Wearing Masks 

People wear masks. I think it’s safe to say that everyone wears one to hide their true selves. We’re all so worried and scared to show ourselves because we want to be accepted one way or another. And sometimes we wear masks to avoid opening up to people, even towards the ones one loves and cares about. 

I feel like we feel the need to put up a front. That we have to prove we’re strong by not showing any weaknesses. But that’s not true. That’s just what we’ve grown up seeing. Opening up and showing your weaknesses makes one a stronger and respectable person. Seeing someone cry doesn’t make them weak. It’s an emotion that everyone on this planet has and it’s not something to be ashamed of. 

I seem to have forgotten that people hide themselves to avoid questions and confrontation. It doesn’t matter who it is, whether they be family, friend or acquaintance. People hide. You never really know what a person is going through until they open up. A person you thought you knew, could be a totally different person simply because they don’t show it. 

The last two years of my life have been nothing but a roller coaster. My family hasn’t been much of a family after what happened to my dad. We all grew distant and found our own ways of coping; whether it be playing a video game, spending time with a significant other or being outdoors. 

I never thought about what my other family members were going through because I was drowning in my own sadness. I was angry at every person telling me that everything was going to be okay, because it wasn’t. Everything had changed. I knew, my family knew, that nothing was ever going to be the same. I was annoyed at everyone that asked about my dad. I remember thinking to myself if you really truly cared you would’ve came to visit him in ICU instead of asking a million and one questions to only tell other people who are just curious about him. 

So much change happened in a short amount of time and we all dealt with it alone. We felt alone even though we weren’t. There have been a lot of tears and regret when I was away from anyone. I can only imagine how my younger brothers felt when they were away from everyone. There were a lot of fake smiles and false positive vibes when I was in front of people simply to avoid questions and the whole, ‘everything’s going to be okay’ or ‘I know how you feel’ talk. 

Wearing a mask became second nature to me to the point where I always felt numb. I felt empty. Eventually, wearing a mask 24/7 made me into a ticking time bomb. Feeling the need to explode at any given moment. 

I found solitude when I met Shawn. Because of him, I’m where I am today. I have some rough days but he helps me get through it. He believed in me even when I don’t believe in myself. Because of him, I’m more at peace with myself than ever before. 

That’s what I need to be for my younger siblings now. As I wrote earlier, it doesn’t matter who it is people wear masks and sometimes you don’t know what’s really going on till they open up. My brother opened up to me for the first time…ever. I never knew how he felt because he pushed everyone away. I never knew how much he loves, cares and worries about me. All this time I thought he didn’t care, that he didn’t love me. 

Time. That’s what everyone needs. In time I’ve learned that people’s true selves come out because wearing a mask is a lonely and hurtful place. And no one should ever be afraid to tell people how they truly feel. No one should ever feel ashamed or weak. 

My goal is to not have to wear a mask and to be open to my loved ones. My goal is to make sure my siblings feel the same way and hopefully fully open up to me. Because all a person really needs is someone who will listen. Someone who will support and believe in them when they can’t do that for themselves. Lending an ear and a shoulder to cry on is one of the best gifts anyone could ever ask for. 

Somewhere in Glacier View, Alaska

When I look at this photo it reminds me of how great this day was. It’s one of the many reasons I take photos everywhere I go. I like to reflect on things visually. Whether it be a picture, a list or journal entry. It’s the moments like these that make me one of the happiest girls in the world.

Whenever I look at this picture, what I think about was it’s spontaneity. Absolutely nothing was planned; no exact location, no time crunches, nothing. The best part about unplanned road trips is that we don’t have to be in a certain location by a certain time. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a day like this. Where we could stop whenever we wanted and just take everything around us all in. Just the two of us in the car listening to some playlist we created when we first started dating.

I remember Shawn waking me up with kisses and telling me to get ready to go because we were going on a drive. I remember the smile on his face when he knew he caught me off guard with this road trip. The day was warm enough for me to be out in only a sweater; there was no need for a winter coat. The skies were clear and bright. There wasn’t too much traffic getting out of the city it being a Sunday morning. It was the perfect day to get away without having to deal with speedy drivers trying to get to where they need to be as soon as possible. We got to go at our own pace. And that’s what I never want to forget. I don’t want to forget that it’s okay to do things at your own pace. The world is constantly moving, you don’t need to be another person rushing through life. I’m getting a little side tracked though.

I’ve seen pictures of Matanuska Glacier from friends and articles but never did I get to see it in person. I remember mentioning this to Shawn a few weeks before he surprised me with this trip. The glacier, even if we were far away from it was too beautiful to put into words. We knew that there were guided tours to the glacier and that you can literally stand beside and explore around it but we decided to plan that for another day.

I remember ending the day eating in a little diner in the middle of nowhere. The views from this diner were breathtaking. Mountains surrounding every area we looked. They had the best comfort food and to top it off, 50 cent coffee. Who could pass up 50 cent coffee?

This day in particular was one of the most simple yet amazing days we’ve had together. It’s all the little things that happened throughout the day that made it so memorable. It never ceases to put a smile on my face whenever I think about it. I can’t wait for all the other spontaneous trips that come our way!

