Before they met, she told him about her dreams. He knew her desires, he knew her fears.
He knew her boundaries. She made those clear.
When they met, her heart pounded in her chest. They sat awkwardly in a diner, eating pie for dinner. She felt vulnerable, but when two people meet for the first time, that's just how things are.
He knew her boundaries.
He invited her back to his apartment. She walked up many flights of stairs. He was so tall that he had to hunch over in the kitchen. He brought her a glass of water. They sat on the couch.
He knew her boundaries.
His arms wrapped around her. They were strong. She still felt vulnerable. But he knew her boundaries.
He kissed her, harder. His arms were steel around her skin. He pinned her to the couch; she could not move. He called her names.
She tried to enjoy it, tried to ignore the knot in her stomach that made her want to throw up.
He did things to her that she didn't want. But her throat was dry, she couldn't say no.
He knew her boundaries.
But he liked her.
And then it happened.
This time, he asked her permission.
This time, her voice worked. She said no, not today.
He did it anyway.
Minutes later, he turned on the tv. Basketball. An important game. A rerun.
Watch with me, he said. But if you tell me who won, I will kill you.
I will kill you.
When she got home, she sent a text message:
I had so much fun. Thank you for everything.
I wrote this letter 3 years ago today, about six months after a horribly traumatic freshman year of college. This was just the beginning of my healing process. But the words were just as true then as they are now.
I hope this letter finds you doing okay, and maybe helps to make you smile. Because let me be the first to say that life has its ups and downs, and when you’re living in a “down”, it can be pretty rough. I know the feeling well.
I’d like to start off by saying, my dear, that you are not crazy. Every feeling, emotion and thought that you have, no matter how strange it may feel to you, is real. If you feel like you’re going through a hard time, you are. Recognize that so that you can stop beating yourself up about it. “I shouldn’t be feeling so sad right now” or “I can’t believe I’m so angry” do nothing to make you feel better or change your situation. Sometimes, you just can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Most of the time, it’s not your fault at all, you’re just in the middle of life happening. And yes it sucks. It REALLY SUCKS. But trust me when I say that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. I swear to you that there is.
During this hard time, whatever you may be going through, don’t forget how beautiful you are. Yes, I’m serious. You are beautiful. Even if you’re going through a phase of not showering and wearing sweatpants everywhere (trust me, it can happen….). Somewhere inside you, you have a beautiful, loving soul, and no one, and no amount of sadness, or crazy life stuff can take that away from you.
Now all of this is not to say that I’m telling you to just drop everything and BE HAPPY. Because God only knows that telling someone who is not happy to just BE HAPPY is like telling a fish to grow legs overnight or demanding a snow day in the middle of June in Mexico. It just can’t happen. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is don’t forget your self worth through this all, and also, HAVE FAITH that it will all be over someday. Because it will. Just hunker down, get as comfortable as you can, and ride the storm. (Keep your eyes peeled and you might even see a rainbow after!)
I can’t guarantee it will be over tomorrow. Or in two days. Or even in a year. I can’t see into the future like that, I’m sorry. But when the world seems like it is grey and evil and sad and you feel like you will never feel happiness again, I’m telling you that you do not have to worry, because that sadness is NOT forever. The world and life and the universe and nature all work in strange ways, one of which being that nothing is permanent or stagnant. I heard someone once refer to life as a river, and it’s totally true. We are just along for the ride, but rapids can’t last FOREVER. All rivers must lead SOMEWHERE.
And lastly, this thing you are going through will make you a better person. Yes, it’s hard to hear right now, and it is perfectly 100% okay if you don’t believe me now. But bookmark this letter and read it again down the line when you’re feeling better, and see if I was right. (Spoiler alert: I am). Your suffering now, as painful and hard and horrible as it may be, is in your life to make you better. It is there for a reason. You may not see it now, but you will look back on the experience one of these days and feel some sort of gratefulness for the whole thing. I swear.
So, my friend, wherever you are right now, please know this: You are not alone, and you will get through this. Have faith that this is not forever, and that it will be worth it in some way in the end. I know the hopeless feeling, and it’s pretty horrible. But don’t give up.
You are on this earth for a reason, and this is just one more step towards you figuring out what that reason is. Believe in yourself. I know I believe in you.
All my love, prayers and hugs,
"Without freedom it is impossible for personality to develop fully. Freedom is the key to the entire process, and the first step comes when the when the individual is capable of acting without help from others and becomes aware of himself as an autonomous being." Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
Maria Montessori's concept of freedom and individuality in the child was revolutionary. She challenged the traditional educational system, which forced the children into conformity, and instead suggested that the child be allowed the freedom of expression, and that individuality and uniqueness be encouraged, rather than punished.
Instilling this philosophy of acceptance and encouraging freedom in the young child allows them to develop their own personalities, their own individualities. Children who grow up this way become self-confident adults, who know themselves and can appreciate others, and all their individual differences.
The world needs more people who think like she does.
Societal pressure to confirm exists all around us. It is painful, harmful, and, quite frankly, abusive.
Each person exists and is valuable precisely because of their uniqueness. Montessori saw that. But it seems that society has forgotten. I shared recently that even I have been criticized for my "authenticity" here on this blog, and on my other social media sites. This is society pressuring me to conform, to "be like everyone else."
I am not like everyone else. You are not like everyone else. If we were all the same, life would be very boring. (Hmm...ever wonder why so many children are bored at school?)
I'm studying to be a Montessori guide, and I believe in the Montessori principles. As such, I cannot be silent on this issue.
