DECISION DEPRESSION

*Please note that I am not talking about the clinical condition of depression. Depression is a very serious disease and should not be taken lightly.

Like many people, I struggle everyday with anxiety. It seems to be a trend in my family as many of my family members also struggle with it, though we all have different forms. I will definitely make more posts about my anxiety in the future, but today I want to talk about something that really triggers my anxiety hardcore: making decisions.

2 years ago I gave a speech at my high school graduation. As I was speaking to my graduating class, I brought up the fact that we were now adults and would have to make very many hard decisions in life. “We will be faced with an endless amount of choices that need to be decided on. The type of mortgage we want, what kind of insurance we need, and how we’ll save for retirement. There isn’t some magical device that can make all the hard decisions in life for you. Trust me, I’ve looked everywhere and found nothing.” These were my exact words, including the little “joke” at the end.

At the time, it was a joke to me. But as I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize how desperately I wish there was something that could make all my decisions for me. A device that could predict the complicated outcomes of each decision and let me know what the right path to take is. Unfortunately, that device hasn’t been invented yet, but maybe a good idea for someone out there to take to Shark Tank. Some people out there might not understand why this is such a big deal for me as decisions may come easy to them, and I am extremely jealous of those people because they never have for me. I’m pretty sure it’s because of my anxiety; I overanalyze everything and worry about every possible outcome.

The worst is when I’m making decisions that could affect others. I’m a huge people pleaser and I hate to upset anyone. Again, I’m sure many could relate, but I take it to a bit of an extreme. Knowing that I’ve hurt someone’s feelings or someone is mad at me can send me into a spiraling depressive episode where I just feel like the absolute worst person in the world. For this reason, I often go out of my way to please others, even if it places a burden on myself. So when a choice comes up that could affect someone else, I almost always go with the option that will please someone else.

However, even if a decision doesn’t involve someone, I still struggle with them. For example, trying to decide on what I want to do when I’m older is definitely a difficult one. I’m not even positive what I’m that into; I really only went into Business because nothing else appealed to me and the idea of having my own business was cool. I do still like the idea of having my own business and it’s my top option right now, but there are other ideas I’ve entertained. Travel agent, real estate agent, or just a regular old job at some company. All I really know is I want a job where hours are flexible and I can work from home to spend time with my future kids. I can’t count how many times I’ve been unable to sleep because I was worried about what job I’ll have and how much money I’ll make, stuff that won’t even affect me for at least another 2-3 years.

However, even now, job hunting as a part-timer is hard. Back in September of 2018, I left the part-time job I’d had for the previous 2.5 years because I was still only making minimum wage. That was a really hard decision in itself because I loved my coworkers and thought of them as a second family, but I had to do what was best for me. After that, job searching was a real nightmare. “Would these hours work with my schedule? Are the people there going to be nice? Am I going to get enough hours?” I bounced around at a few different jobs until I finally found my current job that was a pretty good match for me, but it took a while to find.

One problem that really fuels my issues with decisions is that once I get an idea in my head, I can’t stop thinking about it. My mom says I get this from my dad, and I’d have to agree; we’re both pretty stubborn in that way. My sister and I have been talking for about a year about making a trip to Disney and Universal in May of 2020. It was too expensive though, so we decided against it. However, I recently had the idea of going to only Universal for a few days and looked at the prices and saw how “affordable” it was. (Universal is not affordable, my local theme park charges like $45 a person for a day. However, it is cheaper than Disney World, so it’s more affordable in that sense). Once I saw that that, there was no question in my mind. We were going to Universal in May!!

Not. You see, once I brought this up to my parents, they were much more logical about it, as I was obviously not being logical. They thought it would make much more sense for me to wait until 2021, after I had graduated college and didn’t have to worry about paying for anything. You see, I’m a junior in college and I’m currently debt free and will finish the year debt free as well. Crazy, right? Again, I’ll make another post about this sometime and talk about how I did it, but it was mostly just a lot of smart decisions. A smart decision was what I needed, because if I went to Universal and spent a couple grand there, I’d be using up money that could be going to college. This is where my decision stress kicked in.

