Unsent Letters

Hey friends! I know I haven’t blogged in a while, and I apologize! I’ve actually been writing other things including an extremely non creative fictional story. But hey, its something I enjoy doing so I’m gonna keep writing it! Maybe one day I’ll share some of it here, maybe not. I also recently wrote a long letter to someone that I don’t actually intend on sending. That’s what I’m here to talk about.

A little over a year ago I was encouraged by a friend to write a letter to someone with whom I’d had a falling out. I’d grown resentful of this person for causing another friendship of mine to falter. So I took the advice. I wrote a letter that I would never ever actually send. I was feeling extreme anger and said some incredibly hurtful things that I would never in a million years actually say to anyone, even my worst enemy! But the thing is, it really helped. I knew I was feeling angry and hurt, but until I wrote that letter I couldn’t pinpoint why. After writing it, I knew exactly what my feelings were, and I’d processed them in a safe way. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

A year later (a few weeks ago) I was dealing with some different feelings. The situation and person could not have been more different from one another. I’m not going to get into too many details, but I thought to myself, “maybe I should write a letter.” So that’s what I did. I wrote a letter. This time the letter was much friendlier. I talked about all of the good times we shared and even smiled while I wrote it, a far cry from the previous letter. In some ways, it still hurt me to write it. It felt like I was talking directly to the person I was writing to and it truly sucked, but in the end I again felt a weight lifter off my shoulders.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m encouraging you to do the same. If there’s anyone in your life that you have a lot to say to but you can bring yourself to admit it to their face yet, write them a letter that you don’t actually send. Make sure you use pen and paper or Word, not email. That could end up bad! I’m telling you that it works, especially when you just need to externally process! If I’m being honest, I could easily publish a novel of all the unsent letters I should’ve written by now! It doesn’t have a to be a long letter; it could be just one paragraph, but if you feel like you just can’t get something out of your brain, write a letter!

I hope this was all coherent! I’m not proofreading tonight. I’ll write a better blog in the future, but for now I’m gonna go write another letter because I just convinced myself that I need to!

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The Life of a Socially Awkward Extrovert

(Before I begin, I want to apologize for missing a whole week of blogs! I never said anything, but I was trying to keep to a schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, but that just didn’t happen this week. That’s all. Enjoy!)

Yes, I’m talking about me. Surprise, surprise! If you were around the internet circa 2011-ish, you’re probably aware of memes such as Bad Luck Brian, Over Attached Girlfriend, Successful Black Man, and Socially Awkward Penguin. I am Socially Awkward Penguin.

Here’s an example of one that I do all the time:
penguin3
I just don’t always know how to respond to people sometimes. Its not that I didn’t enjoy meeting you, because I likely did. What am I supposed to say though? “Nice meeting you too!”? That just sounds so fake and forced to me, so I’m left with the ever so awkward, “Yep!” (I feel like I should talk about how the word “yep” is awkward in and of itself, but I’ll leave that for another time.) Here is another somewhat related example:
penguin2
This is my life! I’m always mulling over what I could, or should have said in a situation to make it less awkward. Only on occasion are my witty comments on time, and then this happens:
penguin1
Talk about the most relatable meme I’ve ever seen! Whenever I do have something intelligent to add to a conversation, nobody listens to me.

So what does this have to do with also being an extrovert? A lot. Socially awkward extrovert used to sound like an oxymoron to me. Before I learned what it actually means to be an extrovert, as opposed to a stereotypical extrovert. In case you don’t know, I’ll enlighten you. Stereotypically, extroverts are loud, outgoing, and the life of the party! While stereotypical, they can be true. Where do you think stereotypes come from anyway? One of the actual traits of an extrovert includes being energized just by being around large groups of people. You can love being around people and still be socially awkward!

Because of my social awkwardness, I’m often perceived as being introverted. Depending on how you know me, you probably see me as either a definite extrovert, or a definite introvert. If you’re family, or someone I haven’t spent a lot of time with, you’d probably say I’m introverted. On the other hand, if you’re a close friend that I’ve spent lots of time with, you likely view me as the extrovert that I am. The reason? I’m so much less awkward around people that I know really well! (The exception to this is the people I met while on a YE team, because it was my job to get to know them.)

Why am I writing about this? It sucks! I mean seriously, I want to be around people and spend time with them, but half the time I can’t even produce any intelligent sounding sentences. Most people prefer to surround themselves with interesting people, but its hard to be interesting when you’re plagued with social awkwardness. It really is a curse that many people suffer from!

In dealing with this my whole life, I’ve come up with some ways to spend time with people while not being completely awkward. Sports are a great option because you’re concentrating on what you’re doing while still enjoying, hopefully, each others company. Whether playing a team sport with a large group, or something one on one like tennis, it fills my extroverted needs of being with people while eliminating the social stress of conversation. Always having background music is a staple of my life. If there’s ever a lull in conversation, I can either start jamming out to the song that’s on or it will spark another subject to talk about. You can also just bust up some silly dance moves, which brings me to one of my favourite activities, dancing. Dancing is especially great for socially awkward extroverts because like sports, it lets you concentrate on something else. It also requires music and if you’re feeling comfortable, especially in partner dances such as swing, you can hold a conversation at the same time! Plus its fun!

