What I Miss & Don’t Miss About Arizona

Hello, blog world!

Initially, this post was supposed to be titled: “What I Will & Won’t Miss About Arizona” like, in future tense. Well, it turns out moving across the country is a very time-consuming thing, so I did not get a chance to write this blog before the move. Fortunately, now that I am here, I have a much clearer understanding of what I miss about Arizona. So, from Arizona to Boston, these are the things I miss the most, and the things I do not miss.

  1. Sunlight

Native Arizonans know little to nothing about daylight savings. I know, I know, everyone knows what it is, but unless they have lived somewhere that participates in saving daylight, they typically do not know what it is like to need to save daylight. For instance, I always knew that the rest of the country (and the world? I still don’t know much about it) had to change their clocks twice a year because the days become shorter in the winter and longer in the summer. However, I was unaware that the days were so short in Boston that I would start to crave that sunny weather I have had for 20 years in Arizona. Now I know why my boyfriend, a native Californian, has turned from a tan skin-tone to a light one in just one short year. I have lived here for 10 days, and I can only recall 2 days when the sun was out and about for the better part of the day. Every other day it has been cloudy, rainy, and dark outside after about 4-5 hours of “daylight”. This is a very strange thing for me, and I have learned that I am so accustomed to the sun, it is very difficult for me to be without it.

2. Warmth

Something that goes along with sunlight… warmth! Boston has very cold, sometimes very harsh winters. In Phoenix in 2015, the hottest temperature was 117 degrees on a summer day in August. I happened to be working outside that day, pushing carts and trying not to evaporate. This, though, is not the hottest day Phoenix has ever seen. When my mom was pregnant with my oldest brother, Lyle, in 1990, the temperature in Phoenix got up to a deadly 122 degrees. I guess you could say I am accustomed to the heat. In Boston, the wind is freezing and the nights are long, and I am assuming it is colder overall because of the lack of sunlight during the day. This has been an adjustment. You know those fuzzy socks that are always sold during the holidays? Well, my mother would buy those for me all the time when I lived in Arizona, and I would never wear them because my feet would always sweat profusely as a result. Now, I wear them every day in or out of the house. Warmth has escaped me. The upside, though, is that cuddling does not result in sweat and discomfort- in fact, it is an awesome way to keep warm with my loved one! ❤

3. Mexican Food

Here’s something all you east-coast people should understand about Mexican food: You can not find it this far from the Mexico border. Anything you think you have had that is “authentic”, it’s not. I may be white, but my grandfather owned a Mexican restaurant and my dad raised me in Mexican restaurants. Also, many of my friends growing up were (and still are) Hispanic or partially Hispanic. So, I got to eat authentic Mexican food in both restaurants and in my friends’ homes. Tamales, enchiladas, chilaquiles, and every other delicious Mexican dish you can think of. Also, Mexican candy. Mmm, I love those chili powder filled watermelon candies and Lucas… Granted, I was not fully immersed in this culture, but I sure do know what Mexican food is, and I am confident that the east coast does not have this delicious genre of food available in its’ original and unchanged form. If any west coast transplant who now lives in the east knows of a place, please let me know because I crave some indigestion.

4. Family, Friends, Familiarity

I have never, ever lived outside of Arizona. I have never lived further than one hour driving distance from my parents and my little sister. My friends and family have always been incredibly close, and now I am living 2,500 miles away from the people I have spent the most time with. I have spent significant amounts of time away from my family and friends, but moving across the country is a little more permanent than being away for three or four weeks, because it feels like the distance is impossible to cross. Being away from family is hard. There is no other way to put it. Friends, on the other hand, can be made anywhere you go, but since I am staying at home doing work and schoolwork, I have only met one girlfriend I really get along with and can hang out with. I miss my friends, but I will be making some here as soon as I start going out and doing things on my own, such as a job outside the house or a class or something. Familiarity, lastly, is also very hard to leave behind. I know the Arizona freeways. I know the streets there. I know where it’s safe to walk around, and where it’s not. I know where all of my favorite food places are, where my school is, where I can walk in a park and where I can hike… I have people in almost every corner of Arizona. I could drive to the west side, where my uncle lives, or south, to some friends in Tucson, or north, where I have some friends in Flagstaff. I can go almost anywhere in Arizona and feel welcome. I can go to Casa Grande or Florence and see someone I know every single time. Here in Boston, there are exactly 6 people whom I know, and three of them I only know as acquaintances. I am learning the city, but I spent 20 years in Arizona learning about the culture, the people, the places… all of it is familiar to me. It is my state. I am no longer in my state.

5. Other…

When struggling to come up with a fifth thing that I miss about Arizona, I wanted to talk about the culture, like what people wear, but some other things came to mind as well so I wanted to include them. I miss the landscape. The cacti, the dirt, the open, sunny skies. I miss the gun-toting people and the laid back atmosphere. I miss driving and seeing the sunset. I miss the tattoo culture, and I miss people wearing colors. Boston is a beautiful city, but the people wear all neutral colors that match the gloomy sky. There are many small things I miss, but there are also many things I do not miss at all.

Now, this post does not do Boston much justice. I will be writing another post about the things I absolutely love about Boston, but for now, I have to focus on Arizona and the things I do and do not miss. So, here are the things about Arizona that I am happy to live without…

1. The HEAT

Although the cold is terrifying for a native Arizonan, the sweltering heat in the summer is so difficult. In fact, I spent this summer working outside part-time, and it is definitely life-threatening to work outside in weather that is notorious for causing heat stroke and dehydration and overall prevention of outdoor fun-having. The heat is horrible. On top of the working outside, I also did not have working air conditioning in my car, so I spent the summer sweating and dying while driving an hour to visit family or driving 20 minutes to work or school or wherever I wanted to go. People always say, “Oh it’s a dry heat! It’s not that bad.” You know who says that? People who go from their air-conditioned houses, to their air-conditioned cars, to their air-conditioned jobs, and back again. They spend very little time outside, and very little time actually experiencing the heat. So, sorry guys, until you have felt the burn of the Arizona summer while working outside or driving in a car with leather seats, you won’t understand why this is something I do not have a fondness for.

