BA Expat

Changing or improving your life doesn’t have to be a long, frustrating, drawn-out process. I’m always in search of the smallest changes that yield the biggest returns, and below is my collection of quick tips that can make your life easier, more fulfilling, or just less of a pain in the ass.

Try one or two of these and tell me how great they worked.

Sleeping at the desk

Zack’s Not-So-Secret List of Simple Ways to Increase Happiness, Productivity, or General Awesomeness

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Comfort Zone

So, this weekend I decided to start trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After the first few days of class, I think that teachers sort of expect you to know what you want to do by now. Of course, I have a few ideas. I’m pretty certain that I want to go to law school and move somewhere very “city-like”, like Denver or Chicago or maybe even New York. I think the last few months (and maybe years) I’ve been so focused on “getting over my ex” or “taking care of my friends” that I haven’t really taken any time to focus on what I want. My college career is already halfway over, which scares the bejeezus out of me. So, I was talking to a friend of mine today about my life and what I want to do. She recently got back from a missions trip to Ethiopia (here’s your shout out) and we were discussing the culture shock and readjustment to everything.

It got me to thinking about the missions trip I made to Costa Rica in 2004 when I was entering my freshman year of high school. It was a life altering, faith renovating trip that I can’t even begin to explain. Every since I got back from the trip, I’ve gotten sucked into the worldly culture. Obviously, I made my priorities the wrong ones – boyfriend, alcohol, school, etc. At one point, I don’t think I would have even thought that God could love me anymore or remember me. That’s how far away I got. So, since my discussion with my friend, I’ve decided to start figuring out really what it is that I want to do. Obviously, I know that I can’t do anything on my own, everything takes dedication, spirit, and most importantly – faith.

So today, I e-mailed the contact from that project in Costa Rica about serving as a long-term missionary intern for next summer from May to August. I was freaking out as I sent it because I know that currently, my heart is nowhere near the right place it should be in order to work for that long in that setting. But like this blog, maybe it will keep me accountable to my new resolves as a redeemed believer. I still haven’t received word back about the opportunity, if there even is one. But I figure it is worth a shot. I think that I can really do some awesome ministry down in Costa Rica. I know that I left part of my heart there six years ago, and I think that maybe going back down again will help me figure out if I would be interested in doing missionary work when I graduate, maybe even using a law degree to help the abandoned children to get adopted by families. Who knows, right?

I also applied to a few internships in Washington, D.C. for next summer too. I still want to keep my options open, but I really hope that this all works out somehow. I know God is watching out for me and I’m excited to see where He takes me next summer. So, if you have a little extra room in your prayers tonight, just shoot one up to the big guy for me, please! For the first time in a really really long time, I can feel God working in my heart and giving me the direction that I’ve been asking for all this time. It’s between me and God now. Not me and my ex. Not me and my best friend. Not me and the bottom of a bottle. I just needed a little nudge in the right direction. ❤

I Worry…

So, as you’ve probably been reading, I feel like I’m doing really well lately. I still have a problem controlling my thoughts about my ex, but those are starting to go away. Besides the first few days of school, I haven’t seen him around. I seem to run into him when I least expect it, but if I expect it, then he’s not there. So for some reason, I always seem a little bit on my guard.

I did, however, run into his little brother today at the fitness center. I always liked his little brother and he seemed cool. He’s a freshman now and we stopped and talked for about twenty minutes then went our separate ways. Of course, my ex came up in conversation but I tried to play it off as best that I could. It’s just so hard some days. Sometimes, I’ll wake up and it’ll feel like a fresh wound that just happened yesterday and my heart is still torn apart. Other days, it’ll seem like it happened years ago and I’m not sure why it ever took me this long to get over it. Really, it’s very back and forth with me. But I’m trying to give God control. And that is so difficult.

