Pursuing Photography 

More than anything I am a writer (good or bad), but I wanted to share this photo. It’s a simple iPhone 6 picture taken from the backseat of a Kilimanjaro Safari’s truck with an instagram filter on it. But I love it. 

It’s pictures like this that remind me to get out with my DSLR camera and pursue photography as a hobby. I want my photos to accompany my writing, as well as stand alone. 

I may never be an artist or a musician; hell, I may never become any kind of writer or photographer. Even if nothing ever comes of these hobbies, they make me feel good. These hobbies allow me to express myself and see things differently. They help me learn and notice the finer details. 

This weekend I’m going out with my friend, Caitlin, with this in mind. We’re going out with our cameras and we’re going to capture the world around us.  I’ve been wanting to do this for so long and I can’t wait to share the photos I take. 

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February Goals

I’m very happy to announce that in January I completed 8/10 of my planned goals. Not only did I successfully do the 10 I set out to, I also made great progress in creating lasting habits for my health and well-being. It isn’t important which goals I did or did not meet, what matters most is that I was able to achieve more than I thought I would for the month. 

With that being said, I decided on my February goals. I have less on my list this month, and some are the same or slightly different, while some are new. Although I’m doing a lot of focusing on the short-term goals, I haven’t forgotten about the long term; many of my goals I set intentionally to get into the habit of doing it, so I can eventually turn around and utilize them for a longterm plan. An example would be more exercise: someday I want to comfortably complete a full marathon. I can’t do that without consistent running and training (and diet!!) every day. Another would be my writing: four blog posts a month at minimum gives me the practice and experience to someday get paid for writing.  “I want to learn everything I can, and write down everything I see. Golly says if I want to be a writer, I’d better start now…”

  • Publish 4 blog posts
  • Read 4 books
  • Work out 4 days a week
  • Put (and keep) money in savings
  • Continue to clean and de-clutter
  • No soda

I feel good. These may seem like more “to-do” list items, but they mean more than that to me. These goals mean working to become a better person, both physically and mentally. I want to learn, I want to feel stable, I want to feel strong. I’m so ready to be the best I can be. This month I also want to sit down and seriously begin to plan out my long-term life goals, and I’ll be sure to write about it when I know more myself. 

Grateful and Healing

Today I’m grateful that, even though I’m working two weeks straight with no time for rest, I’m able to sit and read at work. And that the team brought in donuts

 The last week has been off for me; I ran around working and entertaining an out of town friend and totally forgot about myself. I didn’t make my own mental and physical health a priority, so I ate junk park food and forgot about my meditation. Waking up for work was a challenge because I didn’t have my positive solace first thing in the morning. 

Yesterday on my break I found a 15-minute meditation podcast to get me through the rest of my afternoon and it did wonders. This morning I woke up and grounded myself before I even turned on my lights or went to the bathroom. 

Mediation has become a necessity for me in the mornings. It sets my day off right and gives me a clearer view on what I want to accomplish for myself. 

This last week I totally fell off the wagon. But I planned out my workouts for next week, and am re-committing to my health in all aspects. (Yes I know I just said I was grateful for the donut. Let me treat myself.) I brought fruit, carrots, and hummus for my lunch to fuel my body, and I jump started my day with meditation to fuel my mind. Although I don’t get to have a day off this weekend, I’m looking at the overtime as a blessing and am happy to have it. 

I’m grateful for a library card and the fact that I live three stoplights away from my library. Reading brings me so much comfort and I’m happy to be able to escape into the pages. 

And of course I’m grateful for the donuts. Not even because they’re sweet and tasty. More than that, I’m thankful for the gesture of bringing them in on a long day of overtime. 

The sunrise this morning was beautiful. The weather walking into work was incredible. It’s much too pretty outside to be cooped up indoors, but I’m grateful to be able to take it all in briefly first thing today. 


