Prom!

A lot of the times that I post on here, I post things that people can talk about, or relate to, even if I sometimes write so much about some things that it gets very, very boring for readers (like, I assume nobody read my entire NFL Free Agency post- it was fun to write, but very tedious to research, and I’m sure it was very tedious for everyone to try and get through).  This is one of the few exceptions, because it’s something that I’m super, duper excited about: I got to go to prom!

I was unable to go to my own high school’s prom last year- those of you that know me know why, and for those of you that don’t, I’ll just send you here.  After all the crap that went down last year, I never anticipated that I would get a chance to have the once-in-a-lifetime experience that prom is.  But God works in mysterious ways, I suppose- I began dating a lovely girl named Ariana, who is currently a senior in high school, and her prom, which was on May 14th, happened to fall after my college finals were over (for perspective, my high school’s prom was the weekend before my finals, and the other school in our district had it the week before that), so I would be able to go!  I was unbelievably overjoyed, and really, I still kind of am now, so I, uh, ramble a little bit in this post.

Of course, there was a lot of stress in the lead-up to the event- I first had to accept the fact that we weren’t going to my prom, but my girlfriend’s, so my excitement, and desire to do this and that, had to take a backseat to whatever she wanted.  There was drama over my girlfriend’s dress- we had made an agreement prior to her going dress shopping that I wouldn’t be able to see the dress until prom, but I was really anxious to see how amazing she would look, so our friends and family made a concerted effort to keep photos of it from me.  There was a minor seating fiasco- I wanted to be closer to the food, but Ariana wanted to be closer to the drinks, so we debated over that for a bit (she won, of course).  There was also the matter of dressing up- as someone that thinks wearing jeans is going fancy, I had to build up some major mental resolve to get into “prom” mode.  Of course, prior to this whole thing, I had never worn a tuxedo, and I was worried that my tendency to sweat, like, a lot, no matter the temperature, would make wearing a tux beyond miserable (for anyone that cares: it wasn’t all that bad).  I also had to settle some of my girlfriend’s fears- that she wouldn’t look pretty, that the whole thing would be a dud, things like that.

Of course, we got through all of the “trials and tribulation,” and the big day came.  I got into my tux and felt neither suffocated nor sweaty as hell.  I went over to her house to take pictures with my girlfriend and her family, finally getting to see her dress for the first time (with her in it, of course).  And boy, let me tell you- she was an absolute knockout.  She told me prior to prom, countless times, that she thought the dress made her look like a real princess, but I thought that the line was just cliché.  It definitely wasn’t- she was… beyond dreamy.  I was way out of her league (I still am, but was especially so on that night).

Anyway.

After some glam shots of the two of us, and another brief photo session at her best friend’s house, her mom brought us to her school to await departure to the dance.  Waiting there was just a little bit awkward for me- since I didn’t go to the same high school Ariana did (Hinsdale Central for life!), I knew exactly one person there besides the small group of four that we came with, and that was only because he was from Central.  For a quiet person such as myself, having to go around and be introduced to so many people, meaning that I actually had to talk to them, wasn’t all that enjoyable.  Thankfully, we didn’t stay at the school long, and soon enough, we were off.

The event was held at the Navy Pier Crystal Garden; while there was nothing in the room that, in my opinion, remotely resembled anything crystal, it sure was a nice place- there were lots of majestic plants, some cool water features, and the setup was really nice, allowing everybody to get to the important things, like the food, drinks, photo booths, and dance floor with relative ease.  The food that the staff prepared for us was also pretty good, considering that it was mass produced at a facility that isn’t exactly known for its food.

The dance itself was a bit awkward for me- considering that I’m super quiet and have the dance moves of a wooden board (I’m stiff and don’t move much), that makes some sense- but it was an absolute blast.  My girlfriend got me out onto the dance floor for a couple of the more pop-y songs, as well as for both of the slow songs, showing me a dance move or two.  We got to take some really funny photos in the photo booth with her and her friends.  We went outside to the porch of the Garden and spent some time enjoying the city skyline (while trying not to freeze our butts off in the high 40’s weather while wearing thin dress clothes).  We talked about really random things in really loud voices, straining to hear each other above the noise of the music.  Best of all, we got to really revel in each other’s company, enjoying a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience with the person that we would most want to experience it with.

We finished the night relaxing next to a bonfire in my backyard, reliving the funny moments of the night while chowing down on s’mores, pizza, and cinnamon sticks, happy to be out of our very-fancy-yet-very-constricting clothes and into sweatpants and sweatshirts.  The night didn’t last very long- from the time that I put on my tuxedo to the time that I went to bed, it was maybe 9 hours, tops- but it was a night that I am beyond grateful I got to spend with the best girlfriend in the world, and a night that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Oh, and here are some pictures, in case you want to see how goofy I look in a tux and how gorgeous my girlfriend looked.  Enjoy:

 

1.jpg                                                           Hand pose!

2.jpg       The group

3.jpg                                          I need to learn how to smile…4.jpg        My mom and me5.jpg           “The good one”

6.jpg            She looks gorgeous.  I look bleh.

On My Family

I spent the majority of this past weekend with my dad, who flew into the Logan Airport on Wednesday to explore Boston with me.  We got to take a trolley tour of the city, watch our hometown Blackhawks play the local Bruins, have some authentic Italian in the North End, and hang out with my mom’s parents.  A little over a month ago, my mom herself, along with my sister, came out for a visit to the east coast.  The occasion was far more somber- they flew out to attend my great-grandmother’s funeral, but being able to see them and reminisce with them was very nice.

The reason that I chose to go to Massachusetts for school instead of staying closer to home (a choice my parents might be upset with, considering how much more money I would have gotten from Indiana in comparison to Babson) was the opportunity to be near my mom’s family.  My parents, who went to school at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, got to see a lot of them while their relationship was developing, and I thought it would be cool to get a chance to spend quality time with them, as they did.  They have always badgered my mom about living so far away from them, which only allows us to visit them once a year for a solitary week, and I think that they were thrilled at my college decision.

My mom’s family is very conservative, in pretty much every way that you could possibly imagine.  My grandparents live in a small Cape Cod with only one bathroom, and I’m sure that my cousins would, too, if they didn’t own so many animals.  All of them are extremely close to one another- my cousins hold a “pizza night” every Friday, and everyone that is within driving distance makes their best effort to show up for a little bonding time.  Virtually everybody is deeply religious- one of my mom’s cousins is a pastor, and my grandma always seems to have a megachurch pastor on TV- and have inspired my own faith due to their deep, unwavering belief in God.  All of them are also extremely laid back.  That’s not to say that they aren’t all passionate about people and things that they love, because they are; it’s more indicative of their ability to see the best in every situation, and to be content with whatever hand that life deals them as often as they possibly can.  Being able to see more of them while out at school has made me discover many of the unique abilities my family has- my grandma’s skill at board games, my cousin Quentin’s drumming ability, and my aunt (who has special needs) being able to memorize streets better than I possibly could.

My dad’s family, which I have seen far more of, since they all seem to live within an hour of home back in Illinois, are a little bit more…  forward.  All of them live fast-paced lifestyles, with some of them working multiple jobs while others make their living in the hustle and bustle of inner city Chicago.  They are in touch with modern trends and technology, wielding their iPhones and Androids almost as shrewdly as I can while spewing forth with the latest celebrity gossip.  They are all very well educated, as well- it seems as if everyone was fortunate enough to be able to attend a well-regarded college, and regardless of whether they could or they couldn’t, they seem to be experts in their craft.  Everyone typically only gathers for special occasions, but simply calling those gatherings “special” wouldn’t really do them justice- people show up decked in sharp clothes with kind greetings and piles of food so big that the meal comes close to rivaling a Thanksgiving spread.  These gatherings also typically result in everyone playing some type of group game that ends in absolute hilarity.

