Self-Reflection, Twelve Letters of Lizmas: 2019

“You Showed Me”: To the Decade of My Youth.

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To the decade of my youth,

Thank you for turning out the way you did. Thank you for allowing me to see what the decade of my adulthood will be like, and thank you for teaching me such important life lessons that I will carry to the decade of my adulthood, elderhood, livelihood.

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You showed me what it was like to be a teenager; pimples, awkward stages, random hormonal rage feelings, and how it felt like to be in teenage love. I enter you just weeks after I got my first-ever kiss at 15, a couple of months later would be the first time I would lose my virginity, it would be the first time I said “I love you” to the first boy I fell in love with. You showed me that getting to know someone and getting that puppy love was just as addicting as any hardcore drug out in the world. You showed me that I was now indulged in a whole new side of the world I never knew existed. You showed me what it was like to be passionate, to show passion, to be the embodiment of passion through love, talent, and aura.

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You showed me jealousy in its ugliest form. You showed me hopelessness and insecurity that I wasn’t good enough. You showed me that people can lie and that people will still smile in your face and hold you just to make sure you’re alright without ever knowing what’s going on behind closed doors. You showed me what falling in love a second time felt like; how blissful and twisted and poison it was; you truly showed me that the second love I will ever experience would be the one that haunts me and changes me forever, and at first, it wasn’t for the better. You showed me how quickly life and love could be taken away from me and how I could be the most hated person in a room full of people.

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You showed me how sad I can truly be. You showed me that in a world full of 7 billion people, I can feel like the only woman on a deserted island. You showed me the consequences of my actions and how life could be like if I don’t take action on my responsibilities. You showed me how people’s true colors come forward when I was on my knees, crying out for help because I was a ticking time-bomb, just waiting to give up and just kill myself at 18. You showed me how scary the mind can be and how irrational it can become when I was surrounded by nothing your thoughts and the negativity fueling them.

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You showed me that change will only come only if I’m willing to work for it. You showed me that it’s harder and more painful to hold onto something toxic than rather just letting it go for the better. You showed me that through the dark times, there will be good! You showed me that once I forgave myself for my past to some extent, I was able to move forward and begin a new chapter of my life. You showed me that college wasn’t going to be the easiest thing and that people would not take me seriously when I told them I wanted to be an English major. You showed me that happiness was not only within the circle I kept, but an entire community around the world that I didn’t know existed until they welcomed me into their fandom. You showed me that passions change, and in some cases, they save your life over and over again.

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You showed me it was okay to share the fact that I’ve always had imaginary friends roaming inside my mind, but now they were characters of stories I wanted to tell through scripts. You showed me that a simple song on the radio can inspire me to write a complete short film about a girl who finds her mother after abandoning her for her career 17 years ago and share the mutual love of dance. You showed me that a true-crime drama inspired me to write about stories and characters I’ve had swimming in my head since the decade of my childhood! You showed me that sometimes, you can find your love for something all over again, and sometimes it was worth going back to.

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You showed me how much better the present was than the past. You showed me that the people who were once in my life will not always fit into the life I have now, and that is completely okay. You showed me that I don’t fit in other’s people’s life anymore as well. You showed me how easy it was to get lost again, how problems are always reoccurring; they just get bigger as you get older. You showed me how imperfect family truly is and how the saying “blood is thicker than water” isn’t always true. You showed me how easy it was to live a life of denial, that everything will be alright once the pain passes, how everything eventually goes back to normal, yet you showed me how they don’t and that it’s up to me to accept that and move forward to create a new normal for myself.

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And with that being said, you showed me that life can truly make a full circle in some aspects of your life. You showed me that I wasn’t this weird awkward girl that had no friends; that all I had to do was just express myself and be myself without worrying people will be judging me. You showed me that if love truly is meant to be, you try it again and if it works out, it works out. You showed me how it felt to be stupidly happy every single day of my life. You showed me that sometimes not all hard work will lead you down the path you wanted to go, but instead destined to go. You showed me that I could graduate college and being the first of my family to do so even though I’ve thought about dropping out a couple of times. You showed me that a new chapter was starting in my life, and not always do you bring what you have to that next chapter.

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You showed me that not all that glitters is gold. You showed me that me faking happiness to relive when I was isn’t going to erase the feeling of loss and loneliness. You showed me that my number one priority should always be myself, so when I ignored it for the duration of my grad school years, you showed me just how low I can go in regards to my mental health. You showed me that it was okay to stick up for myself, for views to change, to wants and needs to change and that I couldn’t stay the same forever. You showed me just how fast I was growing up, and you showed me as the days and years pass by that you were not waiting for me to get my shit together.

