Sunday, March 25, 2012

everything and everyone under the sun.

Do you remember when I said that the vast majority of my blog posts occur after midnight?  Here's one more.

I just want to put a huge fat disclaimer on this one before I begin:  This post will likely undergo several revisions over the next few days, as I reread it over and over again and more embarrassing 1:50 a.m. spelling, grammatical, and personal sleep-deprived brain errors come to my attention.

And let me just start by saying that I am sure that everything that is on my mind fully deserves to be split up into several blog posts with different titles, pictures, and overall themes. But with all of it being so very much about to overflow from my mind and heart, I highly doubt that will be possible.  Plus, many of these things segue so well from one to another, so I guess in a way that gives me an excuse?  I'll do my best to split it up and indicate when one subject turns into another, so if you get bored you can feel free to skip ahead. Look! I'll even color code it for you.

OVERALL THEME: There have been so many incredibly perfect and strengthening tender mercies that have come my way this past week, the vast majority of these being tender mercies disguised as very hard experiences. I feel so many things that are difficult to put into words at the moment, but mostly I feel full, peaceful, and happy.

Part 1-School
If they made everyone at BYU for whom this semester has been particularly difficult get in a line, I'll probably shove my way to the front of the line.  But not necessarily entirely because of grades, which I'll get back to. So far in my college career, I've been quite fortunate to not exactly float on by per se, but to have chosen the best teachers, have had adequate time to really learn the material and then do well on my tests, and in a few cases, been blessed by sheer luck.  I've never been afraid to work to get what I deserve, but this semester taught me in a more vivid way than I ever expected that I can't just depend on the overall intelligence and school-logic that I have finally come to accept and admit that I have been blessed with. I don't by any means to claim that I am the most intelligent person I know, or even in the top half of those people.  I mean, how can that be true at an Ivy-League equivalent of a university as BYU?  But I know I haven't received hard-to-come-by academic scholarship money for nothing.  I am a hard worker and I know that I am not uneducated by any means, but it requires so much more than that, especially now that life is getting so much harder and more confusing to navigate in so many other areas. For those of you who don't know, I am without a doubt, the worst at getting adequate sleep that you'll ever meet.  I am a clinically diagnosed insomniac, the effects of which have truly come to fruition this semester. My body can be fully rested and asleep, but my mind will literally not shut off.  And no amount of Priesthood blessings, melatonin, essential oils, prayers, or even low-dose antidepressants seem to do the trick on nights when my mind just simply won't let me cross that threshold into the sleeping world.  I have come to train myself to get by on about 4 hours a night, and though I'm sure that doesn't have everything to do with it, it certainly doesn't help my stamina during a particularly difficult semester.

Example 1.  You know those people who aren't particularly intelligent or talented, but just seem to get by in life on sheer charisma and likability, and then one day they get a rude awakening when the world starts to realize that they don't really have anything of actual use to contribute to life? Well, after having ACED my first French exam earlier in February, I mistakenly became over-confident in my natural abilities for this language.  Boy was it a humbling experience this week to receive the lowest marks on an exam that I ever have since entering this minor, and I know that it can all be attributed to my lack of preparedness and misplaced overconfidence.  I certainly have a mathematical, puzzle-solving mind and I have always counted on that and natural talent of language learning to help me get top marks, but that blissful, generally effortless period of time has evidently come to an end.

