Category Archives: New Beginnings

Facebook Quizzes

I don’t regret my past, I just regret the time I spent with the wrong people.

– Danielle Perry

I must confess my affinity for a good FB quiz.

I spend way too much time on FB as it is, so it’s no surprise that most of that time is spent reading articles and doing random fb quiz things. Today, I did a quiz where they made a quote based on your name. It was a great premise. 

The quote is funny because it seems half accurate but it’s actually pretty wrong. I don’t regret time spent with people, mostly because I don’t think I’d call any of them wrong. 

Right now I’m listening to the soundtrack of the Sondheim musical, Company. It’s a great musical that I watched on Netflix a few years back. Since then I’ve been a pretty big Sondheim fan and this show, along with Merrily We Roll Along (a show I’ll link to later) have been two of my favorites. Both shows are about friendship – one is about the necessity of the institution, while the other is about the loss of it – and that’s something I never thought too deeply about before watching these shows. 

It’s easy to go through life and convince yourself that your only regrets are the people you wasted time with. But those aren’t my regrets. Because it’s hard to feel like time has ever been wasted with people. Company is important – in good and bad times – and it’s good to go through life with it. The tragedy of Merrily We Roll Along is that the importance of company and friendship gets lost as life goes along and people gain or lose success. And people really do start to believe that time spent with people is time worthy of regret. 

I don’t have much more to say about the topic except that I really like Sondheim. And especially these musicals. Okay, I’m done. 

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I’m Leaving

3 years ago, there was a moment in time when I wanted to leave. I wrote about it once or twice on this blog and thought about it even more. And now, three years later, I’m finally going. 

Some of the circumstances surrounding my exit are similar. Last time, I had been recently heartbroken/crushed by the loss of a friendship. I had just graduated school and I had no idea what I was doing next. On top of all that, I was under intermittent stress from living with my parents and there was no end in sight. 

Now, I’m in a similar relationship limbo – though not as a result of a lost friendship – constantly reminded about my marital status. I’ve finished my MA program but I’m still jobless and wondering what to do next with life. And, of course, as I write this, I’m waiting for the train from my parents’ house back to NYC. 

Last time, I left. I went to Philly for a year and had one of the most important years of my life so far. I grew, I learned, and I became the version of myself I’ve liked the most in my short life. This time I’m leaving again. Granted, it’ll be a trip 49 weeks short of a year, but I find myself feeling some of the same things I felt before. Fear of going someplace new and living alone, residual anger over clipped conversations and a lack of control, excitement about entering into a new stage of life, and amazement at how twisty and turny life can be. 

I don’t know if this trip will be life-changing and important or just another few stamps on my passport. I’m trying not to expect much of either. But I do hope it’ll be a chance for me to relax and think. Because those are things I haven’t done in a while. I hope I can put the stress of 25-year-old-life, disappointment, and NYC away for a while and just enjoy the moment, not worrying about the past or the future. 
So here’s my official blog announcement: I’m leaving on June 14. Maybe I’ll keep you posted about all the stops I make. 

When I’m sad

On Friday I had a pretty crap day. 

I got some news that was less than stellar and then I realized something I thought was great didn’t go over as well with others. On top of that, my parents were pretty unhappy with the way I handled my degree situation. 

Throughout the day, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve handled sadness in the past. I think before, I would often look to external things to cure my pain. I would call a friend or family member and if they picked up it meant it was meant to be and my sadness would be solved. But today was different. Admittedly, I did call a friend. But when she didn’t pick up, I didn’t go down the list to figure out who to call next. I went home, thought about things, worked out, listened to some songs, and tried to process things. 

One of my strongest initial reactions to sadness is doubting God. Any negative thing in my life is ammunition for me to use against God and reason for me to quit trusting him. Phone calls to friends are often the only assurance I can find and if they do assure me, my trust ends up misplaced in them. People are the high that often lifts me when I’m low. 

