For the last two years, I was “going through the motions”. I was a college student, retail employee, pet-mom, daughter, sister, and best friend; I also became a girlfriend and adopted daughter by the end of it. I did some things to maintain my energy; for a while, I took guitar classes. Then I took martial arts classes. Then I took some classes at the local YMCA. Then I just played some Shakira and danced at random hours of the night. It’s how I allowed myself to feel like…well, myself. I can’t say it worked completely, but it was some easy fun and stress relief.
I think the downward spiral truly began around this time last year. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve never exactly been a ‘ray of sunshine’, but I was optimistic and could set goals for myself I felt were worth working toward. Darkness sort of just hit me. I realized I didn’t want to wake up to do much of anything. I made a fortress of my bed and called it home. I couldn’t focus in school and had to try for the same credits about 3 semesters in a row. I went to amazing places like D.C. and the French Quarter, and boy did I enjoy it in the moment, but what would have usually been inspiration didn’t inspire me anymore. I’d go home after those trips and continue sleeping my days away. Waiting until the very last minute to get out of bed and go to work. Hoping something extremely bad or miraculously good would happen to free me from the drudgery that felt like my life.
Of course, no magical or cursed event took me out of my misery, and a few weeks ago, I thought maybe I should take matters into my own hands–and not in the good, productive way that a therapist or a concerned mother would hope for. I hit the lowest I’d ever been. And in the very much cliched denouement to part one of a who-knows-how-many-part series of my life, I’ve managed to see at least glimpses of the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and convince myself that maybe it’s still there after all.
Getting out of your rut and finding light in your life isn’t impossible. Here’s what you need to do it:
Acceptance of What Makes You Happy in the Moment
One thing I realized recently was that the things that made me feel like life was worth living didn’t seem important anymore. I didn’t care about graduating or getting my own space and filling it with my own little fashion footprints. Some days I cared about writing, some I didn’t. Some days it was drawing. Some days, my animals. Other days it was having a de-cluttered space. Still, it was just as common for me to find no excitement in anything. I hated myself for that, and hated myself even more for the inconsistency. But that’s not exactly conducive to finding mental/emotional peace, is it?
It’s always good to keep going, pushing with consistency toward a goal that you’ve set for yourself. But if you can find even a modicum of happiness in any other task–maybe it’s baking, spending time with loved ones (to include furry friends), listening to good music, reading or finding a good TV show to watch–make sure you take some time to do that, too. Give yourself a break. Be on your own side, and don’t beat yourself up when you’re tired and wary. Burnout happens. Try not to let it dictate your ability to enjoy other aspects of life.
People Who Encourage and Have Faith in You
I’m the type that’s very careful about who she discloses her dreams to. Meaning, I’m sensitive. I don’t want to give people the power to make me doubt myself, even for an instant–between you and me, I do enough of that already and I don’t need the help, thanks.
I still haven’t opened up fully to my boyfriend, but the great thing about him is that the few things I do share with him, his response is usually something along the lines of, “That’s great! I know you can do it.” And when I admit my fears, he encourages me with the great one-liners, “What do you have to lose?” and “Who wouldn’t want to hire you?”
Most of the jobs I’ve applied for that I really wanted have been flops, but because of him, I’m encouraged to keep trying. And it isn’t just that he has faith in me; his faith in the world and in the opportunities in it are so refreshing. It’s great to have people by your side that encourage you. It’s amazing to have people by your side that encourage you and truly believe in their own words.
If you don’t feel like you have anyone like that in your life, try to find niches online that will support and help better you; WordPress is a great place to start. The more faith and positivity you allow into your life, the easier it will be to call on it when you need it, and to believe in it yourself.
A Little Bit of Dedication
(Please don’t hate me for this)
We’ve all heard that epic scripted Shia Labeouf rant, “Just Do It!” Yeah, with the rattail and the green screen and the weird flexing. You know the one.
Have you heard the entire thing?
I kid you not, when that first became a meme, it also became my mantra, even if it was only for a short time. It was a little goofy and awkward, sure, but the message was incredible. “You should get to the point where anyone else would quit, and you’re not gonna stop there!” I just re-listened to it, and I’m hyped up. This gem encouraged me to go the extra leg on my runs (I say extra leg and not extra mile because that would imply that I run more than one mile), apply for writing jobs when I was scared, and do other things that otherwise made me anxious or required stamina I wasn’t sure I had. It got me out of bed some days before the worst of it kicked in.
I said before that you have every right to be exhausted; you need a break. Rest. Find your simple pleasures. But don’t forget what you’ve been working for. Remember your goals. Write them on the walls if you have to. As tough as it is to be exhausted, it’s tougher still to feel like you’ve been letting too much of your time go to waste.
And, the Kicker: Time
I know how cliche this is, but it’s so true. Your mentality won’t change overnight. You won’t rediscover your reason for living overnight. If there’s a skill you need that you feel is out of your reach, it’s so important to remember that it takes time to acquire those skills for anybody. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or that it isn’t worth the effort. And it’ll take some time to accept that, too. There might be a little voice in the back of your mind murmuring to you, “It’s okay. Just have a little faith. Everything will fall into place if you just wait a little while longer.” If it’s not there, it’s right here on this blog. Listen to it.