There is also my immediate family to discuss, though, to be frankly honest, the way that I feel about them, and the experiences that we’ve shared, cannot be adequately described in one neat paragraph.  My mom and I have very similar personalities, so we are able to read each other relatively well, to make each other laugh with jokes that nobody else could really understand.  From my dad I get a quiet confidence, and we have been able to bond over our mutual interest in sports and his ability to see through my random emotional outbursts.  My sister, who, as all little sisters are, is often very, VERY annoying (it’s also annoying that even though she’s 4 years younger than me, she’s my height- totally not fair), we share an inseparable bond that cannot be understated.  And, of course, there’s my little bro, Niko.  I was deathly scared of him when he was a puppy, but now that he’s a full-grown Doberman that weighs over one hundred pounds, I think it’s safe to say that we’re best friends; I’m looking forward to being home and having him wake me up by jumping on my bed and licking my face.

I recognize that my family is nowhere near perfect.  There are people within my family that have quarrels with each other for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever understand.  There are odd ducks that nobody is really all that excited to see at family parties.  My family struggles with the burdens that come with everyday life, and sometimes when those burdens are too much to take, they make mistakes.  They lash out.  They get angry at one another, sometimes over really stupid stuff.  It’s also been hard for me sometimes, since so many of my cousins back home are girls, and because it was hard to bond with my guy cousins out east since I rarely get to see them.

But I also realize that I have it a hell of a lot better than a lot of people do.  Some families are torn apart by distance, others by never-ending disagreements, other still by unfortunate circumstances.  I am lucky enough to have a family that tries its very hardest to remain a “cohesive unit,” no matter what happens.  I have a family that is filled with many different personalities that are all loving and caring.  I have a family that is supportive of anyone and everyone, that has been an absolute blessing to me, in helping realize who I am as a person and in encouraging me to follow my dreams.  As cliché as this sounds, I truly believe that family is where life begins and love never ends, and I think that with the amazing family that I have, I’ll stand by that statement as long as I live.

 

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On Christianity: My Story

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on here- having a month of relaxation, of no responsibility, after my first set of college finals did wonders to stifle my motivation to write.  After thinking about what I wanted my first post to be after over a month and a half of inactivity, I chose a topic that was very near and dear to my heart: my religious story.

I don’t remember exactly when I first started going to church, but considering that both of my parents went to Catholic high schools (and a Catholic college), I was seemingly destined to grow up going to Catholic services.  At some point during my childhood, though, my parents decided to try to stop attending our local Catholic church- the fact that I fell asleep during a couple masses probably had something to do with it- and try to find a new church.  After bouncing around for about 6 months, they finally settled on the Evangelical Covenant Church of Hinsdale, where I attended preschool, and we have been going there ever since.

At first, going to church meant having to sit through an hour of boring in order to get to have some really sweet cinnamon rolls after the service was over.  However, my dad realized this, and gave me an ultimatum- I had to sing along with the songs, and pay attention to the sermon, if I wanted to get treats afterwards.  So, begrudgingly, I listened to what he said, though I tried to drag out my commitment as long as I possibly could- I got away with just keeping my head up in the general direction of the singer or speaker and nod a few times before my mom caught on.  As time passed, my minimal interest turned into a more casual interest, as I made an effort to memorize some of the songs that we sung.  Growing older certainly helped, as well, as I finally began to understand the deeper meaning behind what the pastors were saying.

My maturation continued unabated through my freshman year of high school- I had memorized a good handful of Bible verses, had started participating in activities with the church’s youth group, and talked with friends and family about the depth of my relationship with God.  And yet, soon enough, reality started to set in- I stood by, helpless and heartbroken, as my mother battled breast cancer while my dad tried to balance helping her with her treatments and finding a job to keep our family afloat.  Three short years later, I said and did things that caused me to lose the best friend I had ever known, and almost all of the colleagues that I had in my town were too busy making the all-important decision on which college they would be choosing to build their future at to comfort me after my entire life turned upside down.  I discovered the meaning of “depression,” and how unbelievably taxing it is on a person’s heart, mind, their very being.

During those trying times, and other, less stressful moments, I sought, and received, solace from many different places- from my family, from the friends that stuck by me, from the countless doctors and therapists that I talked to, from medication and meditation, from soccer, and from writing.  But nothing ever gave me comfort as deep, or as strong, as what I received from God.

He provided me with unfailing love in a time that I believed I was unworthy of such a feeling.  Love is very personal and very intimate, and because of that, it can get very messy.  With God, it isn’t like that-Romans chapter 8, verse 28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” God saw the pain that I was going through- pain that was contrary to his will for me- and He showed immense patience in continuing to pour His love down upon me until I was able to realize its affects break out of my ignorance, to love Him as he loved me, and once I was able to do that, my misery started (and never stopped) fading.

He also showered me with compassion, which would be downright impossible for any human to match.  Compassion is largely impersonal- compassion can be felt towards a person or creature that you have never met before, have never interacted with before- but for people, who are frequently in need of something in return for kindness, compassion is difficult to give, because nothing is expected to be given in return.  God doesn’t care- in Matthew chapter 9, verse 36, it is written, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. “ Only a being as all-powerful as God, as truly wonderful as God, is capable of carrying out such a task, as he did with my helpless self, with great ease.

Perhaps most importantly, He gave me His mercy, which, deep down, I feel like I craved more than anything.  The fact that humans are inherently flawed is quite obvious, and during my darkest hours, I took that idea to the extreme.  I believed that I was entirely responsible for the development of my depression, and that I was, somehow, at least partially responsible for my mom’s cancer diagnosis.  I acted out on those feelings, transforming myself into far less of a person than I was capable of.  It took me a long time to fully realize my mistakes, and even longer to own up to them, to the people around me and to the Lord.  As I’ve said, a lot of my friends were unable to forgive me, but my God did.  This can be explained through another verse in Romans (Chapter 8, Verse 1), which states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (if you haven’t figured out that Romans is my favorite chapter of the Bible…  I had to do a mini-sermon on a verse in the New Testament in order to get confirmed.  I chose a verse from Romans).  By expressing my faith, I was able to earn the forgiveness of my Savior, which was, and still is, more than I could have ever hoped for- it has kept me alive, and gives me a reason to live and sing His praises, to this very day.

 

 

From the time that our great country was created, when the good majority of Americans were believers, more and more people have begun to doubt the existence of a God.  The doubt the story of Creation, and pass off miraculous healings (or something of the luck) as luck, or as a work of human hands, instead of as the will of the Almighty.  I will never go out of my way to disparage those who don’t believe in God- that wouldn’t be very kind, or Christian, of me, and it is an individual’s choice to believe what they wish to believe in.  But, I will not pass up an opportunity to use my story, and the Word, as examples of His existence, the greatness that He embodies, and the incredible life that can be found in trying to seek Him, because, as Chris Tomlin says, He is a “good, good Father.”

 

 

 

 

One Year Gone

Today marks the one year anniversary of the last day of the toughest time of my entire life.

