Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: 23 Lessons, 23 Years

Don’t you just love how I’ve turned the term “investigates” into “self-centered blog post?”

What can I say, I’m a millennial.

Now that I’m officially a year older, I, in my infinite wisdom, have decided to impart my vast knowledge to you, highly significant reader.

Or. You know. I ran out of ideas for blogs or whatever.

That works, too.

Before we begin, I just wanted to tell you that 23 is my favorite number. The reason behind it is pretty stupid – one year I won a wall calendar after guessing a number between 1 and 50. I guessed 23.

The number was 2.

But I won anyway(and it was a dog calendar, so trust me, I won BIG). And from then on, it’s been stuck inside my head even since. It’s not in the Fibonacci sequence, but it’s a prime number, and it’s one of the number on Lost, so there’s that.

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It was my jersey number when I played volleyball in high school(take that, Michael Jordan). I look for it on the string of lucky numbers on the back of fortunes from pseudo-Asian restaurants. If I try, I can see it everywhere.

And here I am – I’ve finally reached my favorite number. But what does that mean to me?

Here are 23 lessons I’ve learned in 23 years(though, let’s be honest, most of them I’ve only learned in the past few months).

  1. When in doubt, drink more water.

This is admittedly a weird one to start with, but it’s my only practical piece of advice. Literally half of my stress and anxiety problems are immediately solved after a good 8 ounces. Bottoms up.

2. Anxiety = failsafe, but failure doesn’t keep you safe.

I have a very healthy sense of fear(probably the healthiest thing about me). Anxiety, at its core, is a good thing-the body’s natural response in self-preservation. But it can also sabotage you, and it’s no guarantee of safety. The key is in learning what kind of fear helps you, and what hurts you. Which one to trust is a whole other battle.

3. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish.

As an introvert, I can’t be around people all the time, even the ones I love. Believe me, if I’m spending time by myself, it’s not because I’m angry, or sad, or trying to cut you off. It’s actually more for you than it is for me; you don’t want to see me when I’m drained, and I definitely won’t want to see you. Give me two hours, and I’ll be right as rain.

4. Pick your battles wisely.

Earlier this week I reminded someone at work that “it takes two to tango.” There is a way to be both kind and strong, pleasant but resolved. It takes a balance of both to earn the respect of others.

5. Kindness is a choice.

I am not a naturally kind person. That’s why I make it a priority in my life – even going through the motions. I want to remain soft to this world, like when I was young.

6. Your company dictates your actions.

I’ve had a lot of different kinds of friendships, but what they’ve taught you on VeggieTales and Adventures in Odyssey was no joke: choose your friends carefully. Even if they don’t change your character, they will change your behavior. I’ve literally cut off friends because of this: if I want to be kind and strong, then I need to surround myself with those kinds of people, too.

7. Nothing excuses unacceptable behavior.

I’ve sometimes made excuses for people in my life for the ways they’ve mistreated me. A bit of empathy goes in long way in these kinds of situations. But  just because there’s something “wrong” or “bad” in someone else’s life does not mean they get to treat you badly. If anything, it should show them how to treat you better.

8. Cut toxic people out of your life.

There’s a point at which, though redemption is possible, it seems unlikely. Newsflash: it’s not your job to save people. If you’re close to someone destructive, let them know they need help, and get the heck outta there. Their actions are their responsibilities, not yours.

9. Friendship is a two-way street.

This friend thing should go both ways. If you feel like you’re doing all of the favors or all of the work, it’s time to re-examine the relationship. Your time is too precious to waste on people who do not care about you as much as you care about them.

10. Relationships are more important than being right.

Moral disagreements are one thing; petty disputes are another. Too often pride can keep us apart from people we need and who need us. Don’t burn bridges when all you need is a little spit and elbow grease. Put in the work first.

11. Romance isn’t everything.

After 23 years of spinsterhood(save for a brief fling in preschool), I feel like I know just a little about being single. And honestly? It’s freaking great. I can watch whatever I want on Netflix. I can make plans whenever I want. I don’t have to figure anyone else’s wants or needs in my life, which is good, because I need all the clarity I can get.

