Why is it just now that people are valuing my questions?

Not everybody gets to that point of actively pursuing positive cycles, but for those of us so blessed, what a gift worth living!

When I was a kid, I was so full of questions. I wanted to know and see and explore everything. Turning up rocks for rollie pollies (bugs) in the backyard, spending time outside to examine different insects, playing devil’s advocate when it wasn’t fun, asking questions when I detected difference.

It’s wonderful to finally be old enough to know that asking questions is a part of resilience. Having curiosity leads to having grit and passion, and both things can help us pursue meaning in life. It’s nice to know after all that time that it was worth asking questions. Not just that the questions set me apart, but that they’re good for people.

If you’re the weird kid at school, you don’t have meaningful ways to talk about being different. People always told me that it was good to ask questions, but like a swollen birthmark, it’s nothing I ever chose, but something I couldn’t get rid of.

Being curious helped me through some terrible seasons of life. I never realized that being curious universally helps others, too. When you feel isolated, it’s really hard to identify what makes you different. It’s even more difficult to feel as though those things that make you different are actually worth something. Even when you have older and wiser people who notice such traits and appreciate them, it’s really hard to know what the hell they’re talking about until you’ve gathered some perspective. As a teacher, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that a student who questions and is curious is often more fruitful than one who is complacent or is afraid to learn. Despite all those people who didn’t appreciate my questions and all the teachers who tried to resurrect them, it has been really difficult to understand the value of curiosity in myself.

It’s nothing I asked for. I think that oftentimes, you get punished for being curious, just like you get punished for being honest with people who legitimately do not want to know better. When a child tells you things that are terrible or brings up something legitimately insightful, there is often a power struggle. Denial. Lack of willingness  to listen.

Even in college, you get punished for having questions. I truly believe that you have to be in a role where you can gather some leadership for people to not attack any willingness to learn. The fact that we make our children wait so long to do things that are meaningful makes me angry. Would we have fewer high school suicides if students were more actively involved in creating their own knowledge? Would we have stronger relationships that help traumatized children overcome the past if we encouraged self-directed learning? If you empower a child and teach them that their questions are valuable and that they are allowed to ask them, you meet them where they are at in a way that reflects God, and doesn’t punish them. Learning doesn’t have to be so difficult.

And so I’m older now, and I’ve still got my questions. But I tell you, I’ve been asking the same questions for years, and only now that I’m old enough am I finally getting some answers or people who actually respect me. Why do we have to age into getting some respect? The notion that you have to qualify to matter is nonsensical for a creation made in God’s image. It really sucks that people couldn’t just listen to me as a kid when I gave them these opportunities to learn with me, instead of finally esteeming what I say now that I’ve become an adult. They are the same exact questions. How many years were wasted? The only thing that has changed is that people have started to view my life as though it has some sense of opportunity. Why don’t we already view our children like that?

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Let it be what it is

Have you ever noticed how **freaked OUT** people get when something they can’t quite place reminds them of something else they are already afraid of? Like a little kid that calls everything with four legs “doggie” because she hasn’t learned the word for “horse”, having a deeper appraisal of the world might inform how Christians look at certain “problems”.

Let me give you an example. In Kansas, there are so many people who will never go to big cities or want contact with the exceedingly populous rest of the world. To be honest, I can understand that. Though I will be moving to Washington, DC in a mere four months, I am going to miss the wide open spaces, cloud forms, and sense of quiet as much as anyone. But along with all of our milkweed and open expanses of prairie, it can be easy for people to base their entire understanding of a group of people or a specific thought off of a character on TV. I bet you plenty of Kansans have never eaten dinner with a Muslim. I bet you that plenty of Kansans don’t understand the deep loneliness that envelops same-sex attraction and how social rejection makes spiritual pain worse. We aren’t necessarily a stupid people, but there are things that we just don’t come into contact with as much as the more industrialized world. And while I can tell you plenty of people I know that can give you one helluva deal on fixing your car/plumbing, or could resettle your cracking foundation (of a house) for free, I really doubt that self-reliant DIY home skills are in as quick supply in the urban core.

