What is “Sick”?

I don’t have many complaints about my host campus in Canada. It’s been great so far. People open doors for each other, classes are straightforward lectures. I really enjoy it.

Besides the fact that I don’t like their policy when it comes to excused absences for “sickness.” While I completely understand that it’s something that can easily be misused when students feign being sick to skip some class, in other cases, it’s not practical.

Attendance is up to the professors, which they are usually very kind about observing, especially in regards to scary weather conditions. But the only way to TRULY count yourself as “sick” is if you have a doctor’s note.

First off, I avoid the doctor at all costs. That mentality probably stems from my hometown’s measly operation that credited my anorexia as an “electrolyte imbalance.” Yeah, still bitter about that. I have even written in the past about some medical professionals’ lack of acknowledgement of mental illness and all that it entails. The mind has extraordinary effects on us. Our mindset directly effects everything else going on in our bodies. Symptoms like digestive problems, trouble sleeping, headaches/migraines, chronic aches and pains, really anything, can come back to mental illness if you’re prone to it. But that isn’t the first prognosis a doctor would give you if you came in with physical symptoms. They’d be looking for a physical illness as the root cause.

I am a very healthy person. So when I don’t feel well, it’s often as a result of mental illness. In where again lies a problem with healthcare and mental illness. Never have I heard or seen a doctor write a note in the midst of mental illness, not unless it involves extreme physical repercussions like anorexia maybe. Besides that, it’s difficult for doctors to give someone slack for just being depressed or anxious. If you can’t see it, then you can just “toughen up and get through.”

I’ve come to the realization that I can no longer pretend to be okay when I’m not, at least not to the extent that I used to. My entire high school career was a blur of absentminded pain whilst playing it off as nothing. Putting on a mask to disguise the hamster wheel inside my head whirling around worries and paranoia. It was easy to ignore the hunger vibrating in my gut when I had piles of schoolwork to focus on.

The school system both cultivates and ignores mental illness. My life has always seemed to be ruled by arbitrary letters and numbers as an indication of my achievements. Perfectionism thrives off of scales, whether they measure weight or test scores. Even as my semester is mainly consisted of lectures, the fact that only two or so major tests will determine my performance freak me out. They’re sitting in a dark corner, just waiting to strike. I still have a few weeks before I even tackle those, and I’m already nervous.

In classrooms and doctors’ offices, we are equipped with the tools and knowledge to keep us healthy…physically. Only a fraction of our health relies on our physical well-being, and even that is heavily dependent on our other areas of wellness. When one is not synchronized, the others suffer. But that isn’t a situation you’d think of going to a doctor to write you a note saying you just need a break.

I cannot even imagine a teacher saying that somebody was absent because they were depressed that day, or too anxious to move or think. We’re expected to just keep going on with life as if nothing is wrong. But brushing off the severity of mental illness only makes it worse. That mentality teaches us to suppress our problems. The symptoms aren’t contagious, so teachers don’t warn us to stay home or else other students will inhale the germs.

In this situation, changing things is a collective effort required from all parties involved. At the doctor’s office, in school, we make mental health transparent. We foster environments that do not shame us for the days we struggle with normal functioning, as many as 20% of the population struggling, a fraction of people we cannot ignore. We ensure teachers are understanding if a student isn’t about to get out of bed to sit in a doctor’s office to write a note to send to the teacher, a process which when writing it out is overly complicated, in my opinion.

Last week, my campus had a table set up each day to discuss mental health, a great step in the right direction. But we spend so much time talking and little time taking action, implementing our words into everyday life, only dedicating a week or day to remembering its importance, when we should be making the effort every chance we get to fighting the stigma. This might mean examining everything we see as normal protocol and suggesting change, certainly not an easy task, but one that is necessary.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

What is Enough?

NOTE: I wrote this in a very low, dark mood. But I believe it’s crucial to share mental illness, in its mildest forms and when it is just plain ugly. I’m in a better mindset now, but this is a place I can easily fall back into. Please, everyone, take care of yourselves.

This, of course, is a lot of mental illness talking. Which is why I think it’s important to share. We keep our doubts and insecurities internal to the point that they make even less sense than they already do. That, however, does not make them any less valid.

I think too much. My mind constantly wanders to the bigger mysteries of life, things so abstract and unknown that my head can go in circles for hours. That might play a big role in why I cling to spirituality so often because it at least tries to give me answers. I can usually control myself to where I don’t become too overwhelmed. Other times, I can’t, as is today.

