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Adding to My Alphabet

“Illness is a story told in the past tense. ”

-John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

This office wasn’t decorated in shades of brown. This office was brightly lit by the sunlight streaming in through a backdrop of white blinds. This office had red rugs layered on the standard, grey, office carpet. Three vases full of bright flowers sat on the desk. This time, I sat in the office without fear of what I would learn. This time, I felt prepared. I had already been diagnosed so there was nothing more to learn, or so I thought.

Since we moved, I put off finding a new doctor. But as the last of the prescription from my previous doctor ran out, I had to swallow the sour taste of anxiety in the back of my tongue and make an appointment.

I spent the 40 minutes before my appointment filling out paperwork. There was the standard “fill out all your personal information and we promise not to share it with other people” type of paper work. But then there were also pages of questionnaires to fill out. It felt pointless to me. I already knew what was wrong with me.

I sat in the office and told my life story to yet another doctor. Once again picking over the cracked brainemotional rubble in my brain. In the midst of this conversation, she threw out there, “It looks likes you have some compulsive tendencies.” I was a bit surprised by her readiness to discuss the idea of OCD. My last doctor had dismissed the likelihood of OCD when I brought it up. Instead, she just said I had unresolved issues from my childhood that I needed to talk about with a therapist. But this doctor wasn’t so hesitant. So, almost 2 years after being diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety, and ADHD, here I am adding yet another acronym to an ever growing list of cracks in my brain.

giphy (14)When you hear OCD, someone like Detective Monk probably comes to mind. Someone who has to use sanitizing wipes after shaking hands and can’t focus if a picture on the wall is crooked. That’s what I thought of until I watched a video by John Green, author of Turtles All the Way Down, a book about a teenage girl with OCD. In the video, he talks about his own struggle with the illness. His description really resonated with me and I began to wonder if this was  something that I had a problem with. If you want to learn more about the illness, here is a page that has a good description of OCD and how it manifests.

When obsessive thoughts burrow their way into my brain, my mind gets caught up in images of accidents or violent events. For example, when we moved into our new apartment, I was super excited about having a washer and drier in the apartment. No more creepy, shared laundry rooms for me! However, my husband told me to be careful to not leave the dryer door open because our cats like to crawl in. All I could think of, every time I did laundry, was making sure the cats didn’t crawl into the dryer. Not only would I check the dryer for the cats, I would spend 5 minutes hunting down both our cats to verify that they weren’t in the dryer. I didn’t have to do this. I already knew they weren’t in there, but I was so worried that I missed them and  that I would accidentally kill them by trapping them in the dryer that I had to verify they were safe before turning on the machine.

It has been hard for me to process this diagnosis. Part of me still thinks, “What if the doctor is wrong? What if I don’t have it? What if I am just looking for something else to be wrong with me and I am projecting the illness on myself?” But the more I think about it, the more I have accepted that this is what I am: a messy bundle of mental health problems that is precariously balanced on the edge of potential ruin.

Right after I got home from the doctor, I sat down and read Turtles All the Way Down. I had coincidentally received it in the mail a couple days before my diagnosis, and I was hoping that it might help me process what I was going through. I recognized a lot of myself in Aza, the main character/narrator. Like her, I often feel disconnected from the outside world, caught up in the tightening spiral of my thoughts.

There were a couple of quotes that stood out to me. The first is the one at the beginning of this post. The second is below:

“I would always be like this, always have this within me. There was no beating it. I would never slay the dragon, because the dragon was also me. My self and the disease were knotted together for life.”

When we discuss illness, we always talk about the journey to getting better. For me, there is no better.

When I was a kid, I loved to collect rocks (honestly, I loved to collect everything which was probably a manifestation of my OCD). I remember the feeling of the tin where I kept my collection. Despite its small size, the tin had a substantial weight to it and when I picked it up, I could feel gravity pulling against my hands as the tin strained to connect with the floor beneath my feet. This is what the inside of my chest feels like: tightly compacted rocks struggling to slip out of my grasp and fall far away from my control. This is a feeling I will be able to control with medication and therapy, but I will never fully escape from. I can put the tin of rocks back in my closet, but that doesn’t make them any less heavy. Instead, they simply sit, waiting for me to open the door and pick them up, so I can once again feel their weight.

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Uprooted 

In the Midwest we are intimately familiar with the feeling in the air before a tornado. The mixture of the warm and cool air combine into the maelstrom that becomes a descending spiral. The air both still and crackling with energy.

