Social Media Mystery & Thoughts

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I have reached this fantastic age of my life where I no longer feel the need to be validated by likes or comments on a social media post – and it feels just as great as you might imagine it would!

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I’m out here doing these fantastic things.. and guess what? My Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat don’t know about it! Rather, the people who “follow” me don’t know about it. And I get this sort of satisfaction knowing that not everyone who has ever had contact with me knows about my journey. It is less so to seem mysterious, and more a time for me to spend reflecting on life. Truly I think I am happier when I am off social media. Those lame articles we read about comparing ourselves to others and feeling depressed because we’re bombarded with curated images of people’s lives are truly hard for me to look at. I guess I don’t want to play a part in the “fake happiness” trends, and rather rely on real life relationships where I can freely share good and bad stories about my journey.

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I’ve had… well, 2 friends actually go out of their way to ask to see some pictures of my time so far (with the exception of my boyfriend). Just two! It’s kind of crazy and helps me put some perspective on the social media craze. I do not want to be that annoying girl bombarding everyone with pictures, but of course, I will send them and tell you all about my experiences if you ask. But sometimes I think it’s a guise: a few friends have asked me how things are going, but I find myself wondering if they find my stories interesting? Do they even care? Are they asking like it’s a check mark on a paper because that’s what you do when someone leaves? Do they actually think that I’m doing is as cool as I think it is? Sometimes I’m not sure if I’ll ever know.

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I find myself thinking again about this same friend who has occupied too much of my time. The friend who started ignoring me when things were going well for me, but bad for her.  I think social media played a role in that fight because that’s how she started ignoring me — not liking things I’d put online when she’d like everyone else’s posts, ignoring messages I sent her, not answering when I’d call but replying with one word texts… I don’t like the power social media gave her in that fight. People are braver being a screen, and when I don’t respond (because I can’t respond to those types of messages), I am now the reason why we aren’t talking.

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But I think the beauty in my life right now is that I have the power to choose who is in my life and who isn’t. I think the more distance I give home, the more clear things become with everyone in my life. I really don’t care how anyone has spun the story — however you want to frame things, I know that you started things and I know you do, too.

I am tired of having “Facebook Friends,” who are my friends in the virtual word but not in real life. I’m tired of people trying to bring me down and when I share what’s going on with someone else, hearing: “maybe they’re jealous?” as the reason. Yes, maybe they are jealous and that explains why they treat me the way they do, but jealousy has been a really vicious, nasty thing. I want people in my life who are supportive and kind, and genuinely care about you. I want to be happy for my friends unconditionally when something good happens in their life, but I can’t shake this feeling of faking happiness for things because when I share something good about my life, I get put-downs and “why are you even trying?”‘s.

IMG_0110I really think the whole point is that I am trying to better myself and find out what makes me happy. I was asked by some students if I believe in the American Dream, and this is a topic that has come up on my blog before and something that has caused me a lot of pain in the past. All I’ve ever known is “we don’t have money for this” and “we don’t have money for that.” And I think I translated me being successful as me achieving some “American Dream” and I just truly don’t see it that way anymore. I am a unicorn – the first woman in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and have a IMG_0115career from it,  yes, but that does not mean I have achieved some life dream. I’m only 24, and I have so much more living to do. My whole life will NOT be planned around that degree and I will not hold that job for the rest of my life (case in point: look at me today!) I still feel like I am figuring myself out, and I’ll fall back into the same old depression if I go back to my job in my old city. Surely, there’s more to life than

graduating college -> getting a job -> getting married -> buying a home -> having kids

I see so many other young people who believe in that way of life, and I see the comfort and familiarity in it… y’all, I just don’t see my life unfolding in that way.

Rathaus

I could write a novel about this.

 

 

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Chumphon, Thailand — December 2016

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Honestly, this stop probably needs a few blog posts for me to be able to uncover all of the beauty I found in it. It’s been quite a few months (about 9 to be exact) and I’m still totally in love with Chumphon, Thailand! It was hands down my favorite city in Thailand that I visited. Sadly, we didn’t get to go down any farther south, but I’m still so pleased with how things turned out.

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Let me back up a little bit… I’ve been thinking that life is not ALL good or ALL bad, right? I look back on periods of my life, and can typically say “yeah, that was a terrible time of life” although, that doesn’t mean I still can’t find beauty in those terrible times. The same is true for Chumphon (only the opposite).

In my mind, Chumphon was so magical and fun, and I often forget about the bad times… which is why I love blogging. It gives me a chance to reflect on an event or travel.

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Well, what was wrong with it, then???