I do not recommend thinking about the meaning of time in a public area. If you are mentally ill like me, you are prone to a panic attack accompanied by holding back tears. The weather conditions, a dangerous mix of snow and freezing rain, does not help my mentality right now.

The root of a lot of my distress directly comes from comparison. I am fantastic at it, to say the least. I unconsciously am always looking at others, whether it’s their physique or lives or achievements, and I dwell on it. Although fully knowing that we are each doing the same things with others, envying and longing for what we don’t have, I still observe, I feel the energy around me, and it’s overwhelming, to a point I slightly lose myself in the process.

Heck, who am I even? What is my significance here in the retrospect of things? Have I done all I can? What am I doing right now?

In darker places, you wonder if you’re just here taking up space. You see the achievements people have earned, the number of people who love and remember them, the impact they’re having in the world, the way they spend their time. Things I see as living a full life. That for most days, you’re somehow making a difference, you’re regularly getting out of your comfort zone, you’re doing things that matter, and people take notice.

Or you’re here, just going through the motions. Having simple daily functions like getting out of bed or taking a shower as the most you do  all day. You don’t do anything productive in your spare moments. You have people who you sometimes interact with who are talking to others more often. You have really no idea what to do with your future.

I share these things because in a normal situation, I would push these aside and not really share them. I honestly wouldn’t know how to enunciate them out loud. But it’s powerful and reassuring to know you aren’t the only one with the same doubts. So many others have the same thoughts swirling around. There’s always people better or worse off than you are. And yet we still think of ourselves as mere specks on the fabric of time and life. We are human, unable to go against nature. We all succumb to the same fate, no matter what we did in life. It doesn’t matter whether you found a cure for cancer or never worked a day in your life. How morbid.

We all have different definitions for “time well spent.” The only person truly judging our worth is us. We set standards from some justification and critique every move we make. How productive our day was. How many people talked to us. What grades we earned or how much money we made. And for what? Why must we be so harsh to the point we cannot appreciate time or our numbered days because we spend so much of them wanting, but not doing, more.

When you are prone to more self-destructive thoughts, you think about time differently. It’s often a weapon against ourselves to continue the inner battle. To inflict more wounds, physical and mental. It’s a form of justification for our actions to say, if I’m not doing anything valuable, if I’m just taking up space, someone else deserves it. We often think of things like suicide, depression, and self-harm as very selfish, but they are quite the opposite. These negative mindsets come from low self-worth, that the world deserves better.

It’s an endless, vicious cycle. I certainly don’t have the answers. I’m like anybody else, just trying to make it through, one day at a time. In this case, I’m always better at speaking to others rather than following my own advice, and today is no exception.

Take this post up until now as a means of how NOT to think about yourself. Your existence matters. You are here, on this world and in this life, for a reason. You are loved and appreciated. You are worthy of every minute, no matter how you spend it. Others are living their own lives, which are by no means a guideline for ourselves. You are you, a child of the universe no less valuable than the trees, the stars.

And if I could do anything with my time to make it well spent, I will use every breath I have to remind others of this message.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Plant-based Recovery

I talk often about my past and everyday struggles with food. I talk often about my passion for the plant-based lifestyle I chose to lead about nine months ago. But I haven’t talked about the two topics together, and why they seem to coincide so well.

In both my disordered mind and rejuvenated one, I have been drawn to the social media communities of vegans who have a similar past as I do. Many of the people I see online had suffered from an eating disorder to then transition to veganism. In fact, it’s rare to find someone online who hasn’t admitted to such a struggle. I’m in that boat, and that was one of many determining factors when deciding to become vegan.

But why are the two so interconnected? What appeals eating disorder survivors to become plant-based? Of course, many will say that veganism is just another form of restriction, that it’s a clever mask to hide the underlying problem, that these vegans are lying to themselves saying they “recovered” through veganism.

I, however, see a much different correlation, one I’d like to share, especially for those in the similar boat I was in, wanting to begin a new lifestyle when others know of your destructive tendencies, making any sort of change to diet very suspicious. Because yes, veganism can easily become another way of restricting. When you aren’t educated in how to successfully maintain the lifestyle and don’t have adequate resources in your environment, you’re doomed to some sort of failure.

