A Year in a Life

Not everyone is big on birthdays. Some people like to go all out, invite a hundred friends, drink until they can’t remember anything, and celebrate like it’s their last.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Frankly, I used to do the same. But on the flip side of things, when it comes down acknowledging to yourself that another year of life has passed, I tend to also enjoy being alone to really think about what I’ve accomplished in that past year of life.

My birthday isn’t for another 3 days, but this exact day last year in particular was of extreme significance to me.

A year ago today was one of my biggest failures to-date. I’d say that it was a turning point in my life. (Certainly not my last and most certainly one of many to come in the future, or so I hope.)

A year ago, I was let go from a job for the first time in my life. I never thought I’d have to experience that. At the moment, it really defined me and I’m grateful for it.

After that failure, the things that I thought about myself could have been the end of me, it could have been the end of my future successes.

But I’m glad that it wasn’t.

Failure is a funny thing. Depending on how you receive it, it can define you for the rest of your life. It can throw you off course, shape your perception of yourself, it can bury you. But you don’t have to let it.

Failure and rejection makes you feel like you’re not good enough, like you’re not worthy. But at the same time, it can empower you. It can make you strive to be better and you can come back ten times stronger after accepting and overcoming that failure.

No matter how big or small the situation, whether it’s a failure in school, in a relationship, at a job, an apartment or house you were trying to get, whatever it may be, you’ll always gain something out of losing.

I never thought I’d end up where I am now. Had I rolled over and called it quits, I’d probably be in a much different place. A much unhappier place.

You may not recognize an opportunity when it’s actually happening, but you will. I promise you will. Because something good always happens amidst failure. You just have to push through the bad until you get there.

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Overcome

I used to think that you could only really have something meaningful to write if you went through some kind of trial or tragedy. I used to think that the best writing came from pain and struggle. Some of the songs, books, poems that truly impacted me were written in sadness (or so I interpreted it).

It’s been a while since I’ve been genuinely happy. And I can say, now, that I actually am – which is such a relief.

I realize, now, that great creations do not come solely from hardships. Instead, there are products of overcoming and overpowering those hardships.

It’s funny how the things you consume change as you change.

Your mental state affects how you treat your body, the kind of music you listen to, the people you surround yourself with, even the activities you participate in.

It’s funny how we work sometimes – When we’re sad, we sometimes want to expand on that sadness and continue on that path. The act of “self-destruction” or so it’s called.

But on the lateral side of that, we can amplify positive emotions as well – When we’re happy, we want to keep being happy. We couldn’t imagine not feeling good or not feeling alive.

In life, things happen and we have to deal with those things. It may take time, but eventually, we do have to move on so that, eventually, we can be okay again. And when that time comes, you couldn’t be more relieved that you got through it and found that happy place.

What Matters Most

I write a lot about growing up. That’s because ever since I was little, I’ve always been in such a rush to be older. I remember following my sister and her friends around when I was a kid and I just couldn’t wait to be old enough to hang out with them. Now that I’m older, it’s funny how it works in reverse. As you get older, you want to gain all those years back that you wanted to skip ahead to.

I spend a lot of my time around people of different age groups and it always fascinates me to talk to them about their experiences and hear their opinions on life. And regardless of age, everyone always experiences things at different stages of their lives. Some of us are wise beyond our years and some of us continue to resist maturity.

Now that I am where I am, I’d finally like to slow down and take advantage of the time that I have while I have it.

When you’re younger, it seems like things take so much longer to happen – Getting your license, being able to legally drink, graduating college, finding a job, etc. But once you’ve crossed all of those things off your list, there’s a realization that you start running out of things that you have to wait for in order to happen.

What I’ve learned throughout my twenties so far is that I’m much more capable of distinguishing between the things are a big deal and the things that are not. I’m able to recognize what really matters in life and what I shouldn’t get so worked up about.

After I turned 25, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a significant shift there was in my mindset. After losing love, losing jobs, losing friends, I’m less upset about the losses and more grateful for the gains and the people who are still sticking by my side. I’m realizing that my family is one of the most important of things in my life. I’m realizing that you shouldn’t fight so hard for people who won’t fight for you. I’m realizing that the time you are given is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted on people or things that do not fill you up with joy.

Recently, I keep thinking back to the time when I was in the hospital at the age of 20 and diagnosed with Chrohn’s Disease due to my own self-induced stress. I look back and wonder how and why I allowed myself to get stressed over things that I can hardly even remember to this day.

There’s a certain peace that comes with age and maturity that I’ve truly come to appreciate – And that peace lies within knowing yourself and what you want out of your life. I can now say with full honesty that I’m discovering the kind of person I want to be and the kind of life I want to lead. I thank God for that and I thank the people who are closest to me for supporting all of the decisions I have made leading up to this day.

