Another Notch in This Bedpost

This title is scandalous – I get it. But it’s really just about 2016’s passing, so please take a breath and quit typing the lecture. 🙂
So, we’ve come to the end of 2016- many will find this a relief, some will see it as an opportunity for improvement, and some are still lamenting the deaths of beloved celebrities. For me, 2016 was a whirlwind of things that cannot be chalked up to coincidence.
I began 2016 by accepting a position that was comfortable- a place I had worked at forever with people I had known for the past 3 years. You see, I graduated college with the, what I like to call, “Rainbow of Jobs” mindset. This mindset comes about right before you graduate college and for about a month afterwards; you believe that even though what you majored in has little to no market where you live, someone will magically know who you are and offer you the job of a lifetime. In most cases, this just doesn’t happen. Sorry to burst your bubble.
You see, in Amarillo, there aren’t many opportunities to be a creative ad professional. Not truly creative, anyway. Many of my friends have began to realize this and either A) moved to a more creative-driven area, B) switched career paths or C) began their own creative projects. These things rock my socks off because my friends are happy- and they are fulfilling their heart’s desires, which is what we all wish in a new year.
So, I took the comfortable job, which looked a little like this:
stripescheetahaztecytiebluehapy
As much as it looks like I just got to stand and be pretty, I didn’t. There was a lot more to that job than just looking pretty and selling pretty clothes. As happy as I looked in these pictures, I was the furthest from happy. There were about 5 times out of the week where I cried in the bathroom. I went home and didn’t have the energy to do anything because I was lost. I was so lost and I had no compass to direct me where I needed to go. I felt like there was more to life- and there was. As hard as this job ended up for me, I won’t ever regret the people who came to me (and still do) for advice on fashion, love, and life. The people I couldn’t lose if I tried. Thank you to everyone who stuck by me in this part of my life, I couldn’t have lived without you.
During this time, I met someone on Tinder who would change my 2016- Nathan Hopson. Now, I’m not gonna be crazy sappy, but a little. At the beginning of April, we went on our first date. We went to Jason’s Deli, I was late. (if you know me, you’re rolling your eyes an saying “of course.”) A week later, we went to the 806 and listened to jazz, drank coffee, looked at modern arts magazines, and I fell in love. In the next 4 months, we would go on to do normal date things. Hardship hit the 5th month and Nathan picked me up and moved me in with him. Throughout weddings, engagements, parties, working together, and living together, we began something that I have never had before- the deepest relationship I’ve had with any other human. When I’m broken, he bends to pick me up and help me. He’s held me in the kitchen when my depression swallowed me whole and I contemplated suicide, he’s held my hand in the hospital, made sure that I got up in time for work.. He’s it.

Fast forward to August- I started my first “adult” job. If we’re being ruthlessly honest, I was terrible at that job. I love to talk to people, I love to hear their stories and love on them, but I hate going in to sell things to someone. That’s just the honest truth. So, I stayed there for 4 months and went to the hospital 4 times in those months because my panic disorder could not understand that job performance does not define who you are, sending me into a spiraling depression, complete with anxiety and acne. But what I learned there is everlasting- my brother, who most of you know is my best friend in the world, made sure that I understood that my happiness was more important than being well-off. He relentlessly loved me and pushed me to create my happiness. For that, I praise God that he sent my brother to me.
The best part of 2016 was my friends marrying their soulmates. My perfect friends, Haley and Bre, married Matt and Daniel and asked me to be a part of their magical days. I love love. I love weddings, wedding dresses, engagement videos, engagement photos.. I love it all, but getting to see those things bless my perfect, worthy, inspirational, loving friends was more than I could ask for. I love you all, thank you so much for loving me enough to ask me to be there for you on your day. And for taking shots with me (@Hales)

So, 2016 was another notch in life’s bedpost. Just another year. For me it was the year that I learned the reality of the world, the fragility of life and friendships. I realized that failure is a blessing if you so choose it, love is a battle if you choose to fight in the war, and that happiness should be your driving force. I also have regained the confidence to go for what I want, which is a breath of fresh life. So here we go, y’all. Time to rock and roll.

 

Dating Like Parking

When I get to the mall, I always drive around in the parking lot for at least 15 minutes looking for that perfect spot. What do I deem as the perfect parking space?

