Monday, August 23, 2010

oh, love

Not too long ago, someone asked me if I have ever been in love.

I feel as if this is a very simple question whose answer should come easily, but that wasn't the case. I stopped and considered before giving my answer: No.

My need to stop and consider this should have been a dead giveaway - and it sort of was. For a brief second, I had to look back on my last relationship - I had thought I was in love, right? Was it cheating for me to take it back simply because the relationship ended?

This is why I paused before answering. I didn't want to be giving the "right" answer - a sort of naive, big-brown-eyes answer that I am far too capable of delivering. I wanted to give a real answer, a genuine and honest response, despite how it may cause the other person to think of me.

When I was in my last relationship, I loved him, but to love and be in love are two different things. Eventually though, I thought I was in love. It sounds ridiculous to me now, especially since I'm only 20, but I thought I'd found someone I was going to spend my life with, to grow old with, to try to make happy for the rest of my life.

I didn't want to belittle any of that by saying it wasn't real. I felt those things; I felt like it was love. So by saying I haven't been in love, what does that mean? Does it mean that when I date someone else and feel those things and feel like I might be in love that it won't be real unless I end up spending the rest of my life with them? Does it mean that every time I come out of a relationship I'll just be in denial (I don't feel like I am now, but if I were I suppose I wouldn't know)? Does it mean I'm forever going to deny myself to even fall in love at all?

I don't think I'm in denial about ever having been in love though. Think back to a few years ago - you probably though your outfits were pretty cool then...but now? Oh boy. That choker necklace and those hideous, midriff exposing polos that I so tastefully wore equally hideous camisoles underneath? I thought I looked great! I know better now, but back then I thought I looked fabulous...but I didn't. I know better now, but that doesn't take away how I felt then.

What we think and feel now is not necessarily what we'll think later. Our lives are constantly on the move, our situation is constantly changing, and people come and go. Every day is different and presents us with different circumstances with which we have to adjust to. Everything is moving, so it's no wonder that what we feel today is different than what we felt yesterday, the year before, or ten years before. If you think about it, we've really had to come a long way - and this is coming from the mouth of a 20-year-old.

As we get older, we grow up and mature. We're always learning, always building, always figuring things out. We'll forever be adding to our lives, checking things off our lists, slowly beginning to understand things that we never did before.

Whether or not I've ever been in love is insignificant compared to what I've learned while on my way to figuring out the answer, which still remains a firm, steady, "no".

♥ abigail

soul searching

Over the past six months, I've done a lot of soul searching. I didn't one day wake up and decide that I wanted to find myself (I thought I had a pretty good idea of who I was), it was thrust upon me. After my boyfriend and I ended things, it just kind of happened. After the initial sadness was over, I was left with a lot of "me time" - something I hadn't had for a year-and-a-half.

It seems so cheesy to me that this me time has been such a blessing, but hey - you can't change something that is what it is! Over the past six months I've really had a lot of time to just think about life, what I want to do, who I want to be, how I want to live's all very cliche and seems like something straight out of the movies (I swear my life this summer has been a romantic comedy), but I've been loving every minute of it.

I'm only 20 and I know have next to nothing figured out...but I think realizing that has made all the difference. I don't know that I used to think I had it all figured out, but being forced to be all by myself (the breakup) during a time when I was at a major crossroads (figuring out what to do with my life as far as a major/career goes) was really the push I needed to start to become a new person.

I was pretty comfortable with the person I used to be, but I think that was the problem - I was so comfortable. There's nothing wrong with the familiar, but I was so settled into my usual routine and so settled into my usual thoughts and outlooks on things that I needed things to be shaken up...I didn't plan on shaking things up.

I probably would have remained content with my life being quiet and comfortable and as figured out as it was. I probably would have continued living, coasting on what I knew and considering that to be enough. I probably wouldn't have wanted to change anything, wouldn't have felt the desire to think outside the box that I've put myself in since I was young. I probably would have been happy to have my biggest challenge be picking a major and a career. I probably never would have considered redefining who I am as a person...and I would have been okay.

