Why I stopped trying to change the world.

When I was five or six years old, I vowed to myself that I would change the world. I had just finished reading a book with my family that explained the political situation in North Korea. As young as I was, I knew the situation wasn’t good, and it was then and there that I knew my life’s mission: I was going to change the world. 

Fast forward to high school where I was wearing a sneaker with a high heel shoe, a jump rope as a belt and a tutu over my jeans. I looked like a complete weirdo but it was the activist in me standing against conformity and what the cool kids did. I organized social justice meet ups during school lunch hour and as soon as I had my own job, I began sponsoring a child overseas. A few years after high school I went to university and began a degree in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. At the same time, I was working as a photographer and turned many of my school essays into photo projects that focused on everything from eating disorders, to abortion, to stolen Indigenous land. For a time, I worked as a photographer for UNICEFto help raise awareness on issues in the DRC in Africa . I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t ever stop the fight for justice and human rights consumed me.

Like any fire that isn’t properly stoked, I, too, burnt out. I was doing everything I could possibly do to change the entire world but I wasn’t seeing any immediate change. I would open up Twitter and once again, my timeline would be filled with countless more stories of pain and injustice. I’d see friends on Facebook arguing over the presidential campaign and whether or not we should have gender neutral bathrooms. It was overwhelming, exhausting, and made me feel hopeless. I became angry.

The thing is, anger can actually be a good thing because anger can motivate and inspire change. The problem with the anger I had was that I only allowed it to focus on the negativity, fear, and hopelessness I was feeling, instead of actually doing something to create change. One can be angry, but one must also live with hope. Filled with fear and hopelessness, I realized I needed to change my approach, and this is when I quit trying to change the world. 

Instead, I focused on creating change locally. By focusing on local issues, suddenly I was no longer only promoting change, but I could act on it, too. Issues that once seemed big, daunting and impossible to fix suddenly became small, relatable and achievable issues to fix. I didn’t need to argue with people on Facebook anymore, I could get a group together locally and act on the change. I didn’t have to save the entire world, something I will never be able to do, but I could create change in my neighborhood. This is where hope began to blossom. 

Hope starts small, but like anger, it spreads like wildfire. I’m reminded of all the times I’ve had a bad day, and how someone’s simple act of kindness has completely changed my day around. Now, whenever I’m out and about and feeling blue, I tell myself to change my attitude, because if I can smile and represent hope to one person, that person can smile and represent hope to another person.

Changing the world starts locally. It starts in your relationships, in your homes, in your neighborhoods, and in your cities. There are so many things you can be doing locally that, while they might seem small, will influence the rest of the world. Read the newspapers. Volunteer. Help a stranger out. Join a local community garden. Listen to people. Ask people how you can help. Join your friends at their meetups for topics surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, racial issues, religious issues or class issues. Dream big, but start small and start with something tangible, promoting change one step at a time. If we all create change locally, together we will be changing the world. 

The old man at Zeitgeist Coffee

He came in. Black pants, an orange shirt, an orange and black polka dot tie with a newsies hat. His long black coat swayed back and forth with the motion of each step, anchored by a cane in one hand and a nearly broken briefcase in the other. The coffee shop was buzzing and he circled trying to find a spot. I waved him over to a table near my own and he gratefully hobbled over, sitting down. Methodically, he set his briefcase on the chair, put his cane down next to it, took off his coat, took out his laptop and his computer’s mouse and then finally sat down. He began typing on his computer, moving his head around as he adjusted his eyes from looking at the computer keys to the screen, his progressive glasses small wire frames. All but twenty minutes passed before the entire situation was reversed. He closed his laptop, stood up, put his coat back on, reached for his briefcase and it broke. We must have looked up at the same time, because immediately he hobbled over to me and asked if I could fix the clasp on his briefcase. 

“I have to get back to work here but I don’t want my briefcase flap flying open in the rain.”

I couldn’t get, so I turned to my fiancé who wiggled the clasp for a few minutes before securely locking it back in place. We all smiled at one another, glad that his briefcase was now fixed.

“Thank you so much! God bless.” He shook my fiancé’s hand before turning back to his table, placing his laptop in his briefcase and with his cane, he walked back out into the rain.

20 years ago.

