Marks In Time

A lot can change in a year.

Time is a funny thing because as intangible as it is, it sometimes feels very concrete. There are certain things that make time more significant. You know both college and high school are going to last 4 years, your birthday will be around again exactly 365 days from the last one, and the Christmas season is every 48 weeks or so. Having a chronic illness makes time a little fuzzy sometimes, though. I have had POTS since August of 2013 and can pinpoint different phases throughout my journey, but it feels weird that I’m coming up on five years now. I have been fighting for my health longer than the time I spent in college, which is super weird. When I think about going to Mason I have such different memories from each year I was there. When I was a freshman I was timid and shy. I didn’t feel like I had a place I belonged, and I left campus to stay with my family just about every other weekend. I liked my classes and had a couple of really close friends I would keep for the rest of my life, but I was still figuring everything out.

My sophomore year was a blast. I made so many new friends, and I had a group of people who felt like home. I made friends with the girls I would call my roommates the next year, and I was an editor for the school newspaper. I didn’t find as much confidence with writing until later in college, but I looked forward to every day I would spend in the Broadside office with all of the other aspiring writers. Sophomore year was spent finding myself, and learning what I wanted to do the rest of my time in college.

Junior year was probably my favorite. I loved feeling secure with some of the best friends I could ever dream of, and had a great balance of work and play. I turned 21 that year and will never forget that birthday. I waited to drink until I turned 21, so all of my friends crammed into our little apartment living room to celebrate with me. People brought six packs of different things to drink, but I stuck with a cherry Smirnoff Ice. I was surprised it didn’t taste very alcoholic, and took my time sipping on my new favorite drink. That year we spent long nights dancing at the bar down the street every Thursday, and still had the energy to go out and explore restaurants and museums on Friday and Saturday.

Senior year before moving to New York is a blur, but my last semester of college spent in the city was one of the best memories from those four years. I had my fair share of adventures, long hours working overtime in the office, and despite blocking it out most of the time, I had my share of lonely nights in that little shoebox apartment on the eighth floor. New York was definitely an enormous highlight of my college career, and I’m still so thankful for each and every memory I gathered from that time.

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My mom took this picture of me my first month being a New Yorker. I felt so at home rushing around the city in my little dresses and tights, and fit in with all the editors at Seventeen by living on coffee, books, and cupcakes.

Do you see how easy it was for me to create four years of my life?

It hasn’t really been like that again until recently. The first few years of getting sick really blur together. I have a little bit of a timeline I can create, but it isn’t the same concrete, certain one I have from every other year of my life.

I got sick and went to a million different doctors. I had my heart hooked up to echocardiograms, holter monitors, and got tested for diseases I had never heard of. I watched The Food Network, then I watched The Office, then even later I started a new series called Pretty Little Liars. I went to the local shopping center with friends and found myself lying on the lobby floor of the movie theater to keep from fainting. I went home and cried, and wondered why I was the person God allowed to get sick. I remember nights of lying on the couch and having conversations with friends about the outside world I no longer felt a part of, and wondering aloud if I would ever be able to have a normal twenty-something life again. I remember getting my first job while I was home sick, then having chronic, debilitating pain from using my arms too much. I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and had to stop doing the one thing that made me feel kind of normal and independent.

I remember moments, but I have no idea when they happened.

I also don’t know when I started getting better, as it’s been super-slow, but there are a few things that offer great markers of healing. One year ago my mom hosted a Bunco party at our home. She always takes the month of February, and I often get invited to come play with her group when it’s held at our house. Bunco is essentially a game of rolling dice and giving an opportunity to catch up with friends. Last year I remember finishing the game and going upstairs and feeling heartbroken at all the pain I was in — just from rolling dice for an hour. My pectoral muscles were sore and ropey, and my shoulders and arms burned with sharp, constant pain. I regretted taxing myself so much for a game, but I also wondered how something so simple could cause so much of an issue. It wasn’t normal, and I hated having to choose between living my life and feeling good. 

She hosted this same party again last night and I got to attend. I am sore and by the end of the night I was glad to be done with the rolling motions, but today isn’t an 8 or 9 on the pain scale like it was last year. My physical therapy sessions are so beneficial for my health, but I will be able to make it until my Friday appointment without trying to hold it together while I’m reeling in pain. I’m more sore than I am on an average day, but I don’t feel like I’m going to have a complete breakdown from being in pain. I can easily handle a little bit of soreness and as long as I take it a little easier today I will make up for everything with my stretching and workouts. This is proof that despite relying heavily on physical therapy and rest, I am making progress.

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Today’s lesson: Even if you feel frustrated because something isn’t changing, taking a look at the really big picture and having little mile markers is so helpful for keeping spirits high. I still may have a long way to go in being normal again (And maybe I’ll never quite get there), but any kind of baby steps I can take is still progress. I’ve already learned so much through my journey, and I trust God to be with me every step of the way. Staying positive and remembering blessings throughout every step helps me have a thankful heart. My path has helped me become more empathetic, kind, and understanding, and it has led me to my new forever family member, which is absolutely priceless.

