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Just a Boy & His Subaru

On a Journey to Find Themselves

Tag Archives: soul search

In the last month, I’ve started doing some volunteer work for a local nonprofit. It’s mainly community outreach, resource development and organizing fundraisers. It keeps me busy and keeps my skills sharp, plus it’s for a great cause.

If you’ve not donated your time, one of the most valuable things any of us has, I highly suggest it. The return on investment is phenomenal and nearly unmatched by any other activity.

While I love what I’m doing, it is volunteer based. I’m thankful to still be receiving unemployment, which is allowing me to take my time searching for a position more in line with my career goals. However, it has been a struggle not having a job, and I’m getting to that point where I start to worry that I’m not going to find one in time and I’ve even gone as far as to say I’m scared.

My unemployment runs out in six weeks. Unless Congress gets their act together and passes a bill that will extend unemployment benefits, which doesn’t look likely given the current state of political affairs, it’s sink or swim in no time at all.

The frustration comes mainly from the fact that I’ve applied to, on average, five jobs a week for the past four and a half months. That’s 90 jobs if your math is rusty. I’ve reached that point where I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve run out of options. I’m questioning what I’ve done wrong. I mean, I have an extremely flexible, yet focused degree, I have extensive experience in higher education and customer service, and yet I’m either under-qualified or over-qualified.

 

Such was the case with my most recent rejection letter today.

My 25th birthday is on Tuesday. I’m trying so hard to hold it together and not have a small break down, but I’m looking around and wondering what I have to show for 25.

Then again, who says I have to have anything to show for 25 other than me? Who says I’m not successful other than me?

We can sometimes be our own most-intimidating worst enemy.

Deep down I know I’m successful. I know that I’m a survivor. I’ve been through far too many tests and passed with flying colors not to be. Do you know how many people thought I’d never finish my undergraduate simply because I was working so hard outside of class? My own father had my failure mapped out. This entire blog was started to document one of the hardest tests I’d ever taken. Impossible is nothing.

The reality that is so easy to forget is that it’s not always what you do, but who is there for you, that counts. Those people that stand behind you, always have your back, always remind you of the person you are no matter what, those are the people that determine your success.

As I began to write this post, I was sitting here a bit down in the dumps, almost unable to type; I was just so frustrated. Unexpectedly, and almost eerily, one of my closest, dearest friends text me. We don’t have censors with each other, so I naturally used this as a chance to express my frustration, dumping my stress and worry upon her.

In one single text, all my worries disappeared:

You saved me during my worst hour…I’ll always have your back!

It was a reminder of who I am, what I stand for and where my priorities have been and should be. It didn’t give me a job, it didn’t fix any of the “problems” surrounding my unemployment, but it did clear my outlook on life. Knowing that someone had my back, no matter what, was the boost I needed to hold my head back up.

There have always been hard times, there will always be struggles. There isn’t anything I can do about the uncertainty of life except to keep a positive attitude, march forward and remember that I have amazing people that love me unconditionally.

There is no better way to staple it together than with trust and love.

And to the angel in my life that sent that text, if you should read this, listen to this and remember:

You deal with the humps. Take the jumps. I feel like you’re an island of reality in an ocean of diarrhea. And I love you.

Hold your own, know your name, go your own way.

Note to self: read after every job rejection and again after you find the perfect position.

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When you’re not careful, life gets away from you.

The things that you enjoy doing, the things that make you happy, take a back seat to stress, worry and other very similar unproductive attitudes. You fall into bad habits and your mind travels to deep corners of obsession.

In this sense, I’m accident prone.

It’s not that I don’t know what makes me happy, I know exactly what gives me a sense of balance and accomplishment. That’s not to say I can efficiently tune out the world at all times to refocus, and, to be honest, with the way the last seven months of my life have gone, the world sometimes gets pretty damn loud.

This last month has been rough. Not the kind of rough where you sigh in relief that it has ended, the kind of rough where you’re scraping your knees to get to the end, wondering how it will ever end.