20 years ago I was rocking out to Zombie by The Cranberries, and here I am, still belting out the lyrics at the top of my lungs. My parents only let me listen to Christian music, which sucked, because most Christian music sucks, but somehow, I was allowed to listen to The Cranberries on a cassette tape. 

 

20 years ago I thought our house was sooo ugly. I’d complain to my mom that we lived in a dump (my poor mother) and that all of my friends at school had cooler, bigger, brighter houses than ours. And here I am, in love with quirky, old homes that are falling apart. Projects, to rebuild, spaces, to recreate. 

 

20 years ago I begged my mom to let me go to school. Homeschooling was lonely, and before I knew it, I was chasing boys and being chased and getting mad but secretly flattered that we wanted to kiss one another on the cheek.

 

20 years ago, I slapped my sister across her bare chest, and she began to wail. My dad came running into the room and asked me what had happened. I told the usual story, she tripped, fell, stubbed her toe, for my sister was too young to talk and correct the scenario. Until that day, when she finally communicated that her older sister had smacked her because I wanted her to GET OUT OF MY ROOM and that was the last time I ever smacked her. 

 

20 years ago, I remember throwing pillows all over the living room floor, my sister and I laughing as we jumped from pillow to pillow, careful of the lava!, each pretending we were Yoshi characters, one of us yellow, the other purple. 

 

20 years ago I remember my first heartache, when my two best friends gave one another a best friend necklace, but not me. I was friend number three, and I cried and cried on that bench that day, my face buried in my mom’s lap as I explained to her the devastation that had occurred between sobs. 

 

20 years ago I remember falling on the wooden steps, my back slamming onto the wooden slats, gasping for air, feeling for the first time what it felt like to have the wind knocked out of me.

 

20 years ago I remember swinging as high as I could on my neighbors swing set. Once I got high enough, I was able to see the little boy next door hiding behind his couch watching me from the window. Higher, I pumped my legs, even higher, and I kept swinging, finally high enough to get a full glance of his curious face. I waved and smiled, his eyes startled, and I don’t know if I ever saw him again.

 

20 years ago I remember walking to my Grandma’s house because my Grandpa didn’t show up to take me home from school. Thirty minutes later, my Grandpa came home in a panic because he looked everywhere for my at school but I wasn’t there. Somehow, I walked right past him. 

 

20 years ago, I remember my sister and I running around the house in only our underwear yelling, SUPER UNDERWEAR GIRLS, both of us, determined to be our own superheroes. 

 

20 years ago, I remember begging my sister to let me sleep in her room because I was too scared to sleep in my own room in the basement. Reluctantly, she let me, again and again, until finally she moved her room downstairs, too. 

 

20 years ago, and I still feel like I am the same human being who inhabits my body now, except 20 years ago, I was a seven year old girl trying to make sense of the world which existed from my house all the way to Ashley’s house three blocks down the street. 

 

20 years ago, I knew I was going to get married at 20 and have kids at 21 and have a magnificent career as an underwater photographer or a ballerina or an eye doctor and 20 years later, I’m still trying to figure it out. 

 

It’s so funny, when I think about it, I became a photographer, though I’m not much of a swimmer. I continued doing ballet for 16 years until I realized I didn’t want to have to start smoking to stay skinny and calm my nerves before another performance. And I’m even working part time as an Optician of-sorts while I finish my degree. I didn’t realize that all three of those childhood dreams actually all played out in their own way until this exact moment of typing this.

 

Life is this strangely complex and beautiful creature that causes us to rise each morning and (try to) fall asleep each night and we’re just riding along, kids in these grown up bodies trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.

Life and death and this earthquake.

So there’s going to be an earthquake, and a really, really big tsunami, and this New Yorker article has been spreading like wildfire. 

I’ve always had an earthquake phobia. I don’t entirely know where it came from, but I think it’s from when I was a kid in the 1994 earthquake that hit L.A. I remember waking up because it felt like someone was violently shaking the headboard of my bed back and forth. I ran downstairs to find where my mom was, and was met by her and my grandma. The fountain in my grandma’s house (yeah, she had a fountain in her house) had cracked right in half. 

I remember as a teenager going on road trips to Vancouver and being terrified of going in any underground parking garages, my best friend constantly telling me to calm down.

