Thursday, May 5, 2016

Them Pageant Girls Tho

If I were to ask you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “pageant girl” your response would probably include a list of pretty predictable answers. The most popular being what one would describe as a “bimbo.” From there we have plastic surgery, leaked nude photos, Honey Boo Boo, and if you are really read up on the topic, Miss Teen South Carolina USA and the urgent need to nationally distribute global maps to our nation. These are just a few of the many generalizations I have heard attached to “pageant girls.” The list, however, is endless and from my experience, the longer you talk about it the weirder it gets. So, rather than allowing your imagination to roam, we’ll make one thing clear: 

Said assumptions are wrong.

Pageant girls have always been some of the most amazing women this society has failed to take note of and I had no idea until I became one of them. That’s right. I’m a pageant girl. After watching Miss Hawaii live, I decided at the ripe age of three to add a successful career in pageantry right next to my dreams of growing a mermaid tail and living within the depths of the pacific among dolphins. Although I realized that some of my goals were a little lofty, I never let go of pageantry. This dream of mine became a reality in 2011 when I was crowned Miss Hawaii’s Outstanding Teen. After years of careful planning and sufficient dreaming, I had the privilege of joining their ranks and working beside the very women I looked up to for most of my life. And as I did so, I realized that they were even more amazing than I previously understood. I learned that there was so much more to pageantry than the hour-long competition we as speculators get to watch. For those who are successful, it’s a lifestyle. One that encourages scholastic achievement, community service, the pursuit of passion, and public involvement. And one that requires work ethic, perseverance, long suffering, and love. Yet despite the fact that we strive towards living exemplary lives, we continuously battle stereotypes that suggest otherwise.


Pageant girls have always been the subjects of an unreal amount of heat from the media. In 2003 Fox News political commentator Greta Van Susteren, who was one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 most powerful women in 2014, openly acknowledged this after recapping her experience as a judge for the Miss America pageant. When recounting the interview portion of the competition she explained that she “tried to find the contestant who could take the heat of the media.” For Susteren and the rest of the judges, that contestant was Ericka Dunlap, who went on to become a successful Public Relations Specialist after her year of service as Miss America. Unfortunately, however, Ericka’s success is not universal. Sometimes, titleholders screw up. Really badly. And when they do, the media makes sure you know. 

This would be the perfect time to tell you that all of the pageant scandals covered by the media have been fabricated but I can’t. Most of them, if not all of them have probably taken place and you have every right to be informed when they do. The problem arises when media outlets place their primary focus on the negative rather than simultaneously highlighting the positive, they rob you of a complete understanding of the culture. How could you have a positive opinion about pageant girls after Cosmopolitan, a magazine with over 5 million followers on facebook alone, published an article highlighting “8 Really Dumb Things Beauty Pageant Contestants Have Said About Education”? Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Beauty-Pageant Scandals” list didn’t help us either. And although People magazine has been putting forth admirable efforts to expand their audience’s understanding by given an equal amount of light to both sides, they face an uphill battle against other outlets that are more concerned with entertainment than they are with reporting. Rather than giving you the entire map and allowing you to navigate yourself towards an educated opinion, they reel you into a game of Wheel of Fortune in which Vanna only has 1 letter on the board. And once you fill in the rest of blanks by yourselves, most of you come up with stereotypes that leave us pageant girls feeling like misunderstood mythical creatures. 

At the same time, I would be naïve to discredit the negative encounters many of you have had with pageant girls. Some of you have not only read about the types of girls that verify the stereotypes. Some of you have met them. In fact, most of us have. That is where an important principle comes into play: the select few rarely represent the majority.

The behavior of one person is not a direct reflection of the culture they belong to, it is a reflection of they themselves. Bill Clinton may have had an affair but assuming that every other President after him will do the same is a hasty generalization. The same concept applies to our negative encounters with pageant girls. For example, I had a mental break down in the arms of a fellow contestant during my teenage pageant days. Not only was I incredibly homesick but I was also battling nasty medicinal withdrawals after losing my pill case during my travels. In the moment, this contestant proved to be incredibly compassionate, however, while interviewing with the judges the next day, she disclosed the details of our evening together without my consent. She was later awarded for having the “best interview.” 

