• Nam Da Jung Appreciation Post •

Sorry for the radio silence, folks! I’ve got a boat load of excuses, but we’ll save those for another time.

I’ve been watching Liar Game, a Korean drama, on Viki (if you’re interested) for a while and, I know I say this about almost all the dramas I watch, but this has to be one of the best! Nam Da Jung, a sweet, innocent, and trusting girl gets drafted into a reality T.V. program called, you guessed it, Liar Game. All the contestants must lie, betray, and trust each other in order to win the grand prize: millions of dollars. Nam Da Jung is sitting on a pile of debt her father left behind after being swindled by a fake investment program.

Da Jung enlists the help of a human lie detector + young professor at a prestigious university who literally just got out of prison for messing with economics. Turns out he and the host of the show (who can lie without being detected) have a history and butt heads throughout.

Anyway, this post is specifically about Nam Da Jung.

I’m all for people being treated equally, but I think that men and women are fundamentally different and that’s not a bad thing. We can be equal, but different at the same time. It’s not a ‘this or that’ situation as some seem to think. Radical feminism leaves a bad taste in my mouth because so many feminists are just so dang irritating (typically the loudest, probably not the majority). They fight so hard for women’s rights that they feel the need to silence men. Or focus just on women.

Radical feminists like the heroic female that will beat the bad guy when men fall short. They like Wonder Woman because she defeated the monster thing when Batman and Superman couldn’t. They like women with muscles, guts, and glory.

I like Nam Da Jung because she is almost the polar opposite. She cooks, she trusts, she’s sweet, she’s kind, she wears cute outfits, she doesn’t feel the need to change who she is just because she’s in a stressful environment or because she’s constantly put down. Yet she’s one of the strongest female characters in any film, show, or drama I’ve ever seen.

She is the most feminine, yet the most brave, courageous, and strong.

She hasn’t seen her dad in years; she’s dealing with his debt; she’s working several jobs for low pay. But she’s not angry, aggressive, or bitter.

To me, that’s stronger than holding the door open for yourself and not accepting help because you can do it yourself.

I appreciate this show so much and I appreciate Nam Da Jung’s character to the moon and back.

Until next time. Whenever that is.😛

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• school frustrations •

I actually really like school (for the most part). I enjoy learning. I fear mediocrity in anything.

And that’s kind of the reason I also hate school. Because I work so freaking hard to set myself apart, to excel, to make my parents and teachers proud, to avoid the disappointment when meriting only a B (it happened twice in the last four years and still frustrates me to a degree), to avoid beating myself up later because I could have pushed myself a little harder and done a little better.

I also hate school because, sometimes, the amount of energy I put toward it is not in proportion to the long-term rewards. Sure, I’ll have a nice record, but who really cares? I don’t think I’ve ever heard people I admire discuss the grades they received in college or high school unless they didn’t do well. And then they laugh. Those that probably earned high marks don’t discuss it because it’s probably not important.

Yet we spend so much time and energy on it now because adults tell us “it’s worth it”. I’d like to know what “it” is and why “it’s” worth all these frustrations and tears.

I dread the coming of school because I know that, no matter how much I say “I don’t care”, I know that I will still work myself into the ground to do well. That’s who I am. Regardless of what the task is, I have to do try to do it better than those around me.

That doesn’t only go for school. It’s my attitude at work too. Whether I’m at the register, filling the meat, fronting, stocking the cooler, or wrapping produce, I put my all in so the manager goes, “hey, she’s worth her salt. I’m going to give her more freedom than the others because I know she won’t waste it”.

We’ve all heard that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s true. I learn this lesson over and over again and I don’t know how to stop comparing and just be satisfied with my best. I want my best, regardless of the outcome, to be enough for me.

So I suppose I’ll try to focus on that during the fall semester. We’ll see how it goes.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

P.S.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find the extra classes frustrating? “Oh, you’re going for nutrition? Why don’t you take a precalculus class?”

• strength •

Last week, one of my friends pointed out how, sure, there are a lot of quiet and good women in the Bible but, hey, take a look at Jael who drove a tent peg through Sisera’s face with a hammer. Or look at Ruth. Esther. Deborah.

I mentioned that Judith was pretty hardcore too.

