Letter #1

For those of you who do not know, I am moving to Chicago this fall. With that, I have decided to do an installment of letters to members of my family. They will be somewhat personal, but I believe that many of you will be able to relate. So, here we go.

To my dad, the one that currently resides many, many hours away.

Thank you for teaching me the pain of distance. I know that sounds a bit aggressive, but I don’t mean it that way. Although you were not exactly there to raise me, your absence was able to teach me many valuable lessons.

After the divorce, I became aware that love does not always last, and therefore I should be cautious of the relationships I am in.

During our brief tradition of Wednesday night dinners, you taught me to never work in a job that makes me unhappy. It creates awkward silences and stress – a combination that no one should have to encounter.

When you left for the first time, you headed out to Thailand. You taught me that sometimes people need to get away to find out who they really are, and you showed that it was okay.

You went to Thailand a few times. Each time, I learned how to create a relationship with someone very far away.

When I told you I was in therapy during one of your trips home, your silence taught me that you don’t have to speak in order to understand.

When you left the second time, you moved to South Africa. That was when I learned that it is very easy to become disconnected with someone you were once very close with. I also learned that time zones are kind of a b*tch.

When you came back, I learned that it is possible to pick up broken pieces and put them together again. Certain relationships can withstand the test of time.

When you left for good, you moved away to California. When you broke the news, I learned what it felt like to have your heart shattered into millions of pieces. I learned that even when you are surrounded by people who love you, you can still feel alone.

Now that I am older, I know that it is not your fault that you had to leave all of those times. I understand that you needed to leave in order to discover who you really were and you needed to do what was best for you.

I know that you needed to hear this a long time ago, but I am proud of you. Both of us are human, both of us make mistakes, and I hope to see you back home one day.

Thank you so much for everything, even though you did not know what you did for me.

I forgive you.

Love,

Katelyn

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Wait, should I be scared of frat boys?

I am a young girl moving to a big city. This poses a lot of concern, most (but not all) of which lies with my parents. To comfort themselves and give me advice, these are the comments I usually hear about my future move:

“Don’t walk alone at night – ever.”

“Find a guy to take you to and from any night classes.”

“Don’t let a random guy pour you a drink.”

“Always be on the lookout, you never know what is going to happen.”

Comments like these have instilled a fear in me; a fear of what, I do not exactly know. The only thing that is for sure is that I am terrified to walk down an alleyway or past a man when I am alone.

I have heard so many stories about the “rape culture” at universities. The frat boy that uses and abuses the naive freshman, or the older guy at the bar that slips a little something into your drink as he brings it over to you. If you choose to report it, no consequences are put in place, and if you don’t, the abuse continues. That is absolutely terrifying to me. In fact, if I hadn’t had prior experience with tailgates and parties, I don’t know if I would even take the risk.

So why are girls my age so scared of boys? Is it because they are all out to hurt us at some time or another? Or is it possible that the fear comes from years of being told that we are going to be hurt by them? For example, when I was little, my mom never wanted me to go to the deep end of the pool. It was her biggest fear that I was going to drown. So as I got older, I began to associate the deep end of the pool with negative consequences – and then I started associating water in general with those same consequences. Now, I am terrified to be in lakes or oceans where my feet cannot touch the ground and I will cry out with fear if you dunk me in the pool. I think that this is sort of the same concept. We are told at a young age that specific, bad men are going to look to hurt us, but as we get older, we begin to believe that all men are like that, which of course is completely false.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are boys at universities and in the workplace who truly believe sexual harassment and rape is okay. I know that they are sick people that do not deserve to see the light of day. I pray that as I continue my journey into college, I do not have to meet any of those kind of people. However I also believe that we should be careful how we word things to young girls. I do not believe it is fair to tell them that men are looking to hurt them. I do not believe it is fair for me to have to be fearful walking back from class. I do not believe that it is fair to categorize males as those who create terror and females as victims. It could easily be the other way around.

You see, this is what feminism is all about. Just as I should not be scared to run an errand alone, a boy should not have to be a victim of skepticism. There should be no questions like, “Do you think he drugged her? I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…” Men and women both deserve equal respect. No gender should be scared of what the other thinks of them, because that is exactly what keeps the gender lines so strong.

