Sunday, November 12, 2017

Courage

Even more so than when I left my PhD program in 2013, I have changed and grown a lot in these 2017 months. I feel stronger due to the chaos, pain, doubt, and cruelty I have experienced due to my changes and honesty. 

There are people who come in and out of our lives. Some never leave, some leave for a while, and most have their entrances and exits. Each has their purpose for us. We define relationships based on numbers. How long we've been friends, how long a marriage has lasted, how old we were when we met, how many texts we get a day. But the real impact has to do with quality, not quantity. Each has a purpose - a good purpose. Even someone who seems to cause nothing but pain is there to cause renewal and learning. There is always a change they are meant to instill in you, especially with their exit; look for it and find peace.

Relationship changes are crucial to our growth, change, and happiness. But even more so is the relationship we have with ourselves. If we are strong in that, we can more easily choose our relationships with others. We can walk away from those who refuse to show love, and we can hold on tighter to those who do, despite even major mistakes made. 

When someone has relationship difficulties as a pattern, in truth, they have self difficulties. I was very honest with myself this year. Honesty is one of the most difficult things for these people. Just by defining myself in honesty, just by choosing to be happy in the only way I knew how, I lost friends and family, and I gained friends and family. Two people in my life have encouraged me to have strength they knew I had, even when I didn't think I did. One, who had been my partner for eight years, encouraged me to be the person I really was, despite any hate I would surely receive because of it. Lovingly, he gave me the courage to be who I was. Another, who I had known most of my life but had walked out of my life for many years before coming back, gave me the courage to be even better than I was. She knew I could be even better just by being honest with myself and creating a strength the old me didn't possess.

Find the strength you have in each hardship to allow it to make you better. There is a saying, "whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Well, in honesty, this saying bothers me, especially as a professional. In truth, whatever doesn't kill us gives us a choice - to allow it to make us stronger OR weaker. It is not a rule, and it is not automatic. We either take our pain and allow it to make us new, stronger, or we allow it to bear us down.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fate

Earlier this year, when I was going through a separation and prepping for an impending divorce, a friend gave me some advice. If I had one thing to choose for myself in this life, it would be happiness, if nothing else. My friend told me that happiness is a large concept, but that I should chase all the small hints in life - follow each desire, each opportunity, each thing that lights my fire and what I feel passion for. And shed the things I don't.

In this last six months, I heeded this advice. More than anything else, I have followed my gut and not my head. I have acknowledged the people in my life who are no longer supportive when things get hard. I have jumped at my opportunities and refused to give in to fear. I have began my doctorate program, gotten divorced, helped as many people as I could, planned trips, and planned for the places and person I want to be with these decisions. I have spent time with the people I feel good around and those who truly seek to understand, rather than judge. And today, I can say that I am happy. I get stressed, anxious, scared, and angry, but I feel happiness more so than I have in the last decade. While I have never been slammed with so many curve balls in just one year, I bounce back after each one and still smile at the end of the day. I feel love and loved, and I feel passion for today and tomorrow.

So heed my second-hand advice to you: fuck the fear and any other thing that is stopping you, whether it be a person or job or responsibility. Work with the things you can't stop and shed the things that stop you. I warn you: it will be hard and so much won't feel good on the journey. You may not know yourself in six months. But it will be worth it. Be the person you want to be and not the person you think you are, or others think you are. Follow every good feeling and desire, and one day, you will go to bed and feel happy.

Do you believe in magic?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sacrifice

Sacrifice is something that we should all be familiar with. In order to live our lives fully as partners, professionals, friends, family, we must at some points in our time make sacrifices and choices.

The thing about sacrifice is that we often do it for the people we love. We sacrifice our home to move for our partner's job. We sacrifice relationships with others to commit to one. Sometimes, people sacrifice a friend for another. Sacrifice is inherent in relationships, and sometimes we need to sacrifice an old us in order to make way for the new us. But the trick is not sacrificing who you are - the parts of you that are beautiful and unchanging.