I know. You’re telling me. 

It would have been easy for me to assume that all pageant girls alike must be hiding hidden agendas beneath their perfectly teased hair. The betrayal I felt could have served as perfect justification. Nonetheless, I knew that the manipulation of one contestant could not plausibly outweigh the love I received from the rest. By deciding to allow this experience to affect my opinion of her and her only, I was able to move forward and develop relationships with others that I still hold to this day. Like pageantry, behavioral patterns without a doubt exist within every culture. But rather than focusing on negative patterns that create dangerous generalizations that condemn the masses to the same fate, it would do us a lot better to focus on those who work so hard to defy them.

So far I have explained exactly what a pageant girl is not, let me go ahead and tell you what she actually is. But rather than listing a grand set of adjectives we all hope will be mentioned in our eulogies, I’ll tell you about a few I know and let you decide for yourself. Laura Kaeppeler, Miss America 2012, is an advocate for children of incarcerated parents and was named one of The Top 100 women leaders in STEM by US news and World Report. Lauren Seely, Miss D.C.’s Outstanding Teen 2011, is currently interning for Jimmy Fallon. Paoakalani Midro who ran for Miss Hawaii’s Outstanding Teen twice but placed as the first runner-up both times just graduated from Harvard University. Jeanette Morelan, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2011, worked on a self-developed community care and development program for orphans of HIV/AIDS and young adults in South Africa. And Lauren Cheape Miss Hawaii 2012 is a member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives.

If that’s not enough, let us not forget that Kristin Chenoweth has won a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. Miss America Kira Kazantsev speaks three languages, was a triple major at Hofstra University, and was accepted into Notre Dame Law School. Halle Berry won an Academy Award. And Oprah Winfrey is well….Oprah Winfrey. 

(no explanation necessary)

These are the women who participate in pageantry. These are the women who embody pageantry. These are the women that sparked the burning flame that fueled my own personal journey within pageantry. Pageantry is a noteworthy goal that encourages excellence in all aspects of life. And in regards to my own journey, it is a large reason why I have succeeded thus far in life. 

Yes, we walk across stages in patterns wearing nothing but a bikini. Yes, we glue said bikini bottom to our butts. Yes, we whiten our teeth. Yes, we wear fake hair. And yes, we dish out thousands of dollars on a gown we only plan on wearing for 10 minutes. I understand how that may sound ridiculous to you. Just as football is definitely not a lifestyle for me, pageantry may not be a lifestyle for you. But it is definitely not a bad lifestyle and should definitely not detract from our character or discredit our academic success, involvement within the community, or passion pursuits of national issues. It would be unfair to overlook the thousands of dollars I raised for various non-profits just because I also struggled with an addiction to bejeweling. 

There have been many occasions during which I have faced-palmed in confusion while watching a pageant or reading what the tabloids had to say about something that took place during a pageant. But those are not the moments that define pageantry for me. Rather, I choose to remember the moments that have changed my life. Whether or not you’ll do the same is your decision. But as I said earlier, pageant girls have always been some of the most amazing women this society has failed to take note.

  And frankly, I am so incredibly proud to be one of them.

God lives and He is Good
xoxo
-B

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Real Talk from the "Angry BYU Student" on BYU's Honor Code, and Victims of Sexual Assault

Real Talk
 on BYU, the Honor Code, and Victims of Sexual Assault

Last Thursday I hosted a Rape Awareness Conference at BYU. Idk if you were there, but if not I'm sorry because you missed out. We had amazing presentations prepared by Julie Valentine's research assistants and Taylor Jarman, one of the co-founders of Honey. Tons of people came out. And I made some pretty funny jokes to balance the mood. Like I said, if you weren't there, you missed out. 

If you were there, however, AND stayed for the Q & A, you know exactly what all of these news segments, articles, and blog posts are talking about. If you are now sitting here asking yourself "What news segments, articles, and blog posts?" you've probably deactivated your social media accounts for finals. Totally responsible and totally chill but I think it's really important that you get the 411 so let me fill you in. 

The 411 

During the Q & A, Madi Barney, a student at BYU responded to another student's question about how the Honor Code comes into play when victims are reporting their assaults. She openly disclosed her status as a survivor of rape and addressed the other student's question based off of her own experience which, in her case, isn't a very good one. 

