2016 Highlights

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Every year at the end of December before the New Year, I sit down and reflect on the most impactful moments over the last 365 days. I keep busy and am hard on myself when I make mistakes, but I have good head on my shoulder. I think I’ve done #adulting right in 2016 and let’s just say, I’m not one of those who is thinking to themselves, “I’m over 2016! I can’t wait for 2017!”

  1. Respect – I was fed up with upsetting news of rape across the world and had to do something about it. After five years of living with something I could not change about myself, I decided to come out and speak about being sexually violated. It was important for me to address this issue. Thank you for your love, encouragement and support. I was extremely touched with your response and send all my love to my friends who trusted me with their own personal story. #powerful Here’s my story: http://wp.me/p7w1ih-ha Let me tell you, I am stronger than ever and turned this negative event into a positive outlook.
  1. Friends – Moving to a brand new city, I’ve become close with human transplants from all over the world. We’ve celebrated birthdays, holidays, late nights and weekends together. I spend almost every day after work with some of y’all and why aren’t you annoyed with me yet?! Whether we met through friends, work, board game group, etc., I can’t imagine Austin without you and I’m glad to call you family.
  1. New Job – I had a hard time with my first couple jobs in Austin. You know the sick-to-the-stomach feeling? That’s what I felt every day going to work and now I wake up every morning looking forward to work. I have an amazing team and make sure they know it.
  1. YouTube Channel – I started vlogging and blogging again (slowly but surely!) under the name, “shesaidyoyo.” It’s a painful experience because I hate video editing. I posted a few videos up on my new channel and my 6 subscribers are always expecting delays. But in all seriousness, they probably had already forgotten me.
  1. Health – I like running outside due to the change of scenery but could not deal with the Texas heat. So I committed my body and mind to a 2-year gym membership. So far I’m enjoying two fitness classes, Body Combat and Body Pump. I’m not gonna lie, I hate going to the gym but as you can tell, I’m doing it for the fries (and bridesmaid bod goals). I guess I can try going to the dentist twice a year as well.
  1. Minnesota – Visiting and seeing family and friends back home in Minnesota makes my heart so full. I forgot how much I loved green, cool, muggy Minnesota summers .. and then reality settled in when I thought of Minnesota winters.
  1. Dating – Yes .. a human relationship that I prefer to keep low key but didn’t get past the exclusive phase. I began seeing other people this year, one by one, and it got to the point where I got tired of narrating my life story. I just wasn’t interested in the whole aspect of being with someone anymore. I did meet someone and for a while it was beautiful. We weren’t compatible in the long run and I couldn’t help but do the practical thing. I don’t feel blue about it because I’ve realized how much you can’t force to feel for someone and I prefer to not have a better half. I’ve encountered people from my past this year and it’s best to not be bitter because I would be miserable if I were still with them.
  1. Food  – I’m as plumped as a healthy chipmunk. I cooked less this year, which hurt my bank account but I loved discovering new eats. I have many more places on my bucket list to cross out in 2017. And I have many recipes to attempt with friends so I can’t wait!
  • MusicOK, I love WET. They are by far, my MOST FAVORITE breathing, living voices and music-making human beings. They released their first full album this year and I fan-girled the shit out of my pants when I saw AND met them live in person! If I resided in Brooklyn, I would be their neighbor and *cross fingers* become their friend so I can listen to their gifted tunes. OK, anyway, I experienced SXSW, which I still can’t stop thinking about, and discovered new music to my taste.
  1. Adventure – Discovering new spaces and in old places. Planning weekend trips and international/domestic getaways. Spontaneously going to a drive thru at 10PM on a weeknight just to get fries. Always putting my energy into an activity to get more out of life. Cheers to many more adventures!

Hope you got to see the amazing part of 2016 despite the hardships – let’s make the new year even better!

Deadline

My light-weight anxiety wore off when I knocked down pressure. Although I don’t keep a record of life goals on paper, I spent some years coming up with a master plan. I thought carefully about my next move and weighed out the pros and cons in the most practical way. Ultimately the real question was: What do I want to make of myself?

I compare myself to the person I was four years ago when I was starting my senior year of college, indulging my first day in a new country as an 18-year-old and the moment I moved away from home for my big girl job. I was constantly pitting myself against myself, and handling situations as they got to me. I confused people as my aspirations changed periodically and as a few remain the same.

I recently discovered that getting older has its rewards. I’ve benefited from quarter-century crisis, a year when I felt lost. There is something about hopelessness that could kill you or ignite ambitious sparks. I experienced both and made something of it.

A few months ago everything clicked. To my amazement, I no longer had the reoccurring thought, “What am I doing with my life?!”. I let go of the deadlines I set for myself from long ago. I put all these ideas and pressure into my head at 23. I was worrying about things that I didn’t have to in the first place. What no one told me when I was younger was not to self-destruct with a ticking bomb.

