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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shoutout to 2016

This year is quickly coming to a close, which means almost everyone is reflecting over 2016 and all the things that happened this past year.  Apparently, the majority of people hated 2016 saying it has been "the worst year yet."  In a way, I see their point.  This year has been interesting for sure and it seems like everyone has been on an emotional roller coaster in one way or another.  This past year has certainly not been easy, but that is exactly why I disagree with everyone who says this year was the worst.  I would argue the exact opposite: 2016 has been the best year yet.

Some of you probably think I'm crazy now saying, "How on Earth could I think this past year has been the best year of my life?"  Well, I like to think of myself as an optimist, and I think I have learned more about myself and life in general more this year than any other year of my life (which is saying quite a lot because there have been some very eventful years in the past for me).
So here is what I learned and exactly why 2016 has been the best year for me:

The people who are supposed to be in your life are going to make just as much of an effort as you will.  
I'm one of those people who desperately tries to hold onto people.  I spend so much of my time making an effort for every single person that takes one step into my life, and I wear myself out and spread myself way too thin because of it.  This year has helped me realize that about myself.  That does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing, but it is something I needed to understand about myself so that I can make sure it doesn't turn into a bad thing.  It can lead to me getting used if I'm not careful, which happened a bunch of times throughout 2016.  But it forced me to learn that the people who care about you and the ones that matter will make just as much of an effort to be in your life as you are in theirs.  All relationships are a two way street, and if you're the only one going the distance, maybe you should think about whether or not that person is worth keeping around.  Every single one of the relationships I have made this past year that are real ones have consisted of people wanting to see me, checking up on me, asking how my day is, and going that extra mile to show me they care just like I do for them.  That is how you figure out who matters, and that is such an important lesson to learn.  Without 2016, I probably would have never figured that out.

It is okay to change your dreams.
Like I have said on here before, I am a very organized, everything-has-to-happen-in-a-certain-order, kind of person.  And big changes scare me.  I don't like it when I figure out that things aren't going to go as I planned them.  That's an issue and that is another thing I learned about myself this year.  Sometimes you have dreams that seem so perfect until you get there and realize it's not exactly what you'd hoped.  That is okay.  It is perfectly alright to change your plans... and then change them again... and then change them again.  It is okay to have absolutely no idea what you are doing.  It is okay to try something different and love that. The point of dreaming, and dreaming big, is not that your dreams don't change, but that you are chasing them full speed.

You need to feel.
Having feelings these days seems to be a negative thing.  We all seem to laugh too much, cry too little, get too angry.  So some of us just stop.  We stop allowing ourselves to feel the effects of life, and frankly, it just isn't human.  This year has taught me to stop bottling things up.  Life is tough and bad things are going to happen.  I am going to get hurt and get sad, and I am also going to feel so happy that my heart hurts.  The point is, I need to feel that joy when great things happen.  I need to let myself not be okay.  I learned that I have always been the type of person who slaps a smile on her face in front of everyone - including myself - and just keep saying, "I'm fine."  Well, part of life is not being fine.  In fact, a big part of life is not being fine.  When I have emotions, I need to let them loose or I won't learn anything and I'll just end up hurting myself.  2016 taught me that it is okay not to be okay.

Don't ever lose yourself.
Writing for me has always been an outlet.  It has been such a big part of my life and the entire reason I went into journalism this past semester.  I love deep thoughts and other perspectives, and that is what I thought it would be.  However, I was wrong, and that is okay.  Journalism just isn't the kind of writing I wanted to be doing.  But a lot of people asked me why I didn't just keep going with it since eventually I would probably get to write about what I wanted.  My answer to that was that writing is a piece of me.  It is a part of me that is completely my own and I never want to let someone else control when, how, or why I write.  For a little while this year, I stopped writing.  And I mean completely.  Whether or not it is a blog post or a story, I have always written at least some small things in my notes just because I truly love it.  I stopped doing that, and I could feel me letting myself slip through my fingers.  Never let somebody else dictate what you love or you'll start hating it.  So that is why I decided to switch majors so that I could write on the side on my own terms and not someone else's deadline.

