Metamorphosis

*Originally began 6/5/18. Finished & published 6/9/18*

Now Playing: “Here’s To Us” – Halestorm

Verse of the Day (YouVersion): “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love…” (Psalms 33:18).

The last few days have been really tough, and really tough in a way that’s completely different from what I usually mean when I say that. There’s nothing quite like the overwhelming and persistent feeling of not being enough and not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing during a period of transition. The experiences I will be having are going to be completely different from what I was expecting and as a result, I’ve been straddling so many different emotions all at the same time. I’m simultaneously excited, overwhelmed, heartbroken, and determined, and in an attempt for full transparency, I have no idea what I’m doing. All this being said, I truly could not ask for a better support system to move through this with. On the daily, I say to myself I don’t know how I got lucky enough to be surrounded by so many incredible people, or to have had the opportunities to experience a second year with a job I love so much, but that’s not true. I do know how those things happened, and who I can thank for them.

Like my best friend said to me recently, “This is one of those things that you can really feel God in.” As always, God has something to teach me. Fun Shelby fact: My most preferred method of prayer is through writing them down almost as if they were letters. As I was preparing to write this and start my general “wind down” things for the evening, I flipped through my journal discovering that the last thing I prayed for (in written form, anyways) was discernment. I asked God to “help me hear [His] call, and most importantly, help me answer it.” I’m constantly in awe of the way God works, and in the different ways that I can truly see Him in everything. He’s been with me every minute of every day, even before I was aware that that was the case, and that remains to be evident.

Sometimes, okay let’s be honest, most times it is downright impossible to see where God is trying to lead us and what the lessons are that He wants us to take away when we’re experiencing these things. Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s often after the fact that I can see what was happening in the big picture. The other reality, is sometimes we don’t ever see those things. There are things that we simply don’t, and can’t, know. It’s trusting God through these seasons that can be challenging, but is absolutely a necessity.

I don’t talk about my faith with others often. For awhile there. I was trying to be relatively involved in the church I was going to, but once I experienced some moral differences, I started to feel as though I had grown as much as I could through that organization. The unanticipated consequence of that however, was that I lost ultimately began to lose contact with everyone I had “connected” with in that space. It’s an interesting kind of isolating to be the only one in your family and your friend group that practices a specific faith. I’m always willing to share my testimony, but that’s not really a conversation topic that comes up frequently outside of those “designated” spaces.

I’ve finally reached a point again of having people in my life who do share my faith and who I can have those conversations with. I’m under the impression that my best friend and I have so much more in common in this realm than we’re even (currently) aware of, and I’m so grateful to again have folks I can share that with. This being said, talking about God in public spaces, and doing so casually, is something I still struggle with. For a long time I was taught that these discussions didn’t have a place in everyday life even though they absolutely can. Faith is another of those things that is largely subjective, and is deeply personal, but can be so incredibly powerful when shared.

I’ve never been good at being vulnerable and opening up/asking for help when I need it, nor have I ever been good at sharing things without being prompted to do so. I’m lucky in the fact that the majority of my favorite people know how and when to push me to advocate for myself. Yesterday, my best friend and I had some really powerful and impactful conversations, and I know I will be carrying them with me for the foreseeable future. In these past few days, while they’ve been difficult, they’ve allowed a kind of vulnerability that I have a tendency to avoid. I know that I would have maintained that same pattern here if it wasn’t for my best friend and the straight-up gifts God has given him when it comes to knowing when those around him need support. He told me yesterday that I was getting better at asking for emotional support. I disagree, and I do hope I get better at it, but this last week, God moved us in so many ways to make sure that we both knew that we needed one another and were there to offer comfort and a listening ear. There’s a lot of love, support, and excitement that comes with this transition, don’t get me wrong. But there’s also a lot of hurt, confusion, and fear too that need to be acknowledged.

Advertisements

A Blessing and a Curse

“Nothing kills a man faster than his own head.” – twenty one pilots

“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.” – David Jones

I break my own heart frequently; it’s something I’ve started to become accustomed to. Now, I don’t say that lightly, or to entice sadness or pity, but because my mental health has been against me for so much longer than I’ve been aware of it.

