Seizing Opportunities

I’m not really the most qualified to write about this. I’ve not actually had many opportunities worth mention come my way, let alone seized them. But that’s part of what this is about. The opportunities I have had have been beyond incredible, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. But I passed others by and dreamed of others without them appearing.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel to Europe on three separate occasions, each for a month or longer; to freelance edit through a small publishing company; to become friends with some amazing people; and to write on a daily basis and have people actually interested in my work, even if it’s only a handful of people.

Some of these opportunities were handed to me; others I worked my butt off for and still am. But here’s the thing a lot of people don’t tend to think of about opportunities: most are not handed to you; most of them you have to make.

I’ve never been very good at taking initiative. I enjoy being given assignments and then working until they’re finished. But the things you really want in life rarely come in such a fashion. My study abroad trip was an opportunity that was presented to me, but I had to work like crazy trying to raise the money to go and studying French with vigour, and it was the same for my internship a couple years later. I’m awful at fundraising, but I worked as hard as I could until I got to where I needed to be. And after I arrived in France, I did everything I could to ensure I was giving 100% to getting the best grades possible and do the best work I could with the best attitude. Some days seemed easy, others seemed like death, and others could almost be ignored. But I never stopped working with everything I had while I was studying or interning.

When I started freelancing, I rarely got any work, and most of it ended up being pro bono. Eventually I started getting asked if I could edit things for particular prices, and who was I to turn them do? I started to build up my resume bit-by-bit, and I will continue doing so my entire life. But if I hadn’t started editing for free and trying to get my name out there among friends and such, I never would have gotten the recurring position I have at the publishing company. I’ve only had three projects with them so far, but each project has taken well over 35 hours of work and taught me more than I could have ever expected about the editing world, the different writing manuals, and my own ambitions in editing. I’ve learned that I definitely prefer editing fiction works, even though most of my paid editing work has been nonfiction; I learned that I prefer APA to MLA or Chicago, despite the fact that I know MLA the best; and I learned that I will never know everything about editing, no matter how much I study and work.

Many times over the years, I’ve let my anxiety stop me from meeting people and becoming friends with them. Thankfully, I’ve not let each opportunity to make a new friend pass by because my life would be quite drab without those humans whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends. It can be odd to think of friendship as something that you have to work at, but it can be really difficult sometimes, whether it’s because of drastic differences in current moods and opinions or busyness and full schedules making it near impossible to talk to/see your friends. For me though, I have to work a little harder. I tend to feel on a regular basis as though even my closest of friends hate me, even though I know it’s far from true. The negative thoughts and overwhelming fears that are constantly flooding my mind tell me that I’m an awful, worthless, despicable, clingy human being. And they also tell me that if I think that of myself, then others must think far worse. Feeling like that can make it nearly impossible to talk to friends, let alone strangers and acquaintances, and I constantly have to remind myself that those things aren’t true. It’s difficult to think positively about such things, and it’s even more difficult to act upon the positive thoughts by messaging people and showing them that I care about them, no matter how I feel that day.

Almost everyone has the opportunity to write nowadays and even the opportunity to have a public audience of some sort. But writing is one of the things I am most passionate about, and it’s also one of the things I have to work the most at. Sometimes writing can seem easy, and it tends to get easier the more I do it. But it is also one of the most difficult things to do, especially when trying to write things that appeal to your audience, that you enjoy writing, that are well thought through, and that are entertaining to read. And all of those things changes so much from post to post and project to project.

I—we—need to stop letting opportunities pass us by. We need to stop waiting for opportunities to present themselves and get up and create our own opportunities. Because the ones we make for ourselves tend to be the most satisfying. I know I’m going to keep creating more opportunities to grow creatively and to encourage others in their lives, their creativity, and their imaginations. What opportunities are you going to create for yourself?

My Top Three Pet Peeves

This certainly isn’t a topic I’d usually write about, by why not give it a go?

Let’s start with the lowest first, shall we?

  1. People clipping their nails in public.

I’ve never understood how people can do this. I understand wanting to even them out and trim them, but why not wait until you’re home? Okay, I know this one is a little ridiculous, but I hate the sound of it. I don’t know why, but I do. The sharp clicking and snapping that occurs as the metal pinches through the keratin makes me gag. I don’t even like hearing the sound when I’m clipping my own nails, and I can handle it far better than when I can hear others doing so. I definitely know how it feels to break a nail and to want to fix it, but you can use a file for that and shorten the others when you return to you abode. Am I right?

