Put Yourself First

“Selfish” is a negative word. It has a bad connotation, and it’s not something we strive to have people say about us, right? We need to change this. I’m not saying go forth and stop caring about others, but I am saying that sometimes being selfish can be a good thing. I’m talking about putting yourself first.

You have to take care of yourself, and just like you have to eat, breathe, and sleep, you have mental and social needs to take care of as well. Do you have that one friend who is always putting you down and makes you feel terrible about yourself? Distance yourself from that person. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and support you. These people can be hard to find, because there are people who will motivate and support your bad habits and it’s easy to get these situations confused.

It’s almost a new year, and one of my resolutions is to deactivate my Facebook account for all of 2016. Since I graduated college, my Facebook friends have had so many successes: salaried jobs, engagements and marriages, moving into their own place, etc. and I am beyond happy for all of them, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. I still don’t have a salaried job, every time I fall in love it ends up being long distance and then fails, and I’m about to move back in with my parents while I re-evaluate life and look for work.

Now I know that most of us only display on social media the version of ourselves that we want people to see, which is typically only the positive side. I know that people are struggling and most people are putting on a front on social media, making their lives look perfect because they don’t want to display their struggles. However, even though I know and understand all of this, I know myself, and I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others. I think that I should be in the same place in life as all of my super successful fellow grads. That is why, for my own sake, I’m getting rid of Facebook, to remove the ability to compare myself to others.

2016 is going to be about me – what I want and what I need. I will score my success only against myself.

Life isn’t a race, and that’s important to remember. When I was 8 I wrote down my life plan and said I would get married at 25. I’m 3 months away from 23, so I’ve still got time, but it’s ridiculous to think I’m going to follow a plan I made when I was 8.

Planning is good. I’m a list maker. I’m obsessed with planners and colored pens. But as my mom always says, “life happens to your plans.” So if you’re a planner like me, we just need to remember that things will not always go according to our plan, and we need to find healthy ways to adjust to the deviations.

If you are not where you want to be, that doesn’t mean you’re not where you’re supposed to be. It’s going to be okay. You’re doing fine. You have time.

In the midst of all the planning and the goal setting, just don’t forget to put yourself first.

Starting Over

In the words of Hunter Hayes, “there’s nothing like starting over, there’s nothing like shedding a heartache, writing a new page to say what you wanna say…there’s nothing like a heart wide open, that bittersweet comfort of knowing you can let go and take the weight off your shoulders…there’s nothing like starting over.”

The song title, Nothing Like Starting Over, seemed to be the perfect anthem to this time in my life, but the more I played it I learned that I disagreed with the lyrics. I don’t like starting over. Starting over is scary. Starting over means loss…leaving everything you love behind. Starting over is sad. Why is he singing about it like it’s a positive?

That’s when I realized I was reading the lyrics wrong. The song isn’t just about starting over, it’s about choosing to start over. This whole time I’ve been angry about moving back home because it’s the opposite of what I want, and I want to stay here. But everyone says “where there’s a will there’s a way” … and the unfortunate truth is that I can stay here.

I could stay on at Disneyland after the college program, working part time and making barely any money. I could get a handful of roommates. That life sounds miserable to me, but it’s doable, and it would allow me to stay here. When I weigh the pros and cons, I realize that I want my own place and a bigger paycheck more than I want to be in California, because I can’t have those things here. Not soon, anyway.

It hurts because for months it has felt like going home over staying here meant I don’t love my friends or my boyfriend. If I really wanted to be with them, wouldn’t I make the sacrifice and just share a room for a few more years? What’s making 9 dollars an hour at a job I hate here vs 12 dollars an hour at a job I hate there? Miserable is miserable, right?

…and that’s what depression does to your thoughts. Makes every decision a bad one – every option a negative.

So I remember to tell myself, it’s important for my own peace of mind and sanity for me to be comfortable. Roommates make me uncomfortable, and I have a job that can get me my own place pretty soon back home.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t make you selfish. Leaving the people I love is heartbreaking, but I’m not choosing myself over them, I’m choosing myself so that I can continue being the best version of myself to them and for them.