Spiritual Awakening

I’ve always been interested in the supernatural or metaphysical. Even when I was young and living in a conservative Christian home, not allowed to watch The Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter, I still had a strong affinity for learning about magic, ghosts, and other things many people in our church and community saw as “demonic.” As I grew up, my family became less dependent on religious doctrine and we each went our separate ways spiritually. I’m very lucky to have had so many different resources and experiences through my parents’ discoveries because I’ve been given a great spiritual foundation from varying ideologies.

With that foundation, I’m beginning to seek out spirituality for myself. After high school and college, I gave religion a wide berth, not because I felt negatively towards it as a whole, but because I needed space to come to it on my own. I don’t like labels, especially on things like religion; they’re too limiting for such an unknown and strong energy. Even describing myself as “agnostic” didn’t sit well with me. It still doesn’t.

I’m forging my own path through different means. Currently I’m focusing on mediation and healing energy. Chakras, crystals, and candles, oh my! I’ve begun teaching myself to read tarot cards and hope to take a 6-week course on it next month. To learn the cards and their many meanings, I’m updating my Facebook page and sometimes my Insta daily with a tarot card that my deck chose for me that day. I really love it so far and appreciate the clarity it adds to a situation. Tarot isn’t meant to be “fortune telling” or reading the future; tarot is a reflection of yourself.

Similarly, I bought my very first crystal this week. At a a local metaphysical shop I was browsing through the many cases for a few specific ones as gifts. My intention was to buy for others on this trip and only get the tarot cards for myself. I came to the sunstone and saw the brief description on the card and it took my breath away. While it isn’t the most beautiful or most versatile, it certainly is the most important crystal I could have chosen as my first. Instead of putting it in my “shopping cauldron” like my other purchases, I felt drawn to holding it in my hand while shopping, and continued to do so once I got into my car as well. It immediately warmed in my hand and I could feel its energy vibrating through me while I held it. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

I have a lot of things I want to learn. I want to educate myself and share my knowledge with those who want to hear it. Maybe that gets done through healing, readings, or charms; maybe my new positive energy will strengthen others to seek out a deeper spiritual awakening of their own. Nonetheless, I want to research and read and try everything to see what works best for me.

Will any of this last? I hope so. I want it to. It doesn’t feel like church revival “warm fuzzies” that fade. This feels like a transformation in my deepest soul. I don’t feel this transformation only spiritually; I feel it emotionally and physically. I feel lighter as I’ve been practicing mindfulness in the past week, taking care of myself and ridding my life of negativity. I’m focusing on the positive energy and not allowing the negative to come close to me. I’m speaking blessings and focusing on the good in myself and in others. I’m becoming mindful of the way I sit, the food I eat, and the amount of wastefulness I’m trying to reduce.

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My Small Return to Facebook

Back in July, I ended my relationship with Facebook. It was causing me to feel a lot of negativity that I didn’t need in my life. While I still have an “active” profile, I no longer have anyone on my friends list and only use the website for a few Facebook groups and to maintain my photo albums. All of my online interactions have been on other social media sites and this blog. I’m here to make a quick post that I am more or less returning to Facebook, though in a slightly different way.

I have made an Orlando is Calling Blog Facebook page as another space to share my blog posts, photography, and other things I would like to share. My reasons for using Facebook are a few things. One reason being I know it’s much easier for people to keep up with things if they’re on their newsfeed, so having my posts show up may bring more people to my blog. A second reason, and really the most major, is that I have a goal for my blog.

I’ve always loved writing. It’s been a passion of mine for as long as I could write. Within the next two years I want to be making money with my writing. It’s a somewhat long-term goal, but I know a strong social media presence will only aid me in succeeding in my dream. I don’t need to be able to make a living off of my writing, that’s a goal for another day. For now, I just plan on starting off with chump change. In order to even begin that process, I need to continue writing and gain an audience.

