Necessary Days

Cover - Necessary DaysIt’s 2016 and I’m anxious about this year. As much as I don’t want to, I have to admit that. Twelve months and 75% of it is entirely unknown. I know the classes I’ll be taking this semester and that’s about the end of what I know. I’m trying hard to relax about it; if I learned anything from how uptight I was about my future when I was 15, it’s that I shouldn’t be uptight about my future. So, while waiting and wanting for things to happen, I think it’s probably good to be okay with not knowing. Once I get over the fact that I want to know, it gets exciting. I don’t know what will happen because anything could happen.

There’s still that fear though, isn’t there? Knowing that while anything good could happen, anything bad could happen as well. I could have to worst year of my life, right? It’s a possibility, and that’s the part that really gets to me. Of course I want the great things to happen and, ideally, the rest can just stay away. I don’t want the bad days. But…the bad days do have their place. Bad days pull you and stretch you and make you move. We can wish them away, but they must happen.

Thinking about the year ahead of me, I think that’s what I want most: for the things that need to happen to happen. If I need to learn from a year of mostly bad days, I’ll live through it. If I need to grow in a year of mostly good days, I’ll enjoy it and try not to take any of it for granted. Whatever happens, I hope for a year of necessary days. On this, I’m finding peace in an era of unknowns. Days will come and go like the snowflakes you catch on your fingertips, melting before you’ve had a chance to really see them. I’ll do my best to make them the best, but accept them as they come.

Necessary Days endIt’s 2016 and I’m anxious about this year. But I’m trying to relax about it.

stay dynamite. | Megan

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Writing About It

WritingAboutItwai-1I want so badly to write about my first semester of college. Of course I want to write about it, as “writing about it,” is what I’ve done for everything important in my life since I was eleven. There are blog posts in my archive and stacks of journals in my closet that stand to prove that “writing about it,” is simply what I always do. I almost think I’m afraid that in writing about it, I won’t do it justice; I won’t be honest about the things that mattered and I’ll over-dramatize the things which should really be forgotten. Writing about an entire semester in a handful of paragraphs seems daunting and impossible. It’s hard to write about it without feeling like I should include every detail. In the past, I’ve been almost obsessive about the amount that I document because I don’t trust myself to remember everything. Which, of course, is valid. It’s an inevitable truth that I won’t remember everything, but I also don’t need to. Sometime last year, I’d finally accepted this––that I’ll hold on to the things that matter and the rest I need to let go of. So, although I’m feeling the need to talk about every little thing as I write about my first semester, I’m accepting that I don’t need to.

Amid all the things that don’t matter enough to write about are the really important things that I almost feel like I must write about. I’ve accepted that I don’t have to write about everything, but I’m still trying to get a grasp on writing honestly about the things I need to write about. There are so many things that, looking back on this semester, I should have done differently. But there are also so many things that surprised me beyond belief and made the semester what it was. I’ve found that these are the things that I need to write about most.

wai-1musicThis semester started off with me, someone who hadn’t played piano since she was 8, playing keyboard in the Freshmen Fanfare band. It also involved me, someone who––still––hadn’t played piano since she was 8, playing Someone Like You on an unnaturally hard to play baby grand piano while singing, also for Freshmen Fanfare. Conversations during those days basically went a little like this: them: “I didn’t know you played piano!” me: “Neither did I!” Or, “How long have you been playing piano?” me: “Since three days ago.” As crazy as that experience was, surprising me by actually being enjoyable despite simultaneously being annoying, I realized that, sometimes, impulsively trying out for a show on piano leads to the best things. (Or, impulsively trying out for anything, as I realized later in the semester when I last-minute tried out for Spring Sing host and actually got a callback. Which was just another crazy experience that I could hardly believe was real.)

wai-music2I thought all of it was over in September after the second and final fanfare performance, but it turned out that I was dead wrong. As I texted my sister, “the saga of my piano playing continues!” because in November, I played keyboard with an actual band. (I say this almost like it’s a huge deal when, truthfully, it’s a small band, it was a small show, and, inherently, none of us are famous. But it was still so cool to get to do. And when they are famous, I’ll have a story to tell, right?) I laughed at myself every day because up until two months before, I would try to play something on piano and my sister (who is actually amazing at playing piano) would laugh at me and call it hopeless. It’s not exactly normal to go from not having played an instrument for nine years to performing in a little over a month. The fact that I’m an obsessive perfectionist and weirdly love practicing really paid off both for myself and for the people counting on me to play when I pulled through and actually played decently. Hands down, it was one of the highlights of my first semester to get to do something so unreal and so unexpected. This, along with the fact that I play flute in band, am in choir, and am basically in the music building way more than I should be, I get mistaken for being a music major often. And I don’t mind much because I genuinely love being involved in all of it. Back when I was preparing for my senior recital last spring, I realized why I love music so much despite not being very serious about it or wanting to pursue it as a career. I wrote on the back of my programs, “There’s a calmness I know I can always find in music. Throughout my life so far, writing song lyrics has been a major way of dealing with what’s going on around me, and playing music has been a way for me to productively focus restless energy. I’m always saying that I don’t get nervous when it comes to having to preform, and that’s because music is a source of release for me.” The fact that I can continue to do music (and in such big ways) in and throughout college means so much. My first semester took me in a direction laced with music that I never planned on going in, and it has made all the difference. •