This is where I stop with the negativity because the positivity and benefits resulting from the change are as abundant as the amount of food you can enjoy as a vegan. People come into the lifestyle for many various reasons, my point exactly. When in a disordered mindset, your relationship toward food becomes very hateful and fearful. But having a specific reason beyond yourself for eating really changes your perspective.

You’re not just eating to potentially gain weight or get your hunger cues back, which are still important, but they are topics that can feel very uncomfortable. Instead, you are eating because it’s saving animals’ lives. You are eating to reduce your carbon footprint. It is a form of advocacy that makes eating into something more meaningful to others. The misconception about eating disorders is that they are very shallow or vain in their intentions, but they mental illnesses they embody themselves in a coping mechanism, just like OCD or addiction, except the substance involved is unavoidable. In that case, why not make the substance one that results in a positive impact?

Also, the food itself is nutrition that our bodies crave. You can feel good about what you put into your body because it’s automatically healthier for you than animal products. It’s food that will heal you from the inside out. It’s food that will actually make you feel good, not sluggish or bloated like meat and dairy can. It’s food you can enjoy in abundance without feeling guilty. From experience, at a certain point in the cycle of restricting, feeling hungry almost turns into a high, your body randomly finding a burst of energy, a negative reassurance that “hey, maybe this isn’t so bad after all,” even when you know in your gut that it is. But plant-based foods result in an even better feeling than that.

And hey, it’s food that is fresh, vibrant, and really delicious. Because yes, there’s plenty of people out there suffering from an eating disorder curious about the different diets out there, obsessing over food in any way possible, but eating plant-based means that you don’t have to worry about portioning everything and worrying about every little calorie. As long as it’s vegan, it’s good. That mindset might seem constrictive, but it’s actually one of the most liberating.

Last semester I wrote an entire research paper arguing the benefits of eating vegan to support a healthy mindset when it comes to any mental illness. While it’s a topic that has yet to receive the attention it deserves, the major factor in any discrepancies in data comes from ignorance, not knowing what nutrients to look for and amount of food to eat every day. We need to stop seeing veganism as a fad diet and start recognizing it as a sustainable lifestyle, probably the healthiest one on the planet. When I was in therapy for my eating disorder, I had to constantly defend myself for being vegan, as if I was “recovering wrong,” a major reason why I felt uncomfortable was so glad to lessen my number of appointments. I was eating again; that’s what truly mattered.

Everyday people and health professions alike need to expose themselves to research and information surrounding veganism, especially in eating disorder recovery. It IS possible, as so many have shown, and it’s becomingly an increasingly popular choice. Rather than stuffing yourself with junk food until you reach a certain weight, people can start eating plant-based foods and shift their lifestyle to one they can continue for the rest of their life, truly adopting a positive outlook toward food. Plant-based foods contain all of the nutrition you need to thrive. Not only does veganism teach struggling individuals how to eat well, it teaches them how to truly live.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Folded Hands, Open Heart

Yesterday, I talked about how I picked up the habit of reading in every spare second I feel motivated. Today I will share another habit I’ve picked up in my daily routine that has made a definite difference in how I live and see the world, and that is prayer.

I don’t care if you’re religious or not, meditation is great, too. I personally enjoy directing my energy toward a certain entity, some manifestation and purpose beyond myself. I have spent other posts discussing the role of spirituality in my life, and today is no exception.

Except before when I talked about spirituality, I felt like a hypocrite. I wrote about the numerous benefits, my beliefs toward it, the values I hold near and dear, and yet I wasn’t consciously thinking about them outside of those moments of stillness, typing away on a computer. I would schedule the post and walk away, back into the hectic world, back into my clouded mindset.

I grew up praying every night before going to bed. It was something my family always did. We didn’t go to church every Sunday, but my mom, brother, and I each had a part of a nightly prayer we would recite together. Mine was always the Lord’s Prayer, a classic. I remember countless times just going through the motions, not dwelling the words I was speeding through in order to just be done and go to bed.

When the time came to pray on my own, I still wasn’t very good at it, as if God is judging me for my attempts at talking to Him. I would pray about insignificant details in my life, until it got to a point where I wasn’t praying at all. I would take long hiatuses from doing anything, to jump back in for a month or so, and again miss a day in there, thinking that once I screwed up once, there’s no point in trying again.

