When I started driving, my family always gave me a hard time when we would ride together and I drove because I apparently always take the long way to anywhere. I take the way with the most turns, the most lights, the lowest speed limit. I never did it intentionally, I just took what I thought was the right way to go and it always took longer or was more difficult to get there (but it still got me there). After a while, I took these ways even after learning the shortcuts because they were my routes, they were my streets.
What a metaphor for my life. I am always choosing the long way around. I want the job that pays the least; I take the classes that require the most work; I try to date the guys I really shouldn't. I pick the hard way to do everything. I bring the struggle on myself. This is very frustrating, especially when I see people around me getting everything they want and it's also what society tells them they should want and it just comes so easy. And to be frank, a lot of these people are settling. They are taking what comes because it's what comes.
But I had this epiphany this morning: life is a struggle no matter what. There are going to be seasons that just suck and are hard to handle. So why not struggle and choose the difficult way that gives you what you really want in life, rather than the difficult way that gives you something that is just okay? If life is hard work, then work hard for a reward you actually want.
Please don't be fooled that I have any clue what I am talking about or any experience or perspective. I'm in the thick of all this as you read. Everyday my mind bounces between the safe, logical path in my life that would be good pay and a stable job, or the adventurous, risky path in my life that would be so awesome. My mind (and heart for that matter) bounces between the questions of "Do I really want this?" Or "Do I want this because it's what everyone else my age wants?"
So basically my mind is a giant empty room filled with those quarter-machine bouncy balls you got as a kid. And the bouncy balls are hyped up on caffeine. And on fire.
You know that scene from friends where Ross finds out about Rachel and Joey's relationship? He keeps trying convince every that he's fine with it, and does so unsuccessfully. Well that's me to myself and everyone around me, just saying I'm fine. And you know? I will be. I will be fine because I will choose to be fine, and you will be fine, too.
So I'm going to choose struggle because I haven't lost hope that the reward is worth the struggle. I'll let you know how that works out.
Dear Freshmen Me,
I know time travel isn't a real thing - yet - but maybe my life will suddenly turn into the movie The Lakehouse and I can somehow get this letter to you. As I approach the last weeks of my college career, talking with friends in the same boat as me, I've said many times "if I could just tell freshmen me this". So here it is: then things I wish someone would have told me when I was a freshmen.
I'm sure in four more years, I'll write another letter to you about what I wish I knew as a college senior. But for now, enjoy this life because it's over before you know it. You can't these days back.
I believe in you, and I believe in your future. Hold on sister, it'll all be okay.
Congratulations! You are a curious enough person that you decided to click on this link and maybe broaden your horizons a bit. I hope you find something here you can connect with and relate to.
This is the first post of what I hope will be many about my long, slow, and interesting journey to minimalism. I've been reading about minimalism since I started college in 2013. It has always held this interest for me because it seemed like a lifestyle I had no chance of being a part of. I would get inspired on a random weekend and clean out my closet, only to go thrifting the next week and fill it back up with things I didn't need or really even want - like that green tie-dye shirt with a kitten on it. In those first two years of college, not only did I commit major crimes of fashion, but I spent money that could have been put to better use in savings or a travel fund.
Fast forward to September 6th, 2015. I was twenty four hours out from leaving the country for four and a half months and trying to fit all my precious things into my suitcase(s) and bags. I had to be able to carry it all with me. And guess what? I did it. And when I got back in December, I had carried things across the world that didn't get worn, read, or used at all. I was too busy having the experiences of a lifetime to think about maintaining all these things. I learned that I could live with a lot less.
Fast forward to now. I'm thirteen weeks away from graduating college. I have no idea what lies after graduation concerning a job, where I will live, how my life will look at all. This uncertainty is a whole other blog post, and I'm trying hard not to think about it. But one thing I do know about this very uncertain time in my life is that I own too many things. I own too many things that hold guilt, or sad memories, or hold no value at all. I spend entirely too much time in my life organizing and cleaning and maintaining things that serve no real purpose in my life. They are excess things and I simply don't have time to deal with these excess things anymore.
The idea of this post started as a listicle of why I want to be a minimalist; the list got long but with each reason it boiled down to this truth:
I want to be minimalist so that I can shift my mental, emotional, and spiritual focus
And that, my friends, is where I will leave you. I will keep the specifics of what led me to this statement to myself. You now know why, and in the weeks to come you will know the how. How am I minimizing my life? What do I think adds value my life? What books/articles and I reading, what TED Talks am I listening to, and videos am I watching that help me understand what minimalism is and what is means to different people?
