I Ran Away to New York City

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been doing so well.

I’ve been really struggling with my mental health, with my purpose in life, I’ve been wondering where I want to be and what I want to do more so than usual. I feel like these are all normal things that so many people deal with, but lately, it’s felt like I’ve been going through it all alone.

Truth be told, I’m really unhappy and I hate admitting that. Especially because some days, it feels like I’m living a dream. There was a point in my life where I never thought I would get to 16. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before, and it might seem crazy to some, but it’s true. I really never thought I would make it. I was really confused and overwhelmed on my 16th birthday and I’m not sure that that feeling has ever left. I’m 20 now.

It all kind of got to be too much. The last couple months have felt like barrels coming down a hill, trying to catch me, and I finally got to a point where I couldn’t run anymore and I got hit. Hard.

So naturally, I did what I tend to do best. I ran more.

But this time, I ran to New York City. I crashed with some friends whose generosity will never be forgotten as I planned a whole weekend in less than 24 hours. I decided to see some shows – shows whose soundtracks I’ve been listening to on repeat for weeks. I wanted to see my sister, I wanted to get out of my head.

The intense feeling of dissatisfaction has been following me around for while. I guess we should go back. It’s kind of a long story so bare with me here.

I would say it started around June. I had just finished my first summer session and was on a brief break. I spent the first three weeks of June traveling around North Carolina going to various prisons – yeah, you read that right.

I was in class called Correctional Field Experience and we visited various minimum, medium, and maximum security jails and prisons throughout the state, learning about the various programs offered at each facility, meeting inmates, hearing their stories, asking questions, and learning how the system functions from the inside. Overall, it was a really cool experience but it was really draining – physically, emotionally, mentally. It’s hard to see people be treated so horribly by a system that is supposed to be helping them, changing them. That’s a different story for a different day though.

As I finished up that class, it all just became glaringly clear how emotionally drained I was. Michael was out of town, visiting family, spending time with his parents, having a great time going to D.C. Pride (still hurt he went without me), but I just started to feel really alone. More so than I usually do.

The best way that I can describe depression, anxiety, loneliness, basically any bad feeling I experience is with a “Dawson’s Creek” quote, believe it or not. Pacey and Joey are locked in a K-Mart overnight and he kisses her (a serious plot arc if you’ve ever seen the show) and she asks how long he’s wanted to do that or something along those lines and Pacey says that the desire never really goes away, it’s always there, it’s just something you learn to live with. While that’s a different situation, the theory still applies.

Some days I find myself getting really angry and feeling really defeated because it hits me all over again that I’m never not going to feel like this. These aren’t things that I won’t ever have to deal with. I’m going to have depression and anxiety and probably PTSD for the rest of my life, there’s no getting around that. I can take medication, go to therapy, work on self love and making sure I’m a priority in my own life (a true concept), but it’s never going to leave me and it makes me incredibly angry. This isn’t what I want for my life. I don’t want to have these deep desires to achieve these things and then be scared and back down because I can’t find the energy to get out of bed or I become so focused on school or other things that next thing I know, it’s been 3-4 weeks since I originally had an idea and now it’s too late. I understand the logic is flawed, but that’s how it feels. It’s frustrating to have a breakdown every couple weeks because I realize that these are the companions I’m going to have for the rest of my life.

Everything just came to a grinding halt. It was June 19th and I just fell apart, for lack of a better description. I started running through scenarios in my head and what it would look like if I really did just give up. I was prepared to pull the proverbial trigger and kill myself, to be quite frank. I’ve never really liked the idea of my close friends or family finding me so it was okay for me that one of my summer roommates might. We weren’t super close, but we weren’t strangers. I liked one more than the others and as much as I didn’t like the idea of her finding me, I came to the conclusion that I’d be okay with her finding me before I’d let Michael or someone else find me.

I entertained the idea of going to the hospital – which I really almost did. I thought, hell, I’ll just pack a bag, I’ll call an Uber, I’ll walk into the emergency room and I’ll look the person in the eye and tell them that I want to die. I figured I’d probably be admitted on sight or moved to a psychiatric unit/hospital, or maybe a rehab. None of which seem particularly appealing to me, but after all, I was just daydreaming.

I can’t tell you what happened or what changed my mind. I remember texting various people who I rely on, but not really expecting much. I think in my mind, I told myself that if they didn’t respond, it was because they didn’t care and it was all the more reason to just let go. They responded, much to my dismay. I couldn’t really explain a lot of what I was feeling or the reasoning behind any of it – another very frustrating symptom of mental illness. All I really remember is the vivid feeling of being pulled under water, like if I didn’t harm myself in some way or try to just end it all, there would be dire consequences anyways so I might as well go my way than any other. I think it’s really hard to understand that feeling, the cliff that you end up on when you’re in that headspace, unless you’ve been there.

I think I ultimately decided to write and that if the feelings were still as strong after, I’d make a decision from there. Luckily, writing walked me off that ledge. Like it has on many occasions. I woke up the next day, I stayed in bed, watched TV, ignored my phone, and just wallowed in my feelings. The day after that, everything was back to normal – as much as possible, at least – and it was just another day.

I realized after that, though, that I desperately needed to get out of Charlotte. I hadn’t left since I was home in Colorado in January of this year for the Christmas break. It’d been the longest time I’d been here consecutively and I couldn’t do it anymore. Alas, being poor and dodging my hometown – again, different story for a different day – I ended up in the “mountains” of North Carolina, Boone.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you might know that I went to California for Spring Break my junior year of high school and I stayed with my mom’s best friend Bobbi. Well, around after I graduated high school, she and her family left California in favor of the North Carolina mountains. I went up there and crashed with her son and his girlfriend for a week, give or take a couple days. I think that trip made me realize how healing it is for me to be in the mountains. As much as I disdain my hometown, the mountains have always felt like home and have never failed to bring me back and center me. I’m not sure that will ever change, as least I hope it doesn’t.

