Hindsight 20/20

Photo Credit: favim.com

My parents tell me that I broke your heart… but I deny it.

Sometimes, I think about how we used to be. I remember that one night when I texted you asking if you knew any good places to get my guitar fixed. We hadn’t really ever talked that much before this so I was shocked by your answer. “I can fix it for you, what’s your address,” you replied. You drove half an hour to my house to come pick up my guitar. You didn’t just pick up my guitar; you played my piano, talked to me, made me laugh, and told me I had a beautiful voice and you would love to play music with me.

From that night we became closer. I remember how excited I got when you would text me, how nervous I was when you would come over, and how happy I would be when we played music together.

Weeks went by and, even though you lived half an hour away, we’d hang out almost every night after swim practice. I remember my best friend saying how perfect you were for me. At that moment, I agreed. You were an amazing guitarist who was looking for a singer in your band. You were funny and entertaining. You were an amazing swimmer. And, you actually paid attention to me, something I had never really experienced from a guy.

One night, I heard a knock on my door. There you were with a guitar case, my guitar case. I opened it to find my guitar clean, polished, and fixed. I thought you were just going to replace the string that I had snapped. I was shocked. I offered you money, but you wouldn’t take it.

That night, you kissed me. I had kissed people before in dares, spin the bottle, or other stupid party games, but this was my first real kiss. My heart beat a million times a minute, my cheeks were probably bright red, and I remember thinking how perfect that moment was. It’s crazy how much things have changed since then.

I remember how you would surprise me with flowers; how we would sneak into your guest house when your parents were home, so we wouldn’t get caught; the guitar lessons you gave me; and the food you would buy me. I met your whole family. We did a triathlon together. You finished way before me, but as soon as you crossed the finish line, you ran back to do the final stretch with me. When I ran my marathon, you woke up at five am to drive to the starting line and cheer for me and you were their when I crossed the finish line. Then, there was the time you told me you loved me, I said it too.

It seems like everything happened so fast. I had so many firsts with you. I had so many good memories with you. Before this, guys always ignored me, wanted nothing to do with me, and would never want to be part of any relationship with me.  I never thought I would be the one hurting you.

I was happy in the beginning, for the first couple months, but as time went on, something changed. You didn’t change though, you continued to so many nice things for me and be the amazing person you are. You wrote me a song, comforted me when I was down, wrote me letters when I went to sleep away camp, went on hikes with me, and told me I was beautiful. You didn’t change at all, but my feelings did.

I started acting weird. I became a bit distant. I don’t know why I stopped feeling the same for you, it just happened. The day I told my parents I wanted to break up with you they said not to. “He’s so perfect, stick with him,” they said. My mom would get mad when ever I asked her how I could break up with you.

I tried to feel the same way about you again, I really did, but I just couldn’t. The day I broke up with you, you cried. You said you were okay and that it wouldn’t change our friendship, but we both knew that was a lie.

I cried too. I felt like such an awful person. My mom would tell me I deserved to feel that way, because of what I did to you. My best friend would say it too.

It’s been over half a year since we dated, yet its almost like whenever you look at me, you seem sad.  We’re in the same friend group, so I see you sometimes when I’m with my friends. A couple weeks ago, I asked you what was wrong. “Whenever I see you, I just get sad. I get so jealous when I see you with other guys. I still love you,” you said.

Now, we barley talk. It’s awkward when people say your name.

Sometimes I think about how we used to be. My parents tell me that I broke your heart… I don’t deny it.

 

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Stargazing

A couple days ago, on a camping trip in the Alabama Hills, we all sat in silence in the pitch-black and looked at the stars. Seeing the hundreds of shining dots of light scattered in the sky was breathtaking; yet, some part of me felt a morsel of sadness. In order to see these stars, it was a four-hour drive from the small town I live in and a seven-hour drive from the nearest large city.  In Las Vegas, LA, or even just in my backyard, I can look up and see no stars and no moon, just black.

There are 40 billion stars in the Triangular Galaxy, 100 billion stars in the Whirlpool Galaxy, 250 billion stars in the Milky Way, and 1 trillion starts in the Andromeda galaxy. In the universe, there is an estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars; yet, due to human-caused factors, such as light pollution, only 5,000 stars are visible to the human eye across the world.

The average star is 109.1 times larger than Earth and the largest star is 32,730 times larger than the planet we live on. It’s also ten million times brighter than our sun.

These stars are so much larger than our earth; yet, in America alone, over 80% of the population is unable to see them.

