So clearly now. -22

“I wonder what 21 will bring.”

21 was not what I was expecting. I feel like my year was hijacked by a breakup that I didn’t see coming. A year ago today, on my 21st birthday, I was happily in love and enjoying my (finally) stable and secure relationship. I had no idea that I was about to go through an incredibly difficult process, at the end of which I would lose the only man I had ever loved.

21 started with the end. It was like walking down a scary, steep, spiraling stairwell. With every step I took I lost a little bit more of myself, a little bit more of my sanity, but all I could do was keep walking. I dreadingly descended the steps towards the impending darkness.

Nothing really seemed to matter during the first half of 21, because I knew what was waiting for me at the end of that stairwell. I was petrified, and I refused to accept the inevitable. I went to sleep every night beside the man I knew I would one day, someday soon, have to say goodbye to. The thought of life without him was enough to send me into a panic so intense I would lose sensation in my limbs. I was so scared I literally couldn’t feel my own body.

The panic took over my life. It was all I could think about, all I could talk about, and by the end, I found myself crying hysterically every day. I cried in the shower, in my sleep, during lectures, at the gym, but still – I still couldn’t bring myself to do it. To make the hardest decision I had ever made in my life.

I was waiting for a moment of clarity. Maybe I was waiting the entire two years. I felt helpless, and I needed someone else to have the answer I was looking for. Every time I was with him, it felt like my heart was about to explode with love for him, just like always. Except that all of a sudden, that feeling tore me apart inside, because I could no longer deny that our love story was coming to a close. I saw the way it hurt him to see me like that, so lost and confused, and to be unable to say the only thing that would have consoled me – to promise me we would be together forever. I begged him for the answer I needed to find, and he didn’t have it.

Until one day in December, it happened. I found my clarity, presented to me in the form of the most inexplicable pain I have ever felt, pain I’m still trying to forget. When it happened, I relinquished myself to the truth embedded in it. I knew it was time.

Time to be brave.

~

I have survived one of the most emotionally complex years I’ve ever had, a year that threatened to break me. I think it did break me. With my heart shattered into a million pieces, I realized I was incapable of carrying all of the fragments by myself. Luckily, my loved ones were there, and each of them found a part of my hurting heart to keep safe for me. I had finals to get through, work to go to, and an ever-pained body to care for. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Gradually, I collected the pieces and put myself back together again.

The second half of 21 has been a journey, as much I detest that word. Even then, on that dreadfully sunny day, a tiny part of me spotted a silver lining. There is beauty in the unknown. And everything about the breakup was unknown to me. I had never experienced anything like it and I didn’t know what to expect. I breathed and embodied the mantra of “one day at a time”, because I literally had no clue what each new day would bring.

It felt like I had to learn everything from scratch. How to feel at home in an apartment filled with the ghosts of us. How to sleep alone every night. How to find comfort without him. Even how to cook the right amount of food for one person, as opposed to two. But most of all, I had to learn how to live in the present again. Leading up to the breakup, I was so focused on the future, and after it, I felt so immersed in the past. It’s been a relief to finally feel like I’m present in the moment. I can finally just be wherever I am.

This year forced me to come into my own. It forced me to reflect, to be my best self and to enter a new phase of life. A phase of searching. I’m trying new things, going out of my comfort zone, and finding myself in so many situations that are so different from what I’m used to. I’ve suffered from the nerves that come hand-in-hand with searching, but I’ve loved the thrill of it all. Even the awkward moments that I hated, I still loved because they were new. They were something I wouldn’t have experienced if things hadn’t gone the way they had, and they’re evidence that I’m finding my way.

I’ve been walking up that spiraling stairwell and discovering it looks different than it did on the way down.

It’s been a battle. All of it. Every aspect of this year required me to find endless strength and determination just to make it through, just to make whatever I needed to happen happen. To give myself my best shot. But I’ve done it, and I’ve done it on my own. I’ve done it gracefully.

I invested my heart and soul into my university studies this semester, making the absolute most out of every lesson, every day. Not letting a moment pass me by, because I know it’s fleeting. I took 9 courses (and a DJ class), and I had a Lunch Club on Tuesdays. I had classes that made the neurons in my brain light up with fire and made me feel electric. Classes that inspired me, and made me feel so damn lucky to be getting a higher education and to have the luxury to spend this time learning about the world.