  1. Not following the enter and exit signs for stores and the like.

Seriously? They are clearly labeled. Very clearly labeled. Unless it’s the Walmart Neighborhood Market across the street from where I’ve been staying…then one door is marked “Entrance” with the small red “Do Not Enter” sign below it, and the other is marked “Exit” with the small green “Enter” sign underneath it. When it’s raining or you’re in a giant hurry, it can be really tempting to go in through the exit if it’s closest, but taking one or two seconds longer to enter won’t make that much of a difference. Plus, it makes it difficult for those who are (italics) following directions to get through the doors. Yet again, this is fairly silly, but there are stickers and signs everywhere.

  1. “Learn English!”

This is by far my biggest pet peeve, especially when these words are uttered by travellers. I’ve met countless Americans who only speak English that think anyone and everyone in the world should as well. When I hear people say, “This is America! Speak English!” it breaks my heart. Many of the people who are recipients of such verbal abuse do speak English, sometimes as their first language, but they are communicating with others who may not or prefer not to speak English. But also, if just going on holiday or on a brief business trip, one might not want to or be able to fully learn a new language.

When I was returning from my first stay in France, Karissa and I were in the waiting area near our gate at the Montreal airport, and we heard a group of people talking. They were clearly American and were speaking loudly about the announcements coming over the PA system.

First man: “What is that? Is that two languages?”
Woman: “I think it’s Spanish.”
First man: “No, I think it’s Italian.”
Second man: “Why on Earth would they do that?”
First man: “Don’t they realize we’re in the US of A??”
Woman: “Apparently not.”
Second man: nearly yelling “Why won’t everyone just speak English?!”

Clearly, they didn’t know we were in Canada. And even though they’d been on our flight from France, they couldn’t recognise the French language in the least bit. They continued complaining until we were boarding our flight to Chicago.

If these people had put any thought into what they were claiming (even if we hadn’t been in Canada at the time), they would have noticed their blatant hypocrisy. They were complaining about people not learning English while traveling and the like, when they had just spent time in France without learning French. This isn’t something that many Americans think about, specifically those who make these remarks, but it’s true. They wish to force foreigners to speak English, but they are not usually willing to learn the languages that are spoken in the countries to which they are traveling.

I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum, as I’ve gone a little overboard with the amount of languages I study. I’m currently studying French, Spanish, and Italian, and although I can’t speak Spanish or Italian at all, I’m certainly willing to try. I just wish others were as well.

What are your top pet peeves?

Talking about Writing

All writers do it. We babble on and on about our current and future projects, we make promises we have every intention to keep, but no determination to do so, and we talk about our work some more. We can spend hours—years even—talking about our blog, novel, poem, and short story ideas. But if we never start planning and writing, what is all the rambling about?

We spend too much time talking about what we’ll write and not enough time putting the words on the page.

I am just as guilty of doing this. I’ve spent nearly three years talking about my novel, but at the beginning I only wrote around 350 words, planned about four scenes, and jotted down a semi-detailed plot. Two years later, I completely scrapped everything but two specific characters and the overarching plot. Now I have approximately 6000 words written, but I haven’t touched it much for over six months. I keep talking about it to everyone, but I never really try to create Zoe’s story.

Don’t get me wrong, talking can be a huge help in plotting, writing, and getting past writer’s block, but it can also be a wonderful tool of procrastination and even kill your desire to write.

When you spend all your time telling others about your ideas and giving them detail after detail, you may lose your yearning to actually create the work you’ve been rambling on about for ages. You start to feel as if you’ve told everyone who matters all the important things about your project, and as a result, you don’t feel as though you need to write it anymore. This has definitely happened to me, multiple times. It happened when I first started writing my novel. That’s one of the reasons I started over almost completely. It happened when I started my blog back of last time. I talked about it, but when I sat down to type my posts up, I couldn’t think of anything because I had already told a large part of my audience what I would be saying in my posts. At that point, it didn’t seem to matter anymore. So I stopped writing as much, and eventually stopped writing altogether (though there were other circumstances that played into that poor decision as well).