But despite my limited number of resolutions for this year, prayer made the list. I wanted to get more in touch with spirituality, that I could lead the life I envisioned for myself, one where I actively hold my beliefs tightly and make time to learn more about them. On days where the last thing I can think of doing is getting out of bed, and find the motivation from knowing and believing in the purpose of every day. It’s not a cure for my struggles, but faith acts as umbrella. The rain will continue to fall as it always does, but having it in your hands keeps you drier than without it.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pulling out my little prayer book, randomly flip to a page, and read it to myself. I look out my big window. I dwell on the words. The process never takes more than a couple of minutes, but it’s a little moment of peace for myself I had been continuously skipping. I do this every morning and evening.

Despite the short duration I take, perhaps it is a little placebo effect kicking in, but I feel like my mindset has shifted. When I’m out of bed, my mornings aren’t as slow. I’m not going to bed every night with thoughts rushing through my head, repeating like a broken record. I have thought more about the part of my life in general, thinking about what more I could do. This little decision I made is a brick laid into my foundation, a place I can grow from. A gradual process, unlike the numerous times I tried to pick it up with unrealistically high expectations, only leading to disappointment.

And I hope I can grow from here. That I feel drawn to pray more often, to seek more opportunities to feel more grounded in my faith. I am beyond proud of myself for sticking to my goal thus far in hopes that I can truly embody the person I want to be. Someone who is knowledgeable, open, and kind. Someone who finds comfort and provides it to others. Someone who can meditate away from the over-stimulating details of life and focus on a deeper meaning.

I speak in vague terms because in that way, these thoughts can apply to more people. Not everybody will find their faith in Christianity, nor should they feel obligated to. I’m not going to become a preacher and spew Bible verses at you. That’s not my message. Heck, I’m not a big fan of a large portion of the Bible. In any case, having faith and believing in the power of spirituality is just as important as taking care of your body. Doing so feeds your soul. Even atheism can bring comfort to some, just as long as you have something, anything, to believe in. Believe in people, science, your own abilities. If we are beginning to see the astounding benefits of self-care, spirituality is the ultimate source of it.

I hope to continue my practice indefinitely. I hope my small daily efforts can build into a dramatic difference. And no, I am not immediately compelled to attend a church service. That is a whole other story. I prioritize my personal spiritual relationship. That is the connection that truly matters. I will build a church within myself. And through that, I hope to create the life I want to lead.

Take care, and (truly) keep the faith. -Allie

 

Another Chapter

As you can notice by the title, I’m exploiting another way I’m jumping on the bandwagon of yesterday’s post, my longest post to date to proclaim the passing of a new year of life.

This change isn’t as noteworthy, but it’s something I have particularly enjoyed, and that is reading. Since probably high school, I have not consistently read a book. Just for pleasure. Taking the time to choose a physical book and just read.

boook

Admitting that disgusts me. I have always loved reading. I didn’t originally want to be an English major just because. But even when I did read when I was younger, I always stuck to the same kinds of books. Nancy Drew? Hardy Boys? Agatha Christie? I’m down.

Now that I’ve had the time to really devote to a hobby of sorts, I had the urge to buy a book. If I could manage reading from an e-reader or computer, I would in a heartbeat knowing that it’d be much better for the environment, but I just can’t, probably a big reason why I haven’t read while in college. It’s not exactly practical to carry around a bunch of novels with you when having to worry about packing up for dorm life.

Other activities, priorities, and life in general have gotten in the way from reading. When asking for gifts, I gravitated toward clothes and makeup. When I had a spare moment from the hustle and bustle of activities and schoolwork, I chose to surf the web or watch TV. Before I go to bed and when I wake in the morning, I’ve adopted the not-so great habit of scrolling aimlessly through social media. Reading seems like a pastime that requires a major chunk of time, that once you start a book, everything else takes the backseat until it’s read from cover to cover.

I actually started reading during winter break. As the only person in the house most days, no job necessarily to go to, I began gravitating again toward books. It had been so long since I had really asked for books, so I had absolutely no idea what to even ask for, what authors are good, anything. Now I can’t imagine how I went so long without it incorporated into my day. If you were to ask me of any set number of books I want to read this year, I wouldn’t know. I’d like to be surprised at the end of the year by how large of a theoretical stack I have collected. It feels as if I’ve missed out for so long that I’m finally now catching up.

I didn’t plan to include reading as any sort of goal or resolution for the year, but it’s something I’ve easily adopted into my routine here. Every day, no matter how much time I have, I read. Gratefully (for now), I don’t have everyday work to keep up with beyond this blog, so whenever I get back from class or even in between classes, I have noticed myself wanting to pick up a book than a phone. It’s made me notice even more how many people are spending their times with their noses glued to their phones in any spare moment, something I want to avoid for myself as much as possible.