12. Beauty does not equal love.

Like my mom always says, “a lot of funny looking people get married.”

13. Success does not equal happiness.

Duh. But this lie is more prevalent than you’d think. It’s found in families, churches, jobs, relationships, etc. Don’t be fooled – you can have all these things and still be miserable underneath it all.

14. Emotions are temporary.

As in, most emotions only last for a certain amount of time. One bad day does not a bad existence make. On the other hand, if you are consistently miserable, then obviously something needs to change. Maybe it’s your attitude; maybe it’s your life.

15. Change is necessary, but not always.

It’s good to get out and experience new things, but it’s not for everyone all the time. I moved across the state to go to college only to get a job in my hometown after graduation. And it’s everything I wanted.

16. Travel broadens the mind.

Maybe it doesn’t do much for your wallet. But I want to travel when I’m young(remember that responsibility thing? Yikes!) Relatively speaking, I’m pretty poor when it comes to leisure travel, but there are still ways to make it work.

17. Work for what you want.

This one is twofold: if you want something, you’ve gotta work for it to understand the value of it later. And if you’re not working for it, is it something you really want in the first place?

18. Responsibility is a habit, not a skill.

No one is born with the natural tendency to turn a light off when they leave the room. But there’s also no excuse for forgetting, either, once you reach a certain age. That’s what it means to be a grown-up: no excuses.

19. 85% of adulthood is doing something you don’t really want to do.

See your dentist. Make that phone call. Pay your car insurance. It’s like anybody else is gonna do it.

20. Youth is a mindset.

Take it from the girl who still played Pixie Hollow in high school. There’s more immaturity found in how you act than in what you like.

21. Expression comes in many forms; choose one and make it your own.

It doesn’t matter if it’s blogging or singing or dancing or acting or folding tiny swans out of gum wrappers. You are only here for a limited amount of time; use it to affect others for good using your unique talents and experiences. Tell your story in the best way you can.

22. Let yourself grow.

Circumstances aren’t the only things that change. You will, too. And that’s okay. You’re supposed to become a better person as you grow older, one that has learned from your mistakes. As long as you’re making progress, there’s room for the new you.

23. Stay humble.

You don’t know everything. You’re not good at everything. You’re special, but so is everyone else. You’ve been given your own individual gifts and opportunities; don’t waste them by focusing solely on yourself. Reach out. Tell your story in the best way you can.

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Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #5, 2011

No more sadness. No more pain. Let’s look at the letters the way they should be, as journey into awkward, wordy adolescence.

Welcome back to my Letters to Self. If you haven’t been following along, here’s a recap for you. When I was in junior high and high school I wrote myself a series of letters every year detailing my thoughts on my current stage of life. Some have been silly. Some have been sad. Some have spent way too much time to detailing my affection for my dog.

But this one is markedly different.

So let’s dive into 2011 Meredith. Apart from the whole driving thing, she’s having a good year. She’s always lived a little bit out-of-touch with the rest of the stuff going on with the people around her, but at least she feels like she’s doing fine. As always, she reads a lot, but now she calls it “research,” like something she could write off on her taxes. Most of her time is split between putting off her math homework and putting off her Latin homework. She spent the summer watching way too many movies at the theater. Also, she’s finally starting to post things on social media that are kind of funny. For once.

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Look how young and fresh we look(And yes, my jersey is a different color; I don’t have time to explain the rules of volleyball to you. Google it)!

Handwriting-wise, we’ve almost reached the stopping point in terms of evolution. The cursive looks good and clean; I like to leave the ends of some of my letters unfinished, like my ms and ns, so that they trail off the edge of the lines like little ribbons or something. We’re getting there, folks.

This is probably the most normal letter to self that I wrote in high school, full of all the insights and details you’d expect from a teenage girl. And after the emotional turmoil that was from the letter of the previous year, it’s a welcome change.

Let’s jump into some fluff, shall we?

Dear Meredith,

Promising!

It’s the beginning of another year again, so you know what that must mean: time for another letter to self! Honestly, I’m getting pretty tired of these, but I’ll bet you don’t want to hear that.

