so long, my friend

It was a bit of a shock (if that’s the right word) to log on to this blog for the first time in more than four months and see that the last post was a gleaming post of happiness and gratitude for my best friend. You see, a week ago that same friend texted me and said she was cutting ties for good.

For a week I’ve been grappling with the feelings of it, of all I need and want to say but won’t say, of what went wrong, of the pros, the cons. I’m currently out of the country so receiving the text that friendship is over and knowing that when I get back, everything will be different and there’s nothing I can do about it has been something that has been weighing on me for most of the trip, even before the text officially cutting me off came.

I guess I just don’t get it. Things had gotten bad between us, yes, but was ending it really necessary? How do you end a friendship with your best friend through text? When they are 4,000 miles away and can’t do anything about what was happening? It couldn’t have waited until I got home? We couldn’t talk in person? Yes, things were rough but it was worth ending the entire friendship via a few text messages that tried to make it seem like a far cleaner break than it was?

I need to quit dwelling, I so desperately need to quit thinking about it (and I have been doing pretty well pushing it out of my mind, though that blog post brought me right back). I’m not as much hurt as I am angry now, but more angry at myself than the friend. I don’t get it. I will never get it, but I guess it’s just something I need to deal with.

I still think we should talk in person and I still believe that would have been the right way to handle it, but if someone can cut off their best friend without enough respect to speak to them, I guess it’s not a person worth chasing or being too upset over.

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All I Can Offer

I’d like to say I am a happy and positive person. It’s quite a change from the person I was just a few years ago, down and out, looking for the worst in things around me. I was mean. I was rude. I had some vendetta against everyone and everything. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I seemed to think the world around me was what was wrong.

Now here I am, 20 and a junior in college, a few years away from that person that seemed to hate everything, including life itself. Here I sit, writing this with one of my closest friends beside me, and I think I can say I am happy.

I don’t think I have ever really known happiness before, or at least the true and complete happiness I am feeling now. Of course there are days when I feel low, back at the point where I feel like everything is wrong, but there is something so different here. Now, my biggest goal is to not only continue to better myself, but to improve the lives of those around me.

I have been blessed with an amazing group of people that surround me. From close friends to people I interact with here and there thanks to social media, I have discovered some of the strongest, brightest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. These people are sweet, kind, and caring. These people deserve to be happy. But many of them aren’t, and it breaks my heart.

Knowing what it feels like to feel at the very bottom with no where to go, it truly upsets me seeing these people down at that point. I feel this need, this force telling me that I need to change lives. Even if I only put a smile on the face of one person for a moment, I think that is an accomplishment toward making a difference. Sometimes I feel as though I will come off as weird or creepy for trying to reach out for people, especially those I do not know well, but at the end of the day, I have decided that who I am and what I wish to do is important. If I feel like someone needs something, I am going to give what I can to them, putting aside the fact that they may be confused as to what my motives are.

My motives are to make and see people happy. My desire is to make friends and help those friends grow like my friends continually help me grow. My purpose is to change the world, even if that means only changing the lives of the people I have been lucky enough to cross paths with. If I am not helping people, I do not see any other reason for my existence.

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In the past few years, I’ve had best friends stop speaking to me out of no where, best friends take advantage of what I would do for them without an ounce of gratitude, best friends make me feel worthless, terrible, awful about myself. These were people I had known for years and these were people I would do anything for because I cared about them like family. While their treatment hurt me, I always rationalized it with the good and found ways to keep these people around despite the obvious ways they were using and hurting me. Years later, writing this after not speaking to many of those friends for months and even years, I am truly so thankful and content for what they have done for me, as the pain they caused me was okay, given that I would eventually meet people that treat me like a friend is supposed to treat someone they care about. My three closest friends have showed me what I’ve missed out on when I was wasting time on people that didn’t really want me around except when they needed help, and two of those people I have only known for less than a year.

Just within the past three months, a fellow editor on the school paper has become one of my best friends and one of the most important people to ever step into my life. I know that calling someone my best friend after only several months isn’t always the best decision because things like that take time to build, but sometimes you just know.  This past semester has been so difficult, overwhelming, and tiresome, but Hannah came through for me in so many ways and for that, I can safely say that yes, she is my best friend.