I remember in my early 20s moving to San Francisco, my earthquake nightmare. And then earthquake after earthquake hit. They were small, but each time they left me feeling desperate and helpless. The first one was when I was living on a boat parked behind Pier 50. I was in my cabin which was underwater, and felt the entire place vibrate. The next one I was in my friend’s apartment and it felt and sounded like a semi-truck had crashed into the building. The next one I was laying in bed in an Airbnb on Broderick Street and the building softly rattled like a truck had driven by. Another one, I was sleeping on my friend’s couch and a 6.0 hit Napa Valley. From San Francisco, I remember sitting up and seeing the white walls wave back and forth like they were doing the wave. Strangely, I don’t remember ever feeling any earthquakes in my own apartment. But I remember studying the cracks running outside the front door, and part of the ceiling that was sinking in the living room, and knowing exactly where the emergency kit was located under the bed in case I would be stranded on my back porch for days and days. It never happened, thankfully.

After so many small earthquakes, I eventually got over my earthquake phobia. Not that each time I didn’t still become fearful of the thought of the earthquake having been stronger, but eventually, I stopped thinking about it on a daily basis. Eventually, all my anxiety surrounding earthquakes went away. Eventually, I began to understand that San Francisco gets 2-4 earthquakes per day and that this was a good thing, because with each little earthquake, the pressure of the two plates pressing up against one another was lessening. Lots of little earthquakes started to feel like good news.

Here I am now, living between Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA, and we don’t get lots of little earthquakes. And this very well written but very terrifying New Yorker article has been circulating all over the Internet about the doom coming to Seattle, and it doesn’t leave me feeling afraid… 

it leaves me feeling sad.

It leaves me feeling sad because I don’t want fear to control my life. I know I live in an earthquake zone, I know I could very well die in the big one, but I also know that I could die in another earthquake while on holidays, or get hit by a car, or from some disease. All of the above would suck, but eventually, one of the above, or some version of the above, will be inevitable. And I just can’t let whatever the inevitable is influence my desires to experience life to its absolute fullest.

It took me a long time to get to this realization. I felt like I had overcome my earthquake fear and then this article started circulating and people on Facebook started debating it and predicting the doom of all of us Pacific North Westerners, and suddenly, in the same way an earthquake ripples, fear started to ripple back into my body and heart.

I asked Eric about it, curious to know his thoughts. We’ve decided Seattle is where we want to be right now (or at least for the first few years of our marriage), but I couldn’t help but wonder if we were setting ourselves up for disaster. I don’t know what I was expecting him to say, but his answer surprised me. It was something along the lines of, 

When I take my last breath, I know I will have lived a full life. I know I will have served the time I was always going to be given on this planet, and that in itself is a huge blessing. I cannot control how long I will live, but the fact that I was given even just one breath on this earth makes me happy. 

Eric is a huge example to me of someone who lives each day to his fullest. His answer touched on life and death in such a real way that it comforted me. 

Because it’s true.

Death is something we fear. Death is something I hate thinking about. Death is something I cannot comprehend. But death, as natural as life is and as natural as love is, is also natural. Death is this incredibly painful and strangely beautiful thing. 

I don’t really have a conclusion for my thoughts, I just know that the decisions I make, the life I live, the passion I have for life… I don’t want these to be limited due to fear. I want to live my life to the absolute fullest. I want to recognize each and every day as a blessing and a new adventure to experience. I want to not be afraid and let life happen and find things to celebrate even when I’m mourning. I want to feel each breath and know that life is short and temporary, and I am blessed to be here. I want to be prepared, and take precautionary steps and make responsible choices, but I also want to know that life isn’t perfect, and it’s indeed, so fragile, and to just do the best I can. 

I love the Pacific Northwest. I’ve lived in so many places, but the PNW is my favorite. It breaks my heart at the thought of it crumbling, but it breaks my heart even more at the thought of leaving it. It’s like love. What’s that saying, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I guess that’s how I feel about living here. I’d rather live and love and have faith and know my life is full.

~

Thank you, Kara, for helping inspire this piece. I love all of our conversations. 

These shoes.

I remember driving down to Target in Milpitas, California to buy a pair of shoes. I wanted guy shoes, guy shoes that would take me through my next year. I felt like I had lost so much that I needed one physical item that could permanently stay with me. Something that would take every step with me, rain or shine. I bought these eleven dollar navy blue slips ons with white laces. They basically were knock offs of Keds, but they were perfect.