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You showed me that I am a motherfucking boss and can do whatever I put my mind to! You showed me how accomplishment felt like; to sit out in the rainy weather in my Master’s gown showed me that I was capable of anything and everything. But, you showed my work always had to get done, that celebrations end and reality kicks in, that people will expect me to be the best of the best with a fresh new degree in my hand, that this degree made me mentally sick. You showed me it was okay to ask for help, that it wasn’t a sign of weakness to see a therapist and talk about everything going on in life. You showed me that my outbursts and behavior have reasoning behind it, whether it was just a reaction to something completely normal or it was a sign of social anxiety disorder and major depression. You showed me that people will not always see the changes you want for yourself because it means that they don’t know you anymore, and you showed me that it was okay; that sometimes people are just meant to go, no matter what stage of life you are in.

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By the end of this decade, you showed me just a sneak peek of what my adulthood decade will be like. You showed me that the things I let slide or didn’t care about in the past now are major things I now require as a sign of self-respect. You showed me how it can feel to finally be confident after a decade of boys that just wanted the “fat girl experience” or only wanted to talk to you just to hook up with your friend. You showed me that I can be loved, that I can be hated, and regardless of the situation or how I feel about them, I cannot control other people. You showed me how it felt to go through my very first heartbreak over a breakup. You showed me that no matter what length of time, I grow out of people and people will grow out of me. You showed me that the hardest decisions are the best decisions, not just for you personally, but for all parties involved. You showed me destiny is destiny, and no matter how hard I try fighting it, it will come out in different ways. You showed me the importance of listening to my soul and that no matter how you feel and what logics you have behind it to back it up, if the soul is telling you something, you best to believe her. You showed me the importance of friendship and how being social isn’t such a negative thing; it’s possibly the happiest thing I do in my life at the end of this decade. You showed me to let me know what to bring, what to live by, and what I need to learn as the new decade begins.

You showed me a lot during my youth. Youth, I may be a late bloomer to a lot of things; I may not be ready to settle down and get married and do all of the adult things most people my age are doing, but as long as I’m making progress within myself, there’s no milestone for growth.

Who knows what my adulthood will show me; maybe it will show me that how to properly travel the world, how to take care of my body, how to not be afraid of letting love in again; who knows? I just know that you, my Youth, is something I will always hold close to my heart. You are pure, innocent, adventurous, rebellious, and beautiful.

Thank you for teaching me everything you did, and thank you for helping me live this far into my life.

Cheers to my youth.

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Blogust 2019: The Series, Self-Reflection

Day 22: Dear 22.

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DEAR 22,

I miss you.

You brought a presence with you that I haven’t felt since you left and 23 came around. Being 25, I still mourn the loss of you.

You made life so simple and joyous, and sometimes I really do wonder if we are even the same person. I mean, aren’t I suppose to be older and wiser than you, 22? Isn’t three years of life suppose to make me grow? But maybe that’s it: maybe I grew up and realize just how much life isn’t always easy-going and fun like we dreamed.

22, I wish I remember how you got so happy. I mean, 21 was so shitty, and I just wish I documented how you were able to turn things around and make 22 as amazing as it was.

Was it the routine of being a college student without any worries in the world besides getting good grades and graduating on time? Was it waking up in the morning, feeling like I had a purpose in life? Was it because I had dreams that I thought by 25 I’d accomplished that kept me alive? Was it the love I had felt intensely? Man, was it the amazing friends I loved so much that I never missed a day of acting class because they brought so much joy into my life?

It’s everything about you, 22.

It was your strength to keep loving everything and everyone around you. It was your ability to take your weaknesses and still shine through them because you were strong. You were able to trust others so willingly, be yourself so willingly to people who felt like they were a part of your life for years. You felt free, you felt carelessness for the negatives of the world, you made every single day matter even when you felt sadness.

You are the person I should be at 25, and yet here we are: me looking up to you.

I don’t know what happened, 22, and I’m sorry that I’m not the person you expected me to be. Shit, you looked up to me: A Master’s graduate, doing what I loved to do, being happy with so many supportive friends around me, living my life how it’s supposed to be. At 22, you understood that life sometimes happens and plans don’t always go as planned, but man, you probably never thought we’d be here at this moment.

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I know that in the future, I will be able to find you again during the moments I feel extreme happiness. I will see glimpses of you when I’m finally feeling put together again; when I’m finally feeling like myself in this damn body. There will be a time in the future when another version of me will outshine the happiness you once carried, there will be a time in the future that I will understand that 25 had to feel this way and go through this, just how you understood that you had to go through 18, 19, and 21 in order to be strong.