This is what the inside of my chest felt like when I thought of the move to Austin. My heart swelling in excitement over new potential and contracting in pain at the thought of leaving everything I know behind, creating a swirling mess of emotion which prevented me from sleeping at the most inopportune times.

It wasn’t so bad during the day. In my insomnia induced undead state I was able to keep busy with work, with packing, and with the ever present side projects I can’t seem to stop starting. But at night, when the streetlight filtered through the blinds like something out of film noir, it wasn’t so easy. The dark night confronted me with all of the doors that were closing and things I would have to say goodbye to.

Omaha has been my home for the past 17 years, but only recently have I felt like I have been putting down roots. I grew up moving every two years, so for the longest time I kept waiting for another move to happen. I kept thinking that Omaha was only temporary. Last summer, I spent two weeks near Cape Town, South Africa. One day, during my trip, I spent a morning walking along the beach outside our residence. The sand was cool under my bare feet, since we were in  the middle of Cape Town’s winter, but the sun was shining and the day was beautiful. As I walked along the shoreline, I decided I wanted to try and teach abroad. I wanted to get out of Omaha.

I don’t know for sure why, but that sentiment changed when I was confronted with the reality of graduation and moving on to a career. I decided then that I didn’t want to leave Omaha after all and my husband and I decided to stay for at least one more year. I didn’t think I was ready to leave yet. But I guess God had other plans.

After the rush of last minute packing, we finally loaded up our Budget truck and were ready to drive to Austin. This was going to be a crazy trip since we were driving down, dumping our stuff in our apartment  (an apartment we would be seeing for the first time), driving back, running a debate camp, and then Bryan would drive back to Austin again to start school while I stayed in Omaha for a bit longer. All of this was supposed to be executed in 1 week with little room for error. As we passed over the boarder into Texas I felt like I did when I was 9 and my brother pushed me over while I was rollerblading: my breath suddenly disappeared from my body as I tried desperately not to cry. Emotional sobs and driving on interstate are not a good mix.

This is a picture from the internet for illustration. Don’t worry, I didn’t take it while driving

The view before me was both familiar and foreign. The flat expanse of Texas was similar to the flat expanse of Nebraska, but somehow flatter. Leave it to a Nebraska girl to notice variations of flatness. For me, the browns and yellows of the flat Texas plains represented every change that I was going through and I fought to keep my emotions in check. But just as I began to wonder if I should pull over and let myself have a good cry, I saw a sign for a church which read in big, white cursive letters:”You belong here.” This literal sign from above brought me the peace I needed to continue my trip.

The worst Nebraska storms bring with them destruction. Hail leaves craters in cars, rain water floods basements, and unrelenting winds uproots seemingly sturdy tree trunks. But usually, when a tree is uprooted, it’s because it’s old. It’s roots no longer belong in that soil. Instead, it is time for a new tree to take its place. This move is sad, but it feels right. It is time to carry away the remnants of the old branches and plant a new tree.

How Hamilton Saved My Life

It’s like someone flicks a switch and turns all the lights off, plunging my brain into a murky blackness. When  I am depressed it triggers a dark cycle. Something negative will happen which sparks a spiral of bleak thoughts as my mind swirls with emotion. My thoughts get stuck in a rut as these negative ideas take hold of my mind. The longer I dwell on them, the more their roots dig deep, embedding themselves in my consciousness. The key to defeating these thoughts is by disrupting them, breaking their hold with something positive. For me, that is usually music. But it can’t just be any music; some music works better than others.

When I was at my really low point, before my medication was regulated, I had been listening non-stop (no pun intended) to the musical Hamilton. If you haven’t heard it, you’re missing out on one of the most magnificent pieces of art ever created. The music is inspiring as every note tells the story of struggling to overcome life’s challenges.

When I am using music to disrupt the mental spiral, it helps to listen to something with positive or inspiring messages and Hamilton has more inspiring lines than a series of cat posters. You could find inspiration when Alexander Hamilton declares that there are a million things he hasn’t done yet, or that he is not going to throw away his shot, and I enjoy listening to those songs. But there is one song I always return to when depression begins to seep into my brain and that is “Wait for It.”

I remember one particularly difficult night when I sat on my bathroom floor crying. This was becoming a habit as I fought against this crushing pain that wouldn’t go away. My mind was spiraling out of control. Like a bird that had been pierced by an arrow, I was tumbling down fast and unable to pull up. I reached for my phone and began playing my favorite songs from Hamilton to try and break the descent. Then “Wait for It”  began to play.

