Archive for the ‘the past is in the past’ Tag
In a matter of seconds, I went from a Chicago-living 27-year-old to my former 12-year old self by simply seeing a “Frozen Lemonade” sign in the window this morning. Before I knew it I was lost in memories of those summer days spent at my brother’s baseball tournaments and all those Aunt Thelma’s Old-Fashioned Lemonades that helped me beat the heat. Besides supporting my brother, I soon found myself noticing those cute boys in ball caps more and more. Boys: Our sweetest downfall.
Those days were fifteen years ago, yet I still remember how innocent things used to be. Actually, if my memory serves me correctly, that was one of the last summers- if not the last summer– of innocence for me. Shortly after that summer I had my first ‘real’ boyfriend and first kiss- soon to be followed by another boyfriend and another round of kisses. But as sweet as those days proved, the Terrible Thirteens also introduced the terms Frenemies, Pettiness, and Jealousy. Yep, the Age of Innocence was definitely over for me!
As I walked in my office and reality set in, I couldn’t shake this thought: Am I really that same girl? And if so, how did that teenager eventually become…well…me?
I’m heading home (Pittsburgh, PA) this weekend for some time with my family. To be honest, right now I’m hoping that those four days can be filled with some innocent fun and family therapy. And maybe, just maybe, I am hoping to connect with my former self a little bit more. Having only lived in Pittsburgh for a year and a handful of summers since college, I feel very disconnected to the girl who once only knew the world inside the Hampton Bubble. So much has changed since then. I’ve changed so much since then.
For instance, I associate more with being an Ohio girl than being born & raised in Pittsburgh. Not to mention, those crushes on baseball players are certainly a thing of the past as I’ve been categorized as having a ‘soccer player type’ for at least the last 8 years. Still, the memories catch me off guard every now and then to remind me where I came from.
Even as an innocent and happy pre-teen, had dreams about leaving everything I knew and adventuring off to the unknown world. I was always fascinated by the big city lights and meeting new people. Quite simply, I guess I always felt like there was more out there for me. I always knew the day would come when I’d say ‘goodbye’ and try to find a new place to call home.
But sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t have that itch; or if I didn’t have the courage to pursue those dreams. Or what if I would have fallen madly in love with one of those boys in ball caps from my hometown? What if I never had the opportunity to crush on those soccer boys? Would I have kept my innocence? And more importantly, would I have been happy?
Sometimes I find myself a little lost in this big city and get to wondering if there’s somewhere else I’d be more fitted for. Truth be told, I don’t think it’s Pittsburgh. (I really don’t.) But I really do value my past and truly believe that it provided me the challenges that I needed to face. I’d love to have an innocent heart again, but then again I don’t know if I would really change it for everything I’ve been able to experience thus far. Nor would I give up those irresistible soccer players that seem to always find a way into my life. Do you hear that, Mr. Beckham?
If someone were to ask me how my week went then I might very well have to plead the fifth. I’ve crammed so much into these last few days that I’ll fail to remember it all. However, I will report that I’m feeling much better since my last post and, for me, that’s what matters the most.
Wednesday was a jam-packed day- in a good way- and also the day that turned my emotions around. While I enjoyed an evening (with mimosas) with Michelle, Kristen, and the kids (Max and Keira), it was my time with Dina after work that really changed my perspective on the matter that was draining me. Now I’m keeping our conversation between the two of us, though I will share a two-word phrase, spoken by Dina, which is one I will continue to carry with me, “Trust Yourself.”
I hate to admit this but life has made me a bit cynical. I’ve been betrayed by ‘friends’; victimized by high school politics; battled anxiety for most of my life; and suffered from life-alternating heartbreak. Despite having doubts & fears plague my past, I’m happy to report that part of my life is over. I, Kristen Medica, have grown enough to (finally) whole-heartedly Trust Myself. I trust that I know myself well enough to ignore the doubts & cynicism and go after everything my heart desires.
Remind me that I’m older, to be brave, smart, sweet, and bolder. I’ve begun viewing this past week as a necessary time for reflection. On Wednesday night, I opted to walk home from Michelle’s for some alone time with Chicago. For that 60-75 minute walk through street lights and raindrops, I found myself overcome with serenity. Despite the passerbys and sounds of frantic drivers, I felt like the city was mine to enjoy some peace & (as much) quiet (as possible). See I was able to tune everything out, including my always-thinking mind, and listen to my heart. And all I kept hearing was Dina’s voice saying, “Trust Yourself.”
My past is a huge part of me, particularly because it’s filled with struggles and obstacles that I’ve learned to accept (now). Instead of dwelling on the past and allowing it to how me back with a fistful of regrets, I truly appreciate each tear, frustrating moment, and bad day because I Am Who I Am Today Because of What I’ve Experienced and Overcame.