For now Orlando is Calling is just a personal blog about my life. I share my feelings and my interests with you in order to express myself. Even though my posts are mostly about myself, I do consciously try to add in interactions and open-ended questions to bring a sense of inclusion to whoever may be reading. I want to encourage and inspire my audience by using my own life as an example. When I make mistakes or go through a difficult/strange situation, I want to share that and maybe someone will have a similar story to tell.

This doesn’t mean all of my opinions or stories are “right,” but it doesn’t make them any less true or real for me, and I hope my readers can understand that and accept me for my personal truth. I’m changing myself a lot this year; I’ve already made many great strides mentally to rid myself of heaviness and negativity and I still have a ways to go, but I want to share that with you through my blog and social media accounts. I will continue to make mistakes and say things I shouldn’t, but I also hope that I can inspire you as I find more light and positivity and grow within myself.

Please excuse the emptiness of my page, but I encourage you to find “Orlando is Calling Blog” on Facebook and give it a “Like” so my posts show up on your newsfeed.  I hope you join me in discovering whatever my purpose is and in achieving my goals.

The Bullet Journal

For way too long I’ve struggled with craving organization in my scheduling; although “organized” is the last word I would use to describe myself, I know I need structure. Every year I buy the cutest planner to fit my personality and fill it out with important dates and my work schedule. After that I never look at it again. Occasionally I might remember it exists and cross out months that have already passed and leave it to collect dust again.

I’ve decided my problem with traditional planners is that they aren’t flexible. They’re all the same and don’t  work for me. I have dozens of break slips in my pockets with tasks and to-do’s that have a much more linear aesthetic that I prefer. When I sit down to make life plans in a notebook, it gets listed. For me, boxy calendar views are wasteful in the end. I have at least a dozen notebooks scattered around all containing the same information. I need one main journal to keep track of my plans.

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Given my life currently, I don’t have “appointments” or meetings to need to plan in detail.  My work schedule is saved in screenshots in my camera roll so writing them down is useless. My life is tasks and flimsy plans with friends with no time crunch. I need to know what day bills come out and when my dog needs her heart worm medication and when to refill my antidepressant prescription and plan out my running days.

With all of this being realized, I began looking at a lot of posts of bloggers who use bullet journals. It’s been a thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to try the “BuJo” life, but like most people just starting out, I was overwhelmed at the amount of creativity most of the examples had. Still, in my fresh mindset I have decided to jump in.  Maybe it will work for me, maybe it won’t. Still, I want to give it a try. I’m standing by my statement that 2017 is a year of continued growth and logging that in a bullet journal with a more linear task list might just be the way to do it.

In less than 24 hours, I already learned some things I do and do not like and things I want to add or change in the future. I wish my journal was dotted or gridded instead of lined, for one, but I like the size and quality so I’ll survive. Before even starting, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t compare my journal to the Instagram models; I would allow my bullet journal to grow and evolve with me this year. BuJo would be my friend to learn from week to week and month to month.

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I think that’s my favorite part about the Bullet Journal model: complete freedom. If I try something one week and hate it, I’m not committed to it. I’m in an open relationship with my planner. As I was coming up with my pre-plan, I didn’t think I wanted a daily log. I started off with the blank spread, trying to decide what would work best for me. Then I realized i could do both: on weeks where I know I have a lot going on, I can do a daily log, and on weeks where I’m not doing much, I don’t need to waste the paper. I love the potential lack of waste that comes with this process. If my Thursday is packed, then I’ll do a Thursday log and skip the other days, lumping all my tasks into my weekly tracker.

Some collections that are unique to me are my long-term goals and tasks with no time constraint, things like cleaning out my iTunes library and running a marathon; I have a collection of dreams such as buying a new mattress and getting married; my favorite personal collection is my list of dates I go on, complete with a rating system and where we met. A few collections I added are inspired by others I saw online. Gift ideas, favorites of the season, bills and habit trackers, along with a few others are all a part of my bullet journal.