This lifestyle change isn't about less things; it's about more life.
You aren't used to me be being your single friend. For so long, I was the friend you tagged along with on date nights. I backed out of our plans because my boyfriend suddenly had a clear schedule. I didn't even make those plans with you without asking him first. Every conversation you had with me, I managed to bring him up. I was the "we" friend. You know - “we" went to the store, "we" tried that restaurant, "we" watched that on Netflix. You made bets with our friends about how many times I would bring up "him" or "we" the next conversation you had with me.
But as Michael Scott would say, "How the turntables". Now, you don't mention your Friday night plans because you know it involves another couple. I make plans with you and you say "we" are on the way. I keep my schedule free just in case you call. There is always another single strategically planted in the group so I won't feel so left out.
But friend, know this: I am grateful for the eggshells you tread on, for the hesitation in your voice when the conversation turns to boys and romance. I'm thankful that you make sure to tell me that you love me, that you think I'm great. Truthfully, you're better has the attached friend than I ever was.
I am thankful that you don't let me settle. I am thankful that you would rather see me single and waiting than attached and miserable. You know me better than I know myself. You know I need a little romance, some swooning; a travel buddy that will wake up early for breakfast; someone that eat all the things I *try* to cook. You also know I need someone that will call me out and say, "Grigg, you're not trying hard enough, I know you can do better", like you have so many times before. And I will always need you. I will need you to remind me of what I deserve, and what I don't. Don't think I want someone to replace you, because that's impossible.
What's the point of this letter? It isn't to make you pity me. It isn't to make you feel bad that you're not single and I am. This letter is tell you that no matter the guys that come into either of our lives, I will always be your friend and I hope you will always be mine.
So I will try to limit my late night texts and calls; I will let you go with your boyfriend to that move I really wanted to see because I know, it’s date night; I will not comment on how much I dislike your public displays of affection; I will be diligent in sending embarrassing SnapChats of you to your guy without your consent. Most importantly, I will respect anyone that has the gusto and energy to date you because let’s be honest – if you are friends with me, you are a little wacky.
And about these guys you bring around. I have to commend you, you have great taste and a good judge of character. You pick guys that help me up the stairs after foot surgery; you pick guys that ensure me that yes, so-and-so is a jerk; guys that don aprons and gloves to wash dishes after Friendsgiving; and guys that help put together furniture because I contribute to that gender stereotype. Thank you for bringing more friends into my life.
Lastly, thank you for your never ending encouragement. I know that right now I can’t see the forest for the trees, and I am really whiny some days; but your encouragement is constant and always sincere. I have hope for myself because you have hope for me.
How does a girl get so lucky to have friends like you?
Your Single Friend.
About a year ago, I made a video from some pictures and clips from a day spent hiking the Welsh Coast. For the musical entertainment I used Forlence + The Machine's Dog Days Are Over because as I stood on the vast beaches of the Welsh Coast that day, I thought that my rough days were behind me, that I would never have another "rough patch", that my dog days were over. Boy, was I wrong.
Last semester was rough for me. Re-adjusting to life back in Ada, working towards a degree I wasn't (and am still not) totally sold on, and trying to build friendships was a lot to handle for me. Just when my luck started looking up in the spring, I trusted someone I shouldn't have and summer time hit me right in the stomach. To make matters more interesting, I was trying to survive living in an attick apartment in a walking boot. I remember being so mad at the world, at the powers of the universe, at everyone around me, because I thought my dog days were over and here I was in the midst of 6 months worth of dog days. Florence had lied to me.
''Things changed when school started this semester: I was surrounded by the best friends I could dream of, I was doing well at work, and I had decided that school isn't the end game and I would make it through. But then last week happened. I was moving, working, going to school, trying to eat and sleep, losing keys, missing deadlines, forgetting about exams...anything and everything that could stress me out decided to show up like a zit on prom night. I woke up everyday thinking that if I could make until bedtime that night that I might just survive.
Well...I survived and yet again Monday has come and a new week full of responsibility and to-do lists is here and I'm still managing to function. I was listening to some music while I was getting ready this morning and that wretched song came on again....the dog days are over / the dog days are done / can you hear the horses? / you better run...and I finally realized something: the dog days are never over: the dog days are never truly over. The dog days just go into hiding for a while to come back when you least expect them and least want them to. The dog days are the plight of mankind, and there is nothing we can do to avoid them. The victory is in fighting through the dog days, and realizing that they are necessary because they make you appreciate the good days. I only know a good day from a bad day because I've had some really bad days. I only know a good friend from a bad friend because I've had some really bad friends.