Speaking to your friends about it can actually wear you out and cause you to get bored of the project. I’ve done this with a few short stories. I’ve talked about them so much that I got tired of them, set them aside, and never picked them back up again. Thinking of which, I should probably look through some of those. But if it’s all you talk about with people, they’ll start to think it’s the only topic you want to discuss, so they’ll ask about it. And you’ll have to talk about it more, answering questions that may or may not be sincere and wishing you were talking to a cat about sleeping all day instead.

If you’re rambling on about your project, make sure you’re actively working on it as well. And leave some mystery! Don’t delve into all the details, just mention what you’re stuck on, how much you’re writing or plotting currently, or some broad ideas. When you omit details in conversations about your projects, you may spark their interest and they may become one of your most avid readers. Leave a possibility for intrigue, work your butt off, and see how your stories flourish.

How do you talk about your writing projects? Do you indulge your listener with loads of details? Do you talk about it until you’re bored? Let me know in the comments!

Andrew: I Love the Sound

I’m starting a blog. I’ve never done this before, but Zoe has been bugging me about it for a while. I’m not super sure of why she wants me to, because her reasoning is ridiculous. She says that one day we won’t live so close to each other anymore and that it will be the best way for us to keep in touch. I asked her what I should write about, and she just told me to write about myself and the things that happen to me. Because those things are so exciting. I managed to talk her into sending me some blog prompts though.

Oh yeah, my name is Andrew. *waves from a distance*
I work in a shop. My grandma is famous. I live in London, but I’m actually from The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Tennessee. And that is basically my entire life.

Anyway. The first prompt is “I love the sound of…”

Do I just list these?
I guess so.

  1. I love the sound of popcorn in the microwave.
  2. I love the sound of a movie on the tv.
  3. I love the sound of American bacon in the pan.
  4. I love the sound of Zoe’s laugh.

This looks really stupid…

I love the sound of:

  1. Carolers in the park.
  2. Friends knocking on my door.
  3. The pizza delivery guy knocking on my door.
  4. My best friend’s singing (she sounds awful).
  5. A filling bath.
  6. A movie in a theater.
  7. The kettle whistling (because tea!).
  8. My grandma’s weird accent (she’s half British, half American and sounds a bit like Angela Lansbury).
  9. Zoe yelling at her computer.

So yeah. I hope you all have a great day. I don’t know if I’ll ever post again.

Someone Once Told Me

I don’t have the best memory for facts, what people say, or even what I’m doing at any given moment. My memory is truly awful. I have a calendar on my phone, a bullet journal in my bag (or in my hand), to-do lists on Habitica and in notes taking up all of my phone’s memory, and screenshots of things I want to remember on my cell and my computer. But there are some things I won’t ever forget, like my friend Amelia’s laugh, the fear caused by a car accident, the feeling of a salty wind blowing across my face, or how I got so excited to make Doctor Who snowflakes and eat peppermint ice cream with Karissa that my heart problems started acting up.

There are certain things that just become a part of you, whether you want them to or not. Sometimes those are emotions, events, the feeling of something against your skin, or words someone said to you. I’ve received so many amazing compliments over the years; half of them seem pretty cliché when typed out, but they were entirely sincere and followed by very detailed and encouraging explanations. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received wasn’t really one of the best because of what was said, but because of the circumstances it was said in and how it was said.

Earlier this year, I went on holiday to London with my best friend and her brother, staying in a rather nice part of the city. Our last night there, I walked to the Italian Garden in Kensington Gardens to spend some time alone, read, and bid the beautiful park and neighbourhood goodbye. It was wonderful. The sky was cloudy; but along the horizon, the white fluffs parted, and a glorious sunset was starting to shine over the lands. Just as the sun started to paint the skies with orange, red, and purple hues, I started my way back to the hotel, my nose buried in On the Other Side as I walked down the pavement. When I made it back to our street, I glanced up to ensure I wouldn’t collide with any unsuspecting travelers as they came out of the inn and hotel doors scattered along the road. When I looked, I saw a couple and their dog about 150 yards away, gracefully walking in the direction from which I was coming.

They were decked out in gorgeous clothes and were obviously on their way to some sort of fancy event. The woman was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen. Her mixed skin was glowing, her black hair was luxuriously bouncing in tight curls, and her lace, seafoam green dress was swirling with the wind. I read a couple sentences more, but as we approached each other, I turned and said, “I’m sorry; I love your dress!” I wasn’t even really expecting a thank you in return, but she definitely responded.

