The Importance of Balance

Balance is so fucking important. It is one of the top three lessons I learned in 2017. Literally and figuratively, if you can’t maintain balance then you will fall apart. Even now, I need a reminder of its importance. In these past couple of weeks, balance has been the hardest thing for me to maintain. I’ve been working an average of five hours at least four times a week (realistically more because of taking on other shifts), interning for four hours three times a week, trying to maintain somewhat of a social life, volunteering with the Crisis Text Line whenever I can, and getting an adequate amount of sleep all in a 12ish hour day. Some would say, “Well you decided to do all of this, can you really complain?” Well, yes, it was my choice to take on all of these things, but that doesn’t make it any less of my reality. I still have to handle the consequences of my decisions, which were different than what I anticipated. It is too late to back out.

The thing about balance is that sometimes you can’t really tell how much is too much when you begin piling responsibilities on your plate. Lately I’ve been struggling to find balance between rest, work, and play. I thought the way I set everything up was going to be fine. But one day of with only five hours of sleep turned into a week of not getting the rest that was needed to maintain the amount of work I was doing. One week turned into two, and it wasn’t until I had to force myself to stay awake behind the wheel, or felt the urge to break down in tears at any minor inconvenience or the thought of fulfilling my responsibilities that I knew I was close to toppling over if I didn’t readjust my routine.

My struggle with balance happened to revolve around work, rest and having fun, however balance is an important quality in practically every aspect of life. Balance is so innate in the universe that nature has its own balanced system that keeps the world running smoothly. Think about the ecosystem and its predator and prey system, even the way rain works. Think about the balance between life and death and how living organisms die so others can be born. Think about how it is encouraged to have a balanced meal to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients. And how its best to balance between the positives and the negatives of life and any given situation. Too much of any one thing can do lasting damage.

Balance is like a spectrum. Understanding when you’ve gone too far in one direction and when you’re holding yourself back is vital. Balance is also like carrying a stack of building blocks. Knowing how much is too much to pile on is key. Everyone’s definition of balance is different, but it maintains the same basic and essential ideology. The most important thing is to figure out what balance looks like to you. Without first figuring out how much you can take on, without quivering under all of the weight, you risk cracking under the pressure. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back to readjust your stack or moving another way along the spectrum. It’ll be worth it to prevent yourself from crumbling.

Self-Discovery & Self-Love

The move for 2018 and beyond

If you haven’t noticed by now, I blog about my fears and insecurities. I feel like these aren’t normalized enough in our society. Most of us agree that no one’s perfect. Most people know everyone has at least one thing that they’re scared of; and at least one thing that they’d change about themselves. But when it comes down to openly sharing, few do. Internet access and social media have their negative effects, but I also feel like people don’t give it enough credit. Yes, people show off their seemingly wonderful lives, that from the outside looking in, appear to be perfect. But don’t forget when people are willing to share, large social media platforms can remind people they aren’t alone in feeling a certain way, or experiencing something that they thought no one would understand. Our fears and insecurities are closely tied to our mental health and by explaining and normalizing these ideas there is a possibility we can have a better understanding of mental health.

People underestimate the power of mental health. Any sort of nondestructive release of our pent-up emotions is beneficial. Mental health is stigmatized in such a way that some people are scared to admit when their mind seems to be working against them. You can’t move passed any mental health blocks without addressing your problems. Once you know the issues are there, finding ways to compensate and cope are the only ways to keep you sane. I share some of my fears and insecurities, because I know others can relate, have related, or will relate to them. No one should ever feel alone, especially when it comes to their deep or personal thoughts and feelings. My hope is that what I have to say will spark some motivation, hope, courage, self-love, and the like within yourself. So first I will talk about something I noticed within myself, and how it pushed me to enter a self-discovery and self-love journey, and then I’ll go over some tips to help guide you on your own journey.