My parents reminded me that I’m an adult and can make my own choices, but suggested I just wait it out another year and then I could go and not have to worry about college expenses. Of course, I saw this for what it was: the smart option. But there was also the emotional option telling me: “You’ve never been to Disney or Universal, it would be so much fun! You’ve been wanting to go for years. You deserve it, just go!” It was like having the angel and devil on each shoulder arguing back and forth. I stressed (and when I say stressed, I mean it’s all I thought about) for a few days. Should I be smart, or should I fulfill my dream of going to Orlando? After stressing and a bit of stress-crying, I finally came to the decision that my parents and the angel were right, I should wait. What’s another year? Plus, I can save up extra money for Harry Potter merchandise!

You may be judging me and saying, “Really? You cried over it?” The answer to that question is: you betcha. That’s how my anxiety is, I stress about every little thing in life. Then I stress about stressing, then I can’t sleep, then I stress about not falling asleep because I have to get up at 6 for school and at this rate I’m only going to get five and a half hours of sleep and I’ll be exhausted in class and… Do you see what I mean? This can cause my day to go from good to full-on “I wanna just curl up in bed and listen to my emo music and cry”. But I’m getting off track here, I’ll expand on this in my future post on anxiety.

These are just a few examples of how much making decisions stresses me out, but I think you can understand my point. I’m sure there are others out there like me, and I really wish I had some advice for others like me, but I really don’t. I still haven’t figured out a way to properly deal with this, and it usually only ends once I’ve made a decision. I ask pretty much everyone I know for their opinions to hopefully get some insight, but most of the time it doesn’t help much. Even if a bunch of people say “go with this, it will work out better!” I still overanalyze and think of what the other option(s) could lead to.

If anyone else struggles with making decisions, please let me know so I don’t feel so crazy! Also, if anyone has any ideas for a Magic 8-Ball that actually works, please send me one and I’ll be your guinea pig!

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely, Brooke

FALL FESTIVALS

It’s that time of year again, fall festival season! My family just recently started going to fall festivals a few years back, and it’s become a bit of a tradition. We usually go to at least two each year! I absolutely love them; they’re a great way to celebrate my favorite season. Hayrides, feeding the animals at the petting zoo (the goats are my favorite), pumpkin picking, and just looking at all the fun things people are selling. And don’t even get me started on the food! Apple cider slushies and apple dumplings with ice cream? Yes, please!

I’ve been to two festivals so far this year and they were both wonderful! The first one, I went with my mom and sister to a local farm, Trax Farms. Trax’s fall festival is a must if you live in the Pittsburgh area! Not only do they have a shop with their own produce and desserts, but they have another shop full of home decor, toys, and more. We love going there in the fall season and looking at all the fun stuff for sale, my favorite is the Halloween and Christmas sections! They even had a local band playing some of my favorite 90s hits. And, of course, I took pictures!

Then, this past weekend we met my best friend and his mom (who are like family to me) at another fall festival a bit further out. I don’t like this one quite as much as Trax just as it tends to always be very crowded, but it was still lots of fun! We did a bit of browsing around the shops and greenhouse and had some yummy food. To finish, we went on a hayride up to the pumpkin patch and picked out our pumpkins for the year. I’m pretty happy with our choices!

Pumpkins and Gourds, Oh My! – One thing fall festivals always have is an array of pumpkins and gourds. Is anyone else baffled by just how many types there are? It’s crazy! I’m really amazed by these and I’m super curious as to how these farmers grow these. Which one is your favorite? I really like the princess pumpkins, but the “gooseneck” have to be my favorite. They’re just so funny looking! (These were all from Trax Farms!)

All in all, I’ve had a lot of fun at the fall festivals this year! It’s a tradition I love and can’t wait to share with my own kids one day. What’s your favorite activity at a fall festival?

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely, Brooke.

MY TOP 5 HALLOWEEN MOVIES

It’s my favorite season of the year: fall! And with fall comes my favorite holiday (after Christmas), Halloween! Considering my love for all things spooky and scary (*insert spooky, scary skeletons music*), it only makes sense that I absolutely love Halloween. I have a tradition each year of passing out candy and watching my favorite Halloween movies. Not the most glamorous or exciting way to spend the holiday, but I love passing out candy to the kids! To occupy myself while waiting for trick-or-treaters, I always watch my top 2 Halloween movies. During the rest of October, I watch all my other favorites! Here is a list of my top 5! (This doesn’t include Horror movies. I do watch a bunch in October, but I also watch them year-round. This is specifically for movies I only watch around Halloween!)

