I remember the first time I saw a boy cry. I was in bed saying my prayers with my Dad. We started talking about my uncle Billy, who passed away from pancreatic cancer when I was six. My Dad loved him, looked up to him, was inspired by him, and missed him. He also was scared because everyone in his side of the family had cancer. His dad died of lung cancer when my dad was 14, and his Mom had breast cancer (although she recovered). He started to cry. Actually, that might have been the first time I had seen either one of my parents cry. My Dad died two years ago and my Mom cries a lot now. I’m used to it. I also understand that boys cry now. But I’ll never forget the shock I felt in my 7 year old mind when my Dad cried in front of me for the first time. Boys should not be afraid to cry. Crying is natural, it’s the emotions that you really feel. It is damaging for children to think boys aren’t allowed to, or cannot, cry. Boys feel like they can’t show their emotions, and girls just think it isn’t real. And the sad thing is I spent 7 years of my life thinking that boys just didn’t cry, boys were strong, boys didn’t feel. But boys and girls- they’re the same. They all have worries, fears, goals, and dreams. I think once I realized that the world became a much less scary place. Emotions are raw, real, vulnerable…but not scary. Tell people how you feel, build bonds, and don’t be afraid to cry. Crying’s natural, hiding it’s not.

When I was in kindergarten I had a color by numbers worksheet. I looked at it and was confused because it wanted me to color the sun orange and the fish yellow. Well, in my 5 year old mind I thought this was absolutely absurd- the sun is yellow and fish are orange. My creativity and OCD took over at that point and I colored the color-by-number “wrong” based on the directions, but right based on my human intuition. The teacher told me I was wrong and I didn’t get a big C for correct on my paper. I told all this to my therapist a couple weeks ago and she asked what message this memory taught me. I teared up a little bit realizing that I learned to do what people expected of me,and wanted of me, and not to do what was right to my own mind. And I took that message in my impressionable kindergarten mind and ran with it. I’m trying to teach myself how to unlearn that because it has become a real problem in my life. I’m so hard on myself. I care what everybody thinks. I do things with extreme caution because I can’t disappoint. It literally pains me to disappoint people. The only way I’ll be truly happy is by doing what I love and what’s right to me, but I’m having trouble telling myself it’s okay to do that. 

“I sleep in the dark now. It’s funny to think I ever slept in a fully lit room. I’m writing this in the dark too. I don’t think ET is gonna climb up inside or a turkey will fly in my window anymore. Now I worry about prom dresses, boys, and why my eyes hurt. I think I am growing, having adult worries like death and social justice and meeting people’s standards. But I’ve always worried about those things.  

Do people change, or am I the same as I’ve always been?”

-a diary entry I found from exactly 20 days ago

the best things in this world

•genuine loving people who care about your happiness
•fluffy socks

•freshly made bed

•resting your head on someone’s shoulder

•puppy snuggles

•firefly lights and lanterns

•a cup of coffee

•reassurance

•talks with kindergarteners

•surprise visits

•grandma advice

•finding the perfect outfit

•reading an old diary

•snowstorms

•affirmation

•deep conversations

•finding an old picture

•compliments from strangers

•when someone you met once remembers you

•a good laugh

I really like being alone. Laying in my dark bedroom surrounded by firefly lights, listening to music, looking at pictures. I’m never lonely though. I’m content by myself. I think that’s called being an introvert. I don’t know if I’m an introvert because I like being alone, or if I’m an introvert because my social anxiety & OCD squashed any chance of me being an extrovert. When I was little I used to dance and sing and talk to everyone. My parents said I was gonna be a movie star. My sister was so shy and I never was. Until we swapped. Until she became outgoing and I became scared. Scared to talk to people. Scared to look people in the eye. Scared that I couldn’t plan out every move I make. Scared I’d get up at the wrong time, or fall, or make an embarrassment of myself. Yes, it has been better in recent years, but no it is not by any means solved. Actually, being an introvert isn’t really a bad thing. Being content with yourself seems to me to be a good thing. In the end, all you really have is yourself, getting to know and love yourself is crucial. People come and go but you always have yourself- it’s the one constant in your life. And the way I see it, introversion has really benefited me for all the lonely moments I’ll have.