Tag Archives: brave

Audaciously Adequate

It is no big secret that I love to read–even this might be an understatement. Specifically, one of my favorite genres to read is young adult (YA) fiction. Some of my favorites include, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices series, Far From You, and countless others (shameless plug for YA fiction!!).

As I’m in my twenties, I sometimes get embarrassed that I read YA fiction. I tell myself I still read those teen novels because one day I hope to write them (which is true). I still read YA fiction because I work with kids and teens and I want to stay relevant on some front (which is also true). But plain and simply, I love YA fiction. Specifically, I love what YA fiction stands for.

YA fiction is ground breaking, and it pushes limits. Authors take hard issues such as addictions, sexuality, depression, family conflict, political stands, and personal insecurities, and weave a coming of age story that is both relevant and creative. YA authors push the envelope in ways that give readers hope, or allow readers the change to grow in empathy and simply feel.

As far back as I can remember, my favorite YA books have featured protagonists learning to overcome conflict and find they’ve always had the strength within to overcome all adversary through the power of self-belief and a kick-ass sidekick or two, not to mention some sort of romance. Most importantly, I love when characters realize they are worthy and strong and are audacious enough to act upon it.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had this idea floating around in my mind that stems from a quote I heard earlier this year. The idea is: for some, our deepest fear is that we are stronger than we hope to dare.

It is also not a secret that I struggle so hard with vulnerability, and I think it stems from this place of believe that I am far too inadequate. I paralyze myself with the fear that I am severely lacking and attempt to make up for it by putting up walls on top of walls on top of walls to shield myself in order to stave off any type of external failure as well as create a self that constantly strives for personal perfection to fight my own fears. I know I’m not the only one to believe this (at least, I hope not!).

In YA books, the main character always goes through some sort of trial and tribulation and somehow, must save the day. Prior to the trial, the character often expresses the insecurity of being dull or terribly unworthy. Perhaps they become isolated. Or they must train harder than they have ever trained, or they meet wise secondary characters that speak truth and humor into their lives. Somewhere along the line, the main character must face their trial, either alone or with a band of merry helpers. As much as I love the climax of the story–it is the build up that stands out. Somewhere along the line, through pitfalls and despair, characters realize that somewhere, even through the ordinariness, they were perfectly aqeudate. The fire-breathing dragon or militant dystopian government could only be overcome by their skill, and their skill alone. They were more powerful than they dared to dream.

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Clary Fray from “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare

While I don’t hope to fight dragons or overthrow governments anytime soon, I do hope to get through grad school. I do hope to do an excellent job as a counseling intern. I hope to shakedown my own walls that I have spent years consciously and unconsciously reinforcing, and I hope to be the best human I can be in all of my relationships. Most days, even now as I type this, all of these hopes are tinted by the fear that I will never be good enough to overcome and accomplish these goals. But still, a smaller, whisper-faint thought in me reminds me that I just might be more powerful than I realize. Perhaps in order to overcome my personal trials, I have already been abundantly equipped with the tools necessary to slay my own dragons and dystopian governments.

And that’s what YA fiction does–it paints a good story (depending on the author), and it reminds its readers that they are stronger and more worthy than they will ever know. YA books reminds readers that while they may be ordinary by some standards, they are perfectly extraordinary for their particular story, and that they are the necessary component to the best story imaginable–they are perfectly adequate. 

Will I ever write a YA book and have it published? I don’t know, I hope so! I also hope that the kids and teens I work with will always think me relevant enough to create a good working relationship with. Until then, and even beyond these moments, I will continue to read YA fiction. I will read it because of the sheer audacity of a few talented writers. I will read it because I love a good story. And I will read it to remind myself that I am adequate, if only I allow myself to be audacious enough to believe it. And because I’m trying to fill the Harry Potter-shaped void in my heart.

Tell me, what’s your favorite YA story?

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On Trust & Scars

After being away from the ocean for nearly half a year, I dipped my toes in the cool blue Atlantic ocean, and I was centered. Although it wasn’t the Pacific ocean that I grew up with, being among the waves was inexplicably cathartic. Around me, waves jaggedly broke across brown sand, and the sounds of laughter and voices calling from the group I was with filled my ears on a hot, Dominican day.

Carefully, I stepped over thousands of tiny rocks, going deeper into the Atlantic, pausing to hop over a wave as it crashed into me. Quickly though, I stopped wading into the water because of one ridiculous reason alone: I can’t swim. You’d think between growing up in Southern California and my insatiable love of the water, a girl like me would be part mermaid, but nope. I don’t know what happened there. It’s quite tragic.

