Hello Blog that I rarely-to-almost-never use…I’m thinking of adding a post on a review of this past year, an examination of what I’ve learned and what to hold on to, and a looking forward to big events and such in 2016.
Let me just start by sharing what I shared earlier on my Facebook page :
“Everyone’s talking about how 2015 was a year of struggling and learning, and how 2016 is going to be better. The usual, every new year. And it wasn’t like 2015 wasn’t a huge struggle and learning experience for me , at least at the beginning (January-April 2015 were the hardest months of my life, but they seem so far away from where I am now…they seem years and years ago, like something out of someone else’s life) , and brought about some of the biggest changes of my life. But for some reason, I don’t feel the need to “make” this year be better. I definitely feel the urge and need to start a career and a life for myself, but despite the hardships I went through in early 2015 I feel like right now I’m at total peace with my life. I’m definitely not gonna try to hold on too tight to things and deny change as it naturally happens, because that’s a recipe for disaster, but I don’t feel the need to make up a million ways to “make myself better” either, because that’s also a recipe for disaster. I’m just going to be thankful for what I have and keep living life, taking opportunities, taking small steps in the right direction, and I guess seeing what my final semester of college and my life after brings me. smile emoticon Happy New Year to everyone, see you on the other side”
As you know, if you follow this blog, I was blogging very frequently throughout the late winter and early spring of 2015, when I was home from Boston and in depression/anxiety recovery therapy once again, after an quasi-unsuccessful trip to London. In fact, that spring semester was incredibly painful because of all the changes that my life went through, when I realized that the neat little plan that I had written out for my life was not going to happen, and I couldn’t make it happen. Although there is a eerie feeling of disconnect between the person I was at that time last year and the person who I am now, although it feels like I am writing about someone else’s life and I get knots in my stomach when I think that was me only a year ago – well, it was never really me to begin with, it was a side of me that rarely comes out, that I have now learned to accept but also control- if I’m going to write about the changes I experienced this year and all the positive changes that I’ve experienced with recent months, I have to write about the lows too. I couldn’t have gotten to the highs without the lows.
A Timeline of Change of 2015 (otherwise I will write for like, 5 hours) :
- 2015 Was the year I first traveled outside of the United States: In January 2015, I planned to do a semester abroad in London with my then-boyfriend. I had an internship that I would kill for, a man that I loved, and was finally going to my dream city. I was scared, of course, very scared, but also excited. The two sides of me – the anxiety-ridden side of me and the adventurous, real me, would come to a head. It would seem that anxiety had won, but in the end it failed, and I won. And even though I “lost everything”, there are still amazing experiences I had in the UK that I will never forget and cannot ever regret. Climbing to the top of a Welsh castle that was built when the Romans invaded, the night life in East London, exploring Camden, and seeing Stonehenge and Winchester Cathedral, and nightly pub visits, are just some of the memories that, while still somewhat painful to remember what I was going through at that time, I will always , always cherish. Not everything was negative, some things were huge positives and greatly enriched my life.
- 2015 Was the year I lost everything and gained a lot more : So what went wrong? Well, in late January/ early February I began to struggle with depression and anxiety again. It was something that I had gone through every year of college, every winter to be precise. I was usually a lot better in the spring and fall and summer, but winter, there was this feeling of being trapped in my own body, a feeling of foreboding no matter where I was . It had happened at school the past two years, but I had gotten through it and I was determined that being in London would get me through it. After all, half of what got me through it in high school was being busy throughout the winter with Musical Theatre, and having a very very close knit group of friends. There were very few days when I wasn’t occupied. The main feelings behind the depression and anxiety, I would say,were lonliness, boredom, and guilt. My mind goes into overdrive when there is no one or nothing to distract it- I think of all my worst experiences and all that could go wrong. I often would feel guilty over finances, that I was too much of a burden. Anyway, because of all this, and because even though I was doing well at first I was constantly reminded that I “might not be able to do this because of my anxiety” (if I hadn’t had heard that over and over again, I don’t think leaving London would have ever occurred to me) , I ended up leaving after finals period rather than staying to work an internship, spending 3.5 months at home. Then, my now ex cut off the relationship that I had been in for two years, I was officially unregistered at University, and I was at my lowest low. Also, my cat died. But new beginnings are often disguised as terrible endings.
