Relapse of a Previous Me?

Instastalking was my guiltiest pleasure before college.  Before I even had an Instagram, I religiously would scroll through endless accounts of people who I wanted to be like.  In middle school, it was all the cool kids who either did recreational cheerleading or played football.  In high school, it expanded to the best all-star cheerleaders and fitness YouTubers.  I always convinced myself that I would peruse through social media accounts to try and understand the lives of everyone who I saw.   Social media was always a competition in my eyes; everyone posted about their greatest accomplishments and most significant moments.  It felt like a bragging race to see who had the most interesting life–something that I thought I did not have at the time.  I constantly thought that my life was inferior to these profiles; I wouldn’t spend the weekends at parties or hanging out with friends like everyone else seemed to be doing.  I would stay at home, walk my dog, and hang out with my mom.  My life was the exception; I was the one person who just didn’t have the social bug and couldn’t even fathom an Instagram post to act like my life was something it’s not.  I desperately wanted to see how I was like everyone who seemed to have the things I didn’t.  I honestly wanted my life to feel like an Instagram Story.

But that was the person I used to be.  I don’t know when I changed and severed my obsession with social media.  But going back to the “old me”, looking through all these accounts of people I used to obsess over, I feel like I’m missing something.  The person who I was just a couple of years ago seems to be a very nuanced version of angsty high school Troutman.  Right now, I have begun to feel certified in who I am; I’m starting to understand my morals, work towards my goals, and live unapologetically. And even though I am this “new and improved” version of myself, I still feel that I left who I was in the dust.  Coming to college, I knew that it would be some sort of restart.  But, I didn’t want my restart to be a complete memory clear.  Leaving high school, there were a lot of doors left open, a lot of things I never addressed, a lot of fears I never faced.  And now, as I am stalking on social media, remembering the person who I was in high school, I feel as if I owe it to myself to finally close those doors and face those fears.

I think it’s dangerous to just start anew and try to brute force the person who you once were.  Even during our darkest times, when we want to shove our monsters into the corner, the constant suppression will eventually result in a massive relapse.  I want to have continuity within my life, a story that progresses gradually or at least has cohesive transitions.  I’m not even sure of what I am saying anymore.  It’s 4:30 AM on my dad’s birthday.  I’m just going to leave this unwritten


Instilling New Habits

Patterson Park
Bringing life back to a bird habitat.

The splurge of the summer is finally starting to slow down.  At times it feels very sad because I felt like I truly grew as a person over the last couple of months.  But also, it is encouraging that I am getting into the flow of a new season.  With school starting to become routinely again, I hope to bring in some new habits.  For the rest of my life, I really want to be more proactive, to be unapologetically spontaneous and try new things (even if there is no one to try them with me).  I also want to commit to interests.  For example, I recently got a personal trainer because I have always been interested in fitness but was always too afraid to workout.

Gradually, I think I am beginning to turn over a new leaf, growing into a new person.   And that makes me feel pretty damn good!

Start of the Sophomore Slump

Student Government People
Me and my SGA friends

I am pretty excited to be starting my sophomore year in college.  I have feelings of dread, anxiety, fear, and excitement. There are so many unknowns and who knows what will happen in these upcoming months.

Sophomore year is when we start learning all new content and high school is a kiss goodbye.  The “sophomore slump” is supposedly a struggle.  But, I don’t plan to go through sophomore year alone.  I think something about freshman year is that it’s easy to work independently and do well in class.  Once I start struggling on content?  I am definitely going to need some help.  Hopefully, I am understanding that asking for help is okay and I seek assistance when needed.  This year, I feel like a lot of humble growth will occur.

I really want to do well in school, but I also want to make sure that I am having a great time outside of my academics.  I love being in clubs and helping out anyway that I can around here.  And this isn’t the typical surface-level answer that you hear on a college tour.  I feel like being involved is the main way that I have met different types of people (problematic and not), grown professionally, and learned how to manage my time.  It is so easy at my school to get caught up in the books that it is crucial to know that school is so much more than just learning in class.

Being at school is a whole other world.  It sometimes feels like I was meant to be here. I don’t know, maybe I am.  This is sounding very cliche, so I’m finishing now.

There’s a Thick Line Between Love and Marriage

The childhood fables and imaginary television stories of the girl marrying her true love and riding off into the sunset could not have been any less misleading than a blatant lie.  I feel like we’re trained as children to think that being in love and being married are conjoined at the foundation.  I challenge someone to disagree with me, but I’ve learned in the past couple of years that love and marriage are not the same thing.