So I stopped in the worst place possible–the place where the waves grow before they crash. Even so, every thing within me longed to go out further where my friends were–to the space beyond the waves, a place I’ve never ventured out to due to my inability to swim.

At one point, two friends swam back and offered their hands. First, they offered their hands reminding me that I was stupidly standing in a danger zone (but not dangerous for individuals who can swim), and secondly, they offered me their hands to take me to the space beyond the waves–to uncharted territory.

To these two friends, I don’t think they quite realized the gravity of their actions. To them, perhaps it was pity for a friend who couldn’t swim. But for me, it was a trust fall.

I don’t trust people very easily. More often than not, I don’t trust individuals–even those that have been in my life for years. It’s an issue I’ll be working on with my therapist, I’m sure, but for now, it is what it is. And in that moment, when those two friends came back from me, it was a do or die moment.

Standing in the middle of the Atlantic, beneath the Dominican sun, with two hands offered to me to take, what looked like a few passing seconds was agonizingly long for me internally. In that moment, my heart pounded as I hesitated, watching them carefully. My heart pounded as my mind raged, telling me it wasn’t a good idea to trust these people. My mind screamed that they would let me go, that if something bad happened, they wouldn’t help me. My mind screamed that it’s safer to go back to the shore than let these two people whom I haven’t known for a long time take me to where I want to go. But my heart whispered otherwise.

My heart whispered, “do or die. It’s now or never.” My heart grew bolder and said, “you’re going to have to trust some time. Trust them. If you want to change, start here.” And so I did, tentatively placing my hands–my life— in their hands. And I didn’t get very far. I might have ventured out a few more feet, but fear won over and I let go, deciding I didn’t need to die in the Dominican Republic. Even so, what matters to me are the few more feet I went deeper, and these friends didn’t let go.

And I think, that’s what trust is. Trust is, not knowing what will happen, but taking the outstretched hands that want you, trusting that they will take care of you as you would do for them.

Somehow, the waves that were breaking at chest height became bigger, and eventually too big for me to handle. Before I could make it safely to shore, there was a wave that was as tall as I was, if not taller, and it took my under. Realizing what was happening, I swore and held my breath hoping for the best. The force of the wave knocked me back to the shore, but I was lost in a swirl of blue saltwater, unable to regain my footing. As I was tossed back to shore, my legs and feet roughly kissed the thousands of small sharp rocks. Ouch. As quick pain pricked my legs, I inhaled a large gulp of water, still couldn’t gain my footing, and my legs scraped again.


(Excuse the bloated feet. My feet decided they needed to be bloated after traveling -__-)

Eventually I was able to get up and make it safely back to shore, away from the tiny rocks of death that also managed to attack other people who were taken by the wave.

Above is a picture of my scraped up legs and bloated traveling feet. Since then, my scabs are starting to fall off and I can see my ankles again, but I think I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience. 1. I need to learn how to swim and be a mermaid. 2. Trusting people may result in scars, but those scars will sometimes be worth it. 

Perhaps, if it wasn’t for the two friends that came back for me, I might not have put my legs through the trauma. As terrifying as it all was for me in those few minutes, the terror, today, gives way to monumental forward action.

I think I’ll be grateful for a very long time to the two who came back for me. To them, it might have been a small action, but for someone like me, in that moment, it was everything. Today, it gives me the courage to continuously say “now or never, do or die”.

My inability to trust others is incredibly painful, as I know that it not only hurts me, but others around me as well. The decision to put my hand in another’s, allowing them to walk beside me in spite of fearful uncertainties, is among the lightest feelings in the world. Sometimes trusting people will result in scars and pain, and you may cry from it, but it shouldn’t harden your heart. In fact, it should only make you wiser about whose hand you take, and the pain shouldn’t deter you forever.

As for me, I have a long way to go, but this is the first step. The next time I’m in the ocean, I’m likely to go into the water again–and hopefully I’ll be able to float beyond the waves. And the next time someone offers me their hand, hopefully I’ll take it in spite of the uncertainties ahead, as there are far better things ahead than the ones that hold me back.

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Filed under Personal, Relational

To Be A Counselor

Since I started Grad School, this has been my hashtag for any picture or blog post regarding Grad school: #tobeacounselor. I know it’s juvenile to hashtag stuff, I mean, I’m 23, but I like this hashtag. One day I’m going to look back and see all these posts and all these pictures and remember all the tears, anxiety attacks, and exhausted weeks will all be worth it.