My Comeback

Have you ever been at rock bottom and gotten to the point where you actually remember the moment when you started to fall?

Well that happened to me today, just a few hours ago, as I was sitting at church at the last evening service of the day.

The central message of the sermon was about making a comeback after you have fallen into one of the lowest points that you have ever been in.

And that moment happened to me about five months ago when I was in the midst of severing all ties between my ex-boyfriend and I. When that happened, I thought that it would be the end of all my sorrows and struggles. Little did I know, that would be the very instant where I would begin to spiral into a deep pit that I had never fallen down before.

By now, I thought that things would clear up and I would be back on an up and onward path.

In November of 2015, I was let go from a job that I eagerly took and only held for approximately two months. I was let go just three days before my 25th birthday.

Throughout this ongoing process of self-discovery and healing since that moment, I thought that, now, I had finally found solace in the beginning of February when a new job opportunity sought me out. I thought that this would be the turn of the tide.

About one week ago, I found out that they had decided not to keep me as an employee.

And just like that, I was right back in that pit.

When you’re in your darkest of moments, it’s quite difficult to find any speck of light. It’s difficult to even try to let any light in. That’s exactly where I am right now. In the dark, searching for light in this dark moment in my life.

The single most important thing that kept me hanging on and holding onto hope was finding my way back to God and having faith that all of these things that were happening are not in vain.

I can only hold my head high and trust that light will finally find its way to me.

I can only hope that soon, I will make my comeback. But for now, I’m still in the pit searching for light to find its way to me again.

*Read a continuation of this post in “My Comeback (Part 2)

Stronger than that

So, we’ve all flipped the page on another year and now it’s 2016. Many of us like to completely dismiss the events of the previous year and start anew in hopes that Day 1 out of 365 of the new year will be a fresh start for us – A new beginning. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s not a completely fresh start. I used to look at New Year’s as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward. And of course, that’s what we should all aspire to do. We should move forward and constantly keep moving forward. But I don’t think  that we should dismiss the events of the past.

I haven’t had the smoothest or easiest of years in 2015 and I know that I’m not the only one. I know that, compared to others, I didn’t even have it all that bad. Compared to others, I still have heaps more to be grateful for. I’m not bitter or resentful about the unfortunate things that have happened to me last year or any of the past years. And maybe I am writing this with hindsight bias because at the time, it was much harder during the actual heat of the moment, but looking back now, I know that I could never get to where I am without those moments of defeat. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Well, I’m so glad that I never stayed down after all of those moments of defeat.

In 2015, I thought that every obstacle was going to be the one that was going to send me over the edge. In 2014, I thought the same thing. And the same goes for 2013 and 2012. Ever since I graduated college, each year seemed to be getting harder than the last. The thing is, I realize more and more with each passing year that life will just never get easier. I’ll only get stronger. I’ll only get better at handling difficult situations. I’ll learn from the past.

We shouldn’t neglect the events from the past because they have made us who we are today. No matter how tragic or difficult our hardships from the previous years have been, they shouldn’t be in vain. They are milestones and they are a part of us. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should use them as a reminder that we are a lot stronger than we think.

The Re-Return

I am no stranger to the on-again-off-again relationship. Up until recently, I’ve been dealing with the same scenario for almost two years. Even now that I’ve “ended it” once again, I still question myself and wonder if I’m going to dig myself into the same hole that I have been attempting to crawl out of for the past two years.

I’m a serial re-returner. Even outside of my aforementioned on-again-off-again relationship, I tend to follow the same pattern of revisiting old memories, summoning ghosts from my past, and resuming old habits. As they say, old habits die hard.
 
When my ex-boyfriend and I broke up for the umpteenth time back this past June, I did what any typical broken-hearted girl would do. I went into an extremely deep and depressing period of Netflix binge-watching. You may be wondering what was my choice poison – Well, it was Grey’s Anatomy. Classic, I know.
 
I’ve never actually gotten through a majority of the seasons. I usually stop myself at some point halfway through once I’ve realized that I’ve had enough of suffering in silence. However, there was one quote in a particular episode that struck me, when Meredith Grey was narrating. She asks the question, 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 

This question really resonated with me and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time as I was wallowing what may be my 8th or 9th cycle of post break-up depression. Right then and there, I noticed, I was doing it again. I was re-returning. I was re-returning by going back to a show that I typically use as my routine pick-me-up whenever I’m sad. I was re-returning by thinking of my ex-boyfriend again. And it always follows the same pattern.

I’m a slave to the familiar. A clinger. I tend to hold onto things and people as tightly as possible, dismissing the reality of hindsight bias, which is when you look back at a particular situation and say to yourself, “It wasn’t all that bad” (even though it really was at the time).
 
