Moving forward

Image from Adobe Spark Post

Wow. Hello again. It’s been a very long time since I have written anything on this blog. 2018 has been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and I learned some important lessons.

Last year, I wrote an entry telling the story of my budding friendship with my coworker “Anne” (not her real name) and its ending. I wrote about how she purposefully ignored me every time I came into work and how painful and emotionally draining that was. The second-to-last paragraph of that entry went like this:

I returned to work in August, and things with Anne have not improved at all. She doesn’t even talk to me, unless I say “hello” to her. She looks through me, like I’m not even there. I tried to tell her how much her actions were hurting me, and she wouldn’t even let me finish. She just walked away.

That was in December. Unfortunately, things never improved. Anne simply refused to treat me the way she treated other coworkers, and there was no way to get her to act differently. Around Memorial Day weekend, I was working in the stockroom and so were two other girls around my age. Whenever Anne needed to go back there, she went out of her way to talk to them excitedly (and avoided me). She had done this many times before, so I knew exactly what was going on. I snuck off to the ladies’ room to cry. I wondered why I had to be miserable every time I came into work, why I had to be subjected to this ostracism for this long.

Then it hit me: I didn’t.

I had thought about quitting my job for a while, but I had always felt too scared. I had worked at the same store for 8 years and was comfortable with the familiarity. I enjoyed the work itself. I felt too burned out to go on interviews. And a teeny, foolish part of me thought Anne would stop…eventually. Right?

However, that moment in the bathroom felt like a lightbulb had been turned on. Anne had been behaving this way for ten months. Ten months, with no sign of improvement. I realized she was never going to accept me and I had to be the one to make a change instead of waiting around for her to change. Also, I was uncomfortable with the store manager, who seemed to play favorites (and Anne was one of them). I felt like the environment had grown increasingly cliquey. It just didn’t feel like the same store I had walked into when I was 18. I started seriously contemplating leaving.

The last straw came a few days later. My manager set some new goals for productivity that seemed near impossible and just added more stress. The one thing that kept me holding on – enjoyment of my work – was gone. I handed in my resignation and worked my final shift on June 12, 2018. I was out. And I was so relieved.

I took a few months off to heal, and I now have another job with a different company, in a bigger store. I have to say that I love it so far. My managers are friendly, everyone I’ve met seems pretty nice, and the merchandise is much more organized. Most of all, I love the freedom of being new and starting over.

One of my favorite artists, Taylor Swift, wrote a poem with the closing line, “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.” I understand her words much more than I did when I first read them a year ago. I feel like some people had preconceived notions about me at my old job because of my episodes of depression. I was extremely self-conscious near the end – I was afraid people looked at me and saw “the girl who’s always crying” or “the girl with mental health issues” or “the girl who has problems with Anne.” I felt even worse around the managers because I had to call out a lot in the last few months – I was worried they thought I was “irresponsible” or “dramatic.” At this new job, I don’t have to worry. I can put all that history aside and just be Katie…and that really does make me feel alive.

The TMI Tag

(Image found on knowyourmeme.com)

I’ve seen a lot of these in video form on YouTube, and I thought it would be fun to answer these questions. Get ready to know all you ever wanted to know about me. 😜

1: What are you wearing? Black sweatpants and a patterned cardigan.

2: Ever been in love? Yes

3: Ever had a terrible breakup? If you count friend breakups, then yes.

4: How tall are you? 5’9″

5: How much do you weigh? I don’t know my exact weight right now…I think I’m somewhere in the 180s or low 190s? I’m self-conscious about my weight because I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. *sigh*

6: Any tattoos? Nope. I’d like to have a semicolon on the inside of my left wrist, but I’ve heard the wrist is one of the most painful areas to get a tattoo. I’m a baby about pain. 😂

7: Any piercings? Two in each earlobe.

8: OTP (One True Pairing)? Taeko and Toshio from the movie Only Yesterday. I think they are so good together.

9: Favorite show? I don’t really have a favorite show now. My favorite when I was in middle school was As Told By Ginger. It was so relatable!

10: Favorite bands? I tend to like singers more than bands/groups. However, I love the K-pop groups Girls’ Generation and BTS.

11: Something you miss? I miss my childhood!

12: Favorite song? I have two – “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne and “Clean” by Taylor Swift.

13: How old are you? 25. I’ll be 26 in April.

14: Zodiac sign? Aries

15: Quality you look for in a partner? Kindness and compassion!

16: Favorite quote? “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland

17: Favorite actor? I don’t have one!

