The other day I said to my coworker something I’ve said a thousand times… “I’m whelmed.” He looked at me quizzically. I continued, “Not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but definitely moderately whelmed.” He laughed and said he’d never heard the phrase before.
I say this often…but this particular time, it hit me a little bit differently.
I then realized that I hate to say that I’m overwhelmed. I hate to admit my own weakness and submit control. When I say I’m “whelmed,” it’s me inadvertently saying “I CAN HANDLE THIS.”
“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”
Tyler Knott Gregson
If you’re into the enneagram (if you aren’t yet, check out the free test here) I’m a 2w3, which means I am a ‘helper’ and an ‘achiever.’ This couldn’t be more fitting. I like to help people (which I think is part of the reason I enjoy blogging) and I like to achieve. Even when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to keep my sh** together and a smile on my face, until I’m bursting at the seams. Some of the reasons I feel the way I feel are simply due to who I am!
“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming—that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live.”
I don’t like to be weak. When I get frustrated, sometimes I find it hard to allow myself to cry…. I feel as if holding it I somehow can avoid sending the universe the signal that I am weak.
I don’t like to submit control. This is why I don’t like to let others make my decisions, I don’t like to be adventurous with my hair, I don’t like to get too drunk, I don’t like to give up authority, I don’t like to not be in charge. It’s hard for me.
Well, I hate to break it to myself, but sometimes I am weak! And I’m not talking physically, because I’m pretty freaking proud of the improvements I’ve made in the gym. As a human, though, I’m a twenty-one year old gal who sometimes needs a good cry, maybe a bubble bath, and some time.
And sometimes I need to submit control! It’s important to allow others to help, to be adventurous, to take a deep breath and relax the tension I always hold in my shoulders. The world will remain on its axis even if I remove myself from the ‘control’ equation.
Something we can all learn to be better at is to grant ourselves a little grace. Give a little time, a good night of sleep, submit control, ask for help, cry it out, allow yourself to be OVERwhelmed…. and then pick yourself up and keep going.
If you’re in college like me, or if your everyday is feeling like more than you can handle… grant yourself grace, admit your weakness, submit control.
If you’re into it… pray.
YOU GOT THIS, BABE.
“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.”
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.
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.
I saw a photo yesterday on Instagram. I had to hunt awhile today to find it again because I wanted to make sure to share the words correctly. The author, @mariandrew, captioned this photo “counterintuitive life hacks.” It’s basically action to take if you feel something negative in your life. I didn’t really think much of this graphic until later in my day I realized how relevant it could be in my life.
Of course, the last on the list hit me the hardest.
Now, let’s rewind to Friday evening. I was snuggled in my bed around 9:30 p.m. (attempting to get more sleep whenever possible!) and I was completing my nightly routine I’ve had in place since the new year. Brush my teeth, skincare routine, read my book, write 1 thing I am grateful for in my gratitude journal, and then do my new devotional, “100 Days to Brave” by Annie F. Downs followed by prayer. This devo is absolutely perfect for me as I selected ‘fearless’ as my word of the year for 2019. I’m laying down, reading the devotional allocated for Day 4 and the words really resonated with me.
This devo entry asked us to examine our own lives and the lives of people around us to examine the ways in which we exhibit bravery. It asked the question, “When we see brave out in the world, it inspires us, doesn’t it?” and stated, “I think when you hear other stories, they will sound like your story, and you will realize you are braver than you give yourself credit for.”
The action step: When you see brave, say so.
I found myself pondering this and thinking about my word… fearless. I sat there reminding myself to take action, to be an encourager, to say speak out when I see someone being brave. This is what I’m being called to do, despite fear or insecurity. Okay, God, I see you. I’ll try, I guess.
So the title of this blog is “See Brave, Be Brave” but there’s also a little step that falls between those… say brave.
Last night, I wasn’t in a good mental headspace. We’re all allowed to have those days. Days where even though life is good, we are sad or frustrated or upset or <insertemotionhere.> I was just feeling kind of internally yucky for no reason. I tried not to think much of it and put it behind me as I was getting ready to go out with a couple of friends…
While I was putting on my makeup, I saw a friend of mine had posted that she was out with a gal pal after she had gone through a breakup. Without thinking, I replied and offered some encouragement, “tell her she’s a queen and will bounce back better. she has girls everywhere who have been there and are still currently there who metaphorically have her back.” because, duh. she does. I remember exactly how she feels.