“Wait for It” is the theme for Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s friend turned enemy who ends up (spoiler alert) shooting Hamilton. In the musical, Burr’s patience is sharply contrasted with Hamilton’s non-stop pace and the idea of waiting is ridiculed by the musical’s protagonist.

I could spend a long time analyzing the themes of the musical to determine whether or not Burr’s philosophy is better than Hamilton’s. But it’s not really relevant to this post and you also probably don’t care. What does matter is that the song was my saving grace at a time where I was contemplating taking my life.

In the song, one of the choruses goes:
Death doesn’t discriminate 

Between the sinners 

And the saints

 It takes and it takes and it takes 

And we keep living anyway 

We rise and we fall 

And we break 

And we make our mistakes 

And if there’s a reason I’m still alive 

When everyone who loves me has died 

I’m willing to wait for it

I’m willing to wait for it”

The idea of being alive for a reason gave me hope to continue. I am on this earth for a purpose and I was willing to wait for this storm to pass to find what it is.

Of course, I don’t exist for a singular purpose. Most things don’t. When Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote Hamilton, he probably didn’t think much about its purpose beyond entertainment and exploring history. I doubt it occurred to him that his music would give strength to a girl in Omaha, NE, struggling not to end her life. But that’s the beauty of life. Every action we take is part if our purpose and we may never know the ripples our lives can cause. All we can do is continue to step forward and wait to see what life presents us next.

No, I Don’t Examine Dead Bodies

I was sitting in my undergraduate American Literature class. It was the first day of class and I let out an internal groan when the teacher declared that we were going to “get to know each other a bit.” I didn’t want to get to know my classmates. I was here to read about great American authors, write my papers, and get my A. What I wanted didn’t matter and I was soon paired up with a redheaded classmate whose name I never really learned. We were supposed to interview each other and then introduce the other person to the class. When it was my turn to awkwardly answer questions, she asked what I did for fun. When I said I did forensics her eyes lit up and she started exclaiming about how exciting that was and how she thought it was so cool growing up. I was taken it back. I had never seen such an enthusiastic response to my hobby before. Then I realized, she was thinking of scientific forensics not speech and debate. She got a lot less excited when I explained the mix up.

My classmates response to forensics is not unusual. Most people I meet don’t have a context for what the event is and if you explain it to them the concept of young people spending weekends in suits is kind of strange. But forensics is definitely one of the most underrated activities you can participate in. If you do any kind of research you will see numerous benefits from better critical thinking to strong leadership skills. I know that forensics has done a lot for me. I competed in it for 10 years from when I was 13 and my mom signed me up for debate club because “hey, you like to argue, right?” to my senior year of college where I was state champion in Communication Analysis. Forensics gave me the power to examine the world from all angles, the passion to advocate for others, and the confidence to speak up for what matters to me.

More than that, forensics gave me a home. Some of my first good friends were from forensics and I met my husband Bryan through my high school debate club. Forensics is an amazing community community and it hurts me when I see in undervalued. I see families in high school who don’t take it seriously and don’t put in the time and effort the events need. I see college programs get cut because the administration doesn’t understand the intrinsic value of the event.

I know that, in some way or another, forensics will always be a part of my life. Whether that is volunteering to coach for my old teams or through the company (Olympus Forensics) that Bryan, my brother Christopher, and I have started, I always want to do something to help the forensics community.

So no, I don’t examine dead bodies. But examining the world in search of truth, that’s pretty cool too.

The Perfect Mother

I know that Mother’s Day was last week, but I have been struggling since then thinking of how I wanted to write this. I could go to the store and read all of the Mother’s day cards, hoping that some combination of those cheesy lines might be able to articulate what I cannot. But that sounds like a lot of time and potential paper cuts.   All I can say is, I love my mother,  but I don’t think that she always realizes how amazing she is.

As Christians, we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Good isn’t good enough, we expect perfection. And that can be great. Challenging yourself to be better and having a goal for improvement is wonderful. However, when we are comparing ourselves to that perfect standard without accepting that we can’t achieve it, it can be damaging. I think this is often what happens to women and mothers.

In the Bible there is this ideal of a perfect woman laid out in Proverbs 31. This woman does everything and succeeds at everything, but this is not feasible for most women. However, the expectation of perfection pervades the homeschool community I grew up in. These women are expected educate their children perfectly, feed them home cooked meals, ensure they have many accomplished skills from music to Latin, keep the house spotless, keep their children straight and true on their spiritual journey and manage everything in the home.

