Jenna Marbles Inspired This One

I just watched Jenna Marbles’s video called “Second Puberty” and so much of it was relateable to me. Basically, she’s talking about how we all go through the first puberty as adolescents and we were all expecting it because everyone told us it was going to happen. The expectation was that we were going to transition from awkward tweens into beautiful butterflies (adults) and we’d never look back and life would just carry on merrily from there. But Jenna addresses the reality in her video and it made me feel so not alone. In our early-late twenties we all go through a second puberty that none of us were ever expecting.

She addresses how once she finally thought she figured out her skin, it went and changed on her. I feel the exact same way. When I finally learned how to perfect washing my face (by actually washing my face way less than I did in high school) I stopped getting pimples for probably 2 years. Now they’re back. What is that about? I’m even on birth control…which might actually have something to do with this second puberty but that’s beside the point!

She also addresses how we think that once we’ve gone through puberty we’re going to be swift and nimble creatures who can do anything without feeling any pain! We’re going to be agile and have endurance and barely break a sweat. Wrong. We start getting sore and swollen and achy. I’ve gotten two massages in the past week and both times I asked them to focus on my shoulders and my feet because they’re so sore all the time!

She brings up the point that we now cannot regulate our body temperatures like we used to. Just like she said, I’m always freezing and need blankets while my boyfriend is sitting there sweating buckets. Or that we randomly develop allergies we never used to have. My dog is 14 years old and suddenly my nose and ear get congested whenever I’m home and his dander is the only thing that makes sense that I could be allergic to. I also developed anxiety at age 21 during a relatively low-stress period in my life. Where did that come from? You’d think I would’ve had it in high school when I was trying to decide which university to go to in order to decide the fate of the rest of my life, or maybe even when I will be done school and don’t have a career yet. But nope. 21. Right in the middle of summer.

I know there are plenty of other examples of how I am experiencing a second puberty but I was just glad to hear Jenna talk about it so that I know I am not alone and I just wanted to record it.

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A Disconnection with Who I used to Be

Do you ever look at old photos of yourself, of when you felt you were in your prime, and think that you are now a completely different person? That is how I feel when I look at myself 4 or 5 years ago. And this brings sadness to my heart because 4 or 5 years ago I was very happy with myself and with my life. No I did not have a boyfriend, and yes I wanted one. But I was happy because I was care-free and giggly and surrounded by friends constantly and knew where I would be in a years time. I miss her. She had stress and I don’t envy some of that stress. She was applying for university and experiencing her first year of living away from her parents and getting loaded down with readings and papers. But she was surrounded by friends and none of those friends had any expectations of her other than to join in the binge drinking and board game nights. The girl I am today is much different.

I will admit that much of my disconnected feeling comes from the fact that I am in that awkward stage of life where I am almost done my final year of school and have absolutely no clue whatsoever where I will be in 6 months time. And I mean that literally. Where will I be living? With my parents? With my boyfriend? I don’t know. I am a teacher candidate which probably means I won’t be having a career anytime soon so all I know is I’ll probably be working at a restaurant or something.

I was a little heavier in those pictures, too. I’ve never been heavy but it’s clear that in the last 4 years my face, arms, stomach, and legs have thinned out due to a mix of developing anxiety and losing the last bit of baby fat/freshman 15. I am happy with how I look now. I think I am pretty and look fit even though I don’t exercise. I have accepted my flaws that used to torment me 4 years ago, such as my nose and my skin. I prefer my face without makeup on it, whereas even 2 years ago I wouldn’t leave my bedroom without foundation on. I am not a materialistic person and don’t care if I wear the same shirt 2 or 3 days in a row. I’d say I am comfortable in my own skin, whereas 2 years ago I was not. It probably helps to have a boyfriend who tells me I am beautiful, but I know it is mostly because I have matured and realize that there are more important things in life than appearance, such as sleeping in.