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Something I plan on gaining from this (besides structure) is strengthening my handwriting. This is a big joke, I know. My handwriting has always been horrendous, but I hope that through. My bullet journal I am able to at least have legible scrawl. In the short time I’ve spent making my first spreads, I’ve found a new acceptance for my lack of artistry and cursive/print hybrid penmanship. I discovered that although it isn’t easy coming up with my own doodles, fonts, or borders, I can copy the basic idea from what I find online and make it fit my needs.

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A trend I’ve noticed in the Bullet Journal community is finding a word to motivate or describe the upcoming year. I didn’t think much of it until I kept using the phrase “year of growth” whether it be in my blog, private journal, or even just my thoughts. I mentioned in my last post that “growth” is the word I plan on returning to throughout the year, and I stand by that. Even in the few short weeks of this year I’ve felt a great sense of growth within my self in many ways and I hope to use my new Bullet Journal to continue that feeling.

If you’re curious about how to start or need more inspiration, Modern Mrs. Darcy has some great posts about her own Bullet Journal and her posts include even more links to great resources. Of course there’s the official Bullet Journal website if you want to learn more from the creator himself. For me, I love the flexibility and casualness of this style of planning and I can see myself using it for a very long time.

January Goals

I could very well write about New Year’s Resolutions and how I plan on maintaining long-term goals throughout the entire year. But we all know how resolutions go, and I hate admitting that I’ve failed at something. Instead of writing about the long-term, I’ve decided to break down my goals into smaller, month-sized pieces and share them as the year goes on. Many of my goals may be the same month to month; this makes it less of a resolution and more of a continuing habit.

With all that being said, here are my goals for January

  • Drink more water
  • Run 3 times a week
  • Lose 5 pounds
  • Complete a “75 Push-up Challenge”
  • Complete my half marathon without dying
  • Enjoy my trip to Disneyland without stressing out about money
  • Continue reducing the items I own
  • Crack down on a good skin care routine
  • Publish at least 4 blog posts
  • Read at least 4 books
  • Maintain a private journal
  • Focus on more photography

I tried to make goals that were diverse. Some are health-related while some are personal goals, and some are just good practices to get into. I spent a lot of December thinking on these and making strides to begin my new habits.

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Both in this blog and in my personal journal I’ve
mentioned that 2017 is the year of growth, and I plan on returning to that word throughout my year. Everything I do this year is all based around personal growth. Expect that to be a reoccurring word in my posts.

What are your thoughts on forming New Year’s Resolutions? Do you stick with them through the entire year or do they fizzle out? How do you separate a “resolution” and making new habits, or is there a difference at all? I’d love to know your opinion on this, and I hope you join me through this year of blogging.

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Goodbye Sixteen, Hello Seventeen, Hello Love (Time to Grow, Time to Go)

2016 was by far the worst year of my life. During the last year I hit rock bottom with my mental health and my stress and anxiety levels were at an all-time high. Not only did the year suck massively on a personal level, but it was also miserable on a global level. I’ve never been so happy to see a year end to start fresh.

At the very beginning of the year, my boyfriend and I broke up which left me completely distraught. I was already in a bad place emotionally and that heartbreak just made everything worse. Although that wasn’t the only reason for my downfall, it most definitely did not help. As painful as my year was, I’m very grateful that I finally did something for myself and sought medical help. For me, 2016 was a year of intense pain, but it also began a time of healing when I finally went to get the help I needed. That is a long-term journey that is still a work in progress, but at least it’s progressing.

The monstrosity of “ick” that was 2016 is not all about me and my problems. Every year comes with its own tragedies, but last year had so many events that hit very close to home. Through the many celebrity deaths that hit the world on a personal, nostalgic level as well as the violence around the world (not to mention the insane election), 2016 was all-around a horrendous year for everyone.

I have no intentions of having 2017 be anything but a great year. Although I don’t have any goals or resolutions written down, that is my plan for the week; I want to prepare this week and set myself up for success in this new year. The best thing about hitting rock bottom is that there is only one way to go from there.

