Spring Term So Far

I unintentionally put this blog on the backburner last term.  Life got in the way; I was initiated into my sorority, writing posts for Her Campus, taking classes, working, socializing, having existential crises, and exploring the world that opens up when you turn twenty-one.

Winter was challenging.  Oregon takes a lot out of you in January and February with the continual rain and gloom.  However, in my opinion, it beats constant sunshine – thanks to my Irish roots, I sunburn like nobody’s business.  And now that the sun is shining, my arsenal of sunscreen and aloe vera is going to be employed much more frequently.

In my field of study, I am constantly surrounded by professors and peers who are producing awe-inspiring, life-changing work.  It is helpful to be immersed in an environment that promotes good work and productivity because it requires me to put aside my insecurities and flaws in order to rise up to the task at hand.  This term is pushing my creative limits as I learn more about the world of advertising.

This term, I’m looking forward to building my skill set, my portfolio, and finding inspiration in the people and things around me.

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The Opposite of Loneliness

I almost wish I had a real reason to be sad, but I realize that would be much worse than what this is.  This is myself, this is in my head.  I have no reason to be sad and lonely; I just finished my first term at my new university, I have food on my plate, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head.  I have all of the material things I could ever need.

I think I am sad because of loneliness.  I think college is one of the loneliest places in the world.  You are on your own, trying to figure out who you want to be and what you want to do.  There are constantly people around, but not necessarily always a deeper connection.  This is real life, this is adulthood, being on your own.

I read a book by an author, Marina Keegan, published posthumously.  The preface to the book explains how she was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 22, just after her graduation from Yale.  In one of her essays, she writes, “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

I agree, Marina.  That’s what I want too; the opposite of loneliness.

Material goods are short-term; they have no deeper meaning.  I want a deeper connection, I want relationships with people, memories and laughs.  Love and happiness.  I want the opposite of loneliness.

 

 

The Thing vs. The Idea of “The Thing”

I’m learning that sometimes the idea of something greatly surpasses the actuality of whatever you’re idealizing.  I don’t know if it’s human nature or just the nature of an English major to romanticize things, but I do it quite often.  Constantly daydreaming, imagining, wondering about what could be, what it would be like if I had done x or differently, or how much better life would be if this one thing could just happen.

On a small scale, this is ok.  It drives you to want to do better and achieve greater things.  When your ideas and dreams become skewed, though, you have a problem.  A friend of mine showed me this inspirational quote: “It’s not about having what you want, but wanting what you have.”  I think this is extremely important to keep in mind.  We live in a society that wants immediate gratification.  When something is broken, we don’t fix it.  We throw it out and buy a new one.  If you don’t have the latest and greatest phone/car/wardrobe, you’re considered lesser-than.  Status is everything.  And this is nothing new, it just manifests itself in different ways than it has in centuries past.

As someone living with depression and anxiety, it is easy to fall into the trap of jealousy and envy.  Not only that, but it is also easy to have a skewed vision of  your own life, belittling your experiences and traits as trivial.  Especially in the age of social media; everyone posts photos and words that portray their best selves, their ideal selves, but that is not always reality.  However, it is hard to remember that when you are surrounded by photos of people who are “#blessed” and “so lucky to be/have/live in (insert really cool thing/place).”  You start to wonder, “Hmm, maybe if I went to that school / had a significant other / became friends with her / joined that organization, I’d be happier.  Maybe I’d have a life as cool as theirs.”  It is almost ridiculous how many different things there are to be jealous of in today’s day and age.  I would be a hypocrite if I said that I did not select specific photos to post on social media which I think will get the most likes, or try to compose the wittiest tweets, but I think social media does more harm than good for the most part.

I have a good life.  I have a roof over my head, clothes in my closet, food on my plate, and the opportunity to learn at a reputable institution.  Why, then, would I want anything else?  What else could I possibly need?  What could possibly cause this unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my life?

For a long time, I dreamed of traveling somewhere far, far away.  I thought it would be incredible, eye-opening, and all things good.  And it was.  But you don’t daydream about the language barriers, the empty bank accounts, or the loneliness that comes with leaving your home and all things familiar.

Or, when I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to be older.  I thought when I grew up I’d be prettier, smarter, cooler, skinnier, and just all-around better.  Little did I know at ten years old what twenty would be like.  I remember my Dad telling me not to wish away my childhood, that it would be gone before I knew it, and I’d wish I hadn’t tried to grow up so quickly.  He was right.

