Finding My Passion (Realizing that it was always right in front of me)

We have always been told,

“Find your passion. Live it, love it, breathe it, and spend every moment of your life cultivating it.”

And for a long time, I didn’t know what my passion was. I went down many different avenues, trying to figure it out. I thought it was the medical field, I thought it was writing. I thought it was theatre, I thought it was singing. I wandered around aimlessly, trying to conceptualize what I was most passionate about and how I could land myself in a career/life path that truly allowed me to live in that passion every single day.
I have grown, over time, increasingly frustrated, thinking,
“How on earth don’t I know what my passion is yet? How can I even go through life as a 21 year old young adult without ANY clue?”
Then, I realized that I have every clue in the world.
I have always known what I was passionate about, what has driven me.
Yet, since it was something that came so second-nature to me, I never gave it a thought.
It came so natural to me, it was so easy… that I didn’t even consider it a talent, a gift, or a passion…  I just considered it a part of my daily life. In hindsight, though… that is what a passion is, right?
I’ve figured out that my passion was right in front of me, and it has been for years. Yet, I was so busy chasing everything else to be able to reflect on what was so very obvious.
My passion is kids. Being there for kids, being a role model for kids, being with kids on a daily basis and making them smile, making them laugh, giving them a new perspective all while still allowing them to grow.
When we are asked to look for our passion, we are asked to think about what puts a smile on our faces. For me, nothing makes me smile more than knowing I have made a difference in a kid’s life, that I have made them feel a little more confident, a little more heard. Nothing makes me smile than receiving a hug from a child that I know loves me, for children know who loves them and who invests in them, and they treat those people accordingly. Children are our future, and it is our duty as the “older” ones to cultivate their dreams, show them wrong from right, and to love them unconditionally. I am not a mother, and I love children that aren’t my own with all of my heart. I cannot even begin to imagine how I will feel about my own children if I love those who are not my blood so fiercely.
I know now that the only measure of success is your happiness, for if you aren’t happy in your job but making a lot of money, are you even measuring success correctly? I consider every time a child takes something I tell them and applies it to their life a success. I consider every smile I receive from a child as a victory. I may not have a “career” with children just yet, but I have made being the best role model possible my full-time job for a long time… and that is a job I take pretty seriously.
I don’t know where this passion will lead me. I don’t know if this passion for children and being with them and helping them daily will take me down the nursing route, the children’s author route, the teacher route. Yet, now that I truly know that being around kids and making a difference in their lives is what makes me the happiest, I will take every step possible to assure that I am in a career that fosters my largest passion. 
Note that I say my largest passion.  I have many passions, many things that I love and that make me happy. Yet, my real, grand passion is children. It is important to recognize that although we may have many passions, there is usually one that surpasses the rest.
Finding your passion may seem difficult. I never thought I truly would find mine. Yet, anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about being a role model and putting a smile on a child’s face. Sometimes, our passions are what comes most natural to us. We just have to dig a little deeper and look a little harder.
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“Sometimes, life just doesn’t go as planned.”

“Sometimes, life just doesn’t go as planned.”

I said this to a little boy who means a lot to me a few weeks ago.

He wanted to do something, but due to the hecticness of our day, it just didn’t end up happening. When I said this to him, I presented it in the sense that, “yes… sometimes, life just doesn’t go according to our plan… but we always have the chance to take the new plan that we are given and make the most of it.”

He looked at me thoughtfully, said “ok”, and ended the conversation.

I didn’t know the words had any impact on him until we were sitting in his living room, and he said to his mother,

“It’s okay mom, like Liv said, sometimes life just doesn’t go as planned!” 

I smile when I think of that moment, for it is a moment where I knew I said the right thing, gave a child some life advice that they will *hopefully* remember for a while… that life doesn’t always go exactly how we want it to, but that’s okay. 

Yet, I also smile because I think of all of the things in my life that haven’t gone according to plan…and how they have ultimately been some of the best things that I have been encountered with.  I decided to write my first blog post back about this notion, for it is a notion that is so central to every person that reads my writing.

We all have a plan for our lives. Whether we shout it to the world or keep it quiet, well all have some sort of an idea, some pre-conceived notion of how we want our lives to turn out, of who we want to be there when our dreams come true. As much as ambition is great, and forward thinking is great, putting such high expectations on our lives? That isn’t so great.

When we enter this world, we aren’t given a rulebook. We aren’t given a step-by-step guide to life- there is no specific chapter on how to deal with friends, how to deal with family, how to deal with loss, love, failure. How we deal with life, how we deal with the things in life that aren’t planned… that is so crucial to our personal development.