As for the rest of this year, I got accepted to college; We started FCA at Canfield High School; I spent every day after school working out with my friend, Hannah; I gave two speeches in front of the entire school; I went to prom in my favorite dress in the entire world; I went white water rafting; I got really close with my friend, Moira, again; I graduated high school and had a fabulous graduation party; I went on a hiking trip; I started singing again; I turned 18 - yay adulthood; I met my lovely new little sister, Grace, to add to our multi-country family with my older sister, Megan; I chopped seven inches of my hair off which was brave for me; I went on a mission trip and met the sweetest kids; I went on a day trip to Pittsburgh for fun; I spent an entire week at the Canfield fair; I started college; I started teaching middle school youth group; I visited my friend, Christa, in Cleveland twice; I had a daily car ride with my friend Annie to Kent while waking our friend Taryn up by singing "What a Wonderful World" on the phone and we all went to Cleveland for the World Series; I learned loads about photography (and met the best professors in that class); I made a bunch of adult decisions like switching schools and my major and getting my car fixed all on my own; I decided to try to move in with my best friend, Andrea, next fall; I got a new job; I got all A's my first semester of college; I bought my first lottery tickets (yanno, because I'm a fancy adult now); I got closer with my family, especially my mom and sister; and lastly, I met some of the most amazing people in my entire life and grew stronger in the friendships I already had.  And so maybe this year was not full of a bunch of happy-go-lucky moments like I had planned for it to, and maybe there were some eventful and emotional roller coasters, but I learned so much, and for me, that is a pretty successful year.

Thank you so much for reading and feel free to comment down below your best memories of 2016. See you next year!

Bree x

Saturday, December 3, 2016

College 101 - The First Six Months

Starting at a young age, I was asked what I wanted to be.  Such a simple question, but the answer changed at least eleven times for me, if not more.  The older I got, the more the question was asked and the more it was accompanied by more specific and demanding questions.  Where was I going to middle school, high school, or college?  Where did I want to live someday?  How old did I want to be before I got married or had kids?  Did I want a family before or after a career?  So many questions that I had no clue how to answer, but continuously made up as I went.  And the more I thought about them, the more concrete they became in my mind like a checklist where I had to have "this" done by "this" date.  I had a timeline that I very much intended on sticking to.  As a girl who went through a lot as a kid, I just wanted to be able to paint my life's picture on my own and be confident in what I was doing.

And boy oh boy, did I think I had it all figured out at first.  I picked my middle school...and then ended up going to a different one instead.  I had one high school planned out and then switched my sophomore year.  I even had my college picked out thinking this one would surely stick.  I had the perfect major for me and for once I could just follow my plan, right?  Now I could happily move on to college with the reigns completely in my hands, become a super successful journalist, and travel absolutely everywhere (and if I accidentally found some cute guy in a foreign country, I would be totally fine with that), right?

Or maybe not so much.

Truth is, my plans never seem to work out at all how I plan them, and that can become very frustrating for a very self-sufficient, organized, high anxiety, eighteen-year-old.  In fact, it seems the more I try to plan, the more it doesn't work.  So as I take a deep breath after six months of "adulting" and wait to start my second semester of college, I am going to tell you what I have learned so far...because it is quite a list.

1.  The plans you make for yourself probably will not end up working out like you'd hoped.  
Turns out, the thing I thought I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life is not right for me at all. The college I started out at is not even the right fit for me.   Funny enough, I am going to the college that was originally not even on my list, not because it's a bad school, but because I wanted out like many other high school seniors do.  On top of that, my mother teaches in the business building at my new university, so you'd better believe that was my #1 on my "Not Going to Major In" list... and now I'm going to be in the very same building as her.  (Side note: I love my mother very much, I just really hate math and the thought of doing accounting made my head hurt, just like the thought of writing makes hers hurt).  

