When I was in elementary school, I desperately wanted to learn how to play an instrument. My best friend at the time played the piano, and I watched her after class, yearning to also be someone who creates such wonderful music. My parents set up an audition at a music school. The audition required a singing performance in addition to some basic piano drills. I practiced my favorite song for weeks. When I performed it at the audition, I was so proud of myself. The teacher told me that I had no ear for music, and there was no place for me at the school. So it goes. The lesson I learned from this experience is as follows: I have no talent for music. Hard word didn’t make up for the fact that I have no talent. Therefore, hard work is pointless shenanigans. I have made this conclusion time and time again, but I’m wrong.
A presence of talent does not guarantee a life without failure, no matter how immense the talent is. Failure isn’t a signal from the universe to stop trying. The opposite of the previous two sentiments could be made into a mantra that has defined the past decade of my life. Well, it’s time for me to call bullshit on my mantra.
Matt has been attempting to teach me for three years that hard work and talent aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m a person who’s both lazy and unmotivated, and extremely talented, so this has been fairly difficult. We butt heads. Matt has been relentless in his refusal to give up on me, despite the great number of times that I’ve given up on myself. In the season of giving thanks, I’m pretty lucky to have a friend who’s so damn pushy.
I started writing fiction in 2nd grade. It started with a class assignment, but once I caught the writing bug – I didn’t stop. In 7th grade, I filled up three composition notebooks with a long and complex novel about my peers. It was a hilarious tale of adventure, that made its rounds through the whole seventh grade class, and I’m a little sad that I don’t have a copy of it. In high school, I started writing poetry. I wrote a lot of it, and most of it was pretty good. I didn’t edit my work. I wrote, got praised, wrote again, and stopped writing when it stopped being fun.
It stopped being fun when I convinced myself that I have no talent. Well, the truth is – I just don’t work hard enough. The amount of raw talent I have is both immeasurable and irrelevant. My work is brilliant (though frequently unpolished), and I’m just lazy. And since I don’t like being lazy, I make excuses. I firmly embrace that I’m just not that talented (smart/funny/pretty/whatever) and stop pushing to create entirely. This is not a solution, and never has been anything but a temporary band-aid. When I get sad about not having enough talent, I go into the same routine every time. I cry to the nearest family member/friend and I create a bottomless pit of despair all around me. “I want to write, really I do,” I say, “but I’m just not talented enough.” Matt is the only (living) person in my life who has called me out on the bullshit of my pity party song.
Now that I’m finally listening, I wonder what the future will bring. If I admit the new found desire to work hard so loudly and in front of the whole internet, I might be too ashamed to get lazy.
So, there I was – in the middle of my semi-triumphant continuous process of returning to running. I was mentally high fiving myself for finally booking an appointment with a mental health professional. The high fives were momentarily interrupted with fear and judgment. Fear and judgment weigh pretty heavily on my mind these days. Then, one of my favorite songs came on, and I zoned out to the music, feet pounding proudly against the pavement, sweat sliding in buckets down my skin. And I said to myself, “I will not allow fear to block my relentless pursuit of happiness.” Sometimes, I talk like a yoga calendar. Just then, a gardener in sweat pants with fantastic hair began to frantically wave me down. I paused my steps, and look one ear bud out of my ear, and she said, “You’re doing a great job. I know this is hard, but you are doing a really good job.” I smiled and thanked her, tuning back into my music and running further ahead. Gratitude overwhelmed me. Once in a while, we all hope that the universe sends out a sign that just says that we’re doing okay. Thanks, universe – I heard you loud and clear today.
Sometimes, I feel like a wounded bird. My hero complex enabled friends gather around me, trying to rescue me. There are a lot of science and logic driven people in my life. There are people who like to solve puzzles; who love me and who are desperate to help. There’s a communal feeling that if someone just finds the right cardboard box, the right blankets to gather around me, the right food to feed me – then, my wounds will slowly begin to heal. If love and support could cure depression, I wouldn’t be in this situation.