“Thank you! I’m so glad you said that; I was wanting to tell you that you’re gorgeous! I love your style! Keep wearing it. I love your clothes. You’re gorgeous!”

I couldn’t help but beam. My back straightened out, and my mouth opened in a smile that hurt my face because of its size. The confidence that had left me early that morning rushed back tenfold.

When I first got dressed, I was so excited to wear the outfit I had chosen for our final full day in England. I put on my black DeLorean tee, a brown plaid, wool skirt, my Minnie and Mickey Mouse shoes, and bright red lipstick. I knew it was a slightly odd outfit, but I really enjoy expressing my moods, interests, and personality through my clothing. However, after breakfast, I lost a lot of my excitement for the day and my anxiety started to take over. I still had a wonderful day and was in a fairly nice mood, but my self-esteem plummeted. I spent a large portion of the day worrying what others thought of my appearance, even though that is something I usually don’t care about, and I felt as if everyone was staring at me the entire day, making me incredibly uncomfortable and self-conscious.

But this astonishingly attractive and seemingly successful woman had apparently been wanting to compliment me, a rather eclectic, plain girl who had spent the majority of two days hiding in the pages of a book because she didn’t want to look into the faces surrounding her—well, and because the book was just so wonderful she never wanted to put it down. This compliment not only made me feel better about my appearance, but about my interests, my passions, and my eccentric personality. I don’t really know why, but it did. And I won’t forget it anytime soon. Because it took place in the city I long to live in, it was from a woman I could never compare to, and it was at a time that I had started to question everything about myself as a person. It reminded me that being me is a wonderful thing, and I should never sacrifice myself to meet the social standards and ideals.

What is a compliment that left a lasting impression on you? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Writing with Anxiety

Having an anxiety disorder is always difficult. From getting out of bed to looking into the mirror and from saying hello to ordering food, general and social anxiety find way to take even my most positive thoughts and turn them on me. Even my favourite compliments can turn into my greatest enemies. Upon waking, if my first thought is the least bit negative or stressful, my anxiety plagues me horribly the rest of the day, and it’s difficult for me to accomplish anything. When I look in the mirror, I usually see that I’m unhealthily skinny, but I still think I’m pretty dang gorgeous. But on bad days, I’ll fixate on the fact that my face is slightly curved or on my deviated septum or just how stinking skinny I am, and then for days, I’ll cover my face when I’m talking or laughing or cross my arms to try to hide my “faults” from the prying eyes of other human beings. Saying hello to anyone can cause me great fear that I’m being clingy or annoying or awkward, even though saying hello is usually perceived as just that, a greeting. Ordering food or drinks at cafes and restaurants stresses me out so much. I get overwhelmed by the amount of choices (and I’m already super indecisive when I only have two options), but speaking with the person behind the counter, even when I know them, can cause me to freak out internally, although they think very little of what each person gets. And these are more minimal things that my brain tends to find overwhelmingly terrifying.

So when pursuing a career in editing and writing, my anxiety is a major battle. I know I am mainly writing for myself. But I do also write for others. So what others may think about my stories, blogs, and poems is incredibly important to me. I’m constantly receiving support and encouragement, but I do also receive critiques and negative comments. Usually I take those and use them as constructive criticism, even if they aren’t meant to be taken that way. I know I can’t please everyone, but I still like to take what each person says to mind.

Anxiety can keep you from writing.
I’ve struggled with this countless times. I let my fears of failure to meet my goals or my fears that people won’t like what I write keep me from writing. So instead of working past my worries, I dwell upon them, and they become all I can see. When I do sit down to write, I can’t get words out because I keep thinking about if I’ll use the right words, if people will be impressed with my plot or my characters, and if I’ll being able to meet my word goal.

Anxiety can stop you from sharing your work.
I don’t want to know how frequently I’ve written something for my blog or for reading nights and not shared it because of how terrified I am to hear what people think about it. I spend hours preparing it, I’ll even print it off or save it as a draft for my blog, but then I get to reading or posting it and back out at the last minute. The fear of what others might say overwhelms me too much, and I just can’t bear listening, even to the compliments and positive feedback.