Be yourself. Be unique. Be authentic. Be unapologetically YOU.
And please, please, please, let others be themselves too.
For this is how we will change the world.
“We then become witnesses to the development of the human soul; the emergence of the New Man, who will no longer be the victim of events but, thanks to his clarity of vision, will become able to direct and to mould the future of mankind.” The Absorbent Mind
Sometimes the world needs to teach you a lesson that you don't want to learn. And so it happens, and it hurts, and if you aren't paying attention, you might think that it happened for no reason at all, or because you were stupid, or because someone else had bad intentions.
It will look this way if you don't remember that the universe knows.
The universe knows.
Not only that, but the universe cares.
And when the universe cares, somehow, all the hard stuff becomes a bit more tolerable. Everything has a reason for happening. Each tear is an opportunity for growth. There's a purpose behind the sadness. The world has a greater plan for you.
And you will see the word with new eyes. I promise you will. It might be hard at first, it might not seem to make sense. But the world becomes that much more full of love when you recognize that each moment has been created, for you, out of love. Yes, even the bad stuff.
And suddenly, you won't be so alone.
Today is day one of a series I'm starting, where I write out a short reflection over lunch. I usually like to use lunch as an opportunity to recharge and be alone, so I thought this would be a nice way of doing that while also getting some blogging done! ;)
My boyfriend visited me this week and it was quite an emotional time. We hadn't seen each other in a while, and we are both working on a lot of personal stuff individually, which seemed especially amplified this week.
Last night, as we were going to sleep, I reflected on how emotional I had been over the last few days. And my boyfriend looked at me and said, "that means that you're growing."
What at an amazing statement, and so true. Growth doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't always happen smoothly. It takes time and effort. It takes dedication. It takes emotional investment. It takes a lot. At this particular time in my life, so many things are changing and I'm learning so much about myself every day that it's no wonder that these times have been so emotionally charged.
In class the other day we watched as the caterpillar we had been keeping in our classroom emerged from its crysalis as an incredible monarch butterfly. The experience was transformative and nothing short of miraculous.
Human growth is equally miraculous, and can involve just as much turmoil. And the end result can be just as beautiful, too.
So if you are like me and going through an emotional moment in your life, or are feeling unstable or unsure of what the future will bring, know that this turbulence is the very thing that allows for the caterpillar to metamorphosize into a butterfly.
You too are a butterfly waiting to emerge. You just have some transforming to do, first.
The universe gives you exactly what you need, even when you didn't know you needed it.
I've been gone off the blog for a while now. A combination of moving to a new state and starting grad school has left me busy, and with no good place for taking outfit pictures! (Any creative solutions to that issue are welcome) Hence, the minimalism project part 2 never took off as promised.
But, during this month away, the universe has blessed me with so many opportunities to practice just the things I need most practice on. I'm becoming a fuller, better version of myself out here on the east coast, and though it hasn't been completely smooth sailing, I can feel the transformation happening.
Here's what I've been learning:
How to love
Being long-distance from my boyfriend has been hard. There are days where our only communication is a "good morning" text. But I am happier than ever, and it's because I'm finally figuring out how to be in a healthy relationship. I'm communicating my feelings and emotions. I'm listening to his. We laugh a lot, and we are content with sitting next to each other on the couch in silence (when I am lucky enough for him to visit). Distance is teaching me how to love. Thank you, universe.
How to be helpful
I generally consider myself a helpful person. In fact, I think often times I tend to help people TOO much. This is often called codependency. I have this desire to control other people's lives before the bad thing even happens to them, so that they won't get hurt.
As it turns out, this is not actually possible. And when my efforts fail, because I'm trying to control something I can't, I get upset with myself for not trying hard enough. It's not a fun way to live.
My grad school program is with 20 other women, and over the last month, I've had to make new friends - something I haven't really had to do since my freshman year of college. And guess what? In a subconscious effort to make the people around me like me, I found myself wanting to be helpful. Overly helpful. Helpful before my new friends even asked for it.
I noticed this behavior more clearly, before it got out of hand, and with every new day I've been working really hard to only be as helpful as is asked for.
And so far, it's working. I've made friends without having to convince them that I'm worthy of their friendship by being their savior in all things. I'm learning that Greta, just as she is, is likable too.
How to be imperfect
At the beginning of the school year, I had some people who I respect tell me that my behavior on social media (mostly on my blog, my Instagram, and Facebook I think) is inappropriate and cause for concern. I wasn't provided with specifics about my "concerning behavior" so I had to do some guess work, and what I realized was that my authenticity was making these people uncomfortable. My honesty was concerning. Because it's true, I write about my struggles here on this blog. I post pictures of my not-a-size-zero body on Instagram. I speak out about failed relationships, and my own sexual assault. Because all of these things are me. Why should I put on a false front of being 100% happy and perfect all the time on social media, when in real life that's simply not true?
Being confronted in this way was really difficult for me. It hurt. A lot. But now that I'm on the other side of it, I can say now that I am more proud than ever of who I am. I have not changed my "inappropriate" behavior. Because honesty is never inappropriate. And I will not change because some people are uncomfortable with my imperfections. That's their problem. Not mine.
As as you can see, I've been hard at work, learning and growing and becoming more of myself than ever before. I really want to make blogging a regular thing, both here and on my fashion page, but if last month is any indication of how this year is going to go, I really can't make any promises.
What I can tell you is this: the universe works in beautiful ways. You just have to open your heart to the lessons that are being offered to you. Miraculous transformations happen when you do.
A 20-something trying to find what it means to be me!