While in Boone, I hung out with cats, watched a lot of movies and tv, read some books, ate yummy food, saw Toy Story 4, drank way too much orange juice, and decided to hop on the job hunt. I applied for anything and everything I thought I was remotely qualified for or that I could learn. I’ve been working sporadically since I left my job at JCPenney and moved to North Carolina for school (RIP to the Longmont JCP). I’ve nannied, worked in retail, done some odd jobs to tide me over, but I somehow came to the conclusion that I was ready for something steady again.

I landed a job in a doctor’s office – consistent hours, good pay, benefits if I stayed long enough. It sounded like everything I’d been looking for. I’d been saying for years that I thought a steady office job would be really great for me. I thought that I could really thrive in routine and that it would really help my mental health to have some consistency. Boy was I wrong.

Now listen, if you thrive in the consistency of a routine, same job every day, if that’s what you want in life, more power to you. But for me, it sent me into a crippling depression. Literally doing the exact opposite of what I wanted. It became blatantly obvious that I wasn’t made for this, and that everything I thought that it would do for me, it didn’t.

One of the people I worked with has been in that job for 10 years. I think he really enjoys his job and is happy with where he is. Truthfully, I wouldn’t know because I didn’t know him that well, but for me, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t work 5 days a week, 8 hour days, doing the same thing every day for 10 years. That’s not to knock him, like I said, I think he’s happy. I hope he is. But for me, I can’t function like that. I was really struggling with keeping my head above water all over again. It just became abundantly clear that I need something else.

I’ve noticed, as have many people around me, that I thrive most in chaos. In the inconsistency, the running of a clock, the pressure to finish something at the last minute, I do my best work. I don’t really know why that is. Maybe it’s a metophor for my life, as I feel like it’s been in constant chaos since I came out of the womb and this is where I am.

In a weird but couldn’t have been greater timing kind of way, I ended up getting fired from that job for reasons unrelated to any of the things we’ve just discussed. I think it might’ve been a blessing in disguise. It’s allowed me to refocus on what I really want in life, thinking about whether or not this really is the path that I want for myself.

Which brings us to this weekend, my impulsivity, and my trip to New York City. Since losing that job and school starting and not having a lot of room to move, in terms of new employment opportunities, I started to feel stuck again. I’m enrolled in classes full-time, 18 credit hours, but I’m only in class 3 days of the week, in the evenings for a couple hours. I then have 3 online classes. So, my sleep schedule is messed up, I have a lot of time to think, and I have consistent 3 day weekends with a nice Tuesday break.

After being hit in the face with the realization that I’m not happy in a 5 days a week, 8-5, 40 hours a week job, I was back to square one. I’m on the path to go to law school right now. Which, is everything I’ve realized I don’t enjoy. I don’t think that working in the criminal justice system is the same as working medicine, medicated weight loss no less, but I do worry that while I am extremely passionate, maybe a little neurotic, when it comes to what I’m studying in school, at the core of the legal profession is the consistency of work, long hours, and being married to your career for the first couple years, if not the first decade after you graduate.

It’s not that I don’t think I could be happy in the legal system. I think that I would find a lot of happiness in it, especially because I am so passionate. I just don’t know if I’d be satisfied. I don’t know if I’d go to bed with a smile on my face, knowing that I am living my dream. Because the truth is, it’s not my dream.

Well, it kind of is. But not in the way that you think.

It’s what I like to call my practical dream. At some point in middle school, I hit a spot in my growing where I became painfully aware of how financially unstable my family was and this intense anxiety crawled into my chest and has lived there since then. It’s wrapped its way around my heart and become a sort of chastity belt for anything that I love that I couldn’t make money in unless I was a one in a million, and in my experience, I’m not that one. As much as I’ve always had a passion for the arts, entertainment – film, television, music, books, writing, etc. – my practical chastity belt wouldn’t let me engage in the idea of pursuing any of it as a serious career. And thus, my practical dream was born – criminal justice.

The funny thing is, my passion for criminal justice reform, prison reform, social justice issues, and history have all stemmed from various movies, TV shows, and documentaries that I’ve watched, wishing I created them instead of binged them in the middle of the night. I first fell in love with the idea of pursuing criminal justice around 6th grade, when I really got into Criminal Minds and it’s since grown then as I’ve found and fallen in love with shows like Chicago P.D., NCIS, Law and Order: SVU, The Code, Bull, Bones, White Collar, The Keepers, etc.

After feeling like everything has come to head, I impulsively decided to go to New York City for the weekend. I’ve been listening to the soundtracks of “Dear Evan Hansen” (2017 Tony Winner for Best Musical and 2017 Grammy Winner for Best Musical Theatre Album) and “Waitress” (written by 7-time Grammy nominated artist Sara Bareilles) on repeat for weeks and upon deciding to go to the Big Apple, I decided that I had to see these shows. Especially with Evan Hansen being played by Andrew Barth Feldman, an extremely talented individual whom I’ve grown to love in the last couple months, and Dawn (“Waitress”) being played by non other than Miranda Sings herself, Colleen Ballinger alongside Todrick Hall who is playing Ogie – Dawn’s husband – it seemed like kismet (if you know, you know) and I had to see them.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been hit in the face with something I love so much, that lights such a fire in my belly and makes me remember why I love music and film and television and writing, and that’s exactly what these shows did. I would say that “Dear Evan Hansen” did more so than “Waitress” but it’s not because the latter wasn’t good, I just related so much more to the former that it felt like I was pulled out from under the water, I could see and hear clearly and I have just fallen for the arts all over again.