*Spoiler warning if you haven’t seen these movies!*

5. Halloweentown – This category includes all four of the movies because I enjoy them all! I would LOVE to live in Halloweentown, perpetual Halloween! I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural, so seeing these movies with all the different creatures was so cool to me as a kid. Plus, I wanted to be just like Marnie; she made me want to be a witch even before I got into HP! These movies have a lot of nostalgia for me as I used to watch them every year on Disney Channel. Every time I watch them, they remind me of my childhood and just make me feel really happy. They are towards the end of my list, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less!

4. Corpse Bride – I know many people are freaked out by Tim Burton’s films, but I love them, especially the animated ones! I just love the setting of this movie; how dark and gloomy it is in the land of the living, then bright and happy in the land of the dead. I also love the story! Victor’s journey into the land of the dead and trying to navigate it was so interesting and incredibly funny! I also loved Emily, she was a little wacky and delusional, but who wouldn’t be when they’d been left for dead by their fiance? And Lord Barkis was just awful; I was very happy with his fate.

3. Ghostbusters – This category also includes more than one movie: the original (1984) and the new one (2016). I know many people believe that the original is always better than a remake, but I tend to follow the opposite belief. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original Ghostbusters! However, the new Ghostbusters has so many cool effects that I like it just a little better. Plus, I love Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon (they are hilarious) so they make the movie even better. Overall, they’re both just hilarious movies.

2. Hocus Pocus – “I put a spell on you…” A classic, am I right? This movie is also pretty funny, and I love Binx! I always get a little teary when he dies. I’m a big fan of movies where a close-knit group band together to defeat a common enemy, so it makes sense why I like this movie so much. Max and Dani remind me a lot of my sister and I: fighting a lot but would do anything for each other. Overall, just a super cute and funny movie for Halloween. (Plus Sarah Jessica Parker is amazing in this movie; her character is so funny.)

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas – The debate for all is whether this is a Halloween or Christmas movie. For me, it’s definitely a Halloween movie! The setting and characters just make it much more of a spooky movie. I always watch this one on Halloween night as it’s the end of the spooky season and the beginning of the jolly season. Plus, it’s my absolute favorite Halloween movie, so I save the best for last! I can’t really explain why I like it so much, I just love the design. I also LOVE Jack!

What do you think about my picks? What are your favorite Halloween movies? Leave me some recommendations! 🧡🎃

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely, Brooke.

REKINDLING MY LOVE FOR READING

When I was little, around 8 or 9 years old, my dad instituted a rule for me: to read for 30 minutes each night. I remember hating this new rule; I would have much rather watched Disney Channel or play on my Game Boy. As any normal kid who was being forced to do something they didn’t want to, I complained about it. A lot. However, my dad strongly enforced this rule and made sure I did my reading each night. I later learned he did this to pass on his love for reading to me and to ‘train my brain’ and develop my reading skills. Safe to say this worked, as not only was I able to read a few years above my grade level, but I also developed a lifelong love of reading!

Having to read each night took some getting used to, especially since there were some nights where I just really didn’t want to. I am so glad my dad made sure I did my reading each night, though! After a while, it finally hit me and I fell in love with reading. I began to look forward to my reading time! Sadly, I don’t have the best memory, and only remember bits and pieces of the books I read, but I do remember loving them. One of these books is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. I found this book on Goodreads while writing this post and read the description; nothing about the plot was familiar to me. I just remember reading the book and thinking how cool it was that these two kids were living in a museum! I think this says a lot about my younger self, but thankfully I’ve grown out of that (for the most part).

Another book (or series) this happened with was Harry Potter; I actually found HP through my required reading time! I know many people will consider me to be a ‘fake fan’, but I didn’t fall in love with Harry Potter through the books. When I re-read the books a couple of years ago, it was like I read it for the first time. I hadn’t remembered any of the minor details (like who Winky and Peeves were, or what S.P.E.W was), only the main plot. Guess that shows how much information my 9-year-old brain internalized from my first read-through. Instead, my love for HP, and how I fell into the rabbit hole, came from the movies; the books just piqued my interest and got me to watch the movies. I know, I know, the books are much better than the movies, and I wholeheartedly agree! But at 9, I still struggled with world development in my head and found it much easier to understand through the movies. Now that I’m older and have re-read the books, though, I definitely prefer the books!

