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.

Bodies

There are a few ways I’ve considered going with this word for today. I could talk about how I think society puts too much pressure on people to look a certain way, or how theatre has definitely warped my perception of beauty a little bit (for good or bad, I’m not quite sure). I could even talk about my Adventist education and how it really attached a lot of shame to how I see my body and others. What I’ve decided to do, however, is talk about what I didn’t talk about last week- body image. Specifically, how my relationship with how I see myself and my self-esteem has changed over the years.

Something not a lot of people know about me is that for about five years in elementary school, I did ballet and tap. I loved it. I did ballet longer, and actually got put in a more advanced ballet class towards the end of my time at the dance school. I didn’t stay in that class because the teacher was a little intense and I was dealing with my parents separation and, at the time, really needed more love than discipline, but still. Much of my elementary years were spent in dance shoes. Whenever I read essays or articles from women talking about their self-esteem, often they will mention that they started to notice they looked different to their peers in dance environments, but that wasn’t the case for me. I was a very skinny child, and I was fairly tall for my age. For the years I did it, I looked the part of a ballerina. Still, I went to school with girls who were taller and skinnier (or more athletic, which is a whole other thing), and I truly believed at my core that I was the biggest of them all.

I have a clear memory of being eleven years old and being on the swings with two other girls. This was between 2010 and 2011, when the word “phat” (meaning excellent) became a popular term to throw around. While on the swings, one of the girls looked at me and said I was phat. In response to my complaint at being referred to this way, she just said she meant “phat, with a ph, which means excellent. So it’s okay.” But the two of them were laughing, and I could tell what they meant. I was also the first one of the girls in my class to go through puberty, so I was already highly sensitive about looking different than the rest of them. That same year, I remember crying in my grandparent’s bathroom after being asked how much I weighed. My mom followed me in and we had a little talk about body image and how sometimes girls are just mean, and that doesn’t make mean they’re right.

After I stopped dancing, I took up swimming. I’ve never been super athletic, but I loved being in the water. I kept practicing, and stayed a swimmer for another four(ish) years. While in junior high, my hips started to grow, and I definitely did look different than the other girls in my class. But I was strong, even though I didn’t pay enough attention to that at the time. I was fourteen years old the first time I decided I “needed” to lose weight, and it resulted in me going for a run for the first time by myself (and absolutely hating it), and doing 100 sit-ups every night (which, honestly, didn’t do much except make me hate sit-ups).

I moved before starting high school, and because of that I stopped swimming. There was a pool in our yard, and while I would use it every so often, it didn’t feel the same as having a pool with lanes. As I’m sure is quite common, being in high school didn’t help me like myself more than before. In that regard, my Sophomore year (2015-2016) was pretty bad. I started doing all the things morning routine videos on youtube told me to do, like drinking lemon water and eating zucchini as pasta. I started running almost every day, and did random workout videos in my room. To be clear, these things aren’t inherently bad. I still love lemon water, and honestly I should probably eat zucchini noodles more often because I can’t really have gluten. As I’ve mentioned, I still go through phases of running, and I’m sure those workout videos have their time and place as well. The problem wasn’t what I was doing, it was why I was doing it. All of those things were done with the intention of getting skinny. I even had a notebook where each month I wrote down all my measurements, which probably weren’t even accurate because I was doing them myself anyway. Even though I thought I was doing great, I wasn’t really taking care of myself, and I definitely wasn’t being kind to myself.

Now that I’m older, I like to think I’ve figured a lot of this stuff out. I have more good days than bad. I’ve grown. I’ve stretched. I’ve changed. And that’s okay- that’s good. Am I always happy with how I look? No, of course not. I am human, after all. But that’s exactly the point- I’m human. I go through stages of not taking care of my physical wellbeing very well, and yeah, that could be because of college life/tech weeks, but often times it’s simple cravings and laziness. But I also go through stages of really prioritizing my physical health. For me, this means exercising in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore, not eating gluten, and drinking a lot of water. It does not mean berating myself for “messing up,” or exercising too much and eating too little. Like everything in life, there is a balance to taking care of your physical health. To be honest, I’m still figure out what that balance looks like for me. But that’s okay, too.

