Dreams vs. Goals.

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Hello, internet. It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in on you guys. (It hasn’t been, actually. I check the internet every day to find out more about Kim Kardashian’s baby, obviously. But it’s been awhile since I’ve written.) Life has been busy for me. I recently moved, made adulty decisions like what internet service to use, found a boyfriend (!), and started my last semester of college. I set a goal for myself to post at least once a week, but…life. And also writing is stressful (will write a post about it. Stay tuned.)

Speaking of goals, you probably noticed that word is in the title, so that’s obviously what I’m going to be talking about, right? Well, that’s my goal. (Wink.) After reading through all my childhood journals, I started thinking about how much I have changed. When I was nine, I wanted to be a writer, or a spy, or a cartoonist, or a writer-cartoonist-spy. At thirteen I wanted to write novels and make money off it (ha.) In high school, I wanted to be a teacher one year and an actor the next, until I took a career assessment test and found out I’d make a great funeral planner (no thanks. I’d rather die.) I started college as a music major, then I moved to broadcasting, and I still have a broadcasting major but don’t think I’ll actually use it for broadcasting, but instead go on to get my masters in marketing (big question mark there.)

So here I am as a senior in college, and it’s safe to say my dreams have changed every year of my life. My career dreams, my relationship dreams, my life dreams. They’ve all changed pretty fluidly. In second grade, my biggest dream was to own a gold Honda van and be an ice cream lady. Big. Dreams. At 21, my biggest dream is to be able to take a nap this weekend. That’s only a little bit of an exaggeration.

My “dream,” in general, is to write and create in whatever job I end up in. But I’m not sure if I’d call that a “dream” anymore. The more I’ve thought about what dreams and what they are, the more I’m turned off by the idea of having “hopes and dreams.” I’d rather not live my life in abstracts. Dreams are fickle, and I’d rather not live a life of dreams.

For a long time, I had a dream of becoming an actress. I wanted it really badly. I’d sing through entire Broadway albums when my parents weren’t home, I’d stage musical numbers in the shower – I wanted it so bad. Wanted. But I didn’t set up a goal. I just imagined things would eventually fall into place and I’d magically find myself in New York City with a paying acting job.

But take into account how much work it takes to be a full-time professional actress. You have little to no down time. Your entire life revolves around perfecting your craft, keeping your body in immaculate shape, and do everything you can not to get sick – or worse, vocal nodes.

I totally understand that some people have big dreams like these and actively chase them. They work their tails off working, training, and auditioning to finally make it. A lot of times that hard work pays off. But it didn’t take me too long to realize that for me, that dream was just that – a dream, and nothing more.

It was the same with being a full-time writer – little more than lip service. I didn’t have anything to show for that dream. No plan lined up to make that dream a reality. Is it good to dream? Of course it is. I still hope that somehow by some turn of fate I could end up a Hollywood actress or Broadway singer. But those aren’t my goals. 

My goal is to work for something I believe in, in every aspect of my life – at work, at home, with or without a ring on my finger, with or without a child or children, with or without multiple degrees. That goal is definitely reachable, and it’s something I’m willing to work for. The saddest stories are the ones where people’s dreams remain unfulfilled. Attainable goals are easier to fulfill

All of that to say, I think we can do away with “dream” language. Dream job, dream house, dream this and that. Because your dreams are usually fixated on one particular thing: that one partner, that one amazing car, that one specific job. Goals can encompasss every aspect of your life. You can see them play out in real time. Maybe you have a goal to graduate. What can you do to expound on that goal? Start searching for jobs before you get a diploma? Make a plan to travel the world after you graduate? And what about after that? Goals are growable and adaptable. As a freshman, my goal was to graduate in four years. I’m graduating in three and a half. My next goal is to find a career by summer 2018. Who knows where that will go.

Kick the dreaming to the curb. What’s your goal?

“For those who build their life on dreams

it’s prudent to recall

A man with moonlight in his hand

holds nothing there at all.”

“To Each His Dulcinea,” Man of La Mancha

– a. w.

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Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Conclusion: A Troubled Heart

Do you remember how it felt to move into college? It almost felt like going away to summer camp. You’re put in this tiny room where you’re going to live for an extended period of time with a complete stranger who kind of weirds you out and are directed around for a week-ish of orientation and mixer games until BOOM. Classes start and you feel like you got hit by a truck.

I did that twice.

Yes, friends. I’ve talked about it a little bit, but not in too much detail. In August of 2014, I moved into Hillsdale College. Five days later, I moved out. I was terrified, alone, homesick, and having existential crisis after existential crisis.

(Audrey, calm down. That’s how everyone feels when they move into college…) Well, I guess I just wasn’t prepared. Was it fear that motivated me? Probably. But would I make the same choice again? You bet your bottom dollar.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had since I made that fateful decision. In September of 2014, I moved into Cornerstone University. One day later, I started classes. Three years later, I’m starting my senior year. No regrets.