In all seriousness, being in NYC by myself for a couple days, seeing people I admire so much live their dreams and do it so fearlessly and with everything inside them, it’s hard to come back to Charlotte and realize that while I do have a passion for what I’m learning, it might not be the thing I want to do for the rest of my life.

Oh god, what it feels to admit that.

I’m really scared to admit that. To say that after everything I’ve been through in life and in the last few years and months that everything I’ve worked for, I might not even want to pursue, it’s crazy, right? I feel guilty for not wanting this as much as I want to write or make music or read. I feel like if I do finish my degrees and walk away from my this path I’ve created for myself, that I’ll be letting down my family or that everything I’ve done in the last two years is irrelevant.

There’s a part in the first season of “Jane the Virgin” where Jane and Rafael flash back to the first time they met and he asks her what her dream job is. In turn, she asks, “am I being practical or brave?” and he says, “practical” and she responds, “I’m a teacher.” He then says, “brave.” To which she replies, “writer.”

So for me, if I’m being practical, I’m a lawyer, maybe president, maybe a Supreme Court justice. If I’m being brave, I’m a writer, a musician, an actress, an artist, wherever it would take me.

I think that either way, I would be happy. I think that only down one path, I’d be satisfied. I guess now I just have to figure out what that means in terms of what my life is going to look like, where it’s going to go, and what I’m going to do.

I guess there’s a reason why New York City is dubbed the city of dreams. I suppose it took me taking an impulsive trip, *almost* breaking my bank, and crying during two Broadway shows to put mine into somewhat of a perspective.

As bold as I am in writing this, I still don’t know what I’m going to do. I think no matter what, I’ll finish school because an education is really important to me and while I wish I could have success in the entertainment industry tomorrow, I am really excited about the classes I’m in, what I’m learning, and how it’s all fitting together. I think that I will try to devote more time to writing and being more brave, for real this time. I think I will continue to work on my art and trying to improve. I think I might get involved in some stuff on campus or throughout Charlotte, I don’t know. I know for a fact that at some point, I’ll make my way back to NYC to see more shows – hopefully in the next couple months before several leave Broadway.

To NYC, for helping me be brave. Here are some pictures of me in the city, having the time of my life, seeing my sister, acting a fool – the only way I know how to exist.

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Coming Out… Again

I’m a firm believer that sexuality is fluid. There’s no right answer all the time of what you are, who you love, and what you like is always subject to change. I think that in our society, we are so in love with labels that we get so caught up in them, and then when someone decides they want to change, people are really taken aback by this.

Funny story, when I first started really thinking about my sexuality, I always thought I was Pans. After reading about it and understanding that there is more than just gay, straight, and bisexual, I was very sure of myself. But when you live in a somewhat small town, where everybody knows everybody – for the most part – and sexuality isn’t talked about much at all, let alone anything other than the “main” three, it’s hard to think of yourself outside of anything other than gay, straight, or bisexual.

So I just told everyone I was bi. And I guess, that’s partly true. But after a while, I started telling people I was gay because people couldn’t possibly fathom that you could “play for both teams” – so to speak. And I think that for some people, identifying as bisexual can be a stepping stone to coming out as gay. Not always, but for some. For the next four years of my life, I exclusively dated women.

Now that I’m in college, I’m no longer in a serious, long-term relationship, and my experiences have broadened, I’m definitely more comfortable with the fact that I am pansexual. I’m sure so many people don’t even know what that means, and that’s okay! To a certain extent, that’s what I’m here for. But just for the record, there is so much more to the LGBTQ+ community than just the LGBTQ’s of them all. Hense, the plus.

The dictionary definition of pansexual says, “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.” Basically, I could care less what’s in your pants, what type of pants you want to wear, or what pants you want to get into. If you have a cool personality that I can vibe with, I’m down. I care more about who you are as a person, what your goals are, your dreams, your fears, your quirks, where you’re from, what you’re interested in than I ever will about your genitalia, your gender identity, or your sexual orientation.

I just want someone who will love me as much as I love them, who will support me and who will allow me to support them. I’m a pretty simple gal. I don’t think that my sexual orientation changes anything about who I am. Who I love is, quite frankly, nobody’s business. But I also pride myself on being transparent, being an open book, and being someone people can turn to ask questions, get advice, or just talk to.

And that’s a huge part of what I want this blog to be. I want it to be a safe place for people to ask questions without fear of judgment. I want to help educate people so that they can help educate others. I want this to be a stem for change and for acceptance and tolerance and so much more.

And it starts with me.

New (School) Year, New Me

Hey there!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? It sure feels like it, anyway.

I’d like to be the first to welcome you back to my new and improved blog. I really hope that you like the changes I made! I’m really excited for what I have in store for this blog, along with all the moving parts of it. I’ve spent the last couple weeks really putting my heart and soul into this site and it’s become this extension of who I am.

It’s been roughly seven months since my last post and so much has changed since then. I’ve grown, changed, and flourished into someone I really like. I’ve made some pretty big mistakes but I’ve also made some incredible changes to be the person I am right now.

The last couple months I’ve been going through a creative block and genuinely felt uninspired. It’s really hard to have so much creativity inside of you, but also feel so anxious all the time because you can’t help but compare yourself to the artists that surround you. I am friends with beautiful people with beautiful souls. Incredible writers, artists, photographers, painters, musicians everything and anything that you can think of, those are my friends. I am equally intimidated and inspired by them but mostly just intimidated. I feel like I could never measure up, but the reality is, it’s not a competition. All our art can coexist and be equally amazing in its own way.