I guess this post is a reminder to look at the glass as half-full.  Appreciate what you have while you have it, and don’t try and wish it away.  The grass is not always greener on the other side.  I know that is an overused cliché, but it does a decent job of summing up what I am trying to say.  It’s easy to get swept up in the here-and-now generation, where everything always has to be shiny and new.

You are important, your experiences matter, and you do not need 100+ likes on an Instagram photo to validate your existence.  Keep on daydreaming and setting goals, but live in the here and now.  We have a very short time here on Earth to try and make a difference, and I hope someone, somewhere, benefits from reading this post.

Getting Involved

So, it’s been a busy two weeks!  I have been accepted to write for Her Campus Oregon, and just became a member of Sigma Kappa!  Lots of exciting things are happening!

I finally feel like I really belong here.  It was rough the first few weeks, unpacking and adjusting to my new life.  But now that I have places to be and things to see, I’m really looking forward to the rest of my time here in Oregon.

Transferring universities has really helped me to see the importance of getting involved.  It is so nice to be a part of something, to feel like you are contributing to the greater good.  I find this so interesting, that people rely so much on one another to find happiness/success/fulfillment/etc.  It just proves that we are not alone, and that we have to work together to achieve beautiful things.

I am really looking forward to finding new ways to get involved on campus, and I’ll keep updating my progress on here! 🙂

Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

I have always been fascinated by the passing of time.  The strangeness of how a day can feel as though it drags on and on, while at the same time, five years pass in the blink of an eye.  This curious dichotomy makes it effortlessly easy to lose track of time.  I also seem to have lost track of this blog.*

About a month ago now, I moved from California to Oregon.  I took a road trip up the west coast with my friends, moved in to my new apartment, and started classes.  Being the new kid is challenging, but I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to moving and starting over.  I’ve lived in 3 different states and a different country, so starting over doesn’t seem so scary anymore.  However, this is what has taken up most of my time, rather than keeping up with this blog.

I look forward to the fresh start.  A new adventure: a chance to reinvent myself and find out who I want to be.  Honestly, I have been lost, wandering aimlessly these past few years, and I am hoping that a change of scenery will revamp my creative juices and restore my sense of self.

Times like this remind me of something my dad once told me.  He says that most people are born, live, and die all within fifty miles of their birthplace.  They rarely, if ever, leave this tiny bubble, and therefore miss out on seeing many of the wonders this world has to offer.  For instance, my grandmother Sylvia lived in Pennsylvania, and never got the chance to see the Pacific Ocean, may she rest in peace.  She spent most of her time living and working so close to home that she never even saw the other side of her country.

Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had thus far.  Each journey brings its own trials and tribulations, and each leap teaches me something new about myself.  I have lived in four different houses, two different apartments, two different dorm rooms, and I am sure the list will only continue to grow as I get older.  I’ve been to ten countries, fourteen states, and countless cities.  It’s mind-boggling to think about how many places I have been, but the most exciting part is the fact that there is still so much to see.  My journey isn’t over.  It’s a huge world, with so many places and cultures to see, and I can’t wait to continue traveling and living my life to the fullest potential.

(*Disclaimer: I warned that this might happen in the very first post.  I’m working on being more consistent – should be easy since I don’t know many people yet!)

There’s No Time Like the Present

Time has gotten away from me, and it has been nearly two weeks since my last post.  I had hoped to be more consistent in my writing, but as I am learning, no one is perfect.  This just means I have room for improvement!  I have had very little free time for blogging recently.

To sum it up, in these past two weeks I quit my job, flew to the east coast, welcomed my newborn baby cousin, visited family, flew back to the west coast, and celebrated my younger brother’s birthday.  Needless to say, time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s especially easy to lose track of.

While visiting everyone, we reminisced and laughed, hugged and smiled.  These past few days were merry and cheerful, but they also brought a painful reminder.  This time last year, my family and I were on a plane to the east coast for a heartbreaking reason.  My grandmother, Sylvia, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was a car accident, and I miss her dearly.  While we all miss her, I do think it was a miracle, and that God called her home.  She had brought two people to accept Jesus as their savior that weekend, and the following Monday, she was taken from this Earth.  I can’t see that as anything other than a miracle.  The circle of life is fascinating, as almost exactly one year later, we found ourselves flying back home for the joyous birth of a new baby.

This is a reminder to cherish your loved ones while you can, and not to take the little things for granted.  It’s easy to lose sight of what is truly important, finding yourself wrapped up in work or school or materialism or any other distraction.  I know I am guilty of this myself.  Sometimes it’s easier to binge-watch Netflix than it is to talk to family who drives you crazy, but it’s also important to remember that they won’t be there forever.  Make the most of your time here; be kind to others, pursue what makes you happy, and tell others how you feel.  There’s no time like the present.  Life is not meant to be filled with regret or bitterness, and I’ve found that it is too difficult to bear those things alone.  All we can do is try our best to be better each and every day.