Example 2. Background info: I made the grave mistake this past summer of trying to get ahead in my generals by signing up to take Physical Science 100 online. I finished, albeit poorly, every assignment over the course of the 4 months that I lived at home and worked full time other than the final.  By the time my instructor graded the rest of my assignments and gave me the green light to take the final, I was back in Utah and in the full swing of 16 credits of Fall Semester 2011 and also working as a Research Assistant and TA.  There was no way. To take a step back, I mentioned before that I am a  puzzle-solver, but I grossly underestimated how truly awful I am at science.  I am a Psychology major, which is technically a science, but vastly different from the hard, calculating sciences of Physics and Chemistry.  I should have known that taking this class outside a classroom setting would be a terrible idea, but I obviously wasn't thinking beyond "It's just a GE, it doesn't really matter.  I'll be motivated enough to work on this over the summer." My, do all of those statements sound ridiculous now.  I wish I didn't have to say that this whole ordeal was honestly one of the most nightmarish experiences of my life, but I was truly unprepared for how difficult this would be.  I had a year to finish the class, and this single class that should have been so unimportant literally changed the course of this whole year. Because I really had no time at all to focus on it during Fall Semester, I forgot almost everything I had learned over the summer, was forced to cut my enrolled credit level (even though the whole reason I even TOOK the class this way in the first place was to try and get ahead) in order to spend more time on relearning everything, I audited lectures that not only were entirely unhelpful because I was just working on homework for other classes the whole time, not to mention the stares and repeated awkward explanations of this same whole story to everyone who questioned why I didn't have an i-clicker like everyone else, and then when I gave that up, I forced myself to turn 3 and a half of the most stressful weeks of my life over to cramming hour after hour to prepare myself for this stupid final.  And when the day finally came around for me to finally feel prepared enough to take it, I walked slowly, shaking and more nervous than I have ever felt in present memory in regards to a single test over to that dreadful Independent Study building. Before this test, I have never been totally and completely familiar with that "Look at the test and laugh because you realize you're completely screwed" feeling.  Until right then.  85 multiple choice and 8 essay questions later, I wanted so badly to just leave that building behind forever, but then they shoved a course-review survey in my face that ended up taking an extra 20 minutes.  Needless to say, at this point I was so overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted from this whole experience that I left a rather scathing review.  Which made me feel better for the time being.  But when I walked out of that building into the sun of what should have been a glorious day, I completely broke down crying.  At this point I had been awake for more than 30 hours. I have never felt the need to call my mother and cry after a TEST before, but I did just that. But you know what? After praying and speaking with her, I feel at peace that even if I wasn't quite good enough to pass, I don't have to measure my own self worth based on a single test.  Nobody should ever do that, and I'm a little embarrassed that I've let myself feel like a test score was an accurate qualifier of who I am.  If I fail, it is just a bump in the road.

Bored yet? I hope not-because here's
Part 2-Things that are still important but require less explanation
The Brocks Concert-I'll be honest, for the most part I think people who come to college and decide to start a band are a little delusional.  So when people say to me, "Hey, we're playing at the Velour/Muse tonight. You should come." My mental response is usually something along the lines of, "Listen.  I paid $16 for Ingrid Michaelson.  INGRID MICHAELSON.  What makes you think I'm going to pay a whole whopping $7 to hear you?" But there are a few exceptions.  My own roommate's band, Brady Parks and the IndiAnns, who were talented enough to be chosen to open for MATT COSTA, and the Brocks.  I will definitely spend time listening to them.  They both have so much potential, and you should definitely listen to anything and everything they have come up with!  That was such a fun and needed night.  Not to mention the fact that I think every particularly hot guy in Provo decided to band together and come see the concert as well.  For that I am not complaining. (Okay sorry that one ran a little longer than I expected it to.)

This one's hard to explain, but I'll try my best. I love love LOVE how close I am with my Heavenly Father. I love how personal and individual it is, that I don't have to live up to anybody else's standard of perfect to feel like the Lord loves me.  Of course I sin and I obviously fall short in so many places and have so much to work on, but I have never been more absolutely certain that He is aware of me and what is happening in my life.  Just felt like I needed to express my gratitude for that.

Holi. If you live anywhere in or around Provo, you know that this is the biggest Mormon gathering of the year aside from conference.  I read a quote yesterday that says "Holi=the biggest Hindu festival of the year....with 10,000 mormons and 15 Hindus." It's true.  I won't go any further than that, or bombard you with pictures, but I'll share with you just these two.

-In my editing process, I tried to make us look as technicolor as possible.  It doesn't look real, but I hope we do look a bit like Avatars :)-

Kristen's new presence in our lives.  When she reads this, which I have a sneaking suspicion that she might, I hope she understands how wonderful she is!! I have been blessed to meet so many great new people and forge so many incredible forever-lasting friendships this year, and this is certainly one that I will never forget. What a great example of intelligence, compassion, and a fun spirit.  We have so many bizarre similarities and I can't believe we didn't find each other sooner this year! 

Talking about Kristen actually provides a perfect transition to
Part 3-ablogaboutlove
For those of you who know me really well, you know that sappy love stories and exuberant overtures of love are not my favorite thing. Sure, I know that one day I'll appreciate getting roses and poems and all that when I find someone that I truly love, but I just can't identify with people whose relationships aren't based on something more concrete than that.  So when I watch Nicholas Sparks movies or read sappy romance stories, I still definitely enjoy them because I'm a girl, but hardly ever more than just for entertainment purposes.

So, when Kristen came over last night and told us about this blog (link above) with the most absurdly adorable love story she'd ever read, I was just sort of like, "eh." Every new blog I read, I read their "how we met" stories, and I'm so so happy for these people, but I wish I had a story like that of my own! I'm a little jealous.  So I wasn't overly thrilled when she started reading the story to us.