One of the big projects I have this semester is having a practice client, and I just want to say: sitting and listening. It is exhausting work to track and pay attention. It is exhausting to not speak.

However, the vulnerability, the sacred space of counseling. It’s a beautiful thing. I am in love with every part of it. I quietly listen to my client, I am right where I want to be. I could do it for the rest of my days.

I’m so glad I was called to be a counselor.

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Filed under Post Grad, Relational

Catching the Bouquet

The sun set quite eloquently behind tall trees with changing leaves. The air was warm–almost unusually so at this time of year in the pacific Northwest. Sounds of merry laughter filled the courtyard as people hugged, took selfies, and hashtagged the joyous celebration. Glasses of white and red wines reflected off the light, making the deep purple tablecloths even more elegant.

There are few things more exciting to be a part of than a wedding.

My dear friend Danielle looked radiant in her sparkly off-white wedding gown, and Zack looked every bit the gentleman with his freshly trimmed beard and hair. It has been a beautiful journey watching Danielle grow into a wonderful woman of faith (I’ve known her longer than I have known Zack–by a couple months haha), and it was an even more wonderful memory to celebrate her marriage this past weekend. Of course I cried at the father-daughter dance, and of course I toasted with gusto at every speech and kiss.

As the formalities of the wedding trickled to a close and we would soon dance the night away, there was only one thing left to do: toss the bouquet. As Danielle glided across the courtyard, a vision of class, I jokingly told her, as I tell every bride, “remember to aim for me!”, as do all the other single ladies. I took my place amongst all the other eligible bachelorettes, somewhere in the middle, hiding behind very tall people (because I am fun-sized, even in heels), expecting not to catch the beautifully crafted (and heavy) bouquet.

One, two, three. Danielle flung the bouquet behind her back and all hands were in the air. Six pairs of hands reached for the bejeweled prize, and somehow, my hand was the one that gripped the tightest. For the first time, I had caught to bouquet.

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I stood there laughing with my friends as I held it up victoriously before I sent a picture to several other friends. For the remainder of the night I carried my prize with me, enthralled by the creativity put into it, and slightly afraid someone would steal it.

Which brings me to the main topic of this post. Though I jokingly tweeted “I caught the bouquet, you know what that means….” in the deepest corners of my heart, I am so tired of being single. Since I was 20, I have been invited to at least 10 weddings, and know countless more friends who have gotten married. I have been single for a very long time. I will not lie that my heart has been emotionally compromised many times since I’ve last kissed a boy.

And I am tired of being single.

There, I said it. Out in the open. I am tired of being single. I’m tired of my heart being mangled and bruised by countless infatuations, because I don’t know how to separate my heart from desire. I am simply tired of “waiting for God’s perfect timing”. Every winter and summer has looked the same since I turned 20. Couples getting engaged then getting married. Now, all of my married friends are starting to get pregnant.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled so see Jesus continuously weave the most amazing love stories, and I am excited to see where He takes all these beautiful people. But I cannot deny that part of my heart that breaks a little knowing that I still have to wait. Being in grad school right now, you’d think the wait would be easier–as I am working full-time and going to school full-time. In all honesty, I probably don’t have time for a significant other right now, because I barely have time to put on mascara in the morning before I have to rush to work or class.

Either way, I am tired of the wait. I know there are young women out there, many of which I get to call friends, who are honestly very happy with being single. While I cherish my time with my beloved girlfriends and living with a roommate, and learning more about myself, I want to do all these things with my plus one. Not just anyone else, mind you. But the someone to end “the someones” and nights when my heart is so heavy I swear I can hear the sound of my heart breaking.

Overall, this post is just me being honest. Because for a long time, I strongly believed it’s weak for a girl to want to be married so badly when she can be her own heroine. But I have come to learn it’s not weakness. It’s okay to desire marriage. If you’re like me, I want you to know it’s okay. I hope and I pray that I’ll one day get to embark on a journey to make Song of Solomon’s envious and raise a whole tribe of children, and I hope you do too. I really, strongly hope and pray I get that. Until then, I’m moving forward. I’m recognizing my wants, and I want to actively leave them at the feet of Jesus everyday, because I’m learning to be a heroine in my own story still. I’m learning to be brave and move forward and believe in the beauty of my dreams.

Also, for those of you curious, here is the happy couple, me, and a couple of our friends. <3

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Filed under Christian Life, Post Grad, Relational