My desire to read has been lying dormant, just recently waking up, starving for more books. Having the motivation to long for reading is important to me, when I’ve spent so long not having any interest in anything whatsoever, it gives me hope. Now if I’m feeling low, even if I have to force myself to do it, if I have a good book in my hand, it makes me feel more accomplished. And just within the first two weeks I’ve been in Canada, I’ll have finished four novels, a big deal for someone who hasn’t read consistently in so long. I didn’t expect to budget out money I’d be spending on books, since the library here is strictly academic, but here I am, worrying about where I can get the best deal on books.

A fun sustainable note: in the downtown area in Lennoxville, a cute little place called Black Cat Books is a used book store, something I’ve never been to before. From floor to ceiling, books are stacked high, gently used and needing a home. If you’re like me and want to be as environmentally conscious as possible but still crave some traditional norms, like physical copies of books, this is an amazing find. Obviously other thrift stores have book sections, but to have something so quaint randomly close by to my college is fantastic. Not to mention, they’re cheaper than new copies, too. Who knows what new discoveries I’ll encounter.

book

This change in my life just seems appropriate, it feels right, especially as I look toward the future. If I do decide to go to graduate school, it would be for a publishing program. I want immerse myself in a world where I can read for a living, where I can help others achieve their dreams, and hopefully make the connections to achieve my own as an aspiring writer, the ultimate goal. But learning more about the middle ground of the industry in charge of the process is important.

Obviously not everybody is a fan of reading. But everybody needs that spark in their lives, an activity or hobby that truly brings you joy, and scrolling through your phone for the millionth time won’t do that. It truly is the simple pleasures in life that make it worth living.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Four Little Letters

I’ve always been drawn to personality tests and psychology and whatever can help me learn more about myself. Some sort of visible evidence that I’m somewhat normal. Whatever that means.

Obviously I’m not going to rely on Buzzfeed-type quizzes to dictate how I understand myself, but more credible sources have actually piqued my interest for quite a while. I also don’t pay much mind to horoscopes, although I do sometimes feel like checking out what Aquarius is up to. Firstly, when I first understood what introversion was and the characteristics associated with it, I was beyond appalled by how well that described my nature. From a first glance, I easily fit the key qualities of introverts to a T.

I now know of a way to go even further when it comes to characterizing my personality, and that is the Myers-Briggs test. Four random letters than from a first glance don’t mean much. In short, “the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.” (Thank you, Wikipedia, as always.)

The test is in various different forms on the internet, asking questions like any other personality test. While there are only two different letters for each spot, each spot indicates a scale of a certain trait. Even though the test will tell you what you gravitate toward mostly, it’s not as black-and-white as it seems, something I greatly appreciate. For example of said scale, the first spot involves introversion and extroversion. We all know where I end up on that one.

And as an individual, you can believe it as you will. To think that everybody on the planet easily fits into only sixteen distinct personalities sounds absurd, but psychologist C. G. Jung originally proposed that the seemingly random behaviors and decisions we make somehow fit together in a much more organized way. We’re human, after all, creatures of habit, often choosing what’s most comfortable and natural for us.

As I mentioned earlier, the first letter is dictated by a preference for outer energy or inner energy. What drains you? What holds your interest more? More commonly known as extroversion and introversion.

Next letter: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in, or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? The former is very black-and-white, analytical, and takes things strictly at face value. The latter is more imaginative, will see more of a grey area, especially depending on their own and others’ emotions toward the information. This distinction is Sensing or Intuition.

When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? (Judging or Perceiving). And finally, in dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided right away (preferring a structured schedule), or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? (People who like to be more spontaneous). This is Judging and Perceiving.

And if you’re bored to tears by today’s information vomit, you can, of course, Google search to your little heart’s desire. I just wanted to make the point that even though I can’t expect some test to explain every little detail about myself, I think it’s still important to know who you are, and if taking a test can help explain it, go for it. This particular test isn’t one that works for everyone, as I have heard some people who get a different personality type every time. Personally, no matter what, I always end up with the same one, so I’m sticking to it. I’m proud to say I’m an INFJ. Does it make me feel just a little cool to know I’m in the rarest group of the bunch? I mean…yes.