Now let’s be real, it’s pretty easy to fall in love.  A song will play, and I can get emotional about a specific person, with that feeling not only belonging to that one person.  And many people have multiple boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives, giving each person unconditional love. So why do some of the most loving relationships, like marriages, fail?

I think relationships fail because they have nothing to do with how much you may love someone.  Relationships involve testing limits of forgiveness, trust, respect, and values within oneself and their partner’s.  Being committed to someone is allowing yourself to be okay with understanding this unpredictable world with someone by your side.  Sometimes this person may be destructive, encouraging, and even loving at times, but in all honesty, they make you learn more about the reality of humanity and what life really means.  To me that’s nothing related to love, and I don’t think people understand that.

Love is a boundless essence of happiness. Love is good. Love is kind. Love is simply fun. Being in love is the idea of wanting to commit to someone, like the sweetness of chocolate; but the realistic somewhat bitter aftertaste is the true commitment.

I’m not sure if I actually believe in true love anymore, because I think it’s very possible to passionately love more than one person within a lifetime.  More so, I don’t think being married to your ‘true love’ means your marriage is going to work out. After that honeymoon high, when marriage becomes an everyday thing with arguments and uncomfortable situations, commitment kicking in determines the fate of a couple’s future.  I’ve never been married, but I know it’s a LOT of work.  And when two people put the work into committing to each other, that’s where I think love can be amplified.  When someone sticks around for the hard times, a connection deeper than love is forged:  a partnership.

I think we all want want to fall in love, but I think even more-so, we long to be understood for our imperfections.  We all want someone to see us for as we are without Instagram filters, makeup, and fancy clothes.  Commitments like being married achieve this feeling, with love being insured through the process.

It seems like all the difficult things in life have the best results (fitness, studying, skill-building, etc.) and think marriage is on that list as well.

Secrets Define Our Lives

Art by Alysson Honey

When I went to Ithaca this summer for a workshop, I spent half of the day listening to lectures, and then the other half aimlessly waiting to go back to New Jersey.  As I tested my strength of patience, a friendship between me and my lab partner sparked.  Before arriving to Cornell, we essentially were strangers.  Nonetheless our friendship formed by traversing through provocative conversations ranging, from Brooklyn 99 to our deepest secrets.

Now let it be forewarned that the contents of our deepest secrets were not exchanged, because she basically is a stranger to me.  But the pressure and protection we felt about our secrets allowed us to connect on such a deep level without feeling completely exposed.

I thought it was strange how we were both fully aware of our deepest “darkest” secrets.  Even as I write this, it is so weird to see how my own secret has shaped the outlook of my life.  The analogy I used when talking with my lab partner is the fable from The Princess and the Pea. For me I hadn’t recognized my deepest secret until about a year ago.  But thinking back on how my life has evolved, I see my fears and actions shaping actions I have pursued.  It’s easy to think that disregarding one little pea or pebble or impurity in our lives is insignificant.  When we try to protect our secrets instead of acknowledge them, we start to layer our lives and distort our public appearance just in order to feel a sense of security.

Secrets aren’t terrible to have.  I think that hiding secrets from ourselves is a dangerous fate.  If the world may never know, we must at least on an individual level come to terms with our truths because they can make our lives feel like we’re sleeping on rocks.

When Hate Turns to Appreciate

Photo taken at my school

Recently I saw one of my best friends who I’ve known for a couple of years.  But whenever I see him, it’s like I’ve known him for my whole life.

In high school, a lot of people didn’t like him because he was perceived to be pretentious and cocky (which to a degree is true).  But understanding his personality and background, I know his mannerisms stem from this sense to always feel as if he has to prove himself to the world.  This dude is really spectacular; he’s going to one of the top schools in the country, gets almost perfect grades,  while maintaining a great social life with hobbies .  When I’m around him and his “cocky side” emerges, I have a mixture of feelings: pride, anger, and jealousy.

Our friendship is definitely love-hat on my side because he’s my bro, but I hate that I compare myself to him constantly, and I think that I’m always inferior to him.  I used to try to suppress my jealousy, but why disclose genuine feelings? We can be happy, so why can’t we be angry or jealous?

I actually think being jealous of him has made me a better person.  I am jealous because I see him being so successful.  But I know he just worked really hard to get to where he is now.  At times, I am just so angry because I want to do the things he does.  But once the anger subsides, it actually turns into motivation for me to be better than I am.

I think if we get comfortable with our negative emotions and learn how they can compliment our positive emotions, we won’t start to think so badly about negative emotions.  Negative emotions are like setbacks because when you “get back”, you’re much better because of the adversity.

I haven’t seen a lot of Star Wars, but I know that the world they live in is at peace when the dark and light are in balance.  I believe all the flavors of love and hate follow the same principles.