Don’t Wait to be Happy

Not too long ago, I found myself a complete and utter failure down in the depths of despair. Being abroad had done a number on my body and my soul. And, as I began looking for internships to apply to, I realized that my once flawless transcript had become something that I was less than proud to call mine. I found myself on a college campus with no idea who I was and beyond that, I was more or less utterly alone. To summarize, I was a self-pitying, depressed pile of poop.

Now because I was still on a positivity kick blah blahblah. Here’s what I told myself. In fact, this is what I wrote on tumblr:

I keep thinking that because i’m a failure today, i’m going to continue being a failure for the rest of my life. but then i remember how much has changed over the past year. How much i’ve changed. And i have a little sliver of hope, that maybe if i start changing things little by little in the right direction, in a year or two from now, i’ll be a completely different person. but this time it’ll be for the better. Who i am now isn’t who i’m going to be forever.

So basically, its okay to feel negatively about myself because one day, I’m not going to be this person anymore. And that’s the problem. Why wait for the future? I feel like we do so much of that. I will be happy when I get into college. I will be happy when I graduate and get a job. I will be happy when I lose 10 pounds. I will be happy when I get married and have children. I will be happy when I retire and have all the time in the world.

Looking back, I have rarely ever been satisfied or happy with where I was. Sometimes for a brief moment or two. Like the day I returned from Japan, proud of what I had accomplished and delighted to finally have a bed and my own room and functional legs. But this satisfaction never lasts. I am always left wanting more.

But I have discovered that there can be positivity in every moment, but sometimes it is harder to find than others. Take right now for instance. I wouldn’t say my life is particularly in order. And if asked, I could list infinite things that I are horrible right now. I feel more alone now than I’ve ever been before, but its also hard to say for certain. It’s easy to be negative, to pinpoint things that you wish could improve even if you believe that they will. But that doesn’t really do any good. Instead, I choose to breathe, take my stress in stride, be proud who I am. It doesn’t mean I can’t look to the future. It just means that I can also look to the now and be happy with where I am on my journey.

I’m writing this because I often see posts where people talk about how their lives are going fantastically now: they are married, expecting their first child, and have their dream job, when only five years ago, they were severely depressed and self-harming. And these posts are wonderful no doubt, they give people hope, hope to keep living because of the prospect of such a future. But it doesn’t address the depression that people are in now. The depression that sucks someone in because their life actually is in shambles, because they feel alone and abandoned and like a complete failure. And I wish someone had told me that none of these things make you a failure. That everybody experiences these feelings no matter how complete they look on the outside. And that you don’t have to wait for things on the outside to get better in order to be happy on the inside. Because these things do not make a person a failure, it makes them human, a little too human.

I know this isn’t really a complete thought because I’m still learning myself how to be happy with who I am right now. But its just a thought. Yes, things will get better. But that doesn’t mean that things right now are bad. You are not a failure. You are a success for living and for being brave enough to keep going.

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The Road Back Home

Wow. It’s been a month since I’ve reentered the real world now. Or maybe the real world is where I was before. It’s hard to say. I have a bed now, my own room, my laptop, my comfort foods, and lots and lots and lots of work. It was strange taking a break from Williams. I was anxious that when I got back, I wouldn’t be able to handle being back on campus. And in some ways I was right, but on the other hand, things aren’t going so badly.

I’ve started to notice things. Bits of consciousness and awareness here and there. It’s been helpful in a way. When I was gone, I spent a long time away from a lot of the worries that plagued me a year ago. Coming back to Williams, I found myself swarmed by little tiny worries and the first week was rough. But I’ve started to tackle them one by one and I’ve gained some confidence in myself.

That new year’s resolution? I’m not so far off. I’ve gotten at least 7 hours of sleep a night, I’ve started most of my work ahead of time, I’ve pushed myself to do things even though they made me anxious, but I’ve also taken time off just for myself. And now I actually look forward to going to class. That’s honestly never happened to me before. Writing this stuff down, I guess I could say I’m pretty proud of myself. Because it took a lot for me to get here. I’ve learned to appreciate simple things here because of how things were abroad. And my first few weeks back were excruciatingly painful. I couldn’t focus in class, I felt like a completely unaccomplished failure and I told myself that every day. I griped about the shitty circumstances of my life and cried every night.

I still have bad moments, at least once a day, particularly after the sun goes down. And of course I haven’t hit the bad part of the semester yet. The stormcloud is lying just ahead. But for now, I’m keeping busy, trying not to think to much, and staying positive.

Yeah, I guess that’s it.

When I’m sad…

When I’m sad, I try to remember all the awesome experiences that still lie ahead of me. They might not last very long, they might just be one fleeting moment, but I take comfort in the fact that they are there, waiting for me to stumble on that moment. They are little presents waiting to be unwrapped. And I become the child waiting anxiously for Christmas Day.

