Why I Bow My Head During Prayer

I struggled with my faith for 2 years before I became an atheist last November. And yet, despite not believing that anyone is listening, I still bow my head during prayer.

Before I explain why, let me just say that if you believe in God, that’s your decision. I’m not going to stop you or judge you. It’s not my place to tell you what to believe.

Which brings me to the why. I don’t bow my head because I believe someone is listening. I do it out of respect for those around me. I don’t want to be a distraction for anyone.

If you want to pray, pray. I’ll bow my head and let you do that if I’m there. But please, don’t get upset if I don’t join in. It’s not in my nature to pretend to be something I’m not.

STORYTIME: Catfished by my bestie

I’m doing something a tad different today, similar to the story I told about ‘Tyler’ awhile back. This is super cringey, so once again I’ve changed the main character’s name. This is the time my bestie catfished me for a summer.

I had formed a friendship with someone at my elementary school in 2006. Let’s call her Sally. Sally was a grade behind me in school, so she was about to start middle school when I was going into 8th grade (our middle school only did 7th/8th grade; 6th was in elementary). That should’ve been the first clue she was lying about what came later,  but I’ll get to that.

In 2008, I was, as a lot of girls my age were, obsessed with the Disney Channel. I had developed a crush on a Jonas Brother (Joe, if you’re wondering), and of course I had gone through a short phase of wanting to be a pop star like Miley Cyrus. Cringey, I know. I was a bit immature though, since I was about to start 8th grade and most girls have outgrown it at that point.

This was what came up when Sally came over for a sleepover one day early that summer. She and I were swimming and she mentioned her dad was pretty high in music and that she had met a certain group of celebrities from the aforementioned Disney Channel. I won’t say who, but it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out based on the info I’ve provided.

She mentioned she was dating one of the boys from this group, and for some reason I believed her, even though he was likely graduated by then and she wasn’t even in middle school yet. I had a huge crush on the brother of one of the girls, so she ‘hooked me up’ with him.

The details on this are a bit blurry, so I don’t remember dates or details as well with this as I did with my Tyler story, but I know later in the summer, somehow my parents found out about what was going on and told me to A. Stop spreading it around and B. Stop talking to Sally if that’s how things were going to be. They read my emails and found out I was talking about it to a friend I’d almost lost contact with when I moved and spied on me for awhile before grounding me when I didn’t shut up about it.

Despite this, I didn’t stop, and it dragged on for awhile. My ‘boyfriend’ cheated on me and I ended up with someone else, someone directly in the group. That dragged on for awhile. By ‘a while’ I mean it kind of lasted until that Christmas, though I still haven’t figured out if that was wishful thinking or if I really did think it was true for that long.

In the end, it died down on its own and just went away. I moved on to crushing on a boy at school and we never talked about it again. I alluded to it once, but other than that, not another word from either of us to anyone. I never did find out why she did it. I went on for pages and pages in my journal about it, chronicling it start to finish, but never did figure that out. One of those forever unanswered questions I guess.

What I Learned from a 40-day Facebook fast

A couple days ago I decided to stop using Facebook for the rest of the semester to focus on the outside world and my studies. Today, Monday, October 17, 2016, I deactivated my Facebook for the next two months while I’m in school. Here I’ll chronicle my journey.

Day 1 (October 17th): I deactivated it before class this morning and so far I’m doing okay. I still can use Messenger and I’m still active on my other SM platforms.
November 10th: Now that I’ve been off FB for almost a month, I realize that I really don’t miss it. I’ll still reactivate it after the semester is over, but I probably won’t be as addicted to it.

November 29th: I caved and reactivated it a little early. I have two more assignments and a final, and my second-to-last assignment, an oral report, I’m completely ready for and am doing tomorrow. The last one isn’t due til December 11th.

So, what have I learned?

  1. Life is much less stressful without it. Being on it all the time meant I saw everyone’s drama and things I didn’t agree with but knew speaking up about it would lead to conflict.
  2. It’s a big distraction. Sure, I still have distractions, but it’s one less.
  3. Facebook really wasn’t as hard to detach from as I was expecting it to be.

Now I will admit, I did cheat a little bit. I have a second account for online friends and while I forgot about it for the first month, I did use it (very sparingly, and mainly for chat purposes) a few times before officially rejoining Facebook. Otherwise, pretty clean break, and I survived. The world didn’t end. I think I’ll be okay.

5 Things We Should Stop Saying

There are a lot of things that are off-limits to say. There are a lot of things that are frowned upon to say. And then there are the things that aren’t frowned upon but should be. Here are a few things we need to stop saying.