 

I remember slipping my feet into them for the first time in Austin, Texas. I had put my clothes in storage in SF, and had two pairs of shoes with me: my guy shoes and a pair of ankle boots. It was so hot and humid that day. My hotel room was dark, decorated with maroons and burgundies you'd only ever see in an old church or at a grandparents home. I threw on a pair of shorts and a breezy top, laced up my shoes and headed to the parking lot. Each step felt like I was moving further and further away from everything I was intentionally abandoning. It felt so freeing. New steps, new steps that no one but myself and these shoes were taking.

 

I got into the Car2Go and I remember pressing my foot to the pedal. I zigged and zagged out of freeway traffic with the air conditioning blasted. Country music played through the radio and every now and then Siri's voice would chime in telling me to exit here and turn left there and in 300 metres, slightly merge here. 

 

I pulled up to a rather empty street with a shady looking car mechanic shop. I consolidated Google maps again and it confirmed that I was indeed here, here at the river. I got out of the car and started walking, quickly becoming self conscious of my short shorts and bare legs and sweating face as I walked past some construction workers. Eventually I became so uncomfortable that I ducked through a shaded passage way of trees and there, there it was. The dry, dusty, burnt orange earth with lush trees and a never ending river.

 

I walked and I walked and the air grew more humid. I remember looking down at my navy blue shoes now coated with a thin layer of dry dust. It didn't matter that the white laces were now orange and the soils were browning. It just mattered that I was walking further away from my past, and closer and closer to my real self. 

 

I crossed over a bridge, noticing a sign stating not to jump off the bridge, and as I turned back around, two men, their shirts laying on the ground, began climbing the railing, ready to jump. I smiled, they smiled, I said, "may I" and they said sure. I held up my camera and clicked the shutter as one after the other, they cheered and jumped off the bridge and down into the river. 

 

I contiued walking, my back now entirely drenched in sweat, and finally I came to a swimming hole. I took off my shoes and bolted straight into the water as far as I could before my shorts would get wet. The water swished around my legs and I noticed my chipped nail polish on my toes through the murky waves. A group of boys began whispering and I saw them looking at my shoes, and so I walked back up to the shore and moved my shoes to a rock nearby where I was standing. My toes squished in the mud, and the water brushed some of the dirt off the soles of my shoes.

 

Later that day I came upon a canoe rental spot. I handed the women twenty dollars and zipped up my life jacket as she pushed my canoe out into the water. I remember my shoes getting damp from some left over water in the bottom of the boat as I paddled to the same bridge the two men had jumped off earlier. Soon the air grew so humid it was practically mist, and one of the biggest rain storms I've ever witnessed began. The wind was now in my favor as I quicky paddled back to return the canoe. I got out of the boat, literally drenched from head to toe. My shoes were soaked, and each step I made back to the car, I was reminded of why I had left, and why I wanted to be here by myself. The shoes kept me walking forward even when I wanted to go home. 

 

A few weeks later I left the shoes in Tennessee. They looked terrible and smelled awful and New York was next. I abandoned the shoes as I had abandoned everything else in my life. Learning to let go...learning to let go of even the new things that I had replaced and wanted to be a part of me left me with nothing but myself. I had nothing to hide behind, and for as many times as I was going to replace the things I had lost, I was going to abandon them again in order to remind myself that never again would I bury my heart in things that were not truly me. 

Misconceptions about Feminism

I want to clear up some misconceptions about feminism. 

 

I’ve considered myself a feminist for as long as I can remember. Nothing happened or “changed” in me to make me a feminist. I’ve never had daddy issues. I was in one abusive relationship with a man when I was 18, but even before that, I was a feminist. My dad didn’t have any sons, he had me and my sister. For as many times as he called my sister and I his princesses, we also played video games with him and pretended to be DC comic superheroes (shotgun, Superman). The superman thing really stuck with me. Strangely, gender was never something I recognized in Superman. I didn’t think of Superman as a man and Lois Lane as a woman waiting to be rescued, nor as a woman obsessed with her career. I just saw two individuals and the one I wanted to be was Superman. I didn't care that he was a man and I was a girl, I just thought being able to fly and help people would be really, really cool. All this to be said, as much as my dad raised me as his daughter, he also raised me as his son. I say that carefully, as I’m not actually a son, and I don’t know what it means to be a male son, but I feel like I was raised in a way where I saw men and women equally. For as many leadership roles that my father took, my mother took many leadership and teaching roles, too. My parents didn’t raise me to be a feminist, they raised me to love, and with that, I identified as a feminist probably before I even really knew what the term meant.