Well,

  • as close to the door as I can get
  • a spot I can see from the door of the store so that I don’t have to search for it
  • not close to any big vehicles so that they can’t door ding me
  • not close to cars that I feel may have children that may accidentally door ding me..   the list is really endless. 

I’ll drive around- see a spot- eh, that’s not close enough. Keep driving. See another spot- nope, too close to a big vehicle- on to the next.

No matter what the parking spot looks like, I keep searching and searching until the closest one I had previously found is swooped up by someone far less picky and unrealistic than I. Then, I end up parking in the farthest parking spot in the lot and I’m a little upset with myself for it.

As I did this the other day, I realized that this is the exact same construct of modern dating. We’re always passing by those who may not have every need on our checklist, looking for someone better, and then they get scooped up by someone who honestly probably deserves them more, and then we feel validated in our upset- but why?

We are the generation of “don’t settle,” however, I think we’re taking that phrase a little too seriously.

When I first got my car, (shoutout to my brother & sister-in-law) and currently, I always tried to find the most perfect, pristine place to keep my car, no one with even a drop of water on their finger was allowed in it, no one could drive it or even look at it, I always parked in the most safe spot for my car. I was ridiculous and overbearing about it- I still am. But just because I have to park a little further, doesn’t mean that my car won’t start when I get back to it; just because I park by another person doesn’t mean they’re going to set my car on fire. Just because I settle for a different parking spot, that doesn’t mean my outcome with automatically be catastrophic, just different.

tessacar

*Shameless picture plug of the exact day I got Margo can be found above. Don’t judge my hair. *

Originally, the phrase “don’t settle” was reserved for not settling for someone who doesn’t treat you like the beautiful, hand crafted creation of God that you are. Don’t settle for someone who is unmotivated, unchanged, and unreachable. 

In this time and place, many people take this as “He doesn’t make enough money, I’m settling,” “she doesn’t wear a size 2, I’m settling,” “he’s a chubby dude, I’m settling.”

That is not what this phrase is intended for, and yet we date like we park. Always looking ahead, trying to find the next best thing- the thing that is perfectly tailored to our exact desires. And just like in the parking lot, we usually end up disappointed.

While you’re looking around for all of those “rockstar” parking spots, you miss the rising stars. You miss the ones that may be a little further away, but someone may be backing out of them at this exact moment- but you’re too busy looking at the rockstar.

It’s strange to compare people to parking spots, but it’s realistic. When you’re done with a parking spot, you leave; it’s that simple. You’ve done your business, you’re done, let’s go. How sad is that we treat people the exact same way and pick them apart like they aren’t something valuable.

Our unrealistic expectations of those we choose to pursue romantically have catastrophic impacts on our relationships- expecting this person to come to you in nothing less than perfect condition is like expecting a used car to not have any miles on it. Logic? I think not.

People are not parking spots. People are human; they have feelings, they are worth something, and sometimes you just have to give them time to blossom into the person they were meant to be. Growth is a part of our lives- a hard, endless, rewarding, fantastic- part of our lives.

Give people the chance to surprise you, and stop dating like you park.

Hallelujah

We use the word “hallelujah” so sparingly.

When we get an unexpected day off from work, hallelujah.

If you’re Madea, hallelujerrrr.

When we don’t get pulled over, even though we’re DEFINITELY going at least 10 miles over the speed limit, hallelujah. 

When we agree with something that someone says, hallelujah.

When our preferred presidential candidate pulls the election out of their butt, hallelujah. 

But what was “hallelujah” actually used for originally?

Hallelujah derives from the Greek word “allelouia” and the Hebrew “halleluyah.” (excuse my lack of the correct keyboards for the punctuations; find the correct spelling here) “Halleluyah” translates directly to “Praise ye the Lord.”

This is one of my absolute favorite words in the English language. It feels like breathing in the summer breeze, the feeling of laying in bed after a long day, taking a road trip at sunset.. It feels like the closest thing to heaven, because it is.

It strikes me that it translates to “praise ye the Lord.”

Praise ye the Lord.

We are called to praise God at all times, in all storms. And yet, the only time we openly use “hallelujah” as an exclamation of praising God is when things are going exactly the way we want things to go. We’re only interested in praising the one who created us when we are happy and healthy. It’s not hard to use “hallelujah” when we have nothing to worry about. It’s kind of the Christian equivalent to “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King.

But what about when you get called into work? What about when you get pulled over and you get a huge ticket, your candidate doesn’t win the presidency, when you’re scared, when you aren’t in good health, when the world isn’t blue skies and unicorns?