Dang straight! I’m milking this for all it’s worth, kiddo.

Mrs. Williams always wants us to put in personal information and stuff, but I have never really liked doing that.

We can tell, Meredith. We can tell.

To me, that stuff has never seemed that important because it’s so likely to change?

I think that’s kinda the point.

Why should you care about my latest obsession song(Timebomb by All Time Low) is or what the last book I read(Gone with the Wind) was? You already know this.

Actually, I don’t. But these are still two definitive favorites of mine, so I’ll give you a pass. Fun fact about the music I listened to in high school: I really liked emo and pop punk bands, which is hilarious given what a square I was and still am. I never dressed like the stereotypical “teenage rebel,” but I definitely had a thing for the music.

More on Gone with the Wind later.

So I guess I’ll just write about whatever’s on my mind.

That moment when you’ve been an aimless blogger since 2011.

The first thing I want to tell you about is Gone with the Wind(you see, now I sound like a first grader).

Hello, class! My name is Meredith Sweet, and I like big books; I cannot lie.

This was my first time reading it and it took me the entire summer. But it was so fantastic! It really broadens my view of the Civil War era and the Reconstruction. For some reason I’ve always had an overly romantic view of it, but I think I’ve been cured of that.

Love how the only way I described one of my favorite books of all time is through these two measly sentences about historical perspectives.

So let me elaborate now, six years later.

I’ve always loved reading. That’s no secret. I come from a family of book lovers, which only served to fuel my personal obsession. But for my most of my life I read books featuring good people: after all, I was a child, and children need role models. Heroes save the day, villains get their just desserts(speaking of which, I would also like “just desserts,” if you know what I mean), and good girls who read grow up to get nice jobs(who’s gonna tell the kid about the recession now?).

That’s the way that fables and fairy tales work.

But the real world doesn’t work like that.

The first time I read a book that really changed me was To Kill a Mockingbird. I was in ninth grade(this is right after the dog letter; you know the one I’m talking about). There were so many different motives in this book, so many different perspectives. “Right” and “wrong” weren’t subjective, per se, but every person had a different take on what seemed “right” to them.

And I’m not just talking about theories of postmodernism. I’m talking about the gray areas of literature, the spaces in between, the moral indecisions we are faced with daily. Unreliable narration, three-dimensional characters; these were brand new worlds that I was learning to explore.

Enter Gone with the Wind. Now, I wasn’t unfamiliar with the storyline; I had seen the film with my sister several years earlier. To be honest, I hated it. There was no hero; there was no happy ending. The main character, Scarlett O’Hara, had absolutely no admirable qualities. In short, I was disappointed.

But then I read the book, and I understood.

The point is not a happy ending. There are lessons to be learned in lack of character studies. The great tragedy of stories like these lies not in the “morals” of the tale, but in the futility. As a reader, we follow Scarlett through decades of failed relationships, only for her to lose the one that truly matters. By reading through her experiences, we are cautioned about our own.

As a young person, this type of advice is life-changing.

But it looks like I didn’t know quite how to express that yet.

We were just reading an article in class about finding your distinct voice. I wonder if you’ve found it yet.

This is one of my favorite writing myths.

And by “myth,” I mean “stereotypical piece of advice that isn’t necessarily true.”

Allow me to explain.

Watch any movie with a writer. Read any book. There’s always some older, wiser guru who tells the aspiring author, “This doesn’t seem like you. It’s too generic. Where is your voice?”

Never in my life have I heard a writing teacher tell me this.

I’ve never heard anyone been told this. In all honesty, “voice” is just a fancy way to say, “Hey, you’re an individual with enough opinions and unique experiences to make people listen to you. Say what you want to say.”

Don’t worry, 2011 Meredith. You’ve already found your voice. You’re using it right then, with the blue pen in your hands. It’s all you, baby.

GTG – Meredith

Look who’s down with the kids’ lingo.

Guess this is my sign-off, too, at least for now.

Later days.

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #4, 2010

Special shout-out to the MCS students who graduated this past week and now fully understand the embarrassment of reading their letters to self.