When I first got to Colorado, I was riding a massive life high. There had been so many changes and developments that I never once had to truly think about what was actually happening in my life. Everything felt so normal and natural that a large part of me naively thought the worst was over. I mean, I had already cried over leaving my partner, I penciled in time to not leave the bed and sulk over the things in life I no longer had control over, so surely the worst was behind me. Hell, I had even successfully moved more than half way across the continent, so as far as I was concerned it was all smooth sailing from here.

Then there was this one Wednesday when I was washing the dishes, windows open and feeling great after a much-needed yoga session and protein shake, that I broke.

If there were any better way to describe that day, it would be through audio. (Maybe I should consider podcasts)

There was no rhyme or reason, no obvious precursor for the events that were about to take place, just a little itch in the back of my throat right before the dam burst open. When I use that metaphor I intend for it represent the (very literally) hours of crying that ensued that Wednesday. Nothing could hold it back. At one point, in a state of desperation, I ran a bath with “stress-fix” salts, only to find myself sobbing after the first deep breath. It was a dam.

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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve done quite a bit of hand-shaking.

I love meeting new people.

That’s honestly one of the best parts of moving to a new place, every person you see is someone to meet. And everyone has a different story, which makes meeting new people the chance to tell your story.

That leads me to what I’ve been thinking about endlessly: you have to have a story.

Maybe I’m full of myself and I’m crazy for thinking my life should be remembered, but should it not be? Everyone’s life is worth remembering. When I’m old and gray, I want to look back and feel filled to the brim with stories.

In the process of jotting down ideas on what essays I would draft, I started thinking about why I’ve made some of the decisions I’ve made in life. After some serious consideration, I  noticed that most times I made a decision based solely around the story it would produce. There are exceptions, of course, but is there a better reason to live life?

The idea of story telling is becoming a lost art, and I still consider myself an artist. It’s something people avoid at all costs. It’s as if no one cares what their great grandfather says because, well, what would he know?

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When something is right, it feels right.

You don’t have to question it.

It’s as if the universe is continually giving you blatant signs that it’s right.

In the last two weeks I’ve been happier than I can remember being in at least the last year and a half.

And I can’t exactly explain it, there’s just this feeling in my gut that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. In every aspect, it’s the exact opposite feeling I had about being in Pittsburgh. At no time in while living there did I feel like it was where I was supposed to be. Of course I appreciate my time spent there and the life lessons that I learned, but I knew from day one that it wasn’t home.

So I apologize for not updating more, but I’ve been busy enjoying this new life I’m making for myself. I’m not sure I’ve stopped smiling since the first morning I walked out to the bluest, sunny sky I’ve seen. No joke, I started laughing as soon as I took a deep breath. Everything felt right.

People are friendly here, they talk to you and make you feel welcome. It’s an amazing thing to meet all of your neighbors without having to go out of your way to know who you’re living next to. Better yet, to have them offer to move your couch in. Better still is having people help you connect with those in a position to hire.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m beginning to feel like myself again. I’ve laughed, hard, everyday. I’ve danced even harder. Life just feels right. And I don’t want to seem like I’m gloating, but I suppose I am. Why not? Everyone deserves to find happiness. Am I fully pieced back together? Unlikely. But I can say that I most certainly feel it happening.

Last night I got on Facebook to see pictures of my ex with his new guy. Initially my heart sank, and for approximately 45 seconds after, I was a bit a sad. Then I remembered how much I love my life and the decision I made for myself, and it seemed insane to even feel a shred of sadness. So I smiled. I even began to chuckle a bit.

I’m not broken. I’m far from it. And I realize it’s going to take a lot more to actually break me.

Over the holiday my mother and I had a chat about the last couple of months and my decision to leave my ex and move to Fort Collins. It started with her asking about what restaurants were out here and how I liked them (she always wants to know the oddest things), and led to my realization that in one week of living here, I’ve fallen in love; I’m happy.