Rape-culture-pic

A poem: Infinite

what would you say if I told you I was infinite?
would you laugh at me and kiss my face,
or would you look into me deeply and understand
my soul
and how it yearns for you
and screams for you
and aches for you?
if I explained that it was your love
that allows my existence
would you put your arms
around my waist
or rather
around my throat?
and when I put my lips to your ear
and whisper my heart to you
will you take in my words
and let them swallow you whole,
consuming every part of you?
but also, when I ask you to watch
the sun go down
will you tell me to stay with you for the night
to watch it come back up again?
baby please, I’m begging you to tell me,
will you love me forever
and hold me tonight
and each and every night to come?
my dear, if you would, I will live forever,
because my infinity is you.

18 things I wish I understood my freshman year of high school

As everyone has warned me… the end of senior year is coming far too quickly. With only a couple months left, my thoughts of high school are fading and those of college are rushing in. Although this next step in my life is an exciting one, I have come to realize that if I could redo the last four years there are quite a few things I would change. I figured that since I have not yet learned how to time travel, I might as well share my list of “things I wish I understood freshman year” with the rest of the world. So please, enjoy and try to learn from my regrets.

1. It is perfectly okay to wear sweatpants to school. No one is going to laugh at you or make fun of you – we’ve all had our lazy days.

2. Don’t be embarrassed to get a tutor. It doesn’t matter the subject, whether it’s math, english, or art; if you’re struggling, get help. There’s no need to stress yourself out to the point of a mental breakdown.

3. Your teachers are there to help you, not hurt you. Don’t be afraid to go to them for anything you need help with. Family issues, stress, friends, confusion… they want to be there for you. Appreciate them!

4. Drink water. I struggle the most with this one, but it really does help keep you healthy and focused.

5. Don’t be mad at yourself for not finishing the homework or receiving a poor grade on a test, just motivate yourself to make up for it next time around.

6. Challenge yourself. Don’t take blowoff classes simply because you feel like being lazy. Put yourself in an environment that stimulates your mind and forces you to learn new things.

7. Don’t try too hard to impress people… be yourself, act in a way that makes you comfortable, and don’t change things that you love about yourself.

8. Speaking of that, please love yourself. There is no need to look in the mirror and point out flaws. You are strong and you are important and therefore you should radiate confidence.

9. You won’t be friends with everyone you meet for all 4 years. People will come and go and you just have to accept that. Find your core group and stick with them, because they are the ones that will be there at 3 am talking you through the math homework that has brought you to tears.

10. Be open minded. Allow yourself to be introduced to new experiences and flavors of the world around you. Go to football games, art shows, plays… don’t miss out on anything simply because you didn’t feel like you would fit in.

11. It is perfectly okay to be emotional. If you feel strongly about something, express your feelings. Keeping them bottled up inside will only lead to an increase in stress.

12. Keep your parents involved. I know they can be embarrassing sometimes, but in the end they are the ones who have been there since day one. They love you more than anyone else on the planet – you should love them back just as much.

13. Eat relatively healthy, but don’t force it. You want to eat pizza a couple nights in a row? Do it. You want to eat an entire row of Oreos? Do it. Let yourself binge and be happy.

14. Apologize when you mess up, but don’t feel the need to apologize for everything. Stand by your opinions, just be sure you can back them up with a valid argument.

15. There are better things after high school, but the four years there can be pretty amazing too. Don’t focus too much on the future, live in the moment you’re currently in.

16. Don’t let relationships ruin your friendships. If someone breaks your heart, your friends will be there to pick up the pieces, not shatter them more.

17. If you are overwhelmingly sad, please get help. Going to therapy doesn’t make you a crazy person, it means that you are strong enough to face the issues you are having. Talk to someone, anyone. I promise you, it helps. Talk to me if you need to. Let it all out on Tumblr. Do something. Harming yourself will not fix anything, it will just make the pain stronger.

18. Let yourself mess up. You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to feel awkward but that’s just what growing up is. Live for those awkward moments and bring yourself to laugh during them.

Troo Kidd Pan

Story time! I have had quite a few major events occur in the past couple of days. However, if you know the slightest bit about me, you’d know that great events lead to great stories to share. So that is what I’m doing today, giving you a piece of what I have been able to experience.

So to begin, let me tell you about this girl I recently befriended.

To me, her name is Troo, because that is how she introduced herself. Troo Kidd Pan. The first conversation was exhilarating; I had never spoken to someone filled with so much excitement. She was like a bottle of champagne, waiting to burst into happy bubbles. She is spontaneous – she’s one of those girls that refuses to let silences occur. She fills empty space with irrelevant words that lead to hour long conversations.