The first time I broke my own heart was in middle school.

Continue reading

To my best friend,

Throughout my life, I’ve had moments where I thought I finally understood what it meant to have a “best friend.” Now I know best friends can be few or many, and that different friends can support you in different ways, but now that I know you, I know that I finally understand what that kind of love looks like. I’ve never known the kind of support you offer me and while it sucks that I went so long without knowing you, I would do all of it again to get to keep you around.

I need you to know that you are one of the most important people in my life. I say it a lot, but I don’t know what I would do without you. And you know what’s amazing? I don’t have to try and figure that out. You are a walking, breathing blessing that God has given me, and I don’t even think you’re aware of the different ways that you are saving my life every single day. I’ve been let down, betrayed, and abandoned by so many people that I prioritized in my life that I always opted to take a backseat. And truly, I can’t express just how awesome it is to actually have someone that I know that I can call when I need help.

You’re easily one of the strongest, most compassionate, and kind people I’ve had the pleasure to meet, let alone the privilege of calling you my friend. You’ve experienced so much, and you never let that stop you from taking care of the people around you. You have such a heart for serving, protecting, and caring for others and I can see God in every single thing you do. You are nothing short of a light in this world, and you have taught me so much. I’m garbage at receiving affirmations, a fact you know well, however, your words stick with me like glue. When I hit a low, those are some of the things that help me to escape whether they be lessons on how even a just a little progress is progress regardless or encouragements in faith. Today you told me that I was someone at the forefront of your mind when something difficult came into your experiences recently, and I truly don’t know what I did to deserve such a place in your life. I told you that it was okay to feel that, realizing that that’s also what you’ve been telling me to do all week. Thank you for encouraging me to confront my emotions and thank you for trusting me the way you do. Your heart is something truly outstanding, and you are 1000% one of my heroes.

I can’t decide whether or not it would be fair to let you know the weight you carry in my life, because I wouldn’t ever want it to become a burden on you; it’s not, and shouldn’t ever feel like, a responsibility that you need to take on. You being who you are has made all the difference and I can’t thank you enough for that. You impress me every single day. I’m so proud to know you, but I’m even prouder of you. I’m honored to get to see all of the amazing things you’re doing, and I cannot wait to see the phenomenal things you do in the future. I love you so much more than words can say.

Thanks to you, I will always remember who I am and what I stand for.

Treat Yo’ Self

Welcome to my very first Treat Yo’ Self day of 2018. Last month, I had the absolute delight of seeing The Last Jedi in theaters with a couple of friends, and I LOVED it. Two and half weeks later and it’s all I can do not to talk about it constantly. I wrote an entire (really long) review type deal full of my thoughts on the film itself in light of the negative backlash it’s been facing just because I had to get it out of my system, so if that’s something you’d like to see/talk about, let me know! I could honestly engage in Star Wars discourse for the rest of my life, and would be very happy.

ANYWAYS, because I’m still riding the fresh hype train that is Episode VIII, my very first date with myself of 2018 is a Star Wars marathon day.

The goal of the day, in terms of films, is to watch Rogue One and Episodes IV-VII. Those are the priorities, anyways. I personally do enjoy the prequel movies, and I will 100% be  jumping into those later on provided I have the time. I’ve also put together a Star Wars themed menu for myself! I love cooking, baking, and all things Nerdy Nummies 😉 so days like these are frequently on my self-care list. I’m also hoping to get into some fun makeup and hair activities, as well as any crafts I can think of/have supplies for! I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures!

UPDATE: Today was an absolute blast! I’ve included everything I did today in a kind of play-by-play down below!

Let’s get started!