I’m starting a new thing where I pray every day before I get out of my car at school. Usually, I’ll pray for some kind of courage and guidance to get me through the day. I pray for sanity (yeah it sounds stupid) and the knowledge to control my thoughts. And usually, I’ll pray that if the time were to come that I would have to see my ex, that God would *remind* me to pray through the situation and continually seek him during the whole confrontation. But today, I did something a little different. I prayed for righteousness. I know that sounds a little weird too, but I just asked God to give me the discernment in my actions and decisions to portray a sense of righteousness and obedience to God. I tried  really hard to maintain it, but I know I failed several times throughout the day. But it’s a learning process. I just need to “take every thought captive” and it’ll get me through the day, but some times I get so caught up in these imaginary scenarios which are probably never ever ever ever going to happen, that I forget what I’m praying for in the first place.

Often, I get so caught up in my work and homework and school and life and everything that I forget what I’ve been working for all summer. I’m here, right now, for a purpose. I waste so much time worrying about things that are never going to happen that I don’t have enough time to keep God in my life. So I’m going to try to get back on top of things again before school gets too out of hand. I ran into this quote the other day from a friend’s facebook and it particularly stuck with me, “‎Demonstrate your trust in me by sitting quietly in My Presence. Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything. … When you spend time with Me, I restore your sense of direction. As you look to Me for guidance, I enable you to do less but accomplish more.” ~Jesus Calling. Sometimes, when you’re least expecting it, God shows you exactly what you need. And today, I really needed this.

Here We Go Again.

So, it’s been a little over a week since I’ve updated this site and A LOT has happened. First off, school is now in full swing, and when I say full swing, I mean that I haven’t had a moment to slow down and just take time for myself. I go to class all morning, work all afternoon, gym, then homework. Wake up. Repeat. I don’t want it to sound like I’m complaining because I’m definitely not, I actually really really love my schedule. I keep myself busy so that I’m successful in my classes (which I’m really hoping for a 4.0 this semester) and it has really been helping me keep my mind of things, such as those people from my past. But that I’ll talk about in a bit. My classes are all going to be difficult, but I really enjoy them already. The material is so interesting, and since I’m in basically all major classes now, it’s stuff that I actually want to learn. And I have friends in every class that make everything a little more fun and enjoyable.

Okay, so I wrote about my anxieties and everything a few days ago. I’ve been really nervous to get back to school just in fear of having to see my ex and his girlfriend and his best friend and anything and everything that has to do with him. Well, guess what happened on the first day of class? I saw him. And her. (not together though, which I guess is a little better than the alternative). I’m not really sure what I was expecting out of it, but I got all shaky and nervous, but held up my head and kept moving along like nothing was bothering me and nothing bad happened. In fact, I’m pretty sure his girlfriend didn’t even recognize me since I dyed my hair (very, very dark brown) which was a little bonus. However, I found out later than he had seen me (and recognized me obviously) and now he’s second guessing everything with his girlfriend and he can’t stop thinking about me and he wants to know if I still hate him. I’m really not sure how to take the whole situation because I’ve worked so hard to get myself to this spot where I’m happy and at peace and successful in life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not even a glimpse of a thought in my head of EVER getting back together with him, I would never put myself through that hell again. But it’s kind of a good feeling to know that he’s starting to feel some sort of regret. I really honestly thought that since the time that we broke up that he wasn’t sorry at all because he came out of the situation with a new girl and supposed “happiness” and I guess I didn’t. But, he never took time for himself to be single, never took a moment to figure out what he really wanted in life, he’s never acknowledged what is healthy for him and for her relationship-wise. Not to say that I’m a relationship expert, but I definitely have been taking A LOT of time to do those things. I’ve struggled for months to find myself again, and I’ve finally done it. I wake up every morning thankful for who I am and who God has made me. I’m really not sure that he can say that for himself. I think he is ashamed.

That’s one thing that I’ve noticed since I saw him again. He looks more and more like he’s let himself go. His body isn’t in as great of shape as it was before, he looks tired and restless, and honestly, he just looks ashamed. It’s still hard to wrestle with my thoughts of him. Now I think about what would happen if he did try to talk to me again. I have imaginery conversations in my head about what I would say and how I would say it. But I think if it ever really came down to it, I don’t think I could talk to him. Not now. Not ever.