I knew many mothers who seemed to effortlessly check all of those boxes. However, my mother was not like those mothers. I never learned a musical instrument, the house existed in a perpetual chaos, we probably spent more time talking around the kitchen table than doing school work some days. And according to some people, my spiritual journey has been corrupted. But my mother did so much more for me than being the perfect homemaking robot. She gave me a safe place where I could grow and be myself. She gave me someone I could talk to about almost anything. She gave me a sounding board for all my problems and support to excel. She gave me her creativity. When we were growing up, I remember my mother spending her free time creating homemade cards. She would draw pictures with us. She would write us short stories to help with our devotions that I often found more interesting than some of the published books we were given to read. But as we got older, and my two younger sisters entered the picture, she spent less time on those things.

She has such a dedication to us and her free time was never her own. Because she gave up the free time she could have been writing, I am able to explore my own creative writing skills. Because she gave up her art, I was able to discover my own skill at drawing. Because she gave up her hobbies, I was able to dedicate more time to mine. My mother supported me in so much by giving up so much of herself.

I am also constantly amazed by her selflessness. She puts her family before herself and pours so much energy into all of us. This is especially astonishing when you realized she had to raise three children and support a husband who all struggle with mental illness.

She might not have been perfect by some kind of objective measure or checklist. But she was the perfect mother for me. I would not have the success and I had and be the confident women I am if it weren’t for how she raised me.

To other parents out there: I am not a mom, but I have observed one of the best moms there is. No one gets everything right, so instead of focusing on checking off all the boxes, focus loving and supporting your child. If you do that, everything else can work itself out.

My Really Weird Thing

For the longest time I had this thing. It was kind of weird but I didn’t really think much about it. It’s not like I thought everyone was like me. It was more like I didn’t really think about it at all. I just carried on with my life and it didn’t really impact anything. That was until I saw this video discussing synesthesia and I finally had a name for my mind’s weird habit.

No, synesthesia is not some strange disease that will kill me before I reach 30 (although it does kind of sound like it). In case you didn’t bother clicking to watch the video synesthesia is “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” Basically, it is this weird association thing that 4.4 percent of the population have where you connect one thing with another that most people wouldn’t consider related. For example, you might connect certain numbers with certain colors or certain words with certain tastes.

For my part, I have ordinal linguistic personification  which is “the involuntary and automatic tendency in certain individuals to attribute animate-like qualities such as personality and gender to sequential linguistic units (e.g., letters, numerals, days, months).” So, for me, four is female and nice whereas seven has no gender but is a bitgiphy (4) mischievous. Even numbers tend to have softer personalities and odd numbers tend to be harsher. The letter A is feminine and B is masculine but has a comforting personality. If you want to read more about it, the Wikipedia page is fascinating, but because this isn’t a science blog, I’m not going to bother typing it all out.

To me, what is most fascinating, is not that I have this, but how long I went before I had I name for it or even considered that other people might not look at the world the same way that I do. To us, the workings of our brains are normal. The way we think is normal. The way that we look at the world is normal. But to others, that might be completely foreign. The first time I read A Man Made of Words by N. Scott Momaday, my mind was blown when I realized my way of thinking wasn’t the way everyone thinks. In the book, Momaday explains that Native Americans have a different understanding of time than Europeans:

“When my father spoke to me of my grandfather, who died before I was born, he invariably slipped into the present tense. And this is a common thing in my experience of the Indian world. For the Indian there is something like an extended present. Time as motion is an illusion; indeed, time itself is an illusion.” 

It never occurred to me that other cultures would think about time so differently when everyone I knew treated it as a universal fact. I had grown up only being exposed to one type of thinking and so I thought that everyone viewed things the way I did.

Because we often only look at the world one way, it is difficult to redirect the rut of our own thinking. This brings me to a beautiful comic by The Oatmeal. Below is the first panel, I would encourage you to read the whole thing. I also encourage you to read it and consider your own brain and how it is structured. Maybe you don’t have synesthesia, but you do have a way of thinking that is uniquely yours and a way of thinking that needs to be open to challenge and change. So listen and maybe you will discover something new.

It’s More Than The Depression 

Since my diagnosis, I have become much more aware of my body. I recognize little changes in mood and analyze the causes. So when I feel that familiar humming energy inside me, I know what’s coming: I am becoming manic.