I read this recently from the poem The Invitation:

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

Sometimes, we make sacrifices that give up small or large pieces of ourselves. We give up things that change who we are, and potentially also challenge our self worth by feeling our true selves are not good or worthy, and one day we don't recognize ourselves. If we're lucky, as I have been this year, those voids in us and the parts of us that we are burying eat us alive until we burst - and have no choice but to just Be. Be who we are. Because who we really are today cannot be changed - not if we want it to, and not if someone else tells us it needs to.

I spent many years believing that things about myself needed changing. That I was too needy, or too emotional, or sensitive, or too much in touch with my intuition, my emotionality, and my heart. I was told these things, and being that there aren't many people around me who are the way I am, I believed it. In time, I pushed those parts of myself down - to be tough, to be normal, to be simple. But by nature, I am intense, and I am complicated, and I question everything. I am also compassionate, trustworthy, honest, and loving. And loyal. But as the poem indicates, loyalty to myself now has to come first. Even if I lose all of the people and things around me (and I have lost a lot this year for the sake of my own heart), I have to first be loyal to myself and who I am. And I now stand up and believe that there is nothing wrong with who I am. You cannot truly love yourself any other way.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Opportunity

Over four years ago, I dropped out of my PhD program. Broken and confused, I was looking for signs of my next step. In many ways, the field of social work fell into my lap. And like the ending of my chance at a PhD, I went with my heart and instinct. I went into a master's program in social work, and two years after graduation, I sit here able to state that it was the best choice I have ever made.

Even more so than four years ago, many changes are taking place in my life now, all of which are frightening. But if we allow it to, change - all change, good and bad - can be exciting as well. Because even the kind of change that breaks us down to nothing of our old selves, strips us of all of our assumptions and comforts, means we get to rebuild ourselves to exactly what we desire to be.

I am returning to school to get a doctorate in social work. A completely different kind of degree, but still planning to return to the world of academia - first, as a student, and hopefully later on as an employee - was something I couldn't even consider for years. But the person I am now gave way to different opportunities and desires, and also different strengths. Somebody said to me recently that every decision we make, we should make with our heart. And I do.

Monday, March 13, 2017

We All Change

Lately, I have become more and more aware of a change within myself. A person in my life, a rekindled friendship, has changed the way I feel about myself, life, and other people. Sometimes, it can be a person, an event, a move, or one single thing that is uttered from a stranger's mouth that can change your entire outlook or who you are. Sometimes, this one small thing can make you realize parts of yourself you didn't know were there.

I have discussed, in the past four years that I have been blogging, many changes that took place within me - specifically when I entered my PhD program, and again after I left it. The process and decision was the hardest by far I have had to make in this life, and it did change me forever. On the one hand, I am less judgmental, more open-minded, less focused on ego and success, and more focused on my relationships. On the other hand, I have less trust in my decision-making and more fear for making the wrong choices.

Not only do experiences change us, but so does time. Have you ever thought "what would I think of myself or my life if I looked from 4 years ago...or 4 weeks ago??!" Recently, I very much have. With age, experience, and time, sometimes we really do change. Sometimes, they are external changes (which we can all expect in life) that alters us internally. And sometimes, they are internal shifts and changes that may or may not permanently alter our outside world. Sometimes, our worlds just can't stay the same.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Being the Best Version of Yourself

In November, I wrote about picking up the pieces of ourselves when we feel broken. Recently, I have dug deeper into that sentiment by discovering long-buried broken-hearted pieces of myself that were just waiting for repair. Even for the strongest, face-your-problems-head-on types, there are small or large wounds that have been buried. Some pain is so tremendous that we suppress it as to not truly delve into it.

But the thing about pain is, that if we don't work through it, it will be buried deep inside of us - it will stay there. One day, now or far in the future, something will bring it back to the surface, and we will never be ready to deal with it. No moment will be ideal. But with that buried pain comes parts of ourselves which are undiscovered and parts of ourselves which are suppressed. Usually, this pain comes from relationships and loss, as not much else can touch our hearts so deeply. The pain is usually in those taboo topics and ignored mentions. 

We never know what we will find when we finally cope with the pain. We may find self-hate, guilt, shame, anger, and we also may find forgiveness, and love. But no matter what we find, we will learn more of ourselves there. And the more we know of ourselves, the more we can work on bettering our true selves.