Stand Up

Every day when I check my social media accounts I prepare to read or see something heartbreaking. It’s a sad truth that these events we are seeing are not uncommon. This is our reality right now. The events that have gone on in Virginia with the protests, and then counter protests are horrific to say the least. I fear for people that are even remotely different, I truly do. I’m scared for my friends that have different skin colors, that speak different languages, that are part of the LGTBQ+ community. I am scared because we are at a point where people no longer care about hiding their prejudices, they no longer feel as though they have to get with the times. No longer is there a need for masks, hoods, or gowns. These people have no fear of being held accountable, because they aren’t being held accountable.

When I walk out my door I think about what I would do if someone were to approach me and saying something racist. If they were to push me, scream at me, or spit on me. I used to not be afraid of these things but here I am, in 2017, afraid of things that were apparent in the 1950’s. Have we not grown past that? Do people still believe there is a “superior race”?

Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and everything that comes along with these things are not new. They may have been hidden for a while, but they are not new.

Growing up in a town where the majority of the people were white and decently conservative, I always had to be the bigger person. I had to walk away when a boy in middle school thought it would be funny to scream nigger down the hall at me. I had to keep my head down when my honors English class read “Black Boy” and “How to Kill a Mockingbird” to avoid the stares as my teacher would read aloud the word nigger. I had to stay quiet when someone said they didn’t find hanging nooses a problem. I had to accept the apology from one of my 14’s teammate’s who called me a nigger because I played over her. Can you imagine what it must be like for the people that had ancestors in a concentration camp and are now seeing hoards of people using the swastika like it’s nothing?

Why is it that people who are being oppressed or beaten down must always be the bigger person? Why is it my job to walk away, to be silent, to accept that apology?

So how would I react now if I was faced with someone threatening me? I used to think the best way to react was to give them nothing at all. That’s what parents always tell you as a way to handle bullies in school right? Give them no reaction and they’ll eventually go away right? However, we are not dealing with children. We are dealing with adults who are malicious, willfully ignorant, and dangerous. I don’t know what I would do if someone approached me with hate spilling from their mouth, but I surely will not be silent. I will speak up, not only for myself but for those around me.

To the people that haven’t faced anything like this before, you don’t get a good job for sticking up for those that are being attacked, because that is what you’re supposed to do. You will not get a congratulations sticker for being a decent human being. How sad is it that are standards for humans and their compassion is set so incredibly low? If you’re able to not pay attention to the horrible events going on then that is because you don’t think it could impact you, and that in itself is privilege. To be clear, if you don’t speak up for the lack of leadership within our government, if you don’t say how disappointed and disgusted you are in the way people are being treated, you are just as bad as them.

I feel as though I could write essays upon essays about this but really, the main point is that regardless of what you label yourself, I hope you find the courage to stand up for the people around you and the world you want to continue living in. I hope you don’t cower in fear because of disgusting human beings, I hope you hold people accountable for their actions, and I hope you find your voice and stand up for the people around you. It is not the job of those being hurt to stay silent and take it, it’s the job of every single person with a working brain to stand up for what’s right.

Being a Student-Athlete and Living with Mental Illness

I know plenty of people have written about this topic but each post I read helped me feel a little more normal so I thought I’d jot down some thoughts and try to explain what makes it difficult to be a college athlete and struggle with mental illness. There is so much I could talk about and it’s hard to condense my feelings and thoughts into a short blog post but I’ve chosen to focus not so much on my specific struggles (if you want to talk about that feel free to message me and we can chat) but on how as student-athletes we can work on changing the way we view mental health.

Since I was in middle school I struggled with depression, self-harm and an eating disorder. Add that into a crippling desire to be the “perfect” student and it was a recipe for disaster. I never told anyone because I felt absolutely crazy. I felt like no one would believe me and even if they did I’m not a doctor, who am I to say I suffer with all these things? I felt invalidated and insecure in who I was and what I was struggling with. I had a great life and I’m not so consumed with myself to think other people don’t have much worse circumstances to overcome, but that’s the problem with mental illness, it eats away at all your logical thinking and makes you drown into your irrational thoughts and feelings.  In a way, going to college and getting away from all the memories of the pain I had gone through and afflicted on myself was the best thing I could have done. But it left the scars that were in this little town open, so whenever I come back for breaks the pain is still here, haunting me.