My life is extremely blessed because of the people who have stuck with me. I have the most incredible live-in best friends that anyone could ask for; my dog is the greatest and has gotten my through all my emotional turmoil. My family, though they aren’t nearby, have never stopped supporting me despite the distance. As long as I have them, I’ll be unstoppable in 2017.

2017 is the year of me. I’m going to continue putting myself first, and take care of my mental and physical health. This is the year of my writing; I love the release of putting my emotions down on a page for others to read. I’m committing myself to growth and health in this new year. Within the next week I will make a complete list of goals and share them here. For now, know that I am determined to keep my head up thanks to the support and love of those who have stuck with me through a shit year and into the promise of a better one.

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Bad Tinder Date

This experience I’m going to share is so golden I can’t stop telling people about it and finally decided it just needed to go on my blog before I forget all the details through time. I hate dating so much, and situations like this reinforce that and why I am so lucky to not have every encounter end up as bad as this one did back in October.

Carter and I met on Tinder, as you do, and we began talking and texting. He seemed cool, had stretched ears and his septum pierced, and was really into tattoos. We talked about having annual passes to Busch Gardens and how we should go sometime. I love finding people who want to go to theme parks with me so I can have companionship, even if it doesn’t turn into anything romantic. Eventually we planned to go to a Disney park on Tuesday and if everything went well and we had good chemistry and liked each other, Wednesday we would go to Busch Gardens.

Well.

One night he wants to talk on the phone and eventually this dialogue happens:

Him- Are you bisexual?

Me- Nope. I’ve been asked that before, but I’m totally straight.

Him- Good.

Me- ….Okay? Why is that “good?”

Him- Because I like girls I’m with to be as straight as I am.

Me- Hm.

Him- I’ve just had really bad experiences with bisexual girls before. Bisexual people just seem to be a lot sluttier.

Me-  …..

Him- This one girl I was with was checking out another girl harder than I was and I didn’t like that.

Honestly, that conversation right there should have been a red flag. Along with the fact that he chews tobacco–excuse me, “Swedish Snus”–it really was a turn-off for anything romantic to happen. Still, at this point I’m still keeping an open mind for a theme park friend.

I like prefacing Tinder dates and hanging out with a no-pressure disclosure. I’m a big fan of approaching it as friends and seeing if there’s natural chemistry in person and see where it goes. Usually it goes pretty well, and even if it doesn’t, both parties seem chill about the mutual understanding. The same conversation had happened with Carter; I didn’t want there to be insane expectations, but we had been flirting through text to make it clear that there was at least a little bit of attraction there to see how an in-person situation went.

So Tuesday comes around. We had planned to meet at my place around 2:00 so I could drive us to Hollywood Studios and he wouldn’t have to pay for parking. I text him when I woke up that morning and heard nothing. Around 1 I text again and still hear nothing. At this point I’m pretty much not holding my breath about meeting up. Finally at 2 he texts me that he’s just finally woken up and will be at my place a little after 3. This annoyed me because I hate being kept waiting.  Again, at this point, with all the other red flags, it wasn’t a date so I didn’t get that worked up about it. I was still open to change my mind about him and give him a chance out of politeness though.

He finally shows up and I’m waiting outside my building. Just to be safe I didn’t want him to know all the details about where I lived, so I didn’t have him come to my door. Immediately I just know there’s no spark and there wouldn’t be one. Still, I want to be polite and have fun at the park.

We make lots of small talk in the car, but conversation doesn’t flow naturally like it has with other people. At the park he wants to grab food so we head that way before getting on our first ride. This portion of the “date” is pretty mild. Nothing crazy happens. We ride Toy Story Midway Mania then go wait for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I knew the guy checking our lapbars so we got to ride twice. After that we go to Tower of Terror and this is where the date goes downhill.