My plans transformed over time. I’m not living in Seattle and I’m not moving back to Minnesota anytime soon. My current occupation is different from what I imagined but I love the team I work with. My wedding didn’t happen on May 26, 2016 because I don’t want to force commitment.

I’m at a good place right now. No worries. I’m picturing adult life as a real adult and enjoying the adventure. “Life Deadlines” were motivation tactics set to inspire me and resulted in battling high expectations. I’m not saying all deadlines are bad – I make sure friends give me a crucial date to complete a design or edit photos by. There are some unrealistic tasks that I just shouldn’t give myself.

Genuinely

I am genuinely happy with the current direction of life. I wake up refreshed, pace throughout the day with good energy and head to bed with sweet dreams. My normal routine consists of the following: go to work and do my job right, attend an hour-long body combat class at the gym, eat delicious food with friends, catch up on shows via Netflix and scout for creative projects.

I will be visiting Minnesota a week from today and am beyond excited to see family and friends! I got a new carry-on luggage a few days ago and finished packing right away! I am notorious for planning and organizing my trips – see my itinerary below – TADA! I do this to not waste time and don’t get upset if something does go off schedule as I do appreciate spontaneity. Other than attending my friends’ wedding in Iowa and meeting my best friend’s soon-to-be husband for the first time, I am focusing on spending a majority of my vacation with family every chance I get.

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You Had Me At Hello

She is a positive person by nature.

I start my new job tomorrow and am relaxing before the big day. This past week involved running errands, getting my priorities straight and binge watching season 4 of Orange is the New Black and seasons 1 & 2 of The Office.

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This artsy ‘Hello!’ wall will greet me here on as I drive to work every morning. After leaving my last job, I gave myself a month and a half deadline to find a new opportunity I would enjoy long-term. I met my goal! As much as I would love to work for a company that fulfills a combination of human rights and justice + project/account management + front end development, I concluded that a work environment and a close-knit team are most important to me. I love a challenge to dive into something I don’t know much about, so I am eager to begin this chapter in my life with a supportive group of people. I function well at a company or organization that values their employees and I have a good feeling about my new beginning.

Lemonade

How do you like your lemonade? 🍋  ‪#‎servedfresh‬

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Summer is here all year round in Austin, TX! I love these fun lemonade print shorts from Ann Taylor that I got over Labor Day weekend last year. It’s more exciting now that lemonade is relevant in pop culture and music thanks to Queen B. The crop white top is from Forever 21 and I got it for a steal – only $5! I’ve been waiting patiently to purchase one and it was worth the wait.

xo

Should I Come Forth About My Rapist?

I was 21 years old.

It was a critical time in my life because everything changed. I had to accept the fact that I was no longer a virgin. The blood coming from my period stained my thighs and soaked through my black tights. Tears fell down my face as I laid still on the sofa. I recount this moment when I hear people make jokes about rape. “That’s not funny,” I say when people laugh. I feel the need to be vocal and clear, “I was raped by a boyfriend.” This scene replays in my head whenever I read news about victims and their rapists.

I’m crying out of frustration for the victim at Stanford. Two little girls in my hometown – five and seven years old – were raped, physically abused and stripped of their childhood last month. A college student was strangled to death after her attacker sexually assaulted her on the University of Texas at Austin campus. My perception of injustice changed and I want to fight the system to punish these harsh crimes.

Earlier this year I finally told my sisters about what happened to me five years ago. My voice was shaking and my heart beating fast. I casually hinted that I was sexually assaulted by my boyfriend at the time. I brushed it off when the conversation got heated. I’ve always felt better when I write so I wrote a poem and posted it to my Facebook page and got a shocking number of response. To my disbelief, some of my girl friends suffered from the same reason – they have been raped – and remained silent. They thanked me for writing what they had gone through and it empowered me to fight for us.

Flashback to that night when I was over at my ex-boyfriend’s house. My older sister and her boyfriend drove to his place because they were worried sick and my best friend told them my whereabouts. I didn’t pick up my phone because I was drunk. It was unintentional and probably the fifth time I had ever drank in my life. My relationship was going downhill and I chose to spend New Year’s with my boyfriend hoping we would make up. He lived right across from me and invited me last minute to the New Year’s party he hosted.

My sister arrived just moments after my boyfriend “finished” with me. There was loud banging at the door and I was laying still in the living room. As soon as I heard her voice (a friend of mine who lived at the house opened the door), I pulled my tights up as fast as I could because I didn’t want her to worry. I didn’t want her to see me this way. She was crying hysterically because I didn’t answer my phone and she had no idea what had just happened with me. I held my composure to save my face. I believed my boyfriend was somewhere in the house hiding and cleaning up. My sister and her boyfriend called my boyfriend a “scumbag” for being an asshole and ignoring me for an entire month.