Just for a little bit of background, these two people were set up through e-mail by a mutual friend, and started e-mailing back and forth and over the course of three weeks.  They first connected over the fact that they had been through terrible divorces and started out as just a support for one another, but only days later, their feelings for each other changed in such a powerful way. Before even meeting, they were madly and deeply in love.  Upon hearing this premise, I thought, "There's no way." But then Kristen started reading.  These two posted almost all of their 100+ e-mail exchanges, so we got to read the actual progression of their relationship from the very beginning.  And let me tell you, my tune completely changed concerning this "how we met story." this. actually. happened. THINGS LIKE THIS ACTUALLY DO HAPPEN AND ARE WONDERFUL AND LOVELY!

Instead of feeling supremely jealous or bitter at the fact that this movie-like chance meeting actually happened, against all odds, I felt so much hope.  I didn't even think, "Why can't this happen to me?" or "Why are other people so lucky?" It honestly gave me so much joy to know that things like this actually do happen.  And it taught me a great lesson-aside from the adorable-ness of this single story, the hope that it gave me helped me to realize that there really, truly is someone for everyone.  And instead of searching for that person every single day, I need to focus all my time and energy on becoming the kind of person that would attract the kind of man that I want, and that Heavenly Father will take care of the rest.  I need to worry about today and the future will take care of itself.  And I need to expect the unexpected.  I am so sincerely happy for these two and grateful for the experience that reading their story has afforded me, and I am grateful to Kristen for bringing these letters to life by reading them out loud for two hours, and I am genuinely surprised that she didn't lose her voice. 

In one of their e-mail correspondences, they posted this video, and I can't get over it.  It is so wonderful.  Do enjoy.
I do have hope and a true knowledge that I will find my other half one day.  And if you need a hopeful reminder, too, next time you and your friends/roommates/family decide you want to watch a Romance movie, read their story instead. I guarantee you it is just as good. Even better, come to think of it, because it is real.

Which brings us to
Part 4-Faith in the Lord's timing and a few messages
So these are just a few things that I wish I could say to people that have just been so fresh on my mind lately, that I honestly won't be able to stop thinking about until I get them out there.  So I am going to vague-ify them (with full knowledge that vague-ify is not even close to an actual word) and send them out into the world.  I think I'm choosing to put them here with a small bit of probably misguided hope that these people might one day come across them and realize that I might be referring to them, saying things that I will openly admit I am too cowardly to ever do in person.  But, I'm roughly 97.5% certain that they won't, so I feel somewhat more safe. And there's an actual reason why I'm saying these things which I'll discuss more at the very end, so I'll rationalize it that way. So I might end up regretting this, only live once, right?

BIG FAT DISCLAIMER-Just know that not all of these are men.

To #1-Thank you. For everything. For being my best friend. For being patient with me and allowing all of those vital first experiences of life to happen in the safe and loving arms of the only person worthy of them at that time.  I am overjoyed when I think about how the fact that everything we've been through should mean that we would hate each other, but the Lord has seen fit that we don't, and that we have an abiding respect for one another that can only mean we are in each other's lives for a particular and wonderful reason.  You changed my life before I knew it even needed changing.  My family and I love you more than you will ever know, and I am so proud of everything you've accomplished. I hope we always stay in touch, and I hope life brings you every single good and wonderful happiness that you deserve.

To Hollywood-You were a great and marvelous friend to me when I needed it, and I wish I had been a better influence for good in your life, now that I see where you've ended up.  I wish you the best of luck.

To efy-It's wild that having never seen you again since then, we still managed to stay in each others' lives.  I am sorry our circumstances never let our paths cross again and that during that time, my life was such a wreck that I didn't know how to handle you.  You are doing great things for the Lord right now, and maybe one day we'll meet again.  We still have our deal, after all ;)

To middle school-You were my first best friend.  And not only am I grateful for the wonderful and complete friendship that we had while it lasted, I am grateful that it ended, because I needed to know how to be broken in order to learn how to be fixed.  I am so happy that I can see you from time to time on campus now and be genuinely interested, concerned, and excited about what's happening for you today.

To missionary 1-I forgive you.  Completely.  It really has taken this long to say that to myself and believe it 100%, but I'm there.  I truly did think you were "the one" at the time, and I must say we would have had an incredible story.  But looking back, I can't believe I ever thought that.  We were so immature and had dreams bigger than we could have ever satisfactorily fulfilled, and would have just ended up disappointed with each other.  I know you've learned your lesson, and that when you return we can meet as true friends.

To missionary 2-I don't know what to say, other than I can't wait to see how/if things turn out the way I think I hope they do when you get back :)  You are so happy and such a great influence on everyone you know.  I did an awful job of showing you this, but your presence truly did carry me through last year.  A year and a half from now, we'll see!

To we looked better on paper-I hope that one day you'll find the joy that comes from truly valuing the relationships you create with other people, and I wish I could have been the person that could have shown you how great it can be.  I will always, always care, and like I said, there are so many reasons it should have worked, but for some reason, the small and in my opinion, insignificant reasons why it can't are just proving to be too much. I don't want to have to fight to prove you wrong anymore.  It's been a great few years, truly, and I thank you for them with all my heart.

To DC- "My friends wanted me to come over and tell you they liked your shoes." Really? I'm not stupid. Let's cross paths again, okay? Maybe outside the library next time? Just kidding, we did cross paths, and now I might never come out of embarrassed hibernation. Goodbye, friend.

To there's still just something about you that I can't quite shake but I wish I could because then life would be so much easier-We were never really even that close, but I honestly feel like if we had gone about this a different way, this would have worked out great.  It's unfortunate that our almost-friendship came to a jeering, crashing halt, and for the life of me I really cannot figure out why.  I've been told that I can be frighteningly intimidating, and have also been told that that might very well be the reason, and I truly do apologize for that. You must know that I couldn't hurt a fly.  Seriously.  My roommates have to do that for me.  I don't know where the intimidation comes from, but if you sat down and had a real conversation with me for once, you'd see that I am not in any way this person that you think I am, and I honestly think we might actually fit quite well.  Plus, you don't know this but you intimidate me right back a million times more.  And you're interesting and smart and, yes, handsome.  Though I didn't think so right away.  So now I feel like we're stuck, and I decided long ago to just let it go.  It's a shame, really.

To we should have been sisters- I thank my Heavenly Father each and every day that the two of you found me.  My mother was asked one time, "So Brittany and - and -, they're all just really good friends, right?" she replied right back with, "Oh no, they're much more than that.  They're definitely something in between best friends and sisters."  And she's not the only person that recognizes that.  We've been quite something, and together made a difference in each other and in the world of people we've come in contact with. We've been through everything and a half together, and that is not ever going to end, I am certain of it. You've made my life a dream from day 1, and I thank my lucky stars that I have the privilege of even knowing you.

Part 5-Wrapping it all up, finally
If you've stayed on board for this long,  I am giving you a mental standing ovation right now, and I would like to say "Bienvenue (welcome) to the long-awaited end."  Behold, the reason I wrote all of these things together.

So I gave a talk last Sunday in church about "Waiting on the Lord" and learning to trust in his timing.  Taking everything I have said in this post into consideration, I cannot tell you how this week has taught me just how vitally important this is.

Maybe I was sent the awful experience of Physical Science to show me that I can't always count on sheer talent to get me through life, which I always knew in theory, but never in practice.  Even if I do fail, there will be a reason, and I'll just keep fighting through.

And all those tender mercies that I experienced after that dreaded test? (Concert, Kristen, Holi, etc.) just help to show me how much the Lord loves me and cares about me and wants me to be truly happy in this life.  That's why we're sent to earth, after all, isn't it?  To learn and be tested, but also to be joyful.

And as I mentioned before, to not worry about when I'm going to find Mr. Right or if I'm going to have a movie-worthy romance.  As long as true love and concern and righteousness exists, whether I meet a nice BYU boy in line at the Cougareat and it turns into something beautiful, or like Danny and Mara I have a whirlwind romance of letters before we even meet, it doesn't matter one bit. I need to keep my head up, remain hopeful, and work on myself as much as I can.  Sure, dating and maintaining relationships always requires effort on my part, but it's the Lord's final decision that really matters, and I need to trust in that.

And finally, that list of people included many that just didn't work out, but also some that did.  The Lord's timing has been absolutely everything in the way these relationships turned out, for better or for worse.  But to everyone who read these, just know that I will never stop caring.  You all have changed my life in one way or another, and for that I have and always will hold you in the highest of esteem.  You and God together have unquestionably shaped who I am today, and I will never stop being grateful for that.

And for everyone else, have a beautiful conclusion to your Sabbath, and make the world a brighter place.

"It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. … If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers." - Gordon B. Hinckley 

All my love, B.

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