We stood in line for quite a while, and during that time so many uncomfortable things happened. First, he points to a couple and says, “Aww look, they’re holding hands,” as if he was trying to give me a hint that he wanted to follow suit. Secondly, my body language was completely against that. I kept my distance from him and kept my hands to myself; I stood on the opposite side of the queue from him so we couldn’t accidentally touch.  Third, I wouldn’t make eye contact with him. Through our labored conversation, my eyes stayed glued on Tower because I didn’t want to look him in the eye and give him the wrong idea. Fourth and finally in the queue, he comes to my side of the wall and leans against it so there’s no avoiding physical contact. This guy had to be blind to not notice how uninterested I was at this point.

We get onto the ride and before our seat belts are even on, his arm goes around me. Now, for anyone who has never experienced Tower of Terror, it is not a cuddle ride. I don’t want to be rude and shrug him off, so instead I wait for the ride to start moving. I was seated in the first seat in the row, so with every drop of the elevator I rammed my shoulder (and his hand) into the wall of the vehicle until he finally let me go. But it was after the ride that everything exploded.

Still in the unload area and approaching the gift shop, we have this exchange:

Carter: Do you wanna be gay and hold hands?

Me: Um…I…uh…no…?

Carter: Oh, do you not like holding hands?

Me: No, I do. I just didn’t like the way you asked.

Carter: I just meant, like, it’d be funny, it’d be silly to hold hands.

Me: “Gay” was not the word to use.

Carter: Would it have been better if I’d just asked?

Me: Yes. But I still don’t want to hold hands with you.

And then, the best of the best. The climax of this horrendous date occurs in the middle of Sunset Boulevard.

Carter: So what do you think? How’s our chemistry? Do we have any?

Me: No, I don’t think so; not like that. I’m sorry.

Carter: But we haven’t even kissed yet.

Me: Yeah…No…I’m sorry. But I still want to enjoy time in the park if you want. Do you want to stay here and do another ride, or would you be more comfortable going home?

Carter: Whatever. I don’t care. Whatever you want to do.

As soon as I told him I didn’t feel the chemistry, he paled and looked like I had punched him in the stomach. I handled the situation delicately because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but they got hurt anyway. I felt so bad about rejecting him, but I didn’t want to make the day any more awkward than it already was just because I didn’t want to kiss him.

We still had another Fastpass for Star Tours, but he started walking to the park exit. He’s has no idea where he’s going, he just doesn’t want to walk with me. This is the point where I realize I still have a twenty-minute drive back to his car with him. Now he’s ten feet ahead of me and pissed. For a little while I was honestly concerned about being left alone with him in case he did something drastic. Because of this, I text my friend, Montreh, what was going on. Montreh was on her way over to my apartment to hang out with all of us, so she couldn’t wait to get there and watch this unfold.

On our way back to the car he finally breaks his silent treatment and says to me, “I think we put too much pressure on this whole ‘chemistry’ bullshit.” I apologized again and tried to cool things down until he continues with, “I just don’t get it. It wasn’t until I started online dating that I have so much trouble with girls. It doesn’t make any sense. I don’t see how you can text someone and talk on the phone and everything is great and then you get together and there’s nothing there? What is that?”

I respond calmly with, “That happens sometimes, though. I have plenty of regular friends who are strictly internet friends and when we hang out in real life it isn’t the same.”

“Would you still wanna hook up sometime?” he dared to ask me, which I declined immediately.

He continued to walk to my car so far ahead of me I almost had to jog to keep up. I managed to sneak a Snapchat of his storm-off and sent it to my roommates with the caption, “When you thought this was a date and got butthurt when you were told there’s no chemistry.” to warn them of the story I was going to tell later. The drive home was worrying me because I didn’t know what to expect. It ended up being alright; we made more small talk and things seemed to calm down on his end. I continued updating Montreh at red lights, knowing she was going to arrive about the same time as we would.

During the drive, he gets a phone call from his sister asking him to come spend time with her later in the day and he agreed. When we drove up to my apartment he gets off the phone after making his plans and says to me, “Unless you wanted to hang out more…” and I said (probably too quickly) “No! I mean, my friend is on their way over.”