Continue reading

New Year’s Rewind

2017 was a doozy, wasn’t it? To say that it was a bad year is to be wholly inaccurate, even though it was truly trying at times. I experienced a world of new sorrows in 2017, as well as one of new joys and renewed peace. I learned a lot about heartbreak, fear, friendship, humility, joy, and best of all, myself.
I’ve always had a tendency to put the wrong people in my life on pedestals. People who ultimately fall off of that pedestal, and even some who willingly jump off of them. Despite the heart ache that comes with this process, at the end of the day, I’m better off without those folks maintaining those spots. I latch onto ideas and fantasies about the way my life and my relationships are supposed to look. This is often dooming, and I’ve known that for awhile, but I think I’m finally ready to start working on it. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to sever relationships where I didn’t feel respected, safe, or like I was receiving the same amount of effort I was putting in.
That being said, there are a lot of incredible people in my life who’ve stuck it out and have been there for me for years, despite the fact that wasn’t putting in the same kind of effort because I’ve been too focused on those fake pedestal people. 2017 was the first time my depression really pulled me under, and maybe it’s  because I was finally able to give those feelings a name, but I struggled with my emotions this last year more than I ever have in my life. The most effective trick this chemical imbalance has is making me feel alone. The first of my 2018 resolutions is to work on my discernment skills; to recognize those people who truly are there for me and to give them my whole heart like they’ve been giving me theirs, and to not let my brain convince me that I’m on my own in life, because I know that I am not.

Some 2017 MVP’s:
Melissa, Mike, Killian. I love the three of you with all my heart. I feel so lucky to be a part of your lives. You were some of the first people to really get the way that I function and you are my favorite safe space. Seester, I truly don’t know what I would do without you and I would work at Target all over again if it meant that I got to have you as my best friend forever. And believe me when I say, I’m going to write the best goddamn Maid of Honor speech this world has ever seen.

 

Emily, you are my oldest friend. We’ve been “mind-twins” going on twelve years now, and that just blows my mind. We always have the best adventures; it’s always a blast being with you, whether we’re at DisneyLand or in your room watching YouTube videos until 1am. You are my constant, like a rock, and I’m so thankful for you and for the way that we can always pick up where we left off, no matter how long the breaks in between are.

 

Erin. Darling, there’s not a doubt in my mind that if soulmates exist, you’re one of mine. I don’t think I could ever run out of good things to say about you, which works out perfectly because bragging about you is one of my most favorite things to do. You have one of the biggest and kindest hearts this world has ever seen, and I’m in constantly in awe of the fact that I get to be in your life. That you chose me to be one of your people. I love you so much more than words can say and I miss your beautiful face and your spectacular hugs.
Jen. Jen the Gem. First of all, I am unbelievably proud of you. You’ve been doing some incredible things this last year, and it’s been so, so cool to watch you grow over the years we’ve known each other. Secondly, I’m so blessed to have your friendship. You have the best sense of humor and you’re such a genuine, kind person. Thank you for having so many sleepovers with Maryn and I recently. We’re like the three musketeers, and I’m so thankful to have met you and blessed to have had you stick around.
Maryn, love, you’re the best. I literally could not ask for a better friend or roommate. Just doing life with you has been awesome and you’ve done so much for my mental health without even realizing it. Thank you for always being hilarious, for having sleepovers in the living room with me, for cooking dinner most of the time (I am so sorry, I’ll do better I swear), and for being a phenomenal friend. The nights we end up staying awake and talking forever about everything under the sun are my absolute favorite. I know I can count on you for anything, and the gratitude I feel for that is immeasurable.
There was also a group of people who added an amazing amount of love and positivity to my life: my UNC Orientation Staff. I look forward to continuing the friendships that were started this past spring/summer, and am in awe of the fact that I get to do so, because ya’ll are truly some of the most incredible individuals I have ever met. I love you all so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had my heart broken by people I called my friends at one time or another, all year long, but these instances were far outweighed by the moments I felt loved by the people around me and I can’t thank God enough for that.
Building people up in my brain the way I do, has had the unfortunate effect of making me skeptical of people who want to be in my life. I’m never as open as I wish I were, even with close friends, let alone with new people. I crave intimacy and companionship like many, but I tend to sabotage myself when it comes to potentially receiving these, be it platonic or romantic. I can’t expect my circumstances to change if my behaviors stay the same. I just want to be a genuine person. I want to be an open book, heart on my sleeve and all. I get too caught up keeping myself at a distance and waiting to find out the level of interest or depth in others, that I haven’t been offering much in return. I want to be better.

