Monday, March 30, 2015

It's Your Thoughts, Not Your Age, That Matter When You Get Married

I'm twenty-four years old and I got married at the age of twenty. Plenty of people would say that my age was far too young to get married. Yet, if someone gets married at the age of thirty, plenty of people would say "It's about time!". When did important life decisions become about a number, rather than just knowing when you're ready?

I am very much in love with my husband and I have been since practically the moment we met. But when I made the decision to marry him, my love for him was only a small part of my decision. For just being in love, does not make anyone ready for marriage.

Marriage is about being ready to spend your life compromising, sharing your decisions, and above all, understanding how to balance your needs while selflessly making decisions to benefit your spouse. It's about being ready to grow up and take on a million new responsibilities you never saw coming. It's about accepting your spouse for every single part of them, the good and the bad, and being ready to deal with the ups and downs that go along with that.

With things like Facebook now a days, it's hard for people not to compare themselves to their peers. At 24, I see all kinds of different worlds on my Facebook in my age group. There are the people that are married, the ones with children, some who are already divorced, and the couples who aren't married yet but have been together for years. Then there are the singles who are off in grad school, others beginning their new exciting careers, working non-stop, and then a handful who somehow still party and drink like they never left high school. The point is, every one is different. There isn't an age that makes you ready for the future. Only you can decide when you're truly ready.

At twenty years old, I was lucky enough to know. Since I was a little girl, the only thing I could remember wanting more than anything in the world was a family of my own. Before I met my husband, I had dated my fair share of guys and each one taught me about myself and what I was looking for in a relationship. They also taught me that sometimes, you only see what you want to see when you're in the moment. I dated a guy I really liked when I was 17, and yet, I don't even know why I liked him so much. Deep down, I knew he wasn't right for me but I didn't want to admit it to myself. When he broke up with me, I was heartbroken. However, as time passed and the blinders I had kept so tightly on came off, it was clear to me that he and I would have never worked out. I think what I liked about him was that he was a symbol of the independence I was so eager to have. However, this one major attraction didn't mean we were in any way compatible.

When I met my husband at 18, there were clear signs that made me realize over time that he was the one for me. However, the biggest sign was how natural I felt around him. Whether I felt ridiculously goofy or mind-blowingly frustrated, he always understood. I knew at any moment I could be myself and he would never hold me back, only help me blossom further. And I realized I did the same for him. To me, his "faults" aren't "faults". They're personality traits that make him who he is, and it is part of marriage to find the ability to understand and respect them. The fact is, if I had to choose between a lifetime of his faults or a lifetime without him, it wouldn't even be a choice. There is no world that I can picture without him. Like all big decisions in life, you should never hide from the negative sides you may see. These sides only help you decide what you truly want and what you're truly ready for.

At twenty years old, when he proposed to me, I didn't ever just expect the happy moments. I never went in with blinders on. I knew exactly who I was marrying and expected that we'd face challenges along the way. In some ways, I prepared myself for things that never even happened. Honestly, I feel like when we got married, we both knew who the other person was so well that we've never judged each other for our differences. Our annoyances or frustrations never give us thoughts of "maybe this isn't working". They only help us strive to be an even more dynamic couple.

The point is, no matter what age you are, falling in love is always easy. It's getting married, however, that takes a different level of understanding that only you will know if you're truly ready for.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Finding Your Creativity

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and I couldn't fall back asleep. There was a conversation I had earlier yesterday that had my brain spinning and I was trying to think of solutions. This conversation was in no way negative, it was one where I just wanted to find a way to help.

It was about finding your creativity. As an all around creative person, I know just how tough it is to hit a mental block. I've had a year go by where I couldn't write a single song and it depressed me beyond belief. I'd even sit down, try to write a few phrases, and then realize they meant absolutely nothing to me.

One day, I don't know how I realized my cure, but I did. After many stressful months of changes in my life and me trying to shrug it all off and "get through it", I closed my eyes. I let myself feel the struggles that I was trying so hard to mask. Suddenly, a flood of songs came to me within days. It's like I couldn't stop. Happy feelings. Sad feelings. Fearful feelings. Loving feelings. They were all there again and the second I let the words hit the paper, I could feel the thoughts I had kept bottled inside of me for months leaving me. Once the songs were complete and I sang them repeatedly, I ended up with closure.

At the end of the day, I realized. Creativity has nothing to do with anyone else. Creativity is personal and it's private and it's something you do for you. If you eventually choose to share it with others, you do. But there shouldn't be any pressure to do so. First and foremost, you have to do it for you, and the only way to do that is use your creativity like your own personal diary.

The fact is, every book, song, or painting is every creators own personal diary. And yet, through months of struggling with my own emotions, I found comfort in singing other people's songs. Trying to relate to what they were singing about. The honest truth though is, nothing other than your own art will "cure" you. Because even if you love a song, a story, or a character, and it makes perfect sense to you, at the end of the day, you can still shrug it off as someone else. Yet when you create it, when you write it, there's no one else it stems from but you.

