Remembering the college years

A few days ago I got a reminder of a status on social media that I wrote when I arrived at college for the first time. It brought me back to ten years ago when I first arrived to my college campus as a student. I had a unique experience in that I already had been to  the campus multiple times growing up and my parents had attended, my grandfather had attended, and my grandmother had taught there. The journey to college wasn’t necessarily easy. I was homeschooled and used a distance learning school to earn my high school diploma. I was a senior in high school at age 15 but the bane of my existence was high school algebra and I wrestled with it until I finally finished.  Needless to say, I’ve only taken one math class since high school algebra and I don’t see myself taking another one in the foreseeable future. I finished high school about 6 weeks after my 17th birthday and I took a year off to take some classes and work before I went to college. I didn’t know what to expect 10 years ago when I started college. I was worried about how I was going to afford it and if I would be able to afford it for all 4 years. My parents had informed me from a young age that they wouldn’t pay for college so I understood that I would have to figure it out without their financial assistance. The bonus was that I had a scholarship that covered about half of my tuition. I didn’t know what to expect once I went to college and in the spirit of true preparation I brought WAY too much stuff. I quickly realized that the 8 storage containers that I brought from home would be way too much for the half of the dorm room I shared. I remember waiting in line at registration and hoping and praying that I could get in. After a small scare and an ok from the director of admissions I was in. The next three and a half years were filled with challenges and acclimation to a more traditional educational environment. One of my goals was to finish in less than 4 years and i was able to accomplish that. I actually had to study for tests and finals week meant that I pulled a few overnighters to finish a paper or put the finishing touches on a project. I focused on the books and attended every class on time. I knew that I was there because I wanted to be and the effort that I put into my education reflected that fact. I honestly can’t believe that ten years has passed by but I can honestly say that I am a totally different person than I was back then. I’ve learned a lot since then and I plan to learn and grow more in the next ten years.

Greenleaf

I rarely binge watch shows on Netflix anymore due to having better things to do with my time. But this week I made an exception for a show caught my attention. Greenleaf. I had heard good things about it, but due to never having cable (or time to research how to watch it online), I never watched it. While the show is fictional, I think that it gives an accurate portrayal of what has played out in a lot of big church settings. One of the leading characters, “Grace” spends the entire season fighting for the truth. While her methods are unorthodox and her family is largely unsupportive, she remains on a mission to expose the truth. Her tenacity is driven by the death of her sister who completed suicide–and was abused. As the season unfolds, one sees the numerous challenges that other members of the family are experiencing but trying to get through. Greenleaf is a shining example of the attempt to “keep things in the family” and ignore signs that something is amiss. The show is definitely emotional but it shows how religion can be used as a coverup for people to do what they want without being held accountable under the guise of being a spiritual leader who doesn’t answer to man. The show held my attention and I’m definitely interested in watching Season 2 to see what unfolds.

The New Lonely

I saw this article and just HAD to share it. I completely agree with this author. But I think that it’s hard to connect with people when it’s something that is so rarely done. It’s hard to have a genuine and vulnerable conversation with people these days. There are times in your life when you want an actual physical person there to witness events. As great as it is to have a text or phone call or facebook message, there’s no true substitute for face to face interaction. 

Eugenio MarongiuIt’s a weekday evening and you’re feeling restless. You’re texting friends and you’re watching Netflix and you’re on your laptop and you’re scrolling through Tumblr or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Your attention is in ten different directions, yet there’s a tug, a tiny voice in the back of your mind. It asks: what…

via This Is The New Loneliness — Thought Catalog

This Weekend

This weekend on Sunday I looked at my phone as I usually do when I wake up and was horrified with what I read. It brought back memories for me of a Friday morning when I woke up to messages from people asking if I was ok when a gunman went into a theater about 15 minutes away from me and killed people. As the days have passed, I’ve  watched the interviews with the survivors, observed all the varying views and conspiracy theorists on social media, and just felt generally sad. My heart goes out to all those affected. The people who just wanted a fun night out to celebrate with their friends and their families who have been sick with worry finally finding out if their loved one was one of the survivors or one that didn’t make it.The story about the guy whose last text to his mother was “I’m gonna die.” just broke my heart. It’s such a horrible horrible tragedy and lives were needlessly ended due to the decision of one disturbed individual. There’s really nothing that can be said to rationalize the murder of a group of people who were targeted (it appears) because of who they were as people. This event was also preceded by the murder of a singer as she was signing autographs after her concert. While it’s touching to see the kind acts of humanity by the community and the outpouring of love and support and genuine empathy and sympathy for all the lives lost, it’s still a sad reality that this happened in the first place. Maybe I’m jaded but I really don’t have a strong burning desire to bear and raise a child in the world we live in today. It feels unrealistic to hope that the next generation “gets it right.” No place is safe and it seems like an impossibility to change that. I appreciate the attitude of never-ending optimism because we really can’t afford to lose hope because it’s literally all we have. It just breaks my heart.