2. Poor education

This is something that many Arizonans might be offended by, but you know what? I have a say in this, because I have spent 16 years in Arizona schools. My elementary school teachers ordered me to “not work too fast” on my schoolwork (because I finished it quickly) and I was even told once that I “couldn’t be good at everything”. I was a victim of racial bullying and discrimination, and I hated school so much I graduated a year early to get out of it. Curriculum was way too slow, and had to fall further behind to help out the children who did not understand, which also meant the kids at a higher level would not only have to wait to learn more, they had to tutor their peers who did not understand the material. Although that is a valuable experience, it does not make up for a student not being able to move forward in their education because other students were below the current grade level. I was cheated out of a good education because of where I lived. Now, as an English major, I am constantly being asked why I never read any of the classics, and as a 20-year old high school and almost college graduate, I never learned so many of the things that my peers know, and often times myself and other students were not given the chance to learn and grow above the average expectations for us. This poor education system, often times, causes issues with the young population, causing them to make poor choices because they don’t feel like they are smart enough or that they have options when it comes to their futures. With those poor choices, neighborhoods change, including the neighborhood I just moved out of…

3. Lack of Safety

Now, I am not saying that ALL of Arizona is unsafe, because that is absolutely not the case. Where I lived, in Mesa, it was definitely unsafe. Drug dealers were my neighbors, and there were two gun incidents in my apartment complex alone in the span of a year. I’ve heard gunshots, been followed home, and made many sprints from my front door to my car or vice versa at night time when I was worried about being mugged. I NEVER could walk at night alone, and I was consistently worried about my house getting broken into or something like that. In Boston, I can go out alone at any time and not worry about not being safe. I love that. It is so freeing and makes me so much more confident about getting out and experiencing life. I feel super safe here in Boston, and that is something I value highly. I do not miss the uncertainty of my safety in Arizona.

4. Idiotic Drivers

Okay, let me just start with my frustration over the requirements that are set up for kids and adults who want a license. Where I took my driving test, it was so easy to pass and receive a license. My driving instructor, during my one-on-one driving exam/practice had us go through the drive thru at Sonic to grab a bite to eat. What?  On another note, licenses in Arizona do not expire for 50 years. 50 years. Are they serious? I know people hate the DMV, but that is no excuse to allow incompetent people to obtain a driver’s license and keep it for 50 years, regardless of the possible mental illnesses or other things they might develop during that time that could inhibit their driving. I believe it is for this reason that the roads in Arizona are so full of idiotic drivers- people are allowed to drive at a super young age, with minimal requirements, and then remain unchecked for 50 years. Granted, they have to go in and get a new photo taken every 12 years, but that has nothing to do with driving skills or a lack thereof. I guess the budget just isn’t big enough to make sure people are not driving like maniacs five years after their license is printed. Or even 10 years. Or 15. Maybe they weighed the costs against the amount of money spent on ticketing, cleaning up after accidents, and hit and run or drunk driving murders that the courts and the state have to deal with. Who knows? Either way, Arizona is lacking in this area and it makes me feel super unsafe on the road. In fact, for the past 6 months, I was missing my passenger rear view mirror and I still never got close to being in an accident because I always checked my blind spots and drove carefully.

5. Long Distance Relationship

Let me just start by saying, if you have EVER been in a long distance relationship, you know that time zones, months apart, lack of kisses and hugs, and overall stress from being away from your love is one of the most difficult things you could ever experience. Arizona kept me away from my Dylan, and that was so hard. We spent nine months apart, and I could not move to Boston sooner because Arizona State University only offers most of my degree’s core classes in-person. Nine months, regardless of how many times or for how long you visit a person, is THE MOST difficult thing you could ever do in a relationship. For people who are meant to be together, though, it is one of the most rewarding experiences. People who can not spend one minute apart from the love of their life without fighting are just not patient enough, and the Bible describes patience as the first attribute of real love. For 9 months, I had to go to work, school, the grocery store, to eat food, to do everything knowing I wanted to be somewhere else. I was displaced and felt like I was torn in half for 9 entire months. I spent many hours on the phone and on Skype with my boyfriend, and together we pulled through and thrived through 9 months of long distance. But, if any of you have experienced this, you will know that only the strongest, most genuine relationships can love each other from 2,500 miles away because it is necessary to wait. With that being said, I could NEVER choose to be away from my love- the only reason we had to be apart was because we met while I was still committed to my program at ASU, which I will now be completing online for the next five months. It all has worked out beautifully, but wow were those 9 months difficult.

So, folks, those are the 10 things I miss and do not miss most about Arizona. I will write another post about the things I absolutely love about Boston, and the things I have grown to love since being here. Thank you all for reading and have a blessed Christmas!

 

Elise

 

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Facebook’s Multiple Personalities

So, today I wanted to write about something that has plagued me for the last 7 years of my life. Facebook, the social media tool, has been a constant for me ever since I was in the 8th grade. I have posted thousands of photos, deleted photos, posted and deleted comments and posts, played games, messaged people, looked up pages, and done tons of other things I would not have been able to do were it not for this specific social media tool.

I have also become so overwhelmed by Facebook and all the people and constant flow of information that I have deactivated it, sometimes for months at a time, sometimes for almost a year. This has occurred multiple times- me deactivating and reactivating my Facebook account, so I just wanted to analyze myself, my actions, and the thing that causes my reactions: Facebook.

Firstly, I am both a supporter for and a protester against social media. Let me be clear. I enjoy Facebook for it’s various useful purposes, but I also despise it for all the harm it causes in my life and the lives of people around me.

Firstly, I will list all of the things I hate about Facebook, then to lighten it up, I will list the benefits I have discovered over the years.

Horrible things about Facebook:

a) It breeds insecurity.