Let’s hope you never choose to share them on the internet.

Welcome back, my friends. In case you’ve only just given into my shameless self-promotion, let me break it down for you. For a class project, I wrote myself a series of letters for every year that I was in junior high and high school. Now I’ve decided to share these letters with you, on the internet, as a way of looking at who I used to be and how far I’ve come.

Here’s the good news: this time, I will refrain from talking about my dog. This week is all about(drumroll please): ANXIETY.

Joy and fun for all in this one, let me tell you.

But more on that later. For now, let’s talk about 2010 Meredith. She spent a lot of time watching Disney movies and then quoting them on social media. She doesn’t like the fact that she’s reached the point in her education where math class and science class are almost the same thing. She also either uses way too much punctuation, or was always way too excited. She still does not have a driver’s license(for reasons explained later in this post).

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Grace and poise.

As for her handwriting, we’ve reached the point where she’s not sure if she likes printing or cursive, so she’s sort of combined the two. It kinda looks like I have multiple personalities. Which I might. The jury’s still out.

So let’s dive into this hot mess, shall we?

So, apparently, we are allowed to write down our mental concerns. My question is, why would you want to?

And here we are, starting with no intro and some distressing thoughts. I wish I could say this letter gets better, but it does not.

Yes, folks, it’s time for another letter to self.

Notice how I once referred to the reader as Meredith of 2013, but now I address a crowd. Did I have a premonition about how I would share this with others?

Definitely creepy.

Another ten minutes gone in this thing we call life to speak to my future self just to see if my life will have changed.

And here’s what it gets worse.

Is my life interesting? No. Do I have a boyfriend? No.

That moment when your fifteen-year-old self sounds like your mother.

Any prospects? My lips are sealed.

Don’t be coy, 2010 Meredith. We all know this is a lie.

My mind is often preoccupied. I am constantly thinking about nonsense, myths, and other strange things. Why? I haven’t the slightest idea.

You’re not a special snowflake. That’s called being a writer. It will make you everything but money.

I think I must have a boredom complex of something. If that’s even plausible, which it’s probably not.

“Boredom complex.” Definitely gonna use that as an excuse from now on. As in, “um, I have a boredom complex? That’s why I can’t listen to you for more than thirty seconds at a time. Because you’re boring.”

I also think about houses and stuff. Especially about how I would change something to make it even more beautiful.

Still on that architecture path, remember.

WWMC? What would Meredith change?

Can’t wait for that one to catch on.

I wish I could really change things. But to me, it’s like impossible. Right now, it feels like goals are impossible, and so are all my ambitions.

To those of you who are really picking up on how different this tone is from the rest of my letters, allow me to elaborate on the sources of my “teen angst.”

Several things were going on in my life at this exact moment.

First of all, one of my best friends had recently transferred, so I was feeling a little abandoned. But I don’t think that was the real force behind my feelings, though it’d be easy to look back on these times and blame it on that.

The truth is, I think this is a moment in time when my anxiety really took ahold of me. I’m not afraid to tell you, whoever’s reading this, that though I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life, that I didn’t really figure out what was “wrong” with me until my freshman year of college.

Nobody ever told me what anxiety felt like. Nobody ever let me know that when you make a mistake, and you feel like you want to die – that isn’t perfectionism, that’s not normal. And my anxiety didn’t look like what I saw in other people, or what I saw on TV. Mine was paralyzing, and it made me feel like I was going to be sick.

And a lot of it, for me, revolved around driving.

I didn’t get my license until I was almost 20, which is lame, I know. And believe me, I’ve gotten my share of teasing on the matter (do not feel bad if you’ve ever mentioned it to me. Frankly, it’s hilarious). But let me explain a little further.

When I talk about driving anxiety, know that it started small. I get in the driver’s seat; my heart starts to pound. My hands shake. Every stop, every turn I make has the potential of disaster. Sometimes, I even get panic attacks.

Now, I want you to know that for the most part, I’ve conquered this particular sphere of anxiety. It’s been almost two years since my last full-on panic attack, though if you find yourself driving behind an old woman in a bright red car-surprise! It’s probably me.

