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progress

Every year on this date, I have almost too many emotions to find the words for. I could say a million things, and seemingly none of them will ever be enough. It’s one of those days I find myself thinking, “no one could possibly understand how I feel,” but still feel compelled to share even just a little piece. I cannot change the past; I was given a future for a reason and I know my reason is not to stay silent about the ways in which I am blessed.

Four years ago today…my life hit rock bottom after a car accident shattered my world, my sense of adventure, and filled me with grief for a woman I had never met and regrets for an event that left me blaming myself and questioning the fabric of my life as I knew it.

A few months later, I packed up my new Subaru and left for college with white knuckles and a lump in my throat. I made my mom ride with me in my vehicle so I didn’t have to make the drive alone.

My brothers used to live in the town I attend university. When I first moved here, I remember my first solo drive from campus to that house. It’s about a 6 or 7 minute drive with very little traffic. I turned my GPS on, even though I thought I knew the way, and… cried the entire drive. This was a real-life occurrence for me… terrified of driving in any capacity after my accident. This wasn’t the only time something like this happened, but this instance sticks out to me, even four years later.

I now live in that same house. I commute every single day to and from campus, sometimes in the middle of a pitch black South Dakotan winter night.

In moments like these, I remember that progress is happening in my life every single day and in each little moment when I force myself to do the scary thing.

I’m still not okay with what happened or okay even driving in many scenarios, but I’m okay. I am grateful every day, specifically today’s date, to be alive and well. I am making progress, slowly but surely, and making myself proud of the smallest, seemingly insignificant things….

like driving home.

always,

alex

If you or someone you know is suffering from trauma, trauma-related anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, here’s some resources:

PTSD is not reserved for soldiers or military veterans, however; anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or life-threatening event, like a car or plane crash, torture, robbery, bombing or terrorist event, rape, murder, or any other violent situation, may be prone to developing PTSD.

– San Diego Treatment Center
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thank u, next… i’m so f’ing grateful for this album.

If you haven’t listened to Ariana Grande’s latest album, titled “thank u, next”… stop right there. Direct yourself to Spotify or Apple Music and take a listen. For your convenience, I have included the lyrics/videos (not all videos have been released) to all the songs on this album just below.

Honestly, I am writing this blog solely because the album has been on repeat in my head since I listened to it on February 8th. I find it relatable, inspiring, and thought-provoking… not to mention it is full of total bops. I’m writing this so maybe I can stop bugging my friends and roommates about all the intricacies of this album and my personal feelings in regards to each song.

Like all of us, Ariana has been through some sh**. We can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through hard things while continuing to be in the spotlight day after day. She highlights this concept in her song, ‘fake smile.’ Ariana’s concert was the location of a terrorist attack, her former beau Mac Miller passed away, and her engagement failed. She channeled so many feelings into her words on this album, and it’s taken me several days and listening to each song probably twenty times to figure out my thoughts from these incredible works.

I’ve been through some sh** myself, and quite honestly I’m here for Ariana’s comeback. Of course, the highlighted song of the album (and arguably the most popular) is ‘thank u, next.’ As we approach Valentine’s Day, I’m constantly reminded of my relationship status. While I realize the necessity of my status and am secure in my current position, the influx of romantic reminders isn’t exactly a mood-booster, even for a hopeless romantic person like me who truly loves love. Ariana states her gratefulness for her past, offers thanks, and moves forward with open arms for whatever comes next. I think that in this season of singleness, I am empowered by her ability to take a hard season of life and turn it into a forward-thinking, grateful anthem that women can both resonate with and dance to in the club. (yes, I mean me.)

Since the release on February 8, my favorite is probably ‘NASA‘ because this song, while ridiculously catchy, is focused on me time, and the idea that even people in relationships need space. her words are, “It ain’t nothing wrong with saying I need me time.” Heck yeah, girlfriend. Self-care is so important, and taking time to just have some space is important. I honestly think I haven’t valued this concept enough in my life, and it’s a great reminder that you are a star, you are your own universe, and you deserve the space you want or need.

A song that strikes an emotional chord with me is ‘ghostin.’ This song discusses Ariana’s grief. I think that anyone going through a breakup or death of a loved one experiences grief and it’s important to let yourself grieve and not cover it up for other people, even those closest to you. Cry it out, sis. It’s a heartbreaking image to hear her describe crying herself to sleep while sleeping next to someone else. Takeaways: feel your feeling when you need to feel them, and heal for as long as it takes.