I’ve also been really struggling with the judgment that our generation tends to give to people pursuing their dreams, being creative, or doing anything or being anything outside of the binary. I know that I am judgmental and that’s something I’m really working on within myself. If somebody wants to make music and rap or sing and SoundCloud or YouTube is the way to do it – if that could give them a shot – who are we to judge. Hell, I wish I had more courage to follow all my dreams and not just my realistic ones.

I think that’s why I’m so determined to make this blog live, to push myself to write more, show myself more, be more open, tell my story – each and every one of them. I am bursting with ideas, pieces I want to write, dreams I want to pursue and I’m going to do it. If you’re reading this and you want to pursue one, any, or all of your dreams, I encourage you with all of my heart to do it. We can do all of these crazy dreams, live these wild adventures and make all these mistakes together. You and me. We can do this.

They tell us when we’re kids that we can do anything we want, be anybody we want to be. At what age did we stop believing that? Who decided that we can’t be the things we want and do all the things we want? When did that change?

I want to change it back. I want us to be everything we want and nothing at all. I want to see you follow your dreams, be the best version of you, and live your truth. Whatever that may be.

I hope that you join me on this journey as I figure out what it means to live my truth, and I hope I get to hear about yours as well.

 

All my love,
Veronica

Life Is What Happens to Me

The inspiration for this poem came from an exercise I did with my hall’s leadership team, which I am a part of. We were doing an activity where we had to listen to statements and respond to them based on a spectrum that was set up. The very first statement was, on one side was “life is what happens to me” and on the other side was “life is what you make it” and you had to choose where you fall on that spectrum. I knew from the beginning of the question that life is just what happens to me. I often joke that every horrible thing that could possibly happen to a person, has happened to me, and it’s true. It’s not really a joke, but I find it funny that of all the people to dump all these horrible things on, it was me. I wouldn’t change a single thing that I’ve been through because each of those experiences has played an intricate part of who I am. The phrase itself of “life is what happens to me” stuck in my head for a few weeks after that activity and it inspired this poem at 1:30 in the morning.

life is what happens to me when papi leaves
when dad comes and it’s not the same
when bailey screams and throws things at mom
when he tries to push her down the stairs
when he gets arrested time and time again,
when he beats mom right in front of me

life is what happens to me when girls make up rumors,
i spend a day in in-school detention
when teachers think i’m as bad as they were because of my last name
when his mistakes become mine and my triumphs go unnoticed

life is what happens to me when rumors start flowing about my sexuality,
“she’s a dyke,” they say
when a boy i thought i loved calls me
and tells me it better not be true or our whole relationship was a lie
when my mom says to me, no you’re not, when i tell her i’m gay

life is what happens to me when i make that first cut with purple scissors,
sitting against my door
i don’t even go as deep as a paper cut
but i open the door to the worst addiction i’ve ever had
when life gets hard and i can’t feel anything,
i break razors, pencil sharpeners, box cutters.
when i’d rather watch myself bleed than face the truth,
i’m not worth this life

life is what happens to me when he tells me i’m safe,
that he won’t hurt me
but he takes off my clothes
and uses my body for whatever he so pleases for four years
when i’m eight years old and i think this is normal
and he’s twelve and he knows it’s wrong

life is what happens to me when i just can’t bare it all anymore
so, pills are the only way to go
but i can take as many as i want, i can drink as much as i want,
but it doesn’t feel like i’m anything more than sober
when all i want to do is die and there’s nothing left for me here

life is what happens to me when in seventh grade, lauren tried to kill herself
when in eighth grade, marc tried to kill himself
when in ninth grade, mitchell tried to kill himself,
and died for twenty minutes
when in tenth grade, sarah tried to kill herself
when in eleventh grade, anna and tom tried to kill themselves
when in twelfth grade, edie tries to kill herself
when i’m a freshman in college, and i’m waiting for someone to try to kill themselves

life is what happens to me when my siblings don’t know i exist until i’m 15
when papi never told them about his two other children
when you’ve missed out on connections that should’ve been there in the first place.

life is what happens to me when as soon as rain hits my skin, i’m paralyzed
when my world comes crashing down
when i’m taken back to places i don’t want to go
when tears come out of my eyes
i’m stuck and i’m broken all over again

life is what happens to me
i accepted that a lot time ago
when every horrible thing that could possibly happen to a single person,
has happened to me
you start to think
life is just what happens to me

but life is also what happens to me when i’ve lost all hope that i’ll ever find a best friend i need and i meet her my first semester of senior year
when you’re the only two senior girls in a gym class
and you cling to each other
when you’re over 1000 miles away from each other
and you still talk every day as if you’re still 20 minutes apart
when your friendship becomes the only thing that gets you through the day sometimes
when she’s the only one who gets you and all the weirdness that comes along

life is what happens to me when i meet my soulmate and the truest love of my life when i’m 16 and move across the country for her at 18
when she makes me feel like i can accomplish anything
when she’s the one i want to live my life with, travel the world with, come home to
even when i don’t want to be her friend
i love her endlessly, unconditionally, forever, and always

life is what happens to me when I met a special boy at 12 years old
and we’ve been friends ever since
when he gives me so much strength to achieve my dreams
when he’s talked me off the ledge more than once
when he’s been a confident, a shoulder to cry on, a source of laughter for 7 years
when we have long talks just telling each other how much we love each other
when his dreams are my dreams and my dreams are his