About a month ago, at a bar/coffee shop five blocks away from my old apartment in downtown Columbus, eight twentysomethings sat at table engaged in laughs and conversation. If you need a visual, picture Central Perk minus the couch and many more beer glasses than coffee mugs. Oh, I should also point out that most of these people met one another for the first time 30 minutes prior to my late arrival. It’s a night, even 3 weeks later, that I continually find myself coming back to. While it may seem odd to others, one of the memories I recall most frequently is over the lyrics of a song. I know, me and my lyrics & quotes.
A comedic, liquor-drinking guitar player soon took over mic and began crooning many ladies’ choices. As our table began making predictions for the next song, he sang the line:
Look for the girl with the broken smile/ Ask her if she wants to stay awhile (She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5)
As he continued singing the remainder of the song, silence hit me. (Maybe discomfort too.) To distract myself from the thoughts that were forming, I looked around the room at the strangers nearby, until the song came to an end.
“What does ‘a broken smile’ mean?” Jen asked.
With no one else responding and her gaze on me, I thought quickly about what to say. So many things I could have said. So many examples I could have given. With more discomfort setting in, I opted not to say too much but did incorporate the words ‘sadness’ and ‘broken heart’ into my answer.
I thought, Does she really not know? How could she not know? Has she never truly battled pain, suffering and/or a broken heart? Has she never had to force a smile when her heart was breaking inside? Has she never forgotten how to breathe without feeling pain? Has she never wished that she could sleep a whole day away so she didn’t have to worry about hearing his name? If not, then I pity her.
At twenty-seven years old, I can finally say that I’m grateful for my broken days; for they have given me strength and resilience. The honest truth is that obstacles are life’s best lessons. Each and every experience- momentous or habitual- exists to prepare us for what has yet to come. The same can be said about relationships as sometimes you have to learn from heartbreak in order to appreciate true love when it comes along.
I couldn’t have said the same thing at 22 years old; quite frankly I’m not sure if I saw it this way last year. But all that matters is I believe it now. And I believe that there’s nothing wrong with being broken… as long as you put the pieces back together again.
“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something. ”
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
To sum up this past weekend best, I’ll say that, Chicago is a big city but it’s such a small world. The whirlwind that was this past weekend- and really week- reminded me of both of these concepts. Take today (Sunday night is when I’m writing this) for instance. Within an hour of waking up I found myself on a bus around the city, only to trek all the way back to discover just what a small world it really is. In my own neighborhood Starbucks, I ran into the younger brother, Brad, of my dear college friend, Jenni. (aka “BaFaFa). Brad was in town visiting friends for the weekend and our run-in was completely unexpected and A.MAY.ZING. Isn’t that the best?!!!
With Laura in town this weekend for the second interview, my weekend was devoted to showing her around. It was better than that sounds but also the culprit of my exhaustion…and the reason for my 3-hour nap this afternoon. I woke up groggy, maybe a little refreshed, thinking where I was and, more importantly, who I was with this weekend.
Over the course of the past 2 days, I have been with or spoken to all sorts of friends: old friends, new friends, friends-of-friends (now my friends), friends from high school, friends from college, friends from Columbus, and family.
Here I am, in the 3rd largest city in the US, having come here 2 years ago knowing less than a handful of people, and I run into a familiar smiling face from my past at my Starbucks four blocks from my apartment. Most of you are probably thinking, what’s so special about that? It happens to me all the time? Well, it used to happen to me all the time too, but not anymore. To say I miss that is truly an understatement.
Being in this city, surrounded by unfamiliar faces- that are not always friendly- makes me feel foolish for going out of my way to avoid people at our community venues (back in Hampton) all those times. Some day I’d give anything to just casually run into a former teacher at Target, a former teammate while running at the park or even arrange a coffee date with a former friend/classmate. I guess it’s true that you long for the things you once had when they’re no longer available to you.
Gosh, if my friend, Matt (MT), read this I would never hear the end of it. Actually I spoke with him last night and some of this stuff came up, and his teasing definitely did as well. Although I’m at the point now where I can fire back and it doesn’t bother me as much. As I’ve shared in past posts, there was a time in my life- during college- when I decided that I wanted to break-up with my past life. I didn’t want anything to do with Hampton. I wanted a change. I wanted to change. I regret that time in my life and now realize that it was foolish of me; however, it is once again proof that you live & learn.
It’s funny how things change. I’m not sure if I’m laughing about it, but I think the way my life has gone, thus far, I definitely see the irony. For instance, as a teenager I used to daydream of living in NYC…but realistically never thought I’d end up there. At that time I figured I’d be in Pittsburgh, dating my latest crush, and being friends with the same friends- that are now no longer my friends. In college I knew I’d never go back to Pittsburgh and was destined to live in (Columbus,) Ohio for the rest of my life. Then Chicago came and the struggle has finally somewhat seized, and while I miss my family (in Pgh) and friends (mostly back in Ohio), I’m actually realizing how great it is to be in Chicago and have visiting guests and random run-ins with my Ohio folk in Starbucks.
Is staying here in Chicago actually my solution for having the balance of my past and the future I desire?