During that tough time, I felt unbelievably hopeless.  I felt that there was absolutely nothing going right in my life, and that nothing ever would.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life- small things, like messing up the spelling of “parallel” in my 3rd grade spelling be, and bigger things, like when I dented my dad’s car while trying to park it in the parking lot of my high school- but none of the mistakes I made were as drastic, or as impactful, as the ones that I made last fall.  I lost a stabilized environment that I had been accustomed throughout my years in the public school system.  I lost a lot of friends, and a lot of respect from many, many people, some that were close to me and some that weren’t.  I lost a girlfriend.  I lost most, if not all, of my happiness, and fell into a depression the likes of which I cannot properly describe in words.

 

Today, things are much different.  I am currently enrolled at Babson College in Massachusetts, one of the top business schools in the entire country.  I maintained relationships with friends and family that were able to stand by me during my weeks of turmoil.  I was able to get a job at the Oakbrook Park District, which put me in more social situations and gave me a sense of purpose.  I found a girlfriend, a sweet, stunning girl that I have stayed with in college, even as she finishes high school back home in Illinois.

I had to make a lot of changes in my life, in the ways I thought and acted, to get me to where I am today.  But the people (and animal) listed below were the people that were the real difference makers in getting me back to be a functional member of society:

 

My parents, who, as most parents do with their teens, did not often see eye to eye with me, but were loving and supportive in whatever way they possibly could be.

My sister, a person that is, quite literally, my polar opposite, and never fails to bring me happiness with her unrivaled joy.

My dog, who is my best friend in the entire world- obviously, he will never read this, but the impact that my brother has had on my life might go beyond words.

My grandparents, who constantly spoiled me with food, money, and their presence.

My cousins, who I rarely get to see, but always manage to make me smile due to their unbelievable ability to quote movies and tell stories about the strange things that have happened to them.

My neighbors, who had some inkling of what I was going through, and were unbelievably kind and gracious towards me.

Alex, Annemarie, Audrey, Christa, Katie, Kelsey, Ike, Imad, Maeve, Natalia, and Ryan, the people who had the misfortune to talk to me when I was at my lowest point, people that are among the kindest and most patient that I will ever meet.  I hope that I am still able to call them friends, and if I’m not, I was extremely lucky to call them that at one point.

Elsa, Bailey, Sophia, Kelly, Sara, and Jocy, my friends from Westmont.  You made an unbearable time livable, and despite our circumstances, I am extremely glad to have met you and extremely proud to see how far you have come.

Jacob, Kealan, Kevin, Mac, and Zach, friends that, for reasons I will never be able to comprehend, stuck with me during my times of trouble and have remained close to me to this day.  I have never had a lot of really close friends, but being able to count these guys as some of them is a true honor.

My soccer team, who, despite my lack of fitness, accepted me (somewhat) late in their season and allowed me to feel like I was a really part of something, like I had a purpose.

Ariana, who has been able to see through my biting sarcasm, mediocre looks, and lack of conversational skills to like me enough to call me her boyfriend.  Wow.

My church, and within it, the members of my youth group.

The leaders: Lars, Coby, Caitrin, Drew, Katrina, and Megan, who have guided me to a relationship with God that is more exciting and more fulfilling than I ever expected it to be while also being some of the funniest and most kind-hearted people I know.

The Seniors: Julianna, Maddy, Julie, and Kerry, who greatly outdid me in terms of energy (they also outnumbered me gender wise, which my mom always insisted was a good thing), but were always there for me to have a thoughtful 1 on 1 conversation with.  I’m amazed at the chance that I got to grow in God with 4 of the most passionate believers around.

The Juniors: Paco, Ryan, Syd, Nicole, Jimmy, Kate, Patrick, and the two Emma’s, for whom I always fancied myself to be a leader for due to my age, but who I know made a deeper impact on me than I will have ever had on them; they are all genuine, down-to-earth people with extraordinary talents, and being able to talk with all of them, and witness said talents, was a real blessing.

The Sophomores: Matt, Lizzie, Bridget, and Brooke, people that, due to the events of the past year, I didn’t get to spend enough time with, which was a true tragedy, because they are all funny, creative, and wild about God, characteristics of people that are, well truly awesome.

The many others who I had the fortune of talking to over my time back home.

My roommates, who are about as likely to read this as my dog, for making my transition back into being a “normal” person at college by indulging me in my love for FIFA and not pressuring me to drink.

 

Not everything is fine and dandy all the time- there are some times in my life when I feel sad, lonely, or depressed, times that bring me back to the darkest time of my 19 years.  But those times come and go, quicker than I ever could have imagined that they could.  I owe a profound thank you to God, and to the previously mentioned people, for making that possible.  Thanks to them, I am in a better place than I ever thought I could be.

 

Writing about something this personal will not be typical, and if/when I do choose to write about myself again, it will not be this deep or as sad- I just felt that something like this needed to be posted.

 

To learn more in-depth details about my story, please click here.

My (Original) Story

“It is not who I am, but what I do that defines me.”

I first heard this quote from Christian Bale, who was playing Batman in the movie Batman Begins (worse than the two movies that follow it, in my opinion).  I don’t know whether or not the movie was the origin of the quote, if a Batman comic was, or if it came from an outside source.  Whatever the case, I sincerely hope that it isn’t entirely true.  Of course, what you do is extremely important- in a sense, your actions form people’s perception of you, and if you have emotions, other peoples’ perception of you plays a (sometimes unnaturally) large role in forming your identity.  In my case, I want my identity to be based off of the fact that I think I am an honest, kind-hearted person, because I am fearful that my human flaws shine brighter than I’ve ever hoped that they would.

I was born in Hazel Crest, Illinois, and lived the first four years of my life in Homewood.  I obviously don’t remember all that much about the first few years of my life, but there are some things that stand out.  My family’s house had windows that covered almost the entire front of the structure.  I loved to pick raspberries from the garden in our backyard.  I was friends with an older couple across the street, Barb and George, who introduced me to something for which I still have a strange affinity to today: moss.

Sometime either before or after my sister was born (I’m not quite positive on the dates- obviously, I was a little young to really understand them- but I think it was after), our family moved to Clarendon Hills, Illinois, where we still reside today.  It is, I believe, one of the most tight-knit communities in the state, and also happens to be one of the richest.  Because of that, as I entered school, I was growing into a very well-endowed child.  Genetics gifted me with my mother’s proficiency with words and my father’s love for numbers (things I hope I’ve kept, considering I’m writing this blog post from my dorm room at a business school); I excelled in school, and was sometimes pulled out of regular class to do harder activities.  My family showered me with anything that I could possibly want and more.  I developed a small, tight-knit group of friends, and we did everything together- playing sports, going out to lunch, playing at recess.  My best friend Jimmy and I even wrote a book, called “The Enormous Tomato” (it was ten pages and had numerous spelling errors- first grade writing for you).

In comparison to much of the world today, I remain EXTREMELY well-endowed, something for which I do not give enough thanks for.  The downside of that, though, was that I was relatively shielded from reality.  9/11 looked like a rocket taking off to me, and I never realized its true implication until I got older.  With that increase in age came in increase in self-awareness; my carelessness went away, and the reality of the tough, unforgiving world that we live in started to hit me.

There were smaller things: I blew my arm out, and my dream of being a baseball player ended.  My best friend moved to Peoria, about three hours south of Clarendon Hills, when we were in the fourth grade.  I fell back towards the pack in academics.  My sister, who, like me, was growing into herself, was taking away some of the attention I was receiving from my parents.

