Life isn’t Easy and it Probably Shouldn’t Be

Life isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite. But maybe, just maybe, this journey we’re on isn’t meant to be easy. Maybe life isn’t about finding the easiest way to get from point A to point B. Maybe it’s about embracing the journey simply for what it is. Maybe tomorrow we’ll all be holding hands singing Kumbaya, but probably not. I would be willing to bet that life will always be hard, but I also think that, as life gets harder, we get stronger. We learn how to deal with the hardships and face them with new outlooks. We learn to take on opportunities no matter how scary. We learn to listen to the advice of others even when we may not want to. We learn to work towards our goals and persevere through any obstacles we face. No one will be able to make your life any easier for you, but, as you grow, you become more able to get through the hardships and you learn to ask for support and help along the way.
So here’s my bit of wisdom for today: In life, no one is going to hand you a ladder. If you want it bad enough, you will build your own. 

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Dear Anxiety

I haven’t posted on here in almost 2 months because school is utter insanity. However, with today being National Mental Health Day, I figured it was time to shed the light on something once again. I wrote this about a year and a half ago and it is even more relevant today. It may be long, but if you are battling your brain, it truly can help to put it in it’s place.

Dear Anxiety,
Let me be clear on one thing: I don’t hate you. I hate the way you make me feel, the abrupt overtaking of my mind that paralyzes me with panic, and the way you keep me up at night. I hate that you consume me with doubt and fear on a daily basis. But I don’t hate you. You make me who I am.
You made me stronger. Because of you I have seen the lowest days and I know I never want to make anyone feel that way. Because of you I will never let anyone get away without knowing how much they mean to me and how important they are to the world.
Our relationship didn’t just show up one day. It was a gradual change that, at first, made me think I was crazy. 12 year old me sitting in the bathroom having my first panic attack. At school. You really couldn’t have eased yourself in a bit more nicely?? I guess I can’t complain since that was the only time you decided to give me a break. After that, I didn’t hear back from you until the start of high school. And I didn’t even realize you were there until I looked back on those years. Every time I turned a corner I doubted myself. Was my uniform in check? Did I talk enough in that class? Did I talk too much? How stupid did I sound? You slowly took over my thoughts. The only class I thought I was doing great in became my most feared class when I was told to speak up more. I wanted nothing more than to please my teacher, but you took over telling me that everything that came out of my mouth was stupid and a waste of time. Our relationship continued like this for years. You created a campground in my mind. And, any time you gave me a break, you were quick to make up for the lost time when you came back.

And here we are tonight -or this morning, rather- at it again. An endless battle against you. Against myself. You use everything you can think of against me: flashbacks, old mistakes that shouldn’t matter anymore, test grades (even the ones I should think are good enough), friends who reality tells me are trustworthy. Anything you think of, we battle. And here I sit, awake for 24 hours straight, because asking to fall asleep before 1am for once was too much to ask.
All of these things, though annoying to say the least, don’t make me hate you. Because if I hate you, then I hate me. And as true as that may be on somedays, it will not be allowed in my day to day life. So instead of hate, I bring you acceptance. I don’t like that you consume me the way that you do, but we’re just going to have to work together to get through life. You’ve brought me compassion and patience, the 2 things I value most about myself. So, thank you for that. You’ve made me stronger and resilient. Thank you for that. You’ve taught me how to pick up the shattered pieces and work through udder exhaustion after a 3-hour anxiety attack. But you do not leave me defeated. I pick up and move on and for that I am grateful.
If you leave, I’ll have a party. I’ll be happy you’re gone and will help you pack your bags. But I will not regret your stay because it’s made me who I am.
So here I sit at 4:47am waiting for you calm down so I can sleep saying thank you for teaching me that I am so much stronger than you make me feel.
Sincerely,
Cassidi

Standards to Uphold

I’m a person who throws myself 100% percent into every relationship I have. Friends, family members, coworkers, etc. I will drop everything for the people I care about. You want to talk tonight? Great, I’ll stay up as late as I need to in order to make that happen. You need my help with something? Okay, I can finish my work later. You need to reschedule the plans I based my week off of? Okay, I can rearrange my schedule to make something work.

In my mind, these are just things that good friends do. These are things you do for the people you care about.

Many of you know that I have been extraordinarily frustrated with a lot of people around me. People who I considered to be my best friends, my family. Here’s the thing. I moved to Nashville at the end of July. Officially. As in, I’m not going back to St. Louis except for occasional visits. Because of this, it was crucial to me that I saw everyone in St. Louis over the summer before I left.

Let me just give you a summary of how my summer ended up going… The day I got back into town, I sent out a message to everyone I wanted to see before I left. Some friends, some family. I explained when I would be working, when I would be out of town, and any dates that absolutely would not work for me. A few people responded saying things like “I’d love to get together” and “let me check my schedule and I’ll get back with you ASAP.” Then a month would go by and I wouldn’t hear from anyone. So, I sent out another message with the same information. People said they’d check back in by a certain date with their schedules. But they didn’t. I saw three people (all in the same family) on my list of almost twenty.