(That sentence doesn't really make sense because when it comes to sexual assault, there is no such thing as a good experience but I digress) 

Then, she addressed Sarah Westerberg, BYU's Title IX coordinator who was attending the conference as an audience member. To sum it up, the exchange that proceeded to take place didn't go very well but right now, we'll leave it at that.

Madi's story is an important one and thanks to her bravery, we are finally having a much-needed conversation that should have happened...well, yesterday and any time before that. But this post isn't about Madi, this is about the way I've been framed by the media and my feelings towards how BYU's Honor Code affects victims of sexual assault and the general safety students as a whole. 

Since the event, I have been interviewed by a number of different news outlets and am being quoted all over the place online. I stand by everything I have said and do not retract anything that's been broadcasted or published of me. AT THE SAME TIME, many (if not most) news outlets have either taken my words completely out of context or failed to mention a lot of things I DID say that I feel are really important.

No, I do not think the world revolves around me or that my opinion is the only one that matters in this story. (I am a completely different person than the self-absorbed 6th grader some of you may have had the displeasure of meeting.) But as someone who puts an incredible amount of energy into raising awareness about sexual assault with the hopes of making this world a safer place for all survivors, I feel the need to clarify a few things. So, without further ado, humor me for the next 5 minutes.


  • I. Love. BYU. I love my school. I love their mission. And I am PROUD to call myself one of their students. If that wasn't clear enough, no, I absolutely do not identify myself as an angry student. Do not. Do not. Do not. 
  • Yes, I hosted the Rape Awareness Conference that took place last week but by no means did I do any of the real work that went into making it the incredible evening it was. There was a team of people, who put countless hours of their own time into the conference and giving me credit for everything they did is almost comical because your opinion of me and my capabilities is way higher than it should be and I suggest you lower the bar before I quickly disappoint you. 
  • I do NOT think that BYU should ever repeal the Honor Code (nor do I think they ever will). The Honor Code is what makes BYU, BYU. When you send your letter of acceptance after you've received admission you are not just excepting an education, you are accepting an experience and a lifestyle. The Honor Code is in place to make sure you get that. 
  • I am NOT a representative of BYU, the Honor Code office, or the Women's Studies Honor Society (even though I sometimes wish I were because each of these offices are staffed by incredible individuals who care about the student's at BYU and are doing the best they know how to do).


WITH THAT SAID 

(this is the really important part so listen up)



  • I FULLY support Madi and every other survivor in their effort to achieve healing and justice.
  • I think snaps should be given to Sarah Westerberg for taking on the role of a Title IX Coordinator at a university that also has a code of conduct in place. Being a Title IX Coordinator at a university hard enough. Being a Title IX Coordinator at a university that was founded upon a code of conduct is a lot harder. Not impossible, (Sarah Westerberg is proving that), but harder. 
  •  I believe that BYU's Honor Code was put into place with the intention of enhancing and preserving the well-being and safety of ALL students. In many ways it does this exactly, however, unintended and unforeseen consequences have proven to follow. Namely, students' refusal to report their assaults because they fear what might happen if they were assaulted while simultaneously breaking the Honor Code.  


  • The Honor Code needs to change. When handling a case where both parties were in violation of some kind of law, we must decide which violation has a bigger detriment to society. What I mean by this is if a minor comes forward about their assault and it is discovered during the investigation that they were intoxicated while it happened, we must then decide which crime is more important to address. Underage drinking, or rape.
I know it's finals, but I really hope that is one decision you can make with ease.


 Now, you may be asking yourself, "Why do we have to just pick one? Why can't we address both?" Well, because if victims know that you're going to address both, AKA punish them for drinking, they will NOT come forward and report their assault.  Said rapist would then get off free and continue to rape again and again and again. 
(Since statistically, that's what they're most likely going to do)



Here's where I speak on behalf of the human race and say that's definitely not something we want.



As a result, changes on the Honor Code need to be made so that ALL victims of sexual assault feel safe enough to report no matter what the circumstances of their assault may be. ONLY then will we truly be protecting our students and ONLY then will we truly be doing everything in our power to make our campus a safe place.