- 2015 Was the year I finally took charge of my own mental health situation : After three years of college without mental health care, lying to myself that “I was all better” or “didn’t need it” or “just needed to toughen up” , this breaking point finally showed me that I needed a way out; that mental health has to constantly be worked on and maintained; that it is not an issue that just goes away and that that’s nothing to be ashamed of. What was the worst that I could have possibly done was be so ashamed of it that I disregarded the practice of self-care, of taking care of my mind, that everyone, whether you have mental health issues or not, needs to do. I wish I hadn’t had to be driven that low, to a desperate low, for me to get help. It was like the same way I was when I was finally driven to get help at 13, when I was starving myself, except then I was literally driven by my parents. This- this I had to get together and do myself. And I did. I spent about a month , month and a half in outpatient group therapy, and while I was waiting to get in saw a psychiatrist and my old therapist from high school. I got my life back together, realized it wasn’t the end of the world. I learned that a lot of my problems stemmed from being co-dependent on the people around me and what they thought of me, and I worked vigorously on inter-personal issues.
- 2015 Was the year I refused to let my relationships define me : I had very little idea of what I wanted to do after college, it seemed I was just going through the motions of school, not knowing where I was going.. I always wanted to be a writer, but that wasn’t “practical”. I desperately tried to find some field to go into, but nothing seemed interesting, fun, rewarding. I pictured my life the way most people’s lives go- sitting in a cubicle I dreaded going to every day, bored out of my mind. Bored. That was what I was – with school, with everything. So I turned to dependence on friends and partying and giving myself a reputation. I particularly relied on my now ex for support, for comfort; but also, without me being conscious of it, he became a fundamental part of who I saw myself as. I guess since I had no direction I specifically wanted to head, I would go where he went. He had already let on that his career was to be first, even if that meant leaving me. I had already decided I would go where he would go. Looking back, even though there was love there, I’m not sure it was the best for me , I’m not sure I was ready or mature enough to be in a relationship like that. I lost myself, relied on the other person. That’s not what a relationship is about- sure, you get some security from the other person and some happiness, but that can’t be your only source of it. It has to come from yourself as well. And when my life plans were built around my relationship, something that was not guaranteed and something that I should have been building around myself at 20, not around any one else;; well, I should have spent a lot more time on my life plans rather than relying on someone else for them. It’s weird to say but , I had to define myself by me, not by my relationship or (as I often also did) my social life.
- 2015 Was the year of (sort-of) adulting: Original plan was to do what I had previously done; split an apartment with boyfriend over the summer, work a bit until going back to school. Well, no boyfriend. So, I had lost my summer-We had planned to get an apartment in NY state and work there, and I didn’t have that anymore. But , as always being at home is not the best for me. I have no way to get around, no independence, and Connecticut isn’t a walking/biking friendly place like Boston is. I was usually just trapped at home, and I couldn’t get a job , even if I did there would be no transportation. But why give up on getting a job and apartment just because my boyfriend wasn’t there to help me? Screw that!!! So I connected with some old friends, hauled my ass to Boston for job interviews, worked my butt off, made a budget plan, and lived in a shared apartment with 3 other students and friends of mine over the summer while working two jobs. It was exhausting, I was busy all the time, there was always something to do whether it be errands or bills or household stuff, even when I was not working. But it was brilliant. And I still have to refine some of my spending but I lived off of my own money, made my own decisions, and went out into the world again, in my favorite place, Boston. I even made a lot of new friends and got back on the dating scene. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t make “real life” happen in London. I got up , I tried again, and it worked this time because- I was relying on myself and no one else. I found that I had a passion for helping others struggling with the same things, through writing, or just talking- and I became interested in maybe after working in media, especially media on activism for a while, going back to school for psychology or social work. I can write and help people, and I want to find a way to do that.