Future me will find friends in the future who will come to your rescue, like the ones that rescued you towards the end of 21 and flourished into 22. Future me will be able to trust others once again and let other’s in permanently without feeling like people have a motive with their kindness. Future me won’t feel as alone as 25 does currently because maybe future me will have a better understanding of what it means to be their own best friend during times like this.

I hope future me is a more grown-up version of you, 22, and I hope I get to meet her soon.

But for now, I’m missing you, 22. Everything that you embody is what I miss the most.

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YOURS TRULY, 25.

 

Blogust 2019: The Series, Self-Reflection

Day 12: The Ultimate Guide to Friendship, As Told By A Person With SAD.

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Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

My name is Liz, and I have Social Anxiety Disorder; I mention this at least twice a month on my blog, don’t look so surprised. What does that look like you might ask? Well, it started out as a fear of traveling on public transportation, then as a fear of leaving my house, and although I’ve been getting better at managing it, there are some things I don’t think I’ll ever get good at. Yes, that means my mother is still the person in my life making important appointments for me. Yes, I cannot order my own food over the phone. And yes, I still get anxious interacting with people. 

So how does one person with SAD live their lives in a social matter? Well, it’s different for every case.

Some people are more outspoken than others, while some are just extremely afraid of human interaction and feel most comfortable being by themselves. I like to believe I am in the middle: I enjoy my alone time way too much to the point I forget to socialize every once in a while, and when I do, I pretty much become okay with interaction.

My biggest struggle in life, though, is friendships. I don’t have many of them.

You see, my social anxiety has a hard time believing that long-distance friendships can work and that it’s not awkward to keep in touch with people you don’t see on a regular basis. I don’t tend to lose friends because I want to, it happens because not everyone is going to understand how SAD works for you, and that’s fine; you can’t make people understand why it’s hard to keep in touch. Also, my social anxiety tends to make me look like a shitty person because I’m not a consistent person with people. What I mean by that is I could have a whole conversation with you at the moment just because I’m comfortable, but if you catch me at a time where my anxiety is absolutely through the fucking roof, I’ll talk to you like you’re a stranger again. This type of scenario happened a lot during my college and grad school days, simply because semesters come and go and you may not ever see them again… until you guys take another class together again. My point being is that friendships are still the trickiest thing for me to understand.

So, how do you keep friends while having SAD? It also depends on the person who has it.

For me, I don’t have many friends because I just have major trust issues with people and I’m super overprotective with myself around new people who want to become friends with me. I don’t mind being cordial with acquaintances that have the same agenda as me, but when I feel like someone actually wants to be my friend, I shut down and I run away. Maybe that’s due to my trauma, maybe it’s SAD; who knows?

But the friends I keep (aka my partner and college friend that now lives across the damn east coast) must understand how SAD works for me. With that comes communication and agreements, really, that sometimes I’m going to be a shitty friend because of SAD but for the most part, I will be absolutely loyal to you as a friend. I always use my friend, Tori, as an example of someone who gets it; we may not see each other for a while and we may only do some text message check-ins every once in a while, but she knows that keeping in touch is extremely uncomfortable for me at times, and she understands that I order to help me be comfortable, the atmosphere stays the same. In other words, we both grew up since our days in college Acting, but the vibe our friendship has never left. And as with my partner, well, there’s a whole set of other things that play a role when you are involved with someone romantically.

The most important thing I am learning as a person with SAD is that people don’t know that they are truly signing up to become friends with two people instead of one. Anxiety, especially on a clinical level, is really living your life as a Jekyll and Hyde. One of them is truly you, the quirks and smiles and the relatable, likable side that likes to socialize and be around people, but then there’s the other side, her name is Anxietina, that truly wants to keep you all for herself and have control of the body that you both live in. You don’t have to be a person with depression or anxiety to completely understand the duality, but recognize that someone with SAD struggles with this other entity every single day. I know I do.

I may not be the greatest example of a person with a social life that has SAD, but I know there are so many people out there who are the leader of their friend groups and still deal with some levels of social anxiety. As someone with SAD, we always want to be able to be social with other people; what’s the fun of just being by yourself all of the time? We just have a harder time with some areas of life than others, and that’s okay.

So, what is the ultimate guide to friendship, told by a person with SAD?

There is none.

It’s about being able to challenge your anxiety, as well as respect it in order for others to respect it. Not every friend will, and not every time will you be able to challenge your anxiety, but hey – that’s the beauty of learning and growth. 

Also, it’s about remembering to be yourself.