Anxiety can take the positive feedback and encouragement you receive and turn it against you.
I do this constantly with many areas of my life, but I think the most difficult to handle is when it is in reference to my writing. Just the other day, I was told that my unique, sassy, and quirky voice in my writing is a favourite thing of my Creative Writing professor’s. She has encouraged me to pursue fiction and to never stop writing more than I could have imagined possible by a teacher. So when she complimented my bizarre writing voice, I couldn’t help but awkwardly blush and thank her as I searched the recesses of my mind for a response. But just a few hours later, I sat down to write for about fifteen minutes, and all I could think was that I’ll never be able to write that quirky of a voice again, even though it’s my favourite way to write. I sat, overwhelmed in fear that she is the only person on the planet who could ever like such a tone in fiction, despite the fact that I know of at least ten other people who have told me that they adore how I write.

A couple days later, a friend complimented my blog posts, saying that she could definitely hear my own voice flowing through my posts. Now this is something that should be happening, whether I try or not. But after she said it, I fixated on the fact that the voice in my head might be the one that people hear, and that is the last thing I want. I don’t want the negative thoughts that overwhelm me to plague the minds of my readers as well. I want my blog to be a place that people can read and be uplifted. I want my blog to be overwhelmingly positive and optimistic. But my voice can frequently be mingled with the voice in my mind that tells me everything is rubbish, so even the best of compliments can turn into anxieties.

Anxiety can cause you delete what you’ve written.
I’ve done this so many times. I’ve spent hours, sometimes days or weeks, working on a writing project and then been so overwhelmed by all the possible negative outcomes or the fears of how others may (or may not) respond that I delete the entire project from my computer and my blog and tear it out of my notebook (I’ve even burned some works before) because I’m too full of negative thoughts towards my abilities and those particular works.

Anxiety can get you to abandon writing.
This happened to me just earlier this year. I didn’t tell anyone that I had outright given up, not even myself. But I did. After losing my blog and about six months of work as well as all the feedback (positive especially), I didn’t want to try anymore. What if such a thing happened again? What if once I started writing again people didn’t like my work? What if I couldn’t meet the expectations that had arisen in the minds of my readers, friends, and family because of the previous website? What if, what if, what if? I completely stopped writing for about six months. And I wouldn’t let anyone call me a writer, claiming it was because I wasn’t actively working on any projects. I had abandoned writing.

 

BUT!!

 

Anxiety isn’t your master.
It doesn’t have to control you. You don’t have to succumb to the fears and the negative thoughts. I know it’s incredibly difficult to fight them, but once you start, each day tends to get a little bit easier. The fears may still be running through your mind constantly, but you can push them to the side and remind yourself of the truth and of the positive aspects of yourself, your readers, and your writing. Sometimes it might require additional help through medication, tea, yoga, breathing exercises, and the like, but you can fight your anxiety. And you can win.

Anxiety can be a tool for your writing.
Lately, I’ve been taking my negative thoughts about my writing and myself and using them as motivation to prove myself (and potentially others) wrong. When my thoughts are overrun with negativity about not being able to write in my favourite voice, I run through a few short writing exercises to get into that voice to prove to myself that I can and will write like that again. When I fixate on the idea that no one will ever appreciate, let alone like my work, I look back through the comments I’ve received on my blogs and from different writing exercises and critiques in my writing class and see that there are already many people who do, so why wouldn’t others? When I get scared that I won’t meet my word count, I create a special reward for meeting my goal and force myself to write until I meet it, thus proving that I can while getting a treat.

Anxiety won’t stop others from appreciating your work.
Even if you can see past the thoughts that others hate your work, there will always be someone who appreciates what you write. There have been things that I’ve written that I’ve been proud of and incredibly excited to share, but nearly no one has even given it a second look. But there has never failed to be at least one person who has come up and paid me a compliment on my work. I know it’s incredibly rare for me to read something and say “I hate this so much that I can’t even appreciate it!” I usually find at least three reasons to appreciate the things I’ve read, if not hundreds.

Anxiety may plague you, but you can overcome it, time and time again.
These negative thoughts might not ever leave. You might battle them day after day and moment after moment, but you can do it. Each tiny step to improvement is just that—improvement. Even on my best days, I struggle with my anxiety more than I would ever care to admit, but on those days, I tend to be so happy, positive, and focused that I can easily ignore the negativity or take it and change it into something positive. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Work through the hard days, take breaks when you need to, and open your eyes to how much you and your writing truly is appreciated. Because you are special, and no one could ever write about the things you do the way you do it.