I hosted my original radio show every week and brought my friends on to share their jams. I shamelessly came up with a mascot called Grumpy Monkey and photoshopped a top hat on him. I made a commercial and sent it to a big company, and they loved it and sent me a gift. A really funny gift. I worked my barely-paying student jobs, and reminded myself that I’m paying my dues. I had the opportunity to work at the same conference I worked at last year, and loved seeing how confident I’ve become and how far this year has taken me professionally. I was offered dream jobs I had to turn down, but I enjoyed feeling appreciated. Most of all, I loved and savored the way I’m viewed at my university – as an asset, as someone worth watching, as someone who’s going somewhere.

I’m going somewhere.

~

Last birthday, when I looked back on 20, I called the year “a quiet storm”. Though much had changed and much had happened, none of it really registered with me. Now I think there may have been a reason for that. Maybe there was a seed of recognition, deep in the pit of my stomach, that something was about to change. Maybe I had an inkling that the turning point for our relationship was right around the corner, and in my resistance to acknowledge that fact, everything else felt muted as well. Nothing remained muted for long.

Honestly, it hurts to look back on 21 right now. I think there was more sadness than anything else this year, and it still threatens to pull me down sometimes. But I’ve decided to adopt the belief that everything happens for a reason, or rather, I’ve decided to focus on the fact that I’ve learned something from all of it. From the first breakup, the one that only lasted for 9 days, I discovered the strength it takes to be capable of forgiveness, and the beauty of second chances. From this breakup, I think I learned acceptance. How powerful it is, and how painful.

From the second half of 21, from these days and nights that I’ve been all alone, I’ve been learning patience. Hearts take time to heal, and it takes time to feel okay. The only thing worse than being heartbroken was being mad at myself for it, so I learned how to be patient with myself, and how to listen to what my heart was telling me. I can hear it so clearly now.

~

At 21, I made myself proud. I know I did. I cried and I evolved and I rose and I learned and I loved. And I learned to love myself again (even when that felt impossible). I may not be where I thought I would be at this point in time, but I have no regrets. Through it all, I never forgot to feel grateful. Grateful for the people in my life who cared for me and supported me, for the people who made me laugh and who cried with me, and for him. For the two years we had and the person he helped me become. No matter what, I’m grateful for his love.

I hope that one day I’ll look back on these months of heartbreak and singlehood, and know that they were leading me to exactly where I needed to be.

Today, at 22, I’m different than I was before. I feel older, in so many ways. Somehow it feels like the more wisdom I collect the less able I am to put it into words. It’s just wisps of concepts and particles of thoughts. They fall into place bit-by-bit and form the way I see the world. It’s the bigger picture, and as it becomes ever more complex and incomplete, I find it all the more terrifying and beautiful.

There’s beauty in the unknown.

~

Ella

“Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.” -Taylor Swift

(Coincidentally, this the blog’s 122nd post, which I find oddly satisfying.)
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Feeling Pathetic – The Love Song Compilation

I promised myself I would focus on this year. I promised myself I would invest my heart and soul into my volunteer work. I promised myself I wouldn’t worry too much about the future. I’ve been absolutely successful. I feel efficient, proficient, professional, and most of all: valuable. The office is going to be shocked when I leave and they realize how much of their work I’ve been taking care of.

 

But tonight I’d really like to feel pathetic and compile all of the song quotes about love that are waiting in my journal to be used. Because it’s okay to feel lonely and to wonder. Rather than finding myself in the midst of a fluttering romance, I’ve found myself listening to everyone else talking about their partners, and I feel as alone as ever.

 

Let’s just do this, and give me the strength not to feel mortified and go back and delete it.