This is not the weird period of anxiety I’ve gone through in my life – that doesn’t come until my sophomore year of college. But in general, my anxiety is fairly mild. I have no formal diagnosis, I take no medication for it, I manage it all using breathing exercises and other coping mechanisms.

So far, so good.

All this to say that sometimes, when I look back on these high school days, there’s a temptation to romanticize who I was or the way I was feeling, but that’s not true. I still had the same problems then that I do now.

I just know how to look for them now.

And so, on August 31, 2010, fifteen days before I turn 16, I’m feeling very discouraged…

Ellipses and all. What a drama queen.

Don’t worry, folks. Next week won’t be so whiny, I promise.

 

 

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #3, 2009

This post may otherwise be known as: Love Letter to My Dog.

But more on that later.

For now, welcome back to my letters to self. For those of you out of the loop, I wrote a series of letters to myself when I was in junior high and high school that I didn’t get to see until I graduated. Now, since I’ve just graduated from college, I’ve decided to reexamine these letters and share them with all of you.

This week, we’ve hit 2009. No more middle school! Happier words were never spoken, written, or typed. However, let me tell you: the adolescent struggle isn’t over. Not for a long shot.

Let me introduce you to 2009 Meredith. High school has not made her any cooler. She spends a lot of time in class pretending to pay attention, but drawing or writing instead. She and her friends have developed a secret calculator code to pass notes in class. Only now has she finally been allowed to get on Facebook.

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There’s no good explanation for this picture, other than that all of the boys were gone for a soccer tournament, so our class took an impromptu field trip to McDonald’s and the park. Also, our teacher had a Hummer.

And let’s take a look at her handwriting. Now she’s writing in cursive, which is what I still write in now, but she lacks some of the flourishes I’ve added in the coming years. Everything looks pretty standard, no creativity there.

Also, side note: young Meredith’s punctuation was still on point. I haven’t corrected any of it in these posts, and every comma, apostrophe, and colon is still in place. Sometimes I can’t believe it, but middle school and high school Meredith still knew grammar like the back of her hand.

Nothing left to do but dive into the letter, right?

Hola.

Written by a girl who hasn’t had a Spanish class since 2005.

I’m Meredith, as you probably know, because hello! You’re me!

Apparently, the thought didn’t occur to me at 14 that I’d be sharing any of this with the rest of the world.

What to write about…

Constant struggle.

Mrs. Williams just on some music.

She was always good with the tunes.

I’m hungry: I have to get through this class before lunch.

Not gonna lie, food is always on my mind. Just you wait, 2009 Meredith; half the time at college, you don’t get a lunch break. You just starve.

I’m a freshman this year. It’s pretty cool, I guess. The class are going to be harder. But that’s a good thing.

What a nerd.

I’m almost fifteen, but I have no idea what I want for my birthday. I need a metronome for piano, but other than that, nothing.

Maybe I should blame my lack of instrumental talent on the fact that I never did get a metronome for my birthday.

Oh, I have a new puppy!

And here’s that love letter I was telling you about.

His name is Edison and he’s a Border Collie.

Pupper then:

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Doggo now:

Please enjoy artsy photos of the most perfect boy.

A post shared by Meredith Sweet (@kindamgsweet) on

He is so adorable. I swear, if he were a man, I’d marry him.

TMI, Meredith. TMI.

We have our first away game today.

Clarification: I played volleyball throughout junior high and high school. For those of you who know what my athletic abilities are, this might come as a shock, but that’s one of the upsides of going to a small school. They will take literally anybody.

I’m on Varsity now: isn’t that great? We’re playing Fellowship and driving all the way to Owosso. Tuesday was our first day, and guess what? We won! I was playing the whole time, and we won. Imagine!

My athletic prowess even surprises myself.

Being a freshman is going to be so much fun. I’m already excited for Homecoming. I can’t wait to pick out my dress.

Not gonna lie, the process for finding a dress that year was like trying to get down to the inner circle of Hell. There had been a recent crack-down on modesty at special events, and due to the nature of the school, every teenage girl had to show pictures of themselves in their dress or walk down to the office in person for official inspection by the women in the office. It was not what I would call a fun time.