So, I had to ask myself Meredith Grey’s question of 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 
To be quite frank, I honestly don’t know because apparently I always lean towards feeling the pain of old wounds that I never allow to fully heal.
 
Albert Einstein once said, 
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
Even as I am quoting this universal genius, I am already aware that I’ve quoted him in past writing which proves that I am, in fact, an insane person for continuously repeating my own history by going back to old habits.
 
I wonder, what makes us so afraid of creating new wounds? Old wounds aren’t any less painful than new ones. If anything, old wounds are actually more painful in the sense that re-opening them continues to make the scar worse until you are so far damaged that you’re actually incapable of creating new wounds. 
 
Re-opening old wounds, re-returning to those things and people who have hurt us, increases our risk for paralysis and that just terrifies me to my core.
 
If you ever observe children as they are running or playing, they don’t have that fear of getting hurt. They just do what they please and risk the pain because they are resilient and they can heal quicker than us adults can.
 
I’m afraid that I have re-opened too many old wounds to the point where I really am afraid of creating new ones. I’m afraid that I’m becoming that broken, cynical, scarred person that I once dreaded becoming.
 
Adulthood is nothing like I had expected it to be. I never imagined that the plans I had set out for myself wouldn’t go as I anticipated. I never imagined that the people I cared so deeply about would hurt me so much. I never imagined that I would even allow people to hurt me so badly.
 
But, I did. And I still am.
 
They say that time heals all wounds. Well, I’ve learned that time alone doesn’t do that phrase justice. You, as an individual, also have to make a conscious effort to protect yourself by leaving old wounds alone and allowing time to take its course.

The Motivation of Love

Nothing motivates a person more than love.

When I look at the great men and women in literature, art, music, etc., I notice one defining commonality between all of them – And that is the inspiration of a lost or found love. When I think back to my personal experiences, I recall all of the profound moments in my life; the milestones; the life-changing moves that I have made to become who I am today. And similarly, these moments happened in the midst of the beginning or the end of a romantic relationship.

Although it may work in different ways for some people, love significantly changes you. It leaves a mark on your soul to the point where you will be forever different from that moment on. Something happens inside; something that can make or break you.

When I look at my friends’ relationships and how it has changed them, I’m taken back by how much of an impact one person can make on your entire life.

Then, when I look at myself and I realize how much of an impression the relationships from my past have made on me.

As I am experiencing yet another failed relationship, I am able to see the things that I have done in reaction to this heartbreak. Though there were many times of weakness, I also notice the strength I have found to take that pain and turn it into something else, something great like writing, running, friendships, work, etc.

It’s amazing how much one person can influence your life. In the same light, it’s terrifying how strong of a hold that love can have on you; to make you do things that you never thought you were capable of.

I feel the changes happening once again in my life and I look forward to seeing how this shapes my future self.

Seeing how far I have come now, I can only hope that I become a better version of myself. Maybe (hopefully) one day, I’ll end up with the person that completes me after I have already completed myself. Maybe that’s what all this heart break is for; to prepare us for the big one – that big love.

And so, I’d like to thank my lost loves for shaping the person I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I have accomplished. I wouldn’t have been able to grow.

24

As I’m skimming through the many blog posts from my 23rd year of life, I’m noticing a pattern from where I was a year ago.

I re-read my entry from last year, “23 ” and I’m seeing that life really does come full circle in just a span of a year. I’ve faced almost identical hardships when I was 22 as I did when I was 23. Oddly enough, these similar hardships occurred at similar times during a particular season. I can only assume that this will continue in the years to come.

Similar to last year, the month of November has been nothing short of chaotic. In a single month, I’ve managed to start another new job (yet again), move into another new apartment (yet again), run the 2014 New York City Marathon, perform two shows with my band, and be in a relationship. I’ve always loved Autumn because it poses these opportunities for transformation. I suppose this may be why I’m so adaptive of change, being that my birthday falls in Autumn.

Another year has passes and I’m now 24. Honestly, I’ve never been so glad to say goodbye to a year.

I realize that I write about the same topics over and over again. I always question myself, asking why I repeatedly end up in identical hardships year after year. However, I can say this: Slowly, but surely, I am changing. Little by little, I am getting better at dealing with life. I am getting better at handling difficult situations. I am getting better at preparing myself for the worst. I am getting better at being adult (kind of)

I’m really looking forward to what 24 has in store for me. I look forward to experiencing more wonderful memories as well as hardships. Not all of 23 was as horrifying as I made it seem to be. There were many positive events and accomplishments that came with that age. Yet, I know that with every up also comes a down. It’s just all about holding on and enjoying the ride.

Here’s to 24.