So guess what - today might be one of your dog days. But guess what else - the dog days are temporary so get through this one and tomorrow happiness might hit you like a train on a track.
Note: I still love Florence + The Machine and Dog Days Are Over so here is a link to get your through your dog day.
SIBLINGS ARE SUCH AN INTERESTING ENTITY.
THERE HAVE BEEN TWO TIMES IN MY LIFE THAT I'VE HAD THE COGNIZANT THOUGHT "I WISH MY BROTHER JAMES WAS HERE". THERE HAVE BEEN MAYBE THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIMES I'VE THOUGHT THAT OF MY BROTHER CARTER.
THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, I'VE ALWAYS STOPPED TO READ ARTICLES DISCUSSING BIRTH ORDER AND SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS. IT'S MY BELIEF THAT UNTIL YOU PARENT A CHILD, THE ONLY SCENARIO WHERE YOU EXPERIENCE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FOR SOMEONE YOU DIDN'T CHOOSE TO BE IN YOUR LIFE IS FOR YOUR SIBLINGS. DID I FIGHT WITH MY SIBLING? YES. DID I TELL THEM I HATED THEM? ON MANY OCCASIONS. WAS IT EVER TRUE? NEVER.
HOW CAN I PUT INTO WORDS THE LOVE I I HAVE FOR SOMEONE THAT I NEVER CHOSE I BE IN MY LIFE? THOSE CLOSE TO ME KNOW I AM VERY SELECTIVE WITH THE PEOPLE I LET "IN". I HAVE MANY ACQUAINTANCES, FEW FRIENDS. YET, HERE ARE TWO HUMANS WHO I HAD NO SAY IN BEING LINKED TO (FOREVER, MIGHT I ADD) AND I THINK MY HEART JUST MIGHT STOP IF THEY WERE EVER TAKEN OUT OF MY LIFE. THAT ISN'T LOGICAL, THAT DOESN'T ADD UP, THAT'S NOT HOW WE CHOOSE OUR FRIENDS, OUR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, OUR URBAN TRIBES.
THE FIRST TIME I HAD THE COGNIZANT THOUGHT OF WISHING MY BROTHER JAMES WAS STANDING BESIDE ME WAS IN DUBLIN, IRELAND. I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT JAMES' SOUL LONGED FOR SOMEWHERE ELSE, SOMEWHERE REFERRED TO AS THE "OLD COUNTRY", WHERE LIFE WAS SIMPLE AND EASY. HE ISN'T OF THIS TIME, MERELY A VISITOR. ON THE COBBLESTONES OF DUBLIN STREETS, THE BREEZY OF BRIDGES OF THE GREEN ISLE, I KNEW THAT IN SOME PAST LIFE HE HAD BEEN THERE, HE HAD THRIVED THERE. LOOKING OUT ON THE EMERALD CITY - TRINITY COLLEGE, ST. STEPHEN'S GREEN, THE VIKING DISTRICT - MY HEART ACHED FOR HIM TO BE WITH ME, FOR TIME TO FAST FORWARD SO WE COULD TELL THE GRANDKIDS ABOUT THE TIME WE HAD IN THE PLACE OUR SPRINTS BELONGED. THREE DAYS IN DUBLIN MADE THE TWENTY YEARS OF PETTY SIBLING RIVALRY WORTH IT, AND I INSTANTLY UNDERSTOOD HIS HEART, WHO WE WAS, WHO HE IS, AND WHO I HOPE HE BECOMES.