Halleluyah- Praise Ye the Lord.

Hallelujah- Praise the Lord. 

This is the hardest thing for me. When my life is chaos, I don’t want to praise God. I want to praise wine, which helps me relax. I want to praise a hot bath, my favorite chick flick, Nathan.. whatever is making me feel better in that moment.

But I forget that “hallelujah” does not have limited terms of service.

Hallelujah is for when you need to remember the feeling of that road trip, the feeling of knowing that you are loved and important, Christmas Day, New Years Eve..

When you need to remember that there is a loving, merciful, compassionate, all consuming God that thought you were important enough to be in this world; the one who picked the color of your eyes from the stars he created, who chose the contents of your soul from the waves of the oceans, who cares enough to hold your hand through all of your life, even when you curse him.

  Remember that “hallelujah” is a praise, not just an exclamation. Remember that God deserves praise from you at all times, even when you don’t feel like it’s enough; even when you don’t feel like you are enough.

halle

Let Me Be Held

Lately, I feel like my life is a tornado. Not a tornado like the one in “The Wizard of Oz,” but a real life tornado. The roof is being ripped off of my life, there is debris flying around me. My foundation is crumbling and there’s really nothing left to hold on to.

It’s in times like these that you begin to wonder when the calm before the store will become the calm after the storm; when the shutters will stop banging against the brick and the flood will stop consuming you.

These are the times when we need to be held.

I don’t necessarily mean physically, even though I adore being hugged on and held in that sense. I mean that we have to lean on God and let him hold us.

I’m a generally exhausted person. I think that you should always go to bed exhausted so that you know you’re taking every single second and soaking the most out of it. When our hearts are weary, we are too exhausted to extend breath, we feel like the winds are too harsh to stand in- we need to be held. We need to be protected and relaxed. We need to be held. 

The problem for me is that it is so hard to admit that you aren’t strong enough. I am not strong enough in this moment to take on the weight of my burdens, and that crushes my spirit every time I think about it. I view myself as a SIW- strong, independent woman. I’ve always made a way for myself, even though the path looked rocky and unsafe. I have always taken care of myself, which has created this mock sense of pride in myself. I am consistently telling myself that I don’t need anyone else- and sometimes, that I don’t need God. I want to have control, therefore, if I let anyone know I need help, it’s an inevitable let down. I have convinced myself that dragging myself through life instead of being held is healthy and what I need.

But it’s not.

I feel that I need to be held when I worship. Something about being carried through melodies, not having to worry about what others think about your singing- knowing that you are singing to the one who thought it was important to have mountains, oceans, galaxies.. and you is listening and cherishing your voice is my definition of being held in the creators hands. This song by Natalie Grant IS being held (also coincidentally called “Held.”) It’s the definition of the world falling apart and leaning on, clinging to God.

Listen to it, I promise it’s worth it.

“Held” – Natalie Grant

I was standing in a pew of a church I once loved. I was singing praise to the Lord that I believe in. The lead singer of the band stopped and the instruments sang low. He told us that we raise our hands when we praise because we want to be held. It’s like God is our father and we are his small children and we just want to be held. So I raised my hands, I stretched so high that I almost felt his hands picking me up. I felt peace. 

I need peace again. I need a full heart and a steady spirit. I just need to be held.

So, if you’re out there – I know you are – don’t let your pride scare you away from being held by God. Don’t let your heartbreak scar your hands. Don’t let the burdens of your life make you too heavy to be picked up and loved on.

Let yourself be held.

 

psalm

When It Isn’t Perfect

I believe in fate. I also believe in luck, hard work, perseverance, persistence, confusion, disappointment.. I believe in everything.

In a world that is the furthest thing from perfect, it’s hard to believe that some things are pure, genuine, and whole. When someone compliments us on our hard work, some of us think, “yeah, but I could have done better.” When they compliment us on our appearance, we think “yeah, but I weigh more than her.” When we’re complimented on a promotion, we think “yeah, but I could be making more money.”

STOP.

This is the point when I yell at myself in my mind. STOP.

As a human, I am flawed. I am terribly flawed. I have made heart-pounding, nausea-enducing, ugly sob producing mistakes that haunt me; I have made small decisions that have altered the course of my life. The important thing to realize in the last few sentences is this – have. Past tense. have.