But then I realized that we tend to glorify the physical embodiment of strength and often forget or overlook the quiet battles people fight.

Take, for example, Jesus’ mother, Mary. I think many people overlook her because she was quiet. But if you think about it, she is one of the strongest women in history. She was asked to be GOD’S mother. She didn’t know fully what that meant, but she said yes anyway because He asked her and she trusted Him.

She listened to Simeon’s prophecy when Jesus was a baby and it’s said that she kept this in her heart. It’s one of the seven swords of sorrow which pierced her heart.

She watched her Son, whipped, bloody, spat on, half-dead, carry the piece of wood He would die on up a steep, steep hill. She watched the nails go through His Body and she watched Him die. She cradled her Son’s dead Body in her arms before laying Him in the tomb and watching the stone be rolled over the entrance.

But she didn’t abandon her faith and she didn’t run away. That requires more strength than beheading a man.

To me, the total, radical obedience to God is amazing, regardless of physical feats.

I think that, with the help of films and the internet, we’ve grown more accustomed to seeing strength. We see people in armor or camouflage wielding a sword, gun, or knife. We see a dude with muscles, veins, and a busted lip and go, “wow, he’s strong”. But we don’t look at the smiling woman with EDS and think, “I wish I had her strength”.

So I think that, while, yes, these women in the Bible who beheaded army commanders and drove tent pegs through their heads were courageous and strong, we need to keep in mind that they could not have done that without the meekness, humility, faith, and trust in God – the invisible strength – first.

We should always consider what had to happen to get a person to where they are or what they’re famous for before glorifying their position.

Maybe they don’t deserve their titles.

Maybe they deserve so much more.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• next •

So I’m apparently really bad at keeping up with posting. Or anything, for that matter. Since school ended, I’ve been busy (still). You’d think summer would let up a bit but no. Anyway, a month after I finished my college classes, I finally got around to graduating high school summa cum laude with a 5.04 GPA (how, I have no clue; but hey, I’m not complaining). I hadn’t planned on going, but my parents wanted me to and  I’m actually kind of happy I did (don’t tell them though because I’m prideful).

Some people I hadn’t counted on caring or supporting me, showed up to prove me wrong. Thank you to those people.

My guidance counselor introduced me with some incredibly kind words before I took her place at the podium and delivered my speech which I’d like to share with you now. It’s not terribly long, but it comes from the heart and means quite a bit to me.

I’ve always been a bit different. Whether it was because I watched Scooby Doo instead of Hannah Montana, read Mark Twain and J.R.R. Tolkien instead of Juny B. Jones, chose to spend two weeks of summer vacation at debate camp, or jam to Korean Pop instead of Taylor Swift – I’ve always chosen to place my interests in something other than the mainstream. And I think part of that has led to our success in school. I say “our” because I know that you’re different too. [This school], together with our parents, allowed us to chart our own individual course rather than joining the mainstream. You chose this school over a traditional brick-and-mortar one; you chose self-discipline over being told what to do every day. And you’re sitting here as a result.

           There are a few things I’ve noticed over the last few years that I want to specifically address and hope you keep in mind forever. And hopefully that doesn’t sound too cheesy.

  1. We’re all equal, right? Maybe we don’t have equal talents, but we’re equally valuable and equal before the law. But I believe that just because we are valuable doesn’t mean we’re entitled to anything. Entitlement is a disease our society refuses to fight because it is mis-labeled as a “right”. As Americans, we have incredible privileges – privileges people in other countries risk their lives to attain. Is it their fault to have been born in their country?  By the same token, is it by our skill that we were born with these privileges so readily available? We’ve grown soft and we’ve become afraid of hard work; not many will say this, but I think we have this fear that, if it’s difficult or uncomfortable, something’s not right. Someone else isn’t working hard enough for us to have it easier.

So take a moment to let that sink in… And because I’m terrible at transitions, we’ll move right on into Point #2.

2. Ji Kwon, a Korean singer, once said that, “What we should be really scared of are not failures, but the heart that is no longer brave enough to take risks and embrace challenges”. Sure, risks and challenges are uncomfortable. But they’re not something to be feared. Discomfort is not synonymous with wrong or bad and nothing worthwhile comes easily.  Consider those you look up to – anyone you consider successful. They’re not where they are because they sat around and hoped for their lives to fall into place. They made it happen by taking risks and moving forward even in their fear.