Well, I’m running out of stuff to say.

Never seemed to be a problem for me before.

My life is kinda boring.

And yet again, nothing changes.

Oh, well, more’s the pity. Bye-Bye now!

Conclusion: nothing too embarrassing, beside all of the things I said about my dog. But he’s a beautiful boy! Yes, he is! Who can blame me?

Tune in next time to see me NOT talk about my dog AND have an existential crisis!

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #2, 2008

Adapted from the words of the great philosopher Fergie, in this post, I am so 2008, and the rest of you are so two-thousand-and-late.

There are very few opportunities to make that joke. Please forgive me.

So, here we are. In case you haven’t been following my blog posts, I’ll break it down for you: for the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing letters that I wrote to myself in junior high and high school, one for each year, with whoever wants to read. I’m also providing comments and photos for, you know, context.

This is Week Two, which means we’ve moved on to eighth grade in 2008. Hence the terrible joke. Again, I’m so sorry.

2008 Meredith isn’t so different from 2007 Meredith. She’s learned how to pluck her eyebrows, but not about the happy medium between one eyebrow and no eyebrows. She likes playing Pixie Hollow with a friend, and then calling that friend on the phone when they’re both online instead of using the chat function. She still isn’t allowed on Facebook.

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Please enjoy this truly embarrassing photo of me on “Renaissance Day” at school. And yes, I did make that crown myself. Special shout-out to Nick in the back who looks like he’s probably bent in half to fit in the frame of this picture.

In terms of handwriting, this letter isn’t nearly as obnoxious as the first one. It’s simple printing with a cheap black pen, pretty close to the way I print now. Looks like I was having trouble keeping my words straight, though; there are a lot of spots where I’ve crossed things out.

And so it begins.

Dear Meredith,

Promising so far.

Howdy.

WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Why did I decide this was a decent way to start a letter? Did I think future me was stuck in a John Wayne movie? Will I be calling people “pilgrim” next?

Right now it is about 2 weeks ’til I turn 14. I’m pretty good right now, and I hope you are, too, Meredith of 2013!

Been there, done that, sweetie. You’re talking to Meredith of 2017 now. And you sound like a cowboy.

My favorite color is green.

True.

My favorite movie is the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

No longer true. I have no real explanation for this strange choice of favorite movie. Apparently, listing our favorite things was one of the suggestions for this assignment, and this was the best I could come up with. For the record, my favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz.

As for favorite books, well, you know how hard it is for me to choose.

Snap back to reality.

What do I hate?

Oh, joy. Another list.

Spiders, of course. Those creepy legs, the pincers filled with poison, yuck!

Oh, gross. Oh, I still hate spiders. Why did I think future me wanted to read this?!

What do I like? Pretty much everything!

Correction: as an adult, I can confirm that I like very little, but I can still tolerate pretty much everything(and everyone).

Right now, I want to be an architect,

Cue maniac laughter at my journalism degree.

but my goals have changed before, so who knows what it’ll be now? Then? The future!

And historians have now dated my first existential crisis to this exact moment.

As for other stuff, just bring it on!

This is probably where 2008 Meredith did some sort of fist-pump.

Love, Meredith!

Decent send-off.

PS: Eighth grade is pretty cool so far.

And then I ruined it.

Conclusion: Eighth grade Meredith does not know what she’s doing. 2007 Meredith was naive, sure, but she’s got nothing on 2008 Meredith. There’s such a weird paradox in middle school and high school where you want to be different, you want to be real, but you’re stuck trying to fit everyone else’s definition of what’s cool.

I don’t think I ever really got the balance, but this is around the time where I really started to see that in the flesh. It hit me again right after I started college, and it took me a couple of years to get over. It’s okay to want to be liked; it’s another thing to try to switch up your personality to make people like you.

Plus, let me set one thing straight for anyone reading: I was a child. Sometimes, it felt strange to try to relate to other people my age because they were in such a hurry to grow up. And I wasn’t. We’ll see that more as the letters progress, but I felt more than comfortable in my childhood ways.