What’s it Worth

The other night, I had a dinner  with a friend whom I’ve know for well over ten years. We talked a great deal about how far we’ve come since we were younger. We talked about how much change has happened since the last time we saw each other. There’s something special about re-connecting with a friend who has been around for a majority of your life. They know you before you became the person you are today. They’ve seen you evolve, struggle, and overcome obstacles through a long period of time. At the end of the day, those are the people that you really need in your life – The ones who will stay with you even when you are at your worst.

We both grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. Now, we both work in a similar job field in New York City. We related on our current lifestyles and the choices that we’ve made since we graduated college. We related on the fact that the life we lead seems so much more difficult than those who are still back home. Everything about New York City is just more difficult.

After several hours of catching up, I finally arrived at the question, “Why did we ask for this?”

She replied, “Because we want more. We’re always hungry.”

I don’t regret the decisions that I’ve made since I graduated college. Frankly, I don’t regret any of the decisions that I’ve made in my life because they’ve lead me to where I am now (although I may not know exactly where that is)

Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am notorious for jumping into things prematurely. I just get too excited like a puppy asking for food. I haven’t quite been fully trained on how to wait. I have never had the patience. However, I am a very committed person. The problem with this is that once I’ve committed to something, it’s very rare that I back out. I will stick around to make it work even though the timing was never right in the first place.

I’ve always wondered why things were so hard for me in the beginning of any endeavor. I have the “Why wait?” mentality, but this mentality doesn’t apply in all cases. And I never learn. I re-encounter familiar situations time and time again, anxiously waiting for the day that things will work out from the get-go. But I’m doing everything backwards – Expecting great results without setting aside the time and preparation that’s needed beforehand. I must be a fan of self-destruction because many of my difficult situations that I’m placed in can be easily avoided if I had just been patient.

I know that I’m not the kind of person to settle for a life that is just easier, but it always makes me wonder if it’s all worth it.

It’s just good to know that at the end of the day, there are people in my life that can tell me it’s all worth it.

Think.

I’m sure that most of you have heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”

Well, most of the time, we do. Actually, it could be safe to say that some of us always do. It’s human nature though. Sometimes, we just can’t help it.

For example, you fall in love with an apartment that you end up buying, but later find out that it has plumbing issues, the floorboards are crooked, and the bathroom has mold. You probably should have looked into this before signing the paperwork, but you were so blinded by your obsession with the great location, the floor plan layout, and the fact that the building has an elevator with a doorman. It’s hard to think about the negatives when all you see are the positives.

Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to be pessimistic, but I’m starting to think that maybe we should be a little more careful with the decisions that we make in our lives as we get older.

It’s much easier when you were a kid. You had the freedom to make silly decisions because silly decisions were all you had. The consequences weren’t as dire because your parents were usually the ruling hand (aside from teachers) The worst thing that could happen to you is your parents take away your toys and you’re left to sulk in silence. How terrible, right?

As we get older, the consequences that we receive come from all types of outside factors that could change the course of our lives forever.

I recently read a Medium article that my sister shared with me called, “I have 46 Thanksgiving dinners left with my family. After that, I’ll be Dead” It really dawned on me about how little time we have left on this earth. It suggested that we really start appreciating the people in our lives and the time we spend with our family, to stop worrying about the bullshit, and to be present in the memories that we are making.

As we get older, the more important decisions could come down to, “Should I switch job industries?” or “Should I fly out to spend Thanksgiving with my family or just stay here with my friends?”

These are the decisions that could change our lives forever. But I warn you, take a few minutes to step back and really think about what you’re doing because some decisions can’t be made undone.

What if the reason you were changing job industries was because there was another realm of business that “seemed” like it was doing better. Or what if you chose to spend your Thanksgiving with your friends because it would have been too much of a hassle to go home during a holiday?

At the moment, it seems like a minuscule decision, but these are the decisions that could breed the largest consequences.

What if you did change job industries and that business tanked? What if you missed Thanksgiving with your family and that was the last time you could have seen one of your relatives because he or she passed a few weeks later?

Sometimes, certain choices seem more appealing at the time, but as you get older, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t make split second decisions the way that you used to because you don’t have the same time as you did when you were 17. You never know what could happen. Some people come into your life and you want to put all of your cards down on the table for them, but in the end, you wind up alone because they never wanted the same things that you did. You have to look at the signs. You have to read through all the pages. You have to make the decisions that will be better for you in the long run.

I’m not discouraging anyone from taking risks or fulfilling their dreams. That’s not what I’m writing about at all. I’m just encouraging you to think.

It’s true that we become more afraid as we grow older. When we were kids, we would run as fast as we could without the fear of falling or getting hurt. Now, we’re so much more cautious with our hearts. But we must protect our hearts as we get older. That’s why we need to make more conscious decisions with the less and less time we have left on this earth.