Ever since I can remember, I have hated being alone. I didn’t want to stay home by myself. I rarely went out anyplace I wasn’t planning on meeting up with someone else, not even to the grocery store. I was a “pact” person. No matter if I was at summer camp, school, or volunteering, I always needed to have a friend there with me. And if I didn’t start with a friend, I would have made one by the end of the week. Within the last year or two, I realized that I had this subconscious, underlying fear of being alone. It wasn’t until recently that I recognized that I didn’t like to be alone because I wasn’t comfortable or content with myself. I didn’t know who I was without the people in my life. I was using the relationships to make me whole, without knowing that was what I was doing. I let the people around me dictate who I was. This is not to say that those relationships weren’t genuine; I’m blessed enough to have had, both in my past and present, influential and caring people. However, a lesson I learned was that, by always being herded with others and always needing someone to lean on, it meant that I would be lost when they flocked. I didn’t love or believe in myself enough to think or trust that I could stand on my own. I was wrong. If you feel this way, I guarantee that you’re wrong too.

Self-love was something that I saw being preached on my social media timelines, but I never really grasped. I saw things like, “do it because it’s fun,” “love yourself,” “learn to say no,” along with seeing people who were just so confident and sure of themselves. Nothing anyone said could phase them. Though I agreed with the messages, I couldn’t figure out how they applied to my life. I can’t explain how, I don’t know if it has to do with the challenges of the last six months, but suddenly the light clicked on and every inspirational, “cliche” self-love quote that I read, started to really resonate with me. It’s a lot like when you’re in love and all the songs start making sense, you know? I became self-aware of my past and present actions, how they were similar, and how they made me who I am. I took note of how I handled situations and why I did things the way that I did. Compliments given to me by others I finally began to see within in myself. There’s nothing like a hardship to push your limits and test you to see how much you can handle. “You learn a lot about yourself through your struggles,” is now a phrase that I completely understand and agree with. Knowing who you are as a person, without materialistic things or other people to define you, is something that seems obvious and self-explanatory, but it isn’t.  It’s something a lot of people haven’t figure out yet. Trust me.

To be honest, self-discovery and self-love wasn’t something I thought too much about until recently. Yet, I spent so much time wondering why I wasn’t growing, why I was so insecure and unsure of myself, and waiting for it all to change. This process starts with your mindset and your actions. If you’re interested in going through a self-discovery and self-love journey, I want to help with ten tips.

Tip One: Become Self-Aware. Figure Out Who You Are.

Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not like I sat in a room with a white board, connecting memories and events in my life with red string and used those to draw conclusions about myself. It’s just that once I became self-aware, living life actively instead of being stuck on autopilot, anything I did that was similar to something in my past, I naturally connected. Generally, I now know without hesitation who I am and can acknowledge both my strengths and weaknesses without fixating too much on either. Whether the qualities I found within myself are good are or bad will always be subjective, but they are some of the qualities that make me who I am, and I love all of me.

Becoming self-aware is all about asking yourself questions. It is going the extra step and explaining to yourself why you do one thing over another. It’s knowing what you like and what you don’t like and the reasoning behind it. Knowing you don’t like baseball means something different when you realize you don’t like baseball because it means investing a lot of time in something that’s not fast paced. Knowing you don’t like lemons is different than knowing you don’t like most citrus fruit. Knowing people come to you for advice is different than understanding that you’re supportive and a good listener. I’m not saying you have to look at everything that in depth, but if you never question who you are, how do you expect to know yourself? How do you expect to grow?

Tip Two: Be Unapologetically Yourself.

We’ve sort of been taught not to compliment ourselves nor put ourselves down. If I call myself beautiful, I run the risk of someone telling me I’m conceited. If I say I’m opinionated, I run the risk of someone telling me I’m too difficult. Don’t let others dictate how you feel about yourself because people will always have something to say. In people’s minds, there are qualities seen as positive and those seen as negative. But some things are just so. Being unapologetically yourself means thinking something along the lines of I am who I am. I love who I am. If one day I look in the mirror and decide I don’t like what I see anymore, I’ll change and adapt accordingly.

I’m not one hundred percent here yet, but my goal is to be so sure of myself that there is no room for doubt, no matter what anyone says. I’m working towards being so confident that I don’t feel the need to explain myself to anyone but myself because I know my truth. I won’t feel the need to convince anyone how amazing I am, because I know how amazing I am. It won’t matter how other people feel about me, because I know my own worth and making them see it, is no longer a concern of mine. Some people may think this is self-absorbing but the truth is, it’s freeing. I strive to be this free. I feel closer everyday.