It’s possible to disagree with most of another person’s beliefs and still care for them as a person. Just because a person represents a category of things we don’t understand doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want them to miss out on Jesus or for us to take it easy. I feel like a lot of Christians have this mindset of “I’m going to take it easy and watch people burn”, and that’s some bullcrap. God uses some pretty bizarre people and means to tell people about his son. Are we really going to settle for resentment?

Leave it up to God

I have many questions for how I’m supposed to live my life.

How will I find a spouse who respects my body, my gifts, and my mind?

How will I raise my children in a way that is better than my parents did, and gets progressively better every generation?

How do I find meaningful work to use what God has given me?

It’s a lot easier to trust that his will be done.

Here is something that I realized early this morning, while I still couldn’t sleep:

The Lord is my defender. He knows exactly what he is doing. I don’t have to know as much as him or be as talented as he is, because he is guiding me. He is good in literally everything he does.

I will leave the explanations up to God. Sometimes I speak and I don’t even understand what I’ve just spoken; I come to understand it months, days, or years later. The funny thing about God is that he can put words in me and I have no idea why he wants them spoken. But perhaps that’s not up to me.

The Lord is a righteous judge. He knows what he’s doing. All that is required of me is to cling to his word, his Son, and his Spirit, and be willing to move as his will be done. The heavy lifting I surrender to him. It is not my responsibility to fight for myself.

Small thought 8/24

Just because something isn’t common does not mean it cannot happen. This is the basis of the idea of miracles, but we can also call these instances “irregularities” or “flukes” or simply notice that sometimes life plays out differently than traditional ideas and expectations would allow. Are new things unhelpful? All miracles were once new things that had yet to be seen. We can both respect the new and appreciate the old in a mindful attitude of prayer.

Education, being Female, and Making it happen

2/4/2015

Education, being Female, and Making it happen

Sitting in Stats a couple minutes ago, several things truly clicked.

You know, if you are less of a jerk, people are more willing to call you out when you are being a jerk, because they simply will have grown accustomed to expecting better.

Accountability means something else entirely, if cruelty is uncharacteristic. The concern will be genuine, and relevant.

Does anyone else remember the “If I don’t do it now, I never will” feeling. I take risks because I listen, and it matters in the long run. I have lived to see it transform, first me, then little bits and pieces of others. I have seen it. I will be relentless for the sake of goodness.

I’m getting a 4.0 this semester. There is no reason I can’t. None. I grew up surrounded by these great books, and I paid for so few, and I read so many.

There was this girl back in Elementary school who was rather ostracized, because she was (and is) the smartest woman I have ever known. She was kind. Her parents were International Students or Scholars, I do not know which. But she made it happen. She was kind. She asked the questions she wanted answered, even when everyone else was over it. She wanted to know, and I’m pretty sure she is at Harvard right now. As a first-generation Asian-American, she probably had some understanding of the differences that exist within the world. Even in sixth grade, during the scourge of puberty, nobody got it, not even the teachers (not most of them, at least). I once tried to teach her how to “Be cool” at recess, because sometimes she cried then, and I was so angry when the other kids bullied her, it wasn’t even something I could express. She was so kind, and sometimes, I made her feel worse, because I was scared for her. All of the hopes I had for myself were the same dreams, only she believed in them. What could I do to protect this beautiful mind? I could do nothing. And so I tried to help, in the most clueless way I knew how. It is ridiculous now, in hindsight, but she is brilliant, and it was no one’s surprise when she became a speaker at our Commencement Address. She was the type who knows what must be done, but didn’t waste time on pity. She moved forward, and just remembering that helps me know that it is possible for me too. She may not have been perfect, but she was always as kind as she could be, apart from the hormonal tides of despair in knowing you are too smart to be accepted in high school. She saw something that was wrong, and she changed it. She is probably one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

To teach is to honor my predecessors. Nothing else can come close to that. The love they spent on me, the joy that they gave me, the honor that they were able to instill in just doing my best. I will honor that.