As I’ve gotten older, I definitely see a difference in how I few myself. I see myself less as a stranger and more as an old friend. I know my instincts, I know how I typically respond to certain situations, and that brings me some comfort. Before when I realized my Myers-Briggs result, I really studied in-depth into it, thinking I was finding some missing puzzle piece to discovering myself. Having a four-letter label does give me some sense of credibility, a sense that I’m not alone, but it’s not the end-all solution. It’s a set of broad guidelines, more educated than a horoscope but still broad. If you’re completely lost as to who the heck you are, it’s a starting place. But in no way should it completely explain or validate you as a unique individual.

There is also an important that I appreciate about Myers-Briggs: no type is better than the other. We can see the clear differences among people, but they entitle anybody above others. There’s no “goal MBTI” to try and become. You are you. Keep doing that. Also, the resulting personality profiles are constantly being updated as research continues to this day, over fifty years since its first publication. We are ever-evolving people, not just a walking set of letters and traits.

The only way to reach a personal “goal MBTI” is to be yourself, whoever that may be. Don’t apologize for not being a certain way. Just live, grow, and love. Each a four-letter word. If only life were that simple.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

 

Twenty Lessons

This post marks the day I leave my teen years behind. Not like I feel any differently, but it’s remarkable to realize how far I’ve come in such a short number of years.

To commemorate my departure from adolescence, I wanted to take a little time to reflect and look forward to what is to come. Perhaps the best way I can do so is by listing some things I’ve learned along the way, far too many to count, but let’s stick to twenty.

1.Asking for help doesn’t make you incapable or weak. It takes courage.

I know I spent far too much time in silence simply because vulnerability freaked me out. The last thing I ever wanted to do was open myself up to anybody, let alone a stranger. I was scared of the repercussions. In reality, those repercussions were necessary. I had both bottled up my problems, pushing them further and further away, and refused to acknowledge them until I was a shell of a person. Asking for help, using your resources to take care of yourself, is the strongest choice you can make. Sure doesn’t make it easier. The benefits are definitely not immediate, but it is worth it.

2.You can’t force someone to like you, and that doesn’t make you any less worthy of love and acceptance.

All you really need in life is a core group of people who support you and love you for who you are. What other people think doesn’t really matter. You don’t need to sell yourself to others fully well knowing that you just don’t click. It’s normal. Just live your life to please yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

3.If you’re hungry, eat.

Eating an extra snack or going in for a little extra at a meal will not somehow ruin your life. Depriving yourself will only backfire in the long run. Comparing your meals and eating habits to others won’t do you any good, nor assuming that everybody is critiquing your own bodily necessities. And sometimes you have to eat when you aren’t hungry, too, for the times when your body is out of whack. Ultimately, food is not the enemy, so don’t treat food like anything other than what it is: food.

4.You’ll have plenty of days where your biggest accomplishment will be getting out of bed. Celebrate those little victories.

Life is just hard sometimes. Each day is not like the next. Some days will  be about accomplishing big tasks and spending time with others. Some days are about just doing basic hygiene and letting yourself rest. Both are inevitable, and again, comparison is the thief of joy. Or, in this case, celebration. Just because days look different doesn’t mean that they are not each a gift. The most important accomplishment you’ll achieve is simply living.

5.You make a greater impact on others than you might realize.

When you over-analyze every situation, you don’t really think that your existence is anything impressionable upon others. Talking to a blank wall, a walking mass of cells, just here. It might not be loud or dramatic, but people remember you. They recognize what you do. If you work hard, someone will appreciate it. If you need help, sometimes the person you’d least expect will reach out. And nothing of that nature ceases to blow you away every time.

6.It’s okay to not have it all figured out.

Plans change. You aren’t in complete control, and you’ll run in circles trying to do so. I don’t care if you’ve spent years envisioning your future in a certain way, allow room for life’s twists and turns. Heck, you’re still young. If you don’t have any life plan figured out right now, you will soon. (cough, grad school).

7.You are only a victim if you choose to be.

We all go through our fair share of challenges, but they only define you if you let them. Your perceptions are your reality. If you see your struggles as opportunities for growth, you become less of a victim and more of a warrior.

8.Time and a change of scenery can heal many wounds.

It takes a little time to get used to a change like college or living on your own, but man, is it great. Having a space and outlet to really be with yourself can help you appreciate the others in your life and figure out the person you truly want to be. Change is uncomfortable, but it leads to wonderful things.

9.Your health and well-being should always be your top priorities.