But freshman Audrey, 18 years old and tossed about on buffeting waves of choices and their consequences, wouldn’t say the same. She spent her first fall semester of college crippled by fear and anxiety (like most freshmen, am I right?) She thought about transferring multiple times. She thought about changing her major (she did. I have a semester’s worth of music classes under my belt, in case you were wondering.) She thought she would be married by the time she graduated (HA. She fell prey to the Christian college mentality.)

And somewhere in there, she started to journal. Ish. So here we go:

Journal #5: No name (I wasn’t that creative anymore. It was just a red composition book from Meijer.) October 2014 – July 2016 (I think. It is rather unclear.) 

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The quote at the bottom is from Frankenstein the Musical. Yup. You read that right. There’s a musical. About Frankenstein. And it’s actually pretty legit so don’t judge me. Ok judge me.

So here we are in October of 2014. It’s chilly and Audrey has found a moment to pour out her thoughts. She’s sitting in the lounge of Pickitt Hall (I remember this part but not much else) and finds time between homework to jot something down:

24 October 2014

It’s been a long time since I’ve journaled. The first time was when I got this thin little journal from my aunt (was it my aunt? I think so. There was a sparkly pen with it. It lit up when you wrote something.) (Good memory, kiddo.) It had this cartoon angel on the front (Remember?) I think I was nine? Ten? (Eight.) …I kind of stopped [journaling] in high school because I couldn’t find any time. I should find those journals and read them (What a great idea! Then share them with the Internet, ok?) I was a weird child (yes.) Er, creative. Both. Whichever one. (Both is good.)

For years people have been telling me “You should journal! It will help you organize your thoughts/reduce stress/help you figure out your life!” Well, maybe, but

1) My thoughts are just as messy on paper as they are in my head; 

2) Journaling feels like an obligation and therefore a stress-producer;

3) My life has never been resolved through writing things down. Maybe that will change. It’s cheaper than therapy, anyway. (Cue laughter.)

So what do people usually journal about?…I think [famous writers] have an innate sense that they’re going to be famous so they make sure everything they write is elegant and extemporaneous. Or they are just innately good writers and therefore get famous. (The rest get blogs.)

So there’s your introduction to 18-year-old Audrey at a turning point in her life. You can tell that from October 25’s entry:

How about I start with this: Who am I? Good question. I don’t think I can answer that. I was just thinking how weird it is that we define ourselves by who we are when who we are is constantly changing. Can one be defined by that which always changes? Maybe that’s the answer. Who are we? Constantly changing things. Who am I? That which is never the same. 

Someone get this girl a blog. She’s hopeless. And she’s feeling the weight of 18, apparently:

I’m learning a lot in college. Not just conventional things like what I’m paying to learn, but other things too…For example, I’ve learned that eighteen may possibly be the most insecure age there is (oh honey it gets worse.) That’s why everyone feels they need to be in a relationship or talk about all the great things they’ve done. They’re starting to feel the pressure of adulthod. I know I am. Seeing people who know exactly what they want to major in make me feel like I should know too. People who are in relationships make me feel like I should be in one (story of your life.)

So here’s what we know about Audrey so far: She’s confused and she wants a boyfriend. Is that what I’m getting here? She’s also paranoid. October 27:

I feel as if there’s never a time during the day when I’m not being scrutinized. There’s never a time when I’m completely alone, without fear of someone walking in or watching or staring at me (that’s called living in a dorm.) Just now someone looked at me, smiling and laughing in my direction. Why? What’s wrong with me? 

On October 28 I wonder if I’m attractive. Who doesn’t? Image is still a difficult thing to handle in college. You can still feel the judgment of high school seeping over (I know I did.)

On November 4, 2014, Audrey fell in love. She would stay that way for two and a half years. She met someone, and in her insecurities, latched onto him, thinking he was her only shot. (You can imagine how that went.) But she’s real excited on November 5. Everything seems to be falling into place.

She talks about Hillsdale on November 10. She’s still having dreams about it, but claims that the doubts are gone (they never go away.)

And then a little introversion –

11/15/14

I went to a dance tonight. I always go out thinking I’ll have a great time, but I always stand to the side and watch awkwardly. This was the first time I went with extroverts who wanted to dance. I just wanted to dress up and look pretty. My outgoing friend pulled my arm all night so I would dance. I said I didn’t like the song. “No one does,” she said. That really hit me. Is everyone as uncomfortable as me?

And on 11/22 –

Sometimes I think of myself as an F Scott Fitzgerald character: a narcissistic, restless, overly-romantic youth…I feel displaced. Restless. Confused. Bored, sometimes. Hopeless other times. Scared. Childish. Recently, lovesick for someone I’ve only known for three weeks and only seen three times. But you know me, making a big deal of little things. (that won’t change any time soon!)

So we find our little heroine troubled. She longs for something that she can’t have, but she still has hope. She’s about to enter one of the most stressful times of her life. Winter of 2015 was not a good one. She had an overload of classes, a lovesick heart, and a mind full of anxiety. I remember a lot of painful, bitter tears being shed during that time. Life just did not seem to be coming together for me.