18: Favorite color? Pink

19: Loud music or soft? It depends on my mood.

20: Where do you go when you’re sad? Usually to my room.

21: How long does it take you to shower? 15 minutes, maybe? It depends on whether I’m washing my hair that day or not.

22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? Again, it depends. On work days (or any day when I put all my makeup on) it takes about an hour. On weekends I usually just wash up ( I shower at night), throw a comfy outfit on, and put my hair in a ponytail.

23: Ever been in a physical fight? Nope

24: Turn on? Cares for others, likes reading, likes music, friendly

25: Turn off? Insincerity, meanness

26: The reason you joined WordPress? I wanted to share my thoughts and meet new people.

27: Fears? Change, losing my mother and other loved ones, being rejected, dying young, vomiting (I have a huge phobia *shudders*).

28: Last thing that made you cry? I can’t remember.

29: Last time you said you loved someone? Today (to my mom ❤️).

30: Meaning behind your blog name? I talked about this in the questions section in my Liebster Award post. 31: Last book you read?To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

32: The book you’re currently reading?P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (the sequel to the last one I read), The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.33: Last show you watched? A show called Hospital Ship. 34: Last person you talked to? My dad

35: The relationship between you and the person you last texted? She’s someone I work with.

36: Favorite food? Pumpkin pie

37: Place you want to visit? I’d love to go to France and Ireland.

38: Last place you were? On a walk in the neighborhood.

39: Do you have a crush? I have a few celebrity crushes.

40: Last time you kissed someone? I kissed my mom on the cheek today 😊

41: Last time you were insulted? Hmm…I’m not sure.

42: Favorite flavor of sweet? I looove the chocolate/mint combo!!

43: What instruments do you play? None, unless you count my voice.

44: Favorite piece of jewelry? I don’t have a specific piece of jewelry that is my favorite, but in general, I like earrings best.

45: Last sport you played? None. I’m not a sporty person! Haha.

46: Last song you sang? I think it might have been Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful.”

47: Favorite chat up line? Don’t have one

48: Have you ever used it? See above

49: Last time you hung out with anyone? I hung out with my friend on Saturday. We had lunch and went over to Ulta.

50: Who should answer these questions next? Anyone who wants to! 😊

Liebster Award 2018!

What a great start to the new year! I have been nominated for The Liebster Award! The Liebster Award exists only on the Internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. I was nominated by the lovely Michelle Wu. Thank you so much!

Liebster Award Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog.

2. Display the award on your blog.

3. Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting.

4. Optional: Provide 10 random facts about yourself.

5. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.

6. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel would enjoy blogging about this award.

7. Create 11 new questions for your nominees.

8. List these rules in your post.

9. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated.

What makes me passionate about blogging?

I have loved to write ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always kept journals or written down my thoughts in some way or another. I have kept blogs for years, but have only shown them to my closest friends. This is my first public blog, and I am excited to share my views and experiences and meet new people!

10 facts about me

1. I am a natural redhead.

2. I’m tall for a woman (5’9″ or 175 cm) and I was always one of the tallest kids in my class when I was growing up.

3. I have worked at my current job for nearly 8 years!

4. My middle name is Elizabeth.

5. I love the color pink.

6. I love reading novels that take place in different cultures and/or time periods.

7. I’m obsessed with eyeshadow. I can’t stop buying it!

8. Going on long walks and crafting are two of my favorite stress busters.

9. I sleep with a stuffed rabbit named Celine. No shame. 😜

10. I love Studio Ghibli movies! The animation and stories are amazing.

Questions from Michelle

1. What is your favorite song at the moment?

“DNA” by BTS. It’s incredibly catchy!

2. How did you come up with your blog niche?

To be honest, I’m not sure if I have a niche yet. I feel like my blog will be a combination of sharing things I love (books, music) and talking about my personal experiences.

3. What is your spirit animal and why?

Probably a cat. We’re both quiet and need our alone time, but we can be very loving too.

4. If you could live at one place right now, where would that be?

Either San Diego, CA or one of the suburbs around Rochester, NY. San Diego is my favorite place in the world. I love the warm weather, sunshine, and beautiful beaches! My mom and I spend weekends near Rochester often – it’s only a couple hours from my hometown – and we really like the people and have found fun things to do. Also, my best friend lives there. 😊

5. What is your dream job?

I would love to be a makeup artist!

6. How did you come up with your blog name?

“Her feelings she hides” is a lyric from one of my favorite Avril Lavigne songs, “Nobody’s Home.” I first heard the song when I was twelve and that line has always resonated with me. I am someone who also hides her feelings a lot, and I hope that with this blog, I won’t have to.