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Self-Reflection, Twelve Days of TNTHmas: 2018

Christmas Eve: A Retrospect of 2018.

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Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.

Last year during the Twelve Days of TNTHmas, I wrote a post doing a retrospect of 2017, and now that we are now a week away from a brand new year, I wanted to share some things I learned during 2018.

To say the least, 2018 was an unexpecting year. I entered the year on a good note, I spent my 24th birthday with my partner in Poughkeepsie, I was preparing my Masters’ graduation later in the year; I was determined to make 2018 a much better year than what 2017 was.

Things don’t always work out the way you want them to, do they? In a nutshell, 2018 was a very informative year, which was something that I personally needed to experience in order to understand and put the necessary things out in the universe in order to live life the way I want. In other words, I had some growing up to do.

  1. First and foremost, I learned that it’s okay to experience the spectrum of emotions like an actual human being. I always took pride in being the “strong one” within my family, and emotions like sadness and confusion didn’t belong in my body. When it came to my own mind, I considered voicing those emotions were a sign of weakness; that I wasn’t the happy, bubbly person I’d like to be 24/7. But life happens. I’ve had issues in personal relationships in my life, I was experiencing untreated anxiety and depression for half of the year, and I lost my grandfather to cancer during the summer. Through therapy, I am learning that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, confused, and most importantly: it’s okay to grieve passed loved ones. I do find myself not allowing myself to feel these things and voice them out at times, but I’m learning little by little. It took me a while to really enforce something like this.
  2. The people in your life aren’t going to completely understand how your anxiety works, but that doesn’t mean you should minimize your mental health for the sake of others. This is also something that took me a while to learn because there’s such a fine line between giving those in your life the benefit of the doubt for not completely understanding, and then still wanting them to understand it? In other words, there’s a difference between understanding it and respecting it. I learned that people aren’t going to take your mental health seriously if you don’t take it seriously, in all honesty. It’s so easy to make an anxiety joke or a quarter-life crisis type of joke, but if you put that energy out there about it, that’s the type of energy you’ll get back. So make it known that your mental health is important to you and that you deserve the people you love the most to respect that.
  3. BE ASSERTIVE WITH YOURSELF. One thing I used to tell myself in the past is that I needed to be more selfish with myself. Don’t keep friends that treat you poorly, know when to say no to things and to people, and take care of your mind and heart. Although it is important to know and see your own worth, the word “selfish” felt like a word that was too one-sided for me. When I started to voice these things to my therapist, she brought up the word “assertive”. While selfish is more of a perspective projected from other people, assertive is an action that you are in control of. Once I started to keep being assertive at the back of my mind at all times, I was able to be more vocal about some of the wants and needs I may have needed from those around me, and for myself as well. Being assertive simply meant that I needed to speak up and use my voice in situations I’d be too afraid to use it in.

 

2018, in a nutshell, was the year of self-awareness and self-courage. It was the year that I swallowed my pride and started to take care of myself in ways that I needed to. It was the year that I learned my limits, my morals, my beliefs, and so much more. The person I was leaving 2017 this time last year is someone that I don’t remember, but I know that this time next year, I’ll be able to look back and see that I’m where I’m at because 2018 me took these steps to get there. I hope 2019 brings me happiness, stability, a job, adventures, and more self-growth.

Merry Christmas (eve), everybody!

-Liz. (:

Self-Reflection

In Response to Shane Dawson’s “The Dark Side of Jake Paul” Episode.

Photo Credit: Shane Dawson via Twitter

Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.

First and foremost, I am a YouTube junkie. I pretty much watch anything that interests me, and I pretty much know a lot (if not all) of the types of YouTubers that are well-known on the platform. Shane Dawson, a YouTuber with 17+ subscribers, has been declared as “the Oprah of YouTube”, meaning a lot of his current series on his channel are to help YouTubers build their platforms or to get a better understanding of them behind the personas most YouTubers have in front of a camera. His last series, dealing with controversial beauty guru Jeffree Star, has surpassed about 70 million views within 5 videos. His current project, which premiered on Tuesday, is discussing possibly the most controversial YouTuber on the platform: Jake Paul.

Today, the second episode of the eight-part series (yes, you read that right) was posted on his channel. This particular episode focused on Shane going to a licensed therapist to discuss just what it meant to be a sociopath. The clinical term, Anti-Social Personality Disorder, is a mental disorder in which one does not feel any empathy or remorse for their actions or for the ones around them. Some characteristics of a “sociopath” are that they are extremely charismatic and they are instantly likable, they victimize themselves in situations that cause harm to others, they are manipulative, and they seem to never fully “feel” anything; they typically study the body language on others to mimic those same emotions to appear normal to the outside world. Those with ASPD can become dangerous, violent, criminals, and potential murderers, but in most cases, sociopaths are people who try to climb their way to the top, knowing what they are possibly doing is wrong or dangerous. Psychopaths, on the other hand, do not have that distinction between right and wrong.