But looking back, I realize how much all of that taught me, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself for enduring that and becoming the woman I am today. She still has a long way to go, but she’s made leaps and bounds in the right direction.

So I’ll conclude this short series with a little tidbit of knowledge from our heroine. Where will she go from here? No one knows. She doesn’t journal anymore (she blogs, which might be a mistake, but we’ll see.)

3/15/15

The heart is the harbor of love. If God is the author of love, then the heart must be God’s harbor. But what if the heart is not full of God, full of love – what is it filled with? That is a dangerous, tempestuous harbor, one that no sailor would find refuge. Let your heart be the refuge of the sailor Love, who tosses wearily from wave to wave in hope of a safe haven. Why not calm the waters of your heart and whisper, “Author of Love, you are welcome here. You who calm every storm, calm my troubled waters.”

a. w.

How to Succeed in Crushes Without Really Trying

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What’s it like to have a crush in your twenties? It sucks.

I developed a small crush at the beginning of the summer. But you know how “small” crushes go. I mean, there’s a reason it’s called a crush. We were chatting online and I found that our similarities (and our differences) were attracting me to him. I was excited to meet him – y’know how those butterflies can be. But a few weeks after sporadic texting, he dropped the bad news (bad news for me, anyway) – he was into someone else and they were going to start dating.

I felt like any dramatic teenage girl at that moment, completely floored. (I responded with a “that’s ok” but YOU KNOW it wasn’t the truth.) In short, it hurt. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just wasn’t meant to happen.

But do crushes go away once that happens? Aw heck no.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve each had a few crushes in our lifetimes. The stupid elementary school ones, the even worse “I’m-gonna-be-alone-forever” high school ones. College ones are tricky. I’ve had a few flash in the pan crushes, but on a small Christian college campus, everyone knows everyone and they can give you the low-down (“oh he’s got issues,” “he’s dating someone” – usually they are cuz it’s a Christian college campus, haha.)

Having a crush utilizes every corner of the spectrum of human emotions – or at least it seems like it when you feel yourself developing one. Elation, joy, hope, despair, rage, Netflix binging, water faucet tears (don’t leave me hanging, here.) It feels like insanity.

Because it is!

I bet that made you feel a lot better about your current crush, didn’t it?

But for real – insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You develop crushes on a rolling basis and expect a different result, but the end of the road is usually disappointment – unless you have really good luck.

Before I go further, I’ll tell you that it is totally okay to have a crush on someone. In fact it’s pretty normal. We want to feel wanted by someone we want, so it only makes sense.

It’s when it becomes all-consuming that it gets risky. Take it from someone who’s been there multiple times.

In short (short?) having a crush brings out a nasty little monster called idealization. We think that if we could just be with that person, everything would be swell. Girls especially (men, chime in if you do this too) idealize all day long. We picture cute dates, fun pictures, even weddings (yup, weddings.) Because at this stage we don’t have much to go off of about our crush, because chances are we don’t know them all that well. So our brains fill in the blanks (also called the Halo Effect. Pretty tricky stuff.)

The last big crush I had was in high school. I was pretty dead set on marrying the kid, because I was 15 years old and definitely knew what I wanted. Inevitably, it didn’t work out because it simply wasn’t meant to be – a hard concept to accept, but a good discipline to adopt nonetheless. In fact, that ordeal taught me something, and like I’ve said before, if something teaches you a lesson, it wasn’t a waste.

So here I am, still in the process of getting over a hyper-idealized crush. When you’ve made a crush into an idol or ideal in your mind, it’s a hard thing to shake. So don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t just disappear instantly in a puff of smoke. It’s almost a daily struggle. How do I divert my attention off this? What can I do to lessen this idol? I confess I haven’t gone about it in the best or most mature ways – emotions, am I right? But every step is a step in the right direction.

So take a tip from your friendly neighborhood coffee shop blogger – don’t let a crush crush you. You’re too good for that. Take it a step at a time. I look at it this way – you are a person worthy of being loved and cherished, and if you end up not finding that in the object of your desires, then let it be. You don’t have to get bitter or Taylor-Swift-crying-mascara-tears about it.

“When I find myself in times of crushes, Blogger Audrey comes to me, typing words of wisdom, Let it Be.”

– The Beatles, maybe

a. w.

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Part 4: Turning Points

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This was called a “Page of Maniacal Laughter.” This is a completely healthy way of dealing with insecurities.

Ah, middle school. How did we survive? Because that’s all that it was – survival. I honestly don’t know how I made it through. I almost don’t want to talk about it, but I feel obligated to at this point. Besides, I think teenage Audrey had a few nuggets of wisdom in that noggin of hers.

I’ll warn you, things get a bit cryptic at this point. I wouldn’t even tell my journal exactly what was going on and, to be honest, I don’t really remember. I do remember, however, that the late years of middle school/early years of high school were when my anxiety was rearing its head the most. That’s evidenced in these passages.

But don’t worry, this series isn’t going to take a suddenly morose turn. Teenage Audrey was hilarious – and if I’m honest, I’m not laughing with her, I’m laughing at her.