A manic episode feels like when you drink too much coffee. There is an energy running out from your heart and building up in your finger tips. The energy is dying to be released by doing anything like maybe writing a blog post at 2 am when you should be sleeping. When I am manic, I get really bad insomnia and no amount of melatonin can put me to sleep. My body is tired, but my mind is constantly racing. It’s as if I drank 20 Red Bulls before bed and I now have so many wings that I simply can’t settle down in bed to go to sleep, there are far too many feathers. When I am manic, my body is bursting with boundless creativity. I am inspired to create a thousand different projects and do all of them. Right. Now. I am constantly jumping from one thing to the next like my mind is Mario trying to complete the levels and save Princess Peach.

Manic episodes bring with them a sense of confidence. My mind believes I can accomplish anything and nothing is beyond my reach.
Apart from the insomnia, this doesn’t sound too bad, right? I mean, being manic basically turns me into a nonstop creative machine who also manages to clean and organize everything in the apartment. It’s kind of like a super power as I become inhumane in my ability to accomplish tasks. But, like any superhero story, there is always the cost. Just like Superman and his kryptonite, Hulk and his anger management problems, Iron Man and his alcoholism, my superpower comes with its own set of side effects. First is obviously the terrible insomnia. There have been times where I spent over a week struggling to get by on the few hours of sleep my jacked up body would let me grasp at night. Second is the impulsiveness That sense of euphoria that comes with being manic and the invincibility it brings can cause you to make some poor, impulsive decisions. It’s difficult to think of consequences when you’re untouchable. Thankfully, the worst thing I’ve done is splurged on a $30 dress at Target. giphy-1But some people make seemingly crazy decisions simply because of these impulses. Finally, the worst thing is the crash. Unlike actual superheroes, my body is not made to exist as a nonstop accomplishment machine. The higher the high during my manic episode, the worse the crash. Thankfully, my type of bipolar isn’t as extreme and technically I only ever have hypomanic episodes (less severe than full on manic episodes). However, the crash can still be pretty miserable. To make up for the lack of sleep during the manic episode, all I want to do during a crash is sleep. Basically, the low of the crash is the opposite of the high of the manic episode. Instead of constant creativity, I can barely force my self to do necessary daily tasks for a normal life. Instead of the overconfidence, I question every action I take and assume the worst possible outcome.  When I am manic, I try to cope with it the best I can and use it to get stuff done while I have the energy. It is impossible to enjoy the high of the manic episode because all I can do is be afraid of what comes after. I am afraid of once again descending below the waterline to the murky depths where I transform into an existential zombie unsure of the purpose of my continued existence. It’s like the worst emotional roller coaster ever: never stopping as you constantly live in fear of the next rise and fall, never able to just rest and enjoy the ride. 

Since I started on medication, my depression is not as bad, but the manic episodes remain. Unfortunately, medicine isn’t magic. We can’t just wave a wand,mutter a Harry 200w-2Potter spell and make everything disappear. It’s a process and one that I’m still in the middle of. But hopefully soon, even though I will never be off the rollercoaster, it will at least become less bumpy.

In Defense of Frivolous Spending

I left smelling of pyrotechnics and sweat. My feet ached in my black boots and my sheer tank top stuck to the sticky skin of my back. I was tired and sore as my voice scratched in my throat from too much use. The Panic! at the Disco concert was an event. From the glitter cannons to literal fire on stage, the concert was as energetic as the exclamation point in the band’s name. Also, like the exclamation point, it was unnecessary.

As a broke graduate student, the $120 spent on tickets could have gone to other necessities. Originally purchased as a Christmas gift for my sister, they became an extra expense when she was unable to go and it would be Bryan and I attending in her place. Bryan wanted to sell them, and we did put them up for a bit, but as it got closer to the event and they still hadn’t sold, I convinced him to take them down. I really wanted to go because I had been a fan since my angsty teens when the only musicians I listened to possessed a melancholy that rivaled Shakespearean tragedy.

This band represents a transition period for me. Growing up as a homeschooler, I basically only listened the music my parents liked. So, a lot of Michael W. Smith and Casting Crowns. Panic! was one of the first bands I discovered through Pandora when I first began to branch out to secular music. I was obsessed with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” even if I would only listen to radio edit because, at the time, I still didn’t listen to music with swear words. Panic! had been in Omaha before and I hadn’t been able to see them and my heart desperately wanted to experience them live.

In our situation, many would argue that we should have just reduced the price significantly and sold the tickets to recuperate some of the cost. We always need extra money by the time the end of the month rolls around and even a fraction of the full ticket price would be helpful. But I think the tickets held more significance than that. They weren’t just a commodity to be sold, the represented an experience and experiences are something that are too often undervalued.