Facebook has caused me so much grief in the past 7 years of me being an on and off user, because I have felt the need to post words, pictures, or events in order to feel confident and part of something. I have been pressured to post selfies and felt the necessity to share with the world everything I am doing, all the while reading about all the great things other people are doing or witnessing all the beauty in other people’s lives. I have seen ONE side of the two-sided story that is each individual’s life. Their life on Facebook and in public is one side, and their life at home and the true nature of their heart is another side. I have spent hours crying over something someone posted that I thought was about me or being frustrated about someone not being my friend on Facebook. I have spent time arguing pointlessly on Facebook, telling people they were wrong or defending friends against ignorant bullies. I have gone through thousands of pictures and compared myself to thousands of people (none of which is healthy, by the way). Facebook became a tool for me to look at my life through the lens of everyone else’s success, and this is a problem. It bred insecurity in me, and kept me from being the person I wanted to be because I was so focused on selfies and cute, funny status updates.

b) It creates an environment of callous behavior

People do NOT care what they say or who they hurt via Facebook. It takes away any accountability. Most of the things people say on Facebook to someone they would never say to their face, and that is a problem. Communication should be top priority for people, and using Facebook to put people down is not the right way to act on thoughts or feelings towards someone. Also, people are crude in their comments about your appearances. They will say disrespectful things about the way you look, like a person would catcall you on the streets. This is not okay, either. It is the same slander that any person who was bullied would deal with. Sexual harassment is so much easier over Facebook, which is unacceptable.

c) Facebook turns a happy life into a commodity

Let’s face it, nobody posts negative statuses about how their lives are not going well, or pictures of headstones with a family member’s name on it, or anything else that would “bring down” their fellow “friends” on Facebook. If they do, they are usually met with the passive-aggressive unfollow button, which allows their friends to stop seeing them post on Facebook. People do not want to see bad news, and instead of coming together and helping the person cheer up, they chastise them for being negative. I, myself have a hard time seeing negative posts on Facebook. The way I see it, though, if you cannot read a negative post from someone and respond to it positively, you probably are either not a true friend to them or you are dealing with your own problems and cannot handle their issues, in which case you should remove yourself from Facebook, because they are reaching out for help. OR you can delete them from your page, because you probably have a couple hundred acquaintances on your account anyway (don’t we all?) Everyone showcases their good things in life, and everyone who may not be entirely happy at the moment gets it all shoved in their face, while the rest of everyone’s life is hidden away, all their sorrows and fears and pains. If it is so hard to share the bad stuff, why is it so easy to share the good?

d) Facebook is a time-waster

Wow, how many hours have I spent on Facebook? Too many to count. This would be fine, if it were productive. But all that happens when a person scrolls through Facebook all day is that their mind is overloaded with information, and when they try to relax, their subconscious keeps them from doing so because their brain is trying to process all the things they took in that day. Also, their eyes might be a little sore from staring at a screen for so long. It is damaging physically, mentally, and emotionally to be stuck on Facebook all day, watching videos and reading articles and hearing about EVERYONE’s lives. In fact, you probably would not spend 5 minutes calling 99% of these people to catch up, so why look at their profiles? Why be their friends? My friends list needs to be tidied up a little bit.

e) Facebook devalues relationships

Okay, firstly I will start by saying that Facebook encourages people to connect or hook up with people from their past, which may perhaps damage current relationships. People turn to Facebook out of boredom, not out of a desire for connection, and this causes everyone to see people as more of just words on a screen rather than actual people dealing with actual life struggles and situations. Instead of a meaningful phone call or even a text, a message is sent or a wall post is made, or a “happy birthday” is thrown carelessly onto another person’s profile. You are unable to connect with someone over Facebook as well as you would be able to if you met with them face to face, with no electronics around. This is why people get along with and know their coworkers so deeply. During down time, cell phones are not allowed so they talk about real things, not the latest presidential candidate blunder and the funniest meme. People connect over deep things, not surface level media garbage. Facebook devalues family, friend, and acquaintances relationships.

f) Facebook encourages narcissism

This one is a difficult topic, because most people from my generation, the millennials, love posting selfies. My beef with this aspect of Facebook is that everyone BRAGS openly about their lives, and there is no humility on Facebook when it comes to achievements or life goals. When someone is getting married, the photos are EVERYWHERE. It seems like it is no longer so sacred, so special and so personal because the whole world is becoming a part of the engagement, the wedding, and then eventually the marriage. The sharing seems innocent, but really what are you doing by posting every picture of your engagement, wedding, and life? You are giving up a piece of it. Sharing it with family is great, but does every acquaintance need to know every step, every part of your wedding celebration? Do they deserve to be a part of that, when they were not invited? I feel like a few pictures are great, but it is difficult to see everyone posting constant updates and forcing all of their information out into the world when they should just sit back and enjoy it. How many selfies can a person post in one day? How many likes does one person want or need before they feel fulfilled? It beats me.

Soooo, now that my audience either really hates me or is starting to understand why Facebook is harmful, I will tell you that there is a positive side to this post! Facebook has some really good qualities, which I will go through.

a) Facebook allows you to stay in contact with friends and family you may not get to see or hear from every day.

b) Facebook educates the public about current events that many people would not read up on otherwise

c) Facebook serves as entertainment, providing videos and pictures and other things that may help keep a smile on your face, or work as a distraction from a boring schedule, or allow you to check up on things and people with the click of a button!

With all that being said, I think it is clear that the negative far outweighs the positive, but, being a hypocrite of sorts, I am going to keep my Facebook alive for now so that I can share my blog posts with people. This is my major benefit from Facebook- I get to know that my writing is actually being read and hear people’s feedback on my thoughts and concerns and feelings. Facebook has multiple personalities, and each person should decide to use or not to use Facebook based on what it is to them- beneficial or a hindrance? Which one is Facebook to you?

Thanks always for reading, catch you guys soon. I have a laundry list of things to write about.

Love,

Elise

2016 (Plus December 2015)

Hey friends, family, and coworkers. Most of you live in Arizona, so this is for all of you. I am writing this blog post both to share my excitement of the adventures I will be having in 2016 as well as to be saying farewell to my Phoenix friends.

Firstly, I will come right out and say the major thing that is happening this December, for 2016. I am moving to Boston, Massachusetts, to live and be with my boyfriend, Dylan, who I have had the pleasure of falling in love with for the last 6 months. Know that this is not a split-second decision. I prayed to God at the beginning of this year, 2015, to take me out of Arizona. When I met Dylan, on March 20th, 2015, I knew that moving to Boston was going to be a possibility if the two of us fell in love. Yes, I knew it was a possible outcome even before I knew I loved him with all of my heart- that is just what you get with someone who is as analytical as me! God is answering that prayer to leave this place, and I will be happily vacating my lovely apartment and starting a life with the most amazing man on the planet (in case anyone needs clarification, NO, we are not getting married before I move there) in December, 2015.