I was feeling like going home can’t be starting over because it’s actually a step backwards, but I was wrong. Going home is starting over. I’m shedding the heartache of trying to work in a business I’m clearly not meant to work in, at least not right now. I’m writing a new page of my life by redefining my goals and plans of action. My heart is wide open to loss, to love, and to change. It’s bittersweet because letting go of this dream of living in LA and working in Entertainment is scary. It feels like giving up, it feels like failure… but it’s also liberating. I get to start a new dream. Something bigger. Something better.

There’s nothing like starting over.

Giving Advice

I haven’t written in a while because I strangely ran out of things to say. Reading over my posts, I feel like I’m complaining a lot more than inspiring people to push through their tough times, as I originally set out to do… but that got me thinking a lot about complaining, and reading people, and how/when to give advice.

My philosophy on giving advice is to only give it when it’s asked for. In my experience, people like to vent and complain a lot, but they usually don’t want advice.

Have you ever gotten into a fight with a loved one because they were giving unwanted advice? That happens to me and my mom all the time, I feel like we fight almost every single time we speak. These days we’re never on the same page, and I often call her when I have no one else to turn to and I just need to talk through a decision, but she always has to throw her opinion in the mix which I usually don’t agree with and it usually leads to an argument.

Chalk that up to “she’s your mother and you need to listen to her” if you want, but I think there’s something to be said about just listening to people who are going through something. You can objectively talk through the pros and cons of each side of the decision with them without interjecting what you think they should do. The best way to do this is to ask them a lot of questions. How would you feel if…? Have you considered…? Why does the idea of … make you feel…?

Many times they will come out and ask, “what do you think I should do?” at which point it’s totally fair game to tell them, but I would just wait until those words are said.

Remember, depressed people aren’t going to look at life the same way that you do. Maybe you think their problem is stupid and easily fixable, but it’s a big deal to them, so let them talk about it.

How to Be a Considerate Roommate

A large part of me moving back to STL is that I’m really over having roommates. Although I’ve experienced many different roommate situations over the last 5 years, only 1 of them was great… the rest drove me insane. Inconsiderate roommates can drive anybody crazy, but the sad truth is that sometimes it isn’t their fault. Sometimes you just get stuck with a spoiled brat who has no idea how to share things, and you have to teach them like they’re 7. So for your sanity, here is my guide to being a considerate roommate, in no particular order:

  1. Understand that you may not become best friends. Your roommate may absolutely be your best friend, and that’s awesome, but I’m saying don’t expect it. Our expectations often make us act different, and in my experience, people who go into new roommate situations searching for their new BFF get clingy and annoying pretty fast.
  2. Clean immediatelyBy immediately, I mean as soon as the mess is made. It’s one thing to leave dishes on the stove or in the sink because you want to eat while your food is hot and clean after, but it’s another thing to leave those dishes in the sink for days. It’s gross, it attracts bugs, and if you’re like I am right now and only have 2 pots for the whole apartment… your roommates don’t get to eat unless they clean up after you first.
  3. Finish your laundry in one sitting. Do not start your laundry and then leave for the rest of the day. You can’t predict when laundry day will be the same for everyone who lives there, maybe your roommate needs to wash something for work, and it’s completely unfair to them to have to wait all day for you to get back because they’re too considerate to throw your wet shit on the floor but not considerate enough to finish your laundry for you because it’s not their job.
  4. Take opportunities to bond. This is especially important if you have more than one roommate. You may just be in this living situation to save money or out of convenience, but for the time being you are a part of each other’s lives, so when you get the opportunity, have that movie night or that roomie dinner. It will give you all something to look forward to, and it definitely helps build relationships when you talk outside of nagging someone to clean or turn off their alarm.
  5. Use headphones. If you’re home alone, great, blast your music or your Netflix. If your roommate(s) are home, use some damn headphones. If they wanted to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy with you, they would say so, and make it a group activity.
  6. Keep a group calendar of everyone’s schedules. Nobody likes to be sexiled, and if you and your significant other have nowhere else to go for alone time, chances are your roommate has nowhere to go either. Instead of constantly asking your roommates to leave their own home, use the calendar to plan having people over when you already have the place to yourself.
  7. Divide space as evenly as possibleWhen you’re the first to move in, your get your pick of bedroom and cabinet space, but that doesn’t mean you get every drawer in the bathroom.
  8. Contribute to shared expenses. This has to do with things such as dishwasher pods, paper towels, trash bags, and the all important toilet paper. Refill these things before they run out. Do not let the same person refill them every time. If new rolls of toilet paper always magically appear under the sink, and one day you’re down to the last roll, that is a hint from your roommate that they are tired of buying it and it’s your turn. If there are more rolls of toilet paper nearby and you use the last of the roll next to the toilet, REPLACE IT. Don’t be that asshole who only leaves one square.
  9. Take out the trash. Just like the toilet paper, this duty should be on a rotation. You’re contributing to the trash can filling up, so you should help take it out. Tying the trash bag and sitting it by the door does not count as taking it out.
  10. Respect each other’s property. It’s a good idea to have a conversation early on about what you’re willing to share and what you’re not. Ex) Feel free to drink my orange juice as long as you buy more if you finish it. However, just because someone is willing to share doesn’t mean there aren’t limits. If you bought the living room TV, you probably don’t want your roommate hosting movie parties every week, so you have to plan your own tv time around her parties. She should plan her parties around the time you want to use your tv. Likewise, if your roommate buys the Keurig, let them make coffee first, and make sure you refill the water whenever you use it.Basically, think of your roommate first. If you don’t want to clean up after them, don’t make them clean up after you. If you want to be respected, you have to give respect.

Acceptance

Acceptance is a funny thing, it comes in stages, or maybe it just comes and goes, I’m not sure yet.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to accept in my life, is not attending the University of Southern California. I chose the school when I was 13. It’s in LA, has an amazing cinematic arts program, greek life, huge population… everything I wanted in a college. I worked my ass off in high school taking as many weighted grade and AP courses as I could to boost my GPA, and I got accepted. I remember receiving my giant envelope from USC like it was yesterday. I was so happy I cried, I called everyone I knew, I posted on Facebook about it… it just never occurred to me that my parents couldn’t afford it. That I wouldn’t get financial aid. That I wouldn’t go.

College isn’t something I like to talk about. My freshman year was so bad I transferred schools at the end of it, and the only reason I didn’t transfer schools a second time is because I hated school so much I couldn’t fathom the idea of credits not transferring and being in school for more than 4 years.

I know that it’s no one’s fault I didn’t go to USC, but I can’t help but be angry. The last 4 years of my life were agony, and I can’t help thinking that if I had gone to USC I would have been happy. Of course, I may have hated it, but I’ll never know, and I choose to believe that I would have loved it.

Back to acceptance… my mom says I haven’t accepted not going to USC because of how much I talk about it, but I’m not sure I agree. Does accepting something mean you’re no longer angry about it? Does it stop you from being sad? I don’t think so.

Take a break-up, for example. You can love someone so completely and still not fit into their life. It doesn’t even have to be a bad break up, maybe you mutually decided that you weren’t right for each other or you didn’t work long term. You accept this when you stop pursuing the relationship, but you’re still sad about it ending, at least a little bit, right?

Today was a good day for me. I didn’t cry – seriously, not one time. I actually started thinking about what I would do when I get home. Maybe the road trip from Cali to STL will be fun. I can’t wait to go apartment hunting and find my own place that is completely mine and mine alone. To me, all these thoughts and positive planning mean I accepted the fact that I have to leave California (and my friends and my boyfriend and the sun and the palm trees and the beach). I really have, because I’m no longer searching for jobs or apartments out here. I’m no longer trying to stay. I’ve made plans the make the best of the time I have left here. It’s still incredibly depressing… but I’ve accepted it.