And that’s okay. Like the letter says, I was thirteen. And in a lot of ways, I haven’t changed that much. I still like the same things then that I like now, like Star Wars and fairies and Power Rangers and Lord of the Rings. And there’s a lot of people like me, who like those things, and don’t feel ashamed of it anymore, because we found each other, too.

So hold on, 2008 Meredith. You won’t be a cowboy-speaking freak too much longer. You’ll find your place eventually.

Just keep on being really inexplicably weird.

 

 

 

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: Letters to Self #1, 2007

To call this an “investigation” feels like a misnomer, especially when it’s all about me.

My last series was about something on my college campus, which had its own set of difficulties. Believe it or not, but most people don’t consider it too important to talk to a student about ghost sightings. A lot of people didn’t take me seriously.

That’s okay; I don’t take myself seriously, either.

That being said, I decided this time that I would make things a little more personal. As I’ve been cleaning and moving back into my parents’ house this past week, I rediscovered my letters to self that I wrote back in middle school and high school.

Let me back up a few years. Starting in seventh grade, Mrs. Williams, my English teacher(shout out to Mrs. Williams!), would start off the year with the same assignment: write yourself a letter that you would not see again until the day you graduated from high school.

This means that I wrote myself six letters in total, each one distinct in style, tone, and handwriting. And totally embarrassing content.

Which begs the question: why do I want to share them on the Internet?

It’s been ten years since I wrote the first of these letters, and I’m in another phase of transition. I thought it could be helpful for me, and for others, to see where I’ve come from, and look at how far I’ve gone.

That being said, here’s how it’s going to work: for the next six weeks, I’ll release a letter word-for-word, no edits or rewrites. I will include comments on how I’ve changed, or even on how I haven’t. I’ll also analyze my handwriting, because let me tell you, it’s changed a lot.

Think of it as a conversation between me and my former selves that you get to eavesdrop on. Haven’t you always wanted that?

So let’s get started.

The first letter, as I’ve said, comes from 2007. Let me tell you a little about 2007 Meredith. She doesn’t pluck her eyebrows. She reads a lot of Star Wars books. She draws on the bottom of her shoes in class. She really likes tie-dye.

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FINGER GUNS

Her handwriting is interesting. She dots her Is with circles; every letter is strangely round. She’s been forced to write in cursive for 3+ years, so now she only prints. People who know me well know that now, I only like to write in cursive.

Here’s how it starts:

Wow. This is really weird. Okay, here we go!

Not too cringey yet.

I’m You, Meredith, in 7th grade. I’m almost thirteen, in 8 days.

Fun fact: my birthday is September 14, so I list my soon-to-be-age in almost every letter. I really like birthdays.

Well, you’ll be reading this in, what, 2013? Yikes! (okay, I really don’t sake Yikes really often.)

Well, and in 2017. Welcome to the age of the Internet, kiddo(and yes, I still say ‘yikes’ a lot).

I hope you’re happy now. I’m sitting next to Dan D., who keeps trying to shake the table.

Apologies to Dan D.; you really weren’t annoying most of the time.

You know how I feel.

But some things never change.

I’m planning to get baptized soon. I’m a little scared. I hope I do it!

I do.

Speaking of which,

The following statement refers to baptism in no way whatsoever.

I hope if you have a boyfriend, he’s not a total retard.* Or one of the guys in class. Eew!!

No boyfriend then, no boyfriend now. Please don’t remind me, thirteen-year-old Meredith. It’ll be okay, you’ll become a feminist soon enough. It’s like a name-brand purse; you really don’t need one to be happy.

*also, I DEFINITELY do not use this sort of language to describe anyone anymore. This was the only thing I briefly considered cutting out of this letter, because as an adult, I find it EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE, and if I could time-travel, I would give preteen Meredith a stern talking-to, believe me.

Don’t lose your individuality. Keep being special.

Am I millennial, or am I a millennial?

I want to be a lawyer. I think.

Laughs eternally into the distance.