I do still think about moving back to Columbus, Ohio, wondering what it would be like. I know that after living here that it would be very, very different, but would I like it? Would I fit in? I could ask these questions again and again, leading myself down the never-ending road of frustration, but why bother?
I’m finally understanding that life isn’t about the minute-by-minute plans nor the timelines. There’s no rule book on how to do things, and no penalty if you don’t accomplish those societal standard checklist items by a certain age or at all. Life is about the little things; the precious moments; the unexpected joys. It’s about follow your passions and acting spontaneously in the moment. It’s about choosing to go on a weekend roadtrip to your college town with friends. Or deciding to enroll in grad school to pursue the job that you know you’re meant to do. It’s about falling in love at first sight with a guy you never thought was ‘your type’ and enjoying those butterflies that you get when he’s around. It’s about running into an old friend in a big city and having a smile on your face the next day, realizing just how wonderful that unexpected moment truly was.
It may be a small world (after all), but it’s a life full of many opportunities.
Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards. ~Soren Kierkegaard
The quote above may be my very favorite quote ever and the most truthful one too. Sometimes life isn’t fair. It doesn’t always make sense. I can attest to this with numerous stories filled with frustrations and unanswered questions… and I know I’m not the only one. But I can also speak about my many Aha! moments when (Click) the past makes sense because otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I’ve talked a lot about regret in this blog, and in my life, quite frankly because my past contains a lot of regrets. But my regret-filled past provided me with many learned lessons, and therefore, I strive to live a life without regrets. What about you? Do you play second fiddle to your regrets and let them control your own life? Do you lie in bed at night wishing you had done things differently? Do you wake up every morning with weighted-down shoulders wondering what if? I have been there and that, my friends, is why I refuse to let regret hold me back anymore!
Yesterday I wrote a sincere post about how my volunteer work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation has truly made a difference in my life. If you haven’t read it yet, I ask that you please do: Wishes Really Do Come True. Read this post with an open mind and open heart, and my hope is that my words and these stories will inspire you to become a volunteer yourself.
Now if you did read the post, this next part will make much more sense to you. In it I mentioned how my experience with the Foundation, and more specifically my work with the Wish Kids and their families, has changed my life and inspired me in so many ways. Let me explain…Life is short. We’re told this all of the time, but sometimes we don’t believe it until tragedy, illness, and/or death are present in our world. Yes, these kids & families are put into situations that are down-right horrible, and I would change places with them in a heartbeat if it mean saving them from all the pain and hardship that they are faced with. But these kids are so resilient. They do not let their disease/illness become them. They are kids. They like to play. They like to laugh. They smile, they sing, they dance. They do not let their circumstance(s) hold them back, and neither should we.
Why wait until unfortunate events enter our lives to remind us how precious life is? Why not start living regret-free right now? Let these kids, let me, remind you to L.I.V.E. !
I know, more times than not, life doesn’t make sense. But when disappointment sets in and reality bursts our dream bubbles, we are forced to pick up the pieces, put on a brave face, and face the world again. Sure we’d rather lie around in sweatpants under mounds of blankets, safe from more hurt, after being denied our dream job, or swear off all boys as a result of a broken heart. And when both happen, as they sometimes do, you want to give up altogether. I know. I’ve been there. But I’ve also risen above it…and you will too.
Today I was reminded of a weak moment of mine about 1.5 months ago. It was a day when (I believed) a dream of mine was crushed. I cried. I felt empty. I felt worthless. I thought what am I going to do now? Well, that was almost two months ago and I’m living proof that you can overcome down very low moments in life. Sure today I went back to that instance and still wondered why didn’t it work out for me. But that’s life. Sometimes we’ll never know why things don’t go as perfectly as we’d like them to. However, I will always know that I at least tried. I will never regret the chances I took- even if they didn’t work out the way I’d ultimately like them to.
Now I know that when most people think of regret, they think of L.O.V.E.- or rather people that they once loved. “The One” that got away… My soulmate…He/She was perfect for me. I fall into this category too. I mention this because I hope that you will eliminate future regret by taking chances. Remember that you have absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain. Sitting back and daydreaming about the what ifs will haunt you for the rest of your life. Trust me.
Song of the Moment: As She’s Walking Away by Zac Brown Band (feat. Alan Jackson)
If you know me, really know me, you’ll understand exactly why this song strikes a chord with me. Because it has the same impact on you. Do me a favor and listen to it. Look at the lyrics. If it doesn’t remind you of someone/something now then maybe it will one day. Songs like this have the power to provide you comfort even though the subject at hand causes you pain. And here’s the best part of songs like this: One day you’ll listen to it and feel no pain at all, indicating that you’ve finally let it all go. Now you can embrace the song for the beauty of the past, instead of the anguish that it once caused you. On that note, enjoy the song while I get some morning workout therapy in. ♥ K
Schuyler Fisk- The Last Day of our Lives
Music & Lyrics