Audrey is 13 years old. She still hasn’t discovered makeup, or a good hairstyle (please don’t make me show you a picture of 8th grade graduation.) Theatre has become her passion. Boys are still stupid except for the celebrities she’s never met. Also braces (aka the outer circle of Hell in your mouth.) I don’t remember a moment in middle school where I was comfortable in my own skin. I felt awkward everywhere I went, with everything I did. Because I was. I only felt like I could be myself when I was alone. Or writing in my journal. Let’s jump in.

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No threats! The little lady is growing up. Also, I wrote “Red Crayon” in red crayon. I was meta even back then. I also have no idea why I wrote “Teh” in calligraphy.

Journal #4: “Nattie” (Sometime in 2008-(a weird gap)-sometime in 2012)

This was an interesting journal to investigate. Audrey starts writing at the beginning of 7th grade (I think…I had to take a wild guess because once again she’s not dating her journals…in fact she’s not dating anyone at this point *ba boom tish.*) Then there’s a big gap between the end-ish of 8th grade and SOPHOMORE YEAR of high school. I’m all right with the fact that I didn’t document my freshman year. That one is worth being forgotten, and nothing really happened except that I was still awkward and had the stupidest crush of my life (he’s now married, by the way, which weirds me the heck out.)

One of Audrey’s first entries talks about her fears of entering 7th grade (honey, you have no idea.)

Dear Nattie (also, quick note on the name: the journal’s full name was Natalia, after much debatement, but I called it Nattie for sentimental purposes):

The days never falter, never slow their pace, and thus it is already the end of July. I begin 7th Grade next year. I don’t want to grow up! Remembering all the fun I had in 6th grade (YOU WERE BORED ALL THE TIME KIDDO YOU WROTE ABOUT IT ENDLESSLY), I want to stay there, but alas, the days would bore me if I repeated them all again (plus we had math every day). 

Get a load of this kid. She thinks she’s all eloquent but all she sounds like is too big for her britches. Just imagine a whole journal like that and you’ve got this journal (at least the first half, before the Weird Gap.) Much of the journal goes on like this. I developed themes to talk about, such as different ways to “celebrate” the days of the week  (for example, Thursday was always “Semi-National Clueless Thursday.”)

Then in 7th grade I won an award for something I wrote. The barely-noticed nerd became popular overnight and she had no idea how to handle it. This is how she did:

…And last week, I won the Golden Pen Award (just shoe-horned that in, didn’t even lead with it.) Big wup, right? Right, though I say it and everyone pores over me as if I were the story I wrote. Last week I was interrogated by an interviewer and dumped on with “congratulation”-zes and “good work”-zes, and pats on the back. 

She references it a little bit later in a poem. I’m really confused as to where this poem came from, because I don’t think it’s exactly autobiographical. I don’t remember much of this stuff happening. Let’s take a look.

Falling, A monologue by Audrey Wierenga (I’m gonna remove the spaces for cohesiveness)

My life is NOT a roller coaster. It is a pit (wow) you can either struggle to climb or succeed to fall. I fail a test (80% of my whole stinkin’ grade) I fall. I win an award. I climb. But at the last “congrats”, my friend spreads a rumor about me (I don’t think that ever happened.) I fall. My teacher reads my poem aloud. A little embarrassing, but I still climb. Life is not full of ups and downs. Life is full of climbs and falls (that’s the same concept, kiddo) It’s easy to fall but you’ll hate the results. It’s hard to climb but the work pays off. 

Drama. Queen.

So yeah, anxiety was definitely a thing at this point. I won’t belabor that.

Anyway, most of Audrey’s middle school career goes off without a hitch, other than the perpetual awkwardness, like we discussed. She gets more into theatre (but gets frustrated with small roles after a while, because she’s a drama queen, as we’ve discussed.)

Sorry, I just need to get junk out of my brain. A LOT of junk. Trust me, there’s a LOT of junk up there. I have way to much to think on right now…You know all my friends think I’m weird? One of my friends says I dress badly (not my FRIEND friend, but someone I know.)

I mean, you kinda did. (You still do.)

AND THEN WE ARRIVE AT THE GAP.

Not the store, but an odd gap between journal entries, a void we might call Freshman Year. Because I didn’t pick up a journal once during that time. I pick up again in tenth grade.

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Me as a sophomore. Hey boys.

Well, I’m a SOPHOMORE now! And I have no clue what SOPHOMORE means, accept that I have slightly heightened responsibilities and I’m sort of grown up. 

Ain’t that the truth.

Anyway, here’s an update. She’s sweet and sixteen (or almost) and never been kissed. But she wants to be by someone very specific. Yep, you guessed it. Audrey has a HUGE crush. (Seriously, when I crush on people, I go all in. It’s a bit frightening. I’m sorry if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of my crushing crush-ness.) No more braces, no more same-jacket-to-school-every day. She wears blush and mascara, but she’s still a dork so don’t get your hopes up.