Many people believe that being a “sociopath” is far-fetched. People believe that it’s rare to come in contact with someone who may be a sociopath when in reality, that’s not the case. In fact, ASPD is considered a common mental disorder with more than 200,000 cases reported a year. In Shane’s video, Kati (the licensed therapist) shared something quite interesting that I personally found frightening and scary:

1 in every 25 people is likely to have Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

1 in every 25 people. Let’s do that math real quick: I help teach a graduate class of 25 students this semester. One person sitting in that room could be considered to be dealing with this disorder, or classify as a sociopath. Again, I’m not saying that there is one in my class, but the example of that one person being amongst a classroom-size full of people is mind-blowing. It potentially means we’ve probably met someone who fell under these characteristics of a sociopath.

Lord knows that I have.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to question which one out of your friend group is the so-called sociopath, but it’s not abnormal for you to be doing in this day and age. Again, we live in such a different world: social media platforms exist where people can hide behind their simulacrums, “extremist culture” exists, tragedy is now recorded on cellphones and shared all over the internet and desensitizes society to express empathy for those affected, and people are willing to do anything nowadays to build themselves up in power and money. Something as being a sociopath isn’t so far-fetched because we live in such a social society where those who are sociopaths can easily blend in with the rest of society.

And I think that’s the true meaning of this Shane Dawson x Jake Paul series: it’s just using an example of the most controversial YouTuber to talk about just how scary social media/internet culture is getting. It’s changing people. It’s helping people create personas they can hide behind to become more approachable and likable for their own agenda. It’s making it harder to weed out the people who are genuine and those who really wear a different mask on their faces on a day-to-day basis.

And that’s the true tea.

Make sure to check up on the first two episodes of Shane’s new series. Whether or not you like Jake Paul (or his dumbass brother, Logan), this series is honestly so interesting and frightening; it’s hard to not be so invested in it. If you’re a fan of Shane’s conspiracy theories series on his channel, you’ll definitely enjoy this series.

Let me know what you think about this discussion!

 

-Liz. (:

Self-Reflection

The Important Message in Grav3yardgirl’s “We Need to Talk” Video.

Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.

I know the blog was scheduled to come back in August for a month long blog series that I’ve been prepping behind the scenes, but I felt the need to come on here and write after watching Bunny, or Grav3yardgirl’s, new video she posted today entitled, “We Need to Talk”.

For the past year, I’ve been following Bunny’s YouTube channel and I was extremely upset I didn’t come across it sooner. Bunny is very different from other YouTubers of her status; she’s extremely down-to-earth, relatable, funny, and a joy to watch because she was authentic. As I started to follow her, I began to realize that in the recent months, she hasn’t been completely herself, and I’m assuming her subscribers realized that as well, and soon after, Bunny began to lose subscribers.

In May, another famous YouTuber, Shane Dawson, went to Bunny’s hometown to help her out on her YouTube channel and figure out different ways she could improve and express more of herself on camera. She expressed during this mini-series between her and Shane that her mental health has been taking a toll on her for the last year, and she finds herself grasping onto this image of 2014 being the best year of her life.

It’s been about two months since that series, and Bunny posted this recent video about her thoughts and where she’s mentally been in the last two months. While we want to see this video as her being happy and taking care of herself and finding new and interesting ways to engage with her audience, we soon realized that she’s still very much battling with herself in her head. She’s tried too hard to make herself happy again, and she feels like it hasn’t changed how she’s felt for the last year.

That’s possibly the most honest thing I’ve watched in a really long time, and I commend Bunny for being openly honest with her audience.

Bunny isn’t saying anything about her views or number of subscribers and how up and down they’ve been this last year. As a matter of fact, she’s explaining the anxiety of upkeep of her YouTube channel and how she loves what she does because it saved her life the first time she was in a dark place. She is simply saying she is trying to figure out how to get out of it this time around, and how difficult it’s been when millions of people are watching your every move.

Now, I’m no famous YouTuber, but I very much relate to Bunny and her struggles of balancing happiness, passion, and your mental health all in one hand. I know how it feels to be passionate about something and still feel like it’s not good enough, I know how it feels to keep referring back to a time in life where you’re your happiest, and you try extremely hard to replicate that time again in real time, and I know how it feels when your mental health feels like it is out of your hands and you have no control over yourself. That’s currently my life as I write this, and it’s a reality that I believe a lot of us go through time and time, especially those who are going through a rough time in their lives.