If that didn't make any sense, S. Daniel Carter, a campus security consultant put it pretty well here.





  • BYU is NOT alone in this challenge. Universities all across the country and institutions alike are facing the same exact challenge. Singling out BYU is naive and dangerous because by doing so we fail to recognize that this is a problem on a much larger scale and rob ourselves of the opportunity to change things for the better on that same scale. 
  • I do not have all the answers. This is hard stuff we're dealing with and I understand where both parties are coming from. NTM, I'm running off of an average of 3 hours of sleep so I'm definitely not at my highest level of functioning. If I can put things into perspective for you, I've locked my keys in my car 2 times in 5 days. 
My point exactly.

HERE'S WHAT I DO KNOW

Being sexually assaulted was the worst thing that's ever happened to me. There isn't a single day that goes by that I am not struggling in some way with the negative side effects that followed my assault.

 I'm also not the only one struggling. 

Statistically, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives. To put that into perspective, this means that 50% of the women you know have been sexually assaulted. 

That's a lot of people and that's a lot of hurt. 
And on behalf of all of us and those that are statistically projected to join us, we need your help. 

Again
I do not know the answer.

But I do know that by participating in compassionate dialogue we can find one. One that allows all parties to empathize with one another. One that allows space for an Honor Code but simultaneously protects students against violence on every level. And it is my sincerest hope that that is something we will see happening take place in the near future.
(And ideally ASAP)

So with that said, I'm Briana Garrido, coming at you live from my bedroom and I'm signing out.

God lives and He is good,
xoxo
-B


Links of all the interviews and segments I've been featured in this far (most of which make me look like an angry student): 

1

2

3

4


THE GOOD STUFF 
(and there's plenty for everyone)
For survivors:

For loved ones of survivors:

For everyone else:





And last but not least, me at the event.
 (Obviously really angry.)



Sunday, July 26, 2015

Things Switzerland Taught Me

I love lists. And lately everyone has been asking me how Switzerland was. Luckily for me, I have a list for that. I will never be able to fully explain my time at Caux in Switzerland with any amount of words but here's a small list of the big things I've taken home with me. Not including the 12 lbs of chocolate that's currently sitting on my kitchen counter. Lol. 

Here we go...

Things Switzerland Taught Me: 


Ask never assume

People are better than you take them for.

Aaaand then sometimes they’re not.

But even then, asking always brings clarity and clarity ALWAYS makes everything better. 

Not easier, but better.



Everyone is on their journey and that’s beautiful



Sometimes people say or do something that makes me want to bang my head against the wall or light something on fire. HOW could you possibly think it is okay for men to cheat because the stats say that women are more likely to accept it? WHY is it so hard for you to believe that humans have an infinite capacity to love? Was it REALLY necessary to comment on how ugly you think her dress is? You should know better!

But really? Should you? 

Everyone is on a journey. And not only is everyone's destination different, but the pace at which everyone walks will also differ. So with billions of people in the world, you are going to run into other people who are at a different point of journey than you. Sometimes you'll be ahead, sometimes you'll be behind, sometimes you'll be walking hand in hand. But who are you to say that they should be someplace they're not? 

At the end of the day, we’re all walking from who we are, to who we are meant to be. And that’s beautiful. No matter the distance in between. 



Expectation/Should vs. Want/Reality



Stop spending so much time living your life based off what what other's expect of you. On top of respecting others' journeys, it's crucial that you respect YOUR journey. From now on when making a decision ask yourself if this is really what you want or if you're doing it for someone else. If your answer is the latter, you need to step back and do some major re-evuating. 

Unless that someone else is God. In that case, good on you. 

THEN you need to stop spending so much time beating yourself up over the big gap that stands between REALTY and what you SHOULD do, how you SHOULD feel and what SHOULD HAPPEN. 


Not gonna lie, you probably shouldn't have eaten that entire bar of dark chocolate in 5 minutes and you definitely shouldn't start on another one. While we're at it you also shouldn't worry so much over what people think about you, judge that girl for making that brusque comment at church, or cry over a breakup you know was right. But you did. Or you do. And although that doesn't make it right, the only way you're going to change is by making space for your imperfections through self-acceptance and giving yourself ample room to work on it. 