Having a concrete plan binds us. If every aspect of our day, of our week, of our month, is planned… something goes wrong, and we go into fight mode. What on earth are we supposed to do if god forbid, the kid’s bus didn’t get here on time, if we get a flat tire, if a meeting is cancelled? When you have a concrete plan for every aspect of your life, those things can throw you off track.  Those little things, that are so minuscule in the long run, have the potential to ruin our day if we are too invested in a routine, in perfection.  Truly living in the present is loving your life and embracing all of the little things that can shift our days into a different direction with a smile and a “I can do this”. 

 

 


 

I for one thank the universe every day for giving me things that I never planned on having. There are people in my life right now that I never thought would be present. If you told me a year ago that certain people would be important to me in October 2017, I probably wouldn’t believe them. Yet, here I am, close to people I never expected to be close to, bonded to and making a difference in people’s lives that I never expected. And that is so unbelievably awesome. I never planned to have the bonds I do, and that is what makes those bonds even more special.

As much as I gained people that I never planned on gaining, I also lost people that I never planned on losing. There is pain in that, but there is also so much gratitude in that– sometimes, we plan for people to play roles in our lives for the long-haul that don’t suit them. Although we plan on some people staying forever, they don’t. Yet, there is so much power in knowing that when one door closes, another opens… and that the relationships that you least expect have the potential to be the best in your life. Not every loss is a loss. 

There are true blessings in disguise. Life not going according to plan? That offers a multitude of blessings. It offers a chance to shift our perspective.  It gives us an opportunity to cherish those near to us, for when the relationships are unexpected… they are the ones we tend to hold the tightest.

Life has a way of giving us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it… even if it isn’t a part of the “grander plan”. 

If I have learned anything in the last year, I have learned to embrace life, embrace the people you love, embrace the obstacles, embrace the fact that

“Sometimes, life just doesn’t go as planned.”

I’m back!

Hi Everyone, and Happy Tuesday!

When I started writing this blog in 2016, I envisioned keeping up with it. I really, really did. It was my true intention to keep this blog alive, to keep the dialogue active. But, of course, as it sometimes does, life got in the way.

The last time I wrote on this blog was in August of 2016. More than a year ago.  And wow… I sure did miss it. Blogging offered me an outlet, a voice, somewhere I could go to inspire people far beyond the constraints of my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds. Many of you, I only see on social media, even though I know you.

Life, again, is busy. If I can’t physically be there to inspire you in person,  I can only hope I can be there to inspire you in spirit.

Coming back to this blog has been a thought in my head for a while. I am so glad that I am finally following my gut and returning to something I love so much.

To all of the people who still follow this blog, thank you SO much! Your readership is what inspired me to keep on writing in the first place.

To all of you reading this for the first time… welcome. I can’t wait to start this journey once again with new people at my side.

 

I am so excited to blog again, and I am hoping you are excited right along with me!

 

– Olivia 

The future… A reflection. 

Hi everyone, and happy Wednesday. 


Today, I am going to talk about the future, and how much it absolutely terrifies me.
This is something I truly don’t like to talk about. I delay every conversation about it, avoiding even the thought like the plague.
It’s not healthy that I’m so afraid of something. It’s a fear that, if you asked me, I wouldn’t even know I had. My two biggest fears have always been loss and needles- and if prompted, those are the fears I have always shared.


But my fear of the future runs far deeper than that of needles or loss. I am terrified of what the future holds. This future? It could be as close as tomorrow. Yet I’m still terrified of it. Why? Well, the answer is simple.
It is completely unknown. 

No one knows what the future holds, or what kind of future they will have. That’s what terrifies me, shakes me to the very core.

The future is a little easier when you are a child. Responsibilities are slim.

The summer ends simply with just the next grade in school.

Transitioning from learning addition/subtraction to learning multiplication/division.

From kindergarten to elementary school to middle school.

Your parents can still hold your hand,  catch you when you fall. You can still escape to your room, believe in fairytales, and wake up the next day with minimal worries.

The biggest monsters are those under your bed. The biggest task is making said bed, getting good marks in school, and being kind.

You aren’t fending for yourself. Bills, a job, and long-term commitment is not only far away, it is also irrelevant.

I am not a child anymore. I am a 20 year old young woman, who will be graduating college in two years.