The main issue can be boiled down to the fact that I had a very terrible chest infection that did not start to show symptoms until I landed in Thailand. I endured the pain for about a week and a half before deciding that it was too intense and I needed to see a doctor. *more on this later*

I booked a hotel for 3 nights in Chumphon, and it ended up being a very posh, business-like neighborhood (Once I find the name I’ll update it here). We arrived after a 6 hour train ride from Ratchaburi, and were immediately greeted by an adorable group of middle schoolers eager to practice their English. Because it was Christmas time, they asked us questions about the culture surrounding Christmas. One girl did the talking, while the others nodded in excitement and scribbled down notes on what we said. Their teacher stood nearby. (As an ESL teacher, I thought this was the CUTEST thing ever, what a great way for students to get an authentic language experience!) After taking a picture with the kids, we walked for about 10 minutes to our hotel, and immediately I had a funny feeling.

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Mangosteen is the best fruit ever

I don’t expect staff, especially in a foreign country, to always speak English. That was not my problem. My problem was the staff’s attitude toward us as foreigners. I used Google Translate to communicate information, drew a picture, and used gestures, and the young staff (they looked like they were kids) were not amused. We checked into our room, and after sitting on the CONCRETE SLAB bed, I was really off-put. We ended up venturing out to the nearby shopping center, where people stared at us and didn’t smile back when we smiled (where was the friendly people of Thailand that I knew and loved????), got some dinner and then made our way back to the hotel. While trying to sleep, my chest hurt so bad because of the terrible bed. I didn’t sleep all night, and as soon as it was light enough to leave, I decided to book another hotel closer to the beach (but farther from the train station) and THAT’S when we found beauty, kind people and adventure in Chumphon….

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Tiny crab holes like fireworks

I was completely right! Giving the back story to Chumphon doesn’t even give me enough time (or energy) to talk about the good parts, so I PROMISE I will write about the beautiful city soon ❤ (9 months is better than never, right???)

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Sorry, you’re gonna have to wait until the next blog post to see what this is from

I truly can’t wait to show you some of the shots I got while in Chumphon…. stayed tuned ❤

-A

Louisville, Kentucky y’all!

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I used to tell myself that I had no business in the South. That is, until I realized I live in Ohio and well, it’s slim pickings! Now, I’ve realized how wrong my perception of the South was. I imagined all of the most terrible stereotypes: hillbillies, racist people, small towns. But the more I travel, the wider my perception of that area of America gets.

This past weekend we drove for about 3 hours from Columbus, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky.

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During my weekend trip, I’ve decided that Louisville is a.l.l.t.h.a.t. The only downside was that we didn’t have more time to explore!

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Our first stop after dropping our bags off at our Airbnb was Blue Dog Cafe on Frankfort Avenue. All I remember about the name of this dessert was it did not sound the way it spelled (French, probably). It was basically a sweet crescent muffin with sugar glaze in the inside (spoken by a true foodie). I also got a Raspberry tea (not pictured). The cashier gave us some advice on where to go next (keep reading!)

After enjoying our pastries, we walked up Frankfort Avenue and checked out some of the cute shops. Some of them were so picturesque —

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Look closely, it’s not a ghost, it is I

I’m a sucker for DIY looking stores with home decor. I am not a country girl, but I do love the “rusic chic” theme for houses.

As I mentioned above, the cashier told us we HAD to check out two places, which we did. The first one was Cherokee Park, and the second was the Walking Bridge.

Thoughts on Cherokee Park: meh

Thoughts on the Walking Bridge: 1000% recommend to anyone going to Louisville! We got there at about 8:55 pm. The best and sweetest part about this evening was making our way up the bridge, and seeing a group full of people standing in red shirts that read: WILL YOU MARRY ME? (Have you ever seen a proposal IRL? I was about to start crying and I don’t even know these people. Life if precious!) I didn’t get that great of a shot of the proposal, but there they are with their sparklers!

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The bridge and the view was so, so beautiful at night. I still can’t get over how nice that night was.

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This may have been one of the more successful night shots I’ve had (night photography is not my strong suit).

The next morning, we got coffee at Please & Thank You. And seriously, how cute is this place?

We shopped some more. There is nothing really interesting to say about that except for a realization I had. For the past few months I have been living downtown. I have loved every single second of it, although living next to a lot of homeless people has not been the best thing for me. As someone who studied social work and poverty, I take a particular interest in those people. And, well, let’s just say I need to stop running my mouth because they so clearly don’t want to hear advice from a random girl carrying 8 bags. I’ve just heard the same rehearsed story several times now, and I know it’s not true and I want them to get the help they need. Calling their bluff to recommend places to go for help has not been super helpful, but rather, offensive (I have learned my lesson, and will just give them the dollar next time). While shopping, a man approached us and said “Hey, I’m just getting off work. Do you have a dollar to spare?” I gave my last dollar to a man who yelled at me for not believing his story, so I did not, but my travel partner did. He was so thankful, and I was also impressed by his honesty.