In 2017, I had my heart broken by others, but I also gave it a good breaking once or twice myself. The changes I want to see reflected in my future start with me, and while New Years has never really been a holiday I’ve cared for, I feel optimistic about this one. Let’s do some absolutely wondrous stuff this time. What do you say, 2018? Ready for an adventure of epic proportions?

Highlights of 2017:
-Women’s March
-Costumes of Star Wars Exhibit @ Art Museum
-Saw Kinky Boots
-Bible Art
-Killian was born!
-Maryn, Jen, & Emily graduated!
-Quit a job I hated, and was hired for one I absolutely love.
-My UNC staff
-Denver Comic Con
-Moved back to Greeley & Moved in with Maryn!
-Estes Park Solo & Group Trips
-Went to a concert by myself
-Started an Etsy Shop
-Went to more on-campus events than before
-My (immediate) family
-FRIENDSHIP.
-DisneyLand
– Boo at the Zoo
-Halloween & Friendsgiving
-Gingerbread houses with mom
-Zoo Lights
-Star Wars

Goals/ Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2018:
-Follow Jesus.
-Be more intentional with my relationships.
-My two jobs!
-Find a third job!
-Work on being more responsible financially
-San Diego
-Denver Comic Con
-Make some kickass cosplays
-Learn how to shoot my shot
-Give more effort towards/be more open to potential relationships & friendships
-Be fearless
-Be a fierce friend
-Work hard in class & get better grades
-Go on a road trip
-Visit more national parks
-Plan a successful bridal shower & deliver a kickass Maid of Honor speech
-Go to counseling
-Treat my depression and anxiety medically as well.
-Hang out with friends more often
-Learn how to reach out when I need help
-Learn to be more comfortable crying in front of others.
-Try to be healthier
-Carve out intentional time for self-care and for prayer
-Stay in touch with my feelings
-Take myself on dates & fall in love with myself
-Blog consistently
-Take note of the good things that happen, no matter how big or little they seem
-Believe in myself.
-Listen to music everyday

Just Thinking.

Yesterday morning I woke up and I felt numb. While the world was still the same, my illusions of it had shattered and I felt as though I no longer recognized it. While I’ve only consciously experienced a small handful of presidential elections in my young life, something feels dangerous about this one. This is not the same disappointment or pride I’m used to in relation to my candidates. With each election, there have always been people who mourn the state of the nation, melodramatically or otherwise, when they think we’ve taken a turn for the worst. The difference in today is that instead of mourning our current state of affairs, we’ve already begun mourning lives that we have yet to lose.

It can’t be normal to feel this kind of fear or betrayal at the prospect of a certain individual leading a country. It can’t be normal that the Canadian Immigration website crashed the night of the election. It can’t be normal that suicide hotlines around the country were busier than your average Tuesday night. It can’t be normal the way communities are grasping at straws in order to cling to the hope that somehow, someway, maybe Hillary Clinton will make it to the White House instead. The widespread protests varying in medium and location all across the country, as well as the widespread abuse, cannot be normal responses to an act of democracy.

I took the time to reach out to a handful of my friends, those who I know are struggling as much as I am if not more, (and I encourage you to do the same) and there are so many people heartbroken, terrified, and exhausted because of the way things have turned out in the last 48 hours.

I’ve been trapped within my own head all day today. My biggest problem with the international wars this country has been a part of in recent years is that how on earth can we even think we can help “fix” other parts of the world when we cannot even take care of ourselves and our own here? I thought this same thing (in variation) earlier within my cultural anthropology class. Why is it that such a great deal of cultural anthropologists study indigenous peoples all around the world and turn a blind eye to the wide array of societal quirks and mysteries that rest within our own western society?

Right now, it feels like we’re losing. How can we even try to be a world leader when we, as a nation, are continuously disrespecting the existence of some of our own citizens? I’m scared for myself, and I’m scared for my friends. One of the friends I checked on today sent me that famous Niemöller quote when we were talking about only some of the racist, sexist, and homophobic experiences they’ve had just in the past 2 days.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

That has continued to resonate with me. That as well as these:

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another.” John 13:34

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Ephesians 4:26-27

 

Shelby. Female. Woman. She/Her. Questioning.