There were bigger things: the realization of the true scope of 9/11.  My withdrawing into myself, which shrunk my friend circle and made me one of the quiet and weird ones.  Before my freshman year of high school, my dad announced that we would have to move from our house, while my mom revealed that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

All of those things, and many more, led to the start of a time in my life when I really began to question my purpose.  I was living a near perfect life, with many different things to pursue and the full support of those around me, but I couldn’t really find anything that really felt like it had any substantial worth, that made me feel like I really had a purpose.

Settling into high school allowed that feeling to dissipate a little bit.  I made the freshman soccer team, which was filled with countless talented players (Two Division I soccer players and three Division III players, and a few others that could have made it if they really wanted to), and yet I still got significant playing time during a season in which we only lost one game (and won 23, if my mind serves me correctly).  I got involved in a few clubs- Athletes Committed to Excellence and Best Buddies- and worked for the school newsmagazine.  I made more friends than I thought I would ever have, people from so many walks of life that were all so humble, and so kind.  One of those people was a girl that I would be fortunate enough to call my girlfriend- the idea of having someone like me was scary at first, considering I didn’t expect to have a real girlfriend until I was in my 20’s, but our relationship blossomed until it was close to being the core of my life.

My senior year, things unraveled quickly.  I didn’t make the varsity soccer team as a senior, something I would love to have done, considering that the team went on a surprising run in the playoffs to win the team’s first state title since the 1970’s.  I was behind in applying for colleges.  The thing that brought me to my knees, though, was the breakup with my girlfriend, which happened a week into the school year.  It absolutely devastated me.  I became desperate, desperate for closure, for confirmation that I wasn’t a complete jerk.  But I didn’t get it.  My behavior became more and more erratic- I even got a detention, something that, as people that knew me prior to this incident, was unthinkable for a person like myself.  As my downward spiral became more and more steep, I said and did things that were enormously out of character, things that I immensely regret to this day.  I tried to apologize to no avail (and still wish I could today)- the damage was done.  I moved on from my high school and had to complete my classes outside of it, away from my friends, many of whom lost all the respect they had for me.  It drove me to a deep, dark depression, something that, for a person in my position, with my hope and opportunity, was almost beyond unfathomable.

The next couple months were absolute hell.  I went to see countless therapists that weren’t helpful and multiple doctors that prescribed me medications that didn’t work.  I couldn’t play sports, barely interacted with my friends- or, what friends I had left- and some of the people around me didn’t believe that I was really trying hard enough to get better.  My heart felt empty, and I think that if my heart was stronger than my head, I wouldn’t be writing this today.

At that point, I faced two paths- a path that continued leading me to darkness and despair, or a path that brought me back on track to the life that I was living before.  Luckily, though, I was able to gather my wits and get my shit together.  I started working unbelievably hard, trying to catch up on work that I had missed when I was in my funk.  I started going into overdrive for college applications, making that everything was as perfect as it possibly could be for the schools I was looking in to.  I re-established a connection with my travel soccer team and my youth group, allowing me to put myself back into a social setting, so that I didn’t have to be so down over my lack of friends.  I also got a job, which not only gave me some good spending money for school, but also gave me a sense of purpose, that I was actually doing something for other people that was worth my time.  I became enamored with a beautiful girl who I call my girlfriend to this day, despite our distance from each other.

My depression is far from gone, and my regret over what I have done might remain forever, because I never believed that I was capable of what I did.  I have many days where I question my purpose- why I’m at school, why my girlfriend dates me, why my friends likes me- but being able to think of how fortunate I am, to be doing what I’m doing and to know who (and what) I know, gives me a light at the end of the tunnel.  It pulls me out of the past and allows me to focus: I have a future.  A future with high expectations.  Expectations that I am wholly dedicated to exceeding.

Why We Should Do Away with Political Parties

I have grown up in a family that is largely conservative in its view on politics.  Some of my relatives do not like President Barack Obama, at all.  Others are strongly against abortion.  One of them, bless her heart, has the Swaggart family on the television seemingly 24/7.

By choice, I am largely conservative myself.  I believe that the trickle down economic principles introduced by former President Ronald Reagan can be very effective, possibly MOST effective for our country, if they are properly executed.  I believe that we need to have more strict immigration policies.  I believe wholeheartedly in the use of military force to deal with our international enemies, and have a short leash on it if diplomacy does not work.  I am religious- I have held the belief that God is my Maker and my Savior since the 6th grade- and think that the idea of removing His name from our money is completely preposterous.

Despite my upbringing, and my own personal beliefs, there are some things that I believe in that are typically viewed as liberal.  I think that, if proper recourse is accounted for, that universal health care and the drastic raising of the country’s minimum wage can be very good things.  I think that women should be able to choose whether or not they want to have an abortion.  I believe that climate change is a very real issue, both in the US and everywhere else across the globe, and that not acting to change our ways to combat climate change will lead to destruction for our planet.

If I were to be put into a category based on my beliefs, I would either be a “realist” or a “liberal conservative.”  For all I know, there are many people like myself, or people that are conservative liberals, or something that doesn’t fall into the “traditional” liberal/conservative categories, as my views do.  However, BECAUSE of the fact that they don’t fall into these categories, their opinions are frequently discounted, and these people are forced to choose one side or another in order to feel like their opinion, or their vote, really makes a difference.  This choosing of sides is the type of environment that the two major political parties in our country, the Republicans and Democrats, have created in American politics.  In the leadership of these parties, it is rare to find a person that does not have a core belief that isn’t fairly extreme, and in direct opposition to the opinion of the opposing party.  This, to me, is a very serious problem- these views frequently cause major conflicts between the two parties, which takes away valuable time that should be spent focusing on extremely important issues.  Those people that want to solve problems without having a political solution, or motivation, for doing so, that aren’t interested in pushing the view of a party, largely ignored.  This problem is deepened by the hundreds of millions of dollars of money, sometimes TAXPAYER MONEY, that is spent developing advertisements attacking the opposing party, developing campaign strategies to land a particular candidate, and their extreme views, in a particular office, and bolstering the cash reserves of the Republican and Democratic behemoths.  To know that so much time and money is spent conflict-inducing ideals when vital problems are at hand that could be solved if politicians would just OPEN THEIR MINDS to some of the views from opposing parties, is a depressing and sickening thought.

The easiest way to eliminate these hopeless conflicts, and to limit this egregious spending, is to eliminate the giants that are fostering these kinds of behavior.  For good measure, we should also revise the structure of donations for those running for public office, which are largely centered around private (and anonymous) donations and super PAC’s.  These two actions would encourage three things that I think are among the most important things we could do to fix the political culture in this great country.  First off, it will encourage political problem solving, because everyone in office will not have to worry about facing backlash from a major party leader over a vote on a hot-button issue.  Secondly, with no “big brother” above them and no set policies on which to rely, politicians will have to run for office not based on celebrity, as current poll leaders Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (for the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively) are, but by trying to win over the hearts and minds of voters using their own minds, their own ideals, their own policies.  And, thirdly, these said ideals, and the restructured donation structure, will trump (pun intended) the impact that large donors currently have on the results of our elections.  The common person will be able to truly feel that they have an impact on an election that they are voting in, which, in turn, could increase voter turnout and (hopefully) get a President in office that the majority of this country actually agrees should be in office.