If you spent just as much time and energy on loving/bettering yourself as you do beating yourself up over all the things you should be doing but aren't, you'd be x100000 times happier AND healthier



Hard on the issue, soft on the person



Actions reveal an individuals experiences, values, perspectives, and understandings but they don’t define or limit. 

So yeah, their use of cutting sarcasm bothers you. But that doesn’t mean their heart is two sizes too small and made out of coal. And dishing out a self-righteous lecture fueled by the belief that they're a terrible person does nothing for the actual problem at hand. Neither does avoiding the situation as a whole and letting feelings of frustration develop into malice or contempt. If anything, it just makes you a baboon. The issue needs to be tackled, and you should not walk away until there is a resolve but  you don’t need to tackle the person as well. It would be far too exhausting and very ineffective. Especially if they’re two feet taller than you.

Additionally, you must remember that everyone is at a different point on the path. You are therefore going to face many points of differing opinions and views. Sometimes, you're going to meet people that you just cannot agree with. Sometimes, there will be some issues that you cannot resolve. But that’s okay. It is what it is and that “is" doesn’t mean you can’t be friends and even more importantly, it does not mean that you can’t have tea time together.



I like myself



While in Switzerland I'd speak to a friend weekly who would always ask me if I liked myself. I'd usually respond by saying, "No" and then silently think to myself about how if he knew everything I knew about me, he wouldn't either. Then one day instead of serving him my usual dose of sass I asked him "Do YOU like yourself?" 

In response he said, "Of course." I was just about to roll my eyes when he said, "just like God does." 
Then it hit me. I may not like certain things about myself like the pimple that's currently partying on my cheek as a result of the heaps of chocolate I've been eating or how hard it is for me to not compare myself to every living thing on this earth but those things are not who I am. Aka: a daughter of the bombest (is that word?) dad on earth who is doing the best she can relative to this very moment. And with respect to that girl, I like myself. 

Which leads me to my piece of God given revelation...



not the body, not the mind 



You are not your eating disorder
You are not your anxiety
You are not your anger
You are not your sadness
You are not your illness
You are not your depression

Those are just things YOU are EXPERIENCING. 

They do NOT define who YOU are, what YOU are and most importantly, to whose YOU are.

Do NOT let your body or mind tell you otherwise. 



When you lose yourself, you find so much love that the rest doesn’t even matter 



My entire life I’ve been told that when you lose yourself in the service of others, you find yourself. This trip taught me that when you lose yourself in the service of others, you become so filled with love that the rest of the phrase doesn’t even matter.

 It doesn’t matter whether or not you find yourself It doesn’t matter whether or not you discover who you are. It doesn’t matter if you become a better person. 

Because by losing yourself in the pursuit of loving others, all of that falls background to the breaking down of walls and the letting in of light. And that light feels so good that all of the questions we to torture ourselves over become…unimportant and irrelevant 



Let it go 



You are not your past. The past, your past, does not define who you are or what you are capable of becoming. The past is simply a map of how you got to where you are now. And If you don’t like your current location than start by trying a different path. Not backtracking on roads already traveled. 

When you ask suri to help you get to the nearest gas station and you take the wrong road, she doesn’t waste time asking you why you took a left rather than a right or calling you directionally challenged. She reroutes. In regards to life, we need to take one from Suri and do the same. 



You do you (bubu)

We have enough Emma Watsons
We have enough Natalie Portmans
We have enough Beyonces
If we didn’t God would have made more
Instead he made you
So do the world a favor be the best you, you can be. 
We need it. 



CONCLUSION?
Life is a journey and God placed us on this earth to be a light. So no matter where you are on your own personal journey, take the time to love yourself, others, and life. The feeling from the light that will come is indescribable but to give you an idea, it looks a lot like Jesus. 