If you’ve ever been there, sister, you remember exactly how it feels to go out the first time after a breakup. You’re already emotionally drained but hoping extroversion with close friends will somehow fill your empty cup or make you forget about the shizzzzstorm of your life. You smile because you’re so thankful for your friends but inside you’re still hurting.It’s a hard night. You scan every bar for their face and familiar places remind you of memories you’d rather store away in the far-off portion of your brain. I get it. I just wanted this girl to know that she isn’t alone and that I understand that she is being so freaking brave.
This message I sent lead to a short, soul-filling conversation between myself and a group of gals in a different city. They fed love right back into me. They made me smile. They reminded me who I am. They reminded me just a small piece of my purpose. I ended the interaction with a smile on my face and a rejuvenated sense of self after an evening where my mental headspace was far from positive.
This is when I remembered the graphic above… “when you feel unloved, give love.” As I sit here now, tears well up in my eyes. By giving love in that moment, these girls filled the part of my heart that had been hurting. This interaction exemplified the words that had been spoken into my heart by my devotional.
That girl was being brave. I said so. They filled me with love. They reminded me that I, too, am brave.
So I hope that as you read this today you can think of one person in your life who has been brave lately; someone who may need some love poured into them; someone who has been chasing a dream; someone who has been battling a demon. See brave, say brave, be brave. Be inspired by the people around you, because I’m sure when you look close enough they are doing some truly fantastic things. I’m sure you are too.
My dance professor ended our final class period by saying… “In my twenty years of teaching many classes, I can say that this one has been my favorite and really mean it because of all of you. I have dubbed this group “The Breakfast Club.” Laughter and cheers exploded in the studio.
Our Breakfast Club: 9 college students of different ages, backgrounds, and dance experience who came together for a 2-credit dance technique class…. a class that I’m sure none of us will ever forget.
I’m honestly so sad to be writing this blog, because it means that the semester is over. I can’t even think of the right words to describe how this class has impacted me, but the sentiments that my professor left as feedback on my final reflection summarize my vibe pretty well:
Your positive attitude toward the class, my teaching, and the content played a large role in your learning. It was fun to watch your confidence and skill improve over the semester. It was also refreshing to watch you be empowered as you worked through relationship issues. You seem like a very different person today than the one who walked into the studio in August.
I cried reading those words.
As a senior, it’s easy to think back on collegiate experiences and feel pangs of regret. “I should’ve done this, I wish I had never done this, If I could do it again I’d do this…” all of these are common thoughts. My version? I wish I had become a dance minor. As I finish this semester, however, I no longer view this as a regret. I truly believe that I was meant to take this dance class in this season of my life. It has benefitted me so greatly both mentally and physically as my life has done a 180º turn in the past year. As life was changing and I was changing, this class was a beautiful reminder that dance will always be there for me. I smile as I reflect back on my time spent in the studio this semester.
Some of my favorite moments of the semester have been the beginning of the class period where Mel asked us how we’re doing. This question isn’t the surface level “How are you?” where everyone responds, “Oh, I’m good!” We all wore our hearts on our sleeves… even if it happened by stating what item of furniture we felt like that day. On more than one occasion, I felt like a doormat when I entered the classroom and left feeling like the comfy recliner. Tears were shed in our class… but none were because of what was happening inside the studio. The studio was a safe haven from the craziness of college and life. The studio was where our Tuesday and Thursday mornings began, quite often with a smile. This is what I will remember most.
As I look back on the goals that I set at the beginning of the semester, I am proud to say that I feel proud of what I have accomplished. My first goal was to increase love /appreciation for my own body. I have given myself so much love this semester. (yaaasss!) Beyond the studio, I’ve spent hours at the gym, I’ve practiced more positive self-talk, I have spent time in reflection. I have become active on social media in encouraging others, especially women, to love themselves, be encouraging to others, and live their truth. In the studio, I gave my all… my FitBit happily tracking my morning dance sessions as a workout. While I didn’t always succeed at keeping my emotions out of the studio (thanks for the hugs, Mel), dance helped me to channel many emotions.
My second goal was to improve my technical skills / embrace a new learning style. This was so much easier than I anticipated. I have learned new terminology, frameworks, and steps and put them into action. My mind has opened to new pedagogy both for dance and collegiate instruction. The word I would use to describe Mel (Dr. Hauschild-Mork) would be transformative. I hope to implement what I learned from her in my own classroom next year. I felt challenged by the content, but in the way that every person who enjoys learning wants to be stretched… just beyond the comfort zone. I feel like a much stronger dancer due to not only the refreshing of old techniques but the addition of new techniques, terminology, and dance history. It was equally as wonderful to see this growth in my classmates, especially those who had not danced in this kind of setting before. I felt so giddy watching them nail a move or step… perhaps even more so when they didn’t quite nail the step but gave it their all and had a smile on their face. That’s what it’s all about.