7. Who is your role model?

My mom. She is the kindest, strongest, most wonderful woman I have ever known. ❤️

8. What is the scariest thing you have ever experienced?

A few things, but one of the scariest happened four years ago when my mom severely injured her ankle on a trip to Maryland. I was walking behind her when she tripped, and the image of her crumpling to the ground still haunts me. Thank God she is okay now.

9. Apple or Samsung?

Apple. I’ve never had a Samsung phone or tablet, so I really can’t judge them. I’ve stuck with iPhones and iPads because I know the operating system well and I don’t like change. Haha.

10. If you could be someone famous, who would you be?

I think I would want to be the singer Alessia Cara, because she is so passionate and I love how she advocates for mental health.

11. Where is your dream date?

Walking along a beach, having dinner by the water, and just talking.

I nominate:

  1. A Booknerd Travels
  2. hashtagthewritings
  3. anxiouswriter
  4. Smriti Chawla
  5. Not an Expert
  6. Escape to the 6ix
  7. 1magicalsoul
  8. Kelly M. Wright

Here are my questions for you!

1. If you could time travel, would you rather visit the past or the future? Why?

2. What is your favorite season? What do you like best about it?

3. Name one book that strongly impacted your life.

4. Do you like writing and receiving letters?

5. Morning person or evening person?

6. What is your favorite holiday tradition? This can be from any holiday.

7. As a child, what did you think life would be like at your current age? Is it what you expected?

8. What is your favorite word?

9. What is one food you could eat every day for the rest of your life and never get tired of it?

10. Do you have a best friend (or group of close friends)? How long have you known each other? How did you meet?

11. What is the story behind your name?

Thanks again to Michelle for giving me this opportunity! I’m excited to keep blogging!

xoxo

Katie

My hopes and plans for the new year

(Image from Adobe Spark Post app)

2018 is just around the corner! Normally, I am not too excited about New Year’s, but 2017 was the absolute worst year of my life. I can’t help but hope for better times in the coming year.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions (I always feel too much pressure with those), here is a list of things I want and hope to do in 2018:

1. Let go of the anger and pain from being rejected by my coworker/former friend.

2. Learn how to be more comfortable in my job and interacting with said coworker. If this is not possible, overcome my fear of change and try a new job.

3. Read lots of books! I finished 60 in 2017.

4. Continue writing in this blog.

5. Save more money.

6. Exercise more and/or lose some weight. I gained a lot this year due to emotional eating and I don’t feel comfortable at my current weight.

7. Visit California again! San Diego is my mother’s and my absolute favorite vacation spot, and we haven’t gotten the chance to go back in five years. Hopefully we can go there in 2018!

8. Make some new friends.

9. Keep practicing singing and possibly get in touch with my old voice teacher. I really miss our lessons.

10. Bring happiness to other people’s lives.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!! ❤️

Christmas Q&A!

I saw this Q&A over at xaspierudegirlx and thought it looked fun.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I like both, but I like wrapping paper better. It’s fun to wrap presents. 😁

2. Real tree or artificial? Real! We’ve always gotten a real tree. They need more attention (watering), but they look better (in my opinion) and smell so good!

3. When do you put up the tree? It depends, but usually early to mid-December.

4. When do you take the tree down? LATE!! Haha. Usually January, but some years it’s been up until the beginning of February.

5. Do you like eggnog? Nope, not at all.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? When I was eight, a new American Girl doll named Kit came out and I loved her right away. She was from the 1930s and I was really interested in that period in history. I asked Santa to bring her to me for Christmas, and sure enough, I got her!! I also got a bed and furniture for her and the first three books about her in the series. I was so happy!

Another favorite gift was a copy of Avril Lavigne’s Let Go album when I was ten. It started a lifelong love of music. ❤️

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes, and we set it up every year.

8. The hardest person to buy for? Probably my dad. I don’t have a lot of experience buying for guys.

9. The easiest person to buy for? My mom or my best friend.

10. Worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything I disliked!

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely snail mail! I love writing out and sending cards.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? It varies from year to year, but in general, early December.

14. Have you ever recycled a present? I don’t think so.

15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas? Pumpkin pie!!! It’s my favorite dessert in the world. I wait all year for Thanksgiving and Christmas to have it!

16. Clear or colored lights on the tree? Colored lights, always! I don’t like the ones that flash, though.

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night. I think it is absolutely beautiful. I love Silent Night as well. I enjoy the traditional carols the most.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home!