But I don’t want people to be my high, as much as I love them. So today, I’ve been trying to remain present in my sadness instead of distracting myself with relationships. I’ve also been trying to process my feelings with God and les so with other people. 

It’s difficult on a day like today, when the world seems to be working against you and you have no idea about what’s next. But I think it’s also supremely important to trust God on days like this. Because these are the days faith is made for. 
DJP

My Whole Heart

Saturday night, while driving back from a long day in State College, PA, I was texting a friend. I’d been friends with this person since high school and we talked sporadically during college. Recently we’d talked about doing a writing group together, so she was checking up to iron out those deets.

The conversation went a few different places but eventually she started talking about her fear that she would “cheat on her best friend” with me (she felt this way because she had considered me her best friend in high school and when we began talking again she started to feel some of those same thoughts and feelings arising again). I kind of shrugged off her concern, mentally noting that everyone has their little quirks and this was clearly a serious thing for her that it wouldn’t be too hard for me to respect. I told her not to worry, that I wouldn’t try to “seduce her” away from her friend, that her memory of me was probably better than the reality of me anyway, that I’d try to stay aware of her emotional wellness as best I could, and that, in any case, I was without a best friend and not looking for one. 

This last part caused her great concern, so she began wondering if I was ok and remarking how sad I probably was to be best-friendless. I told her that wasn’t the case, I had a lot of good friends and people who function as best friends, I just wasn’t in a place where I wanted to give any of those people the title of best friend since it no longer felt as important as it did before. 

She ended her piece by saying this: as long as your heart is whole. 

That night, as we continued through the dense fog along the Pennsylvania interstate, I thought about those words. We had just stopped driving to get some snacks (Lays salt & vinegar chips for me, cookies and water for my parents) and I thought about the moment I was in and how it felt kind of similar to a moment I had experienced 3 years earlier, road tripping from Virginia to Princeton with my friend. We had stopped at a gas station rest stop and I got two bags of chips (bbq and salt & vinegar) and then went back on the highway.

The memory of the rest stop led to memories, both good and bad, of the trip. I thought of my mediocre driving, the house we slept it, my friend’s cousins, the night at football practice, the awkward conversations and the sad ones, the general simultaneous anguish and joy I’d felt on the trip, that I’d felt that whole year. 

And all those things were just memories. They didn’t bring me to tears or bring me great delight. I just remembered them all without all the feelings that had been originally associated with them. 

I never responded to my friend’s text because right after that message the conversation quickly shifted. But if I had answered, I would’ve told her that it is. But I think I would also tell her it is ok if it isn’t. That loss is a part of life and denying your emotional response to pain doesn’t make you strong, it makes you invulnerable. 

For once, I’m not fearful and insecure. I’m not constantly worried and ashamed. And it’s not all because of the end of a friendship. In fact, I don’t think most of it is. I think some of it stems from the fact that I’m done with school, some is because I’ve met cool peeps and developed friendships with them, and some is because I was finally willing and able to remove the idol of that friendship from my life (see previous post for more on that). 

But honestly, the thing that has made these recent times so great is that I’ve been even a tiny bit more focused on God. I’m not gonna lie and say I pray an hour a day and consistently read my bible, but the only reason my heart is more whole now than it was a year ago is because now the idea of brokenness isn’t so scary. It’s just part of life. 

DJP

Disengaged

Still haven’t decided if I’m going to write that post about every song on Adele’s new album. I feel like I will, but I’m not sure yet.

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The other day I was thinking about how disengaged I become when I’m here at my parent’s house.

It’s like all my stress just melts away and I become this care-free, chill, happy person. I had a passing thought to this effect the other day, but now I wonder a little more about it.

A friend from NYC who’s currently spending the holiday back home in Chi-town sent me a text and I was a little stunned. First off, I didn’t really expect to hear from her because I’m at my house and she’s at her house so I just assumed we wouldn’t talk again until one or both of us was back on the East Side. But instead, she sent me this text.