life is what happens to me when i work my ass off to graduate
and be the first in my family to go to college
when i’m a first generation american going to a great school
and living a dream my parents had
when my parents both know that i’ll be the one taking care of them in their old age
when i’m following my dreams, and getting my education
when i didn’t even think i’d make it to 16 and be able to graduate high school,
let alone finish a semester of college and fall in love with life

life is what happens to me when my main motivation isn’t human
when he’s a pocket pit bull with a heart of gold and great hugs
when his cuddles and kisses get me through the hard times
when him loving me is the only thing i want most days,
i want him to be proud of me
even if he doesn’t understand what being proud is

life is what happens to me when my rock, my number one, my whole entire heart is the women who gave birth to me
when i can’t go a day without talking to her
when she’s the first one i call when i do well on a test or paint my nails a different color
when she’s the only constant i’ve ever known

life is what happens to me, sure
it’s a mean, nasty, unforgiving bitch i don’t want anything to do with most days
but then it brings me seder, and garth, and neil, and morgan, and erin
it’s my biggest enemy and my greatest love and the reason i cry most days
but it gave me mariokart and boy meets world and face masks and great book
it gave me all 7 of my annoying brothers, my inspiration of a sister, my blessing of a mom
it gave me spoken word poetry, disney movies, butterflies, big sweatshirts, and sourpatch watermelon
it gave me the breakfast club, music to sing and dance to, makeup to play with, shows to fall in love with
it gave me you, it gave me this, it gave me life

so yeah, life is what happens to me.
but is it really that bad?

How I Found My Home As A Niner

I finished my first week of college! How cool, right? It was a super busy week and truth be told, it’s not over yet!

My journey to get to this point started long before I could even apply for college. I was a little kid and I was watching all these people around me start talking about my college experience, paying for school, and even where I was going to go. I think for a long time, my family definitely thought I was going to stay where I have grown up my whole life and go to my grandpa’s alma mater – CU Boulder. While I love the campus and the mountains and being close to home, I always knew in my tiny heart that I wanted to go somewhere else.

My dream of California started brewing when I was a little girl. When I could finally figure out how to google things other than the ‘Crazy Frog’ or ‘The Gummy Bear Song’, I started looking at colleges, just thinking, exploring websites, and reading people’s experiences. UCLA became a front-runner and my dream shortly after my search began and my heart was stuck there up until my junior year of high school and the summer after.

When Morgan and I started dating, we both knew that her dream was to play lacrosse at the collegiate level, wherever that may be. So when she committed to play D1 ball at Wofford College in South Carolina, truthfully, it didn’t cross my mind that our dreams were across the country from each other.

By the time senior year rolled around, and it was time for me to start applying, Morgan and I had gotten pretty serious. We both knew that we were the one’s for each other, we wanted to spend our lives together and that whatever happened, we wanted to stay together. Well when I knew that I was applying to UCLA because it was my dream, CU Boulder as a safety, as well as the other CU campuses in Denver and Colorado Springs, one thing was missing. Her.

I started to look at schools on the east coast. I knew that we were going to be traveling to South Carolina in October for a prospective day for her lacrosse team so I wanted to look at some schools there. The University of South Carolina Upstate was the ideal school on paper. It was a 10 minute drive from Wofford, it had my major, and it was close to the girl I love. But when we went to visit, I was incredibly disappointed. I wanted more.

As a little girl, I always watched the dance team at CU Boulder games and I knew that I wanted to do something like that. I saw their face tattoos, their pom poms, I saw all the students so excited to be a Buff. I wanted to go to football games, basketball games, I wanted to have so much school spirit.

Upstate didn’t give me that. They don’t even have a football team and that was the deal breaker for me. I’ve always wanted to go to a college football game as a student, with my friends, faces painted, school colors on, ready for the night. That wasn’t something I ever wanted to sacrifice.

The University of South Carolina Columbia was my next option. We drove around the campus and while I wasn’t totally set, I told myself that if I ended up at this school, I wouldn’t be disappointed. The campus is beautiful, the pictures online were amazing, it had my major, it had a football team, it checked every box on my list. My heart just wasn’t in it. I knew that I could go there and I’m sure that I’d find happiness, but it wasn’t going to be there when I first arrived on campus.

At that point, I was disappointed and upset and frustrated and to be honest, I resented Morgan a little bit. I was upset that she chose a school without talking to me about it and I was sad that I couldn’t find one close that had my major and I could see myself at. I was mad at myself for even being upset at her in the first place because this was her dream! She had worked her whole life to get to this point and here I am, being upset and frustrated at her for following her dreams? How rude was I?! I wasn’t allowed to be upset, I thought. She committed to play lacrosse at such an early part of our relationship that we weren’t even sure we were going to last. She didn’t have to involve me in her decision. And looking back at it now, I’m glad she didn’t because I wouldn’t have ended up at the school of my dreams.

We flew home from South Carolina and I was not satisfied. I was scared that I was going to end up staying in Colorado, being over 1,000 miles away from the girl that I loved with every part of my body. I was laying in bed one night and I remember just thinking how stuck I was, how I wasn’t sure what was in store for me for the next school year, and how I absolutely hated that. I got to thinking, what about Charlotte? We flew in and out of there when we went to South Carolina. We spent a night in the city there and I loved it. I was totally in love with the vibe, the skyline, the area, I was infatuated. It wasn’t that far of a drive, what about the schools there?

And that’s when I found my home.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Home of the Niners.

A 1,000 acre campus with over 450 student organizations and clubs. A major in Criminal Justice and a long list of minors to choose from. A football team. School spirit. A GORGEOUS campus with so many trees, two ponds, a couple little manmade streams, two huge dining halls, over 29,000 students, and as far as I was concerned, my brand new home.

