Drag Out My Demons

Appropriate for the holiday this weekend, I have been thinking about how my current relationship is a bit scary to me. If I have come to know anything when it comes to love, it is that the best relationships are not all sunshine and daisies. They are a source for personal growth and self-reflection. If you want to find yourself in a true and healthy relationship, you must find the kind of love that is not afraid to confront the skeletons in your closet with a positive and caring demeanor.

My boyfriend (we’ll call him Army from now on) and I have been dating for about two months now. We met –don’t laugh– on a blind date set up by my mother and his grandparents. When I agreed to go on said date it was more to appease my mom than anything else. That, and I had nothing to do that evening, so why not?

When I first started dating again after my emotionally traumatic breakup with X, I was too quick to let the person get close to me. I confided more in our first few dates than I probably should have, laying my heart out due to loneliness, sadness, and feelings of rejection and failure. I was too quick to want someone to reclaim my heart, and I allowed it to be cracked a bit more in the process.

After the first dating failure, I became more hesitant to let anyone get close to me. I saw no point in introducing dates to my parents because I simply wanted to engage in surface-level relations. I didn’t want intimacy. I didn’t want commitment. I simply wanted friendship.

It surprised the hell out of me then that I took to Army so fully just on our first meeting. He wasn’t my usual type. He was sports-minded and egotistical and came from a different world than what I grew up in. So my first self-protective instinct was to run and revert back to my old habits of being an introvert and hiding all the messy parts about my past deep in a cave. I attempted to keep my contact with him to a minimum in case he were to make me feel some scary emotions I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I realized though that these thoughts were just my mind’s sad excuse to stay closed down emotionally. When I finally decided to take the leap and open myself (however small each time), he received it with grace and care. What’s better, he returned being open with me.

Before we even had decided to become “official” (as our families proudly report) we had shared some of our demons with each other. No matter how terrifying such intimacy can be, the concept of dragging your demons to the light of another person is deeply therapeutic.

I mean, here you are showing an intimate part of your soul with someone who accidentally stumbled into your life. He could misinterpret and think you’re a basket-case or he could be shocked out of his feeling for you or he could feel you have way too much baggage for him to deal with… or not.

Maybe, just maybe, when all your demons are out in the sunlight and you feel as if your heart is in his hands, he’ll smile and say, “Everything is going to be okay. The past is the past, the future is now.”

I feel lucky, even only two months in, to have found someone who makes me want to start waving a flashlight in the direction of my demons. Shame and hurt and disappointment from the past cannot continue to exist if you want to develop a close loving relationship with someone else.

I’m lucky to have reached this place in my life (even when I didn’t realize I was at that point yet) where I can see someone who is challenging, confronting, and –yes– scaring me all for the purpose of acting as a positive change in my life. Army has already encouraged me to face things that I tried to suppress for a long time. He’s nudging me out of my comfort zone in the perfection moderation and helping me to push and become a better person. I don’t know what the future holds for us as a couple, but I am grateful that I met Army because him scaring the crap out of me was the push I needed for this positive transformation that I never anticipated.

Giving into my fear might just be the best thing I ever did for myself.

Quick Personality Identifier

Memorado has an interesting personality test going viral around the Social Media world. It is a psychometric test designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Take it to see what type of personality you portray.

The test is based on four preferences for personality types:

  • Where, primarily, do you prefer to direct your energy? E or I (Extroversion or Introversion)
  • How do you prefer to process information? S or N (Sensing or Intuition)
  • How do you prefer to make decisions? T or F (Thinking or Feeling)
  • How do you prefer to organize your life? J or P (Judgment or Perception)

I was given a INFJ, meaning I am mostly introverted, process information through intuition, prefer to make my decisions based on feelings, and organize my life via judgement. I guess this is the least common personality type in the world… So I’m a bit of a rarity. Here is the full description of me:

INFJs are kind, mindful, complex and highly intuitive people. This is the most rare personality type of all, only 1 percent of the population has it. INFJs are lovingly named The Protectors (hence the Captain America picture the test provided for me!)

They like to organize their outer world in categories and priorities they never stop redefining. However, they have a great intuition and deal with their inner life very spontaneously. They perceive and understand things very intuitively and are very rarely wrong about their intuitions. This dichotomy between their inner and outer life may result in INFJs being less organized than other Judging types.

Because of their great instincts, INFJs understand people and situations very easily. They often feel when something has happened to some of their friends of family members even if they cannot really explain to themselves how they perceived it. Those strong intuitive capabilities may lead them sometimes to stubbornness and ignoring other people’s opinions since they trust their instincts above everything else. This attitude should not be perceived as arrogance as INFJs are perfectionists and think they should always improve themselves and the world around.

INFJs set up a strong value system for themselves and always care about living in accordance with their values and ideals. They are warm and easy going as long as they do not have to compromise their values.

Warm and caring, they hate conflicts and will avoid hurting people. They will generally internalize their anger which can be a source of stress and health problems for them.

In the work place, most INFJs show up in creative and independent positions. They are good at art and sciences where they can use their intuition at best. They are generally bad at dealing with details and prefer working on the big picture.

INFJs are natural nurturers, protective and devoted. They make loving parents and build strong bonds with their children.

Share what personality type you are and if you agree with your results!

The Life of a Twenty-Something

It seems the older I get the more I hear people complain about their birthdays and ages a lot. When someone wishes them a Happy Birthday the response is usually a grimace with a murmured thanks. In reality, though, we should all be thankful and blessed that another year has rolled around for us. Age means you’ve experienced yet another year of good and bad, and lived through them all. What a wonderful accomplishment!

I turn 23 today, and I thought it would be interesting to briefly take a look back over my 23 years and see how my life has evolved to the state it is today.