But when I see myself 4 or 5 years ago, smiling away, usually with a drink in my hand and friends by my side, I feel sad that I no longer experience those experiences that made me smile like that. Yes, I have so much to smile about now. My supportive parents, my sensitive and witty boyfriend, my siblings, my best friend I’ve had since grade 2, my almost being done school, my growing confidence in myself.

I think it’s the not-knowing-where-I’m-heading feeling that’s getting to me. I feel insecure about my future. I don’t know what to expect, but I know it will very different from what I’m used to and I don’t like change. I know I will miss being a student and having deadlines and sitting in class and complaining about it all with my friends. I will miss the stress of being a student as well as the security in knowing who I was and who I will be interacting with everyday.

One of the scarier thoughts I have about my future is losing contact with my friends. That best friend I mentioned from grade 2 is one of the most valuable relationships I have. I am so dependent on her to always be there for me, that the thought of being on a different path than her is terrifying. She will still be a student next year and I won’t be. Something about that does not sit well with me.

Even though I am in that inbetween stage, there is increasingly a feeling of juggling everything in my life. My parents, siblings, boyfriend, friends, school, work, saving for a car, and other things I enjoy like reading, drinking, or watching YouTubers, are all pulling at me and asking for attention. I feel like in trying to balance all of these factors I have disconnected with who I once was. And I am not sure what to do about it. Do I try and find her again? Or is she gone? And if I did find her, would I be lying to myself about who I truly am today? Do I wait to see who I will be in 6 months time? All I know is that I want to be someone who doesn’t struggle to balance everything in my life. I want everyone and everything to receive the attention they deserve, and I want that to come naturally. I want to be care-free with no expectations and to constantly feel content. But do I wait for that to come naturally or do I have to force myself to be like that? And if I did find that happy place, would I recognize it and say “ah, here I am”? I hope so.

My experience with weight loss and my journey to peace of mind

I grew up as a high performance athlete. I trained year-round through my teenagehood up until I went away for university and didn’t have the time or access to my standard of workout facilities. During these glory days I was fit, strong, lightweight, healthy, and happy with my routine. Looking back, it makes me sad to think that while I was in such good shape, I’d still look in the mirror and see a distorted reflection. I didn’t see muscle or health. I saw the practices I missed that month, the extra spoonful of Nutella I ate that morning, or the stronger or thinner people around me. I never truly appreciated the appearance of my body because I was constantly criticizing my flaws, which weren’t really flaws. I never saw myself as perfect.

When I went away to school I naturally gained some weight, though only 5 pounds. But what upset me the most was the rapid pace at which my muscle deteriorated. I could no longer call myself an athlete. My appetite shrunk as my metabolism slowed and by the end of the school year I was in the habit that most girls were of joking about never exercising and eating like nobodies business. All the while I’d fantasize about getting back to training and taking off the university student costume and step effortlessly back into the disciplined athlete costume.

Skip forward a couple years. I never found the time or motivation to take off the student costume and dig up the athlete costume. Any muscle or strength I once had was history and the number on the scale slowly but surely was reacting to all the alcohol and student meals that was required to get through school. My body shape and appearance did not change much, just the number and my confidence.

Skip forward again to the summer between third year and fourth. If you’ve taken a gander at some of my previous posts you’ll know that I suffer from self-diagnosed anxiety. It is completely indescribable and I have no clue what triggers it, but it’s always there. I developed it almost a year ago and the worst symptom of it is a severe lack of appetite and a constant feeling of fear or nerves and nausea. It was at its worst last summer, but as this summer creeps around the corner I am feeling 70-85% better, depending on the day. However, it’s peek had an intense impact on my weight, appearance and confidence. As I never had an appetite, and the constant nausea made me sick almost everyday, the weight fell off of me. I was never heavy before, which only made the effects of weight loss that much more noticeable. None of my clothes fit anymore, and people were constantly pointing out how skinny I was getting. I rarely took these comments as compliments because I was secretly very concerned about my health. I had gone to doctors and had tests done and nothing was resolved. My BMI was too low and the only suggestions I got from doctors was to try YouTubing meditation practices to calm my nerves. The fear for my health only heightened my anxiety which intensified my lack of appetite.