A job? That’s pretty relevant to me. Long-term commitment? Not so far away anymore. It doesn’t help that I’m not the biggest “college person”, that it’s just not my thing. I am not counting down the days excited to go back… I’m counting down the days, in a sense, dreading going back. I’m a homebody, who loves being close to my family. Some kids can’t wait to get out the door every August- I could wait forever. Once this year is over, I’ll only have one year left. Then, I’ll be in the real world. A world of 9-5, bills, commitment.  Commitment is a scary thing- especially for a 20-something who barely knows the meaning of the word. I used to think I knew everything. But the truth? I know nothing at all when it comes down to what it takes to be an adult. That’s what scares me so much- the unknown, the mystery, the chance that I may just not measure up to the expectations that I have for myself. But again, fears aside, summer doesn’t last forever. And in a little more than 2 weeks I have to go and face reality. And with a faithful heart, I will move forward into the future… Try and look past all negative emotions and look to the goal of success, happiness and love. 
-Olivia 

 

Sometimes, the most unexpected things change your life… A reflection on last week.

Hi everyone, and happy Thursday.

I know this is not a normal, scheduled blog post (let’s be honest though, what is scheduled anymore), but I feel as it is essential to share with you my experience this week and how it changed my life for the better.

 


 

This week, I volunteered at Camp Jinka for the second year in a row- a camp founded by my father’s good friend Judy for children who have been impacted in any way, shape, or form by brain cancer. The camp provides a safe, supportive environment for the children to heal through art and the bonds that they form. I for one can say that I never expected that Camp Jinka would change my life the way that it has.

But, that’s what is so great about life, isn’t it? The things that we don’t expect have the potential to alter our lives, forever.

You may be wondering how one week could completely alter my life. Well, let’s start with the main thing.

The people at Camp Jinka are by far the most genuine people I have ever met. 


From the minute you walk into the doors the first day to the minute you leave the last day, all you feel is support and love. The volunteers have become like family, and the campers are remarkable young men and women who have experienced hardships that I cannot even begin to fathom. Cancer is a terrible, terrible thing. It takes so much out of a person, a family, a community. When I look at these campers, all who have either lost someone close to cancer or who have had cancer themselves, I am in awe of them. They are smiling and laughing, despite all of their struggles. I can’t help but feel a bit selfish. I look at myself, with my, compared to theirs, minuscule problems. And I see my annoyance, my anger, the negative outlook I sometimes hold because, more often than not, life just isn’t fair. 

But these kids? Their lives have been more than just “not fair”. They have watched their loved ones deteriorate because of a vicious, vicious disease. They have spent more time in hospitals in their short lives, either with their loved ones because of their own situations, than I have in 20 years. They are tough. They are the definition of tough, resilient, kindhearted young men and women. They have taken hardships on with a smile… And that’s why I believe Camp Jinka was so life-changing for me. Camp Jinka showed me that even in the toughest of situations, healing is possible. Love is possible. 

Hope. Is. Possible. 

In this world, with all of the mass terrorism and injustice, we need a place like Camp Jinka. We need people like the people who go to Camp Jinka. There is something special about individuals who have gone through hardships. As one of the campers at Camp Jinka wrote on one of her art pieces, 

Cancer changes people. It sculpts us into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly, and lives more passionately” 


I would write a closing, but that sums it up perfectly. 

Hardships change people, and banding together with people who have experienced unimaginable hardships… It changes you . It makes you better. 

Let life change you. 
-Olivia 

On Faith.

Hi everyone, and happy Tuesday.

Again, I apologize for not blogging as often- life just gets in the way sometimes, especially in the summer. 

Today I want to talk about faith.

It doesn’t matter if you have a sense of spirituality or not… It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Christian, Presbyterian, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, etc… everyone has faith in something, whether it be a family member, friend, teacher… We have faith in things when we don’t believe someone/something will do any wrong by us- and if they do, that wrongdoing happened for a reason, to teach us… to enlighten us.

We have faith that somehow, that person or the situations surrounding them will not let us down.

Unfortunately, more often than not, we are mistaken.


 

I was baptized as a Roman Catholic. I went to a Catholic school through my middle and high school years. Throughout those years, I gained a strong sense of my religion and continued to strengthen my faith, willingly, beyond my confirmation . I have found through observation that not many young adults consider it “cool” to openly profess their faith… Whatever it may be. I have always been taught to express what I believe in, and express it proudly. I am very spiritual. I may not go to church every Sunday, but I believe there is a Lord up there I am supposed to be serving and I aim to do so through my character and the example that I set for the young people in my life. However, in my darkest days, I lost my faith in the Lord and stopped believing. 
Why. That’s probably what you would ask if we were talking about this in person . 

Let me explain. 
In my darkest days, when my depression and anxiety was constant and hard-hitting, I truly felt defeated. 

I couldn’t help but think, through all my pain, 

If there was a God up there who really really loved me, why is he putting me through so much? There can’t be a Lord because no Lord would put his people through such anguish. 