“Oh, is it a guy? Not that it matters.”

“No? It’s a girl.”

I thought this would be the end of the day. But no. Then he asks if he can use my bathroom and I wanted to die. I couldn’t be rude and say no, no matter how badly I wanted to. I was still afraid of pissing him off and didn’t want him to know which apartment was mind, just in case he got angry later from being jilted. Still, I knew my roommates were home and hoped it would help.

We go in and he starts petting the dog, the last thing I want him to do; he doesn’t need to form emotional bonds. I point him to the bathroom and mouth to my roommates STORY TIME WHEN HE LEAVES. When he comes out I don’t even bother introducing him to my roommates, because he’ll never see them again anyway, but he takes care of that himself. Finally, after standing there awkwardly I say, “Well, our friend Montreh is about to be here so…” and he exclaims, “Hah! Montreh Cheddar!” and it’s obvious that he thinks he’s the funniest person in the world after making that joke. The apartment is silent. He says, “I bet she’s gotten that her whole life.” and I dryly respond, “No, I don’t think she has,” and open the door to hint that he needs to leave.

Outside the apartment, I apologize to him.

Carter: Sorry for what?

Me: …For the whole chemistry thing?

Carter: Oh yeah. Well, do you think maybe, someday,  in the future, there could be something?

Me: ….Yeah. Maybe?

Finally I get him to leave and the second the door closes I dive into the story. Not five minutes later, Montreh comes in screaming and sends me a Snapchat she took outside. The entire day was a whirlwind and it is by far one of the most hilarious situations I have ever found myself in. I don’t wish bad dates on anyone, but they sure make for good stories.

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I’m Still With Her

I’ve never been a politically-minded person. I’ve never been interested in elections because I’ve never felt compelled to have much of an opinion. Everyone around me always had such strong opinions and were much more knowledgeable than me that I felt like I didn’t have a loud enough voice to defend my feelings when it came to the subject. To me it was more important to stay silent than to appear uneducated or to be disliked because of my political opinion.

Most of this was due to the fact that I lived at home in Texas. I was surrounded by people that I did not agree with. I was the minority when it came to a lot of progressive thinking. Not only was I living in the Bible Belt, I also hadn’t been introduced to many different ways of thinking other than Religion. I didn’t know many gay people or people of color. Although I felt in my heart that I was not like most of the people I interacted with, my own ideas about the world were still forming as I was figuring out who I was and how I wanted to think.

I would have been able to vote in the 2012 election but chose not to even register to vote. I was 18 years old and should have exercised my right to vote in my first election, but the campaign wasn’t important to me. For me, it didn’t feel like it was worth it because I knew I wasn’t educated enough at the time and didn’t want to vote and potentially throw away an important vote. I’m not proud of this, but that was what happened.

This election year I’ve never felt so compelled to make a difference. I registered to vote for the first time because I wanted Bernie Sanders so badly on the presidential ballot. Unfortunately I missed the deadline to vote in the primaries by one day. However, once Hilary got the Democratic nomination she had my full support. As a woman I could see how important it was for me to vote and show just as much determination for her as she has in this race.

I thought there was no way the election would end the way it did. I thought America was better than this. Hilary is not a perfect person. No president has been perfect. But no one has been as bad as Donald Trump. I’m astonished that he was able to run, much less win. I’m humiliated and ashamed of my country and how the vote went. I’m heartbroken that so many Americans don’t care about the lives of groups that are different. The next four years are going to be very scary for human rights. Those who voted for Trump set our country back decades and have failed us.

This election would have gone down in history either way. I just can’t believe that I woke up today to the news that I did. There’s such a heavy weight on my chest because I’m so sad at the outcome. Our country is going to be run by a rapist who brags about how he treats women and people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. This is not the America I want to live in. The America I want is the one who opened its arms to immigrants and refugees from all walks of life hoping for a better life.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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