So, here's my advice. If you're going through a creative block right now, I want you to close your eyes. Picture that little box inside of you that holds your emotions. Take a key, unlock it, and let your emotions come out. If you're a writer, write about it. Start your novel by creating a character that feels what you feel, thinks what you think, fears what you fear, experiences what you've experienced. Even if you can't think of how to begin the story, begin your prologue with your character talking about their own writer's block. Their own fear to let their emotions loose. Begin from there and let your feelings guide you. Don't worry about the imperfections in the story, the chapters that you skip, write from where you can and write from what you know. Don't plan to show your story to anyone. Let it be personal and don't be afraid to let this character express everything you feel.

My go to first phrase as a songwriter when I'm struggling to find the words is, "Today, I woke up". Whether I write it into my song or not, I begin from that place, because for me, my feelings and emotions are always in the front of my mind when I awake. As the day progresses, a million distractions come my way but if I think back to how I felt when I opened my eyes and what was on my mind, I can always work from there.

The fact is, once your emotions are free, it's easier to write, sing, paint, etc. about anything else. Every story, even the fantasy stories people write are somewhere based on their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. But to get there and write a story that you or anyone else can connect with, you first have to deal with your reality and discover your own emotions.

If you just open that little treasure box inside your mind, you'll discover a lot about yourself, and once you open it, you can begin to deal with it. The beauty of creativity is that you don't have to deal with it through analysis or long discussions. You can deal with it in the most personal heartfelt way you know how. Through your own art and your own characters. Somehow, my songs always begin with my struggles, but they always end with a conclusion. Like any story, there has to be a beginning, middle, and end. If you start your story from the beginning (or even the middle!), eventually, you will find your own conclusion because there's no other way for it to end.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The True Definition of You

It's funny how when you're a certain age, or when you're still trying to discover who you are, how you latch on to things to help "define" you, yet the only thing in this world that defines you ends up being you.

When I was 16, I was obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If I could've become Buffy, I think I would have. I couldn't go a conversation without somehow connecting the show and I most certainly couldn't go a week, if even a day, without watching an episode (or a full fledged marathon!). I was obsessed with going to conventions, meeting the actors, and getting their autographs. I had to get prop replicas and always made fan music videos. Everything in my life somehow related to the show. If I was depressed, I was season six Buffy. If I was trying to work out my own teen years and problems in school, I was high school Buffy. My obsession with Buffy continued for a few years. Until one day, it didn't. Don't get me wrong, I still love the show. It will always be one of my favorites. But my world somewhere around 18 stopped revolving around the show and with each passing year, it slowly faded into the background.

Convention photo with Buffy the Vampire Slayer star, James Marsters, and my sister, Raishel

What changed? Me. My life. At 16, all I wanted was to escape into some fantasy world. Now, at 24, everything is so different. Back then, if I was given the choice to watch TV or go out, I would've gladly chosen TV (unless it was somehow Buffy related of course!). Now, given the choice, I would always choose spending time with my family or driving off on an adventure with my husband or working on some creative project.

It's ironic. At 16, I would've been the first person to defend why TV is amazing and necessary in life. In fact, I did so on many occasions with my parents. At 24, I understand it's entertainment value and to an extent, I still understand the lessons that a person can learn from a show. I mean, I did learn at six years old never to drink and drive thanks to Party of Five! It opens up conversations and it allows you to learn about different perspectives. However, shouldn't life do that? As a reformed TV addict, I now constantly wonder what good being obsessed with a TV show does. In the end, I feel like it can become more of a mask than anything else. Someone else's story that you use to hide behind when life gets tough.

I'm thankful for the people in my life, who without knowing it, helped me remove my mask and discover my passions and reclaim myself. Through some incredible life milestones, from getting married to moving to CA to opening our restaurant, I've learned that I don't want to escape my world, I want to embrace it. When things are complicated and I get scared of what's to come, I no longer turn to TV as my comforting friend. I turn to the people around me for guidance or support.

Our Wedding (September 3, 2011)
The truth is, no material thing in this world will ever define you. That's why our obsessions and interests change year after year. It's why something we loved one year may repulse us the next. Because truthfully, the only definition of you is what comes from inside. It's your thoughts, your feelings, your real world experiences. Everything else is just a mask. Don't get me wrong, it's okay to love these things and life wouldn't be life without having interests and hobbies, but the point is, it's also equally okay to wake up one day and feel differently. You should never let it define you because life changes and you're constantly evolving.

In the end, never lose sight of who you actually are at the core. Because that person is amazing and deserves to shine...and that is something a TV show (or any other obsession for that matter) will never provide.