in writing this post. As I explained earlier, this test has really helped me to understand myself. I’ve always felt like I’m a little strange or “off” which probably is true considering this personality type is considered to be quite rare. I have also struggled throughout my life with being very detail-oriented, focused, & perfectionistic which has its benefits but can also be very tiring. There have been so many times in my life when I’ve thought I would give almost anything to just be a more relaxed, “happy-go-lucky” person. However, reading something like this that focuses on the positive aspects of my personality really encourages me. When I read this I thought “There really ARE other people out there like me!” And if you look at the bottom of the web-page it lists famous people who are thought to be INFJ’s. I was quite gratified to see several of my heroes in life listed: Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr, & Nelson Mandela. Not bad company if I do say so myself!

I am sharing all of this because I truly believe this test can be beneficial in helping us to understand ourselves as well as others we interact with, whether it be at home or work or elsewhere. I seriously think this might be a good test for couples to take prior to getting married or moving in together. Not because I think there are certain personality types that are necessarily compatible or not compatible (though perhaps there are; some research on that would be fascinating), but because I believe it could be very beneficial in helping couples to understand each other better. (Definitely going to try to convince my husband to take this test. I am very curious to see his result.) One of my strong opinions about life is that self analysis is extremely important because the more self-aware you are, the more empathetic you can be to others. And more empathy in humanity can only lead to a better world for all of us.

You can take the test for free here: http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

I’d love to know your results so feel free to post them as a comment along with whether you feel the result is accurate or not.