blessed

So I wrote this thing about a month ago, when the reality of being unemployed truthfully settled in and my emotions surrounding that were at an all time high. Although now, I am employed. I actually start orientation tomorrow, so life came at me fast. But our generation has a tendency to only show the peachy, positive, bright side of life on social media. Too often, we only celebrate our successes, but don’t embrace our failures. I wanted to delete what I wrote, because I thought it was too whiny, too spiteful, and now, too irrelevant. However, I’m hoping to speak to people like me, who find it hard to rejoice when others are doing really well or seemingly better. For people who want to be or do something somewhere else, but don’t know what that “else” is.

 

My spirits have been up and down. I know the job search is difficult. I was warned it’d be a long process, and potentially a discouraging one, but that I would need to remain encouraged and persistent. I know that most of everyone has been through this stage. Some unemployment periods longer than others, but many people have had the sheer joy of doing 30-45 minute long applications, never hearing back for weeks, and then finally getting an email that just says something along the lines of “we decided to pursue another candidate”.

I know in a few months time, I’ll look back and scoff at how worried I was. I’ll get something eventually, and have a new list of concerns that don’t include being unemployed. But right now, I’m really not in the mood for people to tell me my time is coming, to be patient, and to enjoy this time. Because I am doing all of those things. I feel good most days. I have plenty of time to workout, I can make my own meals, and I get to read books for fun in my spare time. Money is tight, but I’ve been getting by with the help of really loving parents. I’ve been able to refresh and keep up so many good friendships, and have been able to invest more time into church and ministry. But when you apply for 5-10 jobs a day, for weeks and weeks at a time, it feels like it’s own job. I’m tired of talking myself up in these copy pasted cover letters when those words can’t sum me up in person. The more jobs I get rejected from, the less I want to apply. And the more time I spend in bed. And the more baked goods I eat. And the sadder I feel.

As graduation was approaching in the spring, I started to make efforts to change my attitude about certain things. In March, I made the decision to a.) Not compare my journey to others’, and b.) Celebrate my friends who are getting jobs even when I’m still looking.

And it has been really difficult. I deleted all of my social media for a month this summer, hoping to avoid those God-awful “I’m pleased to announce” posts. Those have always rubbed me the wrong way. Seriously, it’s great that you got exactly what you wanted at this world-renowned organization that loves you so much. YAY let all of Facebook join hands and praise your success. Like seriously, did you do that to inform your friends and family that you’re doing well, or did you do it out of vain? I don’t plan on doing that whenever I get a job. And now, I have friends who are close to me getting interviews for the same exact jobs I applied for. It’s nearly impossible for me not to constantly debate in my head whether or not I did something wrong or that I’m just simply not good enough. I’m just kinda over this whole thing.

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I’m trying not be down about it, and I’m trying not to compare myself to others. I’ve been doing pretty well about remaining optimistic. But today is particularly hard. And I kinda just want to cry and watch This Is Us.

You would think by now that I finally found the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a job now! I can finally pay for my car without help, I can stop getting samples of makeup from Sephora and just get the real thing, and actually get more than just a drink when I’m out to eat. But it’s funny how we can be when God gives what we’ve been asking for. I’ve been waiting to be out of this awkward post-grad stage, and now that I’m on my way out, I’m kinda asking God to rethink His decisions and take back what He’s given me. A friend of mine said “I have to remind myself that everything I used to pray for is what I have now. Too often, we beg God for things, and once He delivers, we say it’s too much.” And that spoke to me because that’s where I’m at.

I realized my motivation in not posting about my new job wasn’t genuine. I didn’t do it because I wasn’t proud, and because it wasn’t my dream job. If I had got hired at one of the best hospitals in my area, there would’ve been no hesitation in broadcasting that. Because that’s what we want people to see. But that didn’t happen. I’m working at a hospital I didn’t anticipate, on a floor and with a population I didn’t expect. And that is okay.

I’ve been reminded to always celebrate those doing well around you. There’s something so special and humbling about sharing excitement with your achieving friends. Their victory becomes your victory.

I’ve been reminded that the timing may not be what we expect, and the blessing may not be what we think, but we’re still blessed. God doesn’t play favorites; He has our best interest always and has purpose and reason behind everything.

I’m anxious about working and getting a taste of the real world for sure, but I’m also really excited to start a new journey. It’s going to be challenging, and my perpetual state of exhaustion will only be heightened. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by fantastic human beings who are all in with me, willing to meet me where I’m at, and share in my victory.

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cleanse

I stopped using social media for a month and here are 9 positive lessons I learned:

  1. Enjoy the moments you get to be apart of and fully immerse yourself instead of wishing you recorded them for other people to see
  2. Don’t automatically pick up your phone during socially awkward moments of silence and dull conversation; put away and dive deeper
  3. Detach your self-worth from outward love and approval ; love yourself for who you are, and your body for what it is
  4. Be more intentional in your relationships and facilitate sincere conversations with people you think you know really well
  5. Don’t assume friends are doing well from photogenic pictures and 10-second videos; put meaning to ‘keeping in touch’
  6. Form your own opinions instead of cleverly articulating someone else’s
  7. Take pictures because you love them and want to capture the candidness life has to offer
  8. Let go of the pressure to persuade your followers how adventurous and artsy you can be; you are both
  9. Don’t compare your journey to others’ journeys; not everyone is getting married or working their dream job (there’s always a few that happen at the same time so it feels like everyone, but you are most likely in the majority)

A month isn’t a long time, but it made a significant difference. A month ago, I was waiting by my phone, hyper-vigilant about how many likes and views I was getting. I was watching friends’ Snapchat videos, wondering if I wasn’t invited because I wasn’t actually that likable. Every time I exited a social network, I’d open the next one, continuing this rotation of opening and closing apps as if anything would have changed within the last 15 minutes. Surprise! That cute couple is still together. That girl from college still turns up every weekend. That friend is still dancing in the car (LOL totally me)… Nothing ever changed. I was still me; they still them. But I noticed the more I used social media, the less content, less creative, and less confident I was. Scrolling through timelines became less about keeping up with people I cared about, and more of a place for self-loathing, pondering why my life didn’t look a certain way.