I could talk about Harry Potter for hours, but I’m getting off-topic. I’m not sure when my dad stopped requiring me to read each night, probably in late middle school. Despite that, I would still read all the time! Once I got to high school, I switched from reading regular books to reading stories on the popular website Wattpad. Not only were they free, but it was also a lot of fun to read stories written by people around my age! My favorite were the romance ones, but I also read other genres. I did high school through a cyber school, so I had a lot of free time to spend reading. I probably read over 100 stories through Wattpad. Reading these stories inspired me to write my own, which is how I found my passion for writing.

Unfortunately, after I graduated high school, life got much busier. I was working more hours at my job and college took up much more time than high school had. With my busier schedule, taking the time to read was moved to the back burner. In fact, over the course of the two years after I graduated, the only reading I did was re-reading the HP series. It was incredibly frustrating not having the time to do something I love.

When I heard about audiobooks, I immediately wrote them off as something I wouldn’t like. Not only were they pricey, but I was always the type who enjoyed having a hard copy in my hands for reading. It wasn’t until a few months ago that my opinion changed. My mom found out that we could rent audiobooks through our library, and for free! After seeing how much she enjoyed it, I decided to try for myself. As a commuter student, I have a daily 50-minute drive to and from school, so I needed something to listen to for the long trips each day. Since I had been wanting to get back into reading, I figured audiobooks would be the best option.

My first audiobook was Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I had ordered this book over a year ago as I had heard it was very similar to HP, but I sadly never had the time to read it. So, since I had been dying to finally read it, I listened instead. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it! It was so amazing being able to hear the voice of the main character and really feel the emotion behind the words. I finished that audiobook at the end of August, and since then I have finished 7 other audiobooks!

It’s been so much fun being able to get back into “reading” again. I’ve always been someone who gets very emotionally connected to a book and its characters: feeling their excitement when the person they love returns their feelings, and feeling their pain when they go through tough times. (As well as getting heated when the main character is being an idiot. “Why are you so mad at him? All he did was help a girl who was in danger of being attacked! Chill out!”) Whatever emotion a good book evokes in me, it’s always strong and keeps me captivated, something TV has never done for me. I can’t count how many books I’ve cried over because someone died, or simply because I couldn’t believe the book was over (I’m looking at you, Deathly Hallows)! I hope I can pass my love of reading to my own children someday and show them the magical worlds they can travel to through an amazing book.

Although I will probably always prefer reading a physical book over listening to one, I still love audiobooks and am so glad I decided to try them. I’m so excited to continue to listen and experience all the books I’ve been wanting to try for years. If you’ve been on the fence about trying audiobooks as I had been, I wholeheartedly recommend you give them a try, especially if you live a busy lifestyle!

What’s your favorite book? Do you prefer audiobooks or physical copies? I’d love to hear your suggestions and opinions!

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely, Brooke.

10 FACTS ABOUT ME

Hello, people of the internet! My name is Brooke and this is my very first post on this blog that I have created. I was trying to come up with something super awesome for my first post, but since we’re all new here, I decided to kick it back to middle school and tell the class some fun facts about myself! You can find the basics on my “About Me” page, but these are some extra fun bits of my personality. So, without further ado, here are ten random facts about me:

  1. I am obsessed with Harry Potter! If I could start school all over again and go to Hogwarts, I would definitely do it! I am a proud Hufflepuff.
  2. My favorite color is lavender!
  3. I have a love for horror movies; particularly paranormal ones. They scare the crap out of me, but I love them!
  4. I am the oldest sibling with a younger sister who is eight years younger than me. She’s my best friend (next to my mom), but don’t tell her I told you that!
  5. Many say that my music taste doesn’t match my personality at all. I love anything punk-rock and all the genres that surround it.
  6. I am very tall, just short of 6’1. Before you ask, I don’t play basketball or volleyball; I don’t have any coordination, sadly!
  7. I’m a very picky eater. If it can’t be consumed by a 5-year-old, I probably won’t eat it. My idea of gourmet cuisine is chicken parmesan and breadsticks from Olive Garden.
  8. I love video games, though I don’t really have the time for them anymore. I love story-based games where I can develop a strong connection to the characters!
  9. My favorite season is fall. I just love everything about it: the cool air, the pumpkin-scented everything, the color of the leaves, and of course, Halloween!
  10. I am very shy and struggle with social anxiety, but I have slowly been getting over my fears and becoming more outspoken over the years! I even spoke at my high school’s graduation ceremony.

Anywho, that about wraps it up! I’m really excited to start this blog and I hope you all decide to stick around 🙂