Side-note: Don’t use this tip as an excuse to continue behavior you know harms yourself or others whether emotionally, physically, or mentally. A part of self love is self-reflection which gives you the space to acknowledge your own toxic tendencies. Take advantage of this self-reflection and strive to do and be better, whatever that means to you.

Tip Three: Acknowledge Your Emotions- the Good and the Bad.

There’s this misconception that “negative” emotions like anger, jealousy, and sadness should be covered up. But ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. If anything, they’ll build up until you’re overwhelmed. This build-up of emotions is essentially a build-up of pressure and eventually it will lead you to explode. During this outburst you may say or do things you wouldn’t have done if you were in a better head space to think things through more. I’ve seen people speak out of outrage or pour their hearts out just to regret everything they’ve said. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t communicate with others on how you feel. However, you should have an understanding of what you feel and why instead of blurting it all out before you’ve even confronted it yourself. Self-awareness, communication and adaptive coping mechanisms can help you deal with the way you feel.

Tip Four: Vent. Learn to Cope.

You don’t even have to vent to another person. Writing it all down helps too. Anyway you can get the words and thoughts somewhere other than your brain is the goal. Don’t keep it all in your head; you can’t cope that way, especially if your mindset and thoughts are what are hurting you. It’s important to get to the root of how you’re feeling. Venting can help you achieve this. Letting in another perspective, getting advice, hearing yourself say it out loud, and just getting the words out is beneficial in the long run. It may not be a fix, but it sure is a release. It also makes others aware of what’s going. If you want to talk but don’t want people around you to know just yet, you can also text the Crisis Text Hotline at 741-741. Along with venting, find a way to cope that works for you that’s not destructive. Leaning on your hobbies and past times is a good place to start. It’s trial and error to find a way to cope that works for you, but it’s worth it in the end.

Tip Five: Drop or Compensate for Your Stressors.

Leaving the job you hate and cutting people off isn’t ruthless. Don’t let anyone or anything guilt you into staying when you know there is no benefit and all it’s doing is stressing you out. Leaving my job was probably the best decision I made last semester and three weeks later I was offered a new one that I appreciated ten times more. Some doors really do open when you close others. Cutting ties and limiting conversations in relationships that weren’t going anywhere, that ultimately stressed more than benefited me, took so much weight off my shoulders. I didn’t realize how much they weighed me down in the first place. Not all your stressors can be dropped though; this is compensated through making time for yourself and the things you love. For example, things like classes can be out of your control, but you can compensate with that by spending time with friends, taking a hot bath, or using other healthy coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, a stress-free life is unrealistic and not everything can be changed, but balancing stress with fun or relaxation can make the stressors of life more manageable.

Tip Six: Do What You Want. Don’t Do What You Don’t.

Do what you gotta do that will make you happy, if it won’t harm anyone else or yourself. I know some activities you have to do even if you don’t want to, like working or studying, but these aren’t the types of things I’m referring to. I mean all the other activities, hobbies and events that aren’t necessary but you have piled onto your plate. For example, I joined a sorority because I wanted to. Though I wasn’t present this semester, (and was shaky on my presence spring semester for various reasons), I’ve met some amazing people who do incredible things, all while raising money for great causes. I still believe that by the time I graduate, this decision will have benefited me. It already has. I honestly doubt I would be writing this if I hadn’t joined. On the flip side, a huge chunk of my stress was from taking on too much at once, including little favors that I knew I didn’t have time for or I didn’t even want to do. Please know that generally people who get mad at you for saying no don’t respect you. Yes, it is important to be there for others, but you shouldn’t have to constantly put them above yourself, especially if they don’t do the same in return. Also, you don’t always have to justify why you do things and don’t do others. Sometimes, “I don’t want to,” or, “I want to,” are the only reasons. Don’t feel guilty for choosing yourself.

Tip Seven: Make Time for Yourself. Do the Things you Love.