2.  You learn who your real friends are.
On top of schooling, my friends have changed a lot.  Sure, I still have some from the past that will always be close to me, but people change and so did I.  I think college forces you to learn who you are.  It's an entirely different ballgame.  Everything that formed your identity in high school is completely gone, and you have to start from scratch whether you like it or not.  You have to choose between doing what the crowd is doing and what is best for you, except this time your decision could follow you way into your career.  You have to be smart and look out for yourself because you're an adult, and no one else will do it for you.  You completely lose yourself and slowly, but surely, find yourself again, except this time it's an entirely different version of yourself.  The real friends are the ones who won't mind sitting in a stairwell listening to you cry about how lost you feel, and they might even cry with you.  They are the ones who make an effort to see you when they are home or make FaceTime dates with you when they can't be there.  In high school I thought I needed the largest amount of friends, but college has taught me that there are only a few that truly matter.  Give them the appreciation they deserve, you are so lucky to have them and you are going to need them to lean on.

3. Boys are stupid. 
That is something I have been hearing since as far back as I can remember, but you don't quite realize just how dumb they can be until you get to college.  Cat calling is a real thing and if you are a girl in high school saying, "that's never happened to me and it isn't going to," you are in for a wake up call.  This isn't to say every single boy in college is terrible, because that obviously is not true, but you do learn just how bad they can be.   For some reason, some boys get to college and forget about boundaries and they have absolutely no problem coming up to you and saying extremely inappropriate things.  It is going to make you feel super uncomfortable, and sometimes they don't stop no matter what excuse you come up with (I have a boyfriend, I don't want to date, No thank you, I have class, etc.).  So when that happens (because it will), take a deep breath and walk away.  They usually don't follow you.

4. Girls are stupid.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, girls are also very air headed.  They can make drama out of absolutely nothing, and half the time they make absolutely no sense.  I am a girl and I don't even understand.  What do you mean you don't like him but you are going out with him?  That makes zero sense.  You don't want guys to stare at you, but you are going to wear a tank top as a dress...yep, that sounds logical.  So what, your hair is getting wet from the rain on the walk to class?  It'll dry, I promise.  And dear lord, wear a jacket.  I don't care if your outfit won't be perfect if you wear one.  It is better than getting sick.

5. Your opinions and faith are going to be challenged. 
In college, you are going to face real life problems that you get to solve 100% by yourself.  There are going to be a bunch of people who disagree with you and tell you that what you think or believe is wrong.  It makes it very hard for you to think straight, but that does not mean you have to let them win.  It is okay to have an open mind, and to change it, but it is also okay to be sure of what you believe.  College teaches you to stand strong in what you do have faith in, and to become more educated so when you do encounter people who tell you you're incorrect, you can plead your case.  All the challenges can make you even more certain of your thoughts, religion, etc., which is one of the great things about meeting new people.  

After all these crazy first few months, I can honestly say I think I have at least a tiny grip on my life.  That is not to say I think I have found myself.  I've got a long way to go, but I'm finding small pieces that will help me figure out where I am going.  I have to put trust somewhere other than myself, which is something I have been struggling with since third grade.  I have to trust that God has this, and that I need to stop making a timeline.  The older I get, the more I am reminded that God's timeline and the one I imagined are nothing alike... at all.  And the hardest part of that for me has been to accept that that is okay.  Just because I am not on a plane documenting other countries right now does not mean I'm not on the right track.  God also has a funny way of taking my timeline, and turning my plans into something that helps His plans.  I went to the wrong college and went into the wrong major, but I made two amazing new friends and took one class that has started this entirely new career path in the process.  I realized what is important to me and what is the most rewarding.   

At one semester in, I can say college is certainly interesting.  It's an emotional roller coaster and a huge question mark.  I never thought I'd be where I am, but it is time for me to truly accept that I do not have control over this, He does.   So here's to a new semester at a new school with a new major and some new and old friends.  I'll keep you updated!

Love Always,
Bree x

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Have Faith

Terrorism.  Economic instability.  A dying environment.  Unsafe relationships.  The 2016 election.

The world is full of heartbreaking realities, which is not something new I needed to tell you.  It is full of overwhelming, negative problems, and some days it all seems hopeless for all of us.  There are days where you just want to give up.  We all have them. And as someone with anxiety disorder, giant problems like these are big triggers for panic attacks, which if you have never had one, feels like the walls around you are closing in and you're drowning all at the same time.  Needless to say, these are far from my favorite things in life.  

