12 Things 2017 Taught Me

2017 was a wild year. Although it was tumultuous and often anxiety inducing on a global scale, good things still came of it. 

Personally, as usual, it was a year of many highs and lows, but overall, it was pretty great! There is too much to say about it! I moved in with Sky, got engaged, found two jobs I am super happy about, made some great memories with both friends and family, found “my place” in the university, and I’ve honestly seen a lot of personal growth which has been awesome. I know if I do a reflection-type post, I will end up rambling on for ages, so I figured I’d keep this post short and sweet by posting about something I learned each month of the year.

I also apologize if these are all super cheesy. I’m a pretty cheesy person, ahaha.

[JANUARY]: Being strong does not mean you’re not allowed to feel weak, to feel broken, to feel scared. Being strong is knowing that tomorrow you can try again, start again. Being strong is never giving up on yourself. Being strong is slowly putting one foot in front of the other until you’re able to run again.

[FEBRUARY]: You are more than enough. When the world is threatening to overwhelm you, it is best to take a moment to step back, and look around at all you have, and all the wonderful things you are. You are enough.

[MARCH]: If you believe in yourself and your decisions, so will everyone else. But it does not matter what they think, anyway. If you are confident in yourself and your choices, great things will follow.

[APRIL]: Let yourself be vulnerable. Embrace the chaos of life, and remind yourself that even when everything feels like it’s too much, you will still learn about yourself and about life in the process of dealing with hardship. Just hang on and you’ll keep getting better at this whole thing. You’ll get to where you want to be. Hold those who support you, believe in you and encourage you so very close, especially in these times.

[MAY]:  Losing people from your life never gets easier. Sometimes the hardest changes will leave you with the space to learn from the mistakes of your past and better yourself, and you’ll come back stronger for it.

[JUNE]: The world is a lot brighter when you give people the benefit of the doubt. There is a lot of negativity out there, but people will surprise you in the best ways, if you allow them the chance to.

[JULY]: The most liberating thing you can do for yourself is to learn to live un-apologetically as exactly who you are, despite any preconceived notions of what others might think or expect of you. March to the beat of your own drum, and revel in the power, the pride, and the confidence it brings you.

[AUGUST]: Mindfulness and slow/intentional living are not just buzzwords. They are super useful practices to carve some space for yourself to just be; they allow us a break from being pulled in every direction, a break from always trying to be more. They are helpful and healing and so many other great things. Take a bit to learn about either and see if you can fit it into your life. It’s worth it.

[SEPTEMBER]: It’s cliche to say it, but sometimes things really do need to fall apart to fall back into place. The people who are meant to be in your life, who you want in your life,  and who mutually want you in theirs, will, in the end, always be there for you. Friends are invaluable and so important ♥

[OCTOBER]: Be brave. And never forget to take the time to appreciate and thank the people in your life who help you to do so. Always believe in love and the strength that comes from having a community of people around you that love and believe in you too.

[NOVEMBER]: You never know what someone is going through, so be kind. We are all so very different, but the thing that unites us all is our humanity; the very real experience of living through heartbreak, hardship, through picking yourself up when you hit rock bottom, through celebrating success; the big and the small, and from trying, just trying, always trying to be who we want to be and live the life we want. We’re all searching for something bigger than ourselves, something to smooth out the creases and remedy each battlescar we’ve acquired. Be gentle, be tender, the world is hard enough as it is.

[DECEMBER]: There are many ways to build the life you imagine for yourself. There is no correct or straightforward path to take. Do what feels right for you, and the rest will follow. It won’t always be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

 

As for 2018, I don’t think I am going to set any specific goals other than getting my chapbook and hopefully my disability/fairytale media paper published! I made quite a few goals at the start of the school year in September and throughout 2017, so I think I’m going to keep working on those. Maybe I should write them out though, that’s what the experts say is best 🙂

Wishing you all a happy, safe, and exciting 2018!! thank you for taking the time out of your days to read my posts!

love and best wishes for the new year,

jc. ♥

social media + “authenticity”

Maybe this topic is past its prime. But it’s something I think about a lot, and I still find it is relevant, as long as we are using social media, so I am going to write about it.

I find the idea of authenticity, in the sort of buzzword way, very intriguing. What do we even mean when we say “authentic”? At this point, I’m not entirely sure.

It seems that most of us are striving for some sort of authenticity in our lives, especially in our online presence, yet we are flooded with posed, over-edited and carefully cultivated representations of our lives on social media. Is this really genuine? Is it real?

I don’t mean to say that it’s wrong to post a picture just for its aesthetic value or for validation or to post a smiling selfie when you’re feeling sad. Social media is just as much for self-expression and creativity as it is anything else. Make it your own and do whatever you want with it.

I just question the narrative we create with a stream of idealized photos, often literally cropping out any less than perfect elements to frame the perfect moment, even if the moment we are capturing is far from perfect. What parts of the story are being left out?

I know that there definitely is a movement, a push, for honesty in what we post online, and I appreciate this. It is so hard to move against the grain, to be vulnerable. I value all of the hard work people do to create a presence that is real, that is truthful, that highlights the lows of life as much as it does the highs. I think it’s so important to have this, to remind people that social media is often framed in terms of what people think the world expects of them, not a reflection of reality. We are all far from perfect but we often like to pretend otherwise.

And no, I don’t have a problem if you only want to post pictures that are of those perfect moments. There’s nothing wrong with sharing happiness, or photos just for the sake of sharing photos. We do, however, need to remember not to compare ourselves to what we see online – and I know this is underlined over and over again – but it’s true. It’s too easy to take photos at face value and accept them as truth. This is rarely the case. Social media should come with a disclaimer, but it doesn’t. So it’s up to us to be honest with what we post, or to be critical about what we see when we are tempted to measure ourselves against the photos saturating our feeds.

I’m definitely not exempt from this falsified story-telling. A few weeks ago, I posted a colorful, inviting shot of the city and the river (it’s the feature photo of this post!). What the people looking at the photo couldn’t see, however, was the tears on my face as I took it, or the hour leading up to that, which consisted of a disheartening doctor’s appointment, some serious self-doubt and questioning of myself in almost every aspect imaginable, and the resulting flood of tears I couldn’t seem to stop or hide, as I walked down Main Street, trying to force a smile and hide my tear-streaked cheeks and puffy, red eyes. Honestly, I think I posted the picture as a way to make myself feel better. I don’t know if it worked, but I know I am prone to posting a photo on social media that represents the complete opposite of what I’m feeling, and I don’t know, maybe it’s a way to cope sometimes. But I’m not sure that’s the best solution.

I have been trying, lately, to be more honest with what I share. It’s so hard to do, but I’m going to keep trying. That’s part of why I started this blog – to narrate my life in a way that is honest and real.

Keep posting whatever you want, of course. I’m not trying to criticize anyone, I just think we need to take the time to question both what we post, and what we see.

 

Ultimately, what story are you telling?

And is it the story you want to tell?

 

& with that, have a great week friends,

jc. ♥

a reflection inspired by National Coming Out Day

*Photo by Ten Thousand Hours Photo 

October 11th was National Coming Out Day. I’ve never really shared “my story” publicly, and seeing all the honest and vulnerable posts of others inspired me to write my own. It may be several days late, and an extremely simplified summary of a very complex experience, but here it is.

We live in a world that values heteronormative relationships above all others. This is true. It is especially true, or obvious, if you do not identify as heterosexual, cisgender, or anything else that blurs the lines of the gender/sex/attraction binaries our society so desperately clings to. In the same vein, many people who deviate from the “norm” feel trapped, in what they may not realize is compulsory heterosexuality.

That’s all the jargon I’m going to include in this – it is only a blog post! I want to reflect on these ideas and how I’ve experienced them and subsequently dealt with them in my life, as I can’t speak for others, but I am sure some can relate. So get ready for a personal post.

It’s funny what you realize when you look back on your life.

I don’t know if this is going to be a coming out story, but maybe a coming to the realization, that I am in fact, not straight, and then, the process of sorting out my identity and labels from there. It is not easy. The default expected is heterosexual, so I found myself trying to justify how I felt about girls, to negate it, and to convince myself that a future in a relationship with a man was possible. I did this in several ways – firstly, by excusing my lack of interest in guys, think along the lines of “I’ll meet someone in college”, “I just have really high standards”, “I’m too busy for a relationship” etc etc… the crushes that I did have were more platonic than anything, I’ve since realized. I even went as far to research as many LGBTQ+ identities that explained a lack of attraction to men, and labelled myself as asexual briefly. But it didn’t sit right with me.

I played around with creating complicated labels to fit this “I’m definitely not gay but maybe not straight” box I was drawing for myself. I knew I wasn’t bisexual, or pansexual, or anything along those lines and I couldn’t picture myself in a relationship with a guy, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I was a lesbian. The word felt wrong, it felt like it carried weighty, negative connotations. Which, in some cases, it does, for some people. I still have trouble with it some days. I became obsessed with finding a label for myself that felt right, felt comfortable, and had no luck, really. Eventually I just accepted that I was gay – in the umbrella term sort of way, and left it at that.