 

So here are the misconceptions of feminism:

1. Feminists hate men -- this is so far from the truth! More on this will be explained below.

2. Feminists think women are better / feminists want women to be in power over men -- what? No, no feminists don’t think that, and if they do, you have my permission to call them on that.

3. Feminism isn’t actually about equality -- Yes, yes it actually is about equality. That again means that feminists don’t hate men nor do they think women are better. This point is loaded, which I’ll explain in more depth below.

4. Feminists especially hate white, heterosexual, middle class, educated, able bodied, hot, slim men -- ha, ha, ha, no we don’t, and as a straight cis-gendered female, I can tell you that I’m totally into white (well, all colors for that matter), heterosexual, middle class, educated, able bodied, hot and slim men. But, I’m also into more guys than just those ones. Right now, I'm into my bearded boyfriend. 

5. Feminism is about burning bras -- I have never burnt any of my bras before. Do you have any idea how much bras cost? They are so expensive that I can barely afford to buy them, let alone be so frivolous with them that I'd burn them.

6. Sexism doesn’t exist anymore -- that’s a very narrow minded thought. I love Mission Street in San Francisco, but there wasn't a single time I wore a dress while walking down Mission Street that some man didn't yell an incredibly sexist comment at me. I hear it every day from my girlfriends, too, situations where they've been cat called or assaulted. Also, have you looked at advertising lately? Sexism does exist. As a female photographer I’ve even produced sexist photographs–this is something I am not proud of and is something I am working on changing and fixing.

7. Feminists are all lesbians or women with daddy issues -- I find this misconception to be incredibly offensive, and it makes me so sad. I am neither lesbian nor do I have daddy issues (or any issues with men). But some of my feminist friends are lesbian, and are also some of the nicest, most sincere women I know. Some feminists I know have daddy issues, some of my friends who aren’t feminists have daddy issues. To call someone out and say they have daddy issues is so disrespectful, and quite frankly, mean. Please stop making these assumptions. They are hurtful. 

 

Historically, feminism started because women wanted the right to vote. During that time, only men could vote. There were also a ton of other things that men could do that women couldn’t do (such as be in politics, the work place, school, etc). Women worked together to gain access to spaces that they previously didn’t have access too. From the start, it was never about kicking men out of politics or education (or anywhere else), it was about allowing women into these places as well. After all, what better person to represent an individual than an individual facing that experience themselves.

 

Read that last sentence again. What better person than a woman to represent other women than a woman herself. This is first wave feminism. Now we are going to fast forward about a hundred plus years to third wave feminism. First wave feminism was started by white women and was represented by white women for white women. The problem was that it was still exclusive. A woman can not represent all women. All women have different stories at varying degrees. And so, if we look at what (third wave) feminism is today, this is what it is about:

 

Equality for *any* oppressed individual. This means, equality for:
any person of any color 
any person of any gender
any person of any sexual orientation
any person of any social class 
any dis/abled bodies
any non/citizens
any anyone's, really 

 

Third wave feminism takes an intersectional approach. This means that it isn’t just taking your biological sex into account. It is taking your gender, race and class into account. It is looking at your geo-location, your religion/faith, your upbringing, your culture and your politics. Third wave feminism is actually fighting AGAINST first wave feminism, where it was only about the white, middle class women. First wave feminism may as well have been called white, Western feminism. It can be oppressive to those who do not live in the Western world, it can be oppressive to those of color, to queer people, to immigrants, and yes, even to men. In a lot of ways, feminism is similar to religion. There are always going to be the radical representatives who give the rest of us an incredibly bad rep. But at the heart of feminism, it’s love and equality. 

 

Love and equality.

 

That’s it. 