Now, if I’ve not mentioned it before, my mother is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for two years. When she decided to get better for herself, I stepped in and helped her get her life back in order. There’s never been a day in my life that I doubted my mother’s pride for me; she is most definitely my biggest fan. What I doubted, naïvely, was her ability to see how unhappy I had been. So when she smiled at me and told me how good it made her feel to see me happy, yeah, I started to tear up a little.

I’ve opened myself to the universe. And as a wise friend of mine helped me realize, when you open yourself to the universe and the idea that everything will work just the way it’s supposed to, you will find peace and happiness and your true self.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

So far, all of the signs have let me know I’m heading the right way.

 

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When I was a young boy, about the age of seven, my family and I were visiting my grandmother for her birthday. Typically the youngest in the group, I could be found outside playing with her beagle, Jake. On this particular day, when adult banter became too much for my tiny brain to tolerate, I went to run around with Jake and found him dead in his dog house.

In my memory, this was my first encounter with death.

The last thing I wanted to do was run inside and tell my grandmother that her dog had died on her birthday. It’s what I did though.

My grandmother was devastated. They had been inseparable for as I’d been on this earth, and since she lived alone, he gave her a sense of a purpose (something we all need). I’d not seen so many people in one room cry, and at such an intensity; Jake was a good dog that we all had fallen in love with. No one was taking it as hard as my grandmother.

My mother made arrangements to stay a few extra days in case my grandmother needed the company.

There’s never a good time for life to happen, it just happens. When it does, you can look the other way or you can handle the situation.

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Well guys, keeping up with this blog while trying to escape life has been more difficult than I anticipated!

I’m going to pull it together, I promise. I’ve been hiding in Chicago since Saturday enjoying the moment as best I can. Each day has been a bit better, but I can’t say my heart doesn’t still hurt.

Driving into the sunset was the highlight of my departure. Until that point, the weather was as gray and gloomy as my mood. There was something about seeing the sun force its way through the clouds that resonated with me. No matter how hard someone tries to steal your sunshine, it’s still there.

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Next stop: Mom’s house.

Once I’m there I’ll add some pictures that I’ve taken along the way documenting the journey. I’m trying to remember to catch everything.

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December 7, 2013, 0900 hours

After much anticipation, my journey officially begins tomorrow morning.

Yesterday my tires were delivered and installed, and since that was the missing puzzle piece, there’s no reason not to begin this next chapter. Today I finished a few small packing tasks and tied up various loose ends. The weather didn’t permit me to start packing the car, but after some shut-eye I’m sure I’ll be able to get it packed in the morning in less than an hour (note to self: watch how long it takes you).

Chicago is my first official stop.

As I suspected, all of the emotions from those very first days have resurfaced. Their intensity has yet to be matched, but I have felt notably sensitive today.

In my life, I feel I’ve sometimes been very naïve. Not to any sort of crippling point, but I find myself wanting and believing that the best possible outcome will take place. On top of that, my expectations for people and situations tend to remain unrealistic. How do you not try to see the best in everything and everyone?

This boy’s too young to be singing the blues.

The lesson I’m trying to learn out of this is that you can’t keep worrying about things that are out of your control. You also have to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it’s more important to recognize when someone is showing you their true colors. As cliché as it sounds, my feelings are hurt, and they’re mostly hurt because of someone else’s actions. But honestly, I’m beginning to believe that it’s not the action, it’s me caring about the action. It’s not my business anymore and the sooner I get that in my head, the better.

If I’m correct (and this is my first go-round, so no promises), that last sentence will finally sink in after tomorrow. Being here and watching my ex move on was difficult. It was like a sick form of self-cutting. As evident by last posts, I went back and forth on this. Overall, I’m going to suggest you never do this. It honestly just makes the situation more difficult. I don’t regret it, but if I had to do it over I would likely not. Unless you’re looking for what a friend of mine referred to as, “an unnecessary test of character.” It does make for a better story though (it’s really all about the story).

Well, I suppose it’s time to get going.

Oh, I’ve finally decided my future lies beyond the yellow brick road

Boy, with these new tires the ride down my yellow brick road should be relatively smooth.

 

 

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When you heavily study a subject, say it’s your major in college, it changes you. Mostly in subtle ways, but sometimes in not so subtle ways.