I haven’t responded to it yet for a few reasons. 1) I feel way less obligated to immediately respond to texts than I did a few years ago, 2)  I haven’t done the thing her text implied I should do, and 3) I feel so far removed from her and basically everyone who isn’t a member of my family.

That third thing is the weirdest thing. I imagine the last time I felt this way was in high school and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I still care about my friends and really want to see and reconnect with them when I go back to the city next week, but I feel really distant. I’m at an odd place in my life where I’m really excited for what’s next but I’m kind of looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m not being set up.

Last week (has it only been a week? It feels like a lifetime), I was really proud of myself for making a decision I hadn’t been able to make for a while. I didn’t feel proud because I’m a sociopath (that always needs clarification) but because I knew I was finally more willing to let go of idols and choose God than I had ever been before. And that was a really cool feeling. But I’m also realizing that there are other idols I need to get rid of and those idols may be harder to separate myself from.

My self is one of my biggest idols. I guess people sometimes call this pride but for me it tends to be pride in the other direction. I have this obsession with harping on my faults and flaws. I constantly think about what I’ve done or am doing wrong, why I’m unworthy, why I’ll never be worthy, and why I don’t deserve anything. But when I’m with my family, I can’t do that. I can’t sit around thinking about all my shortcomings because everyone here is constantly undermining the notion that I’m a failure (words of affirmation = my love language).

In any case, I want to strike a balance between engagement and idolatry. When I’m super engaged I idolize my relationships with people and my flaws and when I’m not at all engaged I idolize nothing (literally nothing. Not even God). Clearly, both states are bad. And both states are pretty driven by fear.

So, I’m going to start with God because He’s always the best person to start with. I’ll see what follows. I’ll see what gets torn down and rebuilt along the way. I’ll see where I end up. But that’s where I’ll start. Or at least try.

In honor of a new start*, here’s my favorite Bible verse, which is fitting for almost all occasions but especially for this one:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

DJP

*I wanted to include a video reference to the Arrested Development joke about “anus tart” here but there was no video that properly set the joke up and delivered the punchline. Suffice it to say that it was a great joke, as most Arrested Development jokes are.

 

Newness

I’ve been thinking about a bunch of stuff recently – and I want to write about some of them eventually – but right now I want to write about how different my life will be next week. 

For the first time in forever, I won’t be a student come January. It’s an odd idea that I don’t think I’ve fully comprehended yet but it’s my reality. In January 2016, I’ll be a regular person with a (semi) regular job. 

I’m really excited for this part of life because I imagine it’ll feel more freeing than school often does but I’m also worried about what my life will look like. I think I’ve grown more aware of my singleness in the past few months and more interested in ending it but I’m acutely aware of how difficult it often is to meet people in NYC and how hard it will be for me to do that outside of some type of daily structure. 

I’m also worried about how I’ll spend my time. I have some friends in the city and I tend to hang out with them at least once a week but I don’t always initiate that. It’s easy for me to get into a rhythm of solitude and neglect friends and relationships. 

Still, my most constant fear is that my advisor will email me telling me I didn’t pass my classes this semester and I actually have to spend another semester at Columbia. That’s legit my biggest fear about this whole thing – that January won’t usher in any newness but will instead reflect all the old, boring, debilitating insecurities and issues from before. 

I’m not one for New Years resolutions but I am big on self-awareness (as all good humans should be – at least to some extent) and I know that 2016 will be an interesting year for me. So far, 2015 is ending way better and different than I expected so I can only hope the next year is as exciting. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last few weeks – I’ve disappointed and impressed myself – and that can be pretty exciting. So now, more than ever, as I reflect on the birth of Christ I’m excited about the things life has in store for me. I’m excited about what’s next. And I’m excited for Christmas. 
Merry Christmas!

DJP

“What are you going to do now?”

“What do you mean?”

I didn’t know what her first question meant. I had just made a big decision but not the kind of decision that required any next steps from me. It was tough and sad but it wasn’t the kind of thing that would make me do anything else. It was the kind of thing that would make me think about stuff.