 

Please stay with me a little longer. I’ve had a lot of white, middle class, straight men approach me and tell me how much they dislike feminism and how uncomfortable it makes them feel. They tell me that there is nothing they can do about the fact that they are white, male, straight or middle class. I completely recognize that feminism is uncomfortable. Feminism is even uncomfortable for me. Feminism now focuses so much on race and class that as a white, middle class female, I’m even uncomfortable when I sit in my feminist classes. On top of that, I’m a Christian. To sit in a feminist class as a white Christian and hear about all the terrible things white Christians did and are still doing to other people? It makes me incredibly uncomfortable. It also makes me mad! It makes me mad what white people have done to others and what people claiming to be Christians have done to others. It makes me so uncomfortable that I haven’t told a single soul in any of my feminist classes that I’m a Christian.

 

Here’s another thing I want to clear up. Feminists can come across as very anti-Christian. But, if Christians knew the full extent of the awful things Christians historically have done to other people (and are still doing), they would be anti-Christian as well. And so, no, I can’t entirely relate to the uncomfortableness white, middle class, straight men feel, but I can relate as a white, middle class, straight, Christian female. It is uncomfortable, yes. It is uncomfortable to sit and listen to a group of people tell you everything people (who are very similar to you) did wrong to others. It is entirely uncomfortable. But that’s life, and sometimes we have to sit in that uncomfortableness and acknowledge the wrong that has happened. From there, we can try and undo/fix what "our" people have done to others (our, meaning, those we each individually identify with). I, as a Christian, can be a feminist and try and make it known that not all of us Christian's hate gay people (and it's seriously fucked up that some Christians do hate gay people). I can also apologize for what Christians have done, and make it a point to not be an oppressive Christian. Being a Christian, after-all, is supposed to be about love and equality, too.

 

Feminism isn’t about blaming someone for being a white, straight, middle class male. Feminism is trying to educate people on the atrocities that have happened and continue to happen, in order for the hate to be abolished. Feminism is operating in order for love to rule, along with equality. This equality includes women, racialized people, queer people, displaced people, and also, most definitely, men. This equality covers a whole range of people I haven’t even mentioned but who need to be mentioned because we all have stories. We all have things that have hurt us, made us laugh, brought us pain and given us greater understanding. All of these stories need to be told.

 

PS: Thank you, Andrea Priebe, for inspiring this post. Also, I haven't had anyone edit this post, so if I've explained something wrong or misrepresented something, please email me and I'd be happy to make any edits needed. hello@kimathomas.ca

Love > Hate

I have a love hate relationship with the degree program I am. I love the heart of it, the heart of feminism. The heart of it really does have good intentions, ones of love, equality and hope. I hate the bashing that yes, unfortunately happens in my degree, too. The thing is, we all have pain in our lives. We’ve all been hurt in ways or had experiences happen to us that leave us tainted. The really cool thing about pain is that pain often is what makes us pursue necessary and sometimes life saving change. It is sad that change has to happen as a result of pain, but the good in pain is that that is where change can finally blossom. When seeking change from pain, there are two paths we can take. One is where we try and create change out of love. Instead of turning around and hating the person that wronged us, we love them instead. We educate them, we help them, we are patient with them, and above all, we love them. The other way we pursue change from pain is through hate. This is where we turn around and hurt those who hurt us, often in the exact same way. It’s understandable someone may act this way; pain can often be unbearable and the natural way to feel may be to hurt them back. But when you’re educating someone through hate, you’re not changing them, you’re making them hate you more. The thing that scares me about people who operate through hate is that no matter what you to say to them and how you say something to them, they’ll never see both sides of the story. They’ll only see all the negativity. Their hearts grow harder and become more stubborn, and then change cannot take place. 

There have been people in my life who have caused me pain. Some of these people caused me minor pain where I was soon able to forget and move on. Some of these people caused me major pain where I wanted nothing more than for them to experience that pain back. But as much as I would "think-hate" mean actions onto them, if I removed my pain from the situation, I'd see that at the bottom of me I didn’t actually want them to experience this pain. I was just so mad at them and didn’t know what else to do or how to make them see my side of the story (regardless of whether it was right or wrong) and how much they hurt me. Instead what I’ve been teaching myself to do is love those people. It sucks sometimes, A LOT. I hate trying to love someone who did me wrong. But it’s helped. It’s helped me learn to forgive them. And it’s only been once I’ve forgiven them (even if they haven’t been sorry) that I’ve been able to move on. I’ve been able to experience freedom. Before that, I still felt trapped by what they did to me. Once I was able to forgive them, I was able to move my life forward without their hold on my life.