Gotta go! Love Ya! – Meredith Sweet

In conclusion: thirteen-year-old Meredith had a good head on her shoulders, but a lot to learn. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at 2008 Meredith, who is infinitely more cringeworthy.

Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: The Ghost of Pickitt Hall, Part 3

Ruh-roh, Raggy. Something spooky’s going down on the blog today.

We’re about to unmask a ghost. Maybe. And set a trap! Or not. We’re definitely not splitting up, though. This gang is here to stay(speaking of which, there’s no doubt that I’m a Velma. Moving on.)

The Big Reveal

Is there such a thing as the ghost of Pickitt Hall?

Probably not.

There have been no sightings. No one takes the stories seriously. It’s more of a campus joke than an urban legend, just a few sentences on an internet forum that’s still around twelve years later.

There’s not even a real basis of truth to the stories. There were no tragedies on campus during the suspected time period, no tangible threats to campus safety. Just a spirit of vulnerability that haunted students more than the story of ghost ever could.

But I think there is still something here that is worth discussing.

The Parallels

What makes a story memorable? What keeps audiences coming back to the same old story, year after year, and still manages to keep their interest? Is it, as Hollywood suggests, blood and sex and violence? Or is it something more subtle, like the heartwarming pulse of a Disney movie?

Let me point you to another cautionary tale: the legend of Apollo and Daphne.

Now, in case you aren’t familiar with this story, let me break it down for you. Apollo, god of music, gets the hots for a nymph named Daphne. Daphne does not reciprocate. Apollo starts to chase her in a little game called “be-my-woman-or-else-I’ll-make-you.” Daphne calls out to her river-daddy to save her and BOOM, river-daddy turns her into a tree.

apollo-daphne-albani

As far as myths go, this is pretty typical. Greek gods, as most of us know, don’t know how to keep it in their pants. But this reminds me of our little ghost story in more ways than one, which of course, I’m happy to share with you.

The ancient Greeks worshipped these gods and goddesses, but one wonders how much they actually believed these stories. Did they think that people could literally turn into trees to avoid their problems(which, by the way, I’d be totally down with. Just make me a Christmas tree so I can come inside once a year)? Or was there a more interesting narrative going on in these stories?

Because we know the way the Greeks told stories. They radically humanized their gods, to the point that what was considered divine and almighty displayed the rawest and basest of human desires. What Hollywood glorifies, that blood and sex and violence, is what the Greeks poured into their legends. No amount of gospel-singing muses can account for that fact.

Let’s get back to the story, though. This is a girl who feels forced to do something she doesn’t want to do. She then reacts to this pressure in a way that is both drastic and haunting, a permanent reminder of the perils of maidenhood.

Which takes me back to our ghost story. A girl, for reasons unknown, who waits at the doorway and watches, like a permanent sentry. Her story, while widely regarded as fiction, still holds a grain of truth in todays society, as it would in every society, as we have seen.

The fears of 1978 are still the same fears of today. I know you’ve heard these statistics before, but these are the facts: almost one in four women in college will experience sexual violence.

Again, louder for the people in the back: ONE IN FOUR WOMEN IN COLLEGE WILL EXPERIENCE SEXUAL VIOLENCE.

And unfortunately, this is not a new revelation. These are risks that young women have lived with since the beginning of time, victim to the whims of the people around them. As safe as our campus is, there are always risks. This is why one of the safest campuses in the country has video cameras, nightly patrols, and multiple guards.

Because you can never be too safe.

This is the connection between three points in time: 1978, 2005, and 2017. Every woman, regardless of her age, her looks, or her marital status, fears the same thing as they walk home in the dark. No river-daddies or urban legends needed: our imaginations play enough tricks on us.

You walk back to Pickitt on a Tuesday night. It’s late, enough that the lights along the sidewalk only turn on after you’ve walked past them. As you approach the front door, you feel like someone’s watching you, but there’s no one around.

“Stupid ghost,” you whisper as you fumble for your ID card. You know it isn’t true, but it makes you feel better, anyway.

You slip into the building and try to shake the feeling that something wasn’t right before you fall asleep.

There’s no ghost at Pickitt Hall. But something is still haunting.