The reason why a lot of people don’t speak out is because no one wants to be that person. Hell, I know I don’t or at least I didn’t (I’m working on this new thing of not caring about what other people think). The first time I talked about everything I had gone through to a therapist at Oregon State was the first time I didn’t feel out of my mind. It was also the first time I didn’t feel like a coward. I saw a girl at our volleyball camp last summer who had scars all the way up her arms and I wanted to pull her aside and tell her it would all be okay but I didn’t. I had a perfect opportunity to be the person I needed when I was her age and I was a coward. I think that’s why I’m writing this now, I don’t want to be a coward anymore. Someone that’s too afraid of her own feelings to help others. Being a student-athlete is amazing. You have little kids that run up to you after games exclaiming that you’re their hero, professors always want to talk about your games, parents brag about you to their old friends and the more that happens the less you become a real person with real feelings and turn into an image. That image can be damaging because you represent your school and you don’t want to let the people who have supported you all these years down. I can only speak for myself but being a student-athlete doesn’t always give you the best reputation, people love you but people also love to find reasons to pick apart what you’re doing. To a lot of people, student-athletes are seen as spoiled, so god forbid student-athletes have something else to complain about.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my school and if anything I think playing a college sport has helped me handle my triggers and open up more but there’s also the fear of people around campus suddenly thinking they know everything about me because they know certain parts of my life. In the student -athlete community, everyone finds out everything. It doesn’t matter how but everyone will eventually find out very personal things about  you and that’s a little terrifying. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to ask for help, in any case. I’m headstrong and I’ve never shown any of my friends how I am when I start to feel the depression weighing on me. The idea that people I see every day, lift with and have classes with will see this post kind of scares the shit out of me. But I’m trying to realize that the reason mental illness is still so taboo is because of people like me that are scared to talk about it, people who are cowards.

So here I am; not being a coward and completely & totally jumping out of my very comfortable shell and telling people it’s okay to not be okay, even if other people like parents, coaches or friends have other expectations of you. Ask for help, talk about your problems, don’t struggle in silence. I felt alone and I still do sometimes but something kind of funny and heartbreaking happened when I met with that therapist for the first time. I was filling out paperwork in the waiting room, trying to hide the form that asked me questions like “On a scale of 1-5 how much have you thought about hurting yourself within the last two weeks?” and as I looked around to see if anyone was looking at me there were three other student-athletes filling out the exact same form. You are not alone. Don’t wait until it gets worse to ask for help, reach out to someone that makes you feel safe. I am so sick of feeling alone and helpless. Mental illness is not something you should be ashamed of but breaking down that stigma starts with us, the student-athletes. We can change the culture and make it easier for our friends and teammates to get the help that they need. xx

Counseling services at OSU:

http://counseling.oregonstate.edu/

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

1-800-273-8255

Short Stories

Last term I got to take an intro to short story class and I loved it! Here are two stories from my final project. I have absolutely no idea if I’m going to do anything else with them but feel free to take a look and let me know what you think!  xx

I Remember It All

I’m sitting here waiting for you to turn back around and tell me it was all just a joke and that we’re still in love, and you never wanted to leave me and you’re so sorry… but you don’t, just like last time you keep walking away. I just sit here wondering how we got to where we are now, wondering if you remember any of it, because I do.

I remember it all. Over the years my memories have faded, sometimes I forget the colors of your eyes and how they use to pierce me every time I looked at you, or the first time I met you and I just knew, how I met my best friend that you hated, but I haven’t forgotten about you and when I knew it was over. Really over.

We were meeting up for the first time in what felt like forever but I think it was only a couple months since the last time I saw you. I was sitting in my hotel in Arizona, your turf now and I felt different, I was nervous and panicked. Do you remember the first time you met my parents and I couldn’t stop scratching my inner arm because of my nerves? Imagine that times a hundred, I swear my arm was bright red when you walked in. What were you going to think when you saw me? Would you say something that was going to make me fall in love all over again? Would I?

I walked down the stairs and I saw you before you saw me, for a second I just stopped. God you were beautiful. Everything was the same about you, the way your shirt hung off your collarbone, the freckles you have covering your body, I remember counting every one the night before I left you. I forgot how perfect you were. How perfect I built you up in my mind. In that moment you could do no wrong, you were absolute perfection.

But then I started walking towards you and the closer I got the more the “perfect” you began to crack just as it had when we walked away from each other a few months ago. You weren’t this untouchable statue that I had only built off of my memories, you were real and terribly imperfect. I saw the new creases in your face, maybe they’re from laughter, maybe they’re from pain, I wouldn’t know. I was holding you and wishing I could have held onto all the things that were so wonderful about us. You felt the same with your head tucked into my neck and the smell of your Tom Ford cologne was vibrant as ever but we were different.

We walked together and I couldn’t help but stare at you, it was like looking at a wreck, knowing I should look away from the tragedy that lies there but not being able to tear my eyes away from it. Is that what we’ve become? A tragedy?

We talked, and we laughed. But we laughed at different things, me thinking about how naïve I was, assuming we could go back to the beginning, like the past two years didn’t happen, I ran scared of what we were going to be, I wasn’t ready and you let me leave. That’s the worst of it all, you let me run.

A part of me wanted to grab your hand and whisper in your ear like you used to love, but I was too scared your hand wouldn’t feel the same, and you’d cringe from me when I whispered, so I kept walking, further and further away from the people we used to be.

 

Trapped

Everything was moving around me, almost like I wasn’t even there. But I knew I was alive, I knew I was awake. The nurses panicked around me, touching my neck and checking for a pulse. I was alive, shit I was alive.

The nurse next to my left arm finally tears her eyes away from my scars and notices I’ve opened my eyes and she starts to mouth something at me, maybe she’s talking, I can’t tell. She’s talking too fast though; I can’t understand anything she’s saying. I want to tell her to slow down but my mouth won’t open. It feels wired shut. I just look at her blinking fast, wishing, praying she will get the message.

Pills. She said pills, I don’t know for sure but I would bet my very measly life on the fact that she just said pills.

Through my muffled ears I can barley hear her say, “What pills did you take? Honey, this is very important. What pills did you take?” she’s trying to be calm but her hands are shaking against my arm and I can see a tear run down her cheek before she quickly wipes it away.

It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone that you’re just as scared as I am, we all have our secrets.

I don’t say anything, I just stare at her, she kind of looks like my aunt Nicole, I wonder what the women who basically raised me would have to say about this, oh I know, she wouldn’t say anything because she’s dead. I wonder what she thinks of me, the nurse, not my dead aunt. She probably thinks I’m this sad little girl who didn’t have any idea what she was doing. But I did. I knew exactly what I was doing.

When I finally break from her perfectly hazel eyes I look to my other side and see the sign on the wall that says Emergency Room, great.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, none of this is how I wanted, I planned this so well. I would take the pills and Adrian would find me in the morning, asleep, well technically dead but I would look asleep. I figured that wouldn’t be as hard as seeing my lifeless body with a gunshot wound or hanging. I couldn’t have done that to my little sister. I always hated that, how selfish can you be, making your family find you like that?

My visions are broken from the frantic yelling around me, all at once the sound breaks through my ears and it’s like I’ve never heard sound before. I’m moving so fast, I can hear the tires screeching around me, wheeling me into the double doors. The last thing I hear before it all gets incredibly light is my name being screeched in a way only a mom could do. Even an incredibly, barley there, shitty mom like mine.