I wish my life was 2016 again. I wish I was excited about something the way I was whenever I had acting class. I wish I felt the passion the way that I did while writing my portfolio for grad school. I wish I was strong and confident the way I was when I had a decent group of friends in college. There’s a lot that happened in 2016 that I wish I can get back, and I know it’s not possible because life happens and things change and that realization is sometimes hard to overcome.

Bunny’s message in her video is simply she is trying to force happiness on herself because she is tired of feeling the way she does. She mentions the little things people oversee are the things that make her proud and that make her feel like herself, but her audience is so fixated on this new “Grav3yardgirl 2.0” that she believes she has to live up to them and honestly, she’s saying she’s not ready.

And that’s the thing about recovery and mental health: things can’t change unless you’re personally ready to.

Happiness and good mental health do not happen overnight, and we have to stop believing that one good day solves everything in our lives. Things like that take time; there will be days where we feel like we haven’t made any progress. There will be days where we feel even sadder than we did before, but that doesn’t mean all the progress we made isn’t worth it.

I try to at least put real clothes on instead of staying in my pajamas on the day that I need to feel a bit productive. I try to write in my journals and so some TNTH writing to feel like I’m moving forward with my creative projects. I try to be aware of my behavior and the thoughts I have because if I just let them swim in my head all day, I’ll feel stuck and I will shut down. I try each and every day to get myself better, to feel like I’m in my element again, to be the person I know I’m meant to be, and the progress I made, whether big or small, is another step forward into bettering myself.

In Bunny’s position, sometimes you just have to do what you love and do it because you love it. Make those unboxing videos and makeup videos because they make you feel good. Make those tea vlogs in your car and talk about everything and anything because you feel better after venting. Everyone else is second to that.

As my friend, Tori, always says: you can’t fill someone else’s cup when yours is empty.

 

-Liz. (:

Self-Reflection

What Grad School Taught Me: The Masters Grad Edition.

Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!

A year ago, I published a quite negative post regarding how the first year of my grad studies treated me. You can read that here if you’d like.

This time around, I am a recent Master’s Graduate and my perspective on it has changed for the better.

Liz, “Master in English”.

Yesterday, I attended my departmental ceremony and officially graduated grad school. 130 undergrads graduated with their Bachelors in English, and 7 grads graduated with their Masters in English. Within the ceremony, our MA Director did something that was quite touching; she acknowledged all 7 of its graduates and shared to the English Class of 2018 all of our MA Theses titles to acknowledge our hard work during our journey in grad school. For my moment, I felt like my hard work paid off, and it felt great to just have the title of my thesis read because it’s such a body of work I am immensely proud of. I honestly wouldn’t have had the passion and drive for it if it wasn’t for my thesis advisor, Professor Carlo.

Professor Carlo & I.

Professor Carlo’s class was one of two courses I took during my first semester as a grad student. I was 22, I was naïve, and I was extremely timid and shy to even speak in class. In the duration of her course, I began to see writing in such a different perspective, and I began to express myself in a classroom in a way I haven’t been able to do so since the acting courses I took during undergrad. I felt a sense of freedom and began to get a sense of what my voice was, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t have known this without Professor Carlo’s class. I knew since the moment she said “if you’d like have your final paper become a thesis”, I instantly knew she was the professor I wanted to guide me to the end. And she did, and as a thank you for her dedication, time (and ears whenever I rambled on and on in our meetings), I gave her a bouquet of flowers. I cried giving them to her, she cried as I cried. And that’s the thing: the last time I truly cried at a graduation was in middle school, a time where I was at the happiest in my life and that I knew I was truly going to miss being there with my friends. I cried at my Masters’ Graduation because I was sad it was over and that the journey that I once felt was going to last a lifetime, was now over.

Grad school taught me more than how to research and analyze text on a scholarly level. It taught me the lessons in life I was too afraid to learn on my own.

Bachelors in English.

Prior to grad school, I graduated college not really knowing what the real world was like, and I wasn’t ready to face it because let’s be honest, I didn’t have a hard time completing my bachelor’s degree. At first, I accepted CSI’s “fast-track” into the Master’s program because I felt like I wasn’t done. I felt like I wasn’t done learning, growing, and getting degrees in all honesty. My aunt is the only other person in the family with a Masters Degree, and it was about time that a millennial in the family got one as well. But to be even more honest with myself, I started the program because I was scared of not having a plan, and going to grad school felt like the security blanket that I thought was going to protect me a bit as I got my own shit together.