The song ‘in my head‘ also hit me like a ton of bricks. The intro of the song states, “Here’s the thing: you’re in love with a version of a person that you’ve created in your head, that you are trying to but cannot fix. Uh, the only person you can fix is yourself.” oof. This song is talking about the versions of other people we gather in our heads that is perhaps a figment of our imagination, and invention of our own and not true to another’s true self. This song serves as a good reminder to take off the rose colored glasses.

7 rings‘ focuses on a major positive in Ariana’s life… her gal pals. I always say that girl power is the strongest force in the world. Ariana, in the form of money and being able to purchase all of her favorite things, showcases her hard work. The reason for the title is that she decided to buy matching diamond rings for her best friends rather than disregard her own diamond. Atta girl, Ari. Girl power. Treat yourself, treat your gals, be proud of your accomplishments.

While I could write sentiments about each song, there are some songs with perhaps less positive vibes to pull from, even though they’re still phenomenal. I will, however, offer perhaps a little bit sassier reflection on her final song, ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.‘ This song is perhaps the song with the greatest backlash online, stating that this is a ‘toxic’ song encouraging bad behavior coming from a place of women against women instead of women empowering women. I agree and would never put myself in that position… However, I will definitely say that if all it takes for your man to be unfaithful is another woman saying “I’m bored,” then you need turn and run, sister. He isn’t worth your time.

So thank u… next album please. This album seemed to be released exactly when I needed it and inspired me to dance on my way to class, understand I’m not alone, and to get writing.

Maybe this blog post wasn’t as relatable as some others, or even as inspiring, but this blog post summarizes my recent thoughts and the constant stream of Ariana Grande from my phone! xoxo

always,

Alex

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“and I don’t even know you yet.”

Last night, I sat down to write “A Letter to My 2020 Self.” This was my final goal of January, and I officially completed every goal I set for myself for the month. I thought about sharing this letter in a blog, but it ended up affecting me so deeply and personally that I’d rather just stick it away in a folder of my computer for a snowy January day next year.

via @raniban on instagram

However, I will share the sentence I wrote to close the letter:

I love you, Alexandra Grace of 2020, and I don’t even know you yet.

And that’s when it hit me.

I didn’t even know this version of myself one year ago. Looking back, I think the ‘love’ I had for myself was nearly completely defined by how others perceived me, loved me, viewed me, enjoyed being around me, or other standards. For much of that time and the months that followed, I was happy but simply going through a lot of the motions of life. In the pit of my stomach, I still felt not good enough. I felt like nothing I did was amounting to anything, a restless stream of busyness and lack of accomplishment. I had severe burnout and experienced intense heartbreak. I was in an extremely dark place, and I fought tooth and nail and crawled out of that dark place inch by inch by inch. That army crawl toughened me up like a soldier heading into battle to fight for my life and the version of myself I wanted to be.

Today, I can honestly say I love who I am becoming. I still struggle as much as the next person. I procrastinate. I’m always late. I find it hard to socialize, yet I hate being alone. I feel my emotions perhaps too deeply. I overcommit and fail at tasks. I even did my fair share of crying as I wrote a letter to myself… prophesying and praying that when I look back on this year I’m overwhelmed with pride and joy. Despite my struggles and everyday downfalls, I have worked really hard to get where I am. I’m nowhere near the top of the mountain, but damn the view gets better the further I go. There is no quick fix, no diet, no podcast, no workout, no face mask, no self-help novel that will give you all the answers. My answers for how I’m striving for better will not match yours. That’s okay. We’re all different. Find what makes you feel more alive, like a breath of fresh air has been breathed into you. As for me, I’m living life for me by saying goodbye to things that no longer serve me, devoting time to develop healthy habits, and listening to a whole lot of worship music…. and I guess I’m writing letters to myself, too.

If how I’ve felt lately is a trajectory path for the upcoming year, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I don’t know my 2020 self, but so far my 2019 self is the best version of myself that I’ve been in a long time.

I encourage you to write a letter to yourself. Maybe it’s just for next week, maybe it’s for a certain month, maybe it’s a year or 5. Write to yourself. Proclaim your hopes and dreams for yourself. For me, it was a written prayer and vision board and journal entry all at once, and it was absolutely cathartic.

always,

Alex