At this point, I’d like to quote Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  -Teddy Roosevelt.

3. You are unique, valuable and irreplaceable – gifted with talents only you can nurture. Don’t waste that opportunity. You have everything you need to be successful on both personal and societal levels. Utilize that gift. Be resourceful.  Be creative.  Maybe you don’t have what the person next to you has, but that’s the point: you don’t need what they have. You need what you already have.  Take the time to identify what that is and use it.

4. On that note, I’d like to discuss the idea of success a bit more. Unlike many people, I don’t think you need the approval of others to be successful. While we may not realize it, this is how many of us measure our value, worth, and success: by other peoples’ standards. It takes a lot of courage to shun those opinions (not the advice, but the opinions) and focus on what matters to you. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that setting goals is important to success. But the end goal rarely turns out to be the way I envisioned it. So I would agree with Seungri, another Korean singer, when he said, “Don’t believe in success. Rather than that, believe in the amount of your effort and passion”. Effort and passion are the two constants in the equation of success. I would add that faith and prayer are additional factors in this and the one that offers the most peace of mind. In their song “Fire”, BTS says, “Don’t try so hard. It’s okay to lose.” What they mean is not, “give up because it’s hard”, but rather, “acknowledge that you might not have met your goal; it’s okay. Failure doesn’t make you a loser; it means you’re working toward something”. My dad often says, “our rewards in life will always be in exact proportion to our services”. As a general rule, this is true. I’ve tested it out many times.

So, to summarize:

  1. We are all equal, but not entitled + remember that a privilege is not a right.

  2. “What we should be really scared of are not failures, but the heart that is no longer brave enough to take risks and embrace challenges”.

  3. You have everything you need to be successful right now.

  4. Success is subjective; just keep making progress and keep in mind that your value is not determined by your failures or your successes.

If you read that, thank you.

Anyway, after the ceremony, two girls ran up to me and went, “OH, MY GOSH. YOU’RE A K-POPPER TOO!” One of them had a picture of BTS pasted to the back of her cap. I laughed and told her Suga was my spirit animal. Then her mom came up and said, “She mentioned Fire and I was like, ‘ahhh’!”

It was a nice night. Only 34 graduates.

And because I’m really bad at transitions, I’ll sign off now and leave you with a picture of me in my brother’s gown from last year (::cough:: it reached down to my ankles so I was the midget smurf of the evening ::cough:: I wasn’t about to pay $50 for a shiny blue garbage bag ::cough::).

• next •

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• an interview with human sunshine // paper crowns •

One of my dear friends, Mirriam Freaking Neal (yes, Freaking is her actual middle name), has published her second novel!

Mirriam is one of the most talented young artists out there (+ I’m not just saying that). Even the first draft, which I had the privilege of reading, was hilarious, witty, and a joy to read! With the editing and her growth as a writer, the completed version is something like Christmas in May. Paper Crowns is one of those rare literary jewels (that’s not cliche at all in case you’re wondering) that appeals to children and adults alike. I highly recommend purchasing a copy for yourself, your siblings, your child, your niece, your nephew, each of your extended cousins, and that one old man at the bus stop who looks like he could stand to smile a little more.

I’m a very picky reader when it comes to contemporary literature and a stingy penny-pincher, so believe you me when I say that this is a delightful story worthy of your time + $$. My sister and I have laughed out loud so many times throughout this novel.

That said, following is the required author-bio + official Paper Crowns description and then the interview.

• introducing mirriam neal •

Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time.  She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

• an interview with human sunshine // paper crowns •

• where you can find her •

//Amazon

//Barnes & Noble

//Blog

//Email

//Goodreads

//Publisher’s Page

• paper crowns •

pc

Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

• le interview •

R: You usually write darker, grittier novels and the Paper Series is basically the polar opposite of Monster, your last published novel. What inspired you to write Paper Crowns, a lighthearted story?

M: I was writing another dark, gritty novel and I wanted a kind of palate cleanser. The Paper books help keep me from going ‘too far’ when working on darker things, pulling my focus toward something more lighthearted and simple. They help keep me grounded in moderation.