The “We” Mentality

I love seeing women support one another and strongly believe the more we become each other’s cheerleaders, rather than competition, the greater an impact we can make on the world.

This is why I want to encourage each and every one of you to view your friends’ hearts as your own too. Instead of criticizing the girl who is smack dab in the middle of a really messy breakup, realize that she is trying her best and probably wants to get over her ex, it just takes hearts some time to heal when they’ve been torn apart. Open your arms to the women who need your help and come to you for advice. It isn’t always easy for people to spill their hearts to friends; be proud that you are someone who people can trust with their feelings, and be gentle with their heart.

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The “We” mentality says that we’re in this thing called life together. It views someone else’s struggles as our own, and their victories as ours too.

I remember so vividly when one of my best friends and her boyfriend broke up. My heart ached alongside hers, and I shed a few tears too. Not because I thought she lost someone irreplaceable, but because I knew exactly the way she felt, and wished I could take away the sharp pain from her. I’ve always said that in a close relationship only one person has to be strong at a time, though, and this was my turn to be strong for both of us. We talked every single day and I always offered an open heart, even when I was busy, because a heart is easier to heal when you have a friend who will help you put the pieces back together again.

On the other hand, I remember when my best friend got her dream job. I got the text and literally squealed out loud and did a happy dance alone in my room. She absolutely deserves the best things this world has to offer, and her new company is so lucky to have her on their team. We went out to celebrate over dessert, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw how excited she was. This wasn’t just good news for her — it was great news for me, too. I got to watch my bestie live out her dream only a few years after graduating from college. This is one of the moments in life that feels so incredibly perfect.

One of the best parts about celebrating in others’ success and joys is that you have so many opportunities every week to be excited. Even just seeing my friends post about engagements, babies, puppies, and new jobs on Facebook is exciting. I feel like a tiny piece of my heart gets to celebrate even with the most distant of friends when I see something happy happen online. Regardless of who it is, someone on the other side of the computer screen is filled with joy, and that makes me really happy too.

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Today’s lesson: There is no room for competitiveness and jealousy in a beautiful friendship. Pushing each other to do better is always a great thing, but when you’re constantly competing to be better than each other you miss out on so many opportunities for joy. Stop comparing, and start rejoicing in each other’s “wins” in life. Learn to love people with your whole heart, and realize that when you celebrate others, they will want to celebrate you, too. Life is hard enough as it is with all the things we can’t control; we’re all in this together, and the world would be such an incredible place if we all could learn to lift each other up every chance we get.

My Superpower

Seeing women supporting women is one of my favorite things in the world.

Something that has made my heart so incredibly full has been all the incredible support I have gotten from friends and family since announcing my new business with Rodan + Fields. I haven’t been able to work since I got sick with POTS right after graduating college, so having a job is a really exciting thing for me. I’m stoked to have something really productive and fun to do with my time, and I want to use this business to change the world. I know how ridiculous that may sound, but as someone who as suffered with pretty bad acne for years I know just how great it is when you are able to stop focusing on that and feeling confident in your own skin. Clearing my skin might not have changed the world at all, but it changed my world and the way I looked at myself.

The greatest joy my heart feels is when I’m able to help someone feel confident, strong, and like they are a really valuable human being. One of my superpowers is seeing the beauty and strength in others, and I want everyone I meet to know that they have something beautifully unique to offer the world. I do think that each person on this earth can add some sort of value that others cannot, and people often fail to see just how amazing their potential is.

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Seeing the amazing results from the skincare was what got me interested in Rodan + Fields, but learning about the great opportunity with the business has been life-changing for me.

Now that I have a job that is all about lifting others up I am so excited to see what the future has in store for me and my friends. All are welcome on my team, and I want to create a special little nook of women to cheer each other on, support one another, and be there for each other. I like to think of Rodan + Fields as my own personal team of friends who are there for fellowship and to help make the world a better place by helping one person at a time. I want to build people’s confidence by giving them beautiful skin, but even more than that I want to help people build opportunities that will make their lives better.

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I can’t have a normal 9-5 job because of my POTS being so finicky, so I’m so excited to be working from home…
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Or from the tables of fun little restaurants and coffee shops with friends when I’m feeling up to it!

I still think my purpose God gave me in the world is to be a cheerleader to everyone I form a bond with. I have a heart that loves to see others succeed, and even though my life changed drastically and I haven’t been able to pursue my own dreams of becoming a journalist, I have been so happy seeing my friends chase and surpass their own dreams. For as long as I live I know my heart is going to keep beating fast for others, and no matter how hard things may get I will always get joy from watching people figure out why they are so important to the world.

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If you’re interested in hearing more about joining my team shoot me a message on Facebook or email me at Krista.germanis@gmail.com. All are welcome, and I am excited to be able to spoil and lift up all of my business partners as we go on this journey together.