wai-2gonehomewai-gonehome2Almost seven months ago, I wrote, “I know that when I come back I’ll have changed and they’ll have changed and while I can still expect it to feel so much like home, I can never expect it to be the same as it is now. These are the only moments I have that will ever be like this.” The reality of this inevitable changing is sinking in now that it really does feel different to be home after having been gone. Life and being here…it will never be the same as it was before I left, and I am desperately trying to realize this with grace and without conflict. I never know how to react when I come home. I’m undoubtedly overjoyed to be with my family again and can never stop smiling because of it, but it’s all so different at the same time. It’s almost easy to sink back into living life exactly as it was before I left, but it seems wrong to do that, doesn’t it? I’ve been gone for months and I’m going to come back and pretend like nothing’s happened? There isn’t a part of me that wants to live like that when I come home, but there is so much to be said about trying to connect the two: being gone and coming home. Even while at college, it’s hard to find that connection; it’s hard to feel like I’m the same person that I am while at home. The disconnection is so clearly there. I realize again, as I have many times and likely remind myself every single day, that I must live honestly because it is the only means by which I can find clarity. If I’m not acknowledging that things are different both when I’m away and when I’m home––that I’m not consistent and that I don’t know how to make my life feel connected and whole because I’m so horribly good at compartmentalizing the two from each other––I’ll never be able to find that clarity. Coming home and being gone all feels so strange, and remaining honest––so hopeless. But it’s in the honest moments where it all bleeds together. These are the moments that must take hold and take over. •

wai-3mistakeswai-mistakes2I wanted to take on my first semester with perfection, obviously. There’s not a thing in the world that I don’t take on without perfection in mind. Of course, my semester didn’t exactly go that way. Before leaving for college, I was at an unbelievably good place in my life; I was the happiest I’d probably ever been and was so, so content. In leaving, I desperately wanted to transition smoothly and perfectly, keeping whatever disposition I’d attained intact. No fear, no confusion, no mistakes, right? Naturally, in trying to do everything perfectly, I was really just doing it all wrong. What they don’t tell you is: there are going to be days when you realize you’re not friends with the people you should be friends with. There are going to be days when you miss home. There are going to be days when you don’t get 100% on an exam. There are going to be about a million moments where you don’t know what’s happening and you can’t do it alone. And I’ve found that if you don’t let these days happen, it all collapses in the end. Looking at it objectively, my semester went amazingly well. My grades were spot on, my sleep schedule was consistent, I was involved in music, I got picked to be the freshman intern for the university’s literary journal, I had people who I hung out with. Yet, just because every once in a while something didn’t go perfectly or I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or I felt like I was doing it all wrong, I started to view my entire semester in another light entirely. As the semester went on, I got so uptight about small things that honestly didn’t matter. As much as I hate it, that is what happened; that was part of my first semester of college. I got worried and sad and angry and never took a step back to give myself grace where I needed it most. The thing is, I got so concerned. Concerned that I was annoying or wrong or seen as the opposite of what I am. Now, looking back on it, I just needed to calm down and get over myself because I was just too wrapped up in all of it. I wasn’t letting myself make the mistakes I needed to make which was, admittedly, my greatest mistake altogether. •

wai-endI’m trying to take a deep breath as I enter into the new year and my second semester. I hope to keep doing the things I love doing and stop bothering with the things I don’t care about. I hope to continue getting the grades I want, but be okay with getting the grades I receive. I hope everyday to be more honest in kindness and stop saying that I hate things when the opposite is true. I hope to keep being involved in music. I hope to find that connection between being gone and coming home. I hope to let myself make the mistakes that are necessary. I hope to write more, because I’ve missed it. And I hope to extend grace not only to others, but also to myself.

stay dynamite :) | Megan

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I’m happy that I’m sad

Here is what I know about leaving: It stings and it tears and it leaves you with tunnel vision to the forevers that are ending.

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You would think that after moving as many times as I have that I would be used to it by now; that maybe this time it would be less painful than the ones before. I know from experience that everything always turns out okay, but I also know that it never gets easier, no matter how many times you do it.

Everything just feels like it’s slipping. I lived near Lake Michigan for a good portion of my life when I was younger, and the time we spent at the beach is locked so hard in my memory I don’t think I could ever lose it. I remember how the sand seemed to dissolve through the inevitable cracks of my hands when I tried to hold it. That’s sort of what this feels like. Life is the sand I’m trying to hold in my small hands, but can’t for the life of me keep from slipping out.