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Donner, Prancer, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Vixen. And Rudolph, of course!

20. Angel or star on the tree top? We’ve always had a star 🌟

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? I work in retail, so all the stress that comes with that.

23. What is the silliest family tradition you do or miss doing? I don’t think we have any silly traditions.

24. Ugliest Christmas decoration ever invented? I’m not sure. Haha.

25. Which looks best, theme trees or homey trees? Homey trees.

26. Gingerbread or sugar cookies? Both!!

27. Do you like fruitcake? I’ve never tried it, but I don’t think I would like it.

Merry Christmas! 🎄❤️

Music: my passion, my escape.

Hello blogosphere! Welcome to my first post. *waves awkwardly* I wanted to start off my blogging journey by talking about one of my most favorite things: MUSIC!!

Music has been a source of hope and comfort for me for years now. When I’m happy, I dance to upbeat songs. When I’m sad, I ponder lyrics about heartbreak. When I am feeling anxious, I listen to my favorite soothing songs. Music accompanies me on my walks around the neighborhood, on the long bus ride to and from work, and when I get ready in the morning. It is truly the soundtrack of my life.

So how and when did this love get started?

Let’s go all the way back to my early childhood. My dad is also a huge music lover, and he really wanted me to appreciate it and develop a sense of rhythm. When I was a baby, instead of reading me a bedtime story, he took me in his arms and danced. I obviously can’t remember most of this, but he’s told me that some of the artists we danced to were REM, Tom Petty, and the Dave Matthews Band. If there was a concert by a band he liked on TV, I would sit on his lap and watch with him. My dad set the foundation for me, but my own experience with music began when I started to explore my own tastes.

That moment happened when I was 10 years old. I was watching Nickelodeon after school on the first or second day of fifth grade, and a clip from Avril Lavigne’s video for “Complicated” came on. I didn’t pay much attention, but I heard the whole song on the radio at the dentist’s a month later and liked it a lot. My parents surprised me with Avril’s first (and at the time, her only) album for Christmas. I listened to two songs and that was all it took: I was head over heels in love. I listened to Avril every day at 4:00 sharp after that, and I looked forward to that hour so much. All my cares and worries disappeared. I continued to support Avril – her second album was the very first CD I bought with my allowance, she was my first concert when I was 16, and I still consider her my favorite singer to this day. I have also branched out and discovered many more artists that I love; thanks to the Internet, I even listen to music from around the world! (I especially like the French singer Alizée and the Korean pop group Girls’ Generation.) I learned that music can speak to me even if I don’t know the language.

My love of music also fostered my love of singing! Once again, Avril Lavigne is responsible for that. I used to practice her songs in my room all the time. I was in the high school choir during my junior and senior years, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. My voice improved so much, and I even took private lessons with a college student for a while. She’s a music teacher now, and I’ve been wanting to contact her so we can start that again! In the meantime, I like to sing when I’m home alone. My favorite songs to practice lately are anything by Taylor Swift and Alessia Cara!

Tell me about your experience with music! Who are your favorite singers and bands? Did any particular artist influence your childhood or teenage years, like Avril Lavigne did for me? Have you been to any concerts? Do you like to sing as well?

That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons. -Dave Grohl

When “friend” becomes “end”: Dealing with loss and betrayal

Tears streamed from my eyes as I clutched my phone in my hand, searching for my friend’s Facebook profile. “Not Found,” it said for the millionth time. What happened? It was just here a minute ago. I JUST liked one of her photos…wait…did she…block me?! Oh my gosh, she did. She blocked me. What did I say? What did I do?!! I just wanted to save our friendship…

I started working with Anne about seven years ago. (I am withholding her real name because, even though I’ve been through a lot, I strongly believe in respecting people’s privacy.) I didn’t know her that well, because she and I worked in different areas of the store, but she seemed like a nice, quiet older lady. In 2015, she took on a full-time position and I saw and interacted with her more. I really admired her strong work ethic, her kindness, and her positive attitude. I decided that I wanted to become friends with her. As someone on the autism spectrum, making friends has always seemed daunting to me, especially since this was someone I looked up to as a role model. However, I wanted to conquer my fear.