THEN THERE'S B CARTER. WE HAD AN INTERESTING RELATIONSHIP GROWING UP BEING SO CLOSE IN AGE. OUR FRIENDS DATED EACH OTHER, WE WENT TO THE SAME HIGH SCHOOL DANCES, EVEN HAD A CLASS TOGETHER FOR A FEW DAYS. WHILE JAMES HAS ALWAYS BEEN LINKED SUBCONSCIOUSLY TO MY MOTHER'S SIDE, CARTER HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE NEXT GENERATION OF MY FATHER. I HESITATE TO ADMIT IT, BUT OUR PERSONALITIES SHARE SO MUCH. I STOOD ON A OUTLOOK, TAKING IN THE BEACHES, THREE CLIFFS BAY AND OXWICH, WHERE BRITISH AND AMERICAN TROOPS PRACTICED FOR THE INVASION OF NORMANDY - THE ROCKY SOUTH COAST OF WALES. I STOOD IN AWE, FIERCELY WISHING THAT TIME WOULD STAND STILL AND HE WOULD APPEAR. FOR WHATEVER REASON, WE BOTH DECIDED TO MAJOR IN HISTORY IN COLLEGE. WE ARE INTERESTED IN DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF HISTORY; NEVER THE LESS, WE SHARE THAT INTELLECTUAL LINK. THE HISTORY AND IMPORTANCE OF WHERE I STOOD LEFT ME EXHAUSTED, AND THE ONLY PERSON I WANTED TO DEBRIEF WITH WAS HIM. THE ONLY PERSON I WANTED TO THE DISCUSS THE "WHAT IFS" OF HISTORY WITH WAS HIM.
THERE ARE MOMENTS IN MY LIFE I WISH MY BROTHERS WOULD ACT DIFFERENT, SAY SOMETHING ELSE, OR CARE A LITTLE MORE. BUT I WOULDN'T CHANGE WHO THEY ARE, EVER, FOR NO AMOUNT OF MONEY, FOR NO DREAM VACATION; NOTHING CAN EVER ENTICE ME ENOUGH TO WISH THEM AWAY. I DIDN'T CHOOSE THEM, BUT GIVEN THE CHOICE I WOULD CHOOSE THEM OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
JAMES FRANK AND CARTER, I LOVE YOU BOTH MORE THAN MY WORDS COULD EVER EXPLAIN. MY LIFE WOULD BE BLAND AND UNIMPORTANT WITHOUT YOU BOTH. I'M SO SORRY FOR EVER MAKING YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENT. IN THIS STAGE IN OUR LIVES, OTHER GIRLS ARE COMING TO STAY BUT I HOPE THAT I WILL ALWAYS HOLD A SPECIAL PLACE IN YOUR LIFE. EVEN IF YOU WANTED ME TO, I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE ANYTIME SOON. NO ONE CAN EVER REPLACE EITHER OF YOU IN MY LIFE.
DIBS ON THE ANTIQUE RADIO.
I won't say that I have never been a procrastinator, because that would be a lie and I appreciate my readers too much to lie to them. I will admit to my procrastination, yet I almost always manage to swim to the surface at the last minute, dashing in with hot-off-the-press assignments and my charming smile that says "you don't really want to penalize me for being 12 minutes past the deadline, do you?"
But this time is different. The surface seems so far away, and I'm starting to feel the narcosis. The little munchkins in my head are starting to sound reasonable, telling me that obviously my professors are out to get me, that of course they get together in the wee hours of the morning for boxed wine and plan my dramatic downfall. Now, I know this isn't true. But if it was, at least I could blame my procrastination on someone other than myself.
The first two years of college were dedicated to keeping my grades up so I could study abroad (check), outsmarting a boy (now a mute point), and making Mckenzie proud of Mckenzie (mostly check). Well...now what? I've come back from the great adventure, I'm single as a Pringle, and my confidence and worth is found in the Lord. What now? What is the reason I wake up in the morning? Why am I bothering with all this? Why am I jumping through all these hoops?
I don't know, and contrary what my father always told me when I got in trouble, that is a totally acceptable answer right now. As much as I wish it wasn't, my current goal is to finish, and not fail. I wish I could tell you I can't imagine doing anything but teaching, that a high school classroom is where my heart has to be, that I can look past all drama and stupidity of public education and soldier through anyway. Sorry folks, but I can't tell you those things. To be quite honest, I see myself doing anything but that. Teaching is a labor of love, and I just don't know that I am made to love people in that way.
I am not saying that I won't ever "teach" someone something, or that I'm not going to continue my education degree. Nothing is changing. I will still be a certified teacher when I graduate; but I don't know what comes after that, and that is okay. I have 21 months to figure out what comes next.
So if you see me around, no I'm not sick or dying or depressed. I'm just in college. I'm scared to get a paper cut for fear of coffee spurting out where there should be blood.
Someday - I believe someday soon - there will come the bigger-than-me, world-changing, mind-shattering end game motivation that will drive the rest of my life.
If you' ve never spent time aboard, you may not get this post. If you have, I hope you tell me you relate to this post because I'm not sure if these feelings I'm having are normal.