I have a lot of un-earned rights that not everyone has (“privilege”). If my privilege will be with me for the rest of my life, there is no reason to apologize for it, but to work to make it better for others. SO many beautiful women came before me, making learning possible. I’m making this choice to be relentless today, while it most matters. In service through my education, and in providing the things that I want for my children to succeed, I will aspire to bring the same good to the children of my friends and the rest of the world, regardless of who they are. It is not about me. We can all do better, and if I want my children to have greater odds than I have today, then I will invest in their parents, who I also care about. I will do it today. I will be kind, and I will pay attention, and I will be willing to learn, so that we could all step forward together. The best solutions come from a group effort. And my faith inclines me to do the best I possibly can, because I know it is possible. There is no reason to be afraid. I’m doing it.

Thinking about Greek life and Stereotypes

1/27/2015

Thinking about Greek life and Stereotypes

You know, I’ve been reflecting, and I think I was wrong about some of the judgment I gave to Sororities and Fraternities.

I have various friends in those organizations. Most of them are nice people. Sometimes, they aren’t nice. But at the same time, they are living inside a complex subculture of campus that I hardly understand, and have rarely really seen on the inside.

There are a lot of things Greek organizations do right. One of the things that most impressed me recently as I stood in line for a ticket was hearing a group of several Greek life young students talk about how they had heard about the event pretty immediately from another friend. Which is genius.

Although the popular stereotype among young, liberal Lawrencians that I was raised inside of towards Greek life students can be pretty vicious, based off of clothing choice, money, and privilege, no person is born into their reality. Many students that are in Greek life can be really nice, actually. Furthermore, how they assign different roles to people in moments where they are partying (a designated driver, for example, or having the pledges rake the leaves in the yard by obligation) is pretty intelligent in the long run. It ensures that the people that enter the organization at least attempt to value their membership in it, for better or worse. If you have a designated driver, at least that person will be arguably there and arguably reliable. The people that get trashed in the dorms may not even have people to drive them to the hospital. In all seriousness, isn’t that better?

But that isn’t all that Greek life is. Some people genuinely have the ability to value that kind of structure, in terms of the roles different people play within their houses, traditions, and government. It may be different than what I was raised with, but if the expectations are kept constant between the individuals inside the Greek system and they aren’t causing excess problems in comparison to other students, it should not be an issue. I do not know whether or not the Greek life students at KU cause more of an issue in terms of crime and complaints than other students at KU, but maybe they don’t; maybe it is just a stereotype. I truly do not know. However, I assume that there are some generational and intrapersonal benefits of having been inside the Greek system that can’t be so easily stereotyped and truly are meaningful, at least to some people. I assume that because I don’t think the Greek system would survive otherwise, if it didn’t have some meaning. Whether or not I think that specific meaning is appropriate is my individual decision. But let’s take the idea of roles one step further for a second, within a Greek house.

When I lived on campus, I lived in a Scholarship hall. A scholarship hall at KU is an on campus Residence hall, like the dorms, that accepts students who have slightly higher GPAs and SAT/ACT scores, write a personal application essay, and perform 3-6 hours of service to the hall per week, cooking and cleaning themselves, so that they can get reduced price room and board (it can be less than half, even). The halls are by gender; there are 6 female resident halls, and 6 male resident halls. That only causes problems if you let it and people are jerks to people who don’t necessarily accept those labels for themselves, most of the time. But in many ways except the weekly service requirement, the Scholarship Halls are no different than the Greek system: we all seek a sense of community (there are approximately 50 resident/hall), we all seek a place to live as students, with student concerns and needs, and we all look for friends that we may or may not live with.

Now, I don’t know much about the Greek system, but I’m okay with that. Other people draw their own conclusions all the time. But I like how quickly and efficiently they can accomplish what they need to. The speed at which the well-oiled machine of an individual Greek house can run, based off of similar assumptions for all members, is impressive if not ridiculous. It’s like a social assembly line, from the people I have known. It may not be perfect that way. But so be it. Even if you’re cranky as hell, you have a thing or two to learn from how the Greek housing system does things, in order to achieve a common goal. It almost makes sense to rely on the connections of ones’ family (like they do in various other countries regularly around the world) and assimilate to the expectations that others hold, if you want to participate in that system long term. That may sound terrible to some, but if it works, who cares? I’m not sure where most people in Sororities or Fraternities live or work after they graduate, because I’m not friends with enough of them.