But oddly enough, for once I do not feel scared.

Like many other young adults my age in America, I stood in line to vote for the very first time to try and make a difference on Tuesday.  Now I am not going to tell you who I voted for for two major reasons:
1. My choice was personal and I do not feel that the entire world needs to know because it is private.
2. It really has nothing to do with this post.
So if you came here hoping to hear who I voted for (which I highly doubt you did), I am very sorry to disappoint you, but that is not what I'm writing about. If, for some reason, you are incredibly interested in my views, I would be more than happy to talk to you about that privately, but not right now!  However, even though the decision was difficult for me, I also know when I entered my ballot into the computer system that whatever I decided was not something I needed to worry about.  The future of the world is not in my hands.

Our future, as much as we would like to think we control it, is all taken care of and has been by the One loves us so incredibly much - God.  He is powerful, loving, and has the best interest of every person on this earth.  So when I left the room where I voiced my opinion, I knew the results would turn out how He intended because He always has a plan and a reason for everything that happens, good or bad. 

Wednesday when I woke up, I took a look on my twitter feed to see almost every person completely losing their minds and being super rude to each other because they couldn't understand how something like this could happen.  People with opposing views disrespected each other and let it tear their friendships apart.  They could not handle anything that was going on.  All of that reminded me of something my friends, Alexa and Shanika, went over in the middle school youth group I help out with, that really stood out.  We sometimes are told that God won't give you anything you can't handle, but as the two explained to wide-eyed fifth and sixth grade girls, the exact opposite is true.  God gives you things you can't handle on your own.  Just think about it, if God only gave you things you could handle, then there would be no reason for Him to be there.  He gives us difficult things that make us dependent on Him to help us realize that we need Him because He is the only way to get through it.  

To those who are scared, upset, or confused, this is the time for you to rely on Him.  Lean on Him. It is why we go through things that do not always make sense to us.  Ask Him for understanding and peace of mind.  He wants you to run to Him, so sprint full speed.

God has a plan and my faith in that is what does not let the anxiety attacks get the best of me in such crazy times in our world.  Faith is what saves us and the only decision we make that really does matter.  So, I encourage you if you have not already, to put your trust in Jesus instead of posting hurtful things on the internet.  Faith is the answer to all of it, and I can promise you that there is nothing better than knowing someone bigger than yourself has already taken care of it. 

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
-Deuteronomy 31:6

Feel free to post versus of encouragement in the comments below to help others and be kind to each other! God bless, and have a great rest of the week!  

Love Always,
Bree x

Friday, July 15, 2016

The World and the Media: Revealing Facts from a Journalist

The United States of America: a "melting pot."  Quite an ironic title these days if you ask me.  America is on the greatest of struggle buses.  The world in general is suffering right now, and we, as a country, watch the terrors that appear on our TVs with open eyes...and open mouths.

As an aspiring journalist, I am a part of the wide range of networks that bring you the breaking stories that make your heart smile or break into a million pieces. I am one of many who pick which stories they would like to cover and how much of it will reach your handheld devices within twenty-four hours. But it's important for you as a reader (and most likely not a journalist) to take a close look at my last sentence.  We writers pick which stories will make the front page.  We pick which one will land millions of views, which will be a small article on page 40, or quite possibly won't make the issue at all.  It is part of our jobs to figure out which stories will intrigue the general public, and put them in order from most to least interesting.  It makes sense for us (journalists and those in the media) to do that. It boosts ratings and keeps out the more insignificant stories that don't matter quite as much.  But at the same time that it keeps the small, less important stories from boring you, it also keeps out many stories that are just as important, but are things you may not want to hear. 

In the recent week, it is impossible for anyone to get on social media without seeing the #BlackLivesMatter.  This movement is growing at a constant rate, and frankly, I could not support it more. 

In addition to the hashtag, I am also seeing those who say, "well, all lives matter."  And they aren't wrong.  All lives do matter.  From a baby at the moment of conception to the oldest person on the planet, to the palest of the pales or the darkest of the darks, for all the sexual orientations, all the religions of the world, all the males and the females: all lives matter.  However, that is not the point of movements like these.  Just as I pointed out in my post on feminism, it isn't about putting another group down.  It isn't saying that an African American life is more precious and valuable than the Caucasian sitting next to them.  It is about the racial problem America is still facing.  It is about whites statistically being treated better than their black counterparts.  It is about fighting for equality, because we are far from there. 