Wellness is the foundation for everything you do. You cannot successfully juggle school, work, relationships, or anything else if your mind and body aren’t functioning properly. If you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without your heart pounding or can’t focus on anything because you’re too anxious, take a step back and do what is best for you. The assignment you’re trying to complete a month in advance can wait.

10.Swallowing pills, phone calls, and other adult-ish things aren’t so bad.

The pills you take everyday are really small, and making and going to your own appointments still isn’t fun, but they aren’t as daunting as you make them out to be. It’s a part of life. Just get it out of the way.

11.Striving for perfection leads to failure.

Cliche as it sounds, nobody is perfect. “Perfect” doesn’t exist. One idea of perfect will just continue morphing into new ones until you completely lose yourself in the process. You may not be perfect, but you’re fine just the way you are. You are doing the best you can, and that is enough.

12.Labels don’t automatically solve problems.

Admittedly, it’s nice to have some sort of name or diagnosis to feel valid, like you aren’t just talking gibberish, that it isn’t just all in your head. But if the label addresses a problem, a label is only the beginning. It takes a lot of work, trial and error, before a label is accurately treated. Don’t discount labels, but don’t solely rely on them.

13.Never go a day without coffee.

When you have an addictive personality, starting a habit like coffee means you’re in for the long haul. Luckily it tastes good.

14.You don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it.

As a lifelong perfectionist, I struggled a lot, especially in high school, due to its competitive nature. Everybody is joining as many activities as possible, trying to earn a leadership position to stick a line their resume and win some scholarship money. Except I’ve always been more of “third place” person. Never ending up first, but still doing pretty well. Which was not good enough for me. As that environment has shifted toward more individuality and less clawing your way to the top, I’ve come to appreciate just enjoying things that are fun and not forcing myself to do things that I don’t have to do just for the sake of a title.

15.Don’t make assumptions, especially about people.

As I myself have opened up more about my struggles, people who I never would have interacted with otherwise have come to me with similar backstories. People I assumed had everything put together and weren’t relatable. Boy, I was wrong, and that has opened my eyes to how despite considering yourself open-minded, you cannot make assumptions about the struggles we each face. Let your open mind become an open heart, too.

16.There is something good in every day.

I cannot expect every day to be good. Yes, my mindset can play a big role in what I perceive as good and bad, but it’s unrealistic to somehow turn every situation into a positive one. Sometimes it just sucks. But that doesn’t mean that every day is a gift, there is a purpose in living it, and whether it be a just a moment or its entirety, take the time to reflect on it and appreciate it.

17.Take off your mask.

In a similar frame of mind as the previous lesson, there are certain times when yes, you need to put on a brave face and bear the burden. You smile with others to celebrate their happiness, even if that means putting your emotions on the back burner. Heck, I’ve become great at it. But that also leads me to bottle up everything, to pretend it isn’t there until I cannot take it anymore. It’s much more important to be honest with yourself and others, admit when you aren’t okay, and be open with it.

18.Silence isn’t always a bad thing.

The dreaded “awkward silence.” I am a PRO at that. Stop seeing silence as something scary and dreadful and instead just natural. We become so overstimulated and used to some sort of background noise or screen in our faces to fill the void, but that simply increases our fear toward silence. Silence can speak so much louder than noise ever can. It can bring peace and comfort words cannot describe. So if you’re like me and are okay with that silent break in conversation, embrace it unapologetically.

19.Overthinking creates more problems than life ever will.

There is a big difference from being cautious and smart, to going over the line, blowing things up into extreme proportions to the point that what was simple turns into menacing. Thanks, anxiety. But what we think, we attract in our lives. What we think becomes our perception of reality. Learn to stop yourself in those times of uncertainty, dwelling on measly decisions because of possible repercussions. Listen to your gut before your mind takes completely over. Life is as complicated as we make it out to be.

20.The best is yet to come. Always.

The past is behind you and will never define you. You have the power to recreate yourself in every breath that passes through your lungs. The past will never return, and each time you glance over your shoulder, you hold yourself back. You reread the same old chapter on an endless loop. But the present moment has the potential for even better. The future holds possibility and opportunity we cannot ourselves predict. It’s time to flip the page. Move forward with the passing of time because fighting against nature only limits our time to gaze at the beauty surrounding us before it passes by. No matter your age, background, or situation, the present moment is a gift, and it’s never too late to start making the most of every second.

Have a wonderful day everyone. And with each day, make the most of it. Cherish it.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie