Hi friends! I don’t know if any of you know this about me, but I write music. I started writing when I was in grade school as a way for me to get my pain, frustration and loneliness out. I would hide myself in the basement of our house for hours on end. I remember just popping in a cassette tape (some of you kids don’t even know what that is, but I promise you back in the day, those things ruled my world), and just sat there listening to every single word, replaying it over and over to listen to different aspects of the song—the lyrics, then the melody, then the drums, then the guitar, well you get the picture. When I would have a bad day at school, I couldn’t wait to get home and go in the basement to listen to music. Eventually, I started writing some of my own. Granted, they weren’t very good, but it was still an outlet for me and oh man how it helped. It was my escape. Music never judged me. It didn’t care that I was bullied at school, that I didn’t have any friends. I remember when my Grandpa Carlson died, I was devastated. It was the first time anyone close to me had died. I was 12 and I didn’t know what else to do to deal with that sadness, so as I was sitting in the basement I wrote a song. It’s actually now on my album and even though I was super hesitant to record it (I thought it sounded like a song a 12 year old would write), it’s actually one of my favorite songs I’ve written (which says a lot, because as you know, I don’t talk my music up much at all. It’s called Castle in a Carnival, if anyone wants to check it out on iTunes). I took my love of music and turned it into a career. I did it for quite some time, too, but towards the end I was putting in effort that I realized wasn’t fruitful anymore. When I stepped out of that life, I had to rediscover who I was. Music was my life. Music was ME. Without it, I had no idea who I was, where I was, what I was doing and that caused a whole lot of anxiety and mild depression. Yep, I said it. Anxiety and depression. I never experienced any of that before, so when I started having anxiety attacks, I had no idea what was going on. I just literally thought my life was closing in on me and I was meeting my doom. You can laugh at that all you want, but if you’ve ever had an attack, you know it’s nothing to laugh at. It’s real. But, you know what else? It’s also OK.
In the months, and year following my identity crisis, I exhausted my friends with countless phone calls, coffee meet-ups paired with incredibly deep conversations and wondering if I was making a huge mistake or if everything really will be OK. Though my friends never expressed it, I am sure they were sick of hearing me go on and on with “I don’t know…I am scared I will make the wrong move and my entire life will be messed up and I will never be happy ever again. What if I make the wrong choice? Will I ever know? When will I know? I need to know right this second.” Seriously, I repeated those words about ten million times. Not to mention the many tears I shed with them, and alone in my home. How many times I had to talk myself off a ledge, or how many times I had to make plans with someone just so I had something to look forward to…even if it was just going for a walk or for coffee. This was also the year that I found something else—faith. I hesitated talking about this, because I don’t want to lose followers (do I have any?!), but it’s also a huge part of my life and I would be doing a disservice not talking about it.
I had always believed in God, but never really did anything about it. I thought going to church a few times a year was enough. Then, during this painful year (OK, maybe two years) of my life, a friend invited me to her church. I thought, “well, I don’t have anything else to do, so I might as well.” Oh my, my entire life changed that day. Not just the service itself, but the feeling I got from it. I was inspired. Hopeful. Moved. Touched. HOPEFUL. That was something I hadn’t felt in so long. I was hopeful for the future. God loved me. Scars, failures, mistakes and all. No judgement. Just love and acceptance. That day, I met some of my now best friends. It felt like home to me. Like I belonged somewhere. I learned how to believe again, how to have faith, how to feel, how to trust in something other than material things, how to give up control. I wanted to control everything. I started praying, reading the Bible, reading devotionals, and those panic-stricken conversations I had before with friends, turned into conversations about things I was actually excited about. My conversations went from “how will I know I’m making the right choice? What if I make the wrong choice?” to, “I know God has amazing things in store for me. He wouldn’t bring me to this point in my life just to leave me here! I can’t wait to see what He has for me!” I went from wanting to jump off of my balcony to breathing and believing. I truly believe that God brought me to that place because when I had nothing else to lean on, He was all I had left. I used to go to bed early so I wouldn’t have to feel that pain so long, but then I was staying up late to read and getting up early to read.
He has worked countless miracles in my life, even as recent as this week. I realized that it’s not just enough to believe in something, or someone, you have to act on that belief. You have to show them, cultivate a relationship, and learn to give up control, be patient and trust the process. Let go of what scares you, holds you back…even if what’s holding you back is you.
Lately, I’ve caught myself slipping back into the funk of sadness, crankiness. That is not who I am. That is not who God created me to be. I blamed my circumstances. One of the most mind blowing things I’ve ever learned (that I just learned now) is that we are responsible for our own happiness and our own feelings. What?! You mean to say that even if something is falling apart around us, or someone hurt us…we are still responsible for our feelings? Yes! Of course, if someone hurts us, it’s normal to be upset and to express our pain, but in the end, you have to own up to your own happiness. If you can’t make yourself happy, how can you expect anyone else to? I truly also believe that true happiness and love has to start with God. I’m not here to preach or sway anyone, I’m just simply sharing my experiences. True peace, joy and grace comes from God. I’ve been a piece of work sometimes, a pain in the butt, a punk, but the grace He gives me inspired me to do the same with others. I have a laundry list of things I know I need to work on, but my number one thing is to regain my joy and zest for life. We can’t expect someone else to solely make us happy; that’s too big a burden for one person to carry. It starts from within.
We are all a work in progress, so why not just all support each other through it? Open your heart to new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new beliefs, new people, and new experiences. You never know how much it could really change your life and give you the hope you deserve. We all deserve to be happy and healthy. Not just physically healthy, but emotionally and spiritually. We deserve to have people in our lives that inspire us, challenge us, and lift us up when we are struggling.
I’ll lift you up, you lift me up, k? I’m on your side.