Chaos

Immediately, upon seeing that this was one of the words on the list, I thought of what my Freshman year was like. It was beautiful, messy, difficult, humorous, lovely, and absolutely chaotic. For today, I thought I would share some of the moments that stand out to me when I look back. When I think of my Freshman year, I don’t think of it as one year- I think of it as three individual parts that created the year. Each part does not feel the same as the others. It’s quite strange in a way, but it’s also kind of nice to be able to pinpoint the moments when things started to change. I’ve also left links to blog posts that I feel show the headspace I was in at the time.

Fall Quarter
I moved, I started classes, I worked for the custodial department and cleaned bathrooms. I struggled through three of my four classes (I’ve said this before, but oh my goodness my acting class really was my saving grace), which led to me FaceTiming my grandparents for math help and calling my mom in tears because my essays weren’t making sense. I spent my mornings in the library outlining literature on a whiteboard, my afternoons in acting classes and memorizing lines for scene assignments, and my nights trying my best to get a handle on my homework.

Of course, I can’t talk about fall quarter without mentioning that letter. In October, right before my midterms and the week before my birthday, I wrote a letter to the SDA church. I made the (grand) mistake of reading each comment on Facebook after Adventist Today republished it. That week was arguably the worst of my entire school year, mostly because I don’t think anyone can fully prepare themselves for such an influx of criticism from complete strangers. With that said, I am so thankful for the complete strangers who stuck of for me. You did not go unnoticed.

When I think back on fall quarter, I don’t really have the best feelings attached to it. College took a while to adjust to, and I’m glad those months are over. Still, I’m thankful they happened. I met some amazing people at the beginning, and I learned a lot of hard lessons that definitely paid off.

Blog posts that stick out:
Big Fish, Little Fish- The epiphany I had that made the transition from high school to college a little bit easier.
Why I Chose the Major (and minor!) That I Did- The part about my major is especially humorous to look back on now.
To the Seventh Day Adventist Church- I’m still not sure if I’m glad I wrote this or not.

Winter Quarter
When I think back on winter quarter, many things come to mind- sunflowers, children, ferris wheels, and Oregon. I was lucky enough to work the local theatre’s production of Calendar Girls as a dresser, and that opportunity allowed me to meet so many cool people, and I simply got be in a theatre for much of the time. For that reason, January was an amazing month. A busy one, but an amazing one nonetheless. In winter quarter I also started working with a lot of kids on Saturdays. If you think of VBS but on a weekly basis you’ll get a pretty good idea. I was also in my first college play, called Ferris Wheel, and although it went off to a rocky start, it mellowed down (for the most part), and I’m thankful for the experience. In the middle of February, I went to the KCACTF conference in Oregon. I got to spend a week learning more about theatre and be with people who are inspired by the same things I am. It was truly remarkable experience.

Throughout winter quarter, I was with people I loved, and I started to settle into a group of people that I love. I laughed a lot, and when I think back on this quarter I always do so with happiness.

Blog Posts that stick out:
Why I Changed My Major- Haha. Yeah… This is also pretty funny now.
Detox Tea Talk: January 2019- Wherein I discuss the business that was January.
Detox Tea Talk: February 2019- Wherein I discuss the business that was February.

Spring Quarter
If one thing continues to stick out from this year, it’s A Wrinkle in Time. I know I’ve officially said goodbye to it now, so I’ll try to keep this part brief. All I’ll say is that, had it not been for AWIT, spring quarter would have been completely different. Through the play, I connected with people who I didn’t know very well (if at all) at the beginning, and I can’t possibly be thankful enough. During the rehearsal season and then the run of performances, AWIT was basically the only thing I thought of. Still, I had other classes. I learned how to clearly articulate my problems with the United States in my privilege and oppression class, how to explain how media affects society in my communication and languages class, and that I’m pretty darn guarded and afraid of true vulnerability in my acting class. I also wrote a ten page paper on how drama therapy can help children cope with trauma for research writing. I was pretty busy.

After AWIT ended, my life quieted down quite a bit- aside from a scene assignment that controlled my brain for the remaining weeks. But on the whole everything got pretty quiet. I went on a lot of walks, got up early (5:30 a.m.) to study in a bakery, and started writing a little bit more. This quarter was definitely my favorite, and it is what is making me miss Washington so much right now. The people I got to know are so wonderful, and I miss them dearly. Still, to take my own advice, it’s good to miss people. It means you love and you are loved, and those are never bad things.

