Finally embracing my giraffe status

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Giraffes are beautiful, too.

For a long time, I have related to giraffes. I towered over my classmates at an early age and felt like my awkwardness made me stand out. Just like the giraffe, it was hard to blend in. There’s no place for a giraffe to hide, and I felt like all of my insecurities were equally on full display for everyone to see.

Experiences over the past two weekends have left me with an overwhelming sense of peace in the realization of how far I’ve come on this journey of self-acceptance in just a short time frame. And I credit it with being honest and open in writing while working hard to internalize these new ways of seeing others and myself.

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Learning through example of family life

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As junior year began, I no longer had 8 am classes yet I wanted to continue going to daily mass. There was some relief. The time was changed to 7, so I could sleep in some!

The later time brought in a new demographic of the parish. No longer solely retirees and individuals rushing off to work, now there were also mothers with children. The home schooling crowd.

There was a wide range in ages. I was impressed by their reverence, how serious they were about being there. The younger ones weren’t always cooperative; they are human of course. Generally speaking, though, they seemed to have a greater sense of awareness of what was going on than I did at that age.

Introductions were made. Though life was busy and chaotic for them, I was fortunate to meet women who had found a sense of calm within their routines so they could be open to welcoming a stranger.

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Talking back to the doubts and the inner critic

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I recently addressed the topic of self-worth here  and It got me thinking of other doubts I allow to roam freely in my mind. I decided to lasso up as many as I could and confront them directly.

In no particular order, these relate to personal matters as well as with my writing.

Accusation: You’re not good enough.

TRUTH: This pops up under a variety of circumstances. Every time it’s clearly untrue: I’m competent at my job. I have friends and family who love and care about me. And the only real way people have asked me to change is to embrace and love myself more.

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When you get friend-zoned (with poem)

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To recap: I had an experience in college where a guy showed interest in me but I didn’t feel the same way. Then there was an experience where positive things were happening on both sides (at the very least they were some indicators of potential), but nothing developed. So it’s fitting to have a third kind of relationship, the unrequited type.

I met “D” in an intermediate basketball class. I wanted something fun and active for the semester. Honestly it should have been considered a beginner’s course, considering how much time was spent on the history of the game and other theoretical information and how little was actually played on the court.

After that class ended, I started seeing “D” more frequently on campus. Instead of exchanging phone numbers, he asked for my screen name because AOL instant messaging (AIM) was the popular mode for online communication.

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Brotherly advice wins out

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My brother Andrew is two years older than me, but he was three grade levels ahead because I repeated 4K.

He finished two years of college before deciding he felt called to be a priest. He made the decision to continue that discernment process by entering the seminary. So as I began my senior year of high school, he started seminary.

My parents and I had some indication this might be the right direction for him, so it wasn’t a total shock. But he was dating someone at the time, so he had to break that off.

I was very proud of my brother. Proud of him for taking such a big leap and giving himself a chance to see if this was the right path. I was proud of him for going through formation and receiving a proper education, more relevant for priestly responsibilities than what he would receive at a public university.

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Allusions of Myself: The making of a poem

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We did these exercises in high school where we wrote ourselves a letter, most likely highlighting our goals for the future. Then the teacher collected them and maybe one year later (or five), we received them in the mail. At the time of writing, it seemed silly to write out your goals, completely convinced there’s no way you’re going to forget what’s important. But you do. The elapsed time prompts other interests and priorities. Opening that letter means grasping a piece of the past; tangible evidence of the person you were back then.

That’s how I feel with revisiting my old journals; I’m uncovering buried treasure.

I was reading through my college journals recently and came across several pages where I did some brainstorming for a new poem.

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Online communication: Liquid courage but at a distance

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Trying to establish a romantic relationship always baffled me a bit. How do you get started?

Do you randomly meet in a class, your eyes lock from across the room, and then you’re hooked?

How do you know if someone is worth taking a risk?

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A boy + social awkwardness + missed signals = college regret

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“G” was a guy worth taking a risk on, and I balked. He was easy going, had a contagious laugh and smile, and intelligence with a goofy side. He was shorter than me but somehow in a way that didn’t make it completely weird. I never saw him get angry. He had enough confidence in himself to be attractive without coming across as conceited. And the bonus was he worked well with kids.

So yeah. There wasn’t much of a risk to liking this guy. This didn’t have “bad decision” stamped on it. I just didn’t know how to handle the situation.

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College poetry readings

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So the coffee shop location where the readings happened was small like this. Not as tight quarters with the tables crammed together, but there is a similar vibe.

My second semester writing course focused more on persuasive writing. There was a structured formula to follow that included making an assertion, backing it up with examples and research, providing a rebuttal, refuting that, and then offering conclusions.

The structured part was intimidating, but I remember that it helped me see how it was possible to write a 5-10 page paper on the same topic.

I liked my professor. Something about her made me trust her judgement, not just in class but in general. Perhaps she mentioned her personal writing, offering a sense of more happening besides teaching classes. I forget how it happened, but her opinion was one I trusted and I shared one of my poems with her. She referred me to a friend of hers who hosted monthly poetry open mic nights in nearby Charlotte and edited a literary magazine.

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Finding my voice in an opinion essay

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This post shows how I was able to take a personal writing session and transform it into an opinion piece for a college class. I took real events and feelings and, by writing a first person narrative while fictionalizing some details, I found a sense of voice in my writing. It marked the first time I truly understood what that literary term meant.

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