I chose this school solely based on courses, course descriptions, pictures, and all the information I could find online. I took one look at this campus, in my dark room, on my phone and I knew it. I knew it with every inch of my being, I hadn’t ever been this excited about a school. This was it.

I didn’t end up actually visiting and being on campus until I was at orientation. I got here and I was definitely overwhelmed. Whether that was from being up all night to take the red-eye and landing at 5 in the morning, or at the fact that this campus is so much bigger than I could’ve ever imagined, I’m not totally sure. But it was definitely a little scary.

But by the time the 2 day orientation was over, I was so set. I chose the right place. It was a good fit, and it wasn’t too far from my girl.

Fast forward to moving in and the almost 25 hour drive, it’s been a week since I got here, I’ve been to all my classes, met all my professors, made new friends, ate way too much food, got 5 free shirts, a free visor, pet dogs, ate a snowcone, a cake pop, and a popsicle, sang at karaoke night, went to a frat party, rushed the football field, been to the tenth floor of the library, saw a concert, and managed to finish all my homework early.

And I’m not done! Today I’m playing bingo to try to win an iPad and tomorrow is the Yard Show in the Star Quad and I am so excited!

In other words, I love college.

I’m so ready to take this journey to further my education, to get my degree, to pursue my dreams of becoming a real life Olivia Benson, Erin Lindsay, and Jennifer Jareau all rolled into one. I am the happiest I’ve been in so long and I love being a Niner.

It was really hard getting here. I wasn’t even sure I was going to college a week and a half ago because I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it. But by the grace of God, the generosity of good people, and a lot, and I mean a lot of crying, I’m here. I’m living my dream. My whole life has been me working to get to this point and I have never been more ready.

That’s not to say I’m not scared or a little stressed or nervous about how my classes are going to pan out, because I am all of those things and so much more. But first and foremost, I’m excited, I’m happy, and I’m ready for this journey to continue.

I want to thank everyone that’s helped me get to this point and who has contributed to motivating me to keep going. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my parents, my teachers, my close friends, my sister, the love of my life, and the people who care about me most. I am who I am because of all of you and while I’m doing this for myself, I’m also doing it for you. For those who couldn’t be where I am right now for various reasons, for those who have gone through college already and are guiding me through it. I’m doing it for the people still in high school, scared out of their minds, wondering if college truly is for them, and honestly, it might not be. But for me, this has been the best first week of school I’ve ever had, and I’m so excited for this year.

I have got a lot of Niner pride in me and I’m so excited to let it all out!

The Power of a Semicolon

I have never been so open about my mental health as I am now that I have my semicolon tattoo. I’ve talked about my depression to those I’m closed to, those I want to help, and those who need to hear a story that could maybe give them some hope that it does get better.

IMG_9288I got my semicolon tattoo a little over a month ago and I didn’t think I’d be ready to talk about my journey with mental illness but the moment someone asked me about what it means, I felt this huge weight be lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I was finally ready to be okay with my depression, my anxiety, and my recently diagnosed PTSD.

For those who don’t know about Project Semicolon, it’s a international organization with a mission to prevent suicide by providing a forum for people who experience mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, BPD, addiction, suicide, postpartum, schizophrenia, dissociative personality disorder, and eating disorders.

It’s become a worldwide movement to destigmatize mental illness. Their website says, “Project Semicolon is an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives.”

Recently, their founder, Amy Bleuel lost her battle with depression and passed away from suicide on March 23. She was 31. On her about page, it reads, “After overcoming many obstacles in her life including bullying, rejection, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, Amy has found strength and a love for others. Amy struggled with mental illness for 20+ years and has experienced many stigmas associated with it.”

Honestly, getting this tattoo felt so freeing. It felt like I was finally going to be able to tell my story and not be ashamed of it. It gave me power.

 

I got diagnosed with depression shortly after I turned 13 in May of 2012. It’s been just over 5 years now and it has been the wildest journey I’ve ever been on. I have gone through 3 major depressive episodes, suicide attempts, and I struggled with self harm for two and a half to three years and I have always, for as long as I can remember, struggled with eating. I recently got diagnosed with PTSD stemming from years of sexual abuse as a child and emotional abuse from relationships.

I got my semicolon tattoo as a way to remind myself that I made it through some of the worst struggles I’ve ever been through. I was able to make it through self harm, abuse, and major depressive episodes and I still managed to graduate high school, continue dancing up until junior year, get into a good school, and maintain a relationship.

It’s not easy. Mental illnesses are a bitch. They are really hard to manage without proper help and depending on the severity of some, it’s tough to be in healthy relationships with friends, family, and partners.

My semicolon helped me heal in a way I didn’t know I needed to. It allowed me to put on my body, “Hey I went through this, but I’m okay. I’m going to make it. I’m going to follow my dreams and build a life for myself. I went through all these horrible things but I made it out. If I can, you can too.” And that’s something I never thought I would be able to do.

I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of the person I am, of the woman I’m becoming, and of the girl I was. I can’t say I’m happy I went through what I did, but it made me into the person I am today. It’s crazy to think but I wouldn’t be who I am without the trauma I’ve experienced and truth be told, I wouldn’t want to change anything. I’m stronger than my mental illness and I’m determined to make it through.

 

If you’re going through anything and you want to talk about, please, feel free to reach out to me. I am always here to talk, to listen, to help in any way I can.

Unexpected & Inevitable Change

Going into senior year, I didn’t think that by the end of it, this is where I’d be – moving houses while also trying to move across the country, in a serious committed relationship, and moving to the east coast instead of the west.

I didn’t know what the next 4 years were going to look like and I sure as hell didn’t think I was going to end up in North Carolina, but here I am. Ready and so excited for my next chapter.

I always knew I was going to go to college. For a long time, I wanted and hoped and dreamed with every inch of my tiny body that I would be a UCLA Bruin, though in the back of my mind, I always kind of wondered if I would end up staying in Colorado. My grandpa is a die hard CU Boulder fan and I grew up going to football and basketball games almost every other week.

And yet, here I am, 2 months away from college and I’m going to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to study Criminal Justice with a minor in Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights – totally not where I thought I would end up.

People ask me all the time why I chose to go 1,356 miles away from home and to be totally honest, most of the time I lie. I tell people that it’s because they have a great criminal justice program – and they do – but the first reason I chose that school is because of the girl I am so lucky to be in love with.

Some might think it’s naive to move across the country for a person that I’ve only been dating for a year, but in all honesty, I’ve never felt more ready to do something in my life. I am fully committed to Morgan and to loving her and supporting her through her lacrosse journey and I couldn’t be more excited to be in Charlotte because I love it so much. The city fits me perfectly, and that’s just an added bonus.

Going through high school, you always know it’s going to end. You count the days, you get more and more excited as you go through the years because you’re so ready to leave. Though, as it ends, it gets kind of scary. The last 4 years are all you’ve known and all you can dream about is the next chapter of your life. This change is inevitable, you can’t stay in high school forever. Even though you know what’s coming, you’ve been ready to leave since the day you walked in, there’s still this really intense feeling of anxiety and wondering what it going to happen next.

This year put me through a lot of unexpected change. My family had no idea that we were going to have to move out of a house we’ve lived in for almost 10 years, one we for sure thought would be our forever home one day. We didn’t know we were going to have to move within 60 days of finding out we can’t stay in our house and I sure as heck didn’t think that we were going to end up in a townhouse but I also wasn’t sure where we would end up at all.

After junior year, when Morgan and I started dating, we had no idea what our relationship was going to entail. I didn’t know that a week after we became exclusive that she would commit to play D1 lacrosse in South Carolina. At that time, the thought that we wanted to go to schools completely across the country from each other didn’t run through my head. I didn’t know that after a few short months together, I would know that she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t know that the next year would have so much adventure, and fun, and love, and sadness, and twists, and turns. I didn’t know that I was ready to change my whole life for someone but when the time came, it felt like something I had to do, and I chose her without a second thought.

Change is weird. It’s foreign, it’s scary, and it can be intimidating. I’ve learned that, for the most part, I do okay with change. It’s not my favorite thing in the world but I can adapt. I’ve learned that sometimes choosing a love that you’ve never had with someone who gets you like no one has before is easier than choosing a school.

Though I didn’t get into UCLA, and to be totally honest, I wasn’t really counting on it, I think that if I had, I still would’ve chosen Morgan. I obviously can’t say for sure, but I am so beyond excited for my next chapter in Charlotte. I am so ready to follow my dreams, even if she is a human being with a cute laugh, a scrunchy nose, and a niche for weird memes and lots of naps.

I am nowhere near where I thought I would be, but I’m also not mad about it. I actually couldn’t be more ready for the fall.

 

Senior Year… Yikes

Oh gosh. When they said that high school flies by, they weren’t kidding. It really does feel like just yesterday that I was walking in – late, by the way – on my first day of high school.

It’s very weird to tell people that I’m a senior because I still feel 12. I get excited about new Disney Channel movies and when I can have ice cream, but at the same time, I’m 17, running my own business, and looking at colleges? It’s all very surreal.

Though, I definitely feel the pressure that comes with being a senior – applications, scholarships, grants, financial aide, the whole nine.

I’ve always been the type to plan everything. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was a kid, with a dream school in mind, and the following 20 years after high school thoroughly planned out. But. I learned very quickly that life happens and things change and people have the power to change everything you thought you wanted.

So, in all honesty, I don’t have a single clue as to what after high school looks like. I know what I want to happen, but things can change in an instant. I have back up plans for back up plans but what I’ve realized over the past summer is that planning doesn’t mean anything. You could have every hour planned out by the minute and it could blow up in your face. The best thing to do is just go with the flow. So that’s what I’m doing.

I can promise to you, whoever you are, and to myself that I’ll do my best to make the right decision for me. I won’t sacrifice myself or my dreams for anyone or anything. I am pursuing my dreams. It’s just a matter of how at this point. We’ll just have to see.

As far as senior year goes, I’m done already and it’s been 3 days. High school is exhausting and I’m over it, so I’m just doing what I can to make the best of it. It’s a very short period in my life that I will remember forever. It’s been crazy thus far. I can only imagine what this year will bring.

I have no idea what the intention of this post was, I guess I just really want to get back into writing about what matters to me. Like I said, life happened and my blog got lost in translation. It’s coming back though. I’m determined.

Here’s to senior year and to the unknown adventure that is the future. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride.

Happy Heart: California Day 6

I can’t believe that day 6 was my last full day in California. It feels unreal. This week went by so fast and I’m no where near ready to say goodbye, or even see you later.

Over my time here, I’ve just fallen more in love with this state. It’s kind of been a reassurance that this is where I want to be, need to be. I’ve never felt as happy, as free, as at home, then I do here.