So, I guess for a lack of better words, I’m so thankful. First and foremost to God. Just seeing my ex again has reminded me how God saved me from a terrible situation of unhappiness and sacrifice and a miserable life. He got me out of a situation that He knew I was better than. He truly saved me. Secondly, to my friends that have helped me through all this. For the first time in a really long time, I’m seeing things from the “other side” and just realizing how unbelievably happy I am now that I can see all the pain and hurt he put me through. I’m also very thankful to my family. If not for them, and their overwhelming support, I’d probably still be depressed or drinking myself into a hole somewhere. But here I am: happy, relieved, at peace, successful, and finally doing well for myself.

Part of me feels really bad for his girlfriend though. He’s already told her that he loves her, I know that for a fact. But if he’s having these thoughts about me, and second guessing things with her, I can only imagine the kind of hurt he’s going to put her through. I think if there’s any song to describe him right now, it’s “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri. They’re both going to get hurt. And even though I hold her partly responsible for a lot of the pain I’ve been going through, I don’t think she should have to get hurt by him too. It’s just not fair that he’s doing this to us. But, I think he does need to be single and figure himself out and get himself to a point where he can be happy alone, then share his life with someone else. But alas, it’s not my place to interfere. I can’t help her anymore than I can help him. Truth be told, I feel bad for them. They’re stuck in a bad situation that is only going to end in misery and suffering. I just wish I could warn her. But, if I hadn’t gone through this breakup how I did, I would never imagine myself as strong as I am now. Maybe that’s what she needs to go through to realize how to treat people. And he needs to stop breaking girl’s hearts. It’s an ugly habit, and it’s not getting him any closer to happiness.

Ready, Set… No.

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. This one’s gonna be short, too. I’ve been home for a few days now, and I feel like a lot of my anxiety is fading. I know that it’s nearly inevitable that I’m going to have to see my ex again and there’s not avoiding that at this point. So, it’s time to come to terms with that. If I do see him, I’ll act non-chalant, as if I recognize that there’s a past we had together, which was mostly pleasant, but that I’ve moved on to something better. If anything, I’ll say hi and smile. No conversation. Not letting him in. None of that.

Also, I was really really good friends with one of his fraternity brothers post-break up. He kept me up-to-date on all the latest antics of my ex and his new girl, all of which I asked for relentlessly because I wanted to somehow maintain some hold in his life. This summer I let that friendship fade away. I’m trying to make it so that I don’t have any connections to his life any more than he has connections to mine. I’m just going to live my own life, happily, without anything holding me back.

I had an urge today to check his facebook, and against the temptation, I didn’t do it. I held strong and can honestly say I’m proud of myself today. I got through today. And tomorrow, I’ll focus on tomorrow. And when the time comes that I do have to see him, I’ll take that moment by moment, asking God for strength, courage, and guidance. For now, that’s all I can do.

Finally, I wanted to share a little update on the “partying” front, since that’s really what this blog is all about. I talked to my roommate today and asked her about her weekend. She proceeded to tell me that she was drunk nearly the entire time, that she went home with some new guy that treated her like dirt and was a complete jerk to her, and all her friends got sick and threw up from drinking too much. Stories like these make me SO happy about the decisions I’m making. As soon as I get my life in order and start making better decisions for myself, I want to be able to help her out too. And maybe some of my other friends as well. I have a fear of rejection and being outcasted, but I know that I’m so much closer to fulfillment and even today, right now, I’m happier than they are. And this is a real happiness, not a temporary one.

Today was a good day. And tomorrow will be too, because God has gotten already taken care of.

Forgiveness

It’s been a few days since I last wrote, but a lot has happened. I’ve continued my streak of not going out this weekend. Friday night I hung out with my three best guy friends at their apartment, then watched reruns on TV until like one in the morning (which is weird because I’m usually in bed by at least ten these days). Then Saturday, I woke up around 8 and watched some more reruns until 11.

At that point, I was lying on my couch thinking about a sermon I heard a few months ago about taking a break. He basically talked about, as humans, we tend to over think, over plan, and over work. The basic spin on the sermon is that we should work hard in the lord and rest well. The “resting well” part was what he spent the most time on. We are so consumed in technology and communication and people that we rarely take time just to ourselves to pray, read the bible, and spend actual real time with God. So, he challenged the congregation to take one day, just one, and turn off your computer and phone and TV and just take a day of solitude. So, I decided to try it.