So this is to Hannah, my fellow penguin loving journalism friend, thank you so much. Thank you for coming into my crazy life and immediately putting up with me and being such a caring and amazing soul. Thanks for listening to me rant and rant and rant about things that aren’t 12189903_1042210202469454_1591478074431915739_neven important. Thank you for supporting and encouraging my passions as much as you do, even when I am busy beating myself up.
Thank you for being someone I can go to with everything, especially things I usually just keep to myself because I haven’t felt I’ve really had someone that I should pester with all the petty little things I talk about. I have opened up to you more than I have opened up to most people in a long time and despite the short time we have known each other, it’s like I have known you forever and can just tell you as much as I have. Thanks for being someone I can text at any time just to talk (even 4:20 in the morning). You are such a kind and caring person, and I am more than blessed to have found you and your friendship. This past semester wouldn’t have been nearly the same if we were not friends and I can’t even begin to picture how I would be 12239628_1053994351291039_5172147345383443337_nfeeling at this moment if I hadn’t had you helping me get through all the highs and lows (no matter how petty or stupid). I feel like we suddenly were such close friends, but I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am that things happened the way they did. I could probably go on and on about just how thankful I am. I’m just really not used to having someone that is willingly there consistently or someone that appreciates my friendship, no matter how clingy or overbearing I may be. I really do not know how I got so lucky to meet you. I hope you know that I would do anything for you and will always have your back because these past few months, you have always had mine. You are a true friend and I am certain that God placed you right by my side this semester because he knew I needed you.

A (very) short piece on passion and friendship

Passion is one of the most alluring qualities of a person and I feel truly blessed to have friends around me that are filled with passion. To me, there is no better feeling than watching how someone’s face lights up when their passion fills them or the way their voice changes for the same reason.A passionate happiness is true happiness and all I want for the people in my life is for them to be happy. As someone who is absolutely driven by passion and devoted to my passions, being surrounded by such people is truly special. There is a difference between people who are passionate and people who are not, and I believe a passionate bond is much stronger and more valuable than one that lacks such passion. I take a great deal of my happiness from watching the happiness of those around me and I see a true beauty in seeing the effects of passion the the people I call friends. I cannot even begin to explain the way observing those I am closest to experiencing their passions makes me feel. I would put the happiness of my dearest friends over my own any day, especially if I get to see them smile and laugh over something that is actually changing their life.

You Got Me: An Open Letter to My Best Friends

I know I get really busy and in over my head. If I’m not working, doing something for school or the paper, or shooting, I’m probably sleeping. I know it seems like I either don’t care at all or care way too much. When it comes down to treating you like you’re the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, it is because you are. I swear that even though I seem like I never have time for anything other than building myself, I think about you so much. I know that it probably isn’t easy to maintain a close relationship with someone who might seem like they don’t even care about you all the time, but I can promise you that every single day, I say a little ‘thank you’ for the people that I have been blessed with. While my daily communication can be slewed with stress or other problems or, the worst, sometimes nonexistent, I will always be by your side the minute you need me, whether that is figuratively or literally (and I truly hope it always comes down to literally because I would drive hours for you).

So, to my best friends, to the best people on this earth (okay, that may seem a little excessive, but to me, you are), you’ve got me if you need me. If something happens and you need me, call. Even if you just need a friend in the middle of the night, please let me know. I don’t care if I’m sleeping, out and about, working on something important, or even taking a test, I will drop any and everything because you are the ones that deserve it. I don’t really think I deserve you so I want you to see just how much I care about you. I will drop every single thing to help you because while my time may seem so limited most of the time, you deserve all the time I could possibly offer and more. Don’t hesitate to come to me because I will not hesitate to help you. I don’t allow many people to get very close to me because I like to be choosy about who I allow in; I have allowed you in because I love you and I would do anything, absolutely anything, to be there when life gets rough or you’re just feeling alone. That is what friendship is all about, and while working my butt off to work towards my goals is great, these bonds we share mean so much more than a success on paper.

No matter what, you have me.