Before heading home, we checked out Big Rock Park. This park was SO much cooler than Cherokee Park and I wish we skipped Cherokee Park for this one instead.

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This is the big rock!

From a distance we saw a waterfall, and got to see it up close:

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I’m also a sucker for water. Any kind. Beach, waterfall, clean showers without giant spiders….

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I still have some catching up to do with travels, but here ya go ❤

-A

 

-A

 

 

Birthday thoughts

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I’m taking a new approach to life. 

I’ve been seeing people posting pictures of graduation, and reflecting on how I don’t have any pictures like that, and how I get kind of sad about that but I’ve sort of rationalized it in my head: I’m not like them. I have different goals in life, I value different things. 

My path was meant to be different. 

I’m accepting my financial and emotional situation and embracing it. I can be broke, depressed, excited, and hopeful.

I will not get an American dream any time soon and that is completely fine with me. 

December 22nd, 2016: Ratchaburi, Thailand

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Although Bangfig3kok was our home base, we began a week long adventure south, with the first stop in Ratchaburi. To be completely honest, I am not sure how I stumbled upon this town; however, I do remember why it stuck out to me so much. Ratchaburi has a rich history with pottery. I read someone’s blog about watching artists hand make beautiful works of art, and that was that! We arrived in the town early evening. It was quiet, and we had a hard time finding a restaurant. We checked into our adorable hotel, and then head out (sweat and all from a long train ride) down the street to the nearest restaurant we could find.

I ordered chicken, and french fries. And I dIMG_0641 (2)on’t know what the significance was, but the french fries came inside of an apple! I did not eat the apple, but I DID feel healthier eating my fries! The chicken was honestly kind of Western seeming, but the sauce they put on it was AMAZING. There were peppercorns, it was kind of spicy (typical Thai). One more thing I remember was how out of place we looked. We hadn’t eaten for hours, it was dark out, and we entered this suburban feeling town, with all of these well dressed Thai people and, well… This is how I looked: IMG_8085Messy bun, you can almost see the sweat on my shirt, and just be thankful you can’t see my face. People kept staring at us, which also may have been because we were speaking English, and looked foreign. In the two days that we were here, we honestly didn’t see any other tourists. Later on at a cafe, someone told us that they see most tourists up north in December, and in the Spring they start to see more tourists in Ratchaburi.

The Hotel: Space 59

We honestly loved this hotel. It was so modern. The pictured I took truly don’t do it any justice. The only bad thing was that it was almost TOO modern. The stairs were so sleek and slippery. I was walking down at a fairly quick pace (I was excited!) and I fell to my butt and hit about 15 steps down along the way. The staff came running out, speaking to me quickly in Thai and I kept saying “I’m okay!” EXCEPT that I just wanted to cry on the inside!! I was sore on my leg, butt and arm the next few days, but I lived.

We ended up spending a LOT of time at Rattanakosin, the pottery company. It took us about 14 minutes on a Tuk Tuk to get there… which is actually pretty far! The Tuk Tuk drivers in Ratchaburi don’t rip you off as much as the ones in Bangkok do. It was HUGE inside. We watched aIMG_8164rtists at work with their dogs sitting next to them. We posed next to the beautiful scraps like hipsters. We bought pottery that would fit inside my backpack (and I carried for the remainder of our stay in Thailand D: so heavy).
<– I bought a vase that looked like one of these, except it was red.

When it was time to leave, we started to walk before realizing it would probably take hours before getting back to town. We asked the staff the best way to get back, and she called a ride for us and helped us get the Thai discount! She had someone finagle the price and ensure that we would pay 50 Baht total for the both of us (the cheaFullSizeRender (3)pest we had ever paid!)

It was so uncomfortable sitting on the motorcycle like this, but this is how
all the girls in Thailand do it!!

DISCLAIMER: I really did like Ratchaburi. It was cute, the people were so nice. There was one thing I really DID NOT like about it though… the wild dogs!!!! We were chased several times by packs of dogs. Every time we turned a corner, a group of dogs were barking at us, with their blood shot eyes. They got close, they growled at us…. my heart pounded in my chest until I could feel it in my throat. I closed my eyes and listened as my travel buddy said “don’t run. They’ll chase us.” I tried my best to keep my calm, but this really upset me for several hours. When we were alone, the dogs chased us up and down the streets. When a native was around, they left us alone. They must have known we were foreign.

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We spent 2 nights in Ratchaburi before hopping back on the train for a new city! Stay tuned!