 

~~~

 

Two young hearts will meet in the middle and a light will flicker on, where there once was none. –The Chambers and the Valves, Dry the River

 

Should this be the last thing I see, I want you to know it’s enough for me, ‘cause all that you are is all that I’ll ever need. I’m so in love, so in love, so in love, so in love. –Tenerife Sea, Ed Sheeran

 

Step out into the wild, there’s a beautiful storm in your eyes, we’re perfectly intertwined and if it’s quite all right, you could be my way of life. –Into The Wild, Lewis Watson

 

Yesterday, you asked me something I thought you knew, so I told you with a smile ‘It’s all about you’. Then you whispered in my ear and you told me too, said, ‘You make my life worthwhile, it’s all about you’. –All About You, McFly

 

When we sleep at night I hope that we write novels in our minds of what to tell each other when we wake. –Novels, Rusty Clanton (Possibly the favorite of the favorites)

 

Kiss me beneath the milky twilight, lead me out on the moonlit floor, lift your open hand, strike up the band and make the fireflies dance, silver moon’s sparkling… so kiss me. –Kiss Me, Sixpence None the Richer

 

You can see it with the lights out, lights out, you are in love, true love, you are in love.

You Are In Love, Taylor Swift

Fun story to go with this one: when my mom had been dating my dad for a few months they went to visit her parents, who lived very far away. She was telling my grandmother about how much she missed him every time he travelled and said she didn’t understand why it felt so terrible. My grandmother looked at her and said, “My sweet, beautiful, darling daughter: you are in love.” All of my relatives can quote that line of my grandmother’s word for word. Taylor’s intonation of “you” is the same as my grandmother’s was.

Speaking of my grandmother… I just remembered that a few years ago I found these slides of pictures from my grandparents’ old house (we’re going with the flow of my randomness tonight):

 

All my little plans and schemes, lost like some forgotten dream. Seems like all I really was doing was waiting for you… It’s real love. –Real Love, Tom Odell (Also all of “Grow Old With Me”)

 

My youth, my youth is yours, a truth so loud you can’t ignore. –Youth, Troye Sivan (Technically doesn’t sound like a love song, but in my mind – seeing as I haven’t yet met my person and my youth is coming to an end – I sometimes think of falling in love as deciding to share a past we didn’t have together… my youth.)

 

~~~

 

Why did I do this? I’m going to regret doing this. I’m not going to want anyone to look at my blog ever again. What am I thinking?

But, I must say, these are all fabulous songs that have been waiting to appear on my blog for a long time now. I recommend looking them all up and listening to them, because they aren’t my loves (see what I did there) simply for their words, but for their melodies too. Can we pretend I wrote this simply as a service for the greater good of blog readers, to spread the joy of music?

Ella

 

P.s. I organized the quotes in alphabetical order by the first name of the singer, because anything else felt too preferential.

 

 

The Sleepless Anecdote

One might think there’s something romantic about a late night. The dim lights, the silent house, the rustle of the wind outside.

There isn’t. I couldn’t sleep. I got into bed at 10:30 and fell asleep at 4:30. That’s six hours of non-romance. It was frustrating. The crazy thing was, my brain was totally awake and processing the implications of the situation while also enjoying the game of keeping me awake.

I finished reading The Bell Jar. I watched three episodes of Friends. I meditated. I ate cereal. I took everything off my bed and put it all back. I solved a math question.

I did everything but sleep. My body is like “you suck” and my brain is like “yay I won!” and I’m like dead.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

Insomnia for the win,

Ella

Song Quote:

Even when you’re sleeping, keep your eye-eyes open. -Eyes Open, Taylor Swift

P.s. Happy second birthday “Sick and Sick of It”!!! Rather than creating a virtual cake with candles, you’re each invited to just write a wish in the comments below. I think my wish is obvious at this point.

My Relationship with Taylor Swift

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As far as relationships go, Taylor Swift’s and mine was a pretty happy love story* for a bunch of years. I was about eleven or twelve years old when I started listening to her music, and I was enchanted. I would memorize all of the lyrics, practice the tunes until I got them just right, and even make up dances to my favorite songs. There were times when the two of us were inseparable, and I would spend hours trying to figure out the coded messages she slipped into her lyric books.

When “Speak Now” came out, I bought my copy right away and took to pacing up and down my living room while listening to it. I had just started at a new school, and I remember being on the bus when a few girls up front started singing “Sparks Fly”, and being overjoyed that I too knew all of the lyrics. When someone said that all of the songs on the album sounded too similar, I defended T-Swizzle’s honor and gave them a long speech (well, it was more of a soliloquy) about how her songs are well crafted, ingenious and beautiful. I was a Swiftie to the core.

But then, entirely out of the blue, in the fall of 2012, Taylor Swift and I had a falling out. It was dreadful, and I was dying to know if it was killing her like it was killing me. I don’t think it was though. Taylor Swift once told me that to be her friend all I had to was like her and listen, and I was failing royally at that. I was disappointed in her new album, “Red”, though for a short period of time in my younger years red was my favorite color. I decided she was a bad singer who was fairly hypocritical and fake, and who should have kept her beautiful curls whole.

