So this is what it means to grow up I guess.
Currently it is hell week and I’m trying to study for my finals and get all my assignments done so that I can finally enjoy my birthday and the Christmas season to it’s full potential. I am sitting here in disbelief. How did I get to be 20 years of age?! It feels like just yesterday I was 16 years old and feeling “so grown up” but now I have really grown up. I’m not even a teen. Wow wow wow. I have changed so much through the years (obviously) because growing up means not only going through puberty and hoping you get hotter. But it means your personality is shaped and your character. Hopefully all the negative and positive experiences, hurts, joys, uncomfortable situations, and decisions mold you into the adult you are supposed to be today. I’ve been trying to reflect on all the important moments that I have gone through as a child and teenager and what has impacted me the most.
If you’d like, lets go through just some of the most impactful moments together.
Shy and Quiet
Growing up, I was extremely shy and quiet. I was known for being shy and quiet which sucked. I would stick to a few friends that allowed me to come out of my shell. But in school, I was painfully shy. I remember going to youth services when I was probably around 12 years old. I loved going to these youth services, but it was TORTURE after. I had such bad social anxiety. What was I supposed to do when service was over? Everyone is going around saying hi and just the thought makes me so nervous. How do I muster up the courage to speak up when we gather in a service? In my school year books, people would often write something like, “Ur nice and kewl but quiet lol. HAGS!”. When someone would ask me why I’m so shy and quiet, I would shut down even more. That question felt like someone was stabbing me in the stomach with a knife. It hurt to be asked for some reason even though I was fully aware how shy I was. Well luckily things have gotten better. Sophomore year of High School, not ONE person wrote that I was shy or quiet. That was the last year of High School before I went to do college at running start. I don’t have abnormal social anxiety anymore. I love talking to people and being social. I’m studying communication in college. I think going through the struggle of being so shy and quiet helped me gain some valuable skills such as being a good listener. Now I have a voice and I’m definitely not afraid to use it.
“Bad company corrupts good character.” How freaking true. I had to learn the hard way that not everyone has your back or the best intentions for you. You can’t place trust in people so easily because people will always unfortunately fail you at some point. You have to except that but also not let it keep you from building wonderful friendships. Luckily, a lot of the close friends that I have today are the ones that I had as a young child and I think that is awesome because we have been able to grow up together. The friendship only gets better and stronger. I personally don’t really agree with the concept of one best friend. I’m sure some people have one best friend and that works for them. But I have a few different friends that I consider to be my best friends. I really wanted to take a picture with all of them at my 20th birthday party but unfortunately they weren’t all there at the same time. Sometimes you are really close to someone because you are going through similar life situations and you can connect easier. Sometimes you drift away from someone because you are not really going through the same things in life as them anymore. But sometimes you will reconnect. I feel like friendships sometimes go in waves and that’s alright with me. The love and friendship is still always there regardless of how close you are. I have learned that you do not need to be friends with everyone. Sometimes its not meant to be. That’s fine. I’ve learned that friendship break ups are extremely hurtful and hard. I’ve learned that I really like to be alone and sometimes that doesn’t work out when you hide yourself in your room but your friends want to hang out. I’ve also learned the importance of who you keep in your close circle. There will be friends who will tell you to take up self destructive behavior when you’re upset about something and other friends who will tell you to pick up a Bible and pray. Which one will you listen to?
What is worse, breaking someone’s heart or having your own heart broken? I’m still deciding. When I open up the wound of past heartbreak, I try not to focus so much on the boys involved but rather the man who helped me get through it. I realized from analyzing these two situations is how great of a man and father I have. The first time he saved the day was when he talked the boy out of harming himself because he was in love with me but I wasn’t in love with him. I’m so happy he stepped in because that could have ended a lot worse. Or the time that I came home just absolutely torn up, not expecting to tell my father anything but mom warned him when I got off the phone with her what had happened. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I walked past the living room and he called my name and wrapped me in his arms. He told me that eventually it would be all be alright. I remember how devastated I felt that day, that kind of pain you can never forget. I can’t recall this memory without tearing up every time, its overwhelming. I’m not one to cry easily. But remembering my dad with the love and hurt in his eyes tears me up. It doesn’t matter to me anymore that I didn’t get the validation from some silly boy that I so desperately wanted in that moment. What hurts the most is seeing how hurt my father was because his daughter was no longer as happy as she was before. When you’re in pain, it doesn’t just effect you but it effects the people around you that actually genuinely love and care for you every time that you’re hurting. It effected my grandma when she noticed that her giggly and smiley Angie had no longer been smiling or giggling for a while. It effected my friends who were sick and tired of me moping around instead of enjoying the moment. But how can you enjoy the moment when you’re living on the memories of the past that will no longer be there. You feel like you will never be as happy again although deep down you know it’s really not a big deal and the sun will come out soon. I never wanted to feel this way again. Not so much so because I couldn’t handle the pain. Sure, pain creeps up like a thief and slowly steals the joy and happiness of every day life. But I was still living, waking up, going to school, and work (and still am). But oddly enough I feel like if I get heartbroken again it will hurt my family and friends more than me. So now I have to proceed with caution. My father models the love that Jesus Christ has for all his children which is one that is joyful with you in times of happiness and one that mourns with you in time of pain. I’m so glad that at 20 years of age the greatest lesson I could take from the heartbreak I have experienced is not that all boys are stupid and evil. Because I too have hurt people and caused pain for them. We make mistakes and we sometimes hurt but we grow stronger from that in time and learn to not do that again. Never lose faith in relationships because there are people who will love you and treat you in the way that you should be unconditionally, just like my father cares for me (both heavenly and earthly).
My faith has been challenged a lot as of recently. I grew up in a Christian family as a preacher’s kid so I was always the goody two shoes by default. But when I turned 18, that was when I had to decide on my own whether I truly believed in God and wanted to commit my life to Him by undergoing baptism. I never gave up on my faith but it was when I questioned it the most. I decided that I need to figure out on my own what I believe is right and wrong. I don’t want to believe something because I grew up believing it. I have to know truly in my heart. A lot of hard lessons came from this mindset. But I have always been the kind of person who learns by doing rather than just listening to someone else’s opinion. Through the hard trials, luckily my faith has grown so much. I know that I can’t do anything without God. My talents, my creativity, my thoughts, the love that I have inside is all from Him. It boggles my mind when I think of people who have absolutely no faith in God. Where does your hope and your trust come from? Because I have put my hope in people before and they stabbed me in the back. I’ve put hope into myself only to be the one who disappointed myself the most out of anyone else I have disappointed. I am learning to be more open with my faith in God. Not to “shove it down” people’s throats but I truly do want everyone to experience the hope that I have. Because even I had a time where I had no hope. My faith is not just a part of me but it transcends through everything I do and who I am as a person. I can have those conversations openly with God when I’m driving in the car alone. I can feel His presence. He is so good at answering my prayers. Prayer is so so so important to me and I encourage everyone to always pray and ask people to pray for you because it is the most powerful thing you can do. Do I still make mistakes and sin? Yes. Do I still have a lot of growing to do and changing? Yes. As my relationship with Christ grows stronger, so will I change as a person. I’m so blessed to serve in youth ministry as a leader, to sing in worship, work for not one but TWO Christian organizations now, and attend a Christian University. I’m spoiled. People say that Christians are messed up people. We are! ha. But also it is a joy to spend time with like-minded people because there is no one I’d rather be around than someone who GENUINELY has Jesus living inside of them.
My parents made me start singing on stage at church when I was probably about 4 or 5 years old. My grandma would always teach me songs as a child and encourage me to sing. She was the only one besides me in the family that really cared for music. Music has been a life long passion of mine. I grew up in so many different choirs, worship groups, and singing ensembles. I would sing at almost every holiday church service and get the solos at school recitals. It really helped me get out of my shell as I got more comfortable with being on stage. I joined band in middle school and played the clarinet and alto saxophone. Music truly does fill the sentences of where you have no words to speak. It feels euphoric when I harmonize perfectly with someone else. I’m so thankful for music and that I can continue with my passion for music by leading worship at church. I also work for a radio station now doing promotions and it’s awesome getting to know behind the scenes of the music industry a little bit. I will always be involved with music in some way because I don’t think I would be able to breathe without it.
I love my family so much. I have four older siblings (and two are married) who have always acted as extra sets of parents in my life. They have helped me in making major life decisions and they sometimes give good advice. Sometimes they make fun of me or annoy me but I still love them. My sister encouraged me to start this blog and I’m so thankful because its teaching me to open up and be real with how I feel. I love my four nephews that are all currently under five and give the best hugs and kisses and make my heart soar with love and joy when they are around with their antics. I have so much respect for my parents. Honestly, they are pretty much right about everything. They will analyze a social situation and they can tell me which friends are not genuine, which guys are into me, and so on. I used to not believe them but so far they have always been right! How is that possible. They pray for me and tell me I’m beautiful and uplift me constantly. My two grandma’s have also had a huge role in raising me. I’m so thankful for my family even though I have been an annoying teen who didn’t put a lot of time to spend with them and am never home. I’m glad they still are there for me. They push me a lot. But because they have encouraged me to be the best possible version of myself and work hard, I am grateful. They never held me down for being young or being a woman. I’m a pretty independent person because of them and I like it.
My parents are immigrants from Ukraine. Because of that, I feel like I grew up with a different perspective on life than some of my classmates whose parents grew up in the US. I remember having to help my parents with their English and trying to help them understand some of the American culture. My world was a lot different than theirs growing up. Our Ukrainian traditional values were a lot different than the American culture and values. It’s always been interesting to try to mix the two together. But I’m really happy that I could build friendships in the Ukrainian community and also build friendships with people with different cultural backgrounds at school. I noticed that it’s sometimes easier to connect with someone who is a first generation child, regardless of their cultural/ethnic background. We understand some of the struggles and values that are similar. There is just something different in the way that we grew up and somehow we can understand one another. One big difference was that I was never allowed to celebrate Halloween growing up and in church we would have to wear head coverings. In Ukraine, being a Christian was harder and stricter because they faced religious persecution and you really had to stick to your beliefs and be separated from the world. I didn’t grow up believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy but my nephews will. In my culture, getting married young is very common and encouraged. Whereas in America it’s encouraged to finish school and focus on getting a career before pursuing marriage. I didn’t get allowance for doing my chores as a child, it was expected to clean and respect the home I live in without getting any money for it. It’s really just a difference in perspective and what each culture values. Hopefully this summer I will be able to finally visit Ukraine and have a better perspective of the country and it’s values that shaped my childhood and who I am as a person. I love America and I love Ukraine. I love that I get to meet so many different people and all the different cultures that I get to experience here in America!
I have been working on myself to be better. Trying to forgive not only others but myself for the mistakes I made. I remember sitting in a tea bar with my friends over the summer, opening up about my feelings. And they pointed out that although I forgave everyone, I was still unable to forgive myself. God gives us grace and we need to give ourselves grace as well. Be happy with what life gives and to be patient in waiting for the things that I want. I’m becoming more strong and confident in myself so that when conflict arises, I can face it and not run away. There is so much life to live and so much more lessons to learn. Being twenty does feel different because I’m not a teenager anymore. But at the same time I am still young. I have some mistakes, trials, highlights, and adventures to come my way. I’m trying to figure out how much is oversharing and how much I need to share to help other people. I look forward to the new year.
So who is Angela today? A girl who loves to laugh and spend time with people and really get to know them on a personal level. Someone who is obsessed with cats and coffee. A huge fan of poetry and taking aesthetically appealing photos. Someone who needs naps during the day to survive and who likes to spend time alone a lot more than going out sometimes. Someone who is working on being less sarcastic because it often comes off rude, trying to be more affectionate, and to be honest with how I’m feeling in the moment. A girl who loves to go hiking and go on walks out in nature. A girl who will harmonize to every song that plays in the car. Someone who is always full of ideas and trying to do a million things at once. Someone that is a lot different than the girl she used to be.
One of my friends, Anna, wrote in my card that she believes twenty will be a big year for me. I hope so.
If you read to the end I’m proud! haha.