I haven't blogged about or posted pictures from most of my trips I took while studying abroad. One reason is because I really want to write a good travel-article-type posts and am drafting those now. However, the main reason I haven't is because it makes me melancholy to think about those days in far off cities with people I don't see anymore.
Many people have asked me why I went, why I applied to leave home and all familiarity for nearly 4 months. I really struggle to answer that. I struggle to find a meaning to those 110 days. What was the purpose? What do I have to show from it?
Some nights, all I have to show for it is sitting alone in my apartment and wondering what my friends are doing, where they are, and if it all really happened. Those nights, I fight off the thought that I just fell asleep on September seventh and had a long dream. Those nights, I pour over my post cards and maps and travel log to remind myself it was real. I lay them out across my table and run my hands over the streets I walked, hold the post cards up to the window pretending it's my view, read over and over what I did in every city. Was it real? Did it happen? What was the point?
I'm honestly still working on that last question. I don't know that I'll ever have that answer.
For now, I operate under the thought that my crazy adventure made me grow up. It turned me into a more confident young woman. It's my point of reference for what I can do; if I can figure out how to get from Wales to Switzerland for less that $40.00 on my own, I can do anything. If I can survive a day in the Brussels train station with five euros to my name, I can do anything. If I can handle living with seven of the coolest but most extremely different people, I can do anything. If I can muster up the courage to wave goodbye to my parents at security, I can do anything. I can do anything. If I learned nothing else in 110 days, I learned that I can do anything.
My parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends, encouraging children's books, have always told me I can do anything. And I guess I always believed them in theory, but I never experienced it in practice. I suppose you have to do something to realize that you can do anything.
Disclaimer: I am no expert on love, relationships, or boys. These are just my personal thoughts on love from observing my own and my friends' relationships.
So if I am not an expert, why am I writing this? Because it's nice to know that someone is just as confused as you are.
Please don't think that I am a man-hater that believes we are all better off single, and that all the good men have disappeared along with the golden age of vinyl. Also, please don't think that I am a distraught princess waiting to be swept away so my fairytale can begin. I'm right in the middle, I guess. I'm a content-being-single 20-something with a cautious heart, hoping that one day I might find a permanent traveling buddy to put up with my love of breakfast food and bookstores.
So here it goes: my unqualified thoughts on love.
Anything you would add? What are your thoughts? Email me or comment below!
I promise I didn't forget about you. I promise I thought of you often. I promise that a hundred times I wished you were with me in some amazing place just so we could grab coffee. I promise I am still your friend. I promise that our friendship hasn't wavered.
But I need you to know something: I didn't text everyday, respond to every SnapChat, answer every Facebook message not because I didn't want to talk to you, but because my life didn't stop when I landed in a foreign country; if anything it accelerated forward in a way I never knew possible. I made friends you would love, visited cities that were missing only you.
Just as I feel the need to remind you that my life didn't stop and I wasn't ignoring you, I also have to remind myself that your life continued without skipping a beat when I left. You found a new routine. You made new friends. You have new inside jokes that I'll probably never think are funny. And my fickle self-esteem keeps me from thinking I have a place with you. I need reminders, probably too often. I'm not questioning your loyalty or love - don't read what I didn't write. I just struggle to put myself back into your life.
Please understands that when I shut myself in or run away for the weekend, it isn't because I don't want to spend time with you. That's what I want more than anything. I seclude myself because I'm not sure how to do anything else. It's the easy answer. It's the wrong one, but it's the easy one.
And understand that I'm different now. I'm not a different person, I've just squeezed two years of growing up into six months. I've experienced life in a way I will forever try to put into words but I will always fail. There is a part of me you will never be able to know and understand until you leave normalcy and live life with totally amazing strangers for four months and see things that have inspired humanity for centuries. And guess what? You can do that, and should do that, and need to do that. Please ask me how.
The next month could be hard, and might require us to put more effort into our relationship than ever before. I need you to listen and never understand, and I need to hear all about your life and have the opportunity to care. I need you to tell me to shut up about myself. I need you to warn your new friends about me and let them know just how cool I am. I need you to help me make this real life again.
Hope me not lose you.
Always your friend,
Mckenzie • Kenz • Kenzie • Makka • Mac Daddy • Dirty Mac • Sista Grigg• McGriggles • Mac Attack • Mack • Mankenzie • Big M
P.S. Thank you you for all the awesome nick names.