So, from the beginning, this is my plan for December 2015 and all of 2016. Firstly, this is my last year of college. My final semester, which will be this upcoming Spring, is going to be done fully and completely online. That is why I am able to move to Boston before my graduation month of May, 2016. I will be moving to Boston in December instead of May because in any long distance relationship, if you CAN be with the person, you SHOULD be with them. I wish I could have moved to Boston months ago, but I believe the long distance portion of my relationship with Dylan is and will always be a blessing and a gift; it has made us strong, resilient, and we love each other more deeply because of this distance. I digress; December 12th, 2015, I will be officially leaving Arizona and will no longer be a resident of Arizona. As of December 1st, I will be moved out of my apartment and into a temporary living place for the last 2 weeks of the school semester (probably my parents’ house). This blog is partially to tell all my friends and family, and partially to give you all time if you want to get together before then. Two months, and I will be saying farewell to all things Arizona. Two months, and I will be starting the best adventure of my life in Boston with the man of my dreams.

After I move to Boston, I will be (hopefully) working right away and finishing up my degree, which I will come home for the graduation ceremony. Next summer, I am planning a trip to South Africa (with my boyfriend) as a volunteer trip through IVHQ (International Volunteer Headquarters), teaching kids how to surf and spending time overseas for about 4 weeks. Then, I will be hopefully pursuing a National Interpreting Certification, which will allow me to become a Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf, and I will start my career in that.

Obviously, all of this is fluid, which means any detail could be shifted or changed or dates for certain things could move. But I know, for a fact, that my heart is in Boston with my Dylan, (YES, he has the same name as my brother) and moving there is already set. My ticket is paid for, my belongings are in order, and I am ready to take the biggest leap of faith and most exciting trip of my entire life.

With all that, thank you to everyone in Arizona who has helped me, supported me, encouraged me, loved me, and been a friend to me. You all know who you are and you all know exactly what you have done in my life and for me. This is my invitation to message me on Facebook, text me, email me, do all of that in order to spend some time with me before I leave. Thanks again and I love each and every one of you.

To Boston I go!

Elise

Dear Future Employers, This Is Why I Have W’s On My Transcripts

Dear future employers, this is why I have so many W’s on my transcripts.

If you do not know what a W is, that’s great! I will explain it to you. If you do know what it is, that’s also great! You understand the terminology that colleges use to refer to a student who has withdrawn from a class after the (usually one week long) add/drop period.

I have some reasons for these W’s. It is not because I am lazy. It is not because I was failing the class. It is not because I cannot handle a large course load.

For starters, I would just like to say that currently I have a 3.75 GPA, and I am in my final year of college at Arizona State University, so I have one more year if I want to get my GPA up to Summa Cum Laude status, which is 3.8 or above. I have been a consistent student, going to ASU for 3 years, since the age of 17. At this point, all of my general studies are completed, and now I am just taking upper division English electives to fulfill my upper division requirements.

You could say that I am a good student. That is why I would like to explain the oh-so-dreaded W looming on my transcripts waiting for someone to say, “Why did you withdraw from so many classes in your time at Arizona State?” Instead of waiting for that question to come, I have decided to answer it in the form of this blog post, because it will help me feel better about the situation and hopefully help people understand that W’s aren’t all that bad.

  1. There was NO description of the course on the course catalog
    This drives me crazy! Sometimes, when universities put classes up on a course catalog, they write a succinct, not descriptive paragraph about what you will be doing in the course. I understand they have thousands of classes to describe, but students are paying for this kind of thing when they pay their tuition! Sometimes you do not really get a feel for what the course is about til after the one-week mark, so you choose to withdraw from it, leaving a big fat W on your records. This is not something to panic over, and it shouldn’t be a big problem. You did not know what you were getting into, that’s all.
  2. The class turned out to be CRAZY
    So, I have a specific example for this one. I had a really busy schedule a few semesters ago, and I was trying to fit as many iCourses (online classes for on-campus students) into my schedule as possible. I chose to fulfill my science requirement through a Geology course, and I chose to do it online. Unfortunately, the professor was not the one actually facilitating the online course, it was a Teacher’s Aide (TA). I was having difficulty with the material, so I emailed the TA for help. She/he basically told me I needed to figure it out on my own. Well, TA, the purpose of a teacher is to help the student learn the material, so I think I’m gonna have to W your class. Later on, I took Astronomy, in person, and totally aced it. Sometimes the class turns out to be unrealistically difficult. Anything 100 level should not be causing you to lose sleep at night.. hence, the W.
  3. You have a really horrible thing happen, or just LIFE happens
    So, this has been the cause for some of my withdrawals in the past. It is NEVER a problem to give yourself a break sometimes. I have had 2 pretty rough breakups since I started college 3 years ago, and I would be lying if I said that they did not make me have to take a couple steps back and work on my own mental health for a few months. This caused me to release some of my more time-sucking courses, which were never REQUIRED courses, just electives that I chose which happened to be rather difficult.
    Also, I might add, that the important thing is I did not DROP OUT completely, although at times it was tempting. I kept on working hard and busting my booty, and got through 2 and a half years so far (I have one more year; I will be graduating one semester early, woo!)
    Another thing I would like to say about this one: dropping those courses was the best decision I ever made, because 3 W’s on my transcripts look ALOT better than 3 C’s or 3 B-‘s. I would say that because I withdrew from these classes, I was taking care of my GPA. Quality over quantity. And, to counter those semesters when I only took a few classes, I have semesters like the one when I took TWENTY credit hours, or this semester, I am taking 18 credit hours, applying for a 10 hour a week internship, and starting to work full time in about a month. Yeah, for every tough semester, I have one that I totally kicked butt in.

Those are my reasons. Everyone has different reasons, and I would never suggest you withdraw from a course after 12 weeks of taking the class and slacking off. Failing a course is never a good reason to withdraw from it, because you should not have allowed yourself to fail in the first place! All of the courses I have withdrawn from have been within the first 2 or 3 weeks of class, and I just realized they were either not for me, or I took on too much at once. Either way, do not be afraid to have a W on your transcripts. It shows that you know your limits and are able to give yourself the proper amount of coursework while still doing an excellent job.

So when I do the tallies, I have 7 W’s. But, I have 2 A+’s, 14 A’s, 4 A-‘s, a B+, 3 B’s, and my LOWEST grade, one B-. (Central Arizona College grades don’t show up, thankfully, I got one C there and that’s a whole other story).