The thing is, our falling out wasn’t entirely out of the blue. In truth, it had everything to do with the summer that preceded said fall. I was fifteen in the summer of 2012, and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia while at the same time the growth I had found on my back was declared cancerous. I was intensely upset and dreadfully angry, but mostly I was confused. Despite that, I had made a vow to myself many years earlier that no matter what personal hardships arose, I would never, ever, take out my anger on the people around me.

I retreated into myself, and for a little while lost touch with peace and serenity. “Red” came out that October. Are you starting to see the shockingly obvious connection between my emotional state and the condition of my relationship with Taylor Swift? I kept my promise; I didn’t take my anger out on the people around me. But I did take it out on Taylor.

Taylor is blissfully unaware of my existence, because despite my sudden loathing of her I never spread a bad word about her. There was no trash talk on her social media pages, hateful comments on her videos, or mean emails that came from me. I did not turn my words into knives and swords and weapons. My issues with her were personal, and only my family and closest friends knew of our sad, beautiful, tragic love affair.

If you allow me to quote her song Fifteen, “when you’re fifteen, don’t forget to look before you fall, I’ve found time can heal most anything.” I was fifteen, and I had been in a lot of lonely places, but few were as lonely as being isolated by an illness I had, and have, no control over. I tried to be fearless, I tried to breathe, but I was coming undone despite being tied together with a smile.

The song that led me back to positive terms with Taylor is “The Lucky One”. In it, she says “they tell you that you’re lucky but you’re so confused, cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used and all of the young things line up to take your place… you wonder if you’ll make it out alive”. It’s an honest song, and it reminded me that Taylor is a person, just like me, who also goes through phases and who has also has hard times.

So, Taylor, this is me swallowing my pride, standing in front of you and saying I’m sorry. It has been two years since then, and my state of shock** and anger turned into a state of sadness, one I haven’t fully gotten out of yet. Time has passed, and I know I had no right to be angry with you, to criticize you, or to pass judgment on your hair. Your hair is beautiful just the way you like it. You do have a good voice, and I do know all of the lyrics to all of your songs, and I do still appreciate you and your music (like, a lot).

I know there is nothing you do better than revenge, but please, forgive me? Can we begin again?

I have adopted the motto of “live and let live”, and though I still feel as though I have personal relationships with certain singers because I connect with them and their feelings through their music and lyrics, I no longer feel as though they have actual obligations towards me. They don’t owe me songs I’m going to like. I believe that they should write what they need to write, and if I don’t like it, I can stick to listening to their older material that I do like.

I’m writing this for several reasons: a) I wanted to apologize to Taylor Swift and b) the nature of our relationship demonstrates the process I have gone through since the two separate and inconveniently overlapping diagnoses of two years ago. Before them, though not carefree, I still had hoards of energy with which to pace rooms endlessly and “fangirl” hard. During and after them, I felt trapped in a dark and confining cage and my soul was banging around between the bars. My life was in upheaval. As time passed, though my physical pain did not diminish and has even worsened, I have gained perspective and a personal understanding of pain and its aftermath. I have become a better person, who is well equipped to deal with hardship and is used to gearing up to tackle each day as a separate obstacle. The anger has mellowed out, basically. And now I just wish as many people happiness as I can, and that includes Taylor Swift.

Love,

Ella

*Italics are either titles of songs interwoven as words, lyrics from songs, references to things she wrote in her lyric books or clever adjustments of lyrics to fit the sentence and context.

**play on the song called “State of Grace”

Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes

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Scrabble doesn’t come with a question mark, so we’ll have to make do without one

There once was a girl (A) who didn’t pass her cheerleader tryouts, and she was upset. There was also a girl (B) whose boyfriend dumped her, and she was upset. But then there was a girl (C) whose friend was dying of cancer, and she was upset.

Before us we have three (fictional) girls, and each is upset. Who, in your opinion, is most upset?

Please don’t answer that because it’s a trick question. I believe that it’s not fair to compare people’s pain because each is suffering in their own right. So yes, one situation seems way more serious than the others, but does that mean that the other two aren’t upset and don’t have a right to be? No. The fact that one person is worried about cancer and the other is worried about boys doesn’t mean that the one worrying about boys isn’t distraught and in pain, and you can’t discount that.