- 2015 Was when I finally got over my fear of the city : Living in Boston often meant being out in the city, and after being sexually assaulted my freshman year, (which lead to much of the anxiety in the years to come), being in the city became terrifying to me. One thing that made London so hard was that I didn’t know anyone but my boyfriend, he was often busy until late at night, and I was usually on my own. Needless to say, it took months of therapy to get around the overwhelming fear that I felt when on the street on my own , especially after dark, even in what was a “safe” area. Since I had finally gotten myself into therapy (and continued in Boston into the summer and school year) , I was finally able to feel comfortable with city life, to come to terms with what had happened, and to make sure I knew ways to get away should anything happen again, had safety mechanisms set up. Needless to say, women shouldn’t have to learn about protecting themselves from men- men should learn not to harass and assault. So I became a staunch advocate for women, for feminism. Because I refuse to live in a world where such a thing is so common and not fight to make it better.
- 2015 Was the year I messed up badly, and admitted it: I said some really terrible things at the beginning of the school year. I won’t go into it, but basically, out of pride and envy, I decided that some how because “toughing things out” had helped me (I finally got help for myself, changed myself, no one could come and do it for me)-which is fine in certain situations- I could condemn those who just needed to “be tougher”- disregarding the fact that me, and anyone else, would not “need to toughen up” if society cleaned itself up. I judged people’s own experience against my own, I talked instead of listened. I don’t know half the struggles some people had been through, but it was all about me in that moment (I was in a heated fight) and somehow I needed to prove myself the strong one, the one on top. I wasn’t. I was at my weakest then. Don’t ever trust someone who tells you to just “toughen up and deal with it”….they are often struggling the most, displacing what they want to say to themselves onto you. The truth is, yes, we can and will fight issues of mental illness, injustice, etc- but not on our own and not by acting the tough guy- but by tearing up the roots that have been laid in our consciousness since school age that say something’s wrong with you, it’s your fault, when really, it is society as a whole’s duty to end the things that cause mental illness and the very real obstacles and abuses that are placed in the way of anyone who is outside the hetero, white, cis, male standard of normal. (More on that in other posts, I’ve already written more than I expected to ! )
- 2015 Was the first time since starting college where grades became >>>>social life, and it made my life 1,000x better: This fall semester, sure , I had a few weekends where I went out with friends, but when I look back to past years, it was completely different. Past years,I wasn’t doing homework more than a couple times a week, was only taking a few classes, priorities were 1) boyfriend, 2) Friends, 3) school, in that order. This semester, school became number 1 priority . And not dealing with constant fighting, drama, who’s-dating -who- even if it was just hear-say from others, like I did the past semesters – made a huge difference in my happiness levels. I spent 4-8 hours a day in the library or at my desk studying and working. I hung out with people after. I actually really , really enjoyed my learning, and I learned who my true friends are and who just wanted to gossip. The amount of stress that melted away when I didn’t have to constantly worry about what people thought or who “hated” who….well, I never want my life to go back to that; I loved this new less-stress life. The beginning of the year was full of personal drama (the first two weeks) which faded off when I finally talked it out , admitted past mistakes, and reconciled with a person who really helped me feel confident and was there with me through all the work this semester. It paid off, it was an amazing semester , and I made Dean’s list for the first time since Freshman year.
- 2015 is when I discovered two of my biggest fandoms: While I was home in the spring…I discovered Merlin and Supernatural. Needless to say, they’ve become a huge part of my life, as my fandoms always do, and conveyed messages of hope, strength, loyalty, and perseverance, at the point in my life when I needed it the most. Read my upcoming blog post on how my fandoms are life savers for more.
- 2015 is when I first became involved in Politics: I actually decided to stop sticking my head in the sand and educate myself. And what I found out disgusted me, no wonder I didn’t want to find it out, I knew it was there, I just didn’t know how BAD it was. The politicians running this country were fed by corporate lobbyists and corporate interests, regardless of party. Wars are fought for financial benefit and on the basis of fear of the “other”; “bad guys” weren’t targeted nearly as much as innocent civilians. Corporations and billionaires get tax cuts, we have the largest military budget in the world, and yet we have hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans and civilians, and a disappearing middle class. I was hopeless and then I found out about Bernie Sanders, the one candidate who wants to change the system that perpetuates this. I got involved in rallies, watched the debates, found out what “issues” (aka taking away people’s rights) the Republican party wants to talk about and the actual issues that interest me as an American citizien- getting money out of politics; eliminating college tuition and debt and the constantly rising cost of education that is more and more essential; police brutality and state militarization- and various candidate’s take on these issue on both sides, and will proudly be voting for the first time this year. Bernie 2016!