This Wild Little Dream

I’m starting off with the generic thing I see some variation of plastered all over social media at random points of the year:
If you had told me this was what my life would be a few years ago, I would have thought you were crazy.

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Shooting a concert with my best friend Aubree last fall

I never would have expected to be where I am in the least. From the days of awkwardly holding a camera and pretending I knew what I was doing because I could control the ISO and didn’t have to shoot with the flash up, to slowly figuring out how to control the shutter speed and so on, there was never a moment I sat down and thought, “Wow, one day this camera could become the object my entire life revolves around.” When I wrapped my hand around the kit lens that came with my first DSLR, I didn’t even imagine that one day I would invest in a lens that would not only make my arm fall asleep, but capture photos that would get my images plastered all over the place. When I took up journalism, it was writing that drew me to the field; I didn’t think photos would tie into that deal. I loved taking photos but I didn’t see myself as a photographer. You know what? I still sometimes don’t.

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On the field before shooting the Michigan football game

When I shot my first set of senior pictures, I was thrilled but I thought that was it. When I shot my first concert, I couldn’t contain my happiness but, scared and lost in the photo pit, I was certain it wouldn’t happen again. When I shot a concert with my best friend, I felt something so powerful about photography and the friendship formed partially by it. When I shot my first festival, a pride filled me that I could never explain nor replicate. And the day I walked out onto the field of Michigan Stadium clutching my camera and staring in awe at the audience, nothing could compare. These feelings that I was on the wrong path or that I was going no where seemed to be plaguing me but in that moment, it all made perfect sense to me. My camera, my passion, again reminded me that there is value and purpose in my life. More importantly, I was allowed to show my passion to those around me in a way that could translate both to those close to me and strangers alike.

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Spending time with one of my best friends, Sarah, during the halftime of a Michigan game

Through a camera and some dreams I thought I wouldn’t see beyond sleep, I have been able to find myself. Who I thought I was and what I wanted was shaken up right before my very eyes. With every single opportunity that has come my way, I have discovered what matters to me, what brings me true happiness, and what has the power to change my mood and my mind. For some, following my accomplishments is something they enjoy and they are readily willing to share their approval with me. For me, knowing that I have support and love out there is one of the most beautiful things. While I still struggle through not knowing exactly what I want out of this life, it is so comforting to know that my joy isn’t something I have to enjoy alone.

Some Insight on Change

There was a point where I let my closest friends walk all over me, believing their words over their actions and feeling I found the most amazing group of people to be surrounded by. A year ago I was lying on the floor screaming and crying about how one of those people kicked me to the curb with no explanation. Months ago I was crying while begging one of my close friends to speak to me or return my calls and text messages. I gave my all to people who sucked the life out of me and filled me with empty hope.

Today, I am talking to some of the most understanding and like-minded people I have ever met. I have found a tight knit group of friends in my program at school; they support my goals and ambitions. They understand my dreams and they have helped to build me up an immense amount thus far. I have advanced at the paper at school, meeting a group of outstandingly talented people. I can talk about what I hope for, what I fear, and where I want to be headed without feeling belittled, judged, or pushed down. I don’t feel like I am walking on glass, I don’t feel awful about myself when my words don’t come out right, and I can finally say I am completely happy. Healthy, supportive relationships are so important to our well-being. That being said, don’t go skimp on redeeming qualities in people just to have someone to hang around with. That person may be fun to spend time with for the time being, but they will eventually take their toll. Unfortunately, that toll isn’t even always evident.

It almost upsets me to look back and see that I accepted the treatment I was given by people I thought cared about me. I allowed myself to take the abuse of people that didn’t mean well all because I wanted friends to care about me like I loved them. I can’t really be hard on myself, though, because those experiences helped me to see what a healthy relationship consists of. The pain was necessary for the good to come out and truly make sense. Life isn’t set in stone even in the slightest. I fought the changes when they came, but giving in, I learned that there was much better out there, just beyond what I could see. We don’t know what this life holds and sometimes trying to control it completely will destroy us.

Embrace change in all aspects.

Change hurts, but there’s a cliche light at the end of the tunnel.