Day 6 was really fun though. Elijah and I hiked near the Hollywood sign and you could see all of Los Angeles. Walking up to where we ended up was a mile Processed with VSCO with c1 presetand a half, but it didn’t feel like that at all, and you wouldn’t believe it with the view that we had. From up there, it all just seemed so peaceful. While we were up there, it dawned on me that I fly home the following day and my heart just sank into my chest. I just took the time to reflect on my week and all that we’ve done. I want to come back soon and see all the things I didn’t see. I just want to be here.

After our hike, we went to this hot dog place called Vicious Dogs. They have a bunch of weird but so tasty hot dogs. They’re kind of like the Marco’s of California – more adventurous, just as good.

When we finished up there, we drove back to the house and hung out for a little bit before going on a drive that seemed like it took forever to get some fish tacos. The place was called Neptunes Net. I’m not gonna lie, I had their shrimp tacos and they were pretty good. But I most definitely think the ones at BJ’s in Boulder or at the Pumphouse are way better.

When we got home, Elijah, Lily, and I played Uno. I actually won a game! Correction, I won 2. I feel pretty accomplished.

I layed down in bed after the game and it really dawned on me how much I don’t want to leave just yet. I feel like there is so much more to experience and Colorado hasn’t felt like home in a really long time – since we came here last year, if I’m being honest. I feel more at home here, in California. I can see my life here, and if it were up to me, I’d uproot it now and move out here to finish high school. As much as I love my family and friends, I’d still do it. I just feel so much happier here. I think that’s the hardest part about leaving now. I’m going back to a place where I’m not as happy as I could be, as I should be, as I want to be.

I just want to say thanks to Scott, Bobbi, Elijah, and Lily for letting me stay for a week and answering all my dumb questions about whether they have Kroger’s or Safeway’s. (Out here it’s apparently called Vons?). Thanks to Hazel for only liking me when I have food. It may be a one sided relationship but she’s one darn cute dog. Thanks to Sophie for always running from me like I’m going to eat her, but letting me scratch her chin when she’s laying on my bed. I’m really gonna miss your porch and writing on it in the mornings. In all seriousness, thank you for opening up your home and welcoming me into your home with open arms. I’m so beyond grateful.

This has easily been one of the best weeks of my life and I will always remember this trip, and not just because I blogged about it. I can’t wait to feel this feeling of happiness and home again. I hope to come back soon. I don’t know if we’re doing anything on my last day, but we shall see. I’ll still blog about it anyways, so stay tuned!

Bruin at Heart: California Day 5

Day 5 was easily the best day and a huge reason why I came to California in the first place. I toured my dream school and further validated my desires to be a Bruin.

Anyone who is even remotely close to me knows that the University of California: Los Angeles has been my dream school for the longest time. I’ve known since the day I knew what it was that I wanted to be there, that I IMG_0255belonged there, and that I could live there and call it home. I don’t know if anyone knows the feeling you get when you just know something feels right, like it’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, but walking that campus, that’s exactly what I felt. Looking at all the architecture and the people, hearing about the classes and the events, I was picturing my life as a prospective student at the school of my dreams.

Even driving to the campus, I had butterflies. I really had been waiting for this moment for so long. It’s one of those things that I’m always going to remember, whether I become a Bruin or not. Our tour started at Pauley Pavilion and my tour guide’s name was Ryan. He was born and raised in Denver, which put a huge smile on my face. As we started walking the campus, I got lost in it all. It’s so much to take in. The campus, on it’s own, is already so magnificent and incredible that all the little things that I loved and things we talked about, just further added onto my desire to be at that school.

I really, really, more than anything, wish that I could put into words the feeling that I had when walking the campus, but I don’t know how to explain it unless you’ve felt something similar. It’s like your whole world stops. You’re life isn’t even really your life anymore because you’re so lost in this place. I wasn’t even thinking about the rest of my junior year, the fact that I have a AP Gov project due on Monday and I haven’t touched it, or the fact that I still have a year of high school left. All that mattered was the fact that I could see myself studying in the libraries with a study group. I could see myself laying in the grass in the sculpture garden, reading a book, or doing some homework. I could imagine myself loving every moment of the events – from the bonfire, to orientation, to concerts, to games.

It’s insane how at home I felt. I feel it every morning when I wake up here, but it was so much stronger at UCLA. I could feel my heart trying to beat out of my chest, out of pure excitement for what my future could hold. I’ve never been so excited to go to school. I hope to be a Bruin.

Anyways, when we got back to the car with my feet soaking wet, I called my mom to gush about all the great things and tell her all that I could remember. After the tour, it was a pretty relaxed day. I just wanted to take it all in. I just hung out and watched movies before we went to dinner at a place called Hook. It kind of reminded me of a healthier, more modern, has fish Steak’N’Shake. I got the grilled chicken caprese sandwich. It was delicious.

When we got back from dinner, I continued to watch movies and Lily went to lay on the hammock. After being out there for awhile, I checked on her and next thing you know, I’m almost dying trying to lay in my first hammock. Lily and I started talking about a bunch of random things, such as the rat that lives in their backyard, and decided that we were going to watch the movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It is one of my favorite movies and I knew Lily had to watch it. I won’t say anything further because I really recommend watching it and I don’t want to spoil anything.

After the movie, we played this other board game called Smart Ass and I have come to the conclusion that I just suck at board games. Although, I do very much enjoy hanging out with Lily. She is such a cool and weird person, and she’s incredibly funny. We’re alike in the sense that when we’re in public, we don’t talk much. But when you actually sit down and have a conversation with her, her wittiness and her true personality comes out, which I love. When I said she is one of the coolest girls, I definitely meant it.

Day 5 was a good day, a happy day. I’m so excited for my future and what it has to hold. I have so many dreams and plans and they are slowly but surely becoming a reality.