Choose yourself! Treat Yo’ Self. Take a Nap. Take a Bath. Listen to music. Read a Book. Cry. Exercise. Draw. Whatever it is that you do that helps you decompress, make time for it. I know it can be hard with the constant demands of life, but even twenty minutes a week for yourself to unwind can help you feel refreshed. You are more than your responsibilities. Just as neglecting your relationships can damage them, neglecting yourself can ruin your mindset.

Tip Eight: Surround Yourself with Good People.

Humans are social by nature. Even people who claim they generally hate people have exceptions to that. Who you surround yourself with influences who you are. We subconsciously pick up on our family’s and friend’s phrases and mannerisms. Can you picture how the people in your life have affected your mindset? Did you realize that they had? When we surround ourselves with people who strive for greatness, we are more likely to be determined to do the same. Likewise, being surrounded with positive people has the potential to make you more positive, just as surrounding yourself with negative people can make you more negative. Not only that, but it’s important to have supportive people in your life who you can lean on and can remind you how great you are.  Make sure the people in your life make you feel better about yourself, not worse. Make sure that they’ll call you on your bullshit but still support most of your decisions. A good person will lift you up when you’re feeling down and encourage you to be a better you without the intention of changing you to fit their mold. Don’t mistake your wants and dreams for those around you.

Tip Nine: Take Control of Your Life. Take Accountability.

I wrote a post about this one because it’s the one I have seen the most neglected. A lot of people go through life thinking everything happens to them. This ideology can be broken down into internal locus of control and external locus of control. If you have an internal locus of control, you believe you internally have some control over yourself, environments and situations. If you have external locus of control, you believe the external world controls and acts on you, with you having no say. In psychiatry, individuals who have an external locuses of control, have more mental and physical health problems. An external locus of control includes thinking you’re unlucky, putting the blame on others, blaming the circumstances, and neglecting your own role in the situations you are in. Clearly, there are aspects of life you can’t control. You don’t choose where you were born or the financial situation you enter into. Sometimes you’re on the wrong end of bias and sometimes you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, you’re the driver not the passenger.

Take accountability. Recognize when you’ve made a mistake or negatively impacted someone’s life. Own up to your final decisions. Own up to your fears and your worries, but don’t fixate. Worries and fears are just an obstacle, not a barrier. Sometimes you have to take to a couple steps back to see the bigger picture and help yourself move forward. Own up to your accomplishments. So many people I know do great things and forget to pat themselves on the back. They forget to look at how far they’ve come. They forget all the work they pushed through to get where they are. Invest in yourself and the direction you’re going. Reinvest if it no longer interests you. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you have to go down a certain path or be a certain person. You’re not stuck. Not every single life decision you make has to make sense for your future. You may think it does but that’s something society or the way you were raised has tricked you into thinking because we are so future oriented. For example, I’m going to college because of the supposed weight a degree carries for future employment, not because I love taking classes, but I still recognize that I can have fun along the way and make the best of the situation. I can get a couple tattoo because I want them, splurge on concert tickets, and join some school organizations although they may ultimately have no obvious impact on my future. If you want to wait for things to happen, that’s cool, but you will be waiting much longer than if you grab hold of the reigns and determine your own direction.

Tip Ten: Perfection Doesn’t Exist. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.

You’re never going to be 100 % perfect. Once you stop striving for perfection I guarantee life will get easier. Perfection doesn’t even exist; it’s entirely subjective. Plus, the way people are, nothing will ever be enough. I bet if you reached your version of perfect you would still find something wrong. We’re harsher on ourselves than on other people, which is why learning to compliment ourselves can go such a long way. That being said, stop comparing yourself to others in a way that damages your own self esteem. Though we are innately similar, our experiences, genes, beliefs, and all affect the way we look, think, and cope. Some people can handle things that you can’t. Some people have better opportunities. Some people are prettier. That doesn’t make you any less of a person. That doesn’t make you any less worthy. You’ll get where you want to go as long as you’re putting in the effort. Looking around to see what everyone else is doing won’t help you get there.