I became bitter. I became someone who expected the worst. I stopped praying. I stopped looking for the light. Because before the light was God, and I just wasn’t believing anymore. 
When things go wrong and dark feelings plague you, you do lose faith. You don’t always have to lose faith in a Lord. You can lose faith in the people in your life- as much as they can tell you one thing, circumstances may make you believe differently. You can lose faith in the world, you can lose faith that things will get better … I didn’t think things ever would get better .  I was in a deep depression for six years and after a while I really didn’t think God was going to help me – I didn’t think God was on my side and I thought I was going to be crippled by sadness forever. But then I came to a revelation : 

If I stop believing in happiness, in things getting better, how are they going to? They aren’t -nothing can get better if I don’t believe they will.


That’s when I realized how important my faith is to me- I let go of something extremely important to me because life wasn’t going my way and that was one of my biggest mistakes . 
Keep faith when life isn’t going your way- it could be in the Lord, in a person … Just keep it. Don’t let circumstances cloud your beliefs- let them strengthen them instead. 

Olivia 

Experiences 

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July with family and friends and had experiences and memories to last a lifetime. 

Today I wanted to talk about experiences. And how they can make or break us. 

I went on Facebook this morning and saw two college roommates posting about how much they were looking forward  to their freshman year of college together. When I saw this picture, I can admit I got a knot in my stomach I couldn’t seem to shake. I think back to two years ago, when I was in their spot. The excitement was undeniable… The anxiety was pushed to the back of my brain for a moment, and I was okay with going to college, with the next stage of my life. If I knew then what I knew now I might not have the same idea. 

Me and my roommate had a falling out in the middle of our freshman year- a pretty brutal one at that. And it taught me so much about standing up for myself and how deep my strength went. My experiences have never been “typical”. I’ve never just done something and have had it been easy. Many times, it has made me angry. I can’t help but wonder, 

“Why is everything so hard for me? Why can’t I just catch a break and have something go smoothly?” 

However, with maturity, the answer to that has come. If everything came easy for me, would I be as strong? Would I have as much drive? I don’t think I would. I pride myself on being what people would consider strong. I have so many people who look up to me, who watch me with light in their eyes and expect me to be strong, and my experiences, as hard as they may have been at the time, have allowed me to become that person, a strong person in all adversity, someone who is able to dodge life’s punches. And if I’m not able to dodge them- I am able to get up after being knocked down from them and have the strength to start again. 

When I was younger, even only two years younger, I thought my experiences were breaking me. I thought that the hardships I was enduring were meant to knock me flat on my face and to give me an ok to give up. But now I know better. I know that  my experiences have given me an ok to keep going. And that’s what experiences are meant to do- they aren’t meant to break you, they are meant to teach you. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, wipe the tears and let the lesson come. 
-Olivia 

Different URL, Same Blog!

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I changed my blog URL from

justsomethinglikeolivia.wordpress.com

to

oliviabonevento.wordpress.com


 

The only reason I am changing my URL is that it is more accessible to readers. The blog will be easier for you to find, and that it is extremely important to me.

My readers make my blog what it is, you are the ones who keep me writing. Therefore, giving you an easier way to get to my blog is crucial.

If you click on any of my old posts, I have made sure that you will be redirected to the new URL. Everything about my blog is exactly the same, besides the domain name.

Thank you so much for remaining loyal to my blog, and I look forward to hearing more of your feedback in the future at oliviabonevento.wordpress.com!

 

Olivia 

An Open Letter To The People Who Falsely Misinterpret Depression and Anxiety

Hi there,

Depression and anxiety is a foreign concept to you… I know. For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, it’s as mysterious as a Criminal Minds episode where you just can’t figure out who the unsub is… no matter how much you wrack your brain. It doesn’t make any sense. That is how it is so similar to depression and anxiety- for someone who hasn’t felt the impacts firsthand… it can be a source of annoyance. Don’t think we don’t know that. If you walk down the block, I guarantee you at least one other person you see has a loved one with depression or has experienced it themselves. It’s hard to wrap your head around. We know that. It’s okay. 

Most people who have loved ones with depression instantly assume that if we reach out on a bad day, we want you to fix all of our problems. That isn’t the case. We just want a listener… and honestly, we don’t think that’s too much to ask.

We are just like every other person. The only thing that is different about us- we tend to feel things more intensely. We make problems a little bit bigger than they actually are. We take things very personally. If someone doesn’t text us back right away, we don’t think “oh they must be busy”. We instantly think “Does *insert name here* hate me? What did I do wrong? I bother everyone, I should just stop texting people…” And that has the potential to damage the relationships we have, even our closest ones.