That said, I am human and sometimes I fail at upholding my own high standards. I look at this girl who is throwing a tantrum because she didn’t get the teacher she wanted for a certain subject and can’t stop thinking about girls in many parts of the world who have to fight to get an education, and often don’t win. I want to scream at her, “just appreciate what you have!”

But then those thoughts lead me to one of the most depressing inner conversations I regularly have. I know I’m suffering, and I know my pain is real, but at the same time look at the world, look at how many people live in terrible pain due to poor hygiene and distance from medical help, and see how many of them continue living completely normally. In comparison, I’m just acting like a baby. But those thoughts don’t make my pain go away and it still gets in the way of me doing everything people my age do.

So when I have these conversations, I force myself to the conclusion that it is important to keep things in proportion and not feel too sorry for myself, because compared to some my troubles are not that bad. I do think you need to keep going and try to pick yourself up, and that’s what I do. But there is also a real reason for sadness, and it’s okay to let yourself feel it.

When someone I know is suffering from a horrible headache, I bite my tongue and never let the “now you know how I feel all the time” escape. But I always think it. It’s not that I think their pain is lesser because it’s a one off thing, it’s just that it gets frustrating when people have no way to understand what I’m going through. I want him or her, for just a minute, to try to imagine what it’s like to feel what he or she is feeling every day and how hard it would be to manage.

Then I feel guilty. For not focusing solely on the person I’m with, but mostly for treating myself like I’m the top-sufferer, like I’m the most unfortunate. I promise you I do not forget how lucky I am to have everything that I have. But then after feeling guilty, I feel even guiltier because it’s almost like I just betrayed myself by my sort of accusation that I’m just exaggerating.

It’s exhausting.

So to girl A I say that there will be more opportunities in life and this way she’ll have more free time to hang out with her friends. To girl B I say that he’s a fool for breaking up with her and if she ever needs a wing-woman I’m her girl. To girl C I tell her how sorry I am and offer her my shoulder.

I allow myself only a minute to contemplate how it seems no one is ever that happy.

 

Yours truly,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

I find it hard to take, when people run in circles it’s a very, very mad world. -Mad World, Tears for Fears

 

Next Week:

My Relationship with Taylor Swift

Get ready to tweet along with me using #TaylorReadThis, because I need your help getting her to see it! So as of next Sunday when I put it up, we’re going to bombard twitter with this hash tag and the link to the post and try to get her attention. You with me?!

Rainbow Area

 

In life, there is an accepted term, “gray area”. It means things aren’t black and white; there’s no clear separation between good and bad. I’ve always accepted this term, and it never occurred to me how wrong it is until today.

It’s a rainbow area. It’s an area where a lot is happening, where things shift and change according to what we’re feeling and the circumstances, and what better way to represent shifting than color? I’ve always felt that I have some small version of synesthesia, because memories, dreams and feelings are represented in my heart by colors and shades of lighting.

I sometimes wish there was common ground in colors. If I tell someone that today I’m feeling orange, they’ll think I’ve gone a bit loco. To me, this makes sense: orange is a feeling, it’s the kind of mood I’m in. Yet when I try to translate this into normal people terms, it loses its meaning, and I simply say I’m feeling fine. But I’m feeling orange.

Humor me for a minute, and pretend you understand what feeling orange means.

Now do you have a better sense of me? Yes. Do you know what my day has been like? Yes. Do I need to say anything else in order for you to understand? Nope. Orange sums it all up.

Unfortunately and fortunately, colors are not used as everyday adjectives in the sense of feelings. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, you can “feel blue”, or “see green”, and these have a commonly accepted meanings, but they don’t count. Specific colors have been allotted certain connotations, and that doesn’t mean that’s the way I’m feeling. In my cozy world, green does not mean someone is jealous. Green can mean many, many different things, and jealousy isn’t actually among them.

So next time, instead of using the term “gray area”, please use “rainbow area”, and explain it to them if they don’t get it.

rainbow powder

Let’s make this a thing, people. #RainbowArea . It started here.

 

Yours truly,

Ella

Song Quote:

Loving him was red. -Red, Taylor Swift

 

Sheesh, time is flying! Don’t forget to send in your 2,500 competition entries! All of the info here: 

The deadline is Monday, July 14th!!!

In addition, I will hopefully be getting back to regular posts now that school is over for the year. I survived! I did it! For a few months now I just haven’t had much spare time, but as I said, you can start looking forward to weekly posts again :)