Life Lessons I’ve Picked Up So Far

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, if you take advantage of it.  This is a post to compile a few of the tidbits of wisdom that I have collected throughout my years.  These are lessons that I’ve picked up in conventional places as well as those off the beaten track; from family, friends, strangers in the grocery store, solo travels, teachers, and even failures (as disappointing as those can be).

This is not an exhaustive list, as there is endless knowledge in this crazy world.  The more I learn, the more I realize how much I still don’t know, and that’s a scary thought.  But, it’s also exciting, and gives me hope and something to look forward to each day.  I still have quite a ways to go and much to learn, but this is a good place to start.


1.  “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”  – My friend noticed this on a sign hanging in a gelato shop in Venice after we had gotten caught in a crazy thunderstorm.  A friendly reminder to embrace the curves and speed bumps life throws at you.

2.  Don’t worry about what other people think of you.  In the words of my wise father, “30% of the people you meet will love you, 30% will hate you, and the other 30% just won’t care.”  (side note: I asked, “But Dad, what about the other 10%?” and he responded, “Don’t be a smart-ass.” – you get the gist.)

3.  We can’t have all the answers, so it’s pointless to try and figure everything out.  Most of the time, it ends in anxiety or fear about something that you can’t change. (I’m still struggling to live by this one. Baby steps.)

4.  Treat others as you wish to be treated.  Karma is a real thing.  Pay it forward.  There is enough conflict and animosity in the world without us needlessly adding to it.

5.  It’s okay to ask for help.  For so long, I thought that asking for help made you weak or “less than,” but in reality, it takes a lot of strength to ask for help.  It’s emotionally and/or physically draining to go through life’s ups and downs alone.

6.  Money comes, and money goes.  My dear friend Elena taught me this lesson while we were in Paris, as a reminder not to let money control your decisions.

7.  “If it’s worth it, it’s usually not easy.” – Sometimes in the midst of a undertaking, you can lose sight of the end goal.  My friend Elena, mentioned above, is probably one of the wisest twenty-year-olds I’ve met.  She also gave me this gem, something to remember when the going gets tough.

“Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

Bougeotte

Bougeotte (n): a strong desire to travel  //  also, the French translation of wanderlust.


I figured it would be worthwhile to write a blog post about the importance of travel.  While I was in Europe, I visited nine countries and seventeen different cities in France, the UK, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Belgium.  I consider that quite an accomplishment, considering that I am the first person in my family to leave the country (that is, since our ancestors came over way back when).

After such a culturally enriching few months, it almost feels as if there is something missing here at home.  While it is nice to see family and friends after being separated for so long, there is something remarkable about traveling; strangers become friends, horizons are broadened, and a personal metamorphosis occurs.

In my case, I feel that traveling was merely the first step in a series of adventures to come.  This semester has kindled a flame inside that cannot be satisfied with a sedentary life – it requires that I see new places and people and cultures and continue to live life to the fullest.  There are still so many cities and countries on my never-ending list of places to go; Budapest, Hungary, Zadar, Croatia, Rome, Italy… There are seven continents, and I have only been on two.  There is still so much to see and do.

It has been a rocky few months, especially in the time before I left to live in Paris.  In December, I encountered crippling anxiety that I am still struggling to manage, many of my family members were vehemently against me going abroad, and to top it all off, France had a terrorist attack, the Charlie Hedbo shooting, the week before my plane was set to leave.  In hindsight, I am pretty sure I had a panic attack on the plane as I was leaving home for Paris.  There were so many factors that should have deterred me from making this voyage, but something had always drawn me to Europe, and I could not pass up this grandiose adventure.  I am so glad that I did not succumb to my fears, or those of my family, because this truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Not only that, but it taught me that I can face my fears, and it can have an incredible payoff.

Living on my own in a foreign country, I learned a few notable things.  One of the lessons that I feel is most worth mentioning is that all French people do not hate Americans, despite popular belief.  Rather, they hate the lazy, entitled, ignorant attitude that most Americans present as they visit foreign countries.  I understand that I am generalizing, and that not everyone is like this, but a vast majority of us have set up an unflattering stereotype for Americans.  I mean, just look at the way we treat foreigners in our own country, there seems to be a great deal of contempt and hatred towards other nationalities.  I did have a few terrible run-ins with locals in Paris when I first arrived, but I believe that was because I spoke zero French, and therefore had no way to properly communicate.  The French (as with every other nationality) appreciate a bit of effort.  A nice, “Bonjour, Monsieur (or Madame).  Parlez-vous l’Anglais? Je ne comprends pas Français” goes a long way.  Even if they don’t speak English, hey, at least you tried.