I should probably explain how this Troo girl and I met. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was accepted into DePaul University – my dream school. A group chat flared up and quite a few people were swallowed by the flames. Two of those people were Troo and I. We have been talking constantly for weeks now. It’s incredible how close two people can become in that short amount of time.

You see, Troo lives a lifestyle much different than mine. For one, she is dating a girl who is deployed halfway around the world. They hardly get to talk, and she’s in love with her. Second, she has an autistic little brother. She was forced to grow up much more quickly than I in order to help take care of her family. She had to push her own emotions inside and throw herself out into the real world.

Troo stands for “trooper”. I cannot think of a better name for this girl. In the past few weeks, I have been taught that distance does not mean a thing – love can exist over oceans and mountains if you have faith in it. I have seen her strengths and weaknesses, I have supported her through a break down and I have committed myself to at least four years of true friendship.

I find it quite humorous that we have become so close without meeting each other – it’s interesting how face to face contact does not mean as much as it used to. Troo knows that much more than I though, because her superwoman and her can only talk via the internet. I love learning more and more about their relationship – it is definitely one that requires trust and strength.

This girl is going to go far one day, because at 17 years old she has life experiences that some 40 year olds don’t. I can’t wait to become better friends and to learn from her because Troo Kidd Pan has so much to share.

Book idea

So I’ve been thinking more and more about what I want to do with my life.

So I’ve been pretty stressed out lately.

I think that I want to go into journalism. I enjoy writing quite a bit and I could see myself doing it for years ahead. Which is good, because I’ve been told to do what I love, and I love writing stories. I have also been thinking about what the one big thing is that I want to do.

I’ve decided that is to write a book.

I have a few ideas, but this one really stuck out to me, so I figured I’d share it with you.

I travel quite a bit, so I get to experience many different types of people and cultures. I was thinking that it would be interesting to really dive into these cultures and learn what makes them different and similar from my own. I would interview random people from around the world and ask them one simple question: “What’s your story?”

I would collect these interviews and put them all together in a book. People would be able to read all about how a man became homeless, or how a couple met, or how a store had been in a family for over 100 years. These stories would show the similarities and dissimilarities between cultures. It would prove how we are all powerful and how the simplest of people can still inspire others. It would be beautiful!

I’d love to know people’s thoughts on this idea – I love feedback.

Also if you feel like venting or sharing, comment your own story. Like I said, even the simplest of people can inspire others.

Pay attention to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love attention. What girl doesn’t? It’s gotta be one of the best things to receive. To have someone look at you like they truly want to talk to you, to have them compliment you, to feel wanted for just a moment. It is something that almost every person craves. It’s an addiction – once someone gives you that attention, you just want more and more.

I’ve noticed that it is one of the quickest things to disappear in relationships as well. I’m talking about all types of relationships – marriage, dating, friends, siblings, etc. The attention we give a person at the start just fades away more and more as we get closer with him or her. At the start you feel this need to connect with them, this subconscious need to always impress them. Yet as you get comfortable around the person, that feeling gradually goes away. You stop working as hard to impress them, stop working as hard to give them what they want.

I believe that’s the problem with so many relationships. Both parties crave attention, but neither is willing to give the other the time of day. In a dating situation, the boy stops saying good morning every morning, or doesn’t compliment what he likes about her. In a friendship, they forget about the other’s opinions and feelings. Parents forget that their kids are growing up. We don’t stop and think about the other person – a common quality of all people.

I need attention. I can honestly admit that. I like feeling like someone truly wants to talk to me. Like I am worth the effort. I also like putting in effort to talk to another person. I will gladly give a person my full attention if they want it. It’s what fuels a relationship. Two people will not connect if they cannot pay attention to one another. You know the cliche story, “I just couldn’t take my eyes off her, she was just so beautiful.” That is still a super common way for a guy to pick up a girl; by simply giving her attention.

I’m not a love doctor or anything, but if I had to give one solution to mending broken relationships, it would be to start paying attention to the person as much as you did when you first met them. You should never stop trying to impress the person. If they mean that much to you, you should want to do things to keep them close. That first moment means so much more than people think it does – that first moment of making eye contact, it’s the start of something that will never be the same. We as people need to recognize that and work with it, using it to our advantage.

We need to be loved as much as we need to love.