Thanks to my [insightful] father, I jumped from major to major a few times. Nothing really felt right, and when it did feel right, someone was right there to convince me not to stay in that major.

My acceptance came as a Broadcast Communication major. The school had an excellent program, amazing facilities and on top of that I was convinced I’d be famous. It was perfect.

Before I even showed up for my first day, I had been talked into changing my major. Mrs. Riggins, my high school guidance counselor, tried to assure me that it was completely normal, but I was embarrassed; I was sure I should know by now what I wanted to do. My father was sure I should be in the medical field, and I couldn’t exactly say I had no interest in it, so I chose Athletic Training. In high school I had developed a close relationship with the athletic trainer and she was really the reason I had such a fascination with the field.

Life always has that way of working out though, and after my first semester in the ATEP program, I knew it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t love sports medicine, the program and faculty just didn’t make me feel welcome and wanted. In fact, one professor told me after getting in a car accident that, “college just isn’t for everyone, you should consider all of your options.” The next day I left the program.

That left me ill-advised in the College of Business. Why? Because now my father was sure that I belonged in a corporate setting.

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One thing I learned very quickly in life is that when it rains, it pours. With that in mind, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came down with a wicked case of strep throat last Monday.

In the middle of job hunting, packing and constructing my itinerary, my body shut down. It was so awful; I can count on one hand the number of times I had the energy to sit upright last week. Plus, if I’m being completely truthful with myself, I forgot that it really is nice to have someone taking care of you when you’re sick. That’s not to say I wasn’t fully capable of nursing myself back to health, I can take care of myself, it’s to say that there’s an added factor of comfort when someone is making sure you get well.

That brings me to the epiphany I had while I was in bed-lock: my ex is not the guy for me; I am not making a mistake. The fact that I could barely drink my water or break my fever didn’t seem to weigh on his decision to go out. Should it have? Should he have been here taking care of me? That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that I’ve realized we are two very, very different people. And while previously I felt that living here with him until I left town was a mistake, I feel now that it has helped solidify my decision to move on with my life.

I still love him, very much, but I can no longer hold him in the same esteem as I previously have. With a full understanding that I see life with a different paradigm, the man that he is displaying himself as now is not a man I would like to be close to me. My goal in life is to surround myself with people who love me unconditionally and care about my feelings and my emotions. There must be a mutual respect. And while I spent some time being angry over how he has acted, I’ve let it go. It serves no purpose in my life. Each time I catch myself feeling angry or sad about the situation or his decisions, I remind myself that we are no longer together and it is no longer my responsibility to worry about him.

I’ll always care, but I can no longer waste my time and energy being sad or upset over someone that doesn’t have a mutual feeling for me.

Don’t take that as a promise that I won’t still have demons to sort out about this whole ordeal when I hit the road, because I’m sure I will, but right now I’m feeling good. So good, in fact, that I’ve officially made my itinerary:

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There a few things I consistently keep in-stock in my life. No matter my mood, no matter the day, no matter the weather, I can’t fathom a reason to get out of bed if someone were to tell me I couldn’t have them.

  1. Good coffee. No sugar, just creamer. If it’s really good coffee, just black will do.
  2. Good whiskey. Preferably with ginger ale or ginger beer. Similar to 1, on the rocks if it’s really good whiskey.
  3. Dave Matthews. Not just because he is one smooth lyrical gangster, but because it is a love I share with the best people in my life. Every song carries a unique, completely weird, absolutely unforgettable memory of them.
  4. The best people in my life. Five of the most outstanding, inspiring, successful, loving, jaw-dropping-beautiful souls I’ve known since they were just girls. There are people I’ve met over the years that are also staples in my life, but these ladies are my foundation. It’s an understanding.
  5. Floss. On an OCD level. There’s no greater feeling than knowing your teeth are clean.

I bring this list of my bare necessities to the table because with everything that I’ve going on right now, these five things are keeping me upright. I would almost go as fas as saying these are the chemical compounds capable of mending a broken heart, but number four is essential.

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