Something to Remember…

A bad day or bad moment doesn’t mean you’re off track. You will probably slip up, go through a period of self-doubt, compare yourself, or not make time for yourself. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. What matters is that you’re trying and you’ll veer yourself back towards the path once you are ready.  Actively noticing you’ve gone back to an old habit you’re trying to kick means you’re on the right track. This goes back to being self-aware. Acknowledge your harmful and helpful actions. Remember, at first changing your actions and thought processes must be active decisions. You can’t will to change something or feel differently without taking the initiative to change it. This may mean stopping yourself after a negative, intrusive thought and correcting it. It might mean dropping a class, changing a major. Maybe you go out this weekend or make time for yourself to relax. Perhaps you start a journal. Whatever it is, you have to start and keep with it for it to turn into a habit.

In the words of J. Cole, “Love yourself…or nobody will.” Everyone’s guilty in looking for validation in other people, but flexing for others should not be the only or majority of the time you feel validated. Work towards being more than enough for yourself because hypothetically, as cliché as it sounds, you really only have yourself. You are the only one in your head. You are the only one experiencing your life and interpreting it the way that you are. People come and go. They say and do hurtful things. They have their own lives. If you aren’t content with yourself, it’s easier to take what people say to heart. It’s human nature to only focus on the negative and suddenly you find yourself believing you’re the worst when the reality is you’ve gone underappreciated. Don’t allow anyone to take control of you or your confidence because that means they can also take it away from you. Self-love is about getting out of your own way, getting out of your own head. It’s knowing you aren’t perfect and you’ll never be perfect, but still being content. It’s acknowledging your self-destructive behavior and working towards bettering yourself. It’s holding yourself accountable for the good and the bad. It’s knowing your worth and what you deserve and not settling for anything less.

Optimistically Realistic

My new mantra

Life has lead me to expect a version of the worst. It’s not that I consider myself pessimistic, but I can wholeheartedly say there is very little that is worse than being super excited and ending up disappointed. Or than doing all the “right” things and coming up short. Or finally getting what you want, just to have it all taken away from you. This goes hand in hand with the fact that I’m annoyingly empathetic. Sometimes I may come across as not genuine. But the more you get to know me, the more you know that I mean every single heartwarming and encouraging thing I say, even if we aren’t best friends, even if I barely know you. This empathy makes me feel the need to try and fix everything, including things and people that don’t deserve the help or aren’t ready for it. My empathy and excitability leave me heartbroken when I think I finally made it on the right track just to realize I was wrong. Unfortunately, some things can’t be fixed. Unfortunately, you don’t always get what you hope or expect.

To cope with this, my new mantra is to be optimistically realistic. Positivity does wonders for your mindset and your mental health. I’m all here for supporting, promoting, and spreading positivity. But if you’re excitable and empathetic like me, if you’ve become adjusted to things not working out no matter how hard you try, being positive all the time can lead to let down after let down. I’ve broken my own heart one too many times by being super positive without considering the possibility that things don’t work out the way we hope all the time. Eventually I learned that sometimes things don’t work out and sometimes that has nothing to do with you.

Living life is essentially a series of your responses to the shit it constantly throws your way. Sometimes it feels like one of those games where the levels get harder and harder the farther along you get. Positivity sure does make it easier to push through each level, but it also has the potential to knock you down because you weren’t being realistic, leaving you unprepared to deal with the fallout and the possibility of another hardship. This might sound cynical as hell but let me give you a hypothetical example.

Let’s assume you like long walks on beach. So, you’re walking on a beach, the sun is shining, the sound of the waves is soothing. You’re humming to your favorite song, and are now wondering how life could get any better than this. And then out of nowhere it starts raining. That’s no big deal though because you like the rain and you were feeling a little dry as it is. So, you’re singing in the rain and the further along the beach you walk, the more the wind starts to pick up. It was tolerable at first, but soon becomes a problem because now you’re freezing your ass off and the sand’s sticking to your feet. You keep pushing through, and eventually the storm passes. The waves have calmed, and the sun is shining once again. Now you’re back on cloud 9. Once again nothing can phase you. Not much time passes until it starts to storm all over again, but this time the winds are a little stronger and the rain is a little heavier. You stay positive, telling yourself it’ll be over soon, knowing your strong enough to get through it all. You were right. You get yourself through it and once again return back on cloud 9, feeling justifiably untouchable and indestructible. And then it pours for the third time! The wind is so strong you can barely move forward. Each drop dampens your clothing so it’s clinging to your skin. You’re trekking your way along this damned beach, completely soaked from head to toe, shivering from the cold winds, wondering why in the hell you didn’t invest in some rain boots and a coat after the first storm.