❤ A

December 17th, 2016: Ayutthaya, Thailand

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Sweet, tropical Thailand…. It’s only been nine days since I left, and my heart aches to be back under your warm sun, eating your delicious food and (dare I say) back on your trains exploring…

On our second day in Thailand, we walked around and found a restaurant. The owner was a young person who spoke great English. He studied in Canada, and asked us about our travels so far, etc. He gave us some advice and explained that we should head to the train station and check out Ayutthaya Historical Park, where we went on the third day. The train ride was only one hour north of Bangkok (it felt long at the time, but it was nothing compared to the 10 hour train ride towards the end of our stay in Thailand).

We arrived fairly early in the day. There were dozens of taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers awaiting the train station, ready to pounce on all the tourists. We walked around for about an hour before I decided to give in and pay someone 200 baht to drive us to the city. Really, the walk was doable, I just couldn’t figure out which route to take to get to the park. The driver was the only girl I encountered as a Tuk Tuk driver. She spent about ten minutes trying to convince me that I needed her for three hours for 600 baht (!!) before dropping me off where I requested for the price I agreed to pay.

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Sometimes this is how I wave to people.

We came on an extraordinarily hot day. I learned to notice that Thai people look fabulous and well put together despite it being a million degrees outside. And in comparison, my eyeliner was running, my hair was damp from sweat and I probably didn’t smell that great.

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Along with everyone else who visits this park, I found that there was beauty in the ruins. Ayutthaya used to be the capital city, an important city for trade and it was attacked by Burma in the 1700s. This Historical park really gave me a good picture on the importance of religion in this culture’s history. Naturally religion is a large part of a culture, but there were temples, and Buddha statues everywhere.

I read somewhere online that Thailand is known as “the land of smiles.” I found that Thai people were honestly the nicest people I have ever met. Perhaps the countries religion has something to do with that — Buddhism is the major religion in Thailand, and the religion promotes peace. (Hm… I know many people in my life who could learn a lesson or two from how these people acted and treated others).

After spending two days in Bangkok, I felt that the break from the hustle and bustle of a big city was much needed. The air didn’t smell like pollution here. There still was quite a bit of traffic, but it wasn’t physically impossible to cross the road. In fact, one of the nice things was that there wasn’t much road traffic in the park, making it easier to get to where you wanted to go.

Before I came to Thailand, I had an image of this park in my head. I saw this image of a Buddha head interwoven into a tree branch on someone else’s blog, and I pictured a fairy-type forest. Mostly, I saw the red brick everywhere. After searching for this darn Buddha in a tree, I asked some people who I thought would speak English if they found it (there were French, and luckily they spoke great English! I really shouldn’t assume that someone speaks English based on what they look like, but desperate times call for desperate measures). Here it is in all it’s glory:

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Finding this was so satisfying. It’s like seeing a story book come to life.

On our way back to the train station, a restaurant owner who spoke broken English asked us where we were going. He gave us directions to get to the train station, although I struggled to understand him. Through body language, I thought I understood, so we headed off in the direction we thought looked right. After a few minutes of walking we were someone calling out at us while running. It was the restaurant owner! He told us, “wrong way! I’ll show you.” And walked with us until we found our way. I was so blown away by how friendly he was, and how helpful. This made me stop and reflect on myself and how I treat others, especially foreigners. Do they feel as welcome in America as I felt in Thailand? I’m not sure….but… my goal after this trip was to try to make sure they do.

Stay tuned for day 4!

-A

Things I’ve learned this year so far…

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  1.  Just because you are related, or family, does not give you an automatic ticket into a true lifelong friendship. In fact, it’s okay if you don’t get along. It’s no one’s fault; we’re all different and have unique personalities. We don’t have to like each other, nor do we have to pretend like we do.
  2. Not all conversations have to revolve around God. I know, I know. This is a touchy subject. I respect differences, and welcome them. Trying to convert me – not okay. Also not okay – bringing up God at every conversation. It’s okay to switch the subject when friends or family do this. It’s also okay to say, “I don’t want to talk about this right now.” Or ever.
  3. Taking a leave of absence was the best medicine for my mental health. Never ever work in an environment where people gossip about you, and others. Never ever ever trust anyone who gossips about other people – they are without a doubt gossiping about you, too.
  4. You can’t save everyone. If you need to get out of a poisonous situation, but feel guilt because you’re leaving someone vulnerable behind, rest assured knowing that they will take care of themselves in the end (see #3).
  5. Always trust your gut instinct.
  6. Life is too short. 
  7. Being a teacher is hard.
  8. Being human is hard.
  9. Staying positive is hard.
  10. Put yourself out of your comfort zone. I can be shy and quiet, or bubbly and energetic. Let people in, and stop shutting doors. It’s okay to laugh out loud, to ask silly questions and to say whatever pops into your head.