I’m not saying you have to love everyone to their face. Perhaps if things were really unhealthy it’s better to cut those people out of your life, and that’s fine, but you can still love them behind their back. Maybe one day you’ll be able to tell them you forgive them, or that you’re the one who is sorry instead. Every situation is different. But I do know that trying to love and forgive someone who wronged you, even if just in your own heart, is where change truly can take place

Dating, life and love.

I'm not the greatest human all the time or even most of the time. I can let my pride get in the way or say things I don't mean to or be stubborn or selfish. Most of these things, while I really have no excuse for them, I realize are rooted out of fear, self doubt or pain. I've been so scared to love whole heartedly because, quite honestly, I got so sick of deleting, yet again, another chapter of my life off the Internet due to a failed relationship (first world problems, AmIRight). Maybe it's a lesson to not overshare, but really, for me, it's a lesson on trust. It's a lesson where I have to allow myself to be vulnerable again in order to be the best version of myself for me and for someone else. It's a lesson where I have to confront all the issues about myself that I've swept under the rug for so long in order to love someone the way they deserve to be loved, and in order to love myself the way I deserve to be loved. I've been mean sometimes and I've said hurtful things, but yet, this guy stays grounded and keeps on loving me. He says he's loved me for a long time, and has loved me while I said I was thinking of moving to the city where he lives and then changed my mind and moved to New York. He's loved me while I've traveled even further, to the remote jungle of the Congo with zero internet access for weeks. He's loved me when I've came home and then decided to move, yet again, to a new city in order to pursue a school degree. He's been a tree, and I've been the wind. I know I've been the tree at times while he's been the wind. 

And it's just that. It's this constant back and forth-ness. It’s give and take, take and give. Love and laugh and cry and hurt. Forgive, move on, apologize, apologize again. 

Sometimes I think we have this idea of love where everything is supposed to be perfect. I had a relationship like that, where everything was perfect and we never ever fought. It was great and beautiful in its own way but honestly, it was boring. There wasn’t any passion. We weren’t fighting with each other, for each other, or for anything for that matter. 

I’m learning that human love is very imperfect. I think the kind of love they talk about for long term success is the kind of love where even when you are hurt or mad or upset, you choose to love them anyway. You choose to see past their imperfections and where they’ve done you wrong because you know they are only human. Thankfully, I’ve had someone who loves me this way, too, because I have done some very imperfect things, but he keeps on loving me. Im so thankful for that. Finally I’m with this guy where sometimes him and I fight and argue with one another, but now we also fight for each other, and for something greater than ourselves. Our faith, our love, our belief in life, love, passion, togetherness.

Our relationship isn’t just fighting, though. Mostly, we aren’t fighting. Mostly, we are laughing or sharing stories or ideas or exploring or creating or being weird. I am so thankful for those times, I love those times, I can’t get enough of those times.

But it’s during the ugh-this-really-sucks-right-now-why-cant-everything-be-perfect-times that he loves me anyway and once again, I am sooooo thankful. It shows me his commitment. Because forever is a very scary thing, and sometimes a very unbelievable thing, especially when I have no one in my past to compare forever with. Neither of us know if forever will work, but we both know we are willing to fight for it. That is really special to me.

Ive been reading Baby Boy Bakery’s blog a lot lately. This woman has experienced such great heartache with her son passing away. I’ve sat in my bed crying because I can only imagine a fraction of her pain, and it makes me so sad. But she has no idea how inspiring she is. Each day she keeps getting up and choosing to move forward without her son physically present, knowing that her son is looking down at her instead. Each day she makes a choice to fight for love and fight for life even if it really hurts. When it comes to love with a partner, I don’t want “fighting for love” to be this abusive thing, what I’m trying to say is that the healthy kind of love is most definitely worth fighting for! Jacqui recently wrote in her blog post: Together. We can do it together. We are doing it together.

That really resonated with me. My circumstances are so different from hers but she is right. The thought is simple. Together. We can do it together. We are doing it together."

No matter where you are or what you are going through, remember that. 

Together. We can do it together. We are doing it together.