Let me break this down. In the metaphor, the rain boots and the raincoat serve as the realistic portion of an optimistically realistic mindset. Yes, it was your positivity that got you through the pouring rain, but by being realistic and preparing for the possibility of a storm, you’re better prepared for when the next storm hits. You are being realistic by acknowledging that rain might or will happen again. But then you ask, “what if a storm never comes? Then I’m stuck carrying around those boots and jacket, bracing myself for the worst.” I feel what you’re saying. In a way, depending on how you use it, realism can hold you back. But let’s be real. This is life we’re talking about. A hardship, similar to the storm, will come in some way, shape, or form into your life again. Life throws little challenges your way on daily basis. If you don’t notice it, you’re lucky.

By being realistic, I’m allowing myself room for the idea that not everything is sunshine and rainbows. Shit happens whether you brought it about or not. It happens even when you are a kind and innocent person who doesn’t deserve the pain life can bring. By being optimistic, I’m encouraging myself. I’m giving myself room to breathe and room to believe. Because sometimes things do work out. Sometimes you get the results you’re looking for. The problem with being overwhelmingly positive to me, is that it has the potential to take me higher and higher so that the day I get let down, I end up falling from a farther distance than I would’ve if I had thought realistically. That’s what tends to happen when you’re ridiculously excitable, reactive and empathetic. Don’t get me wrong; it is possible to reach the same levels of height by being realistic. Whether you do or don’t depends on how you use realism. See, by being optimistically realistic, I look at the whole scope of the situation instead of just what I want or hope to see. Being overwhelmingly optimistic can be blinding. Realism is my version of sunglasses.

A Simple Reminder

Honest Communication is Key

Communication is the most important aspect of any relationshipI know this is something most people know but even though it’s said often, based on my experiences and observations, I still can’t help but feel like people underestimate it. Don’t get me wrong, confrontation is hard. If I have a choice I prefer not opening up to talk about my feelings. I’d rather not point out when someone’s hurt me or makes me angry unless I know I will never be able to get over it. Most of the time I can. I’m the type of person that has to gain the nerve to speak from the heart in a face to face conversation and when I finally do, I have trouble finding the right words. Either that, or I can’t bring my thoughts to actually escape my mouth, even if I want to talk about it. Fortunately, I know why. Once you say something you can’t really take it back. Even worse you never know how they’ll respond.  More often then not people mean what they say, whether kind or disrespectful, it’s just a matter of if they meant to say it out loud, at the time, or not.  Even if you can get over someone’s harsh words, they’re hard to ignore. I avoid the drama unless I know it’ll be worth the stress. Communication is something I’m working on, especially because I learned the hard way that refusing to communicate has the potential to hurt you more than it hurts the other person.

The truth is, communication makes life easy; instead of playing guessing games, all your cards are face up on the table. So many problems are created just because no one wants to be bold enough to address them. Venting a problem is understandable but refusing to confront the people who consistently annoy you only adds more drama to your own life. If it bothers you enough to talk about it nonstop, you might as well confront the person directly, unless you’re trying to cut ties with them. That’s a whole ‘nother story. In an honest conversation you don’t have to worry about anyone bluffing. If you aren’t completely honest with your feelings, then you’re the one complicating things and potentially allowing your words to be misinterpreted. People, including me, are so afraid of being blunt, but beating around the bush also leaves more room for miscommunication. Being blunt doesn’t mean you have to be rude by the way. You can choose words that are one hundred percent open and honest, even if it is something the other does not want to hear, that aren’t unnecessarily harsh. Know that people who don’t understand your emotion-based perspective despite your explanation are most likely not trying to. Because emotions are natural, they are easy to sympathize and empathize with. Just because you understand doesn’t necessarily mean you agree.

