WHAT’S IN A NAME

Dear Reader,

I think about names a lot. I have lists of names for my future children as well as potential characters in books I’m writing. Of course, sometimes you meet someone and they ruin or just completely use up a good name for you (God damn it Liam).

And then with your own kids, naming them isn’t necessarily going to be up solely to you. So even though I’ve always seen myself with a daughter named Danny and a son named Lewis, I’m sure I’ll have to consult my husband with these choices. Besides, I’m not even sure what last names my kids will have, and that certainly makes a different.

Still, I love names. I love thinking about names and origin stories of names and coming up with names for things. My first car was named Carlos (I thought it was a funny pun) and my car now is Veronica. I also entirely plan on having a dog named Benevolio one day (we’ll call him Bene). Even my first cello was named Jo.

Even more interesting I find is the names we assign to ourselves and our friends. My name, for example, is Samantha, but only two people regularly call me that. Still, this fits them more than it fits me and I can’t imagine them calling me anything different. The same goes for those who call me Sam vs. Sammy. What people call others, I find, says much more about them than we realize.

(Another anecdote: we had a worker at our coffee place on campus who wasn’t particularly popular with the others. One girl in particular thought he was obnoxious so instead of calling him Ryan, she always referred to him as Brian. It was just subtle enough, but still speaks words for how she sees him.)

This is a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, probably because I notice when people call me Samantha vs. Sammy vs. Sam (vs. other fun nicknames like Damn Sam or Sammy the Snake or Sammy the Slacker–thanks Mrs. Fry).

Last names are also great because you can so often tell so much from them. My last name is clearly German and the story that goes along with it is one of my favorites (basically that it was super German but was changed when my Grandpa was living in the US during World War II because yikes).

I also love being called a Neiswander (pronounced Nice-wander) and the connotation we’ve attributed to it. I’ve thought a lot about whether or not I’ll keep it when I’m married (we’ll just have to see how cool my future husband’s last name is) and I’ve been thinking of getting a wander tattoo so I can at least keep part of it. Because, let’s be honest, Neiswander probably won’t be the best to hyphenate with and I surely won’t pass it down as a middle name.

Final thought: Does anyone else love the name Theodosia? I don’t know if it’s because of the song from Hamilton or the meaning behind the name, but I absolutely love that name and would gladly name my future adopted daughter Theodosia (maybe even call her Teddy), but every time I mention this to people I get shat on. Can anyone relate?

I don’t know. Maybe I can find a way to fit it in as my future daughter’s middle name.

Sincerely,

Sammy

STILL A VIRGO

Dear Reader,

So a little about me: I really don’t like zodiac signs. To be fair, I haven’t looked that much into astrology and everything I know about horoscopes comes from the last page of magazines like Seventeen and GL.

I just can’t get behind the idea that every person who was born within the same 30 days or whatever have the same personalities or are living lives by the same design.

It’s kind of become a running joke between Sarah and I, actually. When we see people retweet stuff like “the signs as breakfast cereals,” or “how to make the signs happy!!!” we’ll go through the lists and decide who we are first and then find out, oh my god I’m such an aquarius! 

I’m not. I’m a virgo.

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According to Universal Psychic Guild, this means a few things. My element is Earth and my stone is Sapphire (whatever those mean–I do like the stone, though), and my secret desire is to love and be loved in return. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might be thinking, wow, that’s pretty spot on.

But then it says my two defining traits are caring & confident.

Hilarious.

We know of my confidence issues, but honestly, I don’t think I’m that caring. Like, I care, but when you grow up in the same household as Sarah, you understand what it truly means to be a caring person, and that’s just not me. It says virgos are givers, and that’s just something I’ve never identified as. Again, it’s not like I just take and take, but I don’t think caring and confident are my two defining qualities.

In fact, I think I’m more of a sagittarius–optimistic and honest. But I wasn’t born in November/December, so I guess I don’t seek adventure and independence as much as I’d like to think.

At the same time, though, having the virgin as my symbol is very fitting.

Anyway, the reason why I’m even writing this post in the first place is because someone I follow retweeted “signs as people I know in real life” and the first two under Virgo are so spot on–and not like “loves dogs more than people” because, like, who doesn’t?

The first two are “big time stalker yet all your crushes suck” (true in the sense that I don’t stalk the people that everyone is obsessed with… but obviously don’t think my crushes suck) and “you have a hard time looking people in the eye and prefer to stare intensely when they’re looking away.”

The reason why this made me stop and think about the signs is because I didn’t think other people do the last one! I am constantly complaining about how eye contact is hard, but mostly just to Sarah because not a lot of people relate to that. So, honestly, I just kind of thought it was an ADD thing or something, but now I’m like, wait, is this a Virgo thing?