Now back to how the media chooses what you see, I would like to take this opportunity to point out a very important fact when it comes to coverage and race.  Violence and tragedy takes place in absolutely every racial group. Just because it is not in the headlines does not mean that it is not happening.  Crazy people are everywhere, and that has nothing to do with the color of their skin. Our culture is becoming one full of making overgeneralized, sweeping statements. One bad egg doesn't mean the whole carton is bad just as one radical in a group doesn't make an entire group of people radical.  The fact of the matter is, though it breaks my heart to say this, statistically in this country, violence coverage for the black community is substantially higher than it is for the whites.  

Let me give you a couple unfortunate, but true, scenarios.
The first is someone telling a story about an event in the general public, and while explaining what occurred, mentioning the race of one of the people in the story.  In this case, the race of the person is irrelevant to the plot other than to add more descriptive details.  Everyday people do this, but it is extremely important to understand that journalists do also.  Small things like that add to the overall stereotyping, but it is so subtle that it is almost unnoticeable unless you are actively looking for it.  How about we make a new rule that unless you are writing a book describing the character to add a visual for the reader or unless the race is the subject of the story, we stop mentioning the race.  What does it matter?  So cut it out. 
Here is the second scenario: There is a white man who is planning a burglary walking around a house in a neighborhood while an innocent black man walks on the sidewalk.  It is much more likely for the black man to be covered and to be seen as suspicious simply because of his color, even though the white man is the one doing something wrong.  As much as I hate to say it, racial profiling is a real problem our country is facing.  It's not an opinion, it is a fact. The fight isn't over.  

And this is why I support movements such as "Black Lives Matter."  We have to talk about it because it is a problem. We have to take a stand and educate ourselves so we can help each other reach equality instead of making ignorant comments because we don't know the entire story due to the media. We aren't talking about other races because there's not as big of a fight or a fight at all to make it worth bringing up.  Every life matters, but black lives are fighting to end the same fight Martin Luther King Jr. did in his day because they haven't achieved what other racial groups have. So instead of continuing the "well, all lives matter" talk, let's be supportive.

Love each other!

Love Always,
Bree x

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Why I am a Feminist

Welcome back to my blog! Let me reintroduce myself.  My name is Bree Thompson. I am a Catholic Christian and an active participant in my youth group.  I am a law-abiding citizen and an honors student.  I am a cheerleader, on student council, and a senior class officer.  I am a normal, now-high school graduate, an avid Netflix-watcher, a lover of chocolate-covered strawberries, and I consider myself to be a classy gal. But in addition to all those things that shape my identity, I am a feminist. It is certainly no secret if you know me personally, and if that is the case, you most likely knew this would be coming simply because I am not afraid to speak... about anything actually... but especially about things I feel strongly about.  So whether or not you consider yourself a feminist or whether or not you know me personally, don't click away just yet.  Give me a shot, okay?  Because as some wise person on Pinterest once said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

Feminism is such a touchy word these days.  It seems to have a negative connotation to a lot of people, which is saddening to me since in my eyes, feminism is something we should be enthusiastic about.  So before I start sharing my views, I am going to redefine feminism in my own words (I thought that would be more original than copying what the dictionary said like many other blogs I've seen. This is me trying to be creative):