Pretty much, I have 7 W’s, but 24 good grades and an AWESOME GPA to make up for it.

Thank you all for reading, and I hope you understand W’s a little bit more!

Elise

Hindsight is 20/20, Right? Things I Wish…

Hey blog-readers. You all are a rare bunch and I want to start off this post by thanking you for reading my writing. Seriously, just the fact that you click on my blog website and take time out of your day to read my rants or thoughts is so amazing and I am very grateful for all of you.

This topic is going to be super deep, and will be very emotional for me to discuss, but in the end I think it will be really beneficial for me, so thank you all in advance for your support.

Anyway, today I wanted to write about things I wish I could’ve done differently in my life (but things that have taught me some really valuable lessons, so I am also glad I have experienced them). I’ll write these mostly in chronological order, with explanations.

  1. I wish I had a passion in elementary school.

    I never did anything in elementary school that I was really proud of. I was really good at academics, but I never fit in with sports, music, or any other hobby that most people get attached to when they’re really young. I played soccer for a short time, but I never did anything in a group setting that I really fell in love with. I wish I had done dance classes, or art, or something else. Knowing what I know now about how kids learn way faster than adults, I wish I would have done something that made me part of a group. I even felt like an outcast at church, not really having any close friends or anything. I was scared to go to the middle school group because I didn’t known anybody and they were all really close. I know, that’s hard to believe coming from outgoing, friendly Elise, right? Well, it’s true. I never felt like I was part of anything in elementary school. I also struggled with (what I know now) as depression, so I was a little kid trying to live life yet I couldn’t sleep at night because I was dealing with something not all kids deal with.

  2. I wish I didn’t rush through high school.

    This one is a little bit contradictory. Many of you know I graduated high school when I was only 16 years old, which is totally awesome and something that everyone responds to positively (no, I was not home schooled). Unfortunately, I went to a high school that did not have sports/clubs/organizations readily available for me to join, and I had the dance company, but I pretty much rushed through high school and didn’t get to graduate with my own class and share the experience of going to college with my classmates for the first year. I took college and high school classes online while I was still in high school, AND I worked at Chick-fil-A. I busted my butt and got it over with, only to go to college and have no idea what I wanted to do. I was in such a rush to grow up that I didn’t stop to be ME and go for the things I wanted to go for.

  3. I wish I picked a program/major that I LOVED.

    I’m gonna be real with you guys, I was a dance major for my first semester of school. I thought I loved dance, and I still do, and I always will, but I was MISERABLE. I felt like a major outcast, and I was depressed and upset every single day of being a dance major. Of course, I did not know what else to do, so I just took classes that I knew would go towards an English degree, and figured my fate would be teaching in a classroom for the rest of my life, being underpaid and never having time to myself. I took a teaching class that I did not love, and realized I didn’t want to be a teacher. Then I found SIGN LANGUAGE. I took 4 semesters of that and now I know it’s what I want to do with my life. It’s sad to say this, but now that I know what I want to do, I feel like I have wasted 4 years going to Arizona State where I got into $30,000 worth of debt even with a FULL tuition scholarship. I know that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I just feel like I’ve wasted so much time here when I could have been kicking butt somewhere else.

  4. I wish I embraced myself sooner.

    In elementary school and middle school, I wore super baggy clothes and was very affected by what people thought of me. A boy (whose name I remember but will not post because of privacy purposes) told me I had hairy legs in FIFTH grade. FIFTH GRADE! I was 11 years old, and I started shaving my legs because of this jerk. I was bullied in elementary school for BEING WHITE, BEING SKINNY, and BEING SMART. Last time I checked, none of those things were negative. All arbitrary. In fact, being smart is a positive thing. In middle school, I was always jealous of the girls with nice hair and clothes, and I had a pimply face and braces, but you know what? A sweet, genuine boy had a crush on me, for ME, and I wouldn’t give him the time of day. Unfortunately, that boy passed away in 9th grade long after we stopped talking, and I never got a chance to tell him how much I appreciated his genuine and caring heart. In high school, I was over the top and crazy. I wore loud colors, died my hair, and went to concerts. I wanted attention from boys, all the time, but I was very conservative and never had a serious boyfriend til I graduated high school. I wish I had been more confident, I wish I had been 100% me, all of the time. I wrestled with myself so often, and I was in turmoil for all of high school. I cried a lot, I spent a lot of time alone, I did crazy things just to feel alive. But none of it was wonderful, just all passing time.

  5. I wish I wasn’t such a people pleaser.

    I am now 20 years old, and I am JUST NOW realizing how special and precious I am. I am a valuable human being and I never should put myself in a situation where people put me down, patronize me, or make me feel inferior. I was going to join the military because my dad wanted me to. I went to college for my parents. I was going to drop out of school because of a bad influence boyfriend. I have changed little and big parts of me to please people or to fit in, and that is never okay. One big proud moment in life for me was when I cut off ALL my hair into a pixie cut. My boyfriend at the time literally STOPPED calling me beautiful and saying I love you. My hair was that important to him, and cutting it off showed me what a superficial jerk he was. Go me. 2 years later, I am still learning. I just have to be patient with myself.

  6.  I wish I didn’t lose my virginity to a person who didn’t love me.

    If you’re uncomfortable reading about this, you should just go now. I don’t want you reading about something this deep and personal about me if you are going to make any kind of judgmental remarks or think of me differently. Basically, this person lied to me, making me believe he wanted to wait until marriage for physical intimacy. Then, when I fell head over heels for him, he gave me an ultimatum and said “if you love me, you’ll sleep with me”. I wish I had been stronger. I wish I hadn’t let him take advantage of me. I wish I ran as far away as I could, right when he said that. But I didn’t, and now I am learning what it is like to be in a healthy physical relationship where the person does not force you (WHICH IS RAPE, BY THE WAY, whether physically forcing you or emotionally manipulating you) to do physical things if you do not want to. Many, MANY of my issues stem from the way this man treated me.

  7. I wish I hadn’t let him (or anyone) take advantage of my forgiveness.

    Seriously, I think the nice people in the world have some of the saddest things happen to them, and I have had some horrible luck with my love life and the way men have treated me. I have been cheated on, in one of the most brutal forms of betrayal and hurt. I have been lied to and messed with and manipulated. I have had men almost force me physically (when you say NO, it means NO) to do things I didn’t want to do, and I forgave all of those things and stayed in the relationship. I might have thought it was selfless, and part of it was me wanting to forgive, but part of me just didn’t want to let go.