I got a lot out of these little lessons, hopefully you did too. But just in case...let me make it up to you with a photo series of me trying to like myself:









God lives and He is Good. 
xoxo
-B


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Values Auction

Today I attended a workshop called "Absolute Standards"



I know. It sounds like a mutuals lesson 



Except unlike today's workshop I never cried at mutuals 


Unless we were playing dodgeball
Lucky for me the Lebanese have no idea of what dodgeball is 
We're going to keep it that way



To give you some context before I start recounting the details of my sob fest we started off the workshop with a "values auction"

It's exactly what it sounds like. (Not mutuals)
Rather than auctioning off items, they auctioned off values
And each was given 120 franks from the Bank of Cheese and Chocolate to bid lol

In attempt to be fair they showed us a list of values that would be put up for auction. They included:

Education
Loyalty
FAITH
Justice
Love
Good Looks
Compassion
Money
Friendship
Family
Wisdom
Good Marriage
Suffering
Health

You can guess which value I automatically set my sights on. 


(f you assumed good looks or money I apologize for the poor impression I've left on you)


Realistically, I know that I should strive for much more but I also KNEW that I needed faith. For what are the rest of the values without He who made them? 

Nothing. 

Family, love, justice, loyalty, wisdom ect. 
All of that is only possible and only makes sense when we also include the creator of such things. 

So the auction began and people started to bid and I just waited silently. 


Family was the first value. Everyone with exception of myself immediately threw up their hands. Bids were being shouted left and right. 

*I stayed silent.*

For what is family without an eternity with them and the Father of our spirits?

Health was next. The same thing happened. People fought. Comments were made. Funds were combined. 

*I stayed silent.*

Who needs health when you know of the blessings promised by the resurrection 

Justice was after. The process continued. 

*I stayed silent.*

How can we even pretend to exercise or obtain justice when there is only one who can rightfully administer it?





And then it came. 





Faith. 





The bidding started at 50. I instantly shouted 60, although ready to bid everything I had, when I heard a piercing "120."


I turned around and saw Hala, this sweet catholic girl that joins me for Taize service every night at the chapel, with every fake frank she had high in the air. 


The auctioneer started the countdown. 


GOING ONCE

I desperately racked my brain for a solution 

GOING TWICE

I looked at my neighbors with pleading eyes. 

GOING THREE TIMES

I frantically asked if I could use real franks
My request was denied. In their eyes it was just a game. 


SOLD. To Hala, for 120. 

Aka. Not me.



Everyone clapped with lightheartedness.









My heart sunk. 







I knew it was just a game but I couldn't help to sit there and ask myself, what now?

I JUST concluded that I didn't need to know who I was because I knew who He was. 

And now according to this imaginary game, I didn't know who He was anymore either. 




Yes. It was just a game but still. 




What if. 




What if I didn't have my faith?
What if I didn't know Christ?
What if I had no knowledge or understanding of the atonement? 
What if I had never felt the love of God?
What if this life was it?
What if there was no purpose?
What if there was no plan?


I always knew that my faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel guided me but in that moment I realised that it is so much more.


As I took my current standing in the pretend auction way more seriously than intended, I experienced total identity crisis.


Everything I am, everything I have done, everything I aspire for is both directed and fueled by my faith.




And to take that away, I am nothing.



This life would be nothing. 



Suffering would have no purpose, pain would have no cure, love would have no author, hope would have no point. 


BUT...


(And thank God Almighty for this but)



.....Because of Him....

(TBT to Easter circa 2014 as Sister G)




I am something. 



And this life?



This life is something.



And how grateful I am for that. 


Because of Him 


Suffering does have a purpose
Pain does have a cure
Love does an an author 
Hope does have a point



And the beauty of those facts, mixed in with a little bit of swiss chocolate was all I needed to stop the tears. 


I may struggle with exercising it sometimes but I am so grateful for faith. 


Even more so, 

I'm grateful for my faith. 


Which fills my soul and makes me whole. 


(sometimes my rhyme is so good I can't help but to consider a career as a Christian Rapper)



God lives and He is good
xoxo
-B

Monday, June 29, 2015

Qs & As

There are a lot of questions that run through my head 

every day
every hour
every minute
every second 

All different kinds of questions 

What's for breakfast?
Where's my phone at?
Am I really going to by this shag coat when its 100 degrees out just because it's 80% off?
Do I really need another bowl of cereal? 
How are we still questioning the existence of global warming?
Would I get shot on campus for asking that question out loud? 
How much longer can I get away with not washing my hair? 
Should I tell him that his zipper is down? 