I didn’t cry today. That doesn’t mean I won’t cry tomorrow, but I didn’t cry today, and that’s an improvement. Baby steps. It will get better. It will be okay. One day at a time.

Timing

In certain situations, it can be difficult to discern between the truth and the lies we tell ourselves to feel better.

“It didn’t work out because the timing wasn’t right.”

I’m sure you’ve heard that sentence before. Do you believe it?

When my ex and I broke up, it was because of distance and timing. At least, that’s what we told ourselves. Had we fallen in love 5 years later when we had (insert whatever here – money, homes, etc.) we would have worked out. That is a complete and total lie. We fell out of touch because we didn’t understand each other. We sucked at communicating, and the more we tried to force the relationship, the less I liked talking to and spending time with him. Had we fallen in love in 5 years, we may have real jobs, live on our own, and savings/retirement plans, but we would still suck at communicating because our communication styles don’t mix.

When I was in college, I studied abroad for a semester. I didn’t have the greatest time due to a bunch of drama involving the people I was abroad with, but I learned that the people around me are so much important than where I am geographically. I didn’t care that I stood underneath the Eiffel Tower because I didn’t have a best friend to stand under it with me. I started telling myself that maybe I should have picked a different semester and things would have been different, and I went abroad at the wrong time, but the truth is that I didn’t have friends to go abroad with so I went alone, and going alone made the trip feel like a waste of time and money to me.

I think that timing is the best excuse because it is completely out of our control. If my semester abroad didn’t go the way I wanted because I failed to make friends, that means something is wrong with me. If I couldn’t figure out how to understand my ex in a normal conversation after 9 months of dating, that meant something was wrong with us that we took 9 months to notice. But if it’s timing… well there’s nothing to be done about that. And there in-lies the problem: when we claim “timing” as the culprit, we take the blame off of ourselves. We cast away all ownership because it makes us feel better to believe that there is nothing we could have done to change the situation.

It’s like flipping a coin: they say when you don’t know what to do, flip a coin, because once that coin is in the air, you’re hoping for it to land on heads or tails, and then you know what you truly want. When you’re at a crossroads, flip a coin. Figure out what it is that you truly want, and then exhaust every single one of your resources trying to make it happen. If you do that, and it still doesn’t happen, you’re going to be okay. Because you tried. You’ll feel that. You’ll feel a little sad that it didn’t happen, but you will also feel satisfied and fulfilled knowing what you put into it, and you won’t have to tell yourself that the timing was off to try and force yourself to feel better.

Don’t put yourself in that box. If you want to go back to school, do it now. Don’t tell yourself it’s not the right time. If you want to drive across the country and profess your love in one final attempt to get the guy, do it. Maybe you won’t get the guy, but you’ll get a road trip and a cool story. And maybe you WILL get the guy.

It’s never going to be the “right” time. You just have to go after what you want, and either it works out or it doesn’t. Focus on the journey, not the destination.

Take-Aways

People have been talking to me a lot about take-aways recently, because I am of the opinion that things like going to college, or what I’m currently doing, participating in the Disney College Program at Disneyland, have been a colossal waste of time and money.

When I say this to people, first they’re like, “wow you have a bleak outlook on life” or “what a sad way to view things.” TIP: If you’re not depressed, do not tell a depressed person that they have a bleak outlook on life or a sad way of viewing things. They’re depressed, for crying out loud! Chances are, they are extremely aware how you view their outlook on life, and you telling them that you think it’s awful is not going to magically make them look at life like you do.

Then they start to talk about the take-aways. “Every experience has take-aways,” they say. “Surely, there is SOMETHING from that experience that you can take away, something you learned…”

Now, I also get told a lot that things have to be my way or the highway, so I did actually listen to these people, if only to prove that I can actually listen to someone. I sat down and thought about my life experiences and what I learned and what I gained.