In a sense, it worsened me.

With every journey comes with some hardships and particularly, grad school gave me a lot of them. I lost most of my friends (old and newish), I lost a lot of my social abilities which created this comfortable bubble of just me writing and getting work done, and it became a reason why I am now seeking out therapy.

It’s how I found out I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

But even with all of this, I’ve learned how to look at it through a positive lens. For instance, I would’ve never gone to seek therapy in the past because I never allowed myself to believe that I was sad/unhappy enough to the point where I needed outside help. Grad school, without a doubt, made me more responsible and more willing to manage things, and with that came this ability to become self-aware of my behavior, actions, and my fears. It made me see myself in a way that made me feel very exposed, and I didn’t have any help trying to get “comfortable” again.

Grad school taught me how to be self-aware of myself & how to acknowledge even the most uncomfortable things in my life. Whether it was me having to wait near the bridge for my bus at 10:30 at night, or writing two 12-page papers in 3 weeks, I was very uncomfortable during my journey. Half of those things caused my anxiety to worsen; half of those things taught me how to cope and make this a temporary “new norm”. There was no compromise in the middle; it was either go for it or let it get you. And I think that’s something so important to know when dealing with an anxiety disorder and/or dealing with life in general.

The future for me is unplanned, and I am learning to be okay with that for the time being. I made it this far, to see this day, to see yesterday, and I know I’ll make it see the future. Grad school taught me there’s no room to be afraid to do something; you’ll never truly know what could be in store if you don’t explore outside of your comfort zone.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable teaches you more about yourself than being comfortable.

Here’s to life as a Master in English.

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Liz (:

Self-Reflection, TNTH's Anniversary Blogging Celebration

23: A Self-Reflection.

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Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!

I have 48 hours left of being 23 years old. I swear the years go by faster as they come; I was just 21 not too long ago. Being 23 wasn’t easy on me; it has been one of the more difficult years since… like, 19. 23 was that year that I don’t mind giving up because it simply wasn’t a good one for me. Even though I say that I still appreciate seeing another year and experienced being 23, it was that year that I look back on and feel like I learned a lot about myself and about life. Prior to 23, I had this idea on the world that everything was good and no harm can come my way if I had everything under control. I was always considered naive, innocent, and sometimes even stupid for thinking that everything could be perfect. I thought I dropped that mindset when I was in my late-teens, but I feel like that’s something I was still carrying around with me years after.

23 taught me that life doesn’t wait for anyone. Life will continue to go on whether you’re upset or not, not everything in this world is what it seems, and sometimes you have to get uncomfortable to understand the reality of life.

23 was the year of self-awareness.

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Prior to this year, I had a clear understanding of the positives in my personality. I knew the positive things that made me “Liz”, but I always would try to push the negatives under the rug so that I was never a “negative” thing. I always told myself that I was not my negatives, and 23 taught me that I am not only my positives either. I am a control freak. I am a perfectionist. I am a narcissist when I feel offended. I have social anxiety. I forget important things when I’m nervous. I try to hurt people when they hurt me first. I have a hard time expressing what I’m thinking or feeling because I’ll feel like a burden. I avoid confrontation like the plague. I am all of these things because I know I am not perfect, but I also know I am not fully any of these things. 23 showed me these things and taught me how to acknowledge these negative traits about myself without feeling resentment towards myself. 23 taught me that the negatives balance out the positives, and if there is a negative I necessarily don’t like, then I have the power to change it.

23 showed me how to recognize and be familiar with the things about myself that I neglected for so many years. It left me uncomfortable, depressed, and uncertain about where I was supposed to go and how to get there. 23 showed me the ugly things life can be if you’re oblivious to the negatives. 23 also showed me that the negatives in life are not meant to be fixed, but they are meant to show you that life is about balance. Even if 23 wasn’t my year of growth in the way I wanted it to be, it still showed me growth; growth that I needed to move forward.

 

 

-Liz. (:

Self-Reflection

How a Porn-Related Retweet Helped Me Accept My Body Image.

*disclaimer: this post discusses various NSFW topics*

Hey guys, welcome back to TNTH!

Let’s start this post with a bang: I’ve always been overweight. I have always been the fat girl in the group of skinny friends, also known as the fat girl who never had boys actually look at her as “attractive” or “sexy” or “beautiful”. Even though I was sucked into this mindset where “fat = ugly”, I still liked myself for who I was. I still do, but when it came to other people liking me romantically, I became insecure about my body and image.