Some Life Reminders

  1. It is okay to put yourself first. You are not selfish for doing so. Self care and self love is something everyone is working on whether they admit to it or not.
  2. It is okay not to be okay. You can’t always be strong, it gets exhausting.
  3. It is okay to cry. Crying does not make a person weak. No one likes to show weakness. But showing that you have weaknesses makes you a stronger person because it takes a lot of courage to do something most people are afraid of doing.
  4. Be grateful for what you have.
  5. Learn how to let things go. Never hold grudges or fits. Learn how to forgive so you can live a happier, stress free life.
  6. Always be kind to people; whether you know them or not or if they treat you terribly. Always be kind.
  7. Do not compare yourself to others. Remember that everyone has baggage, not just you. Remember that some people have more baggage than others but that still does not mean the baggage you carry isn’t important because it is.
  8. When things get tough remember that you can get through it. Don’t quit, keep fighting and pushing through.
  9. Always show appreciation and gratitude to the people you love and care about. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Tell the people you love how much you love them everyday.
  10. Life is and never will be a competition. There is no race to see who can cross off the most things on their bucket list or who gets the CEO position of some company. Everyone is at their own pace. Everyone is progressing in many different ways.
  11. Always stay humble and true to yourself.Do not change yourself for anyone. Focus on you, and only you. You are in control of your own life. Don’t let people’s opinions and or judgements towards you alter the way you think about yourself.
  12. Don’t ever sweat the small stuff. Chances are they’ll fix themselves.
  13. Focus on all the good. Even on your bad days, focus on all the positive things in life.
  14. Work hard but enjoy what’s around you. If you know you’re on the right track then there’s no reason for you to not take a break.
  15. Less is always more. Live a simple life. Remember to appreciate all the little things in life because those are the moments that make life extraordinary.
  16. Time doesn’t stop. Make most of what you have and don’t waste time on something that simply can’t be fixed.
  17. People change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. It’s up to them whether or not they choose to stay in your life or not. And if they don’t that’s okay, people come and go all the time.
  18. People will always be curious. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Show it instead of telling it. Let people talk. At the end of the day its all about you, your significant other, family and friends. People are always looking for flaws and faults in other people. Do not let their gossip get to you.
  19. Do not let others make you feel worthless or that you’re not good enough because you are. Anyone who makes you feel that way are just as self-conscious as you but put others down to make themselves feel better and superior.
  20. Patience and communication is key.

Alaska Will Always be Home

As I get older I’ve come to realize how much I’ve taken this place for granted. All the missed opportunities; whether it be trying new things or exploring what’s out there. I remember hating this place when I was younger. Thinking there was absolutely nothing to do. Wishing I was some place else in the world. Never did I think to grow so deeply in love with Alaska and what it has to offer. The me two years ago would do absolutely anything to get out.

These last two years of my life have been one hell of a roller coaster. I almost lost my dad, my grandma moved out of country, the family I was closest to moved down to the lower 48. In a short amount of time, I lost everyone I cared about. I knew that I was still fortunate to have these people alive and breathing but the fact that they weren’t here physically and so many miles away hurt me. I’ve never felt so alone. I felt stuck and I was frustrated.

It wasn’t until I met my now fiancé where things started to look up. I’ve never met anyone so selfless and patient. Him just barely knowing me and what was going on with my life didn’t phase him. Whatever I was dealing with, he took and made it his own problems. He made it our problem. I’ve never had someone there for me 24/7. He made me realize that things happen and instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself and not moving forward I have to learn how to accept things the way they are because I can’t change that.

This was the start of me loving Alaska. It was the start of loving what this beautiful state had and continues to offer. Never in a million years did I picture myself to be the outdoorsy type. Never in a million years did I think I’d climb a mountain or try something new, especially things that terrified me. But I found my escape beneath the trees and high on mountain tops. Hiking became a hobby, it became my way of life.

Being one with nature and driving out of the city every weekend makes me happy. It keeps me sane. My love for this state continues to grow as we travel new roads and hike new trails. I have a lot of ground to cover and in no way, shape or form am I a pro at hiking. There’s just so much to learn and explore for me to be a pro. And even then, I couldn’t imagine calling myself a pro.

Each time I’m out I am reminded how lucky I am to call this place home. Each time I go out it’s as if I’m seeing all the mountains for the first time because every time I’m out there I’m amazed to see massive mountains. Every road trip makes me appreciate life. It reminds me that even on my bad days there are still things to be happy about. Sure, the city life and things to do in the city are limited but being out and exploring the unknown makes me less and less of a city girl.

My time in Alaska is slowing coming to an end. In a little over a year  I’ll be trading my mountain views for beaches and historic sites. As much as I love Alaska I’ve also come to realize that there is so much more to see in this world besides where I reside. As much as Alaska makes me happy and never ceases to amaze me I know moving would be an amazing experience. I’ll miss it, without a doubt but the adventures are out there and I want to experience as much as I can.

Alaska is home. It will always be my home. There’s nothing in this world that would change that. Wherever I end up in this world will never compare to Alaska. I know I’ll experience things that I can’t here. They’ll be amazing, yes, but nothing beats home.