But I would have been bored. I wouldn't have seized the opportunity to step into the unknown, alone and scared out of my mind. I wouldn't be where I am right now, alone and brave, eagerly looking forward to figuring things out...or not figuring things out - I can talk myself in circles in my own mind about how I feel about things, ending up right where I started with no answers and more questions...and it doesn't bother me. It just makes me think more, makes me explore me, makes me learn more.

I've never been like this before, and I am loving it.

I used to live for my comfort zone, and there was absolutely nothing you could do to drag me out of it. But I've come to realize that being pushed outside of my comfort zone has been the best thing for me.

The biggest change I've seen in myself is a newfound confidence. I was confident before, but (I didn't realize it at the time) there was something holding me back. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that that "something" was being comfortable. I wasn't being challenged, and what's more, I wasn't challenging myself.

This isn't to say that I'm being faced with challenges now...I'm just more welcoming of them. I don't run in the opposite direction of the unknown now. (I don't exactly run out to greet it either, but Rome wasn't built in a day!) By leaving my comfort zone, I have stepped into new situations and new thoughts and new ideas that I like to call life.

I may not be doing much. I may not be changing the world, and I may not know what I want to be, but that's okay because now I've opened all those doors for myself. I'm no longer defining myself based who I used to be or who I want to be - I'm not really defining myself at all. I'm just figuring it out, welcoming the changes, and running with it.

In thinking about undefining myself as well as defining myself, something that I turn over in my mind a lot is the box I used to put myself in. How did I get there? Did I put the pressure on myself to fit the mold? Was it my parents, my friends, my school? Who told me I had to get in that box? Why did I decide to stay there? Did I decide to stay there, or was it subconscious? Was I there just because that was the way it had always been?

I'm all for tradition, but I see no reason to follow something only because it's the way it has always been. If we kept things the way they always were, we'd never get why are people so resistant to change?

I'm not going to lie - I freak out about change. I get nervous, I worry, I wonder why you would even consider changing a good thing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? But isn't it an okay idea to try to improve upon it, explore a new option or two, make a change?

That is what my life has become these days. I am easing my way out of my comfort zone, stepping back from everything I've ever believed just because I was told it was right...I'm redefining who I am, but I'm not letting that define me.

It makes sense in my head...and I'm realizing that that's really all that matters.

still searching...
♥ abigail

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Don't you know what you want?"

"Never ask people. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

Howard Roark says this to the far less confident Peter Keating in the opening chapters of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I've been struggling with getting motivated to read much of anything lately, so I'm still not too far into the novel, but something about this quote really resonated with me.

People are constantly seeking what they call advice. Whether they want an opinion on an outfit, what to cook for dinner, or how to handle a sticky situation, they'll ask someone for advice on what they should do. But think about what Roark said - "Don't you know what you want?"

Now think about the last time you asked for advice. For me, it was very recent. I was dealing with some boy troubles, and I turned to a close friend for her thoughts on what to do. After hearing what she had to say, I reflected on how her opinion was very similar (almost identical) to mine.

Once again, I started thinking. I asked for advice from this girl, someone who is very similar to me, and I got exactly what I already thought, what I wanted to hear. This got me to think even more - my mind was reeling at this point. I figured out why we ask for advice: because we want affirmation for what we're about to do.

Roark is right - we already know what we want. We know what we're supposed to do, how to handle the situation. When asking for advice, we're really asking someone to agree with us, to affirm us, to assure us that what we're doing is right. We pretend to disregard what we know to be true - our thoughts, our feelings, our instincts - in order to try to fulfill our human desire for approval.

We as people constantly crave approval of what we're doing and who we are. We want to believe that what we're doing is the right thing, that how we're behaving is the right way to behave, but we don't need them to tell us. Whoever "they" are - how are "they" all-knowing? Where do "they" get their information? It's usually not so different from what we think, so what makes it better?

Nothing. Nothing except for that fact that receiving an affirmation fulfills our human desire to fit in, to please people.

Because when it comes down to it, we really always know what we want, what we should do. That's not to say asking for advice is bad. Sometimes we really do need to hear another person's thoughts on subjects, because new people have new perspectives, which lead to new ideas.

But what really needs to happen is for us to have confidence in our own abilities to make the right choices for ourselves. Having someone agree with you is nice, but why should we regard someone else's opinion as higher than our own? We know ourselves best, and at the end of the day we are the ones who have to live with our why does it matter what someone else thinks of what we're doing?