You have to understand two things. First of all, there is no manual. I can’t give you the rules for how to deal with me, how to help me. I can’t tell you what you can do to make things better. I just don’t know the answers to those questions. Alex and I have been navigating the rough waters of my mental struggles for three years. Alex has been trying to convince me to see a therapist for three years. I have been avoiding conversations about my mental health and stability, and my happiness, for three years. My depression and anxiety have been around for so long that they’ve become an integral part of my identity. I have felt like I’m not crazy enough to be getting help and treatment. I’ve felt guilty for being sad despite all the happiness that is in my life. I’ve felt frustrated and alone. I haven’t wanted to impose on my friends by sharing my struggles. I haven’t wanted to get help because I haven’t been sure that I deserve it. All of this is coming out and it’s big news – but you have to remember that this is not new to me. It’s just that, more so than ever – I have the feeling that I’m just not going to solve this on my own.
Secondly, you have to understand that I don’t share my struggles with other people. I deal with my problems alone, at my own pace. I never tell people when I’m mad at them. I don’t share when someone’s hurt me. I don’t ask for help or solutions with my problems. If I’m talking to you about how you hurt me, the pain is already gone. If I’m trying to get the answer to a problem, I’ve already got the solution sheet behind my back. After the problem has been dealt with, I begin to open up. I talk about past experiences with vulnerability – I don’t reveal the ongoing struggles. I’m breaking this pattern because I think that I could benefit from help. I’m breaking this pattern because I think that I’m getting better; but I also don’t think that I’m equipped to deal with this alone.
My point here is this: I’m not at my rock bottom. I’m not drowning. I see a way out, and I’m headed in the right direction. I’m asking for help with recovery; but the process to recovery is a journey that has already begun.
Hypothesis: I spent entirely too much time on the internet. Confession: sometimes, I don’t do anything after work but goof around online. This can be up to three hours of goofing. I think that my internet usage cuts into my social interactions and my opportunities for personal growth. I believe that if I give up the internet for a month, I will explore possibilities beyond the world wide web.
Self Proposed Experiment: I will cut out the word wide web for thirty days. The whole 30 was an eye opening experience, and I think that experience will translate into giving up the internet. I won’t go online, on my computer at home (or at work) and I won’t use the browser on my phone. Since all rules have exceptions, here are mine.
- Yoga Glo: It’s a website with yoga videos.
- Bank of America & American Express: Home Budgeting Needs
- Gmail: Social Interaction, relationship building, yoga networking. All subscriptions through email will be removed.
- Pandora: It’s just music.
Fears: I think that I’ll be super bored and frustrated for a while. My candy crush cravings will be at an all time high. I’ll struggle with relaxing without killing some time on buzzfeed, and I’ll have a hard time at work between tasks.
Hopes: I think that my mornings will be more productive. I also believe that I’ll be more productive at work, and therefore more satisfied with my job. I think I’ll create more. Write, draw, cook – I think I’ll find more time for those things. I think that I’ll work out with greater consistency, increase my meditation practice, and read more books.
This starts tomorrow. I’m ready and terrified. I’m open to emails and queries at email@example.com. I’ll miss you, internet.
In my pursuit of happiness through lists, I practiced yin yoga last night before I went to bed. It felt really good to stretch out for thirty minutes, and I felt absolutely zen when I went to bed. Yin yoga is magically soothing. This morning, I woke up with the desire for more yoga – so I did some vigorous fun vinyasas, and I meditated for five minutes. It was a great way to start the day, and I will try it more often. Happiness, like depression, works in cycles. The cycle is hard to build, but I’m actively working on it.
I’ve had a cold all this week, which means that I was sick and now I’m getting better. When my parents/sister ask me how I’m feeling, I can easily capture the symptoms and define how I’m feeling based on the absence of symptoms. My nose is less stuffy, my throat doesn’t hurt, my fever is down… my cold is better. When people offer support and ask how I’m doing in regards to the mental stuff I posted about, my answer is much harder to form. Yes, I feel better. Today, I woke up more happy, and less suicidal. Today, I was able to find my breath and my ability to be grateful for life. Tomorrow might not be so easy. I can’t say with certainty what the future will bring. The symptoms are ongoing and unpredictable.
I have been feeling immensely appreciative of all the support I’ve received. I’m trying to swallow and ignore the feelings of guilt (I always feel guilty and undeserving when there’s too much love directed at me), and ride through the feelings of joy. It’s incredibly unlonelifying (sure, that’s the best word for that) to have the love of friends and family. It feels good to sweep up everyone I love onto the roller coaster that I’m going through, knowing that it’s going to be bumpy and terrifying – but I’m not alone.