Tag Archives: self-help

Inevitable Lessons of Being A Sad Girl

Life is crazy. No surprise there.
It’s unpredictable.
It’s hectic.
It’s all types of fucked up and all kinds of beautiful.

Most of all, it always moves forward. Luckily for me, much of the momentum that pushed me through this past year and a half had comprised of bouts of sadness so deep, it scared me. It felt inescapable and unmanageable. With my graduation date quickly approaching, I constantly worried about the future: where I would be, what I would do afterwards, where I would work, and mostly how I would pay for myself once I became independent? How could I make something of myself if I was too afraid to take the risk of following my passion for writing? I was stressed and sad and angry that I didn’t have the answers so all I did was remain stagnant in my position. And because of that I felt I had no purpose. I was pushing against a rock I couldn’t move.

Without going into too much detail, much of the depression that I experienced was also a product of internal issues (self-confidence, stress, anxiety, uncertainty, etc.) along with a few other moving and unpleasant events that were outside of my control, but manageable had I simply approached the situation better (failed and strained relationships with friends, family, and lovers). I had harbored and nurtured these problems with negativity and worry and this reflected in my work ethic, my social circles, and my daily interactions with other people. I was easy to anger, to irritate. I pulled away from many people, and procrastinated at every opportunity. Most damaging of all, I convinced myself that I deserved to feel this way– to hate myself for having no “real” excuse for being sad, but still being so anyway.

But I look back at those dark moments in time, even with the happy days in mind, and cannot think of anything I could be more grateful for. I mean that with the utmost sincerity.

You may be wondering why I would be praising something many would consider a misfortune. Why would I be happy to have been sad? I realize that may seem odd and perhaps offensive to some who have been clinically diagnosed with depression or mental illness. That is not my intention at all. But it is because of that deep depression that I have come to learn more about growth and happiness, and most importantly, myself.

Now, I am not a guru of life. I don’t have all the secrets of the world nor do I wish to. These lessons I’ve learned have not automatically brought me to a realm of absolute happiness. But I have learned that “happiness” as a perpetual state of being is not possible, nor should it be. I don’t say this because I am a pessimist, but because I’ve come to understand that the goal of life isn’t about finding absolute bliss for the rest of our days.
It’s about living.
And to be alive is to know pain and hardship and heartbreak and love and laughter and moments of joy so profound it’s impossible not to believe in something greater. It’s about trying to understand world and coming to terms with the fact that we never truly will. To be alive is to live in a paradox.

This leads me to

Lesson One:  Let go of the need for happiness. 
I read a quote once and though I am unable to relay it verbatim, it went along these lines: If you forbid yourself to be sad because there are others who suffer more, then you cannot allow yourself to be happy because there are many who are happier than you.

I spent many months being upset– mostly at myself.There was so much guilt whenever I felt sad or angry, because every night I took a step back and thought to myself: What do I really have to be sad about when I have supportive family and friends, food on the table, shelter over my head, and a stable education? If I started to feel sad I’d instantly beat myself up for looking at the world so negatively. I forced myself to be positive and would get upset when I couldn’t be. How could I when I would constantly meet and interact with people who suffered more tangible worries than I could even imagine?

But I had to learn that feeling completely out of sorts with the world and with myself is an inevitable part of living. Feeling guilty for natural, valid, and uncontrollable emotions is unproductive and unreasonable.

IT’S OKAY TO BE SAD SOMETIMES.

To be in a spectrum of emotion is to be whole. No matter my economic circumstance, my personal situation, my work or school life– be it in a terrible state or a great one– I learned that it’s okay to feel. To live. It was time to stop being so hard on myself for being human.

Lesson Two: Only I am responsible.
My parents, my friends, and my environment have all shaped me. Yet my mold isn’t merely governed by these outside forces. It’s subject to internal movement: my thoughts, my goals, my emotions. Every inch of my mind. The world I live in and how I choose to perceive it is up to me and whatever comes of that is my responsibility.

I worry about what’s to come constantly. I have no idea what will become of my life in ten years or five or even two weeks. What if someone I love dies? What if something comes around and completely throws me off my path and sets me back? What if I can’t get a job after I graduate? This anxiety only fueled what had already been a chaotic mind.

What I had to understand is that outside forces beyond my control will always be there, but to place blame on the state of my life on anyone other than myself is to disregard my ability to rebuild myself and grow from hardship. If someone pushed me down and I stay there, that is my full and conscious decision. Instead of blaming the world for placing a rock in my path, I learned to break down that rock into fragments so fine it would be unrecognizable. Weather it down with water and knead it until it became clay. Then mold that obstacle into whatever I chose. Because only I am responsible for it.

Lesson Three: It’s all about balance.
I remember a time where the playgrounds I once frequented had thin metal beams that I would walk with precarious steps. And I remember the time my friends had dared me to run across the beam without falling down.

I failed.

That experience taught me two things.

1. Balance is crucial.
2. I have to walk before I can run.

This past year I had to relearn these lessons. I reached my capacity for stress, but continued to add things that only pushed me even further past my limit. I overloaded on classes, work, and extracurricular activities and let my work pile up. And when I would silently crumble under the pressure, I’d beat myself up for not being able to handle the stress. I expected so much from myself for no other reason than I wanted to be better and I wanted that now. But rather than benefit me, it only weakened my resolve. I placed my goals on the foreground and pushed my mental health in the background not knowing that there was space for both in the front. Here I was walking on a metaphorical beam of life, holding a feather in my left hand with a ton of bricks weighing down on my right. How could I have possibly stayed balanced?

What I learned from falling too far over the edge is that I didn’t have to carry a huge weight on my shoulder in order to make something of myself. Most of all, I didn’t need to do any of that now. I was trying to fly through the stages of life, but I had no idea what I was rushing for. Maybe I had been in a silent competition with those my age who already seemed to have it all figured out. Whatever the reason, I have come to determination that when I reach my goals, I will go into them with a clear and balanced mind.

Much of what I’ve presented so far may seem preachy coming from a young adult who still has so much left to experience. I have no idea if I’ll come back to this and find that all I’ve written contradicts what I will learn in the following years. Or maybe I won’t.

I don’t really know and that’s okay.
I can’t unpack the entire world in only 21 years.
And you know what?

That’s okay too.

2017 Was Dramatic AF: A watered down reflection of my year and maybe some insight (but probably not)

Hey! It’s me. Coming at ya with another grossly overdone post about making the new year one of dramatic transformation that’ll probably only last a month. I’ve always despised these types of posts because I usually found them to be overly pretentious. Self-improvement shouldn’t come at the beginning of a new year. We don’t have to wait for January 1st to start going to the gym. We don’t need to wait till Monday to start drinking 2L of water everyday. Becoming a better version of ourselves should be a continual process. But whatever. We’re already here, so just pile me in with all those other unoriginal posts. 

2017 has been a year full of growth and revelations. Which really doesn’t make it all that special because my dramatic ass has been “coming to realizations” every other month. My life is really just one existential crises after the other.

I’ve never been one to follow a routine. Most of my life, even up till now, has been me winging it and just making it to the deadline. Although that hasn’t done anything overly damaging to my social circles, my work life, or my academic career, this way of living isn’t all that fulfilling.

I noticed that by me procrastinating all the damn time, that I got so used to the stress and headache of deadlines that I didn’t feel normal without it. I convinced myself that that’s just how I am and that’s how I work best. But after years and years and years of living with this mentality, I finally just admitted to myself that I was only making excuses.

I felt lost and stuck because I didn’t know where to go or if I was even going anywhere. I didn’t challenge myself enough to actually work towards something. I simply followed my syllabi, centered my life around my work schedule and the agendas my professors created for me and realized other people were creating the ins and outs of my daily life.

One of my favorite authors once claimed: 

“The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

That’s what my life had come to. I followed the patterns others had set out for me because I was too lazy, too undisciplined, and too unbothered to come up with one my own. I became a passive participant in my own world.

To overcompensate for this, I began doing the things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them and did the things I needed to do only when I had no other option. Almost all of my time was me playing catch-up with papers and readings and somehow still doing pretty well in the end. But the means to getting there was filled with stress and depression and an overall lack of satisfaction. I prioritized “fun” over work because I convinced myself that my “mental well-being” was just as important when in actuality, I was just using it as an excuse to mess around. In hindsight, if I had just prioritized what needed to be accomplished, I would’ve had a much better time doing the things I wanted to do because I wouldn’t have had anything in the back of my mind causing me to worry.