I feel like this sounds cliche, but I feel leaving my tiny hometown and going to university on a huge campus was part of what led me to accept myself as I was. Or to even have the space to figure it out, instead of suppressing any less than heteronormative inclinations. I felt a freedom and a sense of anonymity, a sense of having no one to be accountable for except myself. I was surrounded by diverse, inspiring people, often being unapologetically themselves, and this atmosphere, combined with a very positive community of LGBTQ people in my life led me to let go a little, and just be me. To stop over-analyzing myself. To let life happen as it was meant to. And thank god I did.

Fast forward another two years -I’m engaged to a beautiful woman who I love more than anything in the world – and my life is completely different than how I would have ever imagined it, but also, completely better than I’d ever imagined it.

It takes time. It’s confusing, it’s frustrating, it’s scary, but coming out, or even coming to accept any part of yourself that you’d rather have hidden away, is an extremely liberating process. Through this experience, I have empowered myself to live how I want to, to escape my constant worries about what others may think of me (at least, to some extent), to live honestly, and to live, most of all, happily.

Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. It takes time – no matter whether you are coming out to yourself, to others, or are trying to accept some other aspect of your life that challenges societal standards. Give yourself space, time, and love, and you will be grateful you did.

love,

JC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rings! photos! family!

So, since I didn’t manage to get a post published yesterday (busy Thanksgiving weekend!), here is my sort of catch-all update post before I go back to writing pre-scheduled posts on specific topics!

LIFE UPDATE: Most who know me personally will already know this – but within the past week, Sky and I got engaged! It was a mutual proposal, however we both proposed on different days (let’s be honest – it was as basically as soon as we had the ring), in the comfort of our own apartment and so many happy tears were shed. I am so excited to be on this journey with her and while we are currently just enjoying our engagement, I will be sure to share details as we decide on wedding related things as they come up! We have a late summer/fall wedding in mind, however not for a few years! I am so incredibly happy to have found Sky, and to get to spend my life with her. We are thinking of doing a winter engagement shoot, however, for now, enjoy a few pictures we took ourselves!

I’ve spent the last couple weeks brushing up on my photography skills, only a few months after seriously considering selling my camera. I didn’t, luckily, since I now I have caught quite the photography bug. I took pictures of Sky with her engagement ring, and then with my sister, Alexa, and am very happy with how they turned out! I have found myself itching to take more pictures, researching techniques, obsessing over established photographers, and wondering if this is something I could one day do professionally. For now, I am just going to enjoy taking pictures for myself, friends and family, build my portfolio, and maybe attend some workshops! I’m having a ton of fun with the whole process, and I’m looking forward to learning more and improving. I’m doing a shoot with my friend and her boyfriend in a week or two and hopefully that goes well too 🙂

 

Overall, this weekend was a very exciting one, a very happy one, and I am so thankful for the life I have and the beautiful people in it. It was amazing to feel so supported by our friends and family when Sky and I announced our engagement, and the mutual excitement was contagious. It was great to see my family this weekend, to return to my childhood home and to bask in the familiarity of the chaos that is our reunions, their witty jokes, sibling banter, to enjoy each other’s company, to capture candid moments; to laugh and smile and love and feel so loved in return.

Sky and I also hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and it was so lovely to be able to have her family over at our place and to host our first dinner! Sky did an amazing job cooking and there were many laughs, memories, and wedding ideas shared.

 

Now to use reading week to my advantage and get ahead on my assignments! and to write a few more blog posts to be posted at later dates!

love,

JC.

welcome

Hello & Welcome ;

After many failed ideas and attempts at starting a blog, I recently have been re-inspired (with a touch of anger-fueled motivation) to put myself out into the blog-o-sphere. I’m centering my blog around my life as a university student, a feminist, a chronically ill individual, a lesbian, and ultimately, a writer.

Previously, I had thought I had to have a very narrow focus on my blog to write it. Maybe, this is the case, if I were creating this blog as a business endeavor. I am not. I am here to share my life and its complexities; my failures, my successes, my insights and to connect with others sharing similar experiences. I decided a strict theme blog isn’t for me. I want to share what I am passionate about, and I want to write about my life, with an emphasis on intersectionality and my personal experience as a person with many faces to their identity.

If you care to follow along, expect posts related to everything previously mentioned (feminism, academics, writing, disability, LGBTQIA+ issues etc) and what makes my life uniquely my own.

New posts once a week, every Monday!

To learn more about me, please visit my about page.

Best,

JC