Her journal has become something of a prayer journal from time to time – either that or it gets very spiritually deep. I was a bit surprised reading through these passages. Audrey wrestled with a lot. She was only a few months away from being diagnosed with true anxiety and depression when she wrote this:

Dear Lord, wow, I have a lot to talk about, but I know you can handle it. I just need to find peace. Find it? It’s right here. A few weeks ago I had that major breakdown after going Christmas shopping. I felt sick from the commercialism. It’s flying by me at a mile a minute and I have to put things in perspective. Help me remember why I’m celebrating Christmas.

And lastly, I’m still thinking about him (AWWWW). I don’t want it to become an obsession (it does,) but I’m excited because I’ve met someone who likes the things I like (excited is an understatement. Y’all are head over heels.) So I’m going to ask you to guard his heart. I’m sure high school is hard for him too. Let him know there’s someone rooting for him on the sidelines. And, give me an opportunity to talk to him again. It always warms my heart.

And then on the cusp of a new year:

I want to stop wearing masks. I want to be the child You made me, serving you. Please, set me free. I am restless and defenseless. I have sinned. Please clean me and heal me. 

And finally, on an unknown date, one of the last entries of this journal:

God, I feel like I’m slipping away. Help me refocus and find my way back to you. Keep talking and open my ears. I want to hear what you have to say. Keep my stubbornness and self-pity away. Open my heart so I can see those around me who need your love. Give me the strength to embrace people I usually push away. 

This was the first time during my rereading of these journals that I’ve been surprised. I had totally forgotten I’d written these. I’d forgotten how introspective I was during those times when I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be (a daily discipline.) I’ve got to applaud this young Audrey for doing this. I hope that I can continue to be that discerning of myself in my thoughts and prayers in the future.

I have one more journal for you. I skip the last years of high school as far as journaling goes, so – you guessed it – you’re going to meet college-era Audrey next week!

a. w.

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Part 3 – The Writer Becomes

Today you will read a story about farts.

When I was around 11 years old, I realized that I really loved writing stories. I mean, I knew that before, but by 11 I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to make a living writing books. Ten years later that dream does not look attainable, but that hasn’t stopped me from working on a book (mostly because I like the sound of “Yeah I’m working on a book right now.”)

Young Audrey (now five-foot-two with three inches to go) is eleven years old and in 6th grade. The urchin has entered middle school. She’s got a little baby fat, has the worst bangs you’ve ever seen, and wears the same sweatshirt to school almost every day (but she showers daily and launders it weekly, so chill.) Recently, Audrey has started reading the Chronicles of Narnia. And she is hardcore into those books. (More on that later.) But for the time being, let’s dive in.

Journal #3: “Scrappy” – Circa 2007-2008 (no exact dates. Young Audrey is making me go all paleantologist on her.) 

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“Word dungeon” is written affectionately on top. Next to all the girly stickers. Also I drew a “scanner” on the claspy thing. Who does that? I guess I did. 

Audrey is much changed since last we checked in with her. Hormones are happening, and angst is increasing. Seriously, this child has some angst issues. She’s also pretentious as heck upon entering sixth grade.

She didn’t have a lot of friends, so to defend herself from rejection, she puts up a front of being smarter than everyone else. In fact, in the second entry, I call the journal “my second best friend in the world (my first best is God).” Isn’t that cute? This entry was at the tail end of fifth grade. I had three friends. I had recently lost the person I thought was my best friend (but hey, friends come and go in elementary school.)

Boys still aren’t a thing in young Audrey’s life. However, she does talk about boys a few times. But then she censored herself. Exhibit A:

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Was I Donald Trump? Also, I’m not talking about how excited I am for a bathroom. A toilet bowl is a kind of waterslide, you uncultured swine.

So I guess you’ll never know who I was madly in love with at that age. (I honestly don’t even remember. Let’s just keep it that way. I can only be so embarrassed by my past self.)

This tiny human could be pretty funny sometimes. Case in point:

“I may have seen a few scary movies and I know they always go down and explore but NO I AM NOT GOING DOWNSTAIRS TO CHECK IT OUT! People in scary movies are idiots. Who would actually go down to explore a noise when they KNOW, after some freaky dude told them, that there was CLEARLY a monster down there. Sheesh! And they always open doors that the freaky dude tells them not to! And something bad ALWAYS happens! Then later they say, in the middle of dire havoc, ‘We shouldn’t have opened that door in the first place!’ Duh, you shouldn’t have! What idiots! Clearly if that freaky dude told you in a creepy tone “DON’T OPEN THIS DOOR!” You probably shouldn’t, and then nothing would ever happen bad!”

Ok, calm down. Also, this. I had a dream where I was reading a newspaper:

“I woke up after I read a headline that said NEWSPAPERS LIE – DON’T READ THEM.”

True. Story.

Like I said, Audrey wasn’t keen on boys. (If you saw the boys in my 6th grade class you wouldn’t blame me.) She admired a few actors a bit more than others because they were good looking (and many of them have aged like a fine wine…sigh…) but here’s a little tidbit Audrey wrote on the day after Christmas, of all days:

My brother tells me that soon I’m going to like boys! Ew! I hate boys, their guts, and their kind. All the ones I used to like are water under the bridge now. He always asks if I like any movie stars. I said no, I appreciate them as actors. That’s it. 