I also learned that the limit does not exist when it comes to the amount of baguettes, croissants, Nutella, or crêpes that one can consume.  My goodness, the French cuisine was incredible.  Not to mention the pasta in Italy, or the fish and chips in the UK.  Food in America is ruined for me now.

Another interesting thing – everywhere else in western Europe seems to take life at a slower, more relaxed pace than here in America.  Every night, my host family and I had dinner at 8:00, and it lasted an hour.  We had proper place settings, three courses, and delectable cuisine, rather than the rushed, greasy fast-food and TV-dinners that have plagued America.  I will admit that my family at home is like this as well, most of the time we eat off of paper plates in the living room.  But eating is only one example of this relaxed culture versus the chaotic, rushed atmosphere in America.  The general pace of life is slower in Europe.  With work, transportation, socializing, and all other aspects, they seem to take more time to enjoy themselves.

Living in Paris with a host mother taught me a lot about the French culture and language, and visiting other countries every other weekend taught me to adopt a more worldly view on many things.  For instance, I now have a sense of empathy for foreign students in America – the language barrier can be a real challenge!

I am still trying to adjust to life in the United States, but I cannot wait for my next adventure.  Hence the title of this blog post; bougeotte, wanderlust, whatever you may call it – I can’t wait to continue exploring.


Pro tip: visit Cinque Terre in Italy – you will not regret it, I promise.  It’s just tourist-y enough that the locals speak enough English to get by, but not so tourist-y that you are bombarded by souvenir shops and obnoxious foreigners.  Cinque Terre is composed of five towns: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manaroloa, and Riomaggiore.  You can hike between the cities, with a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean on one side, and the beautiful Italian countryside and colorful villages on the other.  It truly is a breathtaking place, and it looks unreal in photographs.  Definitely a must-see destination!

Quirks, Musings, Adventures, and Mishaps

I am not individual when I say that, like every other twenty-something, I am still trying to figure it all out. Like most others my age, I struggle with the existential crises that come with the territory, be it the stereotypical “What am I doing with my life?,” or “What is my purpose on this Earth?,” or even, “Is it healthy to binge-watch an entire season of Parks and Rec in one day?”  As I am only twenty years old at this moment in time, I have barely even scratched the surface of this bizarre, dynamic decade. I can only imagine what the future holds – what an incredibly exciting, and incredibly terrifying, thought.

A teacher and mentor of mine suggested that I start a blog, and I wrestled with the idea for a while. I love to write, and thoroughly enjoy spending time on the Internet, which seems like the perfect mix for a blogger.  But my thoughts were as such: what can I put on this blog that isn’t already on the Internet somewhere?  I mean, it took twenty minutes just to think of a blog name that wasn’t already taken, let alone the contents of the blog.  But I eventually came to the conclusion that, regardless of what already exists in the cybersphere, a blog could be helpful for my own mental health; and if my words can entertain, help, or even comfort someone else, that is more than I could ask for. Thus, in an attempt to successfully navigate my twenties, I have decided to join the masses and write this blog. Here I’ll chronicle my adventures, mishaps, musings, and quirks along the way.

I just recently got back from a semester studying abroad in Paris. Those five months were by far the most challenging months of my life, but also the most rewarding. Travel changes you for the better, through ways in which I had not expected.  In January, I hopped on a plane to France, a country 5,000 miles away from home, where I knew no one, spoke none of the language beyond “bonjour” and “croissant”, and really had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I came back to the United States with knowledge of the French language (albeit, elementary), unforgettable memories, and extraordinary friends.  Living abroad taught me independence, but also co-dependence, in that we are innately the same as a race, and must work together on a global scale.  However, I missed out on an equally awesome opportunity, of blogging about my time and adventures abroad. Instead, I chose to keep a pen-and-paper journal, because it feels more personal and sentimental to me. So, there will probably be a few anecdotes and recollections about those memories and experiences in this blog from time to time.

I am at a transitional place in my life right now. I am still acclimating to life in the United States, after a semester of eating stinky cheeses and Nutella crêpes all the time. I am trying to figure out who I am, who I want to be, and what I would like to accomplish. And this blog will follow me every step of the way.