I don’t fancy myself to be a political expert- at 19 years old, I have not yet voted in a state election, much less a national one- and I don’t know if what I am proposing is realistic in our country, or if it would really work based on the structure that we already have in place.  There could be logistical reasons that this wouldn’t work; the politicians currently in office might not find the proposition of changing the current system to be feasible, especially if it jeopardizes their spot in Congress.  For all I know, what I am proposing may be a system to manipulate than the current one is.  But I think that it’s plainly obvious that SOMETHING needs to change in America’s political environment, and based on what I can see, eliminating political parties would be a good way to go.

 

 

I would love to get feedback on this post- whether or not you think my proposition is a good idea, whether or not you have any other ideas as to how to fix America’s political system, or maybe a brief overview of how the political environment currently works so that I, and any other readers, may become more educated about something that is vital to our country’s present and future.  Please, comment with any thoughts you have, or contact me directly here.

In Memory Of Charlie Donovan

EDIT: June 17, 2019

As the Joe Donovan and the Michigan baseball team have continued their excellent season, winning tonight to go 2-0 in their first two College World Series games since the 1980’s, I’ve noticed the increased traffic that this blog has gotten. Getting to play with Charlie, and watching him play alongside Joe for Prairie Gravel, were always exciting moments for me, and thinking about how great both of them are on and off the diamond has made me realize how truly blessed I was to have had first-hand experience of their prodigious talent for the game of baseball and for being incredible people.

For those that go on to read the rest of this: please know that I had not spoken to the Donovans about Charlie’s death prior to publishing this post, and even afterwards, it would not have been right for me to directly broach that topic with them, so what ultimately caused him to leave this world is not something I truly know, so take that into consideration. I also want to apologize for twisting too much of this story into one that focused on myself rather than strictly on the incredible life that Charlie lived.

Finally: I encourage you to visit the page of the charity that the Donovan family have set up in Charlie’s honor, called Charlie’s Gear. It is a fitting way for his legacy to continue to live on, to honor him and the entire Donovan family for their strength and humility through the last few years.

ORIGINALLY POSTED: November 10, 2015

Today, the funeral one of the greatest baseball players in the history of Illinois, Charlie Donovan, took place.  He was one of the finest athletes in the history of Westmont High School and was one of the country’s top baseball prospects, a player that had a scholarship to play at the University of Michigan since his sophomore year.  His immense talent led to him being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 30th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, despite his commitment to playing in Ann Arbor his freshman year.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to play on the same field as Charlie, both on his team and off of it.  Playing with him- watching him mash opposing pitchers, steal bases in the blink of an eye, snag effortless backhands, and throw people out at first base from center field, all while encouraging us to work hard and step up our games (instead of being demeaning), was nothing short of inspirational.  Playing against him induced a feeling that could only be described as fear.  Nobody wanted to face his blazing fastball in the batter’s box, get pummeled by his powerful swing, or be on the end of a speeding line drive off the end of his bat.  All things considered, I was a fairly decent Little Leaguer- in years of being top pitcher on virtually every team I played on, I only gave up two home runs, and both of them were in one game.  They were hit by Charlie, in the first game of a championship series in which he was my opposing pitcher (his team won the game by slaughter rule, 10-0).  As time passed, and my ability to play diminished, Charlie continued to up his already absurdly high standards, pushing himself and earning recognition as the one of the state’s top-2 prospects in the Class of 2015.

Charlie was more than just a world class athlete, though- he was a world class person, as well.  His stoic demeanor hid his true nature, that of a boy with a gentle soul who had a kind word for anybody that was lucky enough to encounter him.  He was very mindful, of the importance of his academic work and also of giving back to the community- Charlie had a 4.36 GPA in high school, and frequently volunteered at a local homeless shelter.  He was a loyal friend that would always have your back, no matter what.  But, first and foremost, he was the loving son of two caring parents, and a supportive sibling to his two brothers.

After hearing of Charlie’s untimely passing, I was shocked that a person as amazing, as strong-willed, as him was actually gone.  It is thought that Charlie suffered from depression in the time preceding his death, and that it may have played a role in his early demise.  I, myself, was diagnosed with clinical depression one year ago this month after a traumatic breakup that I thought, and still think, was entirely my fault.  My entire life felt like a burden I did not want to carry, like my world was crashing down and around me, and everything suffered for it- my academic performance, my social life, and my physical health.  I was hopeless.  I came to the conclusion that only seriously flawed individuals, with deeply rooted problems, were capable of getting depressed to the level that I was at.  After my recovery, I was taught a lesson, a lesson about how serious depression is, and how there is most certainly hope of recovering from it.  Charlie’s death taught me another lesson: that anyone, no matter how impeccable they may seem, no matter how deep the love and care for a person is, can be under the burden of depression, and that ultimately, what I went through could not compare to the depth of what so many that have struggled with, and may have even enhanced the stigma around the idea of what depression really is.

As it sunk in that somebody so well-rounded, athletically, academically, and socially is now gone, an issue arose, an issue that is not discussed enough in a public setting- awareness of depression, of what causes it and how it affects people, is extremely low; despite having gone through treatment for acute depression, I still do not have anywhere near the amount of knowledge of it as I could.  Of course, it is not an easy thing to identify, seeing that there are no clear-cut symptoms for everyone that has been diagnosed as clinically depressed, and it is certainly not an easy thing to talk about because of how sensitive the topic is to mental health advocates.  As a consequence of that, many people believe that depressed people are “weird,” or that they’re so sad that they don’t want to interact with society.  Those misconceptions make it difficult for people that do have depression to admit that they do- so too do people’s casual mentions of the idea of “being depressed,” or that something is so bad that it “makes me want to kill myself.”

And so, as more and more perceived pressure is put onto the people in an excessively fast paced environment, and more and more people have their lives tragically cut short, what can be said to make people aware of how to approach such an important issue?

For those who may be suffering from depression: stay active, and do so while trying to get out of your comfort zone. By staying active, you are able to keep your mind off of your depression and let it fade to the background. Go out with friends, and try to make some new ones. Play a sport. Get a job. Pour yourself into your schoolwork. Whatever it takes to keep yourself busy, do it. Getting out of your comfort zone is a just as important as actually doing something.  Focusing on the things that you were comfortable with before your depressive episode could end up being a trigger for you. Trying new things will allow you to avoid those triggers, learn more about things you might like to do, and meet more people that may end up being a key to your recovery.  And, please, tell somebody that you trust about what you are going through.  Telling someone how you feel may be one of the toughest things to do, but doing so will allow hundreds, if not thousands, of people that care deeply about your well-being will be there to help.

For those around people that may be suffering from depression: be patient and soft with the depressed person. Being patient is important because of how long the depression might have an effect on the person- it doesn’t just go away with the snap of a finger, and can, in fact, linger for years. It takes time, and there will be moments where it seems like little progress is being made. But staying patient, not just telling the person to “get over it” will ensure that the depressed person will not have any more stress in addition to what they already put on themselves. Being calm, and “soft,” is also vital when dealing with a depressed person. That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with a person that is depressed, or convince them that what they’re doing is wrong. But if you’re too direct with them, you might up saying something you regret, something that might set off the depressed person. By being more roundabout in your conversations, you can avoid confrontation.