In this class, while we all formed a great friendship (so much so that we asked to be randomly assigned to groups for the final project), we also formed awesome relations with our randomly assigned ‘dance buddies’ from the first week. I was lucky enough to be paired with two lovely ladies because our class had an uneven number. During our final exam time, we shared a thank you note and small, homemade gift with each of our dance buddies. I will cherish the words of thanks that my dance buddies wrote me:
“Alex, you’re probably one of my favorite people to get feedback from. Your positivity tempers my tendency to hear feedback as huge negatives I take personally. I want to thank you for your supportive disposition and constant encouragement that is felt in all you say and do.”
– a dance buddy
Oh miss Alex, thank you for your words of encouragement throughout this dance course. It had been a long time since I had danced in this way and I came in feeling very nervous. You made me feel like I was doing a good job and that my body looked beautiful while doing the moves. You are a strong woman, Alex. You will dance on to do great things.”
– a dance buddy
…like, wow. I was blown away by their kind words and even more touched by the hint of sparkle in each of their eyes as I read these words out loud. What truly beautiful souls filled the dance studio this semester. I don’t always feel positive; I don’t always feel strong. I aim to be an encourager in what I say and do and I know that I sometimes fail… but these two amazing ladies made me feel like a million bucks by sharing their experiences with my encouragement. I feel like God is showing me my divine purpose more and more every day and he did so even within the dance studio this semester. I left a mark on these two ladies, and they left their mark on me. I am so grateful for the friendships made in this class… I could add many more examples.
One last thing that I am thankful for as I end this semester was the opportunity to see Haley each and every Tuesday and Thursday. We planned this accordingly so that we could take this class together during her first semester as a jackrabbit. After four years of friendship from afar, driving Haley to dance class, listening to worship music with her, and reflecting on our days has been such a highlight of my semester. Haley often reminds me of myself. I refer to her as my “little sister.” I have expressed to her that I am so happy that she can continue to learn from Mel and advance her dance career here at State. Through Haley, I will live my “what if.”
The fact that I have accomplished my goals, made friendships, danced my heart out, and learned so much more than the Cincinnati step just furthers the idea that I was meant to take this class during this season of my life. I will always look back on this class as one of the most impactful classes for me here at SDSU and as a constant reminder to never stop dancing (and to never forget the breakfast club.)
To my breakfast club pals: I love you all and you’re wonderful. Thank you so much for creating the environment we shared this semester. The class was amazing, Melissa’s pedagogy is transformative… but the class could never be the same without each and every one of you.
Yesterday, I may have failed my macroeconomics test.
At first you may read that and think, “Well, that sucks.” Let me put it in perspective for you: I have never before failed a test. This year, I’ve had to adjust. Or maybe, I’ve been adjusting all along in hopes of making myself ready to combat this crazy world. I’m used to things being easy. I’m used to studying for a hot minute and acing an exam. I like easy. Easy is fun. Easy doesn’t frustrate me.
Before my economics exam, I had to give an impromptu speech in my public speaking class. My prompt: “If I ruled the world, the first thing I would do would be…”
My statement: “treat myself.”
I am stressed. I am busy, I am worn, I am frustrated, I am imperfect, I am unbalanced, I am exhausted.
I launched into 90-second speech about the importance of personal mental health and finding the time to refresh.
Following my speech, a perfectly lovely human in my class asked me something along the lines of “How do you find resilience?” Resilience – such a strong word, it almost caught me off-guard.
My mind was turning with economic terms, so I defined it the same way I would with the aggregate supply lines on a graph – long run and short run. Resilience is getting through the tough times in the short run and focusing on the long run. While I’m sick and exhausted and heading to my third meeting of the evening without returning to my room since 8:30 a.m., I have to remember that I LOVE my activities. I love raising money for Children’s Miracle Network, and finding ways to encourage students to purchase Love Your Melon gear for a great cause, and using dance to stomp out frustrations and make new friends. I love my majors. I know that all of these activities make me who I am and will continually shape me in my future. I am resilient because I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel of a bad day, a bad week, or a rough semester. I am resilient because I know I am loved beyond measure. I am resilient because I believe in myself and my capabilities.
Lately, I’ve felt disheartened when things don’t come easily. Grades, time for myself, the election, friendships and relationships, participation, excitement – they all come at a price. I must give in.
I must also give my all.
When things aren’t easy, you must work extra hard. When things aren’t easy, you must problem solve. When things aren’t easy, you must rely on the support and love and aid of others. When things aren’t easy, you must never give up.
So today, as if I ruled the world, I am treating myself. I’m going to spend my time with my mom, I’m going to paint, and I’m going to take a bubble bath.