Skip forward again to September. It was time to switch gears from summer mode to school mode. I guess having a different lifestyle and important things to focus on like my education, living away from home, and working on my wonderful relationship with my boyfriend helped me to snap out of such a silly, yet not really so silly, mentality. I couldn’t afford to play around with my food. I needed to eat so I could focus at school. This was not a conscious decision. I cannot put my finger on what changed, but it was as if my anxiety was put on the back burner. I was eating again (not 100% back to my university student diet but better than literally nothing) and I was feeling much more healthy and happy with myself.

Today, my physical appearance and the number on the scale have not gone back to what I personally would consider normal. People still comment on my thinness compared to over a year ago, but I do feel perfectly healthy. I am happy with the way I look now because I know I am eating well and getting back to exercising. My weight and the number on the scale honestly mean nothing to me anymore. It is my physical and mental health that I value. As long as I feel healthy and know that I am doing everything I can to lead a healthy lifestyle, then I am happy with who I see in the mirror.

You win some, you lose some

If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll recall that last April I went away to Cuba with my two roommates, who just happened to be my best friends. For their privacy, I will refer to them as Thing 1 and Thing 2. The Things and I had the most amazing time at the resort and we happened to meet a group of boys there who went to our university, and who happened to sit directly across from us on our plane. We all became friends, but one of the boys in particular stood out to me. His father was considered “one of the boys” and had gone on the trip with them. To me, any boy who is comfortable and confident enough to be friends with his dad is cool. This boy, let’s call him Jacob, and I got along very well and had good conversations. Somehow I convinced him to let me teach him how to dance one night at the 24 hour bar, and then take a long walk on the beach with me. I knew he was something special. His dad acted as a wingman and would pull me aside and say, “[Jacob] really likes you. He says you have good talks. He’s a real good kid and would treat you well. You should give him a chance.” I definitely was interested in Jacob, but I was also very shy. I’d never had a boyfriend before and was very inexperienced with boys. On the plane ride home my friends and his friends, I’m sure by pure coincidence, arranged themselves so that Jacob and I could sit beside each other. We didn’t say much to each other because both of us are on the quiet side. At one point he asked if I needed a pen, and I said no. At another point he asked if I was getting anything from duty free, and I said no. That was all. Oh, and when we landed (he likes to remind me of this) I guess I literally threw my phone at him without saying anything. He understood though, and added his number. Fast forward, we hung out the entire summer and he asked me to be his girlfriend. I said yes. My friends were really happy for me for having a boyfriend, and I nice one at that. Summer was coming to an end and I was excited because Jacob and I, since we went to the same school, would get to live so close to each other. However, I had this pit feeling that I was going to have a hard time splitting my time between the Things and my new boyfriend. Jacob reassured me that everything was going to be okay and we’d all hang out together. But within the first week back at school I knew something was wrong. I was spending so much time With Jacob and I guess the Things took it personally. The first night we all went out together, Thing 2 drunkenly gave Jacob the finger. She found out I was really upset about it and apologized to him later, but I noticed she didn’t apologize to me. As the semester went on, Jacob would say to me that he felt like the Black Plague whenever he came over. My roommates looked disgusted to see him and barely made any effort to talk to him. Soon I started to feel the same way. They stopped texting me and inviting me places, because they assumed I’d always be with Jacob. I tried to ignore it and act like nothing was wrong. I continued to be pleasant to the Things whenever I saw them, and always made the effort to invite them to watch hockey games with Jacob and I. Jacob even invited them to his place for barbecues, but they never ever agreed to come. I was sad to lose such close friends, but at the same time knew that I had other friends who wouldn’t treat me or my boyfriend like that.