For everyone: learn, as I have, that anyone around you, even the person that appears to have their life completely together, may be suffering from depression.  Be kind to everybody.  Tell those close to you that you love them every chance that you get, and that they mean the world to you.  Be aware of your attitude towards depression, that you are not dismissive of people that have it and that you don’t make jokes about it.  Be aware of its drastic impact on people, and be aware of how to help people with depression, to encourage them and help show them they are important.  Because every life is worth living.

Continued prayers for Mr. and Mrs. Donovan, Jack, Joe, and all of Charlie’s family.  They have shown immense strength during one of the most difficult times any person could go through.  Charlie was a true shooting star, a hero for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that he touched, and will continue to be one for many, many years to come.

Charlie Donovan

December 12, 1996 – November 5, 2015

R.I.P.

3695710842-Donovan

Ode to My Girlfriend

I grew up as a very shy boy, particularly around girls. I wholeheartedly believed that I would make it through my whole life as a student VERY single, and find a girl in my future workplace, hopefully in enough time to start a family. While I was fortunate enough to have had my first girlfriend by my sophomore year of high school, my many mistakes led to heartbreak, and at that point, I feared that I would never have a girlfriend again.

It came as a surprise that someone was willing to overlook all of the mistakes I made, all of the flaws I have, and be my friend when so many others had rightfully deserted me. It came as a great surprise to me that my life as newly single didn’t even last a year. It came as a great surprise to me that the girl is as kind, and as beautiful, as she is.

After the breakup with my first girlfriend I was the guy who would spend most of his weekends playing video games with friends (or by myself) or curling up in bed with a book, not the guy to talk to girls, hang out with girls, or goes to parties with girls (not that it was very different from my normal social life, especially after losing most of my friends, but that’s beside the point).

Since the day I first lay eyes on her until now, I have slowly fallen for her- her sweet personality, charming smile, good humor, astonishing kindness and selflessness, and of course, her stunning beauty- I could go on and on and on, filling up pages upon pages with adjectives that aren’t even close to describing how amazing she is. Since I’ve had her as my girlfriend, my sister says I’ve perked up. My parents have noticed I’m more social. The way that she’s impacted my life, even in the short year that I’ve really known her, has been nothing short of phenomenal, and I can barely put into words how unbelievable it is for me even know her, much less be liked by her.

We’ve now been together for five months. You can do lots of different things in five months. You can learn a new language. You can earn millions, if not billions, of dollars. You can travel around the world, by hot air balloon, at least seven times. I would say that that is pretty amazing, wouldn’t you? I find it even more amazing than that, that this girl has been able to put up with me for such a long time, which, even considering our distance from one another, with her being in Illinois and me being in Massachusetts, must be no easy feat.

We’ve definitely had our ups in our relationship: our kisses, our movies, lunch and dinner dates, both alone and with her friends, our conversations via texting, email, Skype, FaceTime, smoke signals (just kidding), our shopping sessions, our hanging out with friends and family, our attempted tickle fights (she threatens not to talk to me if I try to instigate one). I could go on and on and on and on about the amazing things I’ve done with her, honestly.

We’ve also had our downs- having met in a place where we were recovering from depression, some episodes of sadness, and lack of self-worth, have come up, and solving those problems for, and with, each other is difficult when we’re so far away. We also have our fair share of arguments stemming from many different things, from politics to religion to things I didn’t even know it would be possible to argue about (like, it’s quite obvious Dobermans are the best dogs in the world, duh). Through all of this, though, we’ve stood by each other and done our best to help each other overcome our issues and make it so that we are all good again.

As she looks to go off to college, I think that we both realize that keeping this relationship together is going to be difficult. Our lives will be so intertwined in so many other things in so many different places that finding time for one another will not be easy. However, while I can’t speak for her, of course, but I think that we’re both really hoping that this is something that will last for a very, very long time.

The US and Immigration

There are many different things, many different moving parts, that make up the United States of America. Some of them are not the most positive things in the world- the fact that the US has more people in jail more than any other country in the world is one thing that comes to mind about why this country isn’t always the shining light that many people make it out to be. That being said, there are still many things to be proud of about the US, and one of the things that I am the most proud of in this country is the amazing diversity that it has. There are tons of different cultures, and thousands of different viewpoints, that come from the many different people that live in the US. Here at Babson, I’ve met people from Mexico, Canada, Turkey, South Korea, Egypt, China, Switzerland, South Africa, and, I’m sure, people from other countries that I’ve been too nervous to talk to.

Most, if not all, people in the US, are either immigrants or descendants of them. That includes the people that just came to this country yesterday, but also includes me- my great-great grandparents on my dad’s side came to America for a better life in the after the Irish potato famine. While the immigration rate is far lower than it was in its heyday, which saw hundreds of thousands of people enter the country while making Ellis Island into a national landmark, the American Dream is very much alive today. However, many conservatives, with Donald Trump among the most vocal, believe that the number of immigrants, particularly illegal ones (and, in Trump’s case, the number of immigrants, illegal or not, from Mexico), need to be reduced drastically, and that a wall might need to be built along the US-Mexico border to make that happen. I believe that Trump, and those that wholeheartedly believe in his policies, are terrible people for their blatant racism towards the Mexican people. However, I do believe that our immigration policy needs to be revised to cut down on the number of immigrants let into the country, illegal or not, Mexican or otherwise, as soon as possible.

Now, you may think me racist, or may think me in line with the extremely conservative view on immigration. But I beg to differ on that. I don’t feel that the illegals that are already here should be deported; nor do I feel that their children should be denied American citizenship due to their parents’ status as illegal immigrants. I’m also extremely grateful for many of the immigrants, for what they do to keep our economy working by taking jobs that many white, “traditional” Americans refuse to take due to the hard work required, or due to the idea that the job is “below them.” As such, we need to consider WHY so many immigrants, particularly Mexican ones, are so willing to take such low class jobs, and risk deportation, to come to live here in America. And, the sad fact is that the quality of life for many immigrants, illegal or not, is very poor, far poorer than would it would be even in the slums of the American towns and cities that they end up in. Mexican immigrants, for example, have to live with a government corrupted by the vicious drug traders that threaten the lives of many thousands of people. Middle and eastern Europeans face both economic (Greece) and political (Ukraine) instability, and the ever-looming threat of the all-powerful Russia. Asians come over due to overpopulation and a lack of resources in the region. All of these things are very valid gripes, and while the US certainly has its problems, its current status as a beacon of capitalism makes it a desirable place to move for all of the immigrants.

Here’s the problem: immigrating to the United States, or a western European country, in the face of trouble has become the status quo. Or, if immigration isn’t the status quo, then having a multinational company go into an unstable, impoverished area to employ the disadvantaged people to make products for low wages is the status quo. The point is, we, as a country, are fostering the wrong idea of what people should do when faced with a problem. We shouldn’t just run from our problems, and nor should we put on a big show (in this case, the show would be a multinational corporation) to cover up the problem.

We should, instead, enable people, and encourage people, to buck the status quo of fleeing from their poor environments. Obviously, there are many immigrants for whom it is almost necessary that they flee their homeland and move to another country- Syria comes to mind for me- but if every person in a situation that might warrant moving to another country decided to pack up their bags and move to a developed country, then many countries’ caring capacities will become stretched thin. Resources will be stretched to their absolute limits, and the rate at which our planet’s environment is deteriorating will increase beyond anyone’s ability to control it. And, on top of that, the economy would be so concentrated into certain areas of the world that the idea of a local economy would no longer exist. Big multinational corporations would be able to function with little to no resistance, and would easily be able to take advantage of people in the way I described earlier. Massing people into more developed countries may mean a good short term outcome for displaced people, but would mean long term disaster economically and environmentally.