I made excuses for all these people. Boy oh boy did I make excuses. I spent hours defending these people that I care so much about. Saying things like “well, she’s working so many hours this summer” or “I bet she has a lot going on.” The truth is, that most of these people had time to spare. They were constantly on social media. I even had one friend who posted a multi-paragraph essay about her life on Facebook, but couldn’t send me a text stating whether or not she could meet up.

Here’s the thing: I don’t get mad or hurt or upset over someone telling me they can’t hang out or don’t want to. You had a really busy week at work and would rather just relax? Great, you totally deserve that! You made plans with your other friends? Awesome, have fun! You don’t have any set plans so you can’t commit to anything? Okay, just let me know if you have time to meet up! However, when someone constantly says they’ll get back with me and then never do, I get a little frustrated.

I feel like being a good friend is pretty simple. Only make promises you can keep, remember that communication is key, and love each other unconditionally. It’s not that hard. The problem is, when the first two of these three things are broken, the third one gets questioned. All summer, I had people who I truly trusted and cared for break promises and stop communicating. Which made me question their love for me.

The people who have hurt me most in the last few years are people I have known for my whole life. So, the bottom line here is that being friends with someone doesn’t get easier over time. It’s not supposed to. Being friends with people is a full-time job. It’s a job full of understanding, caring, love, communication, honesty, and respect. And it has to go both ways.

Being a friend is a full-time job. It’s my favorite job in the world. A job I take seriously. So I want to be the best at it that I possibly can be. So, this is my invitation to anyone reading this: if you feel like I have not upheld my own standards of being a good friend at any point in time, please talk to me about it. I want to make sure I am being the best friend I can be. Because the people who have stood by me as good friends, 100% deserve the best.

To those of you who have been, and continue to be, amazing friends, thank you. My world wouldn’t be the same without you.

Kitty Motherhood

For those of you who don’t know, I got a kitten this week. His name is Charlie and he’s the cutest thing ever. Within the first 24 hours we had together (8.5 of which spent in a car), Charlie taught me a multitude of things. So, here’s a list of the top 5 things I discovered within the first 24 hours of kitten motherhood.

  1. No matter how pathetic the tiny meows are that come from inside the crate, do not, I repeat DO NOT, remove the kitty from the cage while you are driving. Why? Because, you see, if something such as a semi truck, motorcycle, or, just for a random example, a minivan that makes way too many horrifying sounds to be considered safe to drive decide to drive past, soft fluffy kitty will become not so soft and fluffy. This little ball of fluff will turn into a ball of fluff with dagger-like claws that he will use to scale your body and dig himself into your shoulder to feel slightly more secure about life in general. And you will bleed. And it will hurt. And you will regret listening to that adorably pathetic meow that begged you to release him from the crate.
  2. When driving long distances, stop frequently. Stopping every 2-3 hours was the best choice I could have made. I pulled into a gas station and hooked Charlie’s leash up to one of the hooks on the back seat in my car so he could walk around for a bit. I had a litterbox set up in the back for him and gave him food and water. After he did his business, he got to play for about 10 minutes before he had to go back in his crate. Letting him run off that energy every few hours made the next few hours in the car so much easier because he fell asleep within 20 minutes of driving.
  3. You will wish for something I never thought I’d ever wish for when going on a long road trip: traffic. Because, if you’re like me and don’t like using your phone when driving but also have an obsession with taking far too many pictures of adorable fluff ball, you will require traffic to occur before you can take said pictures.
  4. As soon as you do hit traffic, every part of you will regret ever wishing for it because, as it turns out, it was the moving of the car that was keeping tiny fluff ball asleep. So, the second your car comes to a stop, tiny sleepy ball of fluff turns back to pathetically meowing ball of fluff.
  5. You may call yourself a dog person. Or you might be a person who loves all animals, but, when given the choice between a dog or a cat, you would choose a dog. Well, let me tell you this, the second your cat falls asleep in your lap while holding your finger between his paws after an almost 9 hour drive, you will officially become a cat person. Or, at the very least, it will equalize your love for cats and dogs.

Goodbye Y

Counselor, Freckles, Teacher, Ms. Cassidi. I’m going to miss these names more than words can describe. It’s crazy to me that this summer is already over. Today was my last day working at the YMCA and I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to leave a job. The people I worked with have become some of my closest friends and I’m so grateful that I was able to spend my summer with such amazing people.

This summer has been more than a blessing. It gave me experience with so many different age groups and solidified my desire to work with kiddos in the future. I learned that, even when I feel like I’m at my whit’s end, I still have more to give – more patience, more compassion, and more determination. I learned that, if you let them, the people around you will be there for you regardless of how long you’ve known them. I discovered that working for a non-profit organization brings you some of the nicest people who are working there for all the right reasons. I learned that coworkers can become your best friends. I learned that kids retain more information than we give them credit for and pick up on so much more than we realize. I discovered that kids notice every detail and, when you have a bad day, they will be the first ones to give you the biggest and best hug (even if they were the ones who caused the bad day). I realized that, while they can be total terrors sometimes, kids are really pretty amazing and almost always have the best intentions.