Thinking can sometimes be dangerous for me, but tonight it’s not. Tonight, my mind is empty (and so is my stomach). Tonight, I don’t have anything to think about.

I could think about good memories, I could think about bad memories, I could think about past decisions, I could think about future possibilities, but I’m not. Now doesn’t seem like the time or place for empty memories. And it feels like the future and past are both places I’m not interested in going to.

I didn’t know what to expect from this moment and part of me feels bad writing about it because it seems like it may be a confidentiality breach or just a mean act after an abrupt end. Still, as I write, I’m less worried about the first concern because no one has read this blog in a while and I know the second concern is untrue, even if it may seem that way in certain lights.

I’m not happy but I’m not really sad, which is different than I expected, though I don’t really know what I expected. I wonder about hurt feelings and I hope and pray that isn’t the case. A part of me wants to take it all back (not exactly, but kind of) and send a text or make a phone call. A smaller part of me wonders about the future.

I expected to mourn a huge loss – and who knows, maybe it will set in eventually – but I’m acutely aware that most of the mourning happened two and a half years ago and most of the wavering since then has been a feeble attempt to regain something that was long since lost. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s hope for the future – though, admittedly, I hadn’t thought about that before tonight – but I definitely recognize that there’s no hope for the past and that lots needs to happen between now and the future.

The one thing that does make this hard – the thing that’s made it hard for a while – is the possibility of better times. That possibility has made me re-evaluate this decision for the past 2 years. That possibility makes me sad now, because I can’t help but wonder if this decision  makes any kind of future impossible. I hope it doesn’t.

For the past two years, I’ve been not wanting to feel how I’ve felt regarding this friendship. And for the first time in a while, I came home tonight okay. Dazed, surprised, even incredulous, but ultimately okay. Like I said, I’m not happy – I feel like only a robot would be happy about what happened – but I’m okay. And I know I’ll be okay. I know there are people around me who will help me be okay if I can’t do it on my own. I know it’ll get harder before it gets easier. I know there will be times I probably cry for no reason at all (like right now). But I know, in the end, it was all for the best. And I’ll make it out alive. And I’ll be better for it.

Okay, now I’m sad.

Best wishes,

Danielle

 

On Forgetting

Last night I was reminded of how forgetful I am.

My state isn’t due to my old age (though I hate to be reminded of how close my next birthday is) but instead, it’s a result of my humanity.

I was hanging out with a friend last night – discussing things that friends discuss – when the topic of men came up. The whole night my friend had been telling me about a situation between her and a guy and finally, at the end of the night she turned the question back on me. “I’ve been talking this whole night about *James and this whole time I haven’t even asked you if there’s any boy news in your life.

The answer, of course, was no. But it wasn’t exactly no. “You know, I feel like God really doesn’t like me or something because it’s just not happening for me.” I was joking, but there was a layer of truth to it. Try as I might, I couldn’t stop being single and it was starting to become the norm for me.  It got to the place where I wondered if I’d ever even be in a relationship again before I died.

I jokingly related this event to my brother last night on the phone. His reply was a bit surprising. “You know, it’s funny you said that because *Stephanie and I were just talking about how blessed you are. You look at everything you’ve been through with the disease and stuff and you’re just doing so well. It’s really funny you would say that because I think the opposite is true.”

When he said that, I knew he was right. But not in a bad way where I felt ashamed for even positing the idea that God could hate me but more like in a comforted way. I was reminded of how much God really has been in my corner for everything. I was reminded that I’m loved.

It’s funny how, when we don’t get the things we think we want, we feel unloved. But I’m grateful that the reminder of God’s love – at least this time – didn’t come from being hit over the head or shamed into saying that I was actually blessed. It came from a subtle nudge, a reminder that things aren’t nearly as bad as I like to make them seem. So I’m really glad that God used my brother to remind me that He loves me.