Recently, I’ve had all kinds of anxiety swarming me. I try so hard to push all the thoughts out of my head about my ex-boyfriend and my drinking habits and school and work and paying bills and everything else that just keeps adding up. I wrestle with my thoughts and anxiety constantly. I find myself so caught up in replaying memories and I tend to create alternate endings to the same stories. I know it’s all to no avail. It’s not going to get me anywhere. If only I would have done this, if only I would have said that… but it’s all over now. I did everything I did. I said everything I said. I do regret a lot of things that I did and said. So, for one day, I tried to give myself a break from it all. I turned off my phone and closed my computer. I spent the day yesterday blaring music from my iHome and cleaning my apartment. Then, I took a nap in complete silence and solitude. When I woke up, I actually felt completely rested and rejuvenated. I laid in bed for awhile and read one of my books. I turned the music on again and danced around my apartment completely alone. I tried to skip the songs that reminded me of him, and passed up all the “power hour” songs. I listened to some country, some rap, some worship. I was completely…happy.

Around six o’clock or so, I decided to turn my phone back on and catch up on the days news (yes, I realized I only lasted about 8 hours). My friend had texted me about going out last night, so we made plans to go to dinner then come to my place and watch a movie. I spent another hour just listening to music and enjoying my solitude until he finally got to my apartment around 830. Since I live downtown, I met him in the lobby of my apartment  and we walked to the restaurant. We talked about everything: our basketball seasons in high school, our families, our worst injuries. Conversation came so easily and fun. There wasn’t a single moment of awkwardness. After dinner, we walked around downtown for nearly 3 hours just talking. Went down to ConAgra park where there is a beautiful fountain and trail to walk around the water to the riverfront.  We got to talking about forgiveness, which I thought was interesting subject in light of everything that I’ve been going through. I asked him if he thought that I could be truly forgiven for the things I’ve done that have disgraced God. Basically, he told me that if God didn’t want to forgive us, there’s no way he would’ve sent his son. He gave me all other kinds of insight about Christianity and faith and religion in general. We walked back to my apartment and he left.

I was filled with an overwhelming sense of God’s forgiveness and wanting to share that forgiveness with others. I realized that before I could forgive him, I have to forgive myself. So, I spent about thirty minutes in prayer asking God to help me forgive myself and finally, to forgive my ex. It’s a work in progress. I can’t say that I’ve totally and completely forgiven him, but ever since last night, I know I’m ready to see him again, no matter what circumstances. And in that moment, I’m going to realize the sacrifices in which God gave for me. I don’t want to live my life went pent up anger and hatred for something that happened months ago. It’s a new school year which means new friends, new relationships, new experiences, and new personal growth. I plan to focus on my schoolwork above all else, get involved in campus ministries and bible studies, and make a promise to myself to go to church every Sunday. I’m challenging myself to be happy again, to forgive, and to finally let go and move on.

Moving Forward

Since my last weakness, and eventually breakdown, I’ve been doing a lot better and things are really looking up. I’m still struggling not to go out with my friends, but my roommate is going out of town tomorrow and I think she is one of my main pressures to go out usually. So, with her gone, and the whole apartment to myself, I may just stay in and take it easy, pamper myself, watch movies, and do whatever I want.

Also, I’m not looking at my ex’s page again…hopefully ever. But let’s be honest, I’m bound to unblock him and friend request him eventually someday. But for now, I’m trying the whole “will this make you happy. and be honest with yourself” approach. It seems to be working for now. It’s definitely difficult for me to do. I want that control again. But, the fact of the matter is that he “loves” someone else and I guess that’s enough for me to say that it’s time to move forward in my life. In fact, I even got asked on a date! He said he would’ve asked me earlier if I didn’t always talk about how I never want to date again. Haha. Go figure.

So, this weekend, I think I’m  just going to do me. Maybe a bubble bath, some movies, whatever. I’m doing whatever I want to do. Just a few more days of hard work (like 40 hours in 4 days) then I get to go home and be with my family! I’m so excited.

Good night friends! 🙂