Afraid of What?

I get into very awkward or bizarre situations on a fairly regular basis. I obviously don’t intend to; it just kind of happens. Whether it’s accidentally hugging a stranger because I already had my arms out for a hug and felt it was too late to retreat or rambling on about the drink choices with a barista while the line grows ever longer behind me and he looks at me as if I’ve lost my mind while attempting to speak kindly, my life is certainly never a bore.

Just this last week, I took a lovely hour-long walk to my alma mater to visit a few professors, sit in on a class, hang out with some friends, and watch Into the Woods. Although each of these event hosted its own odd happenstance, there is one particular story which may hold more entertainment than the others.

I was hanging out with my friend, Matt, for quite some time up in the Joust’s dining area. We had sat down outside the main lobby and landed near the stairwell and the computer stations. While we were at the table there, several torrential downpours thundered against the roof as lightning raced across the sky. Matt had been there, dozing off or laughing at my attempts to focus on writing. All the while my fingers were tapping away at the keys and I was thinking aloud about my future posts, possible story ideas, and occurrences from the morning. Occasionally I made a remark on the rain or someone who had braved the deluge would walk into our presence, water trickling down their faces, hair, clothes, and bags.

As the lightning and thunder picked up, I started thinking about my computer and the fact that it wasn’t plugged into a surge protector, so I was typing as quickly as I could while trying to finish the short project I was working on so that I could turn off my computer and unplug it. But then it happened. The power flickered. Thankfully, it wasn’t even long enough for my charger to realise that no electricity had run through it for a few milliseconds. So I carried on.

I kept typing, emailing, and working until it happened again. I then frantically started pounding at the keys, hoping that what I was putting in would make sense to my editor later. I heard a student coming down the hallway talking about how he was enjoying the storm while I was thinking that I would be if I weren’t so terrified of losing my computer. But my fingers weren’t fast enough. And the power…well, it was gone.

I gasped. My computer immediately started lagging horrendously and terror set in. I automatically spewed, “Oh no! No, no, no, no, no! I don’t like this! This is scary! No!! I don’t like this! Can the power please, please come back on…?” I sounded even more frightened than I felt.

What I hadn’t realised was that my fear didn’t come across as being irrationally scared of my laptop being screwed up from the storm; instead, it came across to the student, who had just graced us with his presence, as if I were utterly petrified of the dark and about in tears. He tried to stifle a laugh as I freaked out, but his chortle had been noticed. I quickly tried to explain my fear, but by that point, I was starting to giggle and the panic was ebbing away. As all of this was happening, a few other people had made their way up the stairs and witnessed my exclamations and attempts to explain them. What can I do, right?

Now this wasn’t too awkward overall, but for a few seconds, I was completely embarrassed. I felt a fool. Sometimes my anxieties and fears override my logical thought processes, and I forget how things work in the physical world. Thankfully, there wasn’t a power surge or anything of the kind, and the power was only off for about ten seconds, otherwise it would have taken over half an hour to turn my ruddy computer off (I really need to see if I can get it fixed…). But because of my fear of my computer messing up more than it already is, I failed to observe the world around me and drew far more attention to myself than I would’ve liked. And goodness knows I let my fear get in the way of my life far more frequently than that.

If I let my fear of losing my computer freak me out that much, what is it like when I let my fears of not meeting my personal goals overwhelm me?

If I continue letting my fear of rejection keep getting in the way of my writing, then I’ll never fulfil my dream of becoming a published author. If I let my fear of messing up stop me from editing, then I’ll never fulfil my dream of helping others be published. If I let my fear of looking silly stop me from being my nerdy, overly-passionate self, then I’ll never let anyone get to know the real me. And if I let my fear of fear of meeting new people stop me from making new friends, then I’ll never meet the people who may just become my family.

It’s always a struggle to get past my fears, but I constantly do, even if it’s just in tiny increments. And I could never be thankful enough for the things I experience, the people I meet, the places I go, and the dreams and goals I accomplish. I’ve accomplished these by pushing past what my mind tells me so that I see the truth—that I am loved and appreciated and that what I do does make an impact, even if the only person impacted by it is me.