What we should be doing, instead, is to get in to disadvantaged people, enable them to do or to get what they need, and get out. Obviously, doing that is easier said than done, with many people that are the most desperate for help- particularly Africans, who are at a huge disadvantage due to their lack of resources (particularly money) in relation to the rest of the world- but if we were to make ENABLING people the status quo, instead of encouraging people to immigrate and work for a better life, it is obvious what the benefits would be. Not having people flooding into Western countries will allow them to somewhat maintain their caring capacities, and not have to dive in and ruin other countries’ landscapes in search of resources. Enabled peoples will be more enlightened on how to use the resources that they have in order to live productive lives in local economies, which, in turn, deemphasizes people’s needs for a lot of money and a larger, more “connected” (that is, closer to more of society) lifestyle that is so prized by the Western way of life. Enable peoples also would be able to know how to make their lives continue on, as normal as possible, in the face of adversity, similar to how Native Americans have been resilient, despite their constant removal from their tribal homes by the US government.

Again, as I stated earlier, I do not believe that every immigrant, illegal or otherwise, coming into this country should stay in their homeland. It makes a lot of sense for a good chunk of people to come to the United States, or another Western country, and work hard to make a living the best that they can- it’s very admirable that they do so, and it makes our country a better place. But, if we could cut down on the number of immigrants coming to the US and enable people to, in essence, live productive lives with what they have been given, either by nature or through limited assistance from our enabling, and not to conform to the gluttony and materialism that permeates modern capitalism, then every country in the world would be much better off, economically, environmentally, and emotionally.

My First Week of College

Unless you count orientation, I have just completed my first full week of college. Whoa. Round of applause for me. Really. A year ago today I was in the deepest funk of my entire life, and the idea of college didn’t even cross my mind. I was so focused on trying to stay alive, to make it through each day, that I never considered college to be a possibility for something in my future. But as the fanfare surrounding my egregious actions died down, I started to apply to colleges. I was lucky enough to be accepted into my number two school, Babson College in Babson Park, Massachsetts, a school well-known for its prowess in entrepreneurship. So now, here I am, typing this post from my bed, in the corner of my scorching hot quad room. Just after finishing a reading on how we, as humans, are not supposed to be conquerors of the land that God gave to us, but instead, are to be members of the land. Deep stuff for a business school, huh? Anyway, this first week has really given me an interesting perspective on what my future will be like, the different fields I might be entering into for an internship or a job, and just how much responsibility it takes to be a truly responsible adult, in everything from my work to things as simple as cleaning my sheets.

So… there are a lot of good things about college- like, who wouldn’t want to be able to eat French fries whenever the hell you want to (I don’t actually do that, thankfully)- but there are also some bad things, too. Here are some of the great- and the not so great- things that I’ve discovered in my first week of college.

 

Three Things I Like:

The People

The Variety Of Activities

My Laptop

It’s rare that you find a place where literally every single person that you meet, no matter how stoned or stressed they may be, is exceedingly nice to you. But that happens to be the case here at Babson. Everybody goes out of their way to be kind and inclusive to one another (well, almost everyone- there is one kid in my math class…), no mean feat considering the cultural diversity of the student body here and the different backgrounds and interests each individual students have. I lucked into having three awesome roommates that are incredibly kind and accepting of me, despite how unbelievably boring and awkward I am. I’ve made a few good friends, too, who I’m surprised have taken a liking to me for the same reasons why I question why my roommates seem to like me. But that’s just the way that people are here- super-duper nice.

My high school was arguably one of the most socially diverse schools in the state of Illinois, owing to the fact that it had about 2,800 students. Babson only has about 2,200 students, but the number of activities that I can get involved in here is absolutely ridiculous. Like, there’s a club here that’s specifically dedicated to business in the Caribbean. Like, that is SUPER specific (and to be honest, sounds super cool). There’s a TV station, a radio station, and a newspaper. There are different clubs and organizations that can help you determine your career or further it. There are club sports and intermural sports. There’s really something for everyone here, and it’s a great opportunity to get involved in basically anything I choose.

My laptop. I can’t describe how much I enjoy this thing. To be able to customize everything to my whim, to be able to browse the Internet or type up a paper in whatever location I please, lying or sitting down… it is honestly super awesome. It is an Internet junkie/writer’s dream come true. And it has a TOUCH SCREEN! AH!!!!!

 

Three Things I Don’t Like:

The Party Atmosphere

Homework Level

Being Away From Home

For basically all of these things, I probably should have known better. Probably should have expected the emotions that came with these things. And to some extent, I did. But probably not as much as I should have.

First, with the partying- I am a goody two-shoes. I have never drank or smoked in my life, and frankly, don’t plan to. I’m perfectly ok with other people smoking and drinking, maybe even a bit more than they are supposed to. But when so many people seem so OBSESSED with drinking as much as they can without ending up in a hospital, with smoking as much as they can before they either end up in a coughing fit or with eyes so glazed they can’t see, is disgusting to me. You shouldn’t do what I do and stay in most nights to write blog posts, but the excessive drinking, smoking, partying… is just blah.

Not having gone to a traditional high school since October, the idea of actually having homework is pretty foreign to me, so maybe I’m blowing the whole homework thing out of proportion. But honestly, my high school was very diligent in preparing us for college prep, and I still think that the workload that I have already, in the first week, is fairly ridiculous. The things we have to read, take notes on, the ideas we have to generate… All while making a brand new friend group and joining tons of clubs? It’s a very difficult proposition, and finishing all the work on time, with the proper quality, is probably the hardest of all the expectations we have here.

I chose to be far away from my home back in Illinois. I knew that I was going to have to be out of my house, away from my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my video games, and so many other things. I knew that college was going to be a new adventure that would promise new people, and new things to try out, that would MAYBE come close to replacing, if temporarily, the people and the things I left home. But so far, as many things as there are to do here, as many kind people that there are here… they can’t yet compare to what I left behind back in the Midwest.

 

Three Things I Miss:

Air Conditioning

Home Cooking

My Dog

My dorm room is on the top floor of the only non-renovated freshman dorm on campus. It’s a quad that frequently has more than four people in it. It was 96 degrees yesterday, and has regularly been in the 80’s with some decent humidity. I love my fan dearly, as it has basically prevented me from becoming a human puddle over the last couple days. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t yearn for the constant cool of the air conditioning, back home or in other dorms. It’s definitely something I’ve taken for granted, being very well to do.

I think that I like the food offerings here at Babson more appealing than many others do- the variety is decent, and the foods that are offered are often very tasty. But others find the food to be disgusting- one of my friends has even flat out refused to eat at the dining hall, only going out to local restaurants or getting food from a separate location. Even though I do like a lot of the caf food, I don’t think anything can ever replace home cooking. A lot of the food here is mass produced, and it just doesn’t seem to have the… homey feeling. The feeling that the food was made lovingly and with a lot of effort. A part of me even misses my mom’s cooking, which, like mine, is subpar. But it’s just the feeling that goes along with a home cooked meal that makes the difference.

And finally, my dog. Picking up his poop or his barf can be a pain sometimes, but honestly, how can you not really, really miss this thing?

 

On Love

“Don’t pretend you’re sorry

I know you’re not.

You know you got the power

To make me weak inside.