 

My thoughts and prayers for all those impacted by the Orlando tragedies

Losing Isaiah thoughts

A few days ago I took some time to watch the movie Losing Isaiah. There was a certain sense of urgency as Netflix was about to take it off in order to make room for more movies. I first saw the movie at my grandparents house in Michigan. I remember renting it with my very own library card when I was 9 or 10 and watching it in the living room sprawled out on the very comfortable carpet. I remember being happy in the end that the baby was returned to his biological mother. However, this time I watched the movie with a different perspective. One that’s been informed by several years of being a social worker and working with families and kids. The movie brings up some interesting questions that are still relevant today. A mother abandons her baby in a trash can. The baby is born addicted to drugs because she used substance while pregnant. A kind social worker at the hospital he is transported to adopts him. She and her family raise him as her own. Meanwhile, the baby’s mother gets her life together after finally becoming sober and decides that she wants him back because he’s her child and she never received notice that her parental rights were being terminated. So there’s a lengthy court battle where bio-mother’s lawyer insists that black babies need to be with their black mothers. However, there is a marked difference between the income of biological mother versus that of the family that has adopted the child. The life that he lives with his adopted family is vastly different than the one that his bio-mother can finance. The movie ends with full custody being given to the bio-mother who soon realizes that she needs additional support so she reaches a hesitant agreement with her son’s adoptive mother. There are certain situations where I don’t think people should be allowed to have a do over. I don’t think that any child should be denied access to their family of origin but primary custody should have remained with the adoptive parents until the child was old enough to make a decision. I’ve met a good amount of parents who have adopted kids and then decided that they were too hard as a result decided to relinquish custody back to the state. I’ve worked with parents who have voluntarily given up custody of their children because they felt powerless and felt that their lives or the lives of the other children in the home were at risk. It’s a hard decision to make. My whole point is that kids shouldn’t be taken out of a loving, stable, and safe environment because their bio-parent decides that it’s for the best. There were other options that would have allowed Isaiah to stay where he was happy. Yes, children can be resilient and they can recover but there’s no need to inflict that trauma on a child and mess up his primary attachment so that he can be with a black parent. No reason. It’s cruel and unnecessary.

Be kind 

One of the things that I appreciate about social work is that there is an abundance of things to do. You aren’t required to stay doing the same thing for decades at a time. There’s room to try something different and learn a completely new set of skills while still working in the field. One thing I’ve noticed is that while people are all different, they share a lot of commonalities as well. There’s a video that went viral recently where a lady was recounting her experience at a popular store. She observed a customer being nasty to a cashier that appeared flustered and to be having a bad day. After confronting the customer, the cashier shared that he had had a very recent tragic loss and was struggling to pay rent. The lesson from the story is that you never know what someone is going through so be kind to everyone. The holidays can bring up so many emotions for people as they remember loved ones they miss and re-hash old wounds with family members. It’s a time that many people are especially fragile and as someone who has worked in mental health, I’ve noticed there’s a increase in suicide attempts after major holidays. This isn’t an appeal for world peace (as much as we need it). Just a reminder to try to be a bit more patient and kind as you interact with people. You don’t know their stories. 

Marrying Up

I want to marry a rich man at some point in my life. I respect the people who say that money isn’t everything in life and I agree. However, I don’t want money (lack of it) to be an issue in my marriage. I think that relationships have enough stressors without financial ones. Money doesn’t solve all problems but at least it gives you a head start. If I have kids I want to be able to give them a better life than I had. While I didn’t grow up in poverty and my family was middle class, I always wondered what life would look like if we were better off. I recognize that there are sacrifices made when you are with a man who is ambitious and rich. Whether it means turning a blind eye to his wandering one or being the primary caregiver of the kids and the house. Life is never good 100% of the time and each family has their own challenges. I appreciate spontaneity but at the end of the day I want a partner who is stable and financially secure. This doesn’t mean that I want to be solely financially dependent on someone else but it does mean that I like the idea of someone else having my back if I need it. No, I’m not going to marry someone because of their bank account but their ability to provide will be taken into consideration. Not being “rich” is definitely not a deal-breaker because there are things in life that matter more than money at the end of the day.