Blog posts that stick out:
Claira Changed Her Major Again- Oh goodness. I’m really thankful I (finally) found my academic home.
Space- My goodbye to A Wrinkle in Time
Hands- A poem that summarizes my entire Freshman year, really, but especially spring quarter.

Bloom

I got to Washington on a Saturday night. It was a warm evening in late September, and I was chest deep in far too many emotions to know what to do with them. Soon after arriving in the small Pacific North West town, my friend Jamie told me that some people were already moving in. I told my mom, and we both decided that moving all my stuff in a day early would probably help since there wouldn’t be as many people. I would still stay at the hotel with her for my last night of childhood (or so I thought of it), but all my stuff would already be moved in.

This seemed like a brilliant plan, until the anxiety set in. Sure, Jamie had told me that people were moving in, but for whatever reason I had persuaded myself into thinking that I wasn’t allowed to move in. Don’t ask me why, but I was totally convinced that there was some rule that said that all the other girls could move in early if they wanted to, but I couldn’t. My mom reminded me that I could just move in the next day, but then I convinced myself that moving in while 90% of Freshman girls were moving in seemed like a worse idea than simply being told I couldn’t move in that evening. My mom mentioned that I could just call the front desk to ask, and then I got anxious over the phone call.

It was an anxious evening.

After a few minutes of debating my options, I decided that calling to find out if I could move in. Because of the phone call anxiety, we wrote a script for myself on her phone so I could just read it off when the person answered. I punched in the phone number, took a deep breath, and when someone answered I said, “Hello, my name is Claira Eastwood and I am a Freshman moving into Conard Hall. I heard it is possible to move in tonight and I am wondering if that is true?” The girl on the other end of the phone said it was true and that I could move in after the sun went down (Adventist schools and stuff).

A few months later, the week before Thanksgiving break, I was sitting at a desk in the library and staring at a College Writing essay. I had procrastinated terribly because the prompt had been so simple I had been sure it would write itself. It was, in fact, not writing itself. To make matters worse, I’d had a (required) mentor meeting where I had been told that I probably needed to try harder in math. Great stuff. While looking at my half written essay that was due so soon, I felt my eyes fill with tears. I took out my phone and texted my mom. She talked me out of the ditch I had thrown myself into, and then sent me a screenshot of the script we’d written back in September. She reminded me of how much I had grown since then, and then said, “It’s funny how we grow wings when we start to flap.”

She was right, it’s funny how we grow when we force ourselves into places of growth. I moved to Washington without ever visiting the campus. We drove up and I just thought, “Well, I guess this’ll do.” I talked myself into talking to new people, and sometimes it paid off and sometimes it didn’t. For the second part of the year, I moved in with someone I didn’t know that well, and things turned out okay. I tried my hardest to bloom last year, and while I can’t say I did everything I wanted to do or accomplished everything I hoped I would, I can definitely say I grew up a little bit more. Here’s to blooming, and how we often don’t realize how much we’ve grown until we find remnants of anxiety ridden phone calls.

Myself

I’ve always been someone who loves personality tests. When I was a kid I would take quizzes from American Girl that promised to tell me things about who I was, and I always found them to be exceedingly accurate. As I got older, I found tests like the Enneagram or Myers-Briggs. To be honest, I don’t care if any of them are proven to be inaccurate or not based in fact, because whenever I take them I do feel as though I have learned something about myself that I didn’t know before. I’ve also found that, unlike a few of my friends, my results of these tests stay the same each time I take them. In case you’re wondering, I’m an Enneagram 2 wing 3 and my Myers-Briggs type is ENFP. At least, in the case of the Myers-Briggs, that was true until about a couple of weeks ago.

Growing up, I was an ENFJ every single time I took the test. Then, almost immediately after starting high school, it switched to ENFP. Everything seemed to match up really well, and when I took it periodically over the next four years, everything stayed the same (aside from a month as an INFP, which made sense but didn’t seem as accurate as the ENFP statements). I took it in August before heading off to school, and I was still an ENFP and very happy with it. I didn’t take it at any point during school year, since I was preoccupied with a myriad of other things, but I assumed my personality type was staying pretty stagnant. Then, on a whim, I decided to take it on the last day of the school year. Low and behold, there were definitely some changes.

The result of the test said I was an INFJ.