Girl, you leave me breathless…

I can’t imagine

Life without your love,

And even forever

Don’t seem like long enough.

Every time I breathe

I take you in,

And my heart beats again.

Baby, I can’t help it,

You keep me

Drowning in your love.”

-Drowning

Backstreet Boys

 

“Your love is like a river,

Peaceful and deep.”

-(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You

N’Sync

 

I have a soft spot for boy bands. They always put out great music. I’m not a big lovey-dovey guy, but most of said great music revolves around “love songs” (they’ll make a softie out of me yet). And, in this teen’s humble opinion, the boy bands that I pulled these songs from are the best of the bets boy bands. The songs that I chose are the best of the best of the best of the bets boy bands (lots of “best’s” there)- both songs mean more to me than any other ones that I have ever heard. They also do a good job of helping me get across what I feel about love.

Water is one of the most delicate things in the natural world. Slight contamination to water could be catastrophic to many, many different organisms, and therefore, water is handled very… reverently, almost. The right balance of chemicals and treatment is needed to keep water clean and healthy. When it comes to humans, and human interactions, love is the most delicate balancing act that we have to deal with, something that has many, sometimes unimaginable, difficulties. I haven’t had a lot of experience with love, but one half of this balancing act is the “giving” part of love. I think that if you truly love someone, you are willing to pour every ounce of your being into them. You are willing to trust them unconditionally. You are willing to dedicate large chunks of your time, your money, your life, to satisfy the person you love. You are, quite literally, willing to do anything for that person.

The other side of the balancing act of love, is, obviously, the “taking” part of love. People frequently fall in love for largely selfish reasons, and “taking,” in and of itself, is an inherently selfish action. Some of those reasons include attraction, of both physical and emotional nature (Physical is probably more selfish, but an argument can be made that both are. And that’s the argument I’m making), and money. Sometimes, these things are naturally given (and hopefully, are given in return- that’s where love’s balance comes in), but sometimes, they are not. However, love cannot work if there is all giving and no taking- a lot of effort would be going to waste, which is one of the worst possible feelings for a person, to watch their effort go to waste.

The reasons that love is such a difficult balancing act are plentiful. Determining what is real love and what is a superficial “crush” is the first of those. While love involves a lot of (giving and taking of) emotion, having a crush involves too much dependence on that emotion. A person may think that they are willing to “fulfill” what is required for true love, but in reality, some emotion or feeling other than love, perhaps excitement, loneliness, or something of the sort, is the dominating force of the crush, the main motivation, behind the person wanting to be in a relationship with someone (or thinking of being in a relationship- many crushes just stay crushes and never progress any further than that). That emotional dominance may be a part of true love, but because it is SO dominating, it minimizes the other parts of what would be true love.

Perfecting the amount that you “give” is the second reason that love is so tricky. A person that gives too much (or, in my own personal case, perceives that they are giving too much) can begin to feel worried or anxious over the state of the relationship. Worries about putting too much pressure on their significant other, or of cheating by the significant other, can become plentiful. Those that give too little can frequently disappoint their significant other. The person that gives too little should give more, and frequently can give more, but, consciously or unconsciously, choose not to. The little that is “given” is, often, not very good, anyway.

Yet another reason for love being so tricky is the flip side of the coin from the “giving,” that being the perfection of the “taking” in a relationship, in love. Taking too much could make a partner frustrated or upset that they are putting in the effort to make the relationship work while but feel that they are, perhaps, getting taken advantage of. Taking too little would result in a reaction similar to the “giving too much” situation, only in reverse- the other person, that ISN’T taking too little, will feel nervous and anxious. The other person might feel somewhat… distant from their partner.

Love is more than just give and take, though; it also involves self-discovery, self-realization, and in that idea, I believe, is where the majority of difficulty in love comes from (a somewhat scary thought, considering how difficult, how fine of an “art” it is, to balance “giving” and “taking”;). That difficulty is greatly encapsulated in the following quote, which a counselor gave to me when I was in inpatient treatment: “The price of true love is self-knowledge.” Self-knowledge was the ultimate downfall in my love experience, what caused me to fall apart, and that may be why I consider it to be so tough to handle. However, even if I hadn’t experienced what I had, I would still think that self-knowledge is difficult- I think that people better remember their mistakes, and better recognize their faults, than they do the opposite of those things. I think to manage those negatives, to be able to push aside the faults that a person may see in themselves, and focus on the positives they have, and display the positivity that comes with the good things they believe they have going for them (especially those things related to the relationship that the person may be in), is the most difficult part of love, no question.

To Write or To Blog

I love to write, and I love having people see what I’ve written- this coming school year will be my third year writing for the Hinsdale Central news magazine and my first year as a copy editor for the school yearbook. However, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always viewed people that blog frequently as wasting their life away. Most people today for the sake of attention, whether they realize it or not. Students write to draw positive attention from their teacher so that they can get a good grade. Authors of books write to draw attention to the deep detail of the world they created, or of some event that has happened in their lives. Newspaper columnists write to get the attention of the public focused on the events going on in the world. Sportswriters write to show everyone the phenomenal athletic ability being showcased each and every day. These types of writers that I have always been familiar with, the ones that I enjoy.

In my eyes, bloggers and their works were the complete opposite of these other writers were doing. Being a (somewhat) tech-savvy teen, I spend a lot of my time on the Internet, and have been exposed to a lot of blogs. After reading them, I came away with two general conclusions.

The first was that the blogs have no real purpose. Like I said, most writers today write for attention, but with the blogs I’ve seen, I can never tell what the true intention of the author is. The topics could be so random, and the posts themselves could range from extremely cheesy to extremely detailed, and it really made me questions the motivation of many of the authors. I would search something, say, One Direction, and I would come across blogs that supported them and that bashes them- I even found one blog that only pretended to focus on One Direction and instead wrote about the Illuminati conspiracy.
The second thing, which is directly connected to the first, was that the blogs had no sense of organization. Some writers are bound by certain requirements (for example, news stories are often bland because they are filled with fact, which isn’t always that exciting) but are still able to churn out a phenomenal piece of writing. I was sure that some bloggers were good writers, but since they had no restrictions on what they could write, it made their writing very hard to follow. That, combined with the lack of purpose, make, to me, a very bad thing to read.

Recently, my dad and I were talking about my plans for the future- a summer job next year, college, and my life beyond that. I mentioned how much I enjoyed writing in school, but that I only viewed it as a secondary option for my future, since many writing jobs are becoming obsolete. He thought that I should continue writing as much as I possibly could, even outside of school, to try and improve, in case something unexpected came along and I got the opportunity to write for a living. Of course, he suggested the one thing that I was opposed to- blogging.

I was blunt in my response: “Why?” And my dad gave me the best reasoning for it that I have ever heard, and probably will ever hear. It would allow me to keep my writing skills sharp, it would allow me to write about my thoughts, not just a school topic, and, if I showed it to the right people, could help me in the future. So now, here I am, writing a blog post. About blogging. Unoriginal, I know. But the very idea of a blog is still very strange for me, and I could think of nothing better to write about, considering that up until about a week ago, the thought of me writing a blog seemed absolutely repulsive. So in the coming weeks, I’m going to try to write, and write in a way so that I sound like a blogger while staying away from the things that bloggers do that bother me immensely. Whether or not it will work, I have no idea. But I hope it does; otherwise, well, I have just written a blog post about how stupid I think I am. And that’s definitely not a good way to start.