*Written at the beginning of October 2016

At my university, I’m currently enrolled in this course called Sex & Gender Diversity in Anthropology and this class has is really cool for a handful of reasons. For starters, this course was designed by the Chair of the Anthropology Department, Dr. Sally Macbeth, as well as the Director of the university’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, Stephen Loveless. Dr. Macbeth is the course’s professor, but Stephen has been in frequently to assist with the two main projects of the semester.

A  couple of weeks ago, when Stephen came into our class for the first time, they had us do this short identity activity, and basically I’ve been thinking about it ever since. When Stephen was explaining what they wanted us to do, they acknowledged that this would likely be (for some of us) the first time we had ever affirmed our own identities in such a way. It was easy enough, just answering a couple questions.

Name? Shelby. Biological Sex? Female. Gender Identity? Woman. Pronouns? She/Her/Hers. Gender Expression? Feminine. Sexual Identity? …….

Okay, so maybe not as easy as I had originally thought. The self-conscious person I pretend not to be couldn’t help but wonder if any of my classmates saw my hesitation, or the way I initially added a question mark at the end of the word “straight.” (HA! “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga just came on shuffle. God is hilarious.) As the days wore on, and I kept thinking, that “straight” felt less and less like me. I mean, the way I hesitated answering those questions (which were 1000% private and mine to keep, btw) on its own showed me that I’ve never really, truly faced my sexuality.

I’ve known for awhile that I’m not completely straight, but every time I began to think about it, I totally shrugged it off my shoulders and claimed to myself that it was “just because I didn’t like labels.” I realize now that this isn’t fair. Not only am I erasing my own sexual identity, but I’ve also been unintentionally implying that those labels don’t matter. By extension, this is absolutely insensitive to the individuals who find solace in those labels as well as to those who’ve fought tooth and nail and risked their lives in order to reclaim those words and wear them proudly. So, you know what? Shame on me.

Today, I went back into that notebook and scribbled out “straight” and instead put “questioning” because at least that way I was being honest. The past two days or so, I really decided to have a conversation with myself about this. Since I came to that decision, a variety of tiny little revelations have been popping into my head. For example, the first conversation I ever had with my mom about gay marriage when I was young ended with me saying “Well, if I fall in love with a guy, okay. And if I fall in love with a girl, okay. I’m not going to base whether or not I love someone on their sex.” I remember my mother being in adamant agreement with me on this. I guess at the time I  just didn’t realize how in tune with myself I actually was.

 

November 8, 2016

I respect my Republican friends, I even understand and empathize with a variety of your party’s stances. That being said, being a Republican and having supported Donald Trump in this election are two VERY different things. If I’ve unfriended you (or continue to do so over the next several days) it’s not over “politics.” It’s much bigger and much scarier than that.

If you’ve already been unfriended, it’s because we were never close friends, or never even had the potential to be close friends. There’s no point in me keeping acquaintances that don’t believe that I deserve basic human rights anywhere nearby. The rest of you, the ones who supported Donald Trump and are still on my friends list, it is solely because of some twisted obligation that I feel because at one time we were really close (or I have yet to find out that you supported this man). I’m an extremely sentimental person and have a very hard time throwing things away, including friendships. But don’t let your continued existence as my “friend” fool you. I now know to whom I don’t truly matter. I won’t forget. I can’t forget. This election has been nothing like we’ve ever seen before and I know that among some of you I am not safe. It is because of this that it is clear to me that you aren’t actually my real friends and you likely never were. One thing that’s for sure, I probably won’t ever be able to trust you. I will never count on you to have my back because you’ve already shown me that you don’t.