There are things you can control, like how many times you shower in a week, what clothes you wear, how you do your hair, how dark or light your makeup is, how your hair looks, on and on and on.. There are so many things you can control.

But you cannot control the past.

I am the absolute WORST at this ideology. I cannot seem to understand that I can’t change it. As I write this, I’m having this epiphany; I cannot change it. No matter how hard I work, no matter how much I mull over it and cry about it – I cannot change it.

But what I can do is learn. I can continually learn, grow, cry, work hard, and change from what I’ve done in the past. In the morning, joy will come. In the morning, joy WILL come. IN THE MORNING JOY WILL COME. 

It’s so cliche, but you actually have to choose joy. You have to choose it every day- just like every other choice. When you put on that adorable new dress, choose joy. Whenever you make the bed in the morning (if you do), choose joy. When Nathan and I fight, I have to choose compassion, patience, and joy. Even when I don’t want to, I try and swallow the joy pill.

We were never promised joy, but we have it. Whether your joy comes from being creative,(myself) going for a run, drinking a glass of wine at the end of a hard day, serving others.. whatever your joy is, I encourage you to choose it.

Now, don’t be mad at me because I told you to choose joy.

I’m not saying that you will always find it easy, or even that I do. I don’t find it easy at all. It’s a constant struggle between my anxiety, my inner voice, the people around me.. It’s a constant struggle. But when I choose joy, I see things. I see the twinkle in someone’s eyes when they talk about something or someone they love, I see the wind on the winds of birds, the electricity that is created when someone has a new idea.. I see things.

So, step outside of yourself.

Choose joy, my friends.

In the morning, JOY will come.

choose

Duffy the Third Wheel Slayer

Some of you other there are probably thinking, “what the hell is a DUFF?”

The Duff is a movie directed by Ari Sandel that portrays the life of Bianca, a high school senior rocking her own look and living in her own world. During this movie, it’s brought to Bianca’s attention that she, in comparison to her friends, is what is called a DUFF..

Designated Ugly Fat Friend. 

If you ask Urban Dictionary, an example of a DUFF would be “Two hot chicks at a bar will have a really nasty fat ugly bitch hanging out with them, referred to as a “DUFF”.

So, here I am to bring you 10 true, uncut confessions of a real-life DUFF.

  1. Guys generally talk to me for one reason. To get the name, number, and relationship status of one of my many attractive friends. Ex: “Hey Tessa, could you talk to Ali for me?  I’m too nervous to do it, but I really like her, so.. could you be a bro and hook me up?”
  2. I get completely looked over. Ex: Hey Ali, wanna dance? Wanna ride home? Want a beer? *bumps into me as I’m standing next to Ali* Can you move?”
  3. I’m the queen of third wheeling. Ex: I have really been on a date with two people.. who were on a date with each other. I held hands with myself.
  4. I’m the pity friend. Ex. “Oh, doesn’t your friend have another ride home? Can’t she call someone? Is she really all alone?”
  5. I’m never the attractive one. Being a DUFF is like being in Harry Potter and wearing the invisibility cloak. If I don’t make sudden movements, you wouldn’t even know I’m here. Or that I put on makeup and shaved my legs for this shit.
  6. I’m a bro. Ex.”Yo, Tessa, you like football, right? Of course you like football. I bet you could teach Ali some stuff so she could actually watch it with me. Did you hear about Tony Romo?” First of all, no, I don’t. Second of all, all I can teach Ali is how to fake cheer. Finally, no I did not hear about Tony Romo, nor do I really care.
  7. I’m obviously a cup holder. Ex. Tess, can you hold these while we dance? Tess, can you hold my keys? Can you watch my dog while I go on a date? Can you keep my life in order while I actually get male attention?” Yeah, yeah I can.
  8. I spend my nights alone. While my other wonderful, gorgeous friends are off going on dates, I’m shoving pizza into my face and watching PLL. Yay me.
  9. I’m the DIDD aka Designated Intoxicated Dates Driver. Oh, you met at the bar? You’re both drunk? Give me the damn keys and get in the back. NO NOISES PLEASE.
  10. It’s never me. When a guy looks in my direction, they’re looking at said friend, smiling at said friend while I’m smiling back at them. They walk over and I take a deep breath, thinking “this is it, it’s my turn,” as he turns and looks straight at said friend and sweetly says, “Hey, I’m the-guy-your-friend-kept-staring-at-and-really-wants.. it’s nice to meet you. Grabbing invisibility cloak.. now.