  8. I wish I saw my beauty a little bit sooner.

    Just a quick shout out to my incredible boyfriend who has loved me so sweetly over the past 5 months- we have only been together for half a year but he has already shown me much more love than any person has ever shown me. I cry when I think about this, because it is so humbling to have a person on this earth choose ME to love. I am confident and I know I am beautiful, with or without makeup, with or without glasses, cute clothes or not, from head to toe, but I didn’t always see that. I always thought my feet were big and I always worried about my thighs jiggling, (which is ridiculous, I weigh 125 pounds) or my freckles, or my acne, or just my scars being too ugly. I have learned that every person is unique and there is NOT ONE standard for beauty that covers all. Beauty is being yourself, it is not based on outer appearance. The bible even says, man looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Now, when I look in the mirror, I am confident because I am ME, not because my hair is nice or my makeup looks good. Those things are fun, but not central to being beautiful. Having a kind and tender heart is beautiful. Being genuine is beautiful, not having perfect skin or hair or nails or a gorgeous body.

  9. I wish I hadn’t argued so much about religion.

    In high school, I feel like I burned a lot of bridges by arguing about beliefs with people. I realized shortly after high school that all of those arguments are nonsensical and very, very immature, and I wish I had just respectfully disagreed with people and hadn’t started a war via text messages or Facebook comments. Being the hands and feet of Jesus means you hold yourself to a high standard of love and caring for people, and I wasn’t the best at that. I was a huge hypocrite, and sometimes I catch myself still being a hypocrite in many ways. That is why I have separated myself almost completely from organized religion. I have a relationship with God, and that is all that matters. Going to church doesn’t save you, people.

  10. I wish I would stop limiting myself.

    This is something I have gotten better at, for sure. But I still feel like I hold myself back from doing/saying/thinking about many things, and I just want to GO for it and stop feeling like I don’t have enough time. I am 20 years old, and I am going to live for at least 60 more years, so I need to stop living so carefully and safely and start taking initiative and going for things that I want, which is part of the reason why I’m moving to Boston (other than the man who is waiting for me there, I can’t wait to be with him all of the time <3) I digress, I want to be all that I can be without feeling like I need to DO more. I want to do what I want to do, not what I feel obligated to do. 2016 is going to be my year. I am moving to Boston, graduating college, and I am going to finally do something that makes me happy, for ME.

You all are so amazing, thank you for reading my endless blog posts and supporting me through this crazy journey called life. I hope my little wishes got you thinking about things you’d like to do in the future to break the cycle or to make your life a little bit happier, cause that’s what we’re here for, right?

Love,

Elise

20 Things I Have Learned in My Last Year of Being a Teenager

One year ago, on my 19th birthday, I made a post listing the 19 things I had learned in my first year of being an adult. I wanted to do it again, so this year, I posted 20 things I have learned in my second year of being an adult, or my last year of being a teenager. I have included personal experiences in each post.

1. Family members are the most important people in life and you should do all that you can to defend their honor and build them up, encourage them, and make them feel loved at all times.

I have had some really hard times with family members in the past couple of years, and I’m sad to say that a lot of the conflict was because of my own stubbornness or being unforgiving. After going through one of the hardest things in my life, which happened to be a breakup, I realized just how much my family cares for me and loves me. Also, I realized I have said some hurtful things to or about family that did not build them up or encourage them, and that is the opposite of what a good sister, daughter, niece, and granddaughter should do. This is my big “I love you” and “I’m sorry” to my family, who has supported me through thick and thin and has been my solid foundation for my entire life.

2. Never keep a secret for someone, especially when that secret involves an action that hurt you deeply. If something happens to you that is not okay, tell someone. Seek help.

I know what you’re thinking- and no, I am not a victim of sexual assault. I have been, however, the victim of manipulative people who want to protect themselves at all costs. I have been cheated on, lied to, and told my feelings and emotions and struggles were not important. I have been told my depression is not real and that I could not possibly be experiencing it because I had a “good life”.

Once I finally let go of this situation, the secret came out, and I realized I was putting myself through unnecessary torture. People encouraged me and fought by my side, and I learned that keeping a secret about someone abusing you is NOT OKAY.

3. Back up all pictures, videos, and media that you deem valuable. Do it often, and keep them safe. Memories are so valuable, and pictures are such a wonderful way of documenting those memories for later reflection and nostalgia.

Recently, my phone stopped working. I promptly brought it to a Verizon store and had a friend try doing a factory reset, only to find out the actual problem was the battery and I had lost all my pictures for no reason. I learned that day to stick to my guns- I had a suspicion that the battery was the issue, and I learned that pictures are precious, valuable, and priceless, and I NEED to back up all my devices 100%. Verizon Cloud kept some pictures, but they were pictures that I had DELETED from my phone and did not want. Technology is great, but it is not completely reliable and you have got to be responsible and protect your pictures or you will regret it.

4. Ladies, have the highest standards. The minute you feel like you’re settling, get out of the relationship. There are at least 5 men out there who you would go with perfectly; don’t settle with someone else’s idea of perfect, because you will NOT be happy.

I learned not to stay with someone solely for the reason that I am in love with them. If you don’t click with someone, stop trying to make it work. Relationships take work and effort, but they do not make you feel exhausted and spent and done with life. They are not meant to make you feel like crap, they are meant to edify you and build you up and make you happy. Do not settle for someone who makes you any less than happy, and do not be someone that another person settles for. Be equal in your relationships. If you are in a healthy relationship, you will make each other better, not worse. Be mindful of that.

5. Forgiveness benefits you more than the person who committed the crime. Practice forgiveness, no matter how horrible the transgression. Forgive, but DON’T let people take advantage of your forgiveness, and do not spend your time around toxic people. Forgiving someone does not give them license to treat you like garbage.

Recently I made the mistake of forgiving someone and not leaving the situation. I thought total forgiveness was forgiving AND forgetting. I believe you are worse off if you forget. History repeats itself that way.  Remember the experiences that have caused you heartache or pain, but do not dwell on them and let them control you or your present happiness in any way. As Rafiki the monkey says in Lion King, “It doesn’t mattah, it’s in da past!”