<><><>

R: In what ways has your writing style changed since you released Monster?

M: My style tends to change and shift to suit whatever project I’m currently working on. This makes it hard to pinpoint exactly how it’s changed, except to say it has matured and evolved as I have. Practice makes better.

<><><>

R: How was the publishing process this time around different from when you published Monster?

M:Self-publishing and Indie-publishing are very different. With Indie-publishing, the process isn’t entirely in my hands, and everything goes through the publisher, meaning I have a good deal of say – but not all of it. It’s easier for things to get lost in translation and it takes longer, but the novel ends up with more reach.

<><><>

R: There are typically a few themes floating around in each of your novels; are there any we expect to identify in Paper Crowns?

M:*laughing* I get asked this so often. Not exactly, no; it doesn’t have any of the usual gritty or complex themes I like to explore. It’s a fairytale, which means it’s good versus evil – and that’s always a good thing, I think.

<><><>

R: What keeps you inspired and in love with your writing?

M: This is such an interesting question. I’ve never fallen out of love with it, but I don’t do anything to stay ‘in love’ with it. My love for writing just ‘is.’ Sometimes I’m not in the mood to write, but sometimes I’m not in the mood to hang out with people I love. It works the same way. You have to give it time and attention, but I don’t necessarily ‘try’ to stay in love with my writing. I just do. Everything is filtered through my love for it.

<><><>

R: The world of Faerie is quite beautiful and you describe it in such a way that the reader feels that they could actually be there without bogging us down with detail; you must have a visual for that. Where do you draw your aesthetic inspiration? 

M: I’ve never been fully satisfied with the worldbuilding in Paper Crowns, so I’m very glad you feel this way. I draw my aesthetic from usual sources, of course – Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ for instance, but I also drew inspiration from Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Funke. Not specifically, but the way they create and envision without constraint. I imagine the world of faerie as a giant curiosity cabinet, with pieces borrowed from everywhere. A piece of broken blue glass, a sea shell found on a beach, a button, a bone.

<><><>

R: Are there any specific places you go to gather inspiration?

M: I find a lot of inspiration writing in coffee shops. Typical, I know; but the energy inspires me. As much as I love writing in seclusion, it’s refreshing to go where people are. The vibe is inspiring. Also, writing in front of a great view is wonderful.

<><><>

R: What is your favorite thing about Paper Crowns? Character interaction, plot, world…?

M: The characters are always my favorite part of what I write. Every time.

R: It my favorite part of your writing, too. ::ignores the sound of her heart shattering::

<><><>

R: What are your favorite personality characteristics of both Hal + Ginny?

M: I like Ginny’s stick-to-activity. She doesn’t take guff and she doesn’t give up, even when she’s in way over her head. As for Hal, I like how he manages to stay completely devoted to Ginny while keeping a very broad view of things. He doesn’t lose his focus.

<><><>

R: Are there any writers or stories that inspired you to write the Paper series?

M: Diana Wynne Jones was a huge inspiration, although in an odd way – much of it was subconscious. It wasn’t until I went back and re-read the Howl trilogy that I realized how much of an influence she had really been.

<><><>

R: Should Paper Crowns become a movie, who would play the main characters?

M: It’s the dream of every author, I think, to see their book become a movie. (A well-done movie, that is.) I would cast Birdy (the singer) as Ginny and Jin Yi-Han (R: 100% ready for the film) as Hal – he’s far older, but he plays younger characters very convincingly.

<><><>

R: What was your greatest struggle in writing Paper Crowns?

M: There really wasn’t one. It’s the easiest novel I’ve ever written.

<><><>

R: You’ve mentioned that there are going to be additions in the Paper series (personally, I’m stoked for Paper Hearts). Is there anything that ties them together (other than the location + characters) or can they be read independently from each other and still make sense?

M: They can be read independently, but reading them as a series would be more fun, I think. There are small nods, cameos, and references that would add a lot of enjoyment.

<><><>

R: What is one quote or phrase that you think captures the feel + tone of Paper Crowns?

M: The quote I put at the beginning of the novel sums it up. ‘The world of faerie is a dangerous place.’ John Howe gave me permission to use said quote, for which I’m eternally grateful.