Oh, STOP. You literally just wrote a censored entry about cute boys. Don’t fool yourself. You’re falling and you’re falling hard, little lady. (Like I said, hormones.)

On February 14, 2008, Audrey expressed her disdain for Valentine’s Day. Not much has changed there.

One thing this child talks about a lot is boredom. Apparently, I was bored a lot back then. I’m pretty sure about half the entries I wrote are about being bored. Was my life really not that interesting? Or did I just happen to be bored every time I sat down to write? Or was I just a pretentious little snot who thought she was too important to be bored? Who knows. I’d rather not dive into the psyche of a 11-year-old more than I have to.

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You just can’t make this stuff up. Luckily I started doing theatre a year later, because I was a drama queen already. “Don’t forget sunscreen.”

Now for the reason you’re here. 11-year-old Audrey farted and told a story about it. Her life is so exciting.

It was a placid spring day. I was listening to my teacher’s lecture about feudalism or whatsit. I scooted to the side of my desk and…pffft (It came out louder than expected) Moments later: 

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Such art.
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Names withheld for safety purposes. Although I’m sure they don’t give a rip (get it) anymore.

All I have to say to small Audrey is: WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?!

But for real, things like that were a lot more debilitating at that tender age. If I did the same thing now, I probably would’ve laughed along with them because I’m immature and still think farts are funny. (shrug emoji) But in middle school, like I said, you put up a front. Because you don’t know what else to do because you’re so insecure that you might melt into a puddle of anxiety at any given moment.

I also realize that this might have been early signs of the anxiety that would soon enter into my life. I was “diagnosed” at the age of 16 with anxiety and depression, but I’m sure it started much earlier than that. My mounting insecurities were evidence of that – fear of rejection, anxiety over friends, a drive to overachieve, and so on. (That’s also a Type 3 thing on the Enneagram, which I only found out this week. I should’ve taken that test when I was 10 and maybe middle school would’ve gone a lot better.)

That’s probably why I decided to try out for the middle school play! Stay tuned. 7th grade is on the horizon. And man, is there angst. (And pimples.)

I’ll leave you with this. Every sign-off, middle school Auds would add an “Inanswerable Question” (I now realize this is grammatically incorrect.) See if you can solve this one:

A doorhinge is the square root of…

a. Pi

b. Einstein’s theory of relativity

c. mass/volume

d. cheese

e. d

f. e

g. all of the above

Answer: I literally haven’t the foggiest.

a. w.

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look At Journals, Part 2 – The Youth Attempts Short Stories

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When I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things. First, in second grade, it was an ice cream lady. I legit thought that was the coolest job in the world. I could just drive around making ice cream. After my startup idea fell through, I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist in 3rd grade. I doodled a lot in class, so it made sense, right? (I couldn’t draw then and I can’t draw now. But it’s good to dream.) Then, in fourth grade, I started reading the Jigsaw Jones mysteries religiously and decided I was going to be a spy. But the first rule of being a spy is not telling people you’re going to be a spy…which I did. All the time.

21-year-old Audrey still wants to be a lot of things. A writer. A copywriter. An actress. A nonprofit administrator. Maybe the dreams have gotten smaller, but they’re not just dreams anymore – they’re goals. Because dreams + money + a degree = a goal…right?

Maybe. But I think I can learn something from this little fourth grade pipsqueak who wrote in this oddly polka-dotted journal (affectionately called DJ, if you recall.) Which is where we find young a. w. today.

Journal #2: Circa April 2006 – sometime in 2007? (Young Audrey stopped putting dates on her journals. Didn’t she learn anything in fourth grade?) 

As we open this journal, we find Audrey coming to the end of her fourth-grade career. Let me fill you in on who this little lady was at the time – she was about 4-foot-8 and wouldn’t hit 5 until middle school. She had a pair of fuschia courduroys she loved wearing. And a purple hoodie. Overall, a lot of purple. She collected packs of gum in her marker box (which had TROPICAL COLOR Crayola markers, the coolest things on earth.) She wrote “books” (15-20 pages of college-ruled paper stapled together with a badly-drawn cover) and wanted to be a spy like Jigsaw Jones. She also frickin’ loved 4th grade. She did not want to leave.

Essentially, she didn’t want to grow up. She wanted things to stay exactly as they were.

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Her bark is worse than her bite, I promise. “Explosives ahead?” Really? A skull? Especially compared to the saccharine sweet entry adjacent to it (I might still have that teddy bear and his name might be Peter.)

Things haven’t changed a whole lot since the last journal, as you can tell from the front page of warnings. However, I’m sensing much more angst in this small human. She’s starting to grow up and things are changing. For example, her best friend moved away the summer before fourth grade. She spends five journal entries talking about it and writes a (bad) poem.

DJ, 

5! (I counted off how many times I’d written about my friend.)