We all need to be confident in our abilities to solve anything that life throws at us...chances are, we already know what we should do.

♥ abigail

what if?

" 'What' and 'if' - two words as non-threatening as words come. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life. 'What if'..."
- Letters to Juliet

[This quote inspired the following words, originally written in my journal.]

I saw Letters to Juliet tonight. It's one of those cheesy chick flicks that's unreasonable, yet perfect.

It's the kind of movie that sends the taken girl straight from the theater into the open arms of her man, where she will settle eagerly, contentedly sighing and looking up into his face and seeing the movie's hero, her own personal Romeo. It's the kind of movie that leaves the single girl pining for the male lead, hoping that there's some fabulous "Charlie" who will fill the Romeo void in her life. For the girl in between, it's pure torture. The not knowing is the worst, which is something the movie got right. "What ifs" are terrible, but so are plain old "whats".

The "what are we", the "what is this", the "what are we doing here"...they're killing me. What ifs and whats are terrible.

I hate feeling as if I'd be better off never having met someone at all. Of course, a few days or weeks or months down the line, my tune changes and I can see the whole ordeal as the learning experience that it was. But while I'm in it? I can't stand it.

The worst part of anything is the not knowing. This applies to so many areas of life. People love to know things, and we have adjusted to essentially believing that knowing things is our human right. Whether it's how something works or how an event occurred or how someone is feeling, we as humans feel that it's our business, our God-given right to know.

But it isn't. We pretend that we don't mind when someone withholds information from us, but internally we're screaming, we're searching, we're panicking.

The not knowing is what keeps us human. It isn't our right to know everything, nor should we know everything if given the chance...yet here I sit. Everyone has something they want to know. A lot of these questions stem from hypothetical situations, the big "what ifs" of our lives.

What if I never...what if I would have...what if, what if, what if.

What if. Two very simple words that have such immense power to cause such terrible internal battles. These internal battles are one of the worst kinds, and they are from such small words...what if.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

old-fashioned letters ♥

I absolutely love letters.

I love everything about them. I love the envelopes they come in that smell of glue and office supply stores. I love the crinkled folds of the envelopes that contain letters slightly smaller than they could hold. I love tearing open the envelope and delving into the treasure inside, whether it's a brief note or a long one. I love reading and rereading something that was just days before in someone else's possession, in someone else's home. I love when someone cares enough to take a moment to write down their thoughts for me to read. I love looking at someone's handwriting or printing, and seeing their personality in how they write.

I love writing letters. I love sitting down with a stack of paper and my favorite pen, and putting words to the pages - where I feel like words should always be. I love my pen and my brain working together to get my thoughts out, resulting in a creation that reads like a journal entry that is made for public viewing. I love the brief moments where I stop to consider the best word to articulate my exact thought and emotion. I love reading my letter over, for an instant wondering if I'm prepared to let whoever is meant to receive it see so much of me on paper. I love the fact that I usually decide I'm not ready, but always fold it neatly into thirds and seal it away, not to be opened until it's in someone else's hands. I love the vulnerability of letters, of knowing that once you send it, it belongs to someone else.

I love the idea of old-fashioned letters, written on beautiful paper with a pen reserved especially for letter writing. I love the idea of spritzing perfume on the pages before sending it away with the postman. I love the idea of waiting for a response to a letter. I love the anticipation of the mail carrier's arrival, the awkward peeking out the window until the coast is clear before running to the mailbox to see if anything is in it for me.

I'm very passionate about letter writing. I wrote one tonight, and after sealing the envelope I sat and thought about how sad it is that letter writing is considered to be a lost art. There are kids all over the place who have never written a letter, who don't know how to address an envelope...that is so sad to me.

I spent my childhood writing letters to various cousins, pen-pals, and friends. I spent my teenage years writing letters to my friends every summer, even though we had outlets like myspace and e-mail where we could have written to each other. I hadn't written one for a while, but tonight all my love for letter writing came screaming back to me.