You may wonder, so what? Why does this matter?

Here’s why it matters to me:

Every star I see reminds me of how small I am, how small you are, and how small the human population is. Nowadays, so many people view themselves as giant. Humans kill other animals, destroy the wilderness, and essentially destroy our elves with how we treat our planet (climate change, over population, the list goes on).

I should stop saying how we treat our planet; it’s how we treat the planet. Humans don’t own it; it is not something that we can claim as ours or threaten until it gives in. No, Earth is a powerful force of nature being affected by the billions of small, ant-like creatures called humans who live on it. It is not ours; it is not ours to destroy. So, humanity, please stop fucking acting like it is.

Humans are not the biggest force to be reckoned with; we aren’t gods. Our current superiority does not give us the right to kill everything in our path. One day, a meteor will hit; a black hole will swallow the earth;  countries will fire nuclear bombs and wipe out all life; the global warming we caused will result in an atmosphere unsustainable for all life; or, just like the dinosaurs, an astroid will hit. Even if all life on Earth just magically disappeared, the planets would keep spinning, the suns would keep burning, and the stars would keep shining.

Whenever you can, look at the sky and stars. Remember we are small, but, even though we are small, we have the power to protect this planet we call Earth.

Photo Credit: davemorrowphotography.com

 

 

Shortcuts

Let’s face it, they’re nice. Who am I kidding, they can be great.

Would you rather win the lottery or work your ass off everyday, struggling to get by?

Would you rather get straight A’s and not even have to try or be in a class where getting a B- minus is a HUGE accomplishment?

Would you rather do your Spanish homework or go on Quizlet and find the answers?

Would you rather tell your mom you swept the floor or would you rather actually sweep the floor?

Would you rather take an hour to fold and put away your clothes or just shove them in your closet in less than thirty seconds?

What I’m getting at here is, shot cuts can be nice. Who am I kidding, they can be great. Yet, as great as they are, most make life harder in the long run.

Cool, Quizlet got my Spanish work done in two minutes, but do I even know what the heck any of the questions are asking?

Cool, my mom thinks I swept the floor, but am I really the type of person who will throw away their integrity just to get out of a thirty second chore?

Cool, my clothes are out of the way, but, shoot, when I went to get dressed, a mountain of clothing fell on me.

Cool, I did twenty push-ups instead of twenty-five, but is getting done first even an accomplishment if you cheated?

Photo Credit: lovethispic.com

Many days, I see people taking short cuts too, so its nice to know that I’m not the only one. But, more than just self-reassurance, I find it comforting that I’m not the only one who occasionally struggles with putting short term effects over long term results.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to walk twenty miles to work instead of driving because you have legs. I’m nothing saying to use them, to not even think about taking the car. I’m not saying no short cuts for you. But, if work is a three minute walk from your house, don’t take a short cut and drive. Being efficient and taking a short cut are two VERY different things.

Efficiency is great. A needed skill set in the always-going world we live in. Why would you walk twenty miles to get to work when you can take a quarter of the time and drive? Why take three hours hand-writing a story when you can type it in a half hour?

A lot of the time, people mistake efficiency for cheating. The definition of efficiency is to get the most done in the shortest amount of time with the least work. So, maybe you’re thinking, that you’d rather read the Spark Notes of a book than read the full book.

Here’s the thing, when your teacher asks you what the main character’s last name is, will you have a clue?

When the Spanish test gets handed back, will you get a good grade?

When your mom asks if you did your chores, will you lie directly to her face?

When the race comes and your teammates are strong from doing all the pushups, was the satisfaction of doing less in practice worth the shame you feel now?

Recently, Ive been working on doing the right thing instead of taking the easy way out. I read my English books instead of reading the summary, so I get a good grade on the test. I worked hard in practice and I got a personal record in my race. I took the time to get what I needed to get done instead of putting it off for later or completely ignoring it at all.

I’ve realized that no matter how much you don’t want to, pushing through the little things is what makes you better, stronger, and smarter. Suffering through a hard workout will eventually result in success; thinking about what you say before you speak will result in less regretted words; and putting your all into everything you do will result in a life that you’re proud of.

Take the route that’s right, instead of the short cut. Because, as cliché as it sounds, it’s not the destination that matters, its’ the journey.

Say Yes to The Dress

Last night, my best friend came over to my house to help me pick out what dress to wear for homecoming. I tried them on and got her feedback. Here’s what she had to say:

Dress One:

“You look like a disco ball.”

Dress Two:

“You look like a grandma.”