Just a picture of me from when I was in Paris last summer :-)

Just a picture of me from when I was in Paris last summer :-)

Umbrella

I don’t like the rain. Mm, actually, let me rephrase that- I usually don’t like the rain. Every once in a while, when it’s not too cold or too heavy, I don’t mind it. I love the smell it leaves afterward, and I love seeing the grass grow greener and greener. I love rainbows, and puddles, and rain jackets. Still, I don’t love the feeling of heavy rain falling onto me. Over the past week, I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been dealing with a very difficult scene assignment (I’m going somewhere with this, don’t worry). I’m still not going to tell you the full story, but today I thought I’d share bits and pieces of it.

My Freshman year of high school, I was involved with the drama club. There were four others, and over the course of the year we memorized and performed various skits for school assemblies and church services. This was really my first introduction to memorizing material quickly and then performing regularly. By my Sophomore year, however, my love for drama began to change. Instead of being excited by the performances, I began to dread them. I developed a very real sense of stage fright, and I found that my childhood stutter had returned full force whenever I would attempt to memorize lines. By the middle of the first semester of my Sophomore year, I had quit acting completely. It wasn’t until a little over a year later, when I auditioned for Les Mis, that I made my return.

There are still so many pieces of my childhood that I don’t want to write about yet, but one thing that you need to know to fully get this story is that, for about a year, I had a pretty bad stutter whenever I would have to read out loud. This fell around the same time as my parent’s separation, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, it was one of the ways my body was physically reacting to the change. My stutter went away eventually, but returned my Sophomore year of high school because I was starting to remember a lot of stuff that had happened during my childhood. Instead of being able to deal with it mentally, my body again went to a physical reaction. From then on, my stutter only returned when I would read something that triggered an emotional response in me and my body didn’t know how to handle it. This brings me to my acting class fall quarter.

Back in the fall, I had three scene assignments. They were all challenging in some shape or form, but the last one brought the return of my stutter. In talking it over with my teacher, I was able to pinpoint what it was that was triggering, and made it through the scene without too much difficulty. Then came advanced acting this quarter. Instead of spending the entire ten weeks working on scenes, we were only given one, which will be performed in a couple of days. When I first read through the script, there were a few things that jumped out at me that would eventually prove to be quite difficult. Luckily, I have a great scene partner who was willing to put up with many a rehearsal that led us nowhere. I knew I was having trouble wit the scene, but I couldn’t figure out why. There was a rehearsal where I literally did not stop crying the entire time, but I couldn’t understand what was happening. My scene partner, my friends, and my acting teacher all tried to help, but none of us could figure it out. It wasn’t until I noticed that I was stuttering in a rehearsal that I knew I needed to reach out to my mom.

I’d asked my mom for help with part of the scene a couple weeks earlier, but this time I sent her pictures of the entire script and asked her if she thought there was anything in it that might be triggering me. She sent back a couple paragraphs of an explanation, and suddenly everything made sense. I talked to some friends, and they came to my next rehearsal to help us through part of it. One friend in particular offered some much needed comic relief, and the other constantly reminded me to stop saying I couldn’t do something when I actually could. They both went above and beyond the call of a friend, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I’m an actress, and I love acting. I love theatre for it’s challenges, but sometimes it can be a bit much. That’s when I know I need my people to help cover the hard stuff for a moment so I can see the beauty in it again. We all need people to be our umbrellas sometimes. Every once in a while, you need an umbrella to distract you from the cold, wet drops of water and remind you of the beauty in puddles, green grass, and rainbows. I am really lucky to have many an umbrella in my life, and I hope you do too. To all my umbrellas, I hope you know that I am here if you ever need something. Thank you for all that you do.