I don’t think it’s appropriate to judge people based off of where they were raised or who they know, even if it’s a part of the culture they happened into. However, part of judging people based on who they are instead of who they know or what they experience is being willing to accept others, regardless of if they accept you. To me, living in a Greek house would kill my nerves and probably make me cry, because it’s just not my place. It’s not how I think to communicate in that way with most people, and if I had to perpetually worry about impressing people, I may just kill myself (I’m not exaggerating). It’s not me, but I respect them. If it works for them, they should keep it.

It’s strange to me how individual people from Greek life can act differently when they are separate from others in the Greek system, but I’m not sure that is a bad thing, so long as it serves a decent purpose. I don’t know if it does, but maybe it does. As long as you’re nice to me sometimes, I understand. I can read the attitude on people’s faces, and I know that sometimes I act weird enough that specific people might be ashamed of knowing me if I talk to them in public. This is the demented, angsty stereotype from the Breakfast Club that people who dislike Greek life often employ: that it is fake. But if you are nice to me apart from others and they use the same distrust to judge you by if you talk to me, I’ll just smile at you and talk to you later. I would rather you not have to deal with that. And plus, odds are, I’ll see you anyways.

No, it’s not perfect. But is it bad? I’m not sure. It is. But who am I to judge?

A few thoughts on Organization (the struggle is real) and Back to school

1/18/2015

A few thoughts on Organization (the struggle is real) and Back to school

(Note: Unless you are a geek for school supplies and intentionally structuring your day to make it the most efficient possible, you may wanna skip this one lol)

