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.

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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.

Things Little Kids Say to You When You’re a Girl with a Buzz Cut

For those of you who don’t know, I’m spending my summer working at a camp. My regular hours are with 3-5 year olds, but I also have before and after care shifts occasionally that range from 5-14 year olds. I knew that some of the kids would be confused by my hair, but this summer has proven to me even more that kids are not going to hold anything back.

  1. Are you a boy or a girl?

This one I totally understand. For most kids, long hair is associated with girls and short hair is associated with boys. However, dressing like a girl (as much as my uniform allows me to) and having everyone use female pronouns around this person with practically nonexistent hair must be pretty confusing. Especially to the 3-5 year olds I work with. Usually, when I clarify that I am in fact a girl, they move on to other questions.

  1. Where did all your hair go?

Again, a pretty reasonable question. Some of them have the ability to understand that cutting all my hair off was a choice and something I did to help other people. More often than not, they give me some other comments about their opinions of my hair or their oh so creative ideas on how to “fix” my hair.

  1. I wish you kept your hair

See, I don’t understand this one because none of my campers knew me when I had long hair. So, basically they’re just irrationally upset about the lack of hair on my head…

  1. Do you want to use ­____ as a hat?

This blank can be filled in with basically anything they can find around them. The most common offer I have is their trash from snack time. Like, thanks for the offer, but I don’t think your fruit cup with a bit of juice still left at the bottom is going to fit around my head to function as a hat. Also, if I wanted to wear a hat, I would bring myself an actual hat.

  1. You look like you’re dying

How is one supposed to respond to this comment? Thank you? I’m sorry? Like, I get it, you’ve only heard of people with cancer shaving their head this short, but I just finished answering your questions about why I don’t have any hair and nowhere in that conversation did I say I was dying so maybe don’t say that… Oh well, my response ended up just being “well, I sure am glad that I’m healthy!” and the kid just walked away shaking his head… Did he want me to be dying? Well, I did just make him sit out so that’s a possibility.

  1. Your hair is kind of like a porcupine…but its soft

So, I don’t know of any small children that just casually walk up and pet porcupines, but they definitely walk up to pet my head. The second I sit down, I have at least one if not eleven children petting my head and raving over how it feels like a soft porcupine. Seriously though, I don’t think that half of these kids even know what a porcupine is.

 

Moral of the story is, if you’re not prepared to answer crazy questions or if you’re easily offended, maybe don’t work with small children when you are a girl with a buzz cut. However, it makes for significant, quality entertainment so it may be worth your while.

Tired

It’s been awhile since I posted on here and there are a few reasons behind it. The biggest reason being the fact that I don’t know how to put the way I’ve been feeling lately into words. I’m still not sure how great this is going to be, but I’ll do my best to put this into coherent sentences.

I guess the best way to put this is I’m tired. I’m tired of being everyone’s last choice. I’m tired of people saying “well so-and-so couldn’t go so I thought I’d as you.” Like, wow, I’m honored. I’m tired of being the person who waits up until my eyes literally can’t stay open anymore for a call that was supposed to happen hours ago. I’m tired of doing everything wrong even when I try so hard to do it write. I’m tired of being the one to initiate all contact and plan all get-togethers. I’m tired of giving 110 percent while everyone around me is barely giving 10. I’m tired of hiding my own feelings and opinions so those around me can be happy and have their way. I’m tired of feeling like quite literally nothing I do is ever good enough. I’m tired. Physically and mentally.

So, yeah. I haven’t been posting much lately because I type for hours only to delete it all in the end. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been staying up until 1am waiting for people to call as promised. I haven’t been posting because I’m sick and tired of just about everything around me. I’m hoping this post will get me back into the swing of things. I’ve texted almost everyone I know asking for help with ideas of what to post and, hopefully, some new posts will be underway this weekend and I’ll be back to posting on schedule.