According to an NPR interview with Dr. Ryan Howell, Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University, buying experiences make us happier than buying possessions:

“we asked them to think about a time in the last three months that they had used their money to make them happier. Half of them were told to think about specifically a life experience – like you said, eating out or going to a concert or traveling. And the other half were told to think about a time that they had tried to make themselves happier when they bought a material item… we were able to use mediation modeling, and it showed that participants who were in the experiential condition said that they were more likely to consider their money well-spent at that time but also that currently that their purchase was still making them happier”

For the many teenage girls who attended the concert, the experience definitely made them happy. At least I would assume so based off the amount of screaming that happened every time a new song came on.

The NPR interview may seem counter intuitive because objects stay in our life whereas experiences don’t. However, in a way, experiences are more permanent. An object can be lost or broken, but once an experience happens it stays with you. The time I spent walking on the Beach in South Africa and helping in the school there added to the sum of my life and fed my soul, more so than the anything I could have purchased with the thousands of dollars I spent on the trip.

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of extra money, so I didn’t have a lot of experiences. We never went on family vacations and even going to the movies on a Saturday was too expensive. But now that I have control over my own money and it’s just Bryan and I, I’m willing to tighten our belts a little bit to experience more of the world. Every new experience is like a piece added to the puzzle of my life, expanding the picture of who I am and making me more complete.

I believe positive life experiences are especially important because of my mental health. The more joy I add to my life, the easier it is to combat the dark stain that sometimes creeps in. Shaking up the monotony of my life breaks up the thick fog that descends on me and re-sparks the joy in my heart.

The concert was definitely worth the money we spent. The feeling that a concert gives you is unique. You get to experience the music move through you as the beat vibrates in your bones and deafens your ears. The days and weeks before, I listed to Panic! nonstop to prepare myself to sing every lyric at the top of my lungs. Each song becomes your favorite as it plays and my off key singing and lack of rhythm doesn’t matter as my  voice and dancing disappear into a sea of other voices and bodies all united by the notes of the music.

When the last song began, I felt a wistfulness seep into my chest. It is like when you finish a good book, you’re glad to have experienced it all but you wish it wasn’t quite done, you aren’t ready to leave the world that has been built around you. As the last notes of “Victorious” faded away and we wove our way through the crowd I was glad I made the decision to keep the tickets even if I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a truck.

 

 

 

Help Wanted?

I get insomnia sometimes. I think it is a byproduct of my bipolar. When I get manic, it is hard for me to sleep. My mind races and I have a head full of plans. But it my difficulty sleeping doesn’t always come because of a manic episode. The other night, I was laying awake unable to sleep, the street light shining in through the bedroom blinds highlighting our dog whose small size does not prevent her form taking up a surprising large portion of the bed, and I was thinking about the future and what it would look like.

Bryan and I are about to graduate. In May, I will be done with homework and grading and writing papers. I will be done with classes and backpacks and late nights finishing projects. I am relieved and I can’t wait to not have all this pressure on me, but  I am also a bit apprehensive. I still don’t have a job lined up for after I graduate and as the days tick closer to May, I become more and more worried about what the future may hold.

I don’t like the unknown. That’s probably why dark nights still worry me and gambling has no appeal for me. I like to plan. I like to know. I like control. Right now, things are completely out of my control and I don’t like it.

Part of the struggle is finding jobs in Omaha for both Bryan and I that actually pertain to our degrees. It seems like there are writing jobs anywhere but Omaha. For awhile we talked about moving to find a job and it seemed like a real possibility that we would leave the state. I didn’t like the idea of this because my family is my support system and I don’t want to live far away from them. But then we decided to stick around, at least for another year, to get a better handle on my mental state. This is a relief. But it still doesn’t solve the problems of no work.

My childhood held a lot of uncertainty. We moved around a lot because of my parent’s missionary work and my father’s education. We were always in a new place and faced new problems. I never had control and maybe that is why I want control now. Leaving Ethiopia for the last time was difficult for me and I feel like it defined a lot of my life since then. I want to have stability in everything, but that can’t always happen.

I guess I have to let go of my desire for control and do my best with what I can within my control. I can fill out application after application. I can try and think of new and creative ways to write cover letters. These are things I can control and I need to let go of the things that I can’t.  However, if you know of anyone who needs soon to be unemployed master’s students who have degrees in English and Political Science, feel free to hit me up!

 

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