Well, it gets better. I was upset, then I forwarded a letter to her and guess what? I got a VERY LONG reply! We now write to each other constantly but I still want her to be next to me again, I made a poem, that doesn’t rhyme:

Far Away (yeah I underlined it. It’s important)

I miss my friend so very much, 

Now that she moved away.

I wish she was right next to me,

on that empty swing.

All of those memories are treasures of friendship.

It has been filled up.

END. 

*cue hearts breaking* Feel free to take all the time you need after reading that.

After reading that, I thought about that friend. Inevitably, we’re not really close friends anymore. We’re still Facebook friends and such, but we don’t write letters every day. Kinda funny how things change. There was also another friend I talk about a lot who I barely speak to anymore. A lot of entries were “my friend is coming over tonight! I’m so excited! We are going to be BFFs forever!”

But now we’re not, you know? Like I said, funny to look back and see how that all changed.

Now back to the angst of a 10-year-old.

This young Audrey wrote short stories. For example: Audrey is going to play Laura Ingalls Wilder in a living wax museum for her fourth grade class. She’s SO EXCITED. Until her parents ask her to recite her speech for them. SHE BLANKS. So young Audrey writes this short story to cope:

The girl who became a failure (aka me)

Once there was a normal average girl. One day, her nice teacher gave them an assignment. “I want you to choose someone from history and make a wax museum for it.” The girl was excited. She worked at it and worked at it, and when it came to the eve of the wax museum, her parents asked her to say it to them. (She stands there, looking into space.) She never said a word, and on Monday, when people pushed her button (??????) she never said anything. Her teacher came over and thought she was a jerk and suspended her (I mean, EXPELLED) her for being rude, and no one heard from her again. The end

Girl, you need more confidence. (Disclaimer: She did write an alternate ending to the story afterward and then followed up the next day saying the wax museum went VERY WELL. So it was all okay.)

Audrey continued to dread the end of school. “Tomorrow will be the best day of my life, and the day after that will be the worst day of my life,” she says, talking about PJ day (WOOT) followed by the last day of school. She includes a picture of herself crying “faucet tears.” She later talks about wanting to invent a time machine so she could go back (or “time masion.” Her words, not mine.)

But there’s more deep-seated angst in this small child. I came across this story in her journal called “The guy who could hear anything.”

Once there was a guy who could listen in on everything. So the CIA made him a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy! One day, he overheard his friend talking to another guy. “I was invited to go to Ultra Fun world with two friends, and you’re one!” HE WAS SUNK!

I have so many questions about this story. Where can I apply to be a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy? And where is Ultra Fun world? And why did he decide to abuse his power in such a way?!

I’m thinking Audrey had some insecurities about her friends back then. This is neither the first nor the last time she gives voice to them. When she starts 5th grade, she really wants to make friends with the new kid (spoiler alert: she doesn’t.)

I think those insecurities never go away. They just change. Now I have insecurities about getting a job in six months. Will employers like me? Will I adapt into a workplace environment after being in a classroom for 16 years of my life? Will I find a boyfriend/potential husband who will accept me for who I am? Like I said, they don’t go away, they just change.

There are two empty pages at the back of this journal. Why did young Audrey leave these empty? She signs off the journal at the end of fifth grade, on the cusp of the Young Writer’s Festival (at this point, Audrey wanted to be a writer. Spoiler alert: she still does.) And leaves two pages blank. Of course she would be a drama queen. She just found her love for theatre this year, and that love is only going to get bigger.

Things are only going to get stranger and more difficult for you, young Audrey (who is now proudly 5 feet tall and almost in middle school.) Because – brace yourself – sixth grade is coming.

(Also, 10-year-old Audrey had a crush on Brandon Routh. 21-year-old Audrey doesn’t see a problem with that.)

a. w.

 

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Pt. 1

I’m in the process of moving out of my parents’ house. Going from an actual house to a two-bedroom apartment is proving a challenge for my hoarding ways. I started “downsizing” a few weeks ago, and it’s been a little tricky trying to decide what should stay and what should go (cue The Kinks.)

Of course, when one cleans stuff out, one finds things. Like old AP Government notes from 12th grade. Or an award you got in middle school for taking out the trash (don’t start on millennials getting rewarded too much. Middle school trash is disgusting.)

And you find journals. In my case, lots of journals.

I first started journaling in 3rd grade. It became an almost daily practice for me through middle school, and then it kind of fell by the wayside when life got busy. I tried picking it up in college, but turned to blogging instead, and you know how that’s going.

So, for fear of belaboring the point, I’ll cut to it: for the next few weeks, I will be reading through my old journals and extracting the juiciest (?) bits from them. Maybe I had some wisdom to share as a child that I’ve forgotten about. Or maybe I can just give you the scoop on Audrey’s 3rd grade crush.

In other words, dis gon’ be good.

JOURNAL #1: Circa 2004-2006

Context: According to the first page, I started writing on December 24, 2014 (I got the journal from my cousin for Christmas, as written by 8-year-old a. w. in the first entry, see below.) At some point, I went back and added to them. (Dangit younger self, why are you ruining the memory of posterity for me?!)