With all this being said, I’ll have to make a few comments.

First of all, I understand. I’m sure there are dude DUFFs out there. I understand that if you find someone attractive, you want to talk to them. Just please don’t make someone else feel non-human to make someone else feel super human.

Secondly, I always get pity dinner from my hot friend’s suitors. Match.. Set.

  • Third, I love my friends. I think they’re perfect and wonderful. I mean, look at them.

abbie al ali bre danie emily haley k'ree lex leyz4

So here’s the thing about being the DUFF. Yes, I am invisible. Yes, sometimes I come home upset that no one wanted to talk to me and only saw my friend. But the thing is, the right person WILL see me. The right person will see me, see my friends, and treat both parties like they matter, because they do. The right person will see beauty in quirky little tendencies, boisterous laughter, winged eyeliner, and a bold, caring heart. The right person will see my friends as a part of the person I am and will never try and take that away. The right person will be there for both parts of the night. The right person will be right.

So to all you girl DUFFs, you’re not alone. But you ARE valuable, honorable, loveable, and beautiful. To all you dude DUFFs. you are valuable, honorable, loveable and handsome.

Maybe someday we can have a DUFF-con. All single DUFFs, come and be amazed at the dopeness of other DUFFs.

Peace out, wilderness scout.

In the Pursuit of Drifting

I’m the worst at letting go. I can’t channel my inner Elsa and just create a snowstorm, letting go of all my inhibitions and worry. Nope, not me.

I can’t seem to let go of the thought that I may never find “my person.” The person that you’re supposed to spend your forever sitting on the couch with, making a family with, cheering on stupid football teams, spending holidays with.. You know, building a life with. The anxious part of my brain tells me that I will never find that person. Honestly, after a slew of “let me take you on one date and never talk to you” and “you looked skinnier in pictures,” you start to lose all hope that one day you may get to have someone who looks at you every morning and admires the creation that God has blessed them with. It happens, I know. Let it come to you, I know. Sleeping alone isn’t all that bad, I know. Sharing a life with someone.. even better.

I can’t let go of the fact that I don’t have a “career.” I work at a clothing store with people that I love. I try to make every person who comes into that store happy, I try to make them remember what they love about themselves, I try to make them feel radiant, the way that someone in the world views them. This is not a career. If making people feel good about themselves was a career, I may actual be able to afford groceries. But, it is not a career, and it’s a choice between paying bills and eating. So, I pay bills. I come to work and make the best of my space.

I can’t get over you leaving me. I don’t know what I could have done to push you so far away from me. I know that I’m emotional, but that is who I am. I’m not scared of how I feel, I’m sorry that you are. I know that we were so far apart for so long, but we had two months left to be apart. In retrospect, I’m glad that you left, I really am. If you hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have had to cry myself to sleep for months. I wouldn’t have lost the family that I had grown to love with all of my heart. I still love them. (Mikey and D, you will always be my family. I love you guys with all my heart. I never got to say thank you for everything you did for me. You are both angels.)  Without you leaving, I would have been more concerned with leaving my friends than spending my last amount of time with them and making memories. I wouldn’t have met new people, I would’ve been waiting on the couch for you to call. I’m glad you found your happiness, I never wished anything but that for you. And I love you, not the way I did then, but the way you love old Disney movies- even though the new movies are amazing, you sometimes go back in your VHS collection to visit the old. You watch them and feel nostalgic, but you know the time has passed and you can’t hold on to it. You put your favorite movie back and save it for a time when you need a little bit of a reminder of where you came from.

I can’t let go of my current non-existence of a love life. I have someone who is everything to me, but unless he reads this, he won’t know. I don’t have the heart to tell him that he’s become one of my favorite parts of this crazy life I lead. I haven’t known him that long, but I feel like I’ve known him forever and could continue to do so. It wasn’t forced with him; I fell into the steady groove of coffee shops and jazz music, raspberries that were suspected kisses, a whole lot of weird conversation and trips. I fell into that and now I’m falling into the “give him space” part of the weird un-relationship thing. I keep telling myself “you can’t expect boyfriend things out of someone who is not your boyfriend.” And he is not. And I am not. And we are not. And that is okay. It’s okay because when I wake up in the middle of the night and I can’t sleep, he is there to tell me that everything is fine, kiss my cheek, roll over, and give me the assurance that he will be there when I wake up. It’s okay because sitting my car, listening to music and drinking the most disgusting beer known to man is hilarious and juvenile.. and fun. Watching him do the most simple task and smiling because I know how technical he is, how much he actually may have liked fixing the doors that I continually mess up (really, it’s an accident every time.) It’s okay because I know that when he leaves, he will leave with dignity. He won’t leave without saying goodbye, or without an explanation. When he leaves, he’ll leave with my heart fully attached to his black polo sleeve and I will wave to my heart and say “take care, old friend.” I don’t want to let go of this, but if I have to, I will. And if you read this by chance or by design, know that I’m better on putting things in print than in person. I tried to tell you, but I’m terrified. If you have to leave after this, I will not beg you to stay, even though I’d love nothing more. You change my life every day and I hope that I bring a little sunshine to yours.