Feature Friday: One Fierce Female

I have known Emily for years now, and seen her go through several life transitions with grace and poise. Whether it’s a breakup, a new job, or falling in love, Emily is always classy while choosing to never settle for less than she deserves. Frankly, I think she’s the “real girls’ Beyoncé.”

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One thing I’ve always loved about Emily is how great she is at balancing life. She’s one person I’ve never seen ditch her friends when she got a new bae, and she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known, but she never lets work get in the way of a healthy social life. She sings at church every Sunday, attends alum events for her sorority, celebrates her girl friends, spends quality time with her boyfriend, and manages to see her family on a regular basis. Basically, I am pretty sure Emily is some sort of superhero, and I haven’t seen any sort of Kryptonite yet.

Single in The Suburbs:
Emily! Would you please introduce yourself to my readers?

Emily:
My name is Emily, and as you stated, Krista and I met and became friends during our to time at GMU! I earned my Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance there. I am currently the Lead Administrator at Robert Half’s DC office. I’m also a voice teacher and resident singer at a local church.

SITS:
You are fiercely independent. Do you think you were born that way or is it something you developed?

Emily:
Thank you, that means so much! I really think it was something I developed. Many people don’t know this about me, but I was born with an auditory-language processing disorder. It took me a long time to even learn to talk. I began taking some special education classes as a toddler, and teachers weren’t sure if I could succeed in our school system.

However, in the transition from elementary school to middle school, I truly began to understand the value of hard work. I studied all of the time and sought out help when I needed it. Soon enough, I was out of special classes and taking AP and Honors classes. I went to the top of my class in middle school, and that continued throughout high school and college. Those years were pivotal for me in helping me understand the value of perseverance. If you want to achieve a goal, you have to put in the work.

SITS:
You go girl! I didn’t know that about you, but it makes me love your story even more.

Here’s something I think a lot of people struggle with when they get into a new relationship. Why do you think it’s important to maintain close friendships even when you have a great guy?

Emily:
You have to have balance! Jarrod and I have to make time for our friends together and separately. I’d like to think we’re pretty good about that. We encourage each other to spend time with our friends, and invite them out so our friends can meet each other. It’s important to devote time to your friends, just as it is with your partner. If you claim to have some kind of relationship with people, you need to take the time to be there for those people.
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SITS:
You seem to have a great work/life balance, as well as being able to juggle your time between the important people in your life. How do you do that? Do you sometimes have trouble choosing how to prioritize?
Emily:

Honestly, I have to work at this every day. Some days, I feel like I have this balancing act down. Other days I feel like I am completely out of whack. I work extremely hard at everything I do and sometimes I can give too much energy to one thing instead of keeping a balance.

I do think I’m improving every day, though! I make sure I take my full lunch break now, leave work on time instead of staying late, work out, and fit in time with the people I love — even if it means putting a reminder on my work calendar. The other day, I came upon this quote:
“If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it.”
That stuck with me. It’s so easy to let the little annoyances of daily life get to you, but they just don’t matter. At the end of the day it’s not so much about making a living as it is about making a life.

SITS:
Those are great tips, Emily.
What kind of advice do you have for single girls who are currently looking for a relationship?

Emily:
DON’T SETTLE. Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with being single. Even if all your friends are married. So what? If you’re waiting for a partner to be happy, you’ll never be happy. Make sure you have a good relationship with yourself first. It might be a cliché, but it’s true. 

SITS:
What do you think some perks of being single are? What about being in a relationship?

Emily:
Disclaimer: I don’t want to go back to being single. I’m very happy with Jarrod, but…

When you’re single, you only have to be concerned with your schedule, which is convenient. You can go on dates if you want, or if you don’t want to, then don’t! I went through periods where I dated, and then times where I didn’t. It really helped me focus on accepting and loving myself for who I am. I feel like that really prepared me for being in a relationship.
Relationship pros include: having a best friend who’s always there, someone to share your life with, having someone there that helps you grow as a person. The important part of these pros is that you have the right person there as your partner, and that can mean different things for different people. Everyone has their own idea of what a relationship should look like, and that’s great as long as it works for them! Jarrod and I challenge each other to be the best versions of ourselves in every way, and we teach each other how to love better.
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SITS:
You recently got a pretty sweet promotion at work because you took initiative and asked for it — congratulations! How did you feel before you asked? What kind of advice would you give for other twentysomethings in the work force?

Emily:
Thank you so much! I hadn’t really done anything like that before, but I felt confident going into it, which I think really helped. Preparation is absolutely key. I did all of my research on my position, compensation, and the marketplace, and then I presented my business case.

SITS:
What is the biggest dream you are working towards right now?

Emily:
My biggest dream now is moving on to grad school. I am looking at programs in Speech/Voice Pathology, so that I can use my knowledge and study of the voice to help those who have speech and communication issues.  However, I have a couple different programs in mind, so I’m continuing to gain experience in the workforce and research different schools until I am sure which specialization I want to pursue. I continue to teach voice and sing on the weekends to keep up with my vocal studies.


If you would like to be featured on Single in The Suburbs, send me a message and we’ll see if we can come up with a fun story to share!