R: I will forever be jealous of your friendship with John Howe, honestly.

<><><>

R: What is one lesson you’ve learned from writing and publishing Paper Crowns and will apply to future novels?

M: A) Indie publishing is just the next step toward traditional publishing, and B) don’t stress. This entire process has been exciting, but I’ve stressed about it so much that the excitement was dulled. It’s taught me to relax.

<><><>

R: In 50 words or less, tell us something random you’d like us to know about Paper Crowns.

M: Hal’s accent is, in fact, a blend of South Korean (Busan dialect, specifically) and Scottish. No, I haven’t spent time talking aloud trying to figure it out, why?

R: I need the movie now so I can figure out what that sounds like.

<><><>

Not convinced yet? Then I shall channel my inner-Ursula and cry over your poor, unfortunate soul. I don’t often recommend anything as highly as I recommend this book and supporting this starving artist. (Okay, well she’s not

Pick up a copy and you too can be this happy.

Pick up a copy and you too can be this happy.

starving, but still…)

Mirriam, thank you for your time + for sharing your skill with us! I’m still doting over my signed copy (this life is surreal) and really looking forward to your future novels!

Eternal love,

Rana || xoxo

• one-pot chicken yum •

Because I’m lazy and didn’t want to think of a better name for this dish.

Also because I finished high school + two years of college yesterday. So I’m okay with a cruddy title.

One-Pot Chicken Yum

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 -30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy.
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • Oil to cover the bottom of your pot.
  • Two boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 – 1 cup of white wine (I used White Zinfandel because that’s what we had in the cupboard.)

    • one-pot chicken yum •

    //the adorable bowl is from Marshall’s

  • Two cups of scallions (separate the white + green parts; you will use the green for the garnish)
  • One cup of fresh mushrooms (whole or pieces; it doesn’t matter)
  • Spices to taste
    • salt
    • pepper
    • sage
    • parsley
    • garlic powder
    • basil

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil (vegetable, canola, olive – whatever tickles your fancy) in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Cut the chicken into pieces and add to the pot.
  3. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the spices and white wine.
  4. While that’s simmering, go ahead and chop up your scallions, being sure to separate the white and green parts.
  5. Slice your ‘shrooms.
  6. Add the scallions to the pot and simmer for a little longer before you add the mushrooms.
  7. Serve over a bed of rice or pasta.

And that’s it. It’s a very specific recipe, as you can see. Very exact measurements and time intervals.

I’ve spent several minutes now trying to think of a closing statement, but I’m really bad with transitions. So have a great day + let me know if you try this out!

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• identity •

We all want to belong and feel at home with another person or group of people.

Sometimes we change ourselves to fit a certain image. For a long time, that was me. I knew that wasn’t who I was. It felt off. I was never comfortable with them or with myself. Occasionally, there were those times where I thought we were friends because we hung out. They invited me to go see The Lion King on stage with them! They must like me enough to willingly spend time with the sheltered ginger chick. But I think they were fooled too. I don’t know that they ever enjoyed my company either but I always tagged along in school so what could they do?

Sometimes we lie to ourselves to get through a situation as comfortably as possible.

Other times, some things feel right – or at least better. So we stick a label to our foreheads and say, “this is who I am” because in this identity, I feel more comfortable. And we do that because we know there are other people out there who feel the same way.

But that’s not who we are. That’s what we’re most comfortable with.

Comfort is a lie.

Most of us live in a society that says, “if you are comfortable doing this, do it” or “if you feel happy doing this, do it”. Ethics, morals, and logic fall by the wayside because they are irrelevant when we focus on feelings and comfort.

We are not here to find comfort and happiness. We are not here to “discover ourselves”.

We are here to make this world a better place by using our individual talents and abilities. “Discovering yourself” sounds like it’s the ultimate goal. It’s not. It’s a step to becoming a better person, but not the end goal. All our lives, I think, we will spend trying to discover our voices and use them to do the right thing.

In order to discover who we are, we need to place our identities in something that doesn’t change. Consistency is key. All the confusion comes when we identify and associate ourselves with something that doesn’t satisfy, doesn’t stay unchanging.