  • The need to pack my pencil bag perfectly and add specific utility items to my backpack in its own carefully arranged pocket is the greatest thing on day one of a new semester. By finals week, I’m lucky to be writing in a borrowed highlighter.
  • If I start the semester with gum, I know it only takes about twice for me to have offered it to enough friends to run out. Whatever! My mom buys it as a small Christmas present to go in stockings, so it’s irrelevant. Plus, does gum have any real use? I’d rather share and have less.
  • When I become an adult and catch into adulthood (as in, get a diploma), will I still buy new converse and functional other shoes every 6 months before the semester starts, like grade school? I only really need two good pairs of shoes, and then other ones for any other kind of non-student occasion. Bonus points if I could do lawn work in them. That is either the greatest low-maintenance dream, or a Legally Blonde horror-story. Whatever YOLO.
  • I always try new things, but having notebooks with folder pockets, folders for assignments, and just letting my classes and the notes for each blend together in such notebooks is the only tried and true method. That can be kind of annoying, because you’d think that having a system to store assignments would be a settled thing by being a junior in college. Not the case. I just like being able to keep trying out new methods and evolve my organization. Versatility at its. I still have yet to decide whether or not I hate felt tip pens, but I am excited for the stack of legal pads I bought instead of individual notebooks. It seems like a solid decision, and for whatever reason, writing on a legal pad makes me feel much fancier than in a notebook. Let’s just see what happens.
  • I have a love hate relationship with highlighters. On the one hand, they make me look like I’m doing something and I can glance at whatever I highlighted and fabricate an argument out of thin air when my professors are looking for victims, in order to spare the other people who haven’t done the reading or legitimately have to think before they speak. Not me! Lol, double edged sword. I volunteer as tribute, lol. Some of my finest external processing has been ego-pleasing up some nonsense about John Locke, the Social Contract, why Marx is a super obnoxious person, or similar stuff that is colorful but contains just enough lack of substance to let us all move on to another topic. So in regards to highlighters, I will probably use them all of three times during the semester, when I guilt myself enough to read but only give myself 20 minutes to pull it off. Oh, the love of pressure and spontaneously improvisation. Teach me that in a public speaking class, lol. I hate that I do better rambling than actually planning anything and that is why I function best as a discussion leader or note-taker on white boards when I participate in group projects. I hate it when they divide responsibilities evenly. All I know is that I don’t want to make the stupid power point, I don’t want to memorize a series of facts I will thus forget about 10 minutes after class, and if I’m preaching to a vegetable audience, I may as well leave.
  • I wonder how much caffeine the average student consumes. Surely some of them know that that is not good news for their brains, sometimes? Oh well. I’ll save that piece of meaningless and trivial “advice” for next midterm season…
  • I wonder what I’m actually gonna do when I graduate. A very good question. I still want to get certified as a teacher. Probably gonna find some way to make that happen, whether it’s a one year program, Teach for America, or finding a way to do it and go overseas to teach English. I think I’d do best with Elementary School kids, now that I’ve thought about it. It’s not that I couldn’t do junior high or high school, but Elementary school kids just seem like the easiest to work with, given what I’m good at and how delightful they would be to be around. I really want to do story time in some capacity in the future, even if that only means I’d be volunteering at a public library or babysitting kids at my church. That stuff is the stuff of dreams, Imaginary Audience.
  • Hindsight is strange. Here’s to another semester of making it up on the fly, planning it out in advance so you can improvise the rest of the time, making new friends in casual, classroom places, and potentially becoming even more skilled at finding free food. I thought to myself the other day that if I took a couple packets of Sugar in the Raw from the cafeteria, I would use those to make a sugar facial scrub with stuff I already have. Cheap microdermabrasion in winter? If I didn’t already have similar stuff at home, that thought alone and being a benevolent cheapskate would make me excited for at least several days. There is such a strange high that comes from getting a really good bargain. That’s an ageless thing; why do you have little entrepreneurial children overcharge for things anyone can make? It’s a lesson in self-sufficiency and the value of money sure, but it’s almost more useful for figuring out how to sweet talk and how far you can push your parents to invest in your Lemonade Startup. #millennialswag
  • I wonder when my mom is going to get on my case again to start mowing the grass…could I trade her doing my dishes or laundry for mowing the yard once or twice a week? It’s a thought. I hate doing dishes, but I’m gradually making peace with it, because there is no alternative. That’s good. I like not having an alternative. That way, I don’t overthink it, because why? Just do it. I like that.
  • I have not been wearing my glasses basically all break because a) I hate them, and b) I’m not driving, and c) I hate them. They’re stylish, sure, but I hate wearing anything extra on my face. After about 8 hours of wearing glasses, there are little divots in the side of your head, and you get red marks on the bridge of your nose. My glasses aren’t even tight; I just have a small face and they slip off because they are made for giants. Oh the agony; the under-ear divots. In the meantime, I’m going to just force myself to wear them, because otherwise my eyes get so tired that I can see long distance or read more than 15 pages of text, and I’m in bed by 7 pm because it hurts to keep my eyes open. So, time to just bite the bullet and do it again. I do this every break, and I know it’s bad for my vision. I hate contacts with a burning passion, so until I have to deal with that, I won’t.