When I finally had a man look at me and call me sexy, beautiful, funny, smart, etc – I was in shock, I can’t lie. I mean, what were the odds that the boy I liked would actually look at me the same way? I thought it was too good to be true, and when the years passed by and the same boy (now man) was still around for all of me, that’s when I realized that yeah, men are going to be attracted to girls, no matter what shape or size. But even then, I kept questioning my looks and my image next to my partner. I kept asking myself do I look good standing by his side? Is it weird for a skinny man to be with a fat girl? Do couples like us really exist without it being a “fat girl fetish” thing?

Every now and then, I feel insecure about my body and my image, even when there’s someone in my life who likes me for the way I am. What do you expect? We live in a world where #RelationshipGoals is a glorified trending tag on social media showing those how “real relationships” should be like. A fit couple working out in the gym? #RelationshipGoals. A couple with a newborn baby and the girlfriend is super snatched after giving birth? #RelationshipGoals. Interracial couples that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye? #RelationshipGoals. Everything is such a “relationship goal” that people begin to believe that what they offer in a relationship and how they physically look isn’t worthy or good enough. Anyone in the situation where their body is considered ugly is always left to wonder damn, where’s the relationship goal where a fat girl feels great in her body and the man loves her for your body and her confidence? Isn’t that a relationship goal?

To society, no.

For most of the time being with my partner, I’ve always brushed those thoughts away. I didn’t mind that what I have with my partner wasn’t a social media “relationship goal.” I was still very happy with what we have, what we share, and we always have fun being together. After trying to be unapologetic about my looks and image, I began realizing that most of my “me” problems stemmed from the fact that I still didn’t accept my body for what it is. Weight is weight, sure, but I still found it so hard to accept the skin that covers this meat on my bones. I guess I was sucked into this universe where I was so traumatized as a young teenager and being called fat and ugly and not good enough, that I always had that inner image of myself; I was never good enough for this fucked-up society.

Then, something funny happened.

As I was on Twitter earlier, someone tried to make a joke about this Twitter account promoting its pornography subscriptionI mean, I’m a 23-year-old woman, when something like that pops up on my timeline, it sticks out as a sore thumb and I’m curious as fuck as to why it’s on my timeline. So this subscription porn site thing has real-life adult and consenting couples who decide to share their sex lives through this service. I mean, the person who retweeted this made some dumb joke about not wanting to see “normal people have sex” (???), but I wasn’t even paying attention to the response; I was more intrigued about the idea of this subscription site. There’s a whole industry of pornography where the “sexiest” men and women get all hot and worked up for pleasure; whatever, we all know the idea of porn, and the idea of a service being made about real-life couples wanting to show their sex lives on camera isn’t even what baffled me. It was the little advertising video attached to this damn tweet. These were regular ass people. These were different people with different interests, different attractions, different ideas of what sex should be, and most importantly, there were couples who were physically polar opposites or “non-traditional” couples. There were gay couples, lesbian couples, gothic couples, hippie couples, white couples, black couples, interracial couples, fat couples, and everything in between.

Now, you’re probably wondering like Liz, what the hell does this have to do with your self-confidence? And for the most part, it doesn’t. Sex is such a natural thing that that aspect of this tweet wasn’t even that much of a big deal. For the most part, this service exposes pornography and its unrealistic expectations of a sex life; that you have to be slamming hot and blonde and the man has to be athletic and fit and strong to have an amazing sex life, blah blah blah. Seeing some of these fat girls with their skinny partners explaining how amazing their partner makes them feel inside and outside the bedroom made me realize a very important thing: confidence doesn’t have a size.

These women who I immediately identified with allowed me to finally begin this process of accepting myself in my own skin. What’s truly beautiful is knowing that in real life, there are people who look just like me and just like you and even if they are polar opposites, something truly deep down connects them both. What’s beautiful is that this misconception of fat girls being “too ugly for relationships” is dying out in the real world. I mean, it’s always going to live on through the eyes of those who think life is just a fantasy land of one type of person, but at least we are making some progress and showing the world that confidence is not a size, but it’s a one size fits all ordeal.

 

-Liz. (:

Self-Reflection

I’m Not Okay, and that’s FINE.

TNTH has been going through this cycle where it’s back up and running and then the next day, I run away from the blog. I’m genuinely sorry for that.

I planned out this entire summer to strictly focus and build on TNTH so that by the time this time of year came around, there were more readers and viewers and a bigger community on TNTH then it was a couple of months ago.

Life happens and sometimes, you’re not okay. I’m not okay as I type this, and that is completely fine.

Continue reading “I’m Not Okay, and that’s FINE.”