- 2015 is when my experimental activism from 2014 actually broke through and led me to self define as an activist and feminist : Going along on the political side of things, I decided, I’m sick and tired of being treated like a piece of meat because I’m a woman. I’m sick of men saying horrid things to me on the street, and I’m sick of getting paid less than my male counterparts. I’m sick of people trying to take over my agency over my own damn reproductive organs, of people claiming to be “pro-life” while they would gladly send young men off to war to die or let young single mothers with children starve or let women die of cancer because according to them free public access to healthcare is somehow “immoral”. I’m sick of hearing stories of unarmed black youth being shot and killed and officers getting away with it, when you see similar videos of a white man pointing a gun at an officer and the officer doesn’t lay a hand on him. I’m sick of forking over money to the owners of Pepsi Co or Walmart or Johnson & Johnson so they can sit on top of millions of dollars or buy their fifth yacht while workers are paid starvation wages. I’m sick and tired of seeing poor people down the street working 3 jobs of manual labor and barely being able to get by, being told they’re lazy and deserve it by the corporate white collar workers who literally sit on their ass all day and wouldn’t be able to survive a day doing the NEEDED jobs that poor people do. I’m sick of living in a country that is a running joke with the rest of the world, that is the only one that doesn’t give work leave to mothers or guarantee health care yet claims to hold “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as a right to all as fundamental value. I’m sick of it. And so I write. And I share. And I march, and I chant, and I get educated.
- 2015 presented me with alternate ways of thinking I didn’t even know existed, and I am now dedicated to learning as much as I can and then deciding, not learning from a bubble: Off of the getting educated part, I’ve learned that I cannot debate these thing until I am fully informed. So I started learning as much as possible , from all sides. I learned that people are people and deep down we all want peace and prosperity, but some of us are fearful, and fear causes us to use and blame others, to ostracize others and take for ourselves. Fear is not the answer. Only in a society where people are all treated equally, not as other or the enemy- where they have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness- which in order to have means a right to housing, food and water, and healthcare,- only in that society can we thrive. And I started going to cultural council and interfaith events to look at how other groups see the world, and have found out, through getting out of my bubble, we are more alike than we are different, and we are all in this together.
- 2015 is when I really realized just how messed up this world is, but I am also starting the new year with a pledge of hope.
So that’s pretty much how my 2015 went. A crushing defeat, a comeback, and then moving the focus from myself to others- to make the world a better place. Now, what’s coming up in 2016 ? TBH, Haven’t thought of it much yet, but :
Ideas on 2016 :
- Focus on self care- I feel noticeably better when I get out for my runs, or journal. Even if it feels like , really really hard to get motivated to start- once I do it, my entire day is just better, than if I sat on the internet thinking about things I could do.
- Continue to create and nourish meaningful connections- I’ve noticed that with the lack of drama in my life, there seems to be a lack of people to. Probably , one leads to the other, but it doesn’t need to be that way. I don’t want to only connect with people on the level of meaningless gossip, but I also don’t want to be so dedicated to my work that I can’t take a day or two a week with friends for drinks or movies or what not. I want to connect with people over meaningful things, and re-connect with old friends. I want to talk about things like life goals, and scientific discovery, and traveling, and our favorite stories, and social justice, and beliefs, and silly things too- not about other people or my own struggles, that just causes me to dwell in them, and doesn’t show me cherishing and listening to the friend in a two-sided way
- Continue my year long streak of being a pesca/vegetarian- and try to cut down on or eliminate fish unless it’s locally wild-caught. Better for me, animals, and the environment. Even eat vegan when I can.
- Maybe train for a half marathon – especially since I’m running again- but it’s been on my list forever.
- And a couple of personal ones I won’t put on here.
But overall, I’m ending the year and starting a new one on a positive note. Though this year will bring ups and downs and changes, it will also bring opportunity and experience, and I’m excited for it all.
Happy New Year!