6. Never envy someone for having something you do not have. Chances are, you have something they don’t have. Admire people for their differences, instead of distancing yourself from others because you are worried they are better or more well liked than you.

This is more of a general statement than a specific experience. Girls especially, if we just stopped judging one another and scrutinizing every other woman’s body and behavior, we might be able to have really close, awesome friendships with those women. Girls are supposed to support each other, not turn on one another because she has better hair or a perfect-looking family or relationship.

7. Do not give someone life advice unless they ask for it. If they do ask for it, be sure to disclaim your advice by saying they have to make their own decisions and this is simply your personal opinion.

My beautiful, wonderful friend just made an incredible life decision, ON HER OWN! She asked for help and for encouragement, but my advice did not get her where she is. This “life-advice” thing is more geared towards people who have seen fit to give me life advice when I did not want it (I am quite independent). It has caused many of my friendships to be strained or even ruined, and it was as simple as them letting me figure things out on my own. It goes both ways, too. I have given advice when it was not needed or wanted, and it has caused issues. Basically, don’t tell people what they want to hear, but ONLY speak when they ask you to or if they’re in a dangerous position. Be smart and tactful.

8. Trust yourself. Trust your gut feelings. You know yourself better than anyone else on this planet.

Oh if I had a nickel for every time I felt off about something and did not do anything about it. There are always consequences for not trusting yourself. It can be as small as “Don’t purchase those shoes Elise, they don’t fit you comfortably” or “I don’t want to get a teaching certificate.” Either way, trust what you feel is right, and if it turns out to be wrong, you still have plenty of time to learn from it and try something else.

9. STOP being scared! If you have an opportunity to change something you are not happy with, GO FOR IT! If you want to do something but you’re scared of what people will think, that is the BEST reason to do it. You will realize that people’s opinions come in second after your own happiness.

I am moving to Boston. I am getting an English degree instead of an Engineering degree. I am finishing school early and I am going to pursue what I want to do and I do not care about what anyone thinks about it. If I want to wear overalls, I am going to wear overalls, regardless of how many people look at me funny. Not everything I say or do is 100% acceptable to everyone else, but that’s why I am ME and nobody else gets to be Elise Katherine Freeland.

10. Call people out on their BS. If you see something that’s not right, say something. It doesn’t matter if people decide to change based on you calling them out, you should feel comfortable speaking up if someone is being a jerk. Who knows, it may turn out to be a great learning experience for both people.

Recently, a friend said something that was super condescending and inappropriate. I called her out on it, and she explained herself. No harm, no foul. Now she knows my stance on the topic and might be a little more careful with repeating that same thing in the future. If she doesn’t, that’s okay. At least I am not stewing over it and not doing anything about it.

11. Do everything you can to make it to big events like weddings and birthdays. People may not remember if you do make it, but they certainly will remember if you don’t make it.

I have been to 3 weddings in the past year, and there were a few birthdays and things I made it to, but I definitely have missed some important occasions in the past, and I know I am much better off going to a wedding or birthday party and facing social anxiety rather than staying at home and regretting my decision to not go.

12. Cherish your pets, and take good care of them. They are loyal creatures and you never know when they will pass.

My baby boy, Sweet Pea, died about a month ago. My heart was broken, because he was the most loyal, loving dog in the whole world. Unfortunately, towards the end we were a little more negligent of him, because he smelled like poop all the time and wasn’t very playful. I loved that dog a whole lot, and I wish I could’ve been better to him near the end of his little Yorkie life. Lesson learned for the next pet, though. RIP Sweet Pea! ❤

13. Never say never. Don’t limit yourself by saying “I’ll never be this” or “I’ll never do that” or “That’s impossible”. Be willing to try new things, willing to strive for more, willing to fail- failure is a huge step on the road to success, and you ‘never’ know what you’re going to love in the future!

I used to say I would never like alcohol, but I tried some wine that I enjoyed a couple weeks ago! Also, I have hated seafood my whole life, but I recently tried fried calamari and can now say that I am a fan. Don’t rule things out, guys. If you do that with little things, you’ll do it with big things like jobs or school. I have been telling myself, “I’ll never get a freelance writing job”, but I don’t know that for sure. If I am not positive about it and if I do not keep an open mind, I will never know!

14. To those of you who struggle with anxiety and panic disorder like I do, do NOT blame yourself. These are illnesses that can be dealt with or coped with. Seek help, and find a trustworthy friend to talk to, sometimes getting to know the root of the problem or the cause of the attack is enough to give you peace and help you work through it. Sometimes there is no reason for panic, and that is part of panic disorder. YOU are not the reason for your panic or anxiety. Do not let people tell you it’s all in your head; it is a real affliction that many people deal with.

I never shared with my Dad that I have anxiety attacks until about 2 months ago when I started crying for no reason at the breakfast table in Hawaii. He asked me what was wrong, and I shared with him that I had anxiety. He told me he started having panic attacks in high school, and even would pass out because of his fear of “impending doom” that anxiety and panic attacks cause. I told him that I have experienced really similar things, and now I know that something I have dealt with my whole life is not my fault- it is an illness that I have to struggle through and fight every single day. I never thought my dad would have understood or had similar feelings, but now we can connect and I can talk to him about it when I am feeling a panic attack or anxiety attack coming on. Also, my sweet, wonderful boyfriend is very supportive and always is there to help calm me or soothe my worries during a panic attack. I am surrounded by awesome people who do not tell me my problems are “all in my head”.

15. Write reviews, write emails, call people, do SOMETHING about good or bad customer service. Best case scenario, you receive GREAT customer service, and you leave an awesome review. Worst case scenario, you receive horrible customer service. In the worst case, usually if you contact someone higher up in the company, they are more than eager to make amends. Don’t be afraid to say something, if you are paying money for something, you shouldn’t leave feeling mistreated. I think it goes without saying, but be as POLITE as you can be to customer service professionals- sometimes this means the difference between good and bad service.

As a customer service employee, it is difficult to see that people only leave comments when they have complaints. Instead of only complaining, find ways to appreciate people who work everyday as a customer service worker, because they deal with a lot of verbal abuse and their work is thankless. If you receive excellent customer service, spread the word. Tell your friends, at the very least. Treating customer service people well is a must, though- treat people how you want to be treated, right?