Photo Credit: tipsyelves.com

 

Dress Three:

“Take that off now, please.”

Dress Four:

“You still look like a grandma.”

Dress Five:

“Why did you even order that?”

Dress Six:

“You look like a hooker who’s going to a funeral for your hooker friend who died hooking up.”

Homecoming is in four days. The dress hunt continues.

It’s Not Just A Sport; It’s A Life Style

We are sleep deprived.

We are sore.

We are tired.

We are hungry.

We have achy muscles.

We push ourselves to our limits day after day.

We attend eighteen hours of swim practice weekly.

We do a sport that works the ENTIRE body.

We endure vigorous, agonizing, grueling, strenuous sets.

We push our bodies until we throw up.

Our shoulders pop and crack constantly.

We wake up at four A.M. for morning practices.

We don’t only train in the pool, we run, lift weights, and basically do anything coach tells us to do.

We work and work and work for the hopes of dropping time, yet, many times, our times are stubborn and don’t budge.

We stare at a black line for hours. 25, 50,75, 100. 25, 50…

We cry at times.

We are always striving for a bigger and better goal than the one we just achieved.

“Normal” kids are watching TV; we are training.

We work nonstop, constantly, everyday to take off .01 seconds of our time.

We try our best and still get yelled at. We try our best and get rewarded.

We experience being unmotivated. We push through.

We don’t only strengthen ourselves as athletes, we strengthen our selves as people.

We suffer as a team, we grow as a team, we improve as team.

We make friends and experiences that will last a life time.

We have a second family.

We strive for that amazing feeling after working so, so hard. After giving a workout all you have, we strive for that feeling of accomplishment, achievement, effort, proudness, fulfillment.

We may forget it at times, but we love the sport.

We are swimmers.

A couple days in the past couple weeks, I have been in a slump when I go to practice. I am slower than my teammates who go and qualify for the Olympic trials. I feel slow. I push myself, yet still am slower than my teammates, I get discouraged. I feel like a failure, so I don’t work as hard as I should. I regret my performance in practice. I cry on the drive home.

Photo Credit: eBay.com

Today, I acknowledged the fact that I am on a fast team; my teammates are some of the best in the nation. I acknowledged the fact that I can be like them if I do what I do best: work hard. I acknowledged that I’m on this team for a reason.

Today, I worked so hard that my legs stung, my arms numb, my lungs burned, I got dizzy, my heart beat at what felt like a million miles an hour. At times, I was practically hyperventilating. At points, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I pushed as hard as I could. I missed a couple intervals, but I didn’t give up. At the end of the set, my body still ached and burned, but I felt amazing. A feeling of happiness almost beyond words. A feeling that any true athlete understands. At the end of the set, I felt the feeling that makes me remember why I love the sport. Remember why I do all of the things listed above. Remember why I’m so deeply  in love with this sport.

Remember why I am proud to say: “I am a swimmer.”

Sweaty Hugs and Hard-Earned Gatorade

Photo Credit: thepreachersword.com
team
tēm/
noun:
a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
synonyms: group, squad, company, party, crew, troupe, band, side, lineup, phalanx
verb:
come together as a team to achieve a common goal.
“he teamed up with the band to produce the album”
synonyms: join (forces), collaborate, get together, work together.
Sweaty hugs; cheering until my throat is raw;the pre-race jitters; hard-earned Gatorade; singing to “Africa” on the bus rides; pushing through almost unbearable pain; the cheers from my coaches and team mates; the feeling of success, when all the hard training and effort pays off; the happiness of coaches bringing food, after you just pushed yourself to your physical max; the endless support we have for each other; the amount of effort we put in; the dynamic and connection between us athletes; the fact that real teammates don’t only care about how you perform, they care about how hard you try. All these things contribute to the the feeling of being part of an authentic team, which is one of the best feelings that exists.
au·then·tic
ôˈTHen(t)ik/
adjective
adjective: authentic.
of undisputed origin; genuine.
“the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”

synonyms: genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable

antonyms: fake. synonyms: reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, honest, faithful.

In my words, the way it should be: caring and real. 

I’ve been on many teams before. On some, we’ve won championships and received numerous trophies. On some, we placed last and got our asses handed to us. Winning is great, it’s what I strive to do, but I’ve realized that more than just winning that counts. I’ve realized that to have a good team, winning can’t be the only focus.