Feminism to me is wanting everyone to be on the same playing-field and have an equal shot at every opportunity life brings.  I should add that this is not limited to just females or just males.  (Maybe we should rename feminism as "genderism" or "everyone-ism."  I'm just making up words now but Emma Watson, if you read this, what do you think?)  Feminism is about wanting men and women to be able to do whatever their hearts desire without feeling a need to get approval from the society around them.  It is not about hating men or burning bras.  I have plenty of guy friends who I love just as much as my friends who girls, and I have never once burned a bra or had it cross my mind.  In fact, all the of self-declared feminists I know are exactly like I am.  Don't overgeneralize.  Just because you burn one batch of cookies, doesn't mean all cookies are gross.  I believe that a guy should be able to cry without being told to "toughen up" because gender has nothing to do with the feelings we have inside. I believe the phrase "like a girl" needs to be something to be proud of for girls instead of an insult since, after all, we are girls.  I believe that working mom's and stay at home dad's should be celebrated since both genders are capable of bringing in money and taking care of their children.  I believe the social norms that tell us that girls should like pink and boys, blue, should stop.  I think a girl should be able to eat a whopping hamburger on the first date and boys dance till their feet hurt.  I don't want my society to define what is and is not acceptable for me to do.  Do you?

It is important to note that I am pretty lucky.  I live in the United States of America, a country where many of the gender issues have dissolved.  Just to name a few examples, I have the right to an education, the ability to vote, and can own as much property as my money will buy.  We ladies have come a long way thanks to the women before us who had the guts to make a better lives for themselves, their daughters, AND their sons.  Yes, boys, this all affects you too. I am very proud to say I am from a nation that has come this far, but there are so many not up to par with where I live, and frankly, the U.S. is no where close to being done with this equality battle.

To start, I'll open this scene up a bit. Have you heard of Malala Yousafzai?  You most likely have since she has not stayed quiet about any of the hardships she has encountered, but just in case you just replied "no," Malala is my modern-day hero.  As a now-eighteen-year-old from Pakastan, she was not born into a country as pro-girl as mine is.  At fourteen, she had the courage I could only dream of having when she personally called out the Talaban for trying to take away her, and many other girls', education in a speech given to Peshawar and in her undercover blog following her speech.  As you probably guessed, the Talaban was not super happy with her since her internet fan-base and opinion was quickly spreading, so they shot her in the head which traveled down to her neck on a bus-ride home from school in 2012.  She was in a medically-induced coma until she arrived in England where she faced several surgeries and was found to have no major brain damage.

Now, I would like to think that in her shoes I would have done the same, but if my government was trying to kill me, I don't know if I would've continued on.  But there was no stopping Malala.  She kept up her education in England and is still speaking in as many places as she can for education and women's rights which completely blows my mind.  She published a book, "I Am Malala," which I would love to read when I get the time, and carries on without any fear.  But, moral of the story, this girl is about the same age as I am in the present day, and she is facing death threats from her country because she wants to learn.  Have I made you a feminist yet?

Unfortunately, Pakastan is far from the last country that is facing a much harsher gender war than America did pre-1980.  (Fun-fact: According to, "Women did not begin attending college in equal numbers to men until as recently as 1980," in the US).  That is where everyone who has been rolling their eyes at feminists don't take into consideration.  Just because we are blessed, does not mean we should stand back and watch everyone else suffer to achieve what we have.

Now I am not asking you to put your life at risk to help girls in other countries, but why don't we start by fixing the problems still left inside our boarders.  Let's get rid of the stigma that girls are good at English and history, and boys are good at math and science.  Can't we all just be good at different things instead of making it about playing a matching game with topics and genders? I don't think that's super hard. Why don't we close the wage gap and make our pays equal for the same work? You can make the argument that it is only a few cents here and there, but where do you draw a line between it being too much?  If your teacher gave you a B on a test because they took off a few points and wouldn't give them back, but you really deserved an A, I know most of the people I am around would fight for every last point back.  You deserved that A, girls deserve equal pay. (I did not mean for that to rhyme, but maybe I should take up rapping along with my writing).

I don't want my gender, which is completely out of my control, to hold me back from anything I want to do.  I want to live my life to the absolute fullest, where I can be myself without worrying about crossing gender lines, and I would like that for my friends, family, and my someday kids if I am lucky enough to have them, as well.  Life is much too short to let our society govern what we do.  So gals, keep fighting like the wonderful ladies before us to stop getting the short end of the straw. Guys, don't let our world keep you in a "manly" box.  By striving for a better world in just those small ways, we can all make a huge impact on the rest of the world that hasn't gotten to where we are yet. Because we all suffer when things aren't equal.

Thanks so much for reading! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Love Always,
Bree x