In college, I learned that friendship is very important to me. I fell out of touch with my 3 best friends from high school who meant the absolute world to me, and that crushed my soul in the worst way, it was worse than a break up, it felt like someone had died. I still haven’t made friends that are anywhere near as close as those girls and I were, but hey, now I know how important friendship is, right?

The Disney College Program has been one of the worst experiences of my life, it is truly one of my greatest regrets, but in the midst of how much I’ve hated this program, I can say that I met a pretty great guy and we fell in love (no he isn’t in the program, thankfully).

But we can’t be together, for millions of reasons, but the greatest of those being I am moving back to STL in January, and I absolutely refuse to do another long distance relationship because those just don’t work for me. So why did I meet him? Why did I fall in love? What is the take-away?

I think it happened because he’s helped me through these months in California. Knowing I would see him at the end of my shift has made working at Disneyland a little more bearable. Waking up to cute texts from him has made it easier to fall asleep at night and welcome the coming day. Simply having him to talk to after spending an entire day crying and being angry about everything gives me a few minutes of calm and helps me breathe.

Losing him is going to suck, I can already feel it, I already do feel it, and so does he. We hurt to the point where I’m angry that we even met. It’s hard to look at this as a positive, because is the pain really worth it? Yes, he helped me through this time, and I am forever thankful and grateful for that, but I was only here for 4 months. I could have made it through 4 months on my own, without falling in love and then having to go home depressed about ANOTHER failed relationship that couldn’t last.

So is life really about take-aways? I don’t think so. I don’t think the point of EVERY experience is to figure out what you learned from it, I think the more important thing is just how you deal with it.

College was an awful time for me – I couldn’t connect with anyone on a deep level, classes were too easy and boring and felt like a waste of money, I lost all my passion to do the things I loved because apparently it’s impossible to get jobs doing them and I’ll be broke forever – but I got through it. I survived. 4 long years… and I did it. THAT is what matters. Getting through it, getting back up, trying something else. So I hated the Disney College Program. I’m going to go home, and I’m going to try something else. Because I’m still alive, and I have to keep going. I have to find something. I have to keep searching… because the alternative is unthinkable.

Don’t live your life according to what works for others, or what they think you should do, or how they think you should view it. Live your life according to what works for YOU. If you can’t figure out why something happened, don’t waste you energy on it. If you’re supposed to figure it out, God will reveal it to you in his time. If you’re not supposed to figure it out, it won’t happen, so don’t waste your time. Just pick yourself up and keep moving. Because you can do this. I believe in you.

What Depression Feels Like

Too many people think that depression means you can’t get out of bed and all you do is sleep. This is true for some people, but not all of us. Personally, I spend too much time feeling emotions I don’t want to feel.

This morning I woke up crying. I was sad simply because I woke up, because it took me hours to fall asleep last night and I was exhausted. Then I was sad because I had to go to work and I hate my job. Then I was sad because 2 days ago I decided to move back in with my parents in a month, and as a college graduate that makes me feel like a complete failure. I recently fell in love with this amazing guy, but moving halfway across the country from him isn’t exactly how to begin a relationship, and I was extremely sad about that.

On the way to work I got angry. I’m a college graduate, why can’t I get a job I like, or at least one that pays well that I can deal with and get my own place?

Just as soon as the sadness and anger came, though, they went away. I went to work, I talked to my co-workers, I did my job, I laughed a little. I cried a couple more times throughout the day, but overall my day was okay. It ended on a good note.

And this is how most of my days go… it’s a constant fight between knowing it’s okay to feel sad, and desperately not wanting to feel sad anymore… but they’re actually okay. At this moment I can sit here with full confidence and say that I did not have a bad day. I don’t look at today and regret my actions. Today was hard. I got through it. You will too 🙂

Understanding Why

My struggle with depression began when I was 13. It was over friendship.