Some significant things happened that furthered my reasoning to just let go of the friendship. Some things I don’t even want to think about to write. But one of the things was that something mean was written about me on a board on the wall of my own apartment. Thing 1 made a board with all of our names on it so that every time we did something funny we’d get a gold star beside our name. Since I was rarely around I had very few stars compared to the Things. But one day, I guess some of my “friends” got drunk and thought it’d be funny to draw a star beside my name. Inside my star they wrote “have some fun for fucks sakes”. I took photos of it when I saw it but never brought it up with them, I guess because I’m scared of confrontation. But one weekend when my mom was coming to pick me up I took the board down because I didn’t want her to see what my friends wrote about me. But when I came back at the end of the weekend I saw that the board was back on the wall. It’s still there to this day. That sort of offended me, but the worst part to me is that I am having fun! They must think my life sucks without them if they’d write such a thing. Okay, maybe I’m not getting drunk every weekend and doing dumb things to get a gold star, but I am having just as much fun, if not more, cuddling with Jacob and watching shows, or cooking together, or talking, or shopping, or going on cute dates. I’m happy!

Another thing that happened was that the Things thought it would be a good idea to basically ambush me and try to talk about what was going on between us. Terrible idea. I felt ganged up on. I felt like I was a little kid being scolded by my two parents. Basically all that happened was they got to tell me how frustrated they were, how awkward they felt when I was around, and how I need to change my time management. I barely got to say anything I wanted/needed to say. Nothing really changed after that talk except that I kept reminding myself of how Thing 1 basically said she had given up on our friendship. That seemed odd to me because I never felt like put any effort in in the first place.

One other thing that sticks out to me is that Thing 1 decided to unfriend Jacob on Facebook. I actually cried a little bit about that because to me, that is a significant statement. That really shows that you don’t ever plan on making amendments. If she ever thought we’d fix our friendship, she wouldn’t have done that. Jacob says he could care less, but I was shocked.

I hope this post made sense. I try to look at everything that happened and see their side just as much as mine, because I can imagine it isn’t nice to have a friend spend more time with their boyfriend than you. But I do not think that they handled it well. They could have shown more effort towards me and my boyfriend. I felt like I was the only one showing an interest in the friendship. And I have other friends who I don’t see often and am still close with. In fact, I just keep in mind that I do have other really good friends and shouldn’t get hung up on the Things.

A lot of things (no pun intended) can change in one year. I can’t believe the roller coaster my year has been. But at the end of the day, I’m happy. If I thought about it, I might feel sad. But I try not to.

Thanks for listening!

Closing In on Planet Pluto: an Interview with New Horizons PI Alan Stern

Lights in the Dark

Artist's impression of the New Horizons flyby in July 2015. (NASA/SwRI)Artist’s impression of the New Horizons flyby in July 2015. (NASA/SwRI)

After more than nine years of traveling through space the New Horizons spacecraft is now in the home stretch of its journey, with less than 120 days and 143 million kilometers to go before it makes its historic flyby of the Pluto system on July 14. It will be the first time we get a good close-up look at the distant world which had for over seven decades held reign over the frozen edges of our Solar System as the outermost planet, much like its namesake governed the cold darkness of the mythological Greek underworld.

Discovered on February 18, 1930, the ninth planet Pluto lost its “full” planetary status in August 2006 as the result of a highly-contested decision by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to create a new class of “dwarf planets,” of which Pluto, Ceres, and the then-recently-discovered Eris became charter members. Seven months…

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At Home Between the Pages by Dan Gemeinhart

Nerdy Book Club

When I think of my childhood, two themes immediately rise to the top: movement and books.

We moved a lot when I was growing up. In the beginning it was because my dad was in the military; later, just because we were following (or looking for) jobs. From when I was born in a military hospital in Germany until I entered middle school, we moved nearly every year. I was used to putting all my stuff into boxes, then taking it all out of boxes again in a new house, in a new town, with a new school. Each move brought a different bedroom, a different neighborhood, a different teacher, different friends. My family was strong and constant, but the rest of the world swirled and shifted around us.