It Is What It Is

Just about anyone who knows me knows how deeply I feel. Whether it be feeling something towards someone, for someone, or about someone. I have always been overly sensitive to what someone might be feeling and my own feelings, in any situation, cut deep into my core and sit there, demanding to be felt. I grew up being called “sensitive” and “empathetic” with negative connotations behind them. I was always made painfully aware of how deeply I feel things and, until recently, I saw that as a bad thing. However, I have since come to realize that there’s no reason to think that the way I feel things has to be good or bad. It’s about what I do with those feelings that determines whether or not they’re good. For example, it’s the fact that I feel things so deeply that I have such a distinct urge to help people for my profession. My sensitivity to others’ emotions also forces me to feel their emotions for an extended amount of time even after leaving their presence. However, this is what helps me to be a good friend and helps me to remember to check in with my friends consistently despite my busy life. It allows me to understand what children are trying to communicate despite being unable to verbalize their emotions. My ability to be overly sensitive and deeply feel every ounce of pain, frustration, anger, joy, love, and excitement that the people around me are feeling has allowed me to have countless conversations with people who are differently abled than myself. This oversensitivity is the thing that makes me cry from frustration when I’m defending someone I care about. This ability to feel things deeply has lead me to have a profound love for a baby I haven’t met yet. When my niece was born 8 weeks early, I cried from fear for her health as well as tears of joy when I found out she was as healthy as we could hope for. And I can pretty much guarantee I will be holding back tears of joy and amazement when I meet her for the first time this weekend.

So, you see, I guess the point is that my oversensitivity isn’t exactly a bad thing. It is what it is. It is what I make it out to be. Sure, there are areas that people can make it sound negative, but, the reality is that, if I don’t let their definitions rub off on me and overtake the positive outlook I’ve found for myself, what others’ say doesn’t matter. What matters is that I make the most out of my traits. It only matters that I find my qualities to be desirable and positive. And, as long as I keep that positive outlook, other interpretations of my sensitivity or strong empathy make no difference. So, if you have a characteristic that has both positive and negative qualities to it, know that you are allowed to see it as a positive thing. You are allowed to ignore what others say and use that characteristic for the good you know you can make of it. So, it is what it is. Empathetic? Sure. Oversensitive? You betcha! And I can’t wait to show the world all the good that can come from those amazing characteristics.

A Letter to My Friends at Belmont

To my friends at Belmont,

Let me start by saying there are more things to thank you for than I can put into a general letter, but I’m going to do my best anyway. So, here goes nothing… Thank you for everything.

  • For keeping me on track. You never failed to keep me accountable for a multitude of things. Whether it be studying, working on a project, or doing homework. Even if it meant sitting with me and playing on your phone while I did my homework, you never failed to keep me accountable for getting all my stuff done. Let’s be real, I probably would have failed at least one of my classes without you.
  • For taking care of me. Whether it be a mental breakdown or that month where my body just shut down on me, you’re always there to help me out. Thank you for feeding me when I didn’t want to eat anything and hugging me when I needed it most.
  • For doing literally everything with me. Whether it be the aforementioned homework, errands, caf dates, grocery shopping, sitting behind a desk while I work, random meals out, adventures to stores neither one of us need to go, and just being there when I need you. I’m so thankful to know I am never alone because I have you.
  • For always listening. You know just about every inch of drama that happens in my life and you never fail to happily listen. I know I can always ramble to you about anything and have a listening ear.
  • For being just as strange as I am. All of our inside jokes are things no one will ever understand (nor will they want to!). Our conversations that we have just by looking at each other are priceless and the belly-aching laughs we have never fail to make my day.
  • For sharing everything. Whether it be your food, shoes, clothes (specifically sweatshirts or jackets because, let’s be real, I never think I’ll need one until we leave), or answers to the homework I forgot to finish you’re always willing to share with me.
  • For constantly encouraging me. You are always honest with me and tell me what I need to hear even if I don’t necessarily want to hear it. You remind me of the way I truly deserve to be treated and don’t let me settle for less. When I’m being over dramatic, I know I can count on you to tell me. You always know how to cheer me up when I’m upset or discouraged. I can always count on you to show me the bright side to the situation.
  • For never giving up on me and never letting me give up on myself. Even on the days where I felt like nothing was going right, you never gave up on me. When I seriously contemplated just dropping out of school and becoming a ghost writer, you told me all the reasons that I shouldn’t do that. Thank you for always helping me find the positives in life and in myself.
  • For just being you. I’m so so happy coming to Belmont lead me to being friends with you. I am so lucky to have you in my life and I can’t wait for the rest of this crazy college adventure with my best friend by my side.
  • For being just a phone call or text away during every break. Every time I have a stupid question, exciting news, or an encounter with some jerk at the grocery store, I know I can call you and tell you all about it. Even though summer is here and we’re all pretty far away from each other, it’s great to know that friends like you are just a call away. Thank you for always being up to talk about anything and everything and never letting distance get in the way