Ever since I got to Caux, there's been a lot of time for self reflection 

And in turn more time for more questions

But different kinds of questions 
One's that have nothing to do with food, clothes, hogwarts, emma watson, or school 

Have I truly forgiven every single person that I have ever been offended by?
How can I expect forgiveness myself when I deny others of that same mercy?
Do I even have the right to think that forgiveness is something I'm entitled to give?
How do I know if I've truly had a change of heart when old habits still manifest on occasion?
What is the loving thing to do?
Am I actually using and relying on Christ's atonement?

Heavy. I know. 

I have revisited these questions every day since I've arrived 

I still don't know the answer to any of them 

So I continue forward

Crossing my fingers that an answer will come 

But there's been one a bit weightier than the rest 






Who am I? 






Do I know what I want? 
Yes. World Peace. 

Do I know what makes me happy?
Yes. To love and be loved. 

Do I know much more beyond that?
Nope.




Yesterday, I sat down and I asked myself, who are you? Really. Who is Bri? Do I actually even like the name Bri?

I must have sat in silence for at least a total of three hours throughout the day. And yet I went to bed empty handed. Still, without answers. 


Who am I? 

Who am I? 

Who am I? 

I know I am brown. I know I am of french, german, guamanian, and filipino decent, I know I love thai food. 

But what does that even MEAN? Liking thai food is not a guiding principle for life.

So how in the world am I supposed to be in the world but not of it if I can't answer these questions?

How in the WORLD am I supposed to go back to Utah in 4 weeks and not return to the person I was, when I don't know who I am now? 

how how how how HOW?

HOW, God? 



How?


The other day I went to a workshop that aimed to help you understand what kind of person you are. There were four categories. Bees. Tigers. Penguins. Squirrel. Each persona has a different need and therefore communicates accordingly. 

Bees need organisation

Tigers need an objective

Penguins need community

Squirrels need freedom and adventure 

Of course there was an in-depth psychoanalytical explanation for each but you get the point. 



After we went over each, everyone raved about how enlightened they felt. A renewed sense of confidence filled the room as each person felt like they now had a better understanding of who they were and how they operated. 


But by "each person" I mean everyone but me. 



I didn't feel like I fit into any of the categories
And so I started to thumb through the number of other personality systems I've encountered and indexed in the past. 

The Color Code
Extrovert vs. Introvert
Love Language
Type A vs Type B

This doesn't even include the 15 other categories outlined by the books that sat on our bathroom shelf for most of my life 

Still, I felt out of place 
Still, I felt confused
Still, I felt like I didn't belong

Anywhere. 


At once, I felt like I was everything and nothing


Yet still, I am something. 

But what?

What am I?

How can I fail to properly fit at least one category? 


And if I don't fit a preset category HOW am I supposed to guide myself through this life without constantly falling victim to the winds and storms of this world or navigate myself from dangerous storms to calm waters? 


HOW?
HOW?
HOWWW?


And then a scripture popped into my head. 

Mosiah 4:9

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both n heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. 

And then I thought about how I don't just believe these things.


i KNOW these things. 


And theeeeen it hit me. 


It's OKAY if I don't know who I am. 







It's okay. 






Because I cannot comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. Me, and my puny human brain with only 20 years of life experience, most of which was spent being a rotten self centered child, cannot comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. 

I cannot see what the Lord sees. I cannot understand what the Lord understands.

But that doesn't mean that He neither sees nor understands. 

He sees it all. He understands it all. And although I do not, He knows who I am. 

He knows who I am, He knows who I was, and He knows who I can be. 


And that is all that matters. 


That's it. 


I don't need to know those things in order to move on. I don't need to know those things to follow Him. I don't need to know those things to believe in Him. 

Nothing I am, was, or could be has any impact on who He is, all that He has done, and what He has asked me to do. 


Whether or not I ever know if I'm a bee, tiger, penguin, or squirrel I can still follow Him. I can still love Him. 

And the beautiful thing is that  as I strive to become like Him, and continue to invest my trust in Him,  I too, will one day know. 


And considering that light comes over time, that day will hopefully come sooner than later. 



But until then I will continue to invest my trust in Him and take in as much of this clean swiss air as I possible can. 



God lives and He is good
xoxo
-B