I was a quiet kid, shy and introverted. It’s not easy always being the new kid. Walking into a classroom full…

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The Struggle with Self-Diagnosing Yourself with Anxiety

Last April two of my closest friends and I took a trip to Cuba. It was probably the most life-changing experience I have ever had, for reasons that I promise to get into in later blogs. I have struggled to discuss this in person, so naturally I’m struggling to write it down. But I believe that I have some sort of generalized anxiety. I developed it almost immediately after returning home from Cuba. I suffered with it throughout the summer and well into the school year. It is a constant and unexplainable feeling of fear and nausea. I lost my appetite completely and even the thought of food made me sick. I woke up every single morning and threw up stomach bile as there was nothing in my stomach. I lost weight drastically to the point where I was scared for my health. The feelings were worse when I was in uncomfortable situations, such as spending time with my new boyfriend’s family. I was miserable and although not visible outwardly, I felt like I could be falling into a depression. I was scared, annoyed at my body’s rejection of food, and confused. I could not specifically pinpoint what was triggering my anxiety, but I feared it was merely from having a new boy in my life. He is my first relationship and therefore a huge shock to my life. But I didn’t want my anxiety to be a burden on him nor did I want it to be a reason to end such a wonderful relationship. I began talking to my mother who has experience with anxiety. We went to my family doctor who insisted it was merely acid reflux or low iron so I took some pills for each of those. Nothing changed and I still felt constant fear and nausea. As the summer dragged on and I continued to lose weight as well as hope, I dreaded how this would affect my coming school year. How could I be expected to be put under constant stress when I’m already suffering from apparently nothing? How would I be able to make presentations and deal with public speaking nerves when I’ve already got my fair share of nerves? My mom said if I needed to postpone my education, that was alright. But who wants to drag out their education? I went back to school in September and miraculously the anxiety calmed down. It by no means went away, and the constant feeling of nausea stayed, but I didn’t feel the need to throw up in the mornings. And I somehow found it in me to eat. What I began to notice was a pattern in my nausea. When I woke up it was bad. I couldn’t even think about breakfast and had to go to class hungry. But by around noon the feeling went away as I got distracted by school. By then I could force myself to eat lunch, and dinner usually came easy. This pattern continued for a few months until breakfast started to become a reality. The nautious feeling was still there, but suddenly toast with jam sounded appealing. And it felt so good to have food in my stomach. I no longer feared for my health. Soon, probably in January, the anxious feelings started to disappear, and would only spring up when thoughts of uncomfortable situations came to mind. Sadly, these situations happened to be going to dinner with my boyfriend’s family, or going to see an NHL game with him. It was unexplainable. He and I were so comfortable with each other, yet my nervous system didn’t seem to realize that. Today, I would say I am 95% better and back to my old self. But I’m not perfect and I know the anxiety is not gone. But I know what helped it dissipate. The more time I spent with his family, the more comfortable I felt eatig around them. I spent my winter reading break visiting his parents in the States and that helped a lot. Although one night during dinner the anxiety panged back and I lost my appetite for no apparent reason. I don’t know why, and 30 minutes later I was fine. My friends say that today I still haven’t gained the weight back, although I feel like I have. Maybe I’m just used to my new body but I feel like I  no longer notice my ribs or my hip bone jutting out. My boobs fit my bras again and I definitely feel happier. My boyfriend and I are wonderful and I am so in love. But since I’m feeling relatively fine, my last visit to the doctor was discouraging. Doctors don’t seem to think anything is wrong, and since I am at a stable weight, although far under what I should be, there is apparently no cause for concern. If only they could understand what goes on in my mind. I feel that although my story can relate to other people’s stories, mine is unique. No one can completely comprehend my struggles as I myself do not understand why I have gone through this. I do not wish it upon anyone, and desperately hope it does not return when April comes back around. But once again, I am happy with life. Here’s hoping I stay this way!