 You can’t spend all of your time waiting to let go. I can’t wait for someone to love me, i can’t wait for a career, can’t wait for you to come back, (actually, please don’t) can’t wait for you to see how much I care about you.

These things eat me up inside daily, I have to let them go. The baggage that we all carry is enough to sink the Titanic, and we continue to add bags until we ourselves cannot begin to pick it all up and carry it. Match your baggage with someone else and you have no room to breathe, to laugh, to fall in love, to be scared with the person, to let them take care of you and vice versa.

It’s hard to let go of your baggage. Letting go leads to the unknown, and we’re all scared of that, aren’t we? I’m letting go because my spirit is heavy. I cannot live in the sunshine and swim in the sea with this baggage surrounding me. So, I’m letting go. I’m forgiving, reliving, becoming unrelenting in the pursuit of drifting in the sea of greatness to come. 

bigadventure

ROI- People Style

I recently graduated with my degree in Advertising/Public Relations. As any of your mass comm types know, it’s pretty much your degree in constant sarcasm and hating yourself for being a creative/account planner/event planner/client coordinator/human being. Something that we are told over and over again is- “How does your return on investment look? What is your client going to get out of investing in your ideas?”

Now, things like this in the business world can be easily calculated. Look at your total reach, look at your budget, blah, blah, blah.. but how can we calculate the real ROI on a person? How do you know what you will get out of someone when you put something in?

I found myself today telling one of my girls, “what you invest into someone, they will invest in others.” You see, we were discussing her problems with a mutual friend, someone she would like to have a romantic relationship with, but feels as though he doesn’t care about his appearance, his future.. anything. I told her that he isn’t investing in his life because no one invested in him.

In my life, I have had people invest in me that should not have had to. While my parents did not invest in me, my teachers (shout out to Mrs. Minkley, Mrs. Maxfield, Mrs. Roberts, Ms. Zink, and Mrs. Thornton) in high school invested deeply in me. While others wanted to chalk me up to be just like my mother, these women saw the change in me. They saw brilliance and intelligence. Sometimes they saw attitude, which they combated with their own. They won, in case you were wondering. They invested in my education, yes, but more into my spirit. They encouraged me to go to college, to be better, to live better, to love without any expectation of return.  

(It’s also National Teacher Appreciation Day, so thank you to every great educator in my life, especially to the ones listed in this blog. Thank you for loving me, always.) 

grad

As I transitioned into college, I had an amazing professor who scared me to death, but showed me my path and my voice. She was, and always will be, the most influential part of my career. Her name was Dr. Leigh Browning, you should Google her. I began to understand what I was good at, what I understood. I ran with it. I joined the National Student Advertising Team as a freshman and learned the hardest lessons come from investing in an experience.

 

As I grew in my college experience, I was given the opportunity to travel to beautiful Bolivia with the Readership Ambassador Program at West Texas A&M. As I invested in the traveler’s spirit, I gained the experience of a lifetime, all with friends who would soon prove to be family.

 

Soon, I joined Alpha Sigma Alpha. At this point, I invested my whole soul into the organization and into my sisters, who are the most important people in my life now. I invested in our philanthropic partners, (Special Olympics, S. June Smith Center, Girls on the Run, and the Alpha Sigma Alpha Foundation) and into the a community of peers that I never thought I’d be a part of.

 

 

So, how could you calculate the return on investment in me? What did those people who spent their time and love on me get from doing so?

The answer is plainly this- nothing.

You see, the thing about investing in others is sometimes you see none of the return. You see no gratitude, no huge change, no fireworks. But, sometimes the things you can’t see matter the most. While my teachers invested in me, they can’t physically see what they invested, but it’s there.