Comfort is dangerous. It prevents us from seeing where we need to grow, where we have become stagnant. We ignore the needs of others because we aren’t suffering. But when we do, we wonder where the help is.

Don’t seek comfort. Seek a better way of life. A better you.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• chin up •

Last night, I was told that I was ranked within the top 20 students at my school; my immediate response was, “why am I not in the top 10? Do they not do top 10? Is top 20 the best?” I thought back to that time I finished psychology with a B+ and that time I finished the first semester of Spanish II with a B+. Everything else has been an A since I started high school and dual enrolling.

I wondered why I didn’t do better. Why didn’t they rank me higher?

Back in March, I submitted an application for a study abroad opportunity in Korea. I reviewed my CV and motivation letter so many times. What could I do better? If I were reviewing a bunch of applications, would I choose mine?

Today, I found out I didn’t get in. Turns out I wasn’t just competing against the kids in my local college, but against kids all over the world. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have set my hopes up so high (and thus I am reminded why I prefer the pessimistic worldview).

This semester, I took on six college classes so I could graduate with my high school diploma as well as associates degree. I have 90% in three or four classes, one other 90-, and an A+. And, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to start working too. I’ve always been a hard worker, so I thought I could handle this. Apparently not because I’m not all A’s or A+’s, it’s hard to find time to shower + exercise, and gotten difficult to fall asleep (and stay asleep).

But here’s the thing:

My worth is not based on a grade, acceptance statistic, or the approval of others.

what

my life is a lie

I’ve always wanted to be the best, the strongest (not necessarily physically; I’ve given up on that), the humblest, the smartest, the prettiest, the favorite, the hardest worker, the x, y, and z.

At the same time, I realize that I will never be any of these things. I will never be the best at anything. I will never be the strongest, the humblest, the smartest, the favorite, or the hardest worker. And I have to be okay with that.

We have to set reasonable standards for ourselves and, if we find that they are unattainable, we need to lower them a bit until we are at the point where we can do better – and then we raise it again.

We’re human. We fail. We learn. We do better. It’s all we can do.

So keep your chin up.

You’ll fail.

You’ll be crushed.

But something better will come along and the temporary defeats will make sense.

Take it one day at a time. It will all work out.

God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

• Hebrews 11:40 •

If you were looking for some encouragement today, that’s hopefully it. xoxo

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• loser •

I don’t know about you, but it seems like everyone is obsessed with having a “squad” or “bestie” or something like that. Basically, a group of people you call friends and do absolutely everything with and, no matter what, you’ll stick together and have a great time doing nothing and you can say whatever comes to mind and talk about all your problems.

I don’t have one of those. Of course, I have friends – we’ve known each other since before we can remember. I’m not putting them down or trying to undermine or undervalue their presence in my life. I appreciate them so much. But we have lives. We don’t have time to do everything together. We don’t have the energy or means of accomplishing or achieving the typical “squad goals” or whatever. We don’t want to.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

I fee like society tells us that we need a group of people (or at least one) to call our own or there’s something wrong with us. We’re “loners”, “losers” (BIGBANG, I feel ya) – we’re basically the weirdos of society. We don’t fit in and we don’t belong. And someone told us that was pitiful.

But you know what?

Most aren’t as happy as they want us to believe when they spam your FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds with pictures of them and their buds with #mysquad.

Those of us who don’t have a squad and don’t pretend to – there’s nothing wrong with us. We just have higher standards for meaningful relationships. Or we’re just waiting for the right friendship. Or maybe we’re learning to be okay without someone else.

• Maybe we’re learning to own ourselves before claiming someone else. •

There’s nothing wrong with not having one or a group of people to lean on in hard times. Sure, it makes the hard times a bit harder, but we’ll survive.

“Honestly, I’ve never fit in with the world // I was always alone // It’s been a long time since I’ve forgotten about love // I can’t listen to hopeful love songs anymore // […] // I wanna go back to when I was young.”