Small Update on Life

I haven’t really been sure of where I want to take this blog. I enjoy reading and writing about fashion and the entertainment industry but that’s not what I want to write about long term. I’m an English major and a writing minor and I want to focus on just that, writing stories and fiction that can touch other people. So, I’ve decided to make this blog into my little diary and post pieces of my short stories and maybe in the near future post fragments of stories I hope to develop over the next few months/years (who knows?) & if I happen to have some free time I might even post some book reviews!

Thanks for sticking with me through all of this & I hope you enjoy what comes next!

xx

So tell me how are you now;

Now that everything’s different.

Now that you left and I’m still standing here.

How is it being away?

Are you having fun?

Do you miss me?

I don’t know what to say to you.

I want to be honest but I can’t tell the truth.

We both know that.

Tell me, do you look at our letters and read them every now and then?

Or are they stashed away, hidden from your mind.

You look so different.

It’s like we met years ago, as two different souls.

Do you remember how I hated surprises?

Surprise me and tell me you do.

How does it feel?

Being with her?

Does it feel different than how we were?

I know I left you before you left me.

But I never really left you.

We’re the type of people that are supposed to end up together.

You said that, not me.

But those words are probably stashed away.

Like the memories you and I made.

It’s okay, really, I’m fine.

So tell me, how are you now?

Locked In

“I thought how unpleasant it was to be locked out, and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in.”

That is a quote from Virginia Woolf’s, A Room of One’s Own. I however did not find it there, I read it from a suicide letter written by Madison Holleran, a student and track runner from University of Pennsylvania who jumped to her death January 17th, 2014.

I found the article on Facebook, one of my friends shared the article titled Mental health issues a huge challenge for NCAA in regard to student-athletes. I couldn’t tear my eyes off the article because I found myself relating to Madison more than I thought possible. I felt for her and all the other athletes or just students that suffer every day with mental disorders like depression, anorexia, bulimia, and so many more. Students and student-athletes are expected to amaze in college. You are expected to go to class, eat 3 meals a day, be engaged in all your courses, go to practice, meet people, pass all your tests, and still have a social life. I have never met anyone at my school that has succeeded in all of that, because it’s impossible. Taking more responsibility on as you go through school, totally understandable. But forcing yourself to be the best at everything is just unrealistic. You are setting yourself up for failure.

I am incredibly lucky to have a great coaching staff and friends around me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have struggles. It’s hard to do well in class, while working out and practicing everyday, it’s really hard. Then, lets add-on the fact that with working out comes weight gain. I don’t know about anyone else but as much as I enjoy volleyball and my team, sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is bite the bullet and step on that fucking scale. It’s scary. I haven’t self-harmed in years and it’s hard, I can’t imagine how people who are actively struggling with eating disorders can handle that.

Sidenote: I am so over people saying “wow you don’t look like you would/did/can have an eating disorder/be depressed”

OK. So why don’t you explain to me what eating disorders and depression look like since you clearly have WAY more experience with it than me. If a friend ever confides in you, do not, I repeat do not say that.

But back to what I was saying about Madison. There is so much pressure put on students, and even more so on athletes. Once you start college you have to make a few very important decisions and it roughly comes down to this, what do you want? Do you want to make a lot of friends? Do you want to get good grades? Do you want to sleep for 8 hours every night (good luck)? Do you want to stay sane? You can’t have everything and I think it is extremely hard to figure out what you want/need in your life.

I’m not perfect, and I’m taking things one step at a time. Some days it’s hard to stay sane when I’m feeling like I physically and mentally cannot keep up with everything that is going on, but I have to believe I can. Even if that means I have to step away from things that I love to give myself space to breath, I’ll do it. The idea that student-athletes have to be at their best every single day is not only unfair, but hurtful to their mental stability. I like volleyball, I like school, and I like having my friends, but I will always choose my health over any of those things.