When you go to work looking forward to seeing all your coworkers, waking up at 5am isn’t quite so bad. When you know that your campers look forward to coming to camp every day, spending time off the clock to plan activities for them becomes a joy. And, when you love the people you spend your days with, leaving becomes the hardest part. I’m not going to lie, I’ve cried a few times about leaving these people. Saying goodbye is never an easy task. I’m so lucky to have spent so much time with these lovely people.

Saying Goodbye to S.E.C.

I remember sitting in what is now the toddler room with Meegan and a few kids my age. I remember going around introducing ourselves to everyone. I said my name, my age, and my favorite color. Just to give you a frame of reference, this was at a point in my life where I still thought “rainbow sparkles” was a valid color within society, so it was quite some time ago. I have grown from a toddler into an adult here and I’ve watched most of these kids grow up from tiny babies into practically teenagers. I’ve met friends that have turned into family and I’ve watched that family grow and develop and change over time. I have never known a church other than S.E.C. and I wouldn’t trade this place for the world.

As many of you know, I’m moving to Nashville permanently at the end of July. For quite some time now, I have known that July 30th will be my last day at S.E.C. with the exception of occasional visits. So, when I found out that S.E.C. was closing, I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it has. I assumed that, because I was moving on to big and exciting things in Nashville, I wouldn’t miss this place quite as much. However, what I didn’t realize, is how much I looked forward to coming to visit. I was waiting anxiously for the Thanksgiving eve service and for the week I would be back in town over Christmas break so I could come say hi. I looked so so forward to surprising all my kiddos over the summer one Sunday and having them run to me with their bright smiles and open arms, just as they always have. I expected to have that to come back to whenever I visited St. Louis. Now, however, everything is different.

I never expected to be sitting in the kids’ room looking at the faces that I’ve watched grow up while Meegan announced the official closing date. I never expected to be holding back tears as I hugged those kids goodbye that week. I never thought I would become so attached to this place and the people I’ve met here. I never expected to be leaving this place not knowing if I would see everyone here ever again. And that terrifies me.

I’ve had a lot of changes in my life and S.E.C. has been the one thing that has been consistent through all of them. Sure, people have come and gone, but my core S.E.C. family has been here since before I can remember. The idea of not having that anymore is absolutely terrifying. It scares me that, when I walk out these doors on July 30th, it might be my last time seeing my S.E.C. family. It will be the last time we will all be in this building, this building that has been home. It will quite possibly be the last time I will get to hug each and every one of these people goodbye. And that is so unbelievably scary.

Right now, of the kids who have been coming here since the very beginning, I’m the oldest who is still here consistently. Which means, in my own mind, that I have to stay strong for all the other kids who have spent their whole lives here growing up with each other. I have to convince them that this is all okay and that we need to look at it as an opportunity rather than a sad event. The reality, however, is that this is sad. It’s sad to see something you’ve loved for so long being taken away from you and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It’s hard to accept the fact that the people you have seen every week since before you can remember will not be here anymore. It’s hard to realize that the people you’re moving away from may not be there when you get back.

So, yeah, I’m trying to convince myself that it’s all going to work out and that it will be okay. I’m trying to keep myself strong for those who are falling apart around me. This probably isn’t the most successful endeavor in the world, but, hey, at least I’m trying.

If there’s one thing that S.E.C. has taught me about life, it’s that, when you’re surrounded by people who care, things keep moving forward. We roll over speed bumps and leap over hurdles and, together, we can get through just about anything. Logically, we all know we will get through this. And we know everyone here will be there to support each other as the end approaches. We know that, no matter how hard this is, it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t supposed to. Maybe we don’t know the reasoning right now, and maybe we won’t for a while. But one day, we will look back on all of this, and realize that this had to happen in order for something else to come along. It will take time and probably a lot of tears, but it will be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay it’s not the end.

Home

This summer, since about halfway through my second week back in St. Louis, I have been longing to be back in Nashville. Not that I wanted to deal with humidity percentages in the 80s or temperatures in the nineties, but the place itself. I genuinely have missed the entire atmosphere of this city. Being away from my friends this summer has been so much harder than I ever expected it to be. Right now, as I sit behind the desk in a dorm building on campus, things feel right. As weird as it sounds, I genuinely miss my job on ResLife staff. Being on campus just feels…right. It feels like its where I’m supposed to be. Driving around Nashville has a comforting sense of familiarity which sounds so weird considering I’ve only lived here for 17 months total and I’ve lived in St. Louis for my entire life. I’ve been referring to St. Louis as “home” for as long as I can remember, but it doesn’t quite feel right anymore. For some reason, saying “my hometown” or “childhood home” sounds okay to me and, it’s taken me a few months, but I’m finally okay with that. So, when I leave Nashville on Wednesday, I won’t be “going home” because Nashville is home now. I’ll be going back to my hometown, just for a month, while I finish up my summer job and get all of my belongings ready to move home.