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Cherish The Good Times

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I get really nostalgic at night. During that hour that I can’t fall asleep, my mind manages to cycle through every possible thought that will make me as sad as possible. It got me thinking Maybe, just maybe, life is designed to make us miserable. Personally, I have two sets of memories, the sad memories and the happy memories. (My neutral memories tend to end up not being that memorable for me). So I remember my sad memories, I think about how awful they made me feel and these emotions come rushing back, making me as miserable as ever. Then the happy memories start floating around. I think about how great they are. And then immediately, I become more depressed then ever, thinking Wow, the best moments of my life were right there. Now they’re over. Nothing like that will ever happen again.

When something like that happens, I get in my “stay in the present mindset”. People always tell you to live in the present right? Because its not worth it to dwell on the past or worry about the future. I try my best to shove down all those memories. I try to forget because it hurts too much to remember knowing that they’ll never be back. But as I was lying in bed last night trying to crush all these memories, I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. Honestly, life isn’t designed to make us miserable. I know it because there are so many positive people out there, people that have been through horrible experiences and manage to still keep their head held high.

And I thought. No, I’m going to cherish these happy memories. Because they’re mine and no one can take that away from me. And I feel like in that moment a weight was lifted. There’s no need to push away wonderful happy memories because its too painful to remember them. Instead, I’m going to tuck them away in that album in my brain. I’m no longer going to feel guilty for remembering something that made me happy. I’m going to take them out for walks in my mind and cherish the delightful emotions associated with them. I’m not gonna pretend that they weren’t great because they truly were. And so from now on, I’m going to focus on that. I’m going to be thankful for the fact that I was able to experience something so wonderful, I’m going to stop mourning their loss, I’m going to stop trying to recreate the memory because life doesn’t work that way. The best little surprises are the ones that you don’t expect. No matter how hard you try, you can’t capture the perfect view on your camera. You can’t replicate the scene. But you can seize the moment, pocket the happiness, and just be grateful.

10 Steps for Fighting Harmful Behaviors and Getting Over Addiction

It was such a simple move, but simply acknowledging my addiction has changed my personal outlook quite dramatically. It has helped me understand why I do some of the things I do and how to consciously make a decision to stop reverting to all these things that end up harming me in the end. Nevertheless, I am a plan it out kind of gal, and I feel like writing down a plan will make me more accountable to myself. So here are my 10 steps for fighting harmful behaviors and getting over addiction:

 

1. Pinpoint actions and behaviors that you turn to when you stressed, depressed, or in a generally negative state of mind.

2. Answer these questions: Does this make me feel better in the short term? Does it have harmful long-term consequences? Am I becoming dependent on this? Do I know how to cope with my stress without this? And finally, am I addicted?

3. Acknowledge the addiction and make a conscious decision to get over it.

4. Make a list of reasons why it is harmful. How is it affecting your life in a negative way? Reinforce your reasons for quitting so that when you start to relapse, you remember why you committed in the first place. Write these reasons down and keep them accessible.

5. Make a list of your triggers so you are aware of when you are most vulnerable and when it is most important to steer clear of your addiction.

6. Find a hobby, or a make list of activities to fill your time with instead. Personally, I am trying to start meditating more regularly. I’ve also been practicing piano much more, as creating music is something that builds my confidence and allows me to be comfortable with myself. Going for a walk or listening to music are also great activities. Something my therapist suggested, but I’ve only tried once is listening to an audiotape to keep thoughts from going astray.

7. Reward yourself! (Albeit not by giving in to your addiction) Treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant or buy yourself something nice. Set personal goals for your addiction, be it number of days, weeks or months, and when you fulfill these goals, give yourself a little something.

8. Get in touch with your feelings. A large part of meditation is understanding your emotions and mental states. When you are sad, acknowledge your sadness and try to understand what it is that is making you feel this way. By becoming more aware of what is going on within you, these emotions have less control over your actions.

9. If you have a relapse, don’t give up. Acknowledge that relapse is natural and happens to the best of us. It is not a setback. It is simply a reminder of how difficult recovery is and how strong you are for having come this far. Keep chugging forward.

10. Celebrate yourself. Acknowledge the little victories. Did you get out of bed today? Did you smile at least once? Did you make someone else smile? Did you check off something on your neverending list of tasks? Did you fight off an urge? Did you remember to celebrate yourself?

Metta.

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It’s Okay.

It’s okay to feel
To cry when it hurts too much
To scream when your heart feels ready to burst
Or to just sit.
Quietly.

It’s okay to take that wall down
That wall with all those holes
Even though you’re the only one that can see them
And you wish that if only you ignored them long enough
They would just magically disappear.

It’s okay if sometimes the world feels like too much
And you just can’t hold it back anymore
And you have to let go.

It’s okay.

Take your time.
Everything will still be waiting for you when you’re ready to come back
Even if it takes a day.

A week.

A month.

A year.

Your life belongs to you.
You alone define your happiness.
So don’t be afraid to love yourself.

And it’s always okay to not be okay.