So there you have it folks! The life of a socially awkward extrovert. Hopefully my 3am writing is coherent because I don’t really feel like editing today! =)

#YEstrong

(The hashtag I used as the title has been circulating, so I decided it’d work.)
Okay, so I initially had a different blog planned (and almost completed) for today, but with the announcement yesterday, I felt the need to change gears. And don’t worry, you’ll get the other blog later this week!

What’s the announcement you ask? A wonderful organization that I volunteered for starting in August 2013 and ending in August 2015 is officially closing it doors in April.
Click here to read the official news.
I’m not going to go over all of the details of why Youth Encounter is coming to an end. If you want to know, go to the link!

Anyway, I’m just gonna write from my heart. I want to share with you how this organization impacted my life, and why I’m saddened by the announcement.

(If you are my teammate or already know how I got involved with Youth Encounter, you may skip this paragraph.)
I first applied to be on a Youth Encounter team in the summer of 2013, just over a month before I left. At the time, I knew very little about what I was getting myself into. I had met this pretty cool guy (shoutout to Kevin!) in college and happened to be Facebook friends with him. He made a post about Youth Encounter still accepting applications for the coming year, and I applied, got accepted, and signed my letter of call. (That’s the short version by the way. If you want to know the whole story, let me know.) I signed in early August and left for Minnesota by the end of the month. To say I was scared is an understatement, but once I was there, it felt so right.

My first year of ministry, August 2013 – August 2014, I was a part of a team called Captive Free East Coast. Here’s a photo of my team at the start of our year:

promo photo
Back: Ben, Mary, Beth; Front: J.D., Me, Miriam

That year was a crazy whirlwind of experiences! Obviously I was in a new place with new people. I traveled to literally half the United States in a fifteen passenger van. I “learned” how to planned the drums. (I use quotations because I’d hardly say I’m any good.) I made new friends. I relied on God to provide for me and my team. I taught songs and did puppet shows for children. I ate new foods. I learned all about a Christian denomination I previously knew nothing about. I laughed, cried, got angry, shared my feelings, had fun, and looked forward to Mondays! (Mondays were our days off which meant sleeping in!) I learned how to (attempt) to live in a healthy community and put up with people with different personalities. My favourite thing about the whole year though? The people I met across those 25 states. I’m so thankful for Facebook to keep in contact with a lot of those people. I could tell stories for days about the year!
(If you’re interested in reading some, click here assuming the link works!)

(More call story stuff coming in this next paragraph.)
When Easter break came around, I started to realize that one year would not be enough. By our Vacation Bible School training just before Memorial Day, I pretty much knew another year was going to happen, but I wouldn’t admit it to anyone, even myself. Eventually through some talks with J.D. and Beth, I decided to apply for a second year. With some prodding from friends, I finally admitted the application during my very last week of VBS with Captive Free East Coast that summer and signed my letter of call for a second year with Youth Encounter exactly one year after the first.

The second year I was on a team called Captive Free East Lakes. Here we are the day we met:

first team photo.jpg
Taylor, Johanna, Katie, me, Josh

I knew it was going to be a completely different year than the first, but I could’ve never imagined how it would all happen. The first difference, there was one less team member. We also weren’t all American, which created some cultural differences, some frustrating, but mostly funny. (Shoutout to our German, Johanna!) Both Taylor and I were alumni. We faced different challenges as a team that I would have never seen coming, and I faced some personal challenges. We visited a lot of new places, but it wasn’t all different. I had the amazing opportunity to visit a total of about fifteen places throughout the year that I had been to with my East Coast team. I cannot begin to explain to you how amazing it is to see people that you’d never expected to see again! While my second year was a different experience than the first, I could never tell you which one was better! This was also another one of the best years of my life! When it ended, I cried like baby!

Since being back home from Youth Encounter, I’ve noticed a lot about myself. I can pretty much find everything in a kitchen on the first try and am no longer stumped by how to work a weird shower. I can tell you which sandwiches at Subway are the cheapest, and I know how to make a bed out of whatever resources I have. But seriously, I’m a lot more aware of how people communicate with each other. When someone starts to interrupt me, I’m not afraid to tell them to wait. I’m more confident talking to people I don’t know, though I am still a bit socially awkward. I know how to be the listening ear someone needs. I’m not afraid to dress and act like a weirdo, and many many more things! What I’m trying to say is that YE taught me so many strange skills and life lessons that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

I have to say, I’m not surprised by the fact that Youth Encounter is closing its doors after 51 years. During my two years being involved in the organization, I could feel the decline. The first year, I didn’t have much to compare to except for stories from alumni. My second year, it was pretty obvious to me. There were less team members, fewer events with fewer youth attending them, and a lack of churches jumping at the chance to book us. It’s tough to see such a big part of my life come to an end, but really its not an end. All of the host families, youth groups, staff, and alumni will forever be impacted by this organization, whether big or small. Just because Youth Encounter will no longer exist does not mean that those relationships made through it will cease.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

Boxes

So who am I? I told you all about why I started this blog, but I never told you anything about myself. Lucky for you, there’s about a million and one boxes that we can categorize ourselves into and I know where I fit in just about all of those!

Gender: Female
Generation: Millennial
Religious Beliefs: Christian
Myers-Briggs Type: most recently ESFP
Harry Potter House: original pottermore- Gryffindor; new pottermore- Ravenclaw
Astrological Sign: Scorpio
Chinese Zodiac: Snake

Okay, that’s enough boxes. In other words, I actually can’t come up with anymore off the top of my head! I’ll probably share more about myself in later posts, but for the meantime, y’all probably already know me anyway and its late(ish).