On a previous team, every day I would give my all. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, even the slightest mess-up resulted in dirty glares and angry shrugs. It made it so I was nervous to go to practice; I was afraid of my teammates; I pushed myself to the limits, because I was scared the punishment if I didn’t; and I was absolutely mortified before every game. This approach worked. I got stronger, I got better, I became a better athlete, but I forgot the fact that I love the sport.

After two years on that team, another opportunity came up, so I switched to a team with a VERY different dynamic. We pushed each other to do our best, to be our best. When slip-ups or bad days came, we encouraged each other to get better, not to feel like shit. I became so close to my teammates, I had good relationships with my coaches, I was so excited to go to practice everyday, and I pushed myself to the limits, because I wanted to get better for myself and my team. Our team performed just as well as the other one I mentioned and my love for the sport was rekindled.

Recently, I joined another team. I love both of the teams I’m on right now so much, but it’s been a long time since I have felt the feeling of happiness, appreciation, friendship, and passion as I did yesterday at my first ever cross country meet.

I know I love swimming far more than I love running, so it confuses me that yesterday, in this sport that I just joined months ago,  has brought me almost as much joy as the sport I have been doing for years. I think it’s just because swimming is more of an individual sport without a large aspect of team. I think its because the swim team I’m on has people who qualify for the Olympics or on the Junior National Team and I’m so slow compared to them, it makes me feel like I’m slow, period. Maybe its because a cross country the team is only as strong as its weakest link, so everyone is needed. Maybe because in the small league we run in, I too place high and feel like a good runner.

I think all of these things are a factor, but what I know for sure is that the feeling of being part of an authentic team is one of the best feelings that exists.

Ignorance Is Bliss

Photo Credit: peta.org

Sixty-six thousand dogs and twenty-one thousand cats are used for testing makeup, pharmaceutical drugs, carcinogens, and much more. Within this testing, animals are burnt, abused, and even killed. Many pregnant animals are slaughtered so their fetuses can be used for testing.

Many ranchers use the cheapest ways to kill animals, such as electrocution or injecting them with insecticides, which take around three minutes of pain before the animal will die.

Footage of leading fur producing industries showed the animals being slammed against the floor to stun them and them being skinned alive.

A beef company in Texas was reported twenty-three times for cutting the hooves off of live cattle. No notifications to stop or police punishments where placed upon the company.

Videos of the slaughter house which supplies KFC with its chickens were released showing employees slamming the birds against walls, stomping on them, and kicking them. They twisted the chickens heads off, ripped of their beaks, and pulled them in half, all while the birds were still alive.

An employe from Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas was shown punching and stomping turkeys, slamming them against walls, crushing the bird’s skulls, and bashing them on metal handrails. All of this was done to the turkeys while they were still alive.

Animals in fur farms are kept in extremely small cages and are killed around the age of six months. The animals are kept in extremely cold conditions, so they will grow the thickest coats as possible. Many of them freeze to death, yet the industry couldn’t care less, because the fur can still be used.

The shark fin soup business kills over one hundred million sharks per year. When the sharks are caught, fishermen just cut of the fins and throw the shark back into the ocean. Without fins, the shark is unable to swim and will sink to the bottom of the sea, dying a slow, painful death.

The Humane Society of the United States discovered police officers in uniform betting on animal fighting in Kentucky.

Over 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized in the US due to the lack of space in shelters.

These are few of the many injustices and cruelties that animals face.

Ignorance is bliss, but ignorance won’t change anything.

In order to help, adopt animals from shelters instead of breeders or puppy mills, buy products that are not tested on animals, stay away from purchasing leather or fur.

There are many more ways to help end animal cruelty; for more, visit:

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/facts/animal_cruelty_facts_statistics.html

https://www.animalsasia.org/us/facts-about-cruelty-to-animals-in-asia.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwlejcBRAdEiwAAbj6KZCr2oCxgNUj7XhQmn8xroDKnlohUCK38PPJ4XDk0DCFxX6MMbyIFxoCHvUQAvD_BwE

https://animalcharityevaluators.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwlejcBRAdEiwAAbj6KXf0N0RKoJSphilk09zRrHSow6C8UOjQV45mnPuvKqzvsLnZYG88_xoC12AQAvD_BwE

https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty

http://forallanimals.org/animal-cruelty-law-enforcement-and-prosecution-faqs/?gclid=CjwKCAjwlejcBRAdEiwAAbj6Kfc5QuEipsthLi8k1ToZC613n_wm1-JmY15kJObRYF-JpVYqGu3EsxoCJBcQAvD_BwE

https://www.peta.org/about-peta/learn-about-peta/ingrid-newkirk/