I decided to start small. Since Anne and I barely knew each other, I wanted to show her that I was open and interested in getting to know her. I challenged myself to say at least one thing to her every shift to break the ice, even if it was just “Hi!” It worked. Anne started saying hello to me first and we’d have little conversations. I made her a Christmas card, which she loved. I even brought my mom into the store and introduced her to Anne,, and Anne liked her right away! 🙂 I was still extremely nervous around her, though, and wanted to take the next step. Since we didn’t have a lot of time to talk at work, I wanted to ask her to have lunch with me on a day off. I psyched myself up for months, and shortly after my 24th birthday in April 2016, I did it. I approached Anne and said, “Hey, I’d really like to get to know you more. I was wondering if you’d like to have lunch with me sometime.” She said YES!! I was so happy and proud of myself. About two weeks later, we met at Panera. At first I felt like I was going to faint, but my anxiety calmed down as we started chatting. Anne was a really easy person to talk to. I told her a lot about my family, and she responded by talking about her husband and her grown son. We ended up hanging out for two and a half hours!!! I was so overjoyed because I could feel a real connection forming. I cried myself to sleep that night because I was so happy. I remember listening to Céline Dion’s song “A World to Believe In” and whispering, “Thank you, Anne. Thank you so much.”

Anne and I went to lunch three more times over the course of that year. I could feel us getting closer. I started confiding in her more about my personal life because she seemed to really listen. I decided to make her another Christmas card and include a present this time. I bought a wooden initial at Michaels and painted it her favorite color, then added a bunch of little flowers. The whole process – gift, card, and buying materials – took about three hours total. Anne was very happy with it and even showed it off to her husband! One day, I was having a panic attack and was feeling awful, and she told me, “I love you, Katie. You’re like a daughter to me.” I felt completely shocked and elated. My role model thought of me as a daughter?! I was over the moon.

Unfortunately, that’s the last truly good memory I have of Anne and me. Just before Christmas last year, I fell into a deep depression. I’m not sure what caused it, but it was the worst bout I’ve ever suffered in my life. I even had to be admitted to the hospital in early January. I think all of that freaked Anne out, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried to reassure her I was okay. After her beloved pet died, I colored her a picture from one of my adult coloring books to cheer her up. Things seemed normal again, but it didn’t last. Anne became more and more distant, and work became more and more stressful. I decided the healthiest thing for me would be to take a leave of absence for three months. I had never revealed to Anne that I have Asperger’s, and I wanted to let her know. I thought if she knew there was a logical reason for my upset at work, and that I wasn’t just being dramatic, she might understand. I tried to talk to her on my last day of work, but she had to leave quickly. She told me to send her a Facebook message later that day, so I did.

After two months, I had gotten no response. I went shopping with a friend one day and casually asked Anne what she thought of my message. She got very defensive and told me she couldn’t talk about it at work. I said, “I just want to know if you accept me.” Her only response was, “I can’t talk about this.” I went home and cried. Where was the Anne who said I could talk to her? Who told me she loved me?

In a last-ditch attempt to mend things, I wrote her an apology letter. I said I was sorry for talking too much about personal things and I wouldn’t do that anymore. After that, she blocked me on Facebook. I was so hurt and confused, and my mental health was already in bad shape. I broke down completely and spent the Fourth of July in the hospital…the second time in six months.

I returned to work in August, and things with Anne have not improved at all. She doesn’t even talk to me, unless I say “hello” to her. She looks through me, like I’m not even there. I tried to tell her how much her actions were hurting me, and she wouldn’t even let me finish. She just walked away.

Anne, I know you probably won’t ever read this, but I don’t know what went wrong between us. I don’t know if you find me too overwhelming. I don’t know, and I never will. All I can say is, I’m sorry. I would never intentionally hurt, upset, or frighten you in any way. I cared so much for you. I’m sorry our friendship didn’t work out. I wish you well.

Living with an invisible disability – my story

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was three years old. Asperger’s is related to autism, but is not the same. Symptoms and behaviors are often very different in girls than in boys – which made school hard, because the special education teachers were more used to working with male students. My main issues are intense anxiety and overthinking, episodes of depression, sensitivity to loud noise and lots of activity, trouble with socialization (it’s taken YEARS to develop the level of social skills I have now), and feeling like I never fully belong in groups, even if I do. Something that seems perfectly normal for a neurotypical person could be an absolute nightmare for me. Every day feels like a battle against a world that wasn’t designed for people like me.

Even though these parts of being “Aspie,” as we call it, are difficult, there are positive sides too. My “different” brain has given me an active imagination, a talent for writing, an excellent memory, a sense of perfectionism (although that often goes too far!), an intense love of music, and lots of compassion. I realize that just because someone looks put-together on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t have their own daily struggles.

For years I hid this large part of who I am. I was ashamed and worried people would make fun of me because I’m not “normal.” But you know what? Normal is boring. Asperger’s is just as much a part of me as my red hair, and I am finally okay with that.