• BIGBANG // Loser •

I felt this when I was in public and private school (kindergarten up to fifth grade). It was very difficult for me. I had to get up every morning and tell myself that I had friends. I was overthinking their behavior. I was overthinking the fact that I’d walk behind everyone and no one would tell me even once, “hey, walk with me” or “you go first this time”. Running across the field to grab forgotten lunch boxes even though I was the slowest out of the three of us wasn’t them being mean. I was being kind; I offered anyway. They weren’t taking advantage of that or trying to get rid of me. They weren’t making fun of me when I didn’t shop at Limited Too or watch Spongebob Squarepants like the rest of them. Nah.

In fifth grade, I began home schooling. I felt a sense of freedom and realized that I did not have to fit in with the other kids. They were shallow and I knew that. I just didn’t know how to step back. Now I did. Now, I was comfortable in my own skin.

Fast forward to that time I competed in speech and debate for five years. Everyone was kind and polite, but I didn’t feel accepted until I finished in 6th and then in 4th place in debate at two of the larger qualifying tournaments and made it to semi-finals with my speech three times during my last year. Enter that feeling of insufficiency as myself once again.

Skip to when the most honest friendship I had didn’t work out and I learned that saying forever doesn’t really mean forever. I still remember a birthday letter I received that said, “I’ll always be here for you”.

And that time the most important people to me didn’t show up for my eighth, thirteenth, fifteen, seventeenth, and eighteenth birthdays (Aly, I know you’re laughing at me). Sounds ridiculous, I know. But when you’re eight years old and realize that it’s inconvenient for someone who “loves you” to celebrate your existence, it does something to ya. ::shrugs:: And now you know why I hate birthdays.

None of this is to make you feel bad for the pitiful life I’ve led (because I know people who suffer much worse), but to emphasize that the times in which I have felt the darkest are the times when I have been the most alone.

• You don’t need a squad or bestie to overcome anything. •

Society tells us that, as long as you have one person with whom you can share your heart, you’ll be fine. Screw that. You don’t need a person. You have to learn to be strong enough without validation from other people. Society romanticizes the idea of friendship.

Friendship isn’t stupid selfies and cookies in the middle of the night. Lucky you if you have that. But friendship isn’t easy and it isn’t comprised of giggles or tears over your ex-boyfriend (sorry for undermining the emotional impact of Fifteen, Taylor Swift).

I’ve stopped wasting my time trying to justify other peoples’ actions so I might believe they care in order to feel better about myself; I’ve started trying to see things as they are. Maybe I’m bitter. Maybe I’m no fun. Maybe I’m a realist. Maybe I’m a loser.

But we’ve got the strength to deal with difficulties without a squad and we can persist without needing someone to cheer us on. We don’t depend on the validation of others anymore.

Instead, I’m learning to put my trust in God rather than in people.

I’m not saying having friends is a bad thing or hating on people with squads simply because I don’t have one. The point is this: we’ll be okay even if we’re on our own.

Love always,

Rana || xoxo

 

• the little things •

  • studying for an economics test when the guy with a deep voice from your math class (but with the personality of a puppy) begins telling you how he couldn’t sleep last night, so he watched Howl’s Moving Castle instead and you find out he is also reading The Lord of the Rings
  • complimenting someone on their outfit and them saying, “I needed that today; thank you”
  • asking someone whether or not you should get chocolate chip cookies or M&M’s and they take the time to seriously help you out
  • going to the drugstore because you need/want new mascara + eyeliner but meeting a person with a lovely personality and giving them eyeliner tips
  • seeing your friend who says, “how did your economics test go? I remembered and prayed for you.”
  • getting to the chapel a bit later than usual when a woman walks in, kneels down, and begins crying. You wait a few minutes before handing her a tissue and holding her hand. She continues to cry and squeezes your hand back. You sit beside her and hold her. She asks for prayers for her son, Steven (Stephen?). You give her your Pieta prayer book (which you didn’t think you had anymore) and dog-ear the prayers which offered you the most comfort in your time of need.
  • she thanks you for being there for her; you think, “no one should have to cry alone”
  • realizing your iPod was in your pocket so you plug it in on the way home and listen to Kim Jae Joong and G-Dragon before feeling happy enough to sing with Taeyang
  • getting home and realizing your computer is being used, so you draw instead
  • once you’re done drawing, you read Not God’s Type

the little things are often ordinary, everyday miracles

pay attention

Love,

Rana || xoxo