I became compassionate, intelligent, observant, charismatic, loving, accepting, God-fearing, creative, intuitive, and about a million other things. 

All because people decided to take a chance on the possibility of who I may have become. Thank you to everyone who planted a dream in my galaxy, who planted a seed of love in my heart – I now sprout love and I’m in love with the flowers that spring from my rib cages. You’ve made me into my own secret garden.  

So, to everyone who is wondering if what you’re putting into a person will matter, if you’re wondering what you could gain from investing into someone you care for.. Don’t forget that we are called to do so. It matters to the person you’re caring for, whether they show it or not.

Keep investing, friends.

 

 

Under the VW Glow

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. -Proverbs 27:9 

 

“Oh my goodness, look at you!” I heard as I walked into the coffee shop. It’s been so long since I’ve remembered how it felt to be in the light of Gunnar’s VW glow. This tree of a man with rounded glasses and a mop of dirty blonde hair has always been one of my purely perfect friends – you know, the friend that makes you believe in miracles, their hugs can heal your soul and their smiles could make the coldest heart crack – my purely perfect friend.

gunn

You see, Gunnar has been my friend for almost 10 years. He is a cool breath in the morning air, the sunrise over the mountains, the sand between your toes. The most talented person I have ever known has the time to sit down and extend his time to someone like me, an unbelievable feat to me. Gunnar is an overwhelmingly handsome traveler, photographer, videographer, sarcasm coordinator, style seeker, and most importantly, a fierce force in my life.

I feel this sigh of relief come from my soul, there’s something about seeing someone you haven’t seen in 9 months. As we sit down and begin to talk, I realize that I haven’t felt this happy, this alive, in almost a year. After losing the person I had sacrificed my life for, graduating college and realizing that the “real world” is about really knocking you down, and moving into a sad little apartment because that’s all I can afford, I’ve forgotten how to  live, how to not just be alive, but live my life in the glory of what God gives me every day – new life.

Gunnar tells me about his travels, his giddy nature when he sees the light in my eyes as he talks is inherently intoxicating- a drunkenness that alcohol could never supply. As I listen to his stories, I watch his brown eyes turn golden, his smile reaching to his majestic cheekbones and spreading into my bones like opium. He sees that sadness in my eyes and knows that I am deeply unhappy. I can tell it’s unsettling to him; Gunnar is that way.

But here is the trophy moment, the big bang– Gunnar does not act like my anxieties, my petty wonderings are anything but of the utmost importance. He does not make me feel as though I am insignificant, he makes me feel like the only person in the world.

If there’s something everyone knows about me, it’s that I am a creative, wild, free spirit. I love to create, to write, to paint; there’s no one who knows these things better than Gunnar. Watching an idea strike him is like watching the first drops of rain hit the flowers and quench them. “We’re gonna find you an Airstream! You can live in it, you can paint it! You can do this, Tessa. You can!”

If you’re thinking this is crazy, imagine my brain at this point. This boy wants me to… what? And yet, my soul is calm and reaching for the idea. We search and find a small travel trailer for $600. It’s like it was meant for me. In that moment, I realized that I am deeply unhappy in my life. I don’t have the freedom I once had, not a literal freedom, but a soul freedom. I used to see the brightness in a person when they couldn’t dig it out themselves. I used to love the rain as it pattered onto the concrete like an industrial prayer. I used to love myself for whatever I was.

Now? I don’t paint. I don’t sing, I don’t love unapologetically. But I will.

As his tan skins bobs in the sun, explaining that this is the life for me and that he’ll help me, I can’t help but remember why everyone is head over heels for this wonderful man. I can’t help but wonder why God made me so lucky in which I get to breathe his atmosphere and share a glance, a smile, a laugh with my personal favorite galaxy of human anatomy.

Gunnar, babe, you made me realize that my soul is in need of serious repair. You’ve always seen me exactly as who I am, nothing more, nothing less. You have loved me for such a long time and I feel like I’ve loved you forever. Thank you for harnessing my spirit, for taking the dive, for hugging me like you never wanted to let go. Thank you for looking at me and seeing beauty and grace and reminding me that I am made up of such. You are one of the best parts of my life, I could never, would never place someone in the spaces of my heart like I have placed you.

God has blessed me in the blanket of your VW glow and nothing will ever change me like you do. I love you.