I was floored. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it became INFP, especially since I had felt myself slip into being more introverted, but to have two of the letters change seemed insane to me. As I read through the descriptions of an INFJ, however, I found that it seemed to align with how I see myself and how others have said they see me better than what was said about ENFPs. There are parts of the ENFP description that still fit me- I would still say I’m observant, find it difficult to focus, and tend to be “independent to a fault” (but only with weird things)- but in reading through everything, the strengths and weaknesses for an INFJ do seem more accurate. I do use the words creative and altruistic to describe myself, and I always say I’m a perfectionist and have a tendency to burn out easily. Another weakness that was listed, “always need to have a cause,” also resonated with me. I do tend to search for things to be passionate about, something I can maybe fix. When I can’t find something external, I tend to overwork myself in figuring out my own problems. The mundane tasks of everyday life often lead me restless, and I am definitely quick to procrastination.

In the case of the Myers-Briggs test, there are a few things that have stayed consistent over the course of my life thus far. For instance, no matter what, I’m always part of the “diplomat” category (the two middle letters have also never budged an inch), and in terms of turbulent or assertive I stay turbulent 100% of the times I’ve taken the test. Still, there are definitely things that have changed. I know when I took the test, but I don’t know when my personality type began to shift. If I had to guess, however, I would say it probably happened during the course of A Wrinkle in Time, and then cemented itself after the show ended. In terms of personal growth, I’d say I’ve changed a ton over the last year, but that the last few months have been especially intense.

The day after retaking the test, Kiana asked me what I think may have changed, and I responded by saying that I think the way I view people has changed. Over the last few months, I’ve put extra effort into not placing people on pedestals but instead letting them be who they are, and still loving them for it. In terms of friendships, I would say I prefer quality time over quantity of time, and that wouldn’t have been true a year ago (though when I’m spending tons of good quality time with people, it’s like the best of both worlds). Emma, a dear friend who happens to be a psychology major (so I’m inclined to trust her instincts when it comes to personality tests, along with various other things), says that this seems less like I’ve completely changed in my personality, but that I’m simply growing into the more adult version of myself. I really like that way of looking at it.

I had a moment earlier this week where I was walking and had the thought, “I’m an adult.” I still have a lot of growing up to do, but that was the first time I had thought of myself as an adult instead of as a teenager or a kid. It was a bit strange, but I like that the thought came about organically. I really like personality tests, but I wouldn’t say I base my entire personality off of them. I like the idea of each slight change representing me simply growing into the adult version of myself. Who knows, I may stay an INFJ for the course of my time in college, but it may change again this time next year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

September…

September…

… and June :-)

… and June :-)

Black and White

I’m pretty good at seeing the gray in the world. I try really hard to see all the sides to an argument, even when it seems 100% bad. I work to understand why something is the way it is, or what events and circumstances led to something happening. I truly do not believe that things are in black and white. Even so, I seem to always have trouble seeing people as being both good and bad. This is something that I’ve been working on for a while, and even though I don’t think I’ve fully figured it out yet, I do think I’ve made some progress. There are a few stories that come to mind as times that have forced me to work on this. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail with any of them, so I’m not even sure they qualify as stories, but here they are anyway.

Towards the end of my senior year, something happened with a few friends of mine. I was especially close with two of the people involved, and because of that I heard a lot of what was going on. I heard various sides of the story, something that made me question who the “bad” guy was. As the story continued to unfold and the school year came to an end, one of my closest friends was being blamed for a lot of what had happened. Since I had heard so much of the story and a few people had been talking to me about it, I could see why that was the case. They hadn’t made great decisions, and those decisions had affected other people. But, they’d also apologized, and they’d started to make better decisions as the school year ended. Because of this, I had a hard time believing they could be bad at all. I mean, they’d apologized. They’d started doing good things. How could a bad person do something good? I began to shut off any thoughts that they could be bad and began to only believe that they were good. Completely good.

Back in February, when my rehearsals for the Festival of Shorts were in full swing, I wound up in an unideal situation. As the rehearsals ended and performances began, the situation only grew a bit worse. I started to struggle with thinking that maybe this person who I thought was good could do a bad thing, or maybe they were actually a bad person who just did good things sometimes. One day everything would be great, and I would see them as such a good person. And then, later on, something would happen and I would end up crying thinking that they weren’t as good as I thought. But how could that be? How could a good person turn into a bad person and then back into a good person so quickly? How could a good person do a bad thing?