(I’ll do this in five year increments.)

Newborn Ashley (1991): I was born in Small Country Michigan and lived in a black-shuttered white house with my mom, dad, and miniature schnauzer, Grace. My room was decorated in Baby Disney, my hair was so light I appeared bald, and I only fell asleep after a few car trips around the neighborhood.

5YO Ashley (1996): My parents had decided I was such a perfect child that they stopped with me. I began learning at a local Lutheran elementary school and was known for my creativity. I still lived in the same house, but it was now gray and had burgundy shutters. I had a young boxer named Abby who was my best friend, and a few human friends around my neighborhood with whom I played. I had few responsibilities or worries.

10YO Ashley (2001): Just a month after 9/11, the world was still on high alert to the dangers within it. As a studious student, I became one to do much research and learned more on my own than in class. Harry Potter was my favorite book. Grace had passed away and we had gotten another little nugget named Jazz, as well as a calico named Noah; Abby and Jazz were our best dogs ever. My closest friends remained my neighbor and some girls in my class, but I was more of an introvert and liked to read. I wanted to be an architect when I grew up.

15YO Ashley (2006): I had just begun high school. Ten of the same peers who I had gone to kindergarten with were part of my freshman class. Our class was the largest in ten years for the school with 40 students. I focused on my studies as well as playing sports, which included soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I threw myself into a new circle of friends, specifically four girls who didn’t seem to belong to any one clique. I didn’t find myself interested in dating, but that may be because half the guys in my class I had known for the majority of my life. I was waiting for another year so I could finally have my license.

20YO Ashley (2011): It is crazy to think how much had changed in these short five years! I had graduated high school second in my class, already finished my freshman year of college, transferred universities, and been dating my high school sweetheart for a year and a half. I had lost touch with pretty much my entire high school class, give a person here or there, and my friendship circle was pretty small. I was floating through life without much aim. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career, so I was taking general education courses.

22YO Ashley (2013): I was banking on only two more semesters of schooling until graduation, but wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. My goal was to become a grant writer for a nonprofit somewhere in the world (it was more focused than my sophomore year!) I had just begun working at my winery, was commuting to school from my parents’ house, and still driving my Jeep from high school. My friends had expanded a bit further from just my boyfriend (who was actually my fiance by this time), but I still didn’t have anyone very close. I was reaching out and becoming more involved at school though, especially with three organizations on campus in which I took roles of leadership. I was tired of schooling, and was focusing my efforts more on wedding planning than anything else. I had hardly any worries, other than my piling up school debt and what seemed at the time small relationship problems.

23YO Ashley (2014): I am working two jobs which I absolutely adore, one full time and the other once a week. I ended up graduating on time after a semester of working two jobs, an internship, and 24 credits. Somehow I survived that workload on top of a broken engagement. I have a lot of friends now, all of whom I love and cherish. My two dearest friends I did not even know a year ago. I now talk to numerous people from high school, most of whom I never associated with while actually in class. I am beginning a new relationship with someone completely new in my life, and I feel happier than I have ever been. I bought my first big purchase, a brand new car. I’m still at my parents but for the most part we get along fine. I’m not sure how life could be any better right now.

Time sure seems to go by so fast right now Every night I think about how quickly the day flew and it amazes me. I might have worries one day, but they also fly by. I always know there are people looking out for me and people who truly care, so my worries fade pretty quick. All I can do for now is smile and appreciate every experience I get to have throughout every year of my life.

On a whole separate note: thank you for all the birthday wishes, friends and family, I appreciate you all so much!!

Losing Moments

“Be present. Be kind. Be knowledgeable. Make love. Make tea. Avoid small talk. Embrace conversation. Buy a plant, water it. Make your bed. Make someone else’s bed. Have a smart mouth and a quick wit. Run. Make art. Write. Create. Swim in the ocean. Dance in the rain. Take chances. Ask questions. Make mistakes. Learn. Know your worth. Love fiercely. Forgive quickly. Let go of what doesn’t make you happy. Grow. Laugh. Live.”

These are all things I want to do in my life. In little over a week I will be a whole year older. I cannot believe how quickly my life has gone by! It seems that time seems to speed up the older and busier I become. I need this to stop! I want to enjoy the few years I have, I want to see the world, I want to experience all life has to offer! But it seems the older I get the less chances I have…

Now I know time is actually moving at the same rate it was during my childhood. I remember many a lazy summer day that seemed to stretch on to infinity. So what seems to have changed is my perception of time.

I read an interesting article the other day that discussed why time seems to slip blindly by as we go through our days. In the article, research stated that time is processed in three-second increments. In a way, the human brain warps time as our brains receive more or less input than usual. This is why time slows down during a car crash and a person can lose an entire day watching Netflix.

The point of the study was to influence people to do more, or rather notice more. Focusing one’s attention on the here and now is shown to help our brains store more information and alter our perspectives of how fast time is passing. Being mindful to focus on such things can actually slow down our brain’s perception of time. In the same way, mindlessly being distracted can create a feeling that we’re losing whole hours. The final suggestion of the article was to not go through daily routines on autopilot, but rather create clear goals or events throughout the day to notify your brain of time passing.

I’m not quite ready for my life to fly by. I want to enjoy every moment of every day I am alive. I mean, God’s given me so much, why would I not want to make the time to appreciate it all?! I want to notice the small kind gestures those around me make, I want to see the exchanging of conversation and movement between all aspects of the world, and I want to actively perform my life and prove my time to be valuable with all those whom I associate.

Just as the quote said at the beginning, I want to be present in every circumstance. I want to experience every minute of my life. I simply want to enjoy my life and everything happening within it.