Gradually, I let these minuscule, fleeting things equate my value, and it’s a bad habit I think we all fall into every now and then. It’s hard when our world glorifies money, beauty, and success. But I know that my worth and my identity isn’t rooted in the things of this world; it’s rooted in Christ. He goes before me; to Him my heart belongs and in Him my treasure is stored. I know that I exude love and that I’m full of life and that I’m fearfully made and that I’m beautiful every single day, without the fashion and the makeup and the Insta likes. I just had to be reminded. And what a sweet reminder God’s love is.

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“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4

thankful.

for the simplicity life can offer.

for a quiet night in where I can learn how to knit.

for the opportunity to start a new show on Netflix.

for being able to go out for a drink with my friends.

for a car and a parking spot that’s not far.

for the fact I can sit in my room in peace.

for not having to fear being displaced from my home.

for not being in an area where war is happening.

for not having to worry about my next meal.

for making it through the semester without giving up.

for getting paid extra by doing very little.

for a mom who helps me out when I’m struggling financially.

I know how to be positive. I try to take the time and appreciate the small things in my life. I love celebrating little triumphs, even if it’s finding $5 or completing something on my to-do list. When life is good, I’m good. But there are those seasons when life isn’t so good. In tough circumstances, I am neglectful, reclusive, and negative. I give up so easily, I don’t ask for help, and I get pretty ticked at God for not doing what I asked or wanted.

There are always going to be bad times where smiling, laughing, and rejoicing won’t feel right. Life is not catered to us. It’s important to smile now, laugh now, rejoice now, in the joys and simplicity of life. Take a moment and be thankful for the good things around you, in whatever situation you’re in. I’m working on it too.

time’s up

As I sit here and reflect on  my journey here in Ghana, I am astounded by the roller coaster my emotions have taken me on. Only 3 weeks ago I was crying because there were ants in my clothes and dirty toilets with cockroaches. And here I am crying again, except not about the conditions, but about the fact that my roommates from Germany are leaving, and I will soon have to say goodbye to everyone too. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than to return to America. I miss wearing scarves and boots, watching Gossip Girl with my sister, dabbing to every rap song, and eating way too much chicken Parmesan pizza. But in Ghana, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing meals, engaging in discussion, and exploring the Brong Ahafo region with a some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. I didn’t think I’d become attached at all, but beyond the language barriers and cultural differences, I grew to love the natives and the visitors here.

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I definitely won’t miss the nauseating car rides, never having hand soap, or not having electricity every few hours. I won’t miss the aggressive flies, the intrusive mosquitoes, or the lizards that frequented. I won’t miss being stared at because of the way I wear my hair, or being called a “bruny” because I’m from America. I’m not particularly sad about not seeing C-sections and hysterectomies everyday, and I won’t miss peeing into a hole in the ground and getting it all over my feet. Nor will I miss the impatience of taxi drivers, causing them to casually drive in the opposite lane (this literally happened every day, I almost lost my life 21 times).
What I will miss, and am already missing, is the laughter of my Aunt Judith whose sandals got swept up by the ocean. I’ll miss intentionally being asked questions about education and racism in America, and being told of history in Europe. I will miss asking Peter our cook to toast one more slice of bread, and then wondering why he disappeared, only to realize he biked all the way to the market for more bread. I will miss Fanny doing her shimmy every time a surgery was about to start. I will miss the bluntness of Ghanian students, who asked me everyday if they could “be my friend”. I will miss Professor asking every evening if what we are eating is considered “stew”. I will miss being told Awkwaaba (welcome) every where I go and I’ll miss talking about music with my cousins. I’ll miss watching horrible Indian television shows, and poorly directed African movies. I’ll miss Sister Patricia’s hugs, and I’ll miss being cooked for day in and day out. I will miss being thanked over ten times for giving people American deodorant and toothpaste, and will miss hearing “enjoy your meal” every night before dinner. I’ll miss holding the hands of frightened mothers during delivery, and wiping the tears of children whose parents weren’t around for their surgeries. I’ll miss 4 year old Henry and 9 year old Boabeng playing ball outside our hostel, and then running towards me with open arms when I walk back from work. I will miss only paying $5 for a beautiful dresses and the Multifrutas juice served at dinner. I’ll miss hearing stories of my grandmother and mom when they were younger. I’ll miss picking tangerines and starfruit in the woods, and seeing goats walk around like they’re humans.

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Ghana is really a beautiful country, and while they do not have half the luxuries of the United States, there’s so much life in everything they have here. The weekend long  funeral celebrations, the endless lush green trees, the children who knew little English but had great smiles — God helped me find joy in everything. Gratitude isn’t a big enough word for how I feel about having the opportunity to stay here. It’s not your typical tourism country, but you learn a lot about yourself and about others when you step out of your comfort zone in a place like this. People have been asking me all week if I would come back here, and for awhile my homesickness was speaking for me. But Ghana’s got a little piece of my heart, so it won’t be a goodbye, it will be a see you later.

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