A Wrinkle in Time was a beautiful experience that I will be forever thankful for. It had, however, some awful moments that proved to be challenging for many members of the cast. I wouldn’t say I was directly affected by one of the bigger challenges, but I certainly saw how it affected others who were. As time went on, I kept reminding people that I believed they were good, and that I love them unconditionally. Those two things were true, and still are. My problem, I soon realized, was that instead of loving them and still seeing the issue that needed to be worked out, I didn’t let myself believe that there was a problem, because how could a good person do a bad thing?

I have a hard time seeing good in people who I have already determined to be “bad,” but I have a harder time seeing bad in people who I believe are totally good. Every time I encounter a situation where someone who I have believed to be good does something that I would consider to be bad, I wrestle with it for a long time. I believe that I am a perfectionist because I struggle to believe I can still be a good person if I make a mistake. Consciously, I know that no one is perfect. I know that good people can do bad things, and I know that bad people can do good things. Because, the thing is, people are not black and white. People are gray. Last year, when I wrote about the things I learned when I was eighteen, I wrote that it is important to imagine people complexly. I also wrote that it was something I was still working on, and that’s still true. Whether I should or not, I care deeply about everyone in those stories. I believe in loving people unconditionally, but I also know that I can’t do that if I don’t allow them to make mistakes and be human.

Storms

Before fully delving into what I’m talking about today, I wanted to quickly mention that today was my last day of school! I finished my last day of finals, and now all I have to do is pack up my room before moving out on Thursday. It’s crazy to think that nine months ago I was moving in with absolutely no clue how the year was going to go, and yet, three full quarters later, here I am about to head back to California again. I’ve been thinking about my year a lot lately, especially in terms of the people I’ve met and the creative things I’ve done. In thinking about what I was going to write about today, I wanted to somehow connect it to what I was already thinking about.

Over the course of this school year, I have encountered many a storm. Not in terms of weather (though the snow was quite intense), but rather emotionally and with my life in general. I’ve had panic attacks, I’ve cried in the blackbox so many times, and there have been more than a couple times when I seriously considered leaving school and going home. But, somehow, I made it here to the end. In weathering these storms, I have picked up a couple of tips and tricks that I thought I would share today.

  1. Set reminders on your phone.
    My mom used to tell me that life is always completely different two weeks after something happens. On September 10th, 2018, keeping that in the back of my mind, I set a reminder for September 24th, and typed out “See? Everything is okay.” After those two weeks (where in which I packed up my room, drove with my mom to Washington, said goodbye, unpacked everything in my new room, went through orientation week, and started school), I set another reminder for two weeks from then. I have gone through this entire school year setting a new reminder every two weeks. And, I kid you not, every two weeks I see my little note and I think to myself that it’s true, those things that were bothering me two weeks ago are no longer a problem. Or, they’ve evolved into a different problem. But, regardless, life really is different two weeks after something happens.

  2. Find the people who let you vent.
    Now, just to clarify, there is difference between venting and gossiping. Talking badly about someone will get you no where. Complaining will not help you solve a problem. That said, talking about what’s going on, to people who understand, is really helpful. Going to someone and saying, “This thing is really bothering me. I need to talk about it with someone because I don’t know what to do with it anymore,” is a good thing. And if you go to the right people (see thing number three), hopefully they will have advice, or they’ll just listen while you talk about what’s going on. Either one is often much needed.

  3. Ask for help.
    This is arguably the hardest thing on this list, but also the best thing I’ve done. This year, I think I finally learned the value in asking for help. Sure, I always knew things were easier when I asked for help, and I always knew it was the smart thing to do, but somehow I had myself convinced that asking for help made me weaker than the people who weren’t asking for help. To be honest, I still struggle with thinking that asking for help makes me weak. What I’ve done, though, is learn to ask the right people for help. The people remind me that it’s not weakness, it’s strength. When things are hard, asking for help is the best thing to do. But it’s important to remember that asking the right people for help is what makes it the best thing. There were many moments this year when I asked the wrong people for help, and I could tell many a story of how that went wrong. But I could also tell many a story of when I asked the right people for help, and how good things turned out because of it.

So there you have it- three little tips that have helped me weather these storms. As the school year ends for some and continues to wind down for others, I hope we can all look forward to a wonderful summer and a happy new school year. We’re all going to encounter more storms, but hopefully we can all continue to find ways to deal with them. Regardless of how bad some things may be, there’s always some good to come from it. I hope we can always remember that the bad stuff never lasts forever, to find our people, and to always ask for help when we need it.