People are egocentric in nature; it’s hard to not to be. Communicating your thoughts is so important because it serves as a release. You say what you have to say and in return get a different perspective to help you cope. Because we spend so much time thinking about ourselves and focusing on our own perspectives, we can often internalize the things people say and potentially twist them to be more detrimental than initially intended. In this way we hurt our own feelings, overanalyzing situations and taking what people say as jabs at our insecurities. I’m not saying that every mean thing said to you wasn’t meant to hurt you. People can be cruel. But sometimes people’s intentions are pure and we are the ones who misconstrue their actions or words because of our own insecurity. Being able to vocalize when someone’s words or actions hurt you can clear up any potential miscommunication. Also, no one’s a mind reader. It’s nice when people pick up on cues and know what you’re thinking or feeling before you say it out loud but it’s not fair to get upset when they don’t. Please understand there is no way for anyone to know what you don’t say. If that’s what you expect, you’re going to disappoint yourself.  Because of this, it is equally as important to reach out and check in on those you love every now and again. Not everyone is vocal; some people need a push in order to talk about what’s on their mind.

None of this applies solely to negative feelings. Feel free to compliment others. Tell those you love that you love them and why. Tell people how they’ve impacted your life, even if you think they wouldn’t care. Let them know you’re thinking about them. You only know what people tell you. Everything else is based on assumptions and observations. It can be pleasurable to know your role in other’s lives and be reminded that you are loved.

Remember, it’s just as important to listen as it is to talk. I feel like people forget communication is a two way deal. If you do all of the talking you’re alienating the other person and if you do all of the listening you’re neglecting your own thoughts and feelings. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to agree, just that you understand what they’re saying. Don’t be alarmed if the conversation ends negatively. The way someone communicates tells you a lot about them. This post going around reminded me that any relationship that ends because you expressed how you felt wasn’t destined to last. Don’t ignore the red flags people wave just because you want it to work out. If those actions continue after you’ve addressed them, then you know it is time to end the relationship, romantic or platonic. This includes having the same conversation over and over with the same exact outcome. Don’t allow yourself to be stuck in a circle. Love yourself and learn to walk away.

What are you so afraid of?

Take a Chance, Make a Change

My biggest fear is the unknown. Yea, yea, that sounds fake deep but when I looked at all the things that scared me, that made me a little bit uncomfortable, I realized that was the common denominator. I like to have an idea of what I am getting myself into before I dive into it.  I analyze all my big decisions, from every angle I can think of. Yea, I’ll wake up at three in the morning and take a spontaneous trip to LA, but no, I won’t get that tattooed on me until I’m sure I’ll want it forever.

It doesn’t help that I’m a big believer that every choice you have made so far has inevitably led you to where you are now, from the people you associate yourself with, to the job you take, to where you live. This is one of my favorite theories: the butterfly effect. It states, “small things have greater effects.” I interpret this to mean that a decision made in the past has probably led to the present. Decisions made now have the potential to eventually lead to some moment in the future. The people you meet and the opportunities you take shape who you are, how you think, and may even connect you to future opportunities. Every once in a while it makes me wonder how my life would be different if I made different decisions earlier. It scares me not knowing if my choices will lead me to where I want to go. Not only that, change terrifies me because I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy the situation I’ve put myself in and the feelings that come with it. If I can’t cope with where I am, I’m stuck until I figure out my next step.

This mindset has tricked me to stick to what I’m familiar with. It’s helpful in some ways. Generally I know what I can tolerate and what will drive me crazy so if I know I won’t like something I can avoid the bad taste in my mouth. However, this way of thinking keeps me hesitant about doing new things, even if there is a chance that I’ll love it. Staying within the safety of my comfort zone, afraid of change, makes it difficult to let things go. It keeps me stuck in amazing memories and toxic and meaningless relationships, desperately trying to recreate the feelings I associate with them. My subconscious nature of holding on to things has even led me to keep a lot of pictures, memes, sayings, and songs, so many that I forget they even exist until I finally go to delete them.