16. Get your finances in order while you’re young. It will benefit you greatly in the future and give you maturity and responsibility that will help you be disciplined in other aspects of life. (still definitely working on this one)

Money is the single most stressful thing that people have to deal with, in my honest opinion. I believe that every young person needs to be prepared with a budget, a plan for repaying student loans, and a strong motivation to avoid accruing piles of debt. This is the hardest thing to do, but it is soooo worth it in the long run!

17. COMMUNICATION is literally the foundation of every relationship. Everything depends on it. Be honest, be open, be vulnerable with the people you love. Tell them things you’re thinking (if appropriate); from the smallest little concerns to the really big things. Be honest, and be willing to discuss things and agree on a solution or a compromise. Your relationship will be greatly enriched by solid communication.

I am in a relationship where the communication is close to perfect. We tell each other everything that we are thinking, obviously in the realm of thoughts that are beneficial to share and work through, even if it is tough. We share fears, struggles, bad dreams, thoughts about the future, questions, doubts… literally everything that couples should work through together, especially in the baby stages of your relationship before you start making binding commitments to each other.

18. Reconnect with old friends. Forget past differences. You were friends at some point for a reason, why not be friends now if you have the opportunity? If you miss someone from your past who is not an unhealthy person for you to be around, contact them and have lunch or share one of your favorite pastimes!

I recently reconnected with my friend from middle school Kylie and I am so grateful for that opportunity and the hope of renewed friendship! I am also hoping to reconnect with another friend who I unintentionally hurt in the past.. and I am so excited to rekindle old friendships that broke apart or faded away.

19. Treat yourself. Don’t feel guilty about spending some money on yourself once in awhile. Get a pedicure, buy that new video game. Be smart about how you treat yourself, but do not be so uptight that you feel bad about getting yourself something nice.

Treat yoself! Enough said.

20. LOVE fully and unconditionally. Especially the people who treat you awfully. There really is no better response to hate than love. This is something that only the most mature and humble people can accomplish. (difficult!)

This is a recurring theme and the most important thing in life. People will use you, abuse you, kick you when you’re down, hate you, spit on you, and make you feel like you’re insignificant. The LAST thing they are expecting is for you to turn the other cheek, or show them love. Do the unexpected. Take the road less traveled. It will make all the difference!

19 Things I’ve Learned in 19 Years of Living

(THIS IS A POST FROM ONE YEAR AND ONE DAY AGO, AUGUST 1st, 2014!)

Today I am 19 years old, so I’d like to share with you all 19 things I’ve learned in my first year of adulthood.

1. Keep your air conditioner at a comfortable temperature. It is better to be broke and comfortable in your home, rather than have money and hate being in your apartment. You’re paying rent to live there, after all.

2. When people offer to help you, (i.e, buy you groceries, pick up your lunch bill, etc.) learn to accept it. It’s a blessing, not a pity gift.

3. If you start up a credit card, use it ONLY to pay for netflix, and stick it in a cup of water and put it in the freezer. That will prevent you from using it for clothes shopping or disney spending (guilty).

4. Having an emergency fund for 2+ months of living expenses will save your life, especially when you work part time and go to school full time.

5. Never stop reading. Go to starbucks, buy a tea, and read a good book for a few hours. You will feel relaxed, and you will learn something in the process! You’re never too old for fiction, either.

6. Take some time to actually clean your room/apartment/parent’s house. It ultimately brings down your stress levels, surprisingly, when you can come home to a clean room and a nice looking kitchen.

7. Don’t be afraid to spend money on household items that you NEED. A vacuum is way more useful/valuable than a super cute bathing suit.

8. When shopping at local markets/on the beach (anywhere NOT retail), haggle prices with the shopkeeper. You never know, maybe they’ll take 5$ for the $7 sunglasses.

9. Be the BEST employee you could be. When there are opportunities to slack off, find something productive to do and do it. It doesn’t matter if you are quitting your job in a week, having a solid reputation will guarantee you a job in the future if you are in desperate need of one. And it’s always good to have integrity!

10. Spend time everyday praying. Remember you are not in control of your life and our Heavenly Father loves you and is on your side.

11. Cherish your loved ones, and always take opportunities to spend time with them, ESPECIALLY when it is inconvenient for you. Family members are people who are always going to be there, by default. Spend some time getting to know cousins, and definitely grandparents.

12. Take good care of your vehicle. I for one, spent $400 getting my brakes fixed about a week before I totaled my car. It was awful luck. But I knew I was safe from my brakes going out, so no matter how expensive, take great care of your car! It is one of the single most important things for you if you drive to school, work, and just everyday activities/errands.

13. Don’t let social media run your life. If a break from Facebook for a week sounds like the most intense torture possible, you NEED a break from Facebook. Humans weren’t meant to be in contact with others 24/7. Our brains need rest from all that.

14. Advice from friends is just that, advice. If you are telling someone about your problems and they give you a “solution”, make sure you know what is best for you before you take their advice. They might have the best intentions, but everyone is biased and you are the person who is ultimately dealing with the consequences of any decision. Seek wisdom from someone with greater experience.

15. Avoid cheap tattoos. I don’t want to talk about it..

16. Be selfless (I know, you can’t just become selfless overnight, but think of others first!) When you see a homeless person, look for food or bottled water in your car. If you’re an Arizonan, maybe even throw them a bottle of sunscreen. You never know how far a small kindness may go.

17. Be flexible. Plans change, people are human. Spontaneity is valuable because you never know what’s around the riverbend. I love Pocahontas. A day relaxing at home could turn into a road trip to a pretty place, or a photoshoot with friends, or anything adventurous.

18. Love yourself. Who cares if your hair is greasy today? Who cares if your makeup is leftover from yesterday? You’re wearing your pajamas out of the house? Whatever! It’s okay to be lazy with the way you look. Forgot to shave your legs? Wear shorts anyway. Remember you are not your skin and bones. You have thoughts, feelings, and knowledge. You are a unique person and your heart is much more valuable than your Gucci purse or Urban Decay mascara.

19. Never think that you are done learning. Even though your body is fully developed, you will continually learn things every single day. Never be too prideful to obtain more knowledge.

I love you all, thanks for the birthday wishes!