 

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Proactive

My biggest problem in life has always been that I’ve had Hamlet syndrome. It’s that thing where I think way too much before doing things and then things end up pretty horribly for me. I was actually telling someone about this last night over tacos.

When I look back over the past few years of my life and how things have turned out, I don’t regret many decisions I’ve made. What I do regret is the time it’s taken me to make some of my decisions. I’m actually not doing something right now that I really want to do but I’m just “waiting for the right moment”.

Waiting for the right moment is sometimes a legit concern. But sometimes there isn’t a right moment. Or sometimes it doesn’t matter. I realized this over the summer after bringing up a concern to my brother. It was one I’d had for a few months but I hadn’t said anything because either it wasn’t my place or I didn’t want to be too pushy or I figured things would blow over. Eventually, my hand was forced and I had to say something. Things worked out okay, but it was one of those things that would’ve been better dealt with earlier on.

This really is one of my most unfortunate flaws but it’s something I’ve known since high school. (I wrote my college essay about how I was like Hamlet!) Still, it doesn’t seem that bad when nothing bad comes from it. That’s the logic I tend to use to justify this horrible character deficiency. But in reality, bad does come from it. Five people die when Hamlet is just trying to kill one. Likewise, I put other people through more pain when I’m just trying to wait it out on my own. In the end, I hurt myself and someone else.

I can’t actually remember the reason I was thinking about this, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about all week. It’s certainly relevant to decisions I have (or haven’t) made this week in my life, which may be why it’s on my mind, but I feel like there was something else…

In any case, I’m trying to be more proactive. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to say what I’ve been feeling for months. I don’t want to wait until it’s irrelevant to do what I’ve been contemplating for weeks. I don’t want to wait for my life to be over. (Sorry, I had to put that in.)

Admittedly, I don’t know how to become more proactive. I don’t know if I should train myself or just start randomly doing things without thinking too much about them. *** Funny side note: I sometimes have the opposite problem and do things without thinking. That’s way less frequent and is usually accompanied with intense pride and stupidity, but it has happened once or twice, with really horrible results.***

I want to be better at being honest in a timely fashion. That is all.

An Outlet

I’m looking for an outlet for all my thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

This blog used to be an outlet, but it’s hard for me to let things out here without the double-edged sword of knowledge that when you let something out on the internet, you’ve let it out into the world.

I want to learn how to give up things that aren’t good for me and give up myself for things that aren’t bad for me.

I don’t want this blog, and especially this post, to read like the musings of an angsty teenager.

I can’t help the fact that this post is sounding like the musings of an angsty teenager.

I really like babies and I must be at my reproductive peak because I keep thinking of ways to have one.

I really like men and I must be ovulating because I keep thinking of ways to have one.

I’m not even ovulating though.

I always think I’m stressed about school and work and academics but I think I’m actually stressed about relationships and romance and intimacy.

I’m definitely stressed about intimacy.

I was on the subway the other day and a guy kept leaning back onto my hand and I thought about how much physical intimacy I lack in my life.

I also thought about that joke from 30 Rock.

Invariably, I wonder why my 20s are so exciting but also so painful.

I try to figure out how to recapture the good days from the past so that my future can be better.

As always, I wonder if I’m letting things persist that should have been over years ago.

I convince myself I’m not.

Then I convince myself I am.

Then I watch TV so I can stop thinking about these deep yet stressful questions.

Sometimes, I want to stay home.

Not home as in my apartment, but home like where my family is.

Sometimes, I want to go to Princeton and just hang out with Ravonne.

Then I remember that I can’t recreate the past.

Then I remember that sometimes relationships are lopsided and sometimes, when you’re on the wrong side, that hurts.

It doesn’t always hurt though.

It doesn’t usually hurt.

Now I’m getting choked up.

Now I wish there were someone to talk to.

Now I wonder if there ever will be.

I’m remembering the few people who ever have been.

One is in Princeton.

The other is in Rome.

The other is back home.

Not in my apartment, in my hometown.

I think I’m going to go to sleep now.

Sleep is always a good outlet.