My comfort zone is a warm and fuzzy place that never fails to make me happy. Still, a point in my life came where I was annoyed with how it was going. My comfort zone got old and I needed to face what I was afraid to, something new, something I hadn’t experienced before. The easiest way to get over your fear is also the most intimidating one; just get through it. Making changes is making me better off. It made me think about how much I put up with and how much I cling to that I don’t want or deserve just because I was too scared to change something. I still love being nostalgic but I stopped letting the nostalgia keep me tied down. I stopped holding on to relationships that served my life no purpose other than happy memories, let go of grudges that were stupid in the first place, and started clearing out contacts and pictures I didn’t need anymore.

By allowing myself to move on, I allowed myself to grow. Doing things outside of your comfort zone, outside of your routine, pushes the boundaries of what you think you can and can’t do, what you think you like, and what you think you’ll hate. Doing something different and uncomfortable is scary. The future is frightening, especially with the state of our country right now, especially if you feel like you’re on the wrong path or in the wrong major. However, dwelling in the past has never and will never affect your current situation. Staying in a hostile environment and surrounding yourself with people who make you feel less than you are, just because it’s what you’re used to, will only add more stress to your life. Living with aspects of your routine that no longer satisfy you will wear you out until you forget what it is like to be excited about life instead of tired, annoyed, and afraid.

This being said, shake things up in your routine and allow yourself to move forward. Figure out, what’s hindering you. What are you so afraid of? Don’t feel bad for getting rid of wasted space by letting go of things in your life that no longer make you happy and serve a purpose. Don’t worry so much about the future that you stick with what you know instead of going after what you want. Whatever you don’t know now, eventually you’ll figure out, but it may mean taking a chance and making a change.

Insecure as Hell

A short guide to self-love

Once upon a time I was the most insecure person I knew. I saw people around me who appeared to say and do whatever they wanted without a second thought. I dreamed of that, that no matter where I was or who I was with I could speak up when I had something to say. I could go out and dance and not care about how people perceived me. I could wear clothes that I loved and do my make up how I wanted and not care because I liked it.  I thought that one day I would wake up and be confident but nothing in life works like that. Like everything else, you have to put in effort in order to see results because nothing changes unless you change it. So I did. I’m not saying I’m not insecure anymore but my confidence and self love has boosted in ways I never thought they would.

It sounds simple but nothing in life is that easy. I had to figure out what my insecurity was linked to. What I found were things I could remember from my past that manifested their way into my present, from thinking I was a cute kid to thinking I wasn’t because of my weight and never really recovering, to being told I was being too loud by my friends one too many times. This turned me into a quiet little girl with a lack of confidence. Not only did I discover this but I constantly found myself comparing myself to others, wondering what it would be like if I had a different body, if I had different personality traits, if I wore my hair a different way, if my skin looked different, etc. etc.

A lesson I learned was that I am so used to myself I never recognized the things that make me unique. I got so used to who I am, I underappreciated myself. I considered that something I hated about myself someone else wish they had. The things about myself I was used to other people may find new and beautiful. I never thought about why I did the things I did; it was just who I was. It took a while for me to understand that things I did others wouldn’t and vice versa. When people would compliment me or tell me things about myself it always made me smile but I thought they were just saying something to be nice and I couldn’t understand why in the world they would think that. People tell you a lot of positive things about yourself you can learn from you just have to take it to heart.

It’s important to know that unfortunately a lot of people are insecure about themselves, some of whom I never would’ve never guessed. You can’t always tell someone’s insecure just by looking at them. That being said it never hurts to hype people up, to compliment them on something about themselves or reach out when they make you feel a certain way. Like people say, something that doesn’t require a second thought may turn someone’s mood around, give them something beneficial to think about.

Your thoughts and your mindset can be your biggest strength or your biggest weakness. You have to catch yourself when you think something bad about yourself. You’re the only inside your head; you’re the only one who can stop yourself and turn the thought around before you start to take it seriously. Learn to compliment yourself on a daily basis. At first you may not believe it but one day you’ll realize you are right. Don’t be afraid to vent to others when you feel like you’re not enough. Holding everything in was my favorite coping mechanism until I realized it was ruining my life and my confidence. Your true friends will knock some damn sense into you. I guarantee you are selling yourself short and you are more stunning than you think. Anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t worth your time.