Which I hate thinking, honestly, because I’m sure not every person born between August 22 and September 22 has trouble looking at people in the eyes, but it just made me think, you know?

But then Sagittarius is “you can accumulate loads and loads of shit bc you think you’ll need/miss it later” and Pisces is “you need to be told and told again” and Taurus is “you cheat at board games” so here I am back to square one.

Again, don’t know where I’m going with this, but if you stayed until this end, here’s something I thought was funny: someone the other day tweeted that they used to think hepatitis was a Greek God.

I don’t know what to do with that, but it made me chuckle.

Sincerely,

Sammy

LET’S TALK ABOUT MINDFULNESS (and what really happened my freshman year)

Dear Reader,

I came across a video yesterday that I felt I needed to share. I can’t fully describe what I felt as I watched it, except that it sort of gave me the answers that I wasn’t fully aware I was looking for yet. Does that make sense?

Well, anyway, I need to share it. So here it is:

And now I’ll tell you why.

I’ve mentioned before how difficult freshman year was for me and how challenging the transition was, but I haven’t gone into much depth about it. I felt very overwhelmingly sad a lot, but I never thought it was depression. I know what depression is–I know it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Even more, I know it requires more than just “thinking happy thoughts” to be resolved. But this sadness that I was feeling didn’t feel like that.

It felt like loneliness. And self hatred. And extreme, unbearable laziness.

So I did some research, called the health center, and scheduled an appointment with a therapist.

I could write an entirely separate post about that therapy session, because it brought out so many emotions and was such a terrifying and new experience for me, but I’ll keep it short for now. I went and talked to a very nice middle-aged man, and he basically told me straight off the bat that he thought I was depressed.

I don’t know how valid this diagnosis was, or if he was just speculating or assuming or what, but I’m still coming to terms with that. Because I still don’t know that I fully believe that it was depression. I still don’t want to label it as something that can be so serious, when, for me, it felt like I was just wallowing in my room all day being sad and lonely–which is not the same.

Here’s another video I found this week that perfectly describes what I was feeling this year–better than I can, at least.

So, that’s where I was at. Faking happiness. Not sure what I was going through. Not sure who was even there that I could talk to about it.

And that kind of brings us up to date all the way to today. I’ve been thinking about this concept of happiness a lot lately. I’ve tried to reflect on times when I feel the most happy and I try to repeat them in my mind over and over, so I can remind myself what it feels like. I’ve read The Happiness Project and made lists of resolutions for myself to keep. I’ve decided to go with the mindset: you are not happy now, but you will be once again. You just have to work for it.

Because that’s my biggest downfall. I am overwhelmingly lazy, and I think that maybe if I had just tried harder this past spring to make myself happy–to create more situations that bring authentic happiness, instead of anxiety and discomfort–then I would have been happy.

But I don’t know how true that thought really is. Because, sure, I can create beautiful scenarios where I’m at ease and I can live these happy memories, and store them to replay at night when I need to remind myself. But what am I supposed to do when I find myself in uncomfortable situations?

Because that’s what college really did to me. Speaking up in class, going to parties, interacting with strangers, praying people will like me–this all gave me anxiety. And I’m using this term lightly–again, I know how serious anxiety can be and these feelings I had may certainly be lesser when compared to others. I never had panic attacks or sought medication or anything like that. I would just feel extreme discomfort. My face would grow hot, I’d feel sick to my stomach, my hands would shake, I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else, I’d get head rushes–all of that stuff.

So what happens when I feel like that? I can’t just create these perfect scenarios all the time in hopes that I would remain happy. No matter how hard I work, I can’t do that.

Which is where mindfulness comes in–and where I urge you, if you haven’t already, to watch that first video.

They bring up a lot of good points and insight that I never saw before. Everyone just wants to feel safe. That’s what we crave. It’s what we need. And I so strongly relate to Ashley when she talks about talking to the barista (anyone who knows me can vouch for my awful–and inevitable–drive-thru interactions) and not only thinks about how she’s about to make a fool of herself, but how bizarre it is that this is a problem. And how does this not happen to normal people? Why me?

Wow, I feel like I’ve been writing for too long now.

But that’s where I’m at right now. This is how I’m feeling, and mindfulness is definitely something I’m going to look into. Because reminding yourself to be in the moment, and using simple tricks that mindfulness can teach (such as taking deep breaths and thinking about exactly what is in your control–such as how you are feeling at any possible moment) can really help curb the overwhelming feelings of terror and sadness and all of that.

I think it’s just the next step, and a very important step, that I need to take as I work towards being happier.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Please let me know if you have any information or resources on mindfulness, as well as personal experiences with it. I would love to hear any and all takes on this concept, and it would be great to embark on this together.