If I ever reach a peaceful mindset again, and you feel the need to take up this topic with me, here are a few answers I’ll need from you:

  1. Why do you think I need to undergo conversion therapy just because one day I might not marry a cisgender male? Do you really believe you can shock the gay away?
  2. Why shouldn’t I be allowed resources like birth control and/or Planned Parenthood?
  3. What could possibly justify you ever thinking you have jurisdiction over someone else’s body?
  4. Why don’t your “friends” that are POC matter to you? Why do you think they should be generalized, deported, stopped and frisked, etc.?
  5. Okay, now what about your friends who have disabilities?
  6. And your friends of different faiths?
  7. Why are you letting this campaign encourage violence against these minorities?
  8. How can you ignore the fact that your candidate:
    1. Has a court date next month for raping a 13 year old
    2. Was accused of sexual assault by 10+ women and bragged about said actions
    3. Was endorsed by the KKK
  9. What makes you think America was ever “great” in the first place? The United States of America has never been perfect despite the frequent romanticizing. America is great because of its qualities as a mixing pot and its subsequent potential to offer equal opportunity to citizens.
  10. Just straight up give me a single good and legitimate reason for supporting this racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic man.
    1. (i.e. NOT a reason to not support Hillary Clinton)
    2. Don’t you dare attempt to give me a religious reason for your support.

 

With the things that Trump/Pence support, there will be lives lost even if that’s just demonstrated in the way the suicide hotline phone numbers were passed around the internet tonight among all the chaos.

I personally cried a lot tonight. I am terrified. I feel like there are a bunch of us just out here on our own now. 5 steps forward, 10 steps back.

America, you chose Donald Trump tonight, and right now that means a lot of different things to a lot of people. I cannot currently see any good that will come from our new elected leaders.

Right now, I’m very numb. The tears may begin again once my head hits my pillow, but I can promise you that tomorrow, I will be angry.

I will also be ready to put up a fight.

Check on your friends in the next 24 hours, especially those who are POC, women, disabled, or identify as part of the LGBT+ community. There’s a lot of very scared people hurting tonight.

The Prince of Egypt

So, I bet you can guess what movie I’m watching. Let me just say, I’ve loved this film ever since I was a very little girl. This past year, I lived with someone who was raised in a very strict, religious household. I, on the other hand was raised in a house that was completely without religion. Knowing this, she was very caught off guard the day that she came home to find our other three roommates and myself watching this movie after we all finished our homework. Now, living with art and music nerds respectively, we were all engaged in deep conversations about the incredible artwork and the score within the film when she entered the room. She was absolutely shocked to find out that we all had seen the movie, most specifically those of us who grew up without Western religion in our lives.

Now, just about everybody knows the story of Moses, religious or not, not to mention it’s absolute A-List cast, so there’s a good base as to how my family encountered this film. But, when I was a little girl, I was completely obsessed with Egyptian lore and history. I used to want to be an archeologist, like before I learned that King Tut’s tomb had already been discovered a long, long time ago, I was 100% convinced that I would be the one to find it. So, it’s needless to say that an animated film that took place in ancient Egypt was something that got little me really excited. Although, the plagues scared me quite a bit (hello, first-born here!), The Prince of Egypt is very close to my heart, I even wrote a narrative for standardized testing one year that was from the perspective of a Hebrew mother attempting to protect her newborn baby boy from the Egyptian soldiers. So, when I was young, I watched this movie for my love of Egypt.

Now, this film is still just as close to my heart, if not closer, now that I am a Christian. I knew all the little easter eggs like the way that the murals depict the Egyptian “god” Aten, but I never understood what that burning bush meant when he said, “I am that I am.” I’m not sure that I will ever be able to describe the excitement I felt when I got to watch this movie that time with my roommates. It was the very first time I had ever watched this movie with a Christian lense, and let me tell you, it was awesome. 

Tonight at church, the series we’ve been talking about is called “Wrestling With God,” and for the first time since I’ve been attending, the two lead pastors took a step down and let someone else take the stage. Ben Foote, our middle school & high school age pastor taught us a lot about what it can look like to wrestle with God, first using the story of Moses, and then his own. I’m not sure I’ve ever related to a testimony as much as I did to his, and that being said, it was a pretty emotional service. But as I sit here tonight, watching The Prince of Egypt, it’s absolutely awesome to me that this movie and this story, Moses’ story, has traveled with me throughout my entire life.

And it’s only throughGod that I completely understand the meaning of word “awesome.”