As a child, I loved school, and I loved school because I had great friends. After elementary school, it was year of the job transfers – everyone in my inner circle moved. My family moved to Pennsylvania, my best friend’s family to Mississippi, another friend to Texas, a couple to North Carolina… being 11 years old, I didn’t have any “the universe is totally against me” thoughts, but looking back, somehow I remember feeling that way.

And yet, Pennsylvania was magical. I loved living there, the school was great, I made friends right away, I always had stuff to do on the weekends, and then came that fateful day when my parents said we were moving again. Back to Missouri. Same town (2 neighborhoods over, to be exact), same school district, same everything.

You’d think a kid would be excited about this, but remember, all my close friends had moved away.

So I started the 8th grade, and I still knew everyone… like no new students had joined in the 2 years I was gone. Everyone was the same, but different. The same as in, everyone was still playing the same sports they had in elementary school, everyone was more or less hanging out with the same crowd… but different because this was middle school and the cliques had formed.

I’d never been in a clique, my school in Pennsylvania had them, but I stayed away from that. I pulled girls from various groups and formed a new lunch table. That wasn’t a thing in Missouri. My neighbor (little miss popular) told me on the first day of school I could join her group, then on the second say of school she said we couldn’t be friends because an uncool girl had given me a hug in the hallway. The boys I’d stayed away from in elementary school because they were mean, were still just as mean and were asking me why I moved back because nobody wanted me there.

I started to hate school. I dreaded going. Every day I woke up wishing I could be sick. I felt trapped – forced to go through the motions of learning every day until I could go home and cry.

So why am I telling you this story? Not to make you feel bad for 13 year old me, but to tell you that it took me until now, at 22, to realize what I learned from that experience, and I learned that I had become so dependent on the people around me that I didn’t know how to function without them.

To this day, if I can’t find good, genuine, close friends wherever I am, I get insanely unhappy, and I cry a lot, because I don’t want to go through life alone. I’ve started reading all these articles about how you need to fall in love with yourself and spend time with yourself and I most definitely have not mastered doing that, but I agree with it and I think everyone should. We come into this world alone and we leave it alone, and of course it’s morbid and awful to think that we have to suffer through it alone the whole time, but there are certainly stages that we have to go through alone and we need to figure out how to be okay with that.

Do I know how to be okay with it? Not yet. But I think understanding WHY you’re upset is a start. Maybe that understanding will take 8 years to get to you… but just know that you’re not the only one going through it. Someone else is struggling. In pain. Confused. Angry. You aren’t going to feel these things all day every day, but at your lowest moments you will feel like it’s constant and never ending. Take some deep breaths, and ask yourself, WHY am I feeling this way? Identify your problem, and you can start working on some solutions.

You’re Doing Fine

For the past few months I’ve been having a very hard time with my current place in life, and it often leads to uncomfortable conversations with loved ones that end in screaming, crying, and overall exhaustion.

Why? Because nobody knows what to say. Everyone wants to help, but it seems they can’t. So eventually they give up and ask, “what do you want me to say?”

This is my least favorite question, because it’s kind of like doing all of the work myself. If I tell you what to say to make me feel better, then it’s not coming from you and you’re not making me feel better. Not to mention, if I knew what words would magically make me feel better, wouldn’t I just say them to myself and avoid this argument?

That’s when I realized: I didn’t know what I wanted them to say.

So I sat down and I thought about it, and I learned that the words I need to hear right now are simply things that I need to believe to get through the day. Such as… it’s okay that I cried this morning. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me, it doesn’t mean I’m failing. It means I’m scared and confused and sad… and having those emotions sometimes are OKAY. It’s normal.

And that’s why I started this blog. To remind you that it’s okay, and you’re doing fine. No matter what anyone else tells you, your decisions are your own, and you alone have to live with them. Do the best you can to make those the best decisions for you, and if you aren’t where you want to be, it doesn’t mean you will never get there. It’s okay… you’re doing fine.