We know that. It scares us. Losing people scares us just as it scares you. It is especially scary for us because of this simple concept alone:

People run away from what they don’t understand. 

People don’t want to fight for other people anymore- more often than not, if something gets too hard, they duck out. Don’t duck out on us. We need you. Knowing that we have support is what makes every day for us just a bit easier. We don’t need 24/7 reassurance… but the occasional

“I love you”

“Have a good day” “I hope you are doing well today” “Hey, just checking in on you..” 

Personally, texts like this have the ability to turn my whole entire day around. 

There is nothing more reassuring in this world than knowing someone wanted to know how you were doing… that they were thinking of you. It is more meaningful than you would think.

We all have an universal need for love in this world.

When we struggle, or are having a bad day, we aren’t looking for attention. We are looking for support. There is a big difference. 


Let me also make something very clear- 


WE ARE NOT CRAZY.

Crazy should not even be ASSOCIATED with depression or anxiety, or any type of mental illness.  When we have panic attacks, have a sudden wave of sadness… We are not being crazy. This is what God gave us- and we are doing the best that we can with it. Do not laugh at us, scowl at us. We are trying to put together the journey that God has put us on… Your ignorance only makes us doubt ourselves and who we are more – which isn’t good for anyone, yet alone someone with a mental illness. Your judgement and petty comments can sometimes roll off of people’s backs, but sometimes these comments have the ability to severely damage the way someone looks at themselves. Don’t be a contributor to a problem- be a support system, be aware and considerate with what you say- compassion goes a long way. 
Last but certainly not least- do not treat us with disrespect. We are not abnormal , and are not to be excluded of the morals that you give to other people willingly. We are not superior to you- we are your equal, and have the ability to be anything you want/need us to be if you give us the chance. 

Don’t contribute to the stigma – don’t be blind. Learn to see, to consider, to think critically about what other people may be going through. 

Think before you speak. Listen with BOTH ears. Don’t be so quick to judge. Life happens to us all in different ways, and looking past the stigmatizations and stereotypes that life so willingly encourages prevents you from being your best self. 

Be your best self. Listen, Speak, Educate. 


-Olivia

A lot can change in a year… A reflection. 

Hi everyone, and happy Wednesday. 

After doing a lot of reflecting, and since many graduations are happening or have already happened, I thought I would write about the concept of change, and how much a year can truly change someone’s life- whether it be in a small or completely altering fashion. 

If someone was to tell me this time last year that I wouldn’t be friends with *insert name here* or that I would have changed my college major, I would have laughed. Or thought they were crazy. Probably both. But the reality is… Life goes on. We change. We grow. We fall short, we make mistakes.

People I thought I would never not be friends with? Those are the ones that this year, I don’t talk to anymore. Not because there’s any bad blood. Just because life goes on. 

And that’s totally okay. If there weren’t any changes in life, we wouldn’t be able to grow to our fullest potential. Being the best people we can be would be extremely difficult. 

How have I changed in a year? How have my life circumstances changed in a year? Well, I have changed far more than I ever thought. 

Happiness has come easier to me. Happiness is no longer a struggle. It’s not something I have to fight for every single day. I could be bitter and say it’s about time I felt something that wasn’t crippling depression, but I won’t be. The last year, I have found myself. 

Sure, I have bad days. But don’t we all? I still struggle, just like everyone else. However, my struggle doesn’t run as deep. Depression is no longer my defining word. As you can see from my new logo, strength is the quality I pride myself in now. 

The people in my life? Amazing. 

I used to pick the wrong people. I was naive. I didn’t do what was right for me, I did what everyone else needed or felt was essential. It broke my spirit because I felt as unappreciated  as I could get. But now, I have found people who value me… For my kindness, my strength, my selfless nature, my compassion. They love me for who I am and there is no ulterior motive. Just unconditional love and support. I thank them. I love them with all my heart. And I assure you, if you are having a hard time finding those people in your life, it took me a very very long time to find them myself. It will happen. Just ride it out. 

One thing I have truly learned this year is that it’s okay to let people go who aren’t right for you… Sometimes there is more strength in letting go than in holding on. You don’t need people who don’t need you. 

Your path is yours. Don’t let someone else define it for you. If someone does try, they aren’t the right person for your life journey. 

A year can change so much… Even if you find it negative, try to make it positive because every change has the potential to lift you up and make you a better person. This year has set me free from so much: from toxic people, from the stress of those people, from a major that just wasn’t for me, from feelings that I never thought I would be able to shake.  

Be open to change. It might pleasantly surprise you. 
-Olivia