  1. “I’m feeling triggered.” (in a feminist aspect). No, you’re not. You’re pissed off because something happened that you don’t like. You’re causing people like me, who feel triggered to cut, into getting laughed at if we don’t provide context because we’re mistaken for SJWs.
  2. “___ porn” (food porn, poems porn, etc). Stop making porn a casual thing. Porn is sexual. Food is not. Unless you’re using it in a sexual way (I’ll leave that to your imagination), it’s not. And when people refer to food porn, they’re referring to stuff that looks really delicious to eat, not sexually titillating.
  3. “I literally died of laughter.” Saying literally before anything that doesn’t actually happen is stupid. Saying “I literally started crying” is a lot better than the above sentence (assuming you did actually cry).
  4. “You’re retarded.” This is frowned upon anyway for insulting the person it’s directed at, but what about people who are actually mentally retarded? It’s an insult to casualize what they go through.
  5. “I hate ___!” I doubt you really HATE it. Hate is an extremely strong word. Strongly dislike is better. Hate is more like when you wish horrible things on it. You don’t hate your parents if you’re just upset that they grounded you. You hate them when you wish they would die or think about killing them yourself.

I’m sure there’s more and if you can think of any, leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading.

The Motions

So while I sat in church today, the inevitable communion time came. Now, I used to take communion every week I was at church no matter what. But recently I came to a realization–I don’t want to do it for the sake of doing it. Doing it because I feel obligated to and not because I’m really feeling in the moment and want to be close to God is kind of like lying, wouldn’t you say? I don’t want to do something out of fear or obligation. If I’m going to do something for God, I want to mean it. It’s also why I don’t sing in church anymore.

It’s hard to do it out of choice. You sin on Saturday, confess on Sunday, lather, rinse, repeat, week after week after week. It’s an exhausting cycle and eventually it’s going to catch up with you. It’s better to be honest and not do something than to do it simply because you feel like you have to, especially when it comes to God.

If all you do is go through the motions, eventually you’re going to start feeling guilty. I’ve stopped doing that and I don’t feel guilty because I know I’m doing the right thing in not pretending to be something I’m not.

Another thing I don’t do is pray. I know I should, but again, I don’t want to do it out of obligation. Praying in front of others, whether out of pride or not, makes me very self-conscious and I think that prayer is something between you and God. If I don’t really feel like talking to Him (or anyone), I don’t want to force myself to.

Going through the motions is something a lot of people do, in a lot of ways. Just think about it the next time and evaluate why you’re doing it. Are you doing it because you really mean it? Or because you feel like you have to? Consider it before you do it.

This is the song that inspired this post:

10 more songs to listen to when you’re sad

I found several more happy songs that I want to share in a new post. My last one was written a long time ago (I forgot to publish it) and several of my favorite songs didn’t make it because they hadn’t come out yet.

Song #1: ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

This is a very upbeat, happy song. I’m really into it. I think just about everyone is. I just wish it didn’t have any bad language though.

Song #2: ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by Walk the Moon

I can’t help but get excited whenever I hear this song. It makes me grin and want to dance.

Song #3: ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye

This one is pretty peppy. It was suggested to me by someone. I don’t listen to it much, but it’s good.

Song #4: ‘When Can I See You Again’ by Owl City

This song is such a fun, catchy tune. I love it so much.

Song #5: ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams

Don’t pretend you didn’t see this one coming.

Song #6: ‘Twist and Shout’ by The Beatles

Suggested to me by a friend, it really is pretty peppy.

Song #7: ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

It starts off slow, but ends up being amazingly catchy and upbeat by the end.

Song #8: ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry

You can’t deny how peppy it is. It’s got a pretty good beat too.

Song #9: ‘Mean’ by Taylor Swift

Not the peppiest song on the list, but it’s a good message to remember if bullies have you down.

Song #10: ‘Better Things’ by The Kinks

Recommended by a friend, it really is pretty upbeat. Inspirational too.

You can find part 1 here.

When depression overcomes happiness

I’m at a good place in my life right now. I have a boyfriend I’m in love with who loves me back. I’m getting ready to move out of my parents’ place. And on top of all that, I have a steady income now. So why am I not happy?

Let’s just face the facts: depression sucks. It can hit at the most inconvenient times. It can ruin an otherwise perfect day. It can cause people to do horrible things. They might self-harm or even commit suicide. It causes people to snap and hurt others.

Nobody can understand it unless they have it. I’ve been with my current psychiatrist for over 5 years and I think she still doesn’t get it. It’s easy to tell someone ‘suck it up and get over it’ just because you can or ‘happiness is a choice’ just because it is for you. Why would anyone choose to be sad?

I want to be happy. Really, I do. So I don’t get why I can’t be. It hurts to know that I’ll never be completely satisfied with life for more than a day or two at a time.

Depression is a harsh mistress (for lack of a better term). You can’t shake it. It just stays there. All the time. Day after day. Even on your good days, it lies in wait in the darkest corners of your mind, waiting for something to happen that can push it into the light.

It hurts. It hurts like hell and always will. And the worst part? If you’ve got it now, odds are you always will. No amount of drugs, legal or not, can cure it. And there’s not a single thing you can do about it.