  • I wonder if I can use my 4th gen Ipod touch as an external hard drive, considering I don’t listen to any of that music still. Hmm…
  • Storage containers and totes that are made out of durable fabric and fold flat are probably the greatest thing since spray glitter or origami boxes for discretely getting rid of candy wrappers.
  • Okay, it’s still January. It feels like spring for at least until Tuesday evening. Is that code for “re-do your closet organizational scheme”? There is none, but I did try to color code this time. It’s a miserable failure, because I’m lucky to just remember to do laundry and hang it. I should probably start smaller next impulse cleaning sesh.
  • I hope my computer lasts to graduation. I researched it heavily before my Dad helped me buy it. It’s 14 inches, less than 5 lbs. and easy to throw in my back pack (it’s not heavy at all), it’s spaced well for typing for my hands, and most importantly, it gets the job done. I went with HP because apart from getting a Mac, it was the best thing at the time, and I knew I didn’t want to invest a lot in a laptop when I’d probably have to replace it after four years (or sooner) regardless. Sometimes the keys stick and it can be really slow, but I’m pretty happy with it. If I wanted it to be much better, I would have gotten something fancier. But for now? Good enough. If all fails, I’ve still got breaks between my classes, and I know about most of the computer labs I have access to on campus, even the ones that are pretty empty and hidden. And there’s no way I’d tell you about them (lol). Actually, the student hourly girl swore me to secrecy when she told me about the best one. I will pass on that knowledge to my favorite former freshman when I matriculate. Until then, it will be a fight for the death.
  • I always pack a deck of cards in my backpack, and I don’t really like cards. It’s mostly to keep my hands busy when I’m so fidgety that I can bear to listen. It’s not that I don’t want to learn, but I need to be performing some sort of other function that feels like multitasking for me to focus. I play with things like tape. Rubberbands. Hairbands. I like to weave my cross necklace through my fingers. Gum helps, if I have it. Doodling while listening. The possibilities are endless, but the deck only has about 51. You can’t have everything.
  • All I wanted this semester is to be out of class at 3pm on Thursday to go to Tea at Three in the Union. That did not happen. But I discovered in analyzing reality how greatly I hate tea, and how most of the time I only went for the free White chocolate macadamia nut cookies from KU Dining. I will find them somehow. I’ll just go to Business school events (lol). Or maybe I can find a way to dress in business casual and invite myself to something Engineering related. Whatever! Those are the cookies that are everywhere for anything classy, and I’ll probably see them around. If it’s shameful to walk up to a table, say nothing, take two cookies, and leave, then I’m sorry but that ship sailed a long time ago. EUREKA! The Honors Program! Maybe! If I go, listen, and say nothing, maybe I can even make out with three (I will not draw extra attention to myself). The possibilities are endless!
  • I have a new mission in free stuff hunting: Find things that are awesome that I would actually use. Now that is the challenge of the century. It’s not gonna be keychains, stickers, pins, pens, t-shirts, water bottles, or even candy. The coolest freebie I got last year was an ecologically friendly highlighter that uses green wax instead of synthetic dyes and chemicals. That was awesome. Also, party bubbles from the bank. Which is strange in hindsight. Yolo.
  • I will be busy Wednesday afternoons. Rats. That is when they typically schedule the free cultural crafts. Last year, I was first in line to get mehndi (henna) on my hands by a guest artist because I was giving blood in half an hour, and I was prepared to suffer no fools when she said “Who’s first?” That was a good day. I got snack size Nutterbutters, Oreos, and juice. Mission accomplished. (Not really. I give blood because they need it. I do every semester, but the Juice is an added bonus. The one time I gave blood and then went to Marching Band like a well-hydrated champ was no exception. That was so ridiculous. I packed extra water.)
  • If I got a group of derpy friends together, we could do free bowling at the bowling alley downstairs at the Union when they offer it. It could be a thing. Actually, we’d probably forget. Oh well! It’s an option.
  • I need to get better at going by the free movie showings they have, because they usually have free popcorn, and it’s decent. My mom is addicted to good popcorn in a slightly less than clinical (lol) way. I could pick her up some, fold down the top of the bag, put it in my lunch bag, and maybe she’d do my dishes. Just a joke. But yeah, I should get her some popcorn.
  • Is this a semester for making myself eat breakfast, or accepting the battles I can’t always bear to fight at allowing that to be one of them. Hmm. Probably the second.
  • Will power is a muscle. It’s like lifting. You have the most in the morning, and the least at the end of the day, because you self-regulate more as the day goes on. I wonder how I could boost my mood early in the day in small habits and then have enough will power to maybe force myself through late afternoon homework, so that when I come home, I’m home. I have breaks in my day. I could imitate a 9-5 schedule and get things done while I’m on campus. That’s brilliant. And then, I could study some at home, when I need to be alone and quiet anyways. Genius.
  • If I get up at 7am, conduct some quiet time and get reading for the day, ride with my mom as she heads into work at 8:30am, and then have my first class at 10am or 11am respectively, I could really get some work done. I like that a lot.