After my sister’s boyfriend dropped me off at my townhouse, I called my boyfriend while leaning over the toilet but he didn’t comfort me. Instead, he just told me to sleep and hung up. I jumped in the shower and stood under hot running water until I was fully conscious. My body just didn’t feel the same anymore. I was trying to wash away the feeling of penetration. I was scared and felt used. Worthless. Disgusted. How could this filth be cleansed? I was on my period and he didn’t use protection. I scrubbed myself even harder down there. Everything was a bloody mess.

I try not to think about this critical time because I don’t want to remember. Maybe those around me couldn’t tell, but I was fucked up in the head for a while. But I went to see my boyfriend the next day anyway.

At the time I thought if I mentioned a single word about what happened to me, everyone was going to fucking judge me. They’re not going to think of me the same way anymore. They’re either going to feel sorry or think I deserved it. I thought it was a minor problem but the more I analyzed it, I blamed myself for the trouble. He didn’t attack me. But he thrusted inside me. I didn’t give him consent. I didn’t want it. We broke up a week later and I watched him walk away. But I kept reflecting my history with him. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and told my best friends. They said what happened to me was sexual assault. It was rape and he wasn’t aware of that.

My first thought was literally: Mom and Dad will disown and kill me if they found out that their daughter was no longer “pure.” They would not defend me and would blame me for putting myself in that situation. I didn’t even think about myself, all I could think about was how others would perceive me. Can you even believe it … I thought about the wellbeing of my rapist. I thought about the devastation my sisters would feel if they knew what had happened to me.

Anyone who knows me well know that I don’t play pretend, but I had to cover up. I was losing my spirit and authenticity. I repeated to myself that life goes on and will be OK. I will continue to create and make my surroundings beautiful again. I vowed to protect those close to me so this won’t happen to them – so I can be there for them if the worst happened. I lost the desire to care for a relationship and focused on my health. I grew into a strong and resilient individual. I looked for ways to be inspired and dropped my leadership roles to buy time. I never sought professional treatment or use of drugs. I knew I was better and capable of patching myself back up with great support from close friends and family. As long as I was laughing daily, I was healing.

I started dating again about two years after the incident. When I told my new boyfriend about what happened, he wanted to file a police report. But I didn’t want to. This caused a lot of issues between us and we argued nonstop. Because I didn’t want to destroy my ex-boyfriend’s future. I didn’t want to ruin his career or his current relationship. Because we shared the same friends and were in the same circle. Because what I went through wasn’t intense as other cases. What will the police do anyway? Will it matter to anyone? Will they trust me? I didn’t want to add to or be a number in college rape statistics. I didn’t have evidence. I was heavily intoxicated and semi-conscious when it happened.

I struggled for a long time and felt so much guilt. I wrote a shit ton on Tumblr, unleashing my anger and giving small hints about this person. My grades dropped significantly and I couldn’t recall anything I studied. Absent-minded and slow, for the most part. I teared up a lot during class and hyperventilated in public spaces. I had issues with being touched, even the slightest bit. Sometimes I couldn’t be without friends or else I felt suicidal. I didn’t believe I was raped, but reality is, I was. I cared about my boyfriend at the time and went to see him that New Year’s Eve. My best friend fixed my hair and wished me luck. I wore black tights and a new holiday dress that my sister got me a few days before as a Christmas gift. I can’t wear it anymore because it’s a reminder of that night.

I was a true idiot for getting back together with my ex-boyfriend but am thankful that we are no longer together. I think if dicks were castrated, I would live in peace knowing that attackers won’t sexually assault anyone again. It’s strange, because when I saw my ex-boyfriend at Greek events (fraternity and sorority functions) or ran into him in person, I faced him with confidence and without a damn in the world. Can you believe he showed up uninvited to my 25th birthday celebration and going away party? What a dick, right.

To my brave sisters and brothers – the victims who suffered rape, sexual assault and violation – I love you and stand with you. You are beautiful and I’m so sorry that someone fucked it all up for you. I am grateful for the people who support you and understand that rape culture is unacceptable. It takes a great deal of courage for victims to publicly share their story. And it’s awfully heartbreaking when a victim dies because of a rapist. Stay strong my friend – you are everything.

I am sharing my story because I am ready. I know there is someone out there who can relate to me, and the number of victims are far more than reported. I also want to let you know that I’ve always had a strong passion for combatting sex trafficking and after this incident, I developed a passion for educating and preventing sexual violence. Don’t give up on life, don’t let your rapist define you. xo

I am not ashamed of what happened to me. But I was ashamed and kept to myself. For two solid years, I felt guilt, stupidity, sadness, anger and frustration. Through it all, I focused on progress. I have forgiven, I have moved on. I am resilient. I am stronger.

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January 1st, 2011