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Learning from the past, part 1

Welcome to my first THROWBACK post from a past blog I kept. It was my digital diary, and only a few people had the link. I’ve since removed all the posts, but I intend to share some of them with you. With each post, I will also share how I have changed and, if I can, what instigated that change.

I want you to know what I’ve gone through so that if you’ve faced (or are facing) similar struggles, you know you are not alone.

I also feel no shame talking about mental health and believe it SHOULD be talked about and destigmatized. What I’ve gone through has made me who I am. Each experience is valuable!

It’s interesting for me to read back on my old posts. It helps me see how far I’ve come and which coping skills I’ve developed.

February 2012 (age 22)

As I lay here in my bed, I can't help but wonder if anyone is thinking of me right now.

I wonder why I'm so resistant to calling those I think of.

I wonder why I’m so good at dreaming but terrible at following through with those dreams.

I wonder how I can get myself out of this funk and start acting on the things I know are right.

I frequently say it's because of my environment, but I think that's just an excuse that gives me permission to continue to be lazy.

They do say, though, that happiness supports right activity. If I didn't feel lonely or unimportant or downtrodden, then I would be more inclined to want to leave my room and socialize with others.

But how do you answer the question "How are you doing?" when the answer is clearly, "Not so good"? People don't want to hear about your woes, they just want to hear, "Good, you?" and move on.

People walk on eggshells and don't want to cross any boundaries because they think there are major boundaries that can be crossed.

I don't want to be honest with people, because if I were, they might think less of me. So I hide. It's kind of a catch-22 (maybe). I hide in my room because I don't want to bother people and I don't want to burden others with my problems, but my problems come from not feeling valued from those around me.

I would probably BE more valued if I went outside and spent more time with people. I suppose it all boils down to the fact that I have motivation issues. I haven't found anything that motivates me. When I am motivated to do something, I'm not sure why or how and how to maintain that motivation. I'm perfectly content imploding upon myself, while at the same time I know that I don't like it at all.

I'm pretty sure there is no one out there who could understand what goes on in my head. I guess I'll just keep trying to figure it out?

On the plus side, I don't feel unhappy, despite my feeling those things I've said above

I believe this entry was a launching point of sorts, a realization that I no longer wanted to be someone who didn’t call people or follow through with my dreams.

I do call people from time to time now. The only reason I don’t sometimes is because I feel like people don’t enjoy talking on the phone; they’d rather text. I also make sure to reach out to people when I think about them because when people do that to me, I feel incredibly loved.

Back then, I couldn’t see that I was following my dreams. I felt trapped and like I would never amount to anything. But I was working two great student jobs, I had been photo editor of the school newspaper magazine, I had played three seasons of varsity sports, I had completed most of my required coursework for my major and minors, I managed to take several fun classes unrelated to my major, I had served in different positions on a couple of different boards on campus, and I had people who believed in me. Looking back, I was absolutely living the dream.

Okay, so the social aspect wasn’t great. I did feel very alone and excluded at times. But the isolation, though I blamed the feeling on other people, had more to do with the fact that I didn’t know myself well enough. I wasn’t able to recognize that when I’m having a problem, disagreement, or struggle, I have to run away so that I can process my emotions and return with a solution. Driving away is what specifically helps me process my emotions, but I didn’t have a car, so I drowned my emotions in milkshakes, fries, and TV.

Imagine how different my college experience would have been if I had been able to recognize that getting away would help me. Imagine if I had been inventive and imaginative when dealing with problems. My campus had over 2,000 acres of land that I could have explored to clear my head. Instead, I hid in my room. It’s fun to imagine how I might have done things differently, but honestly, I have no major regrets from college. If I was thrown back in time, I’d choose a similar path.

I appreciate every experience I had and recognize that each moment was building me into the woman I am today. And, boy, am I different. I accept my feelings. I express my feelings. I’m honest with people. I don’t hide anymore; I ask for help, love, and support when I’m curling into myself. I’ve learned that people won’t be able to understand what’s going on in my head if I don’t talk to them about it.

Developing the skills I have now took time. I’ve felt alone in almost every place I’ve lived since college. I’ve faced similar despair and depression. I got a little bit better at enjoying my own company. I started to realize—and then accepted—that what other people think about me is their problem and not mine; I don’t have to obsess over their thoughts and opinions. I started to develop humility, learning how to step away from my ego and realize that I am only the center of my own universe and no one else’s. The most important skill I’ve developed is learning how to not take others’ actions (or inactions) personally.

For example, when I text someone, I don’t expect an immediate response, because I know that people have lives and will reply when they can. If I need a quick response, I’ll call them. Instead of assuming that they’re ignoring me or are angry with me, I assume they’re busy. I used to obsess over why people didn’t text me back right away, as many people do--which is probably why I receive [unnecessarily] apologies when they don’t respond immediately.

I am, and always will be, a work in progress. I prefer it that way! And I’m grateful for how far I’ve come in six short years.

While it’s important to not dwell in the past, we can learn from our pasts through critical thinking and analyzing. It takes work and isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. And once you understand yourself, you can tap into your innate skills and start creating the life that is the best for you.

Are you working to understand who you are and what you need? Do you want to but don’t know where to start? SUBSCRIBE below to receive updates; I have big plans that I believe will be of interest to you. I’d also love to hear how you’re approaching self-discovery and/or what tools would help you on your journey. I’m eager to create!