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Seems innocent enough. I still have no idea what “Angels on Assignment” is. Stickers courtesy of American Girl. I was into that kind of thing.
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Okay, I’m literally asking my brother to read it with all these warnings. Also, I really want to know what I wrote on Thursday February 9. Did I murder someone?! Also I like that I crossed “crushes” out like I was above that or something.

I took a no-holds-bar approach to privacy as a youngster. Ain’t no one was going to crack open that journal, apparently. I even wrote “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED” on one of the pages. Geez. Calm down, small Audrey. The IRS is not after you for what you wrote in that book.

Let’s take a look at the first entry, for reference (completely unadulterated, with spelling mistakes and all):

December 24, 2004

Dear journal, 

My cousin gave me a jornal for Christmas! Well, a day before Christmas. I am in 3rd grade. We do cursive. Tommorow is christmas, and I cannot wait. And I got a barbie. 

This is all well and good, lil’ Audrey, but what’s your lead? None of this is very interesting. Also, your syntax is horrible. The first few entries are a bit clunky and formal because I was getting used to the idea of writing my thoughts down on paper.

LET’S FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED ON FEBRUARY 9, SHALL WE?

. . .

Upon further investigation, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happened on February 9. Small Audrey, you sly dog. It was a TRICK.

She may have been talking about December 29, 2004, which has some very strict warnings on that particular page. Little Audrey talked about how she wanted to make a cartoon when she grew up and she didn’t want anyone taking her idea. (I STILL don’t want you to take my idea, so I’m not gonna tell you.)

I talked a lot about how I wanted to be a cartoonist (affectionately spelled “cartoonest” in my weirdly round handwriting) I dressed up as a cartoonist for career day. How do you dress up like a cartoonist? I don’t know. I just kind of went with it. And I was hardcore into career day, let me tell you. I have at least five journal entries about it in this journal alone.

The first few months are BORING AS HECK. You’d think I had no social life at all. (I didn’t. Because I couldn’t drive and I was eight.)

Sometimes lil a. w. waxed poignant. Skip ahead to “Thursday evening of April 2005” (I even came up with really good stream-of-consciousness poem titles.)

Dear journal, 

I’m just sitting on the driveway, dreaming and writing. I just like time alone after the hussle and bussle of the daytime. (Once an introvert, always an introvert.) I just like sitting here and listening to the birds and looking at God’s wonders. I like it here in the caldisac. It’s always pretty, There’s a whole bunch of nature around it. I hope we never move away from here. 

Spoiler alert: We never moved away from here.

And now we go to fourth grade where THE DRAMA GETS TURNED UP A NOTCH.

I had a crush in fourth grade, and it was the stupidest crush I’ve ever had. Wait. Every crush I’ve ever had has been stupid, but anyway. The first of many. Let’s take a look at Tuesday February 7, 2006.

Dear journal, 

Today was like any normal day. I’m working on a new book, it’s called, The Map to Treasure! (note: could have been the next great American novel, but I never got passed page two.) Tommorow (I didn’t learn how to spell that until I was like 18) I have piano lessons, yesterday I had GEMS. As you know (I guess my journal is sentient) Valentine’s day is coming up and I like someone. His name is Zach (last name withheld). I’m going to write him a love note. 

Sinceraly, 

Audrey W, 4th Grade (Cuarto Grado)

 (I was learning Spanish and couldn’t spell.)

The drama intensifies. Will Zach say yes? Will he accept my Sweet Tart Valentine with a really bad “roses are red” poem in it?

Spoiler alert: everyone in fourth grade got wind of my crush and I never dropped a crush so quickly in my life. He then fell madly in love with someone else in 4th grade (guess what? It didn’t last.) and then again in 5th grade (still didn’t last, sorry to disappoint.) I’m not proud.

We will wrap up this segment with Sunday April 2, 2006, since this journal isn’t super interesting. The young, doe-eyed girl is still developing her voice.

Small Audrey is very excited about her birthday, which is over a month away. But this entry will give you a good picture of what I was like at the age of 9.

DJ, (oh yeah, I should tell you that at some point I abbreviated “dear journal” to DJ to be hip and trendy like the hip and trendy kid I was.)

We have plans for my birthday. Here they are. 

MAIN THEME: SPYS

(after 3rd grade, I really wanted to be a spy.)

Scedule: (Small Audrey is organized.)

1.Go bowling

2.Come home

3.Play games

4.Cake and pizza

5.PRESENTS! (I have priorities.)

My birthday is May 16. Du big 1-0!

Audrey

After I read this, I laughed for a solid five minutes at “du big 1-0!” I remember how big of a deal that was.

Isn’t it weird how “big deals” change as we get older? When we’re little, big deals are crushes and sleepovers and birthday parties. Now they seem like small blips on the radar, don’t they? There’s going to be a lot of “blips” on this journey – “best friends,” friends moving away, loves I thought would last forever, and all that jazz.

Don’t worry, friends. There’s more sass and threats to come. It only gets better (and more hormonal – middle school is coming!) from here. Stay tuned!

a. w.