If you’re feeling “locked in”, talk to someone. I wish I would have in high school, I wish I would have asked for help directly. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re fine and that what you’re feeling isn’t a big deal. But your feelings are always valid, don’t let anyone, whether it be coaches, parents, friends or teachers tell you that what you’re feeling isn’t important, because it is. You are incredibly important and your feelings matter. Don’t try to shove them aside, because shoving the problems aside doesn’t make you stronger. All it does is slowly break you down. Being broken isn’t pretty or romantic, it’s terrible and dangerous. You don’t have to be locked in anymore.

Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if my life was cut short like Madison’s. I don’t know what my family would be like with me gone, or my friends, or even people who I rarely spoke to. But with all the confidence in the world I can say Madison’s death affected people all over. I never knew her, but in a crazy way I feel like I did. I hope that wherever she is, she is happy and no longer feels locked in.

Suicide Prevention Hotline– 1 (800) 273-8255

How to Survive College Without Losing Your Mind 101

College can be stressful. Scratch that, college is one of the most stressful things you will go through. Sure, it has times of fun and not caring about what comes next, but if I had to guess the majority of the time you’re stressing about what you want to do, who you want to be, and trying to finish all your homework without having an anxiety attack. So I’ve come up with a few tips on how to get through college with good grades and your sanity in tact.

1. Major in something you genuinely like 

I’m amazed when people tell me they absolutely hate what they are majoring in. My first question for them is “why?” I get the whole wanting to make a lot of money idea but if you’re going to college you don’t love, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I’m sure my parents would have loved to have me to major in chemistry, engineering, or anything that would certainly make me more than my english major will, but it’s not about them. I am going to college for me, not for my parents. You give what you get in education, if you’re only giving half your effort because you aren’t very interested in the topics being presented, you’re only going to get half of the benefit (maybe less, college is hard). Major in things you like, better yet, love.

2. Plan, plan, plan

If you don’t have some sort of a planner, HOW. Please explain to me how you are surviving, because if I didn’t have my Passion Planner, I would be a hot mess. Now, if you don’t plan out your day in 30 minute increments like me, that’s fine. I understand how that can be a little too much to some but having a place to write down assignments due and meetings with teachers is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I have been saved by my planner late night on a Sunday. If a planner isn’t for you, use some colorful post it notes and write assignments/important date then put them on your door or mirror so you’re forced to see them!

3. Don’t cheat

Cheating is college is pointless, I mean really? Getting good grades is important but you’re honestly just cheating yourself out of a good education. Take some extra time to study and really let the information sink in. You might not get straight A’s (if you do props), but really understanding the information is more important in the long run.

4. Get involved

College is great for your education, but it isn’t just about school. You have great opportunities to be social and make a difference! I’m part of my school’s volleyball team, a sister in Chi Omega fraternity, and I write for Her Campus Oregon State. While I may be busy, and will only be getting busier over the next few years, I love it. I have so many different aspects going on in my college life and having a lot of different things going is keeping my sanity. I can only be with one group of friends for so long without going crazy, and I know I’m not the only one that feels that way. College is a time where you are able to have SO much going on in your life… try new things, branch out. The worst thing is thinking to yourself years later, “Wow I wish I would have tried this out in college”.

5. Take a break

Being away from family is hard for me. Even though I’m only a few hours away from home I still miss my family, friends, and mostly my bed. It is 100% ok to ask for help when you need it. Don’t hesitate to call your parents or your best friend if you’re going through a tough time. The worst thing you can do is put so much pressure on yourself and hold it in for so long that you eventually explode and burn out. Don’t let the pressure build up, instead reach out when you are starting to feel like things are getting hard. Drive home for the weekend and clear your head, Skype with your parents, see if a friend can visit you for the day, hell just grab some ice cream and watch a movie! It’s ok not to always be on, no one can be perfect all the time. While college is a time for new experiences and to take chances, it doesn’t mean you aren’t human. Everyone needs to take a break, trust me, it’s normal and it’s OK.

I hope these tips will be beneficial for you and let me know if you have any helpful tips for college. Stay sane everyone, only a few more months until summer!