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My sister does this annoying thing where she asks me how many times I’ve cried that day. She cares about me a lot––which is amazing!––and her persistence to be present in my life gets me every time. It’s an annoying question, though, because I have to admit each time to having cried more than once. A few nights ago, I was lying on the kitchen floor at 3AM at my friend’s birthday party and said, “I’ve reached a new low. It’s called ‘I’m crying and I can’t get off the floor.'” Laughter ensued because in the process of leaving, as I get exceedingly more pathetic, you almost have no choice but to laugh at it. I think at this point, everyone I know is aware that I am on the constant verge of crying and am merely suppressing the impulse of doing so for the sake of those around me.

The fact that I’m so sad and emotional about leaving makes people question if I’m telling the truth about not being nervous to go to college; about being completely ready for it. The thing is, I accepted two weeks ago that I was going to cry about this. Aware that I would love college, excited about starting that phase of my life, and in no way nervous about being on my own, I knew I was still going to cry about it. I’m sad because I’m uprooting myself from something so good and as much as the new place I’m going promises to be amazing, I have never been more happy with where I am.

When I was a self-loathing and people-hating fifteen year old, I was ready to go. High school graduation couldn’t come soon enough and I was ready to be out of here. So much has changed since then. I have a genuine love for all my friends and the people I’ve found myself surrounded by. Home is where my family is and they are the constant I need and rely on. Small town life will never not be funny to me and I love it so much because of that. Life is honestly the best it’s ever been and I can’t help but not want to let go of that. That is why I am sad about leaving.

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As much as being sad is usually seen as a sign that something needs to be fixed, I think sadness has a very important role in our lives, and I’m finding that I’m happy that I’m sad. If I wasn’t sad about leaving, I wouldn’t have people that I cared about it. I wouldn’t have grown at all in these past two years. I wouldn’t have found a real sense of happiness in the midst of my senior year of high school. The fact that I’m sad about leaving means that I had an incredible and unforgettable time here, which just goes to show how much has gotten better since I was fifteen. And I am happy because of it. I am happy to I have so much to care about that I’m sad to leave it behind.

However, I am going. I have three days left here in Iowa until you’ll find me as an English major in Oklahoma, concerned about getting good grades, laughing with friends, and thinking of home often.

Today I’m happy that I’m sad. (And––let’s be honest––I’m probably crying as you read this.)

Stay Dynamite | Megan

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I have found that this is enough

Quickly, quickly, time passes.

I graduated two weeks ago. I had my senior recital and my grad party on the 17th. A long list of things to do before graduation is in the trash with everything crossed off. And I am officially done with high school.

recital graduation

I’m feeling a weird mixture of emotions right now because I always imagined these moments would be different, and while nothing has met the expectations I had as a fourteen-year-old, it’s all so much better in a way. I keep saying this over and over, but I am happy. I am happy and excited about the future. I’m excited to move to Oklahoma in August. I’m excited to be an English major. I’m excited to see what comes next, but more than all that, I am excited about this moment.

I know I said in January that I wanted to blog more this year and then proceeded to drop off the face of the earth. I don’t think I’ve gone this long without posting since I started blogging in 2008. While it has definitely felt weird not to update for four months, my life has been so full. Everyday I find myself surrounded by people who are irreplaceable. People who I don’t have to write blog posts about to appreciate. And the moments. Moments of looking up at the stars, talking outside under the moonlight, smiling in the sun, watching rain slide against the windshield…I’ve found that I don’t have to record these moments or make art about these moments or say anything to anyone about these moments for them to be important to me. I carry with me what sticks, and I have found that this is enough.

last day of high school

Blogging is no longer what I cling to in order to feel validated about my thoughts and experiences. And that is so important because now I finally find myself at a place where I can just write. I am still finding the voice that just tells and doesn’t feel the need to hear a response. I am still finding the voice that notices value in a life that isn’t groundbreaking but, instead, is quiet and gentle and somehow still so full. I am still finding the voice that realizes that this is enough.

every day

As I said before, I’m going to college in Oklahoma this fall and while that’s putting me on the same campus as my two older siblings, it’s taking me miles away from my parents, my two younger sisters, and all of my best friends. I always said that I would go and now that I am, I can say that I never expected it to feel this way. Since starting work at the local library almost two years ago, I can no longer look at my small town like an outsider. I see people I know whenever I’m in town. I know the troublemakers and the sweetest old people. In a weird, weird way that I never expected, leaving Iowa is not going to be a clean cut. I always said it would be; I always claimed I didn’t really care; but this town, my family, and my friends have all put up a good fight trying to keep me here. I know that when I come back I’ll have changed and they’ll have changed and while I can still expect it to feel so much like home, I can never expect it to be the same as it is now. These are the only moments I have that will ever be like this and as surreal as that is, I am going. I am going. I am going.

fam sunny

I want to keep blogging this year, especially now as life continues to change almost every day. I want to keep blogging as I start college––to keep this space open as a place for people I know to see what I’m doing and thinking in a more organized and put together way than it would be if they were to ask me. I want to keep blogging through this life because I am seventeen and graduated and happy and I have found that this is enough.

I have found that this is enough.

• Megan

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