I’m graduating in 5months (fingers crossed) and I’ve been clouded by the shadow of impending adulthood and afraid of what’s to come. I ask myself constantly, “Well, what do you want to do and how are you going to achieve it?” This lead to me overanalyzing my process to success. I started to see that my stress and lack of happiness with school, work, and, ultimately, myself was due to my lack of discipline.

But that just so happens to be one of the hardest things to master.

Why would I want to write a critical analysis paper when I can just go on Twitter and laugh at things infinitely more enjoyable?

Why do I want to save money when I can buy a movie ticket instead?

Why would I wake up at 6 am if my class doesn’t start until 11?

If I cut out breakfast, I could have more time to sleep in.

I lacked discipline. And discipline, in my belief, is at the core of all achievements.

I know this.

But one of the oddest facets of my mentality, and perhaps many others, is that I know and understand certain truths but still fail to change my behavior and my ways. I inhibit myself. This begs the question: even if I know the truth, even if I understand what it takes to feel fulfilled and satisfied and successful (whatever my definition of that term may be) what does it really take to achieve these things I want in life?

The truth as I have come to learn is that I just have to do it. Because in the end, only I am responsible for what my life has come to. Someone can sabotage me or all my work could burn down in a fire and set me back, but if I choose to stay there, that is my own conscious decision. And I’ll be damned if I let anyone, most of all myself, screw me over.

All that to say that 2018– and the years following it– will be a time of just fucking doing it. Whatever it may be.

So carry me forwards, 2018. I’m (somewhat) ready.

We Should Be More Like Butterflies

Do you ever look at a butterfly and notice its translucent wings of various hues and patterns? It flutters in the sunlight and its beauty is magnificent. We marvel at the hands of nature, so skilled and so brilliant to be able to create a creature so immaculate. Yet, when we look at a caterpillar, often times, we view it only as what it can be, not what it is. The significance of a caterpillar is not that it is a caterpillar, but that it can become a butterfly.

Such a creature is characterized most of all by its evolution, which is the epitome of profound reinvention. A caterpillar’s very being is made of billions of cells who dutifully perform every task necessary to prepare its host for the final stages of metamorphosis. It sheds its old skin, lives in a new one for a while and when it outgrows that one, it sheds again. Then when it is ready, the caterpillar hides from the world, cocoons itself in a hard casing, and forms a chrysalis. It is during this time of progression that the cells of the caterpillar start changing rapidly. It eats itself and turns to liquid inside its pupa, molding into a new form better equipped for its new life. Old, unnecessary cells make room for improved ones while the other cells that remain reshape themselves into eyes, legs, wings and antennas– all the parts necessary for its reintroduction into the world. Then once the butterfly is ready, it fights its way out of its cocoon.

It reaches the final stage of its transformation, but it is still weak. Its body is still tender from the process of its transition. There is a brief period after it first unfolds from its casing where the butterfly must stop and give itself time for blood to fill its wings.

It strengthens.

Then it flies.

No longer confined to the limits of its many legs, the butterfly explores the infinite paths of new wings.

Butterfly
A butterfly that graciously landed on me and stayed still long enough for me to take a picture.

We are, in so many ways, caterpillars crawling and consuming ceaselessly and without thought. When we reach our limit, we find ourselves at a standstill. During this time, it is easy to think we’ve reached our end and that there’s nowhere else to go. Like the cells of the caterpillar, every part of us will start to seem useless, unable to perform the tasks that were once necessary for survival and for growth. Our old cells are no longer beneficial, so we outgrow them. Thus begins our own transition where our old self forces itself into a new mold. We learn, adapt, and become better versions of who we are.

It is because we have these periods of weakness that we can achieve such strength. And just like butterflies, the lengths of our transitions vary among each one of us. While some may only take a couple weeks to transform themselves, others can take months and even years. Regardless, we are not defined by how long it may take us to escape our cocoon because we are ever-growing creatures running through an obstacle course that’s unique to us.

So when you look upon others who seem to be soaring with ease, and feelings of defeat start to consume you, remember that you are still a changing caterpillar simply growing within your chrysalis. The process of your transformation will be an arduous one. Yet, it is because of its difficulty that you will be better. You will be stronger. You will leave your cocoon with wings so radiant, you will be blinding. 

And yes. You will be magnificent.