There's something so therapeutic about putting your thoughts on paper for others to read, which is one of the biggest attractions I have to writing letters. I'm a huge fan of the anticipation of receiving a letter. Unfortunately, today's society is all about instant gratification. If you want to write someone, you shoot them an e-mail (you would never use the expression "I'll shoot you a letter" when referring to snail mail) and usually have a response within the day (unless you e-mail me...I avoid my e-mail at all costs, because something about it makes me so nervous. I don't like the fact that when people e-mail you they expect a response right away, as if I am required to constantly be checking my e-mail and sending replies as quickly as I possibly can).

With letter writing, you don't receive it right away...and once you do finally receive it, you don't have to write back that instant. You can take a moment and enjoy the fact that you just received a letter, then take your time forming a response before sending one back.

It's all so poetic and wonderful to me.

loving letters,
♥ abigail

Sunday, August 1, 2010

the ultimate happy list

For the past few weeks, I have been in a fantastic mood. We're talking insanely happy, almost all of the time. There are very few things that would upset me right now, and that's exactly the way I like to live.

I really believe that our own happiness is up to us. I don't think that there's anything wrong with being sad, or even with getting sad and hanging out there for a while...sometimes it's nice to sit in your dark room with your journal and sad music, just emoting. T
here comes a time when it gets to be enough. When you have to snap out of it, pick yourself up on the floor, move on, and get going again.

As a naturally perky, bubbly, happy person, picking myself up off the floor is usually an easy task. Simple things make me incredibly happy...and here is a list of 100 of them...the ultimate happy list!

1. Waking up in the morning and not feeling tired.
2. Going to bed knowing that I'm 100% prepared for the next day.
3. Reading books I've never read before.
4. Reading books I have read before.
5. The beach at night.
6. The beach during the day.
7. The beach when it rains.
8. The beach, 100% of the time.
9. Sunshine.
10. Lilies.
11. Baking.
12. Writing.
13. Organizing.
14. Buying people presents.
15. Putting together a really fabulous outfit.
16. Rocking said outfit.
17. Acing tests.
18. Feeling confident.
19. Curly hair.
20. Blue eyes.
21. Green eyes.
22. Good-hearted people.
23. Daisies.
24. Meg Ryan movies.
25. Tom Hanks' voice.
26. Andy Warhol's art.
27. Flower-printed clothes.
29. Dresses.
30. Floppy sunhats.
31. Days off school.
32. Dessert.
33. Chocolate.
34. Being with people I love.
35. Swimsuits.
36. Stilettos.
37. Cookie dough.
40. Sunglasses.
41. Oversized bags.
42. Hope in a Jar.
43. Trashy reality TV shows.
44. New music.
45. Musicals.
46. Laughing.
47. Shooting stars.
48. My grandma's Seaside house.
50. Waking up to text messages.
51. Babies.
52. Nail polish.
53. Pad Thai.
54. Taking obscene amounts of pictures with my sisters and cousins.
55. Family stories that get told again and again.
56. Laughing until I cry.
57. Libraries.
58. Long walks without destinations.
59. Being on the beach at sunrise.
60. New shampoo.
61. Reruns of shows from my childhood.
62. Concerts.
63. My siblings.
64. Family.
65. Making lists.
66. New school supplies.
67. Finding the perfect song to fit my mood.
68. Skype sessions.
69. Making other people happy.
70. Baseball games.
71. Fireflies.
72. Writing letters.
73. Snail mail.
74. Weddings.
75. Non-fat iced chai tea lattes from Starbucks.
76. Buying shoes in the kids' section.
77. Clean sheets.
78. The smell of SJP NYC perfume.
79. Browsing the make up at Sephora.
80. The ridiculous conversations I have with my sisters that no one else can follow.
81. Crossword puzzles.
82. Naps.
83. Crisp fall weather.
84. Catching up with old friends.
85. Feeling like I'm right where I need to be.
86. Summer nights.
87. Daisies.
88. Road trips.
89. Otter pops.
90. Old family photos.
91. Good dreams.
92. Being with people who understand me.
93. The first day of school.
94. Finding bargains.
95. Lazy rainy days.
96. Warm blankets.
97. Not having homework.
98. Random acts of kindness.
99. Not having anything to do.
100. Having lots of things to do.

According to this list, I should be happy pretty much all of the time...and I am!

Happy happy happy,
♥ abigail