Stuck in the Middle

Do you ever feel like you’re going about your day, being productive in your work, but feeling like you’re…off? That the work you’re doing isn’t engaging you like you think it should? That if you weren’t required to do a certain task, you’d be off doing something completely different?

Because that’s where I’m at right now. And it’s a place that I have to be in, unfortunately, and I know I’m not alone in that. I think anybody in their educational career have at least one (or probably many) time(s) where you’re asking, “What is the point? I’m not interested in this. This doesn’t feel relevant to me.”

Whether it’s taking a required math class you despise, applying for a job you know you wouldn’t like, or scheduling a yearly doctor’s appointment when your health is a-okay, there are those moments where we look at the grand scheme of our lives and wonder why all of these seemingly minute details, ones that seem to not serve you, really matter. Shouldn’t we be using our precious time and energy always trying to better ourselves, fuel our passions, and make the most of what we have and are? That’s certainly the message drilled into our heads: no moment is guaranteed. Life is precious. You only live once.

Here’s my current example. I am in the midst of my second to last semester of my undergraduate career. The only classes I have left to graduate are those that are required for my Mass Communication major. As my mind has changed to recenter my focus on what I truly love and feel passionate about, I have felt very drained from taking classes about social research, writing for digital and broadcast media, and media law and ethics. Especially when I have a religion class that resonates with me so much more, going from that to all of my other classes is no comparison. I sit in the classroom just thinking, “This is so minuscule. How truly productive is this? I could be doing -insert other things here- instead.”

When you struggle to find that purpose in the seemingly dull, tiresome tasks, they just become even more strenuous. Our perspectives turn those tasks into mountains to climb every day, continually becoming steeper. If we can’t find a purpose, then it’s virtually impossible to find a motivation.

It’s easy to say, just find the reason you’re doing it in the first place and then you’ll be set, but if only life were that easy. Rarely can we just snap ourselves into a new head space and suddenly see the world with fresh eyes. Especially in the mundane tasks, classes and responsibilities, the reason you might see in going or doing what you need to do, doesn’t necessarily change your attitude toward it. Sure, you’re paying to be in class and you need to take these classes to graduate, but in the present moment? Fifty minutes is dragging on for what feels like hours.

So instead of taking a robotic approach to switching motivation on and off, be gentle and gradual with yourself. Practice mindfulness in becoming aware of your body, position and circumstances, putting more thought into what you’re doing instead of daydreaming about other “more exciting” things. Even just a single reason to go, even if that is to see a friend or silently criticize the relevance of a topic (which, in my case, has been my go-to reason), can ease you into a different perspective.

Cliche, I know, but we are truly so blessed, so when in doubt, find gratitude in whatever you’re dreading because chances are, there are people vying for such an opportunity. Like the ability to receive an education. Or have access to certain resources. Or just any little luxuries that we don’t think about when we’re finding every little detail to complain about.

Because maybe yes, right now, this less enjoyable task isn’t of end-all importance. But in the grand scheme, if it fits into your goals, then it’s a necessary step to take. I have the goal of graduating from college with solid grades in three years, and by taking the classes I am now, I will be able to achieve that. Even if I look back and cannot remember a single detail of what was discussed in those classes, I can be proud knowing that I did it, despite my reservations about it at the time. Same goes for graduating high school, or taking care of mental health, or going through eating disorder recovery.

Everything is intentional. Sometimes it isn’t very obvious. Heck, it can be downright frustrating and defeating thinking you might be wasting your time on something. Accept your current emotions, but know that you’re in the right place at the right time. There’s a purpose, obvious or not, for everything. The lesson you learn from it might not be listed on the syllabus. And at the end of the day, be proud of how far you’ve come, where you are right now, and where you’re going.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Vying for Victimhood

Poor me. Why me?! Woe is me.

Ah, the good ol’ pity game. I used to be a champion of that one. Seeing yourself as an isolated enemy that the world is entirely against. That nothing goes your way. That your own hardship is of a unique and extreme caliber compared to others. 

Sometimes we just like feeling the sense that we are taken care of. We don’t want to take responsibility of the struggles we go through. We look to outside sources that are throwing us off kilter. 

And since people are how they are, we respond to victimhood with pity. We pay special attention to those who face wrongdoing, give them a shoulder to cry on. We want the people we care about to feel loved and cared for.

But when looking at victimhood from that perspective, doesn’t it feel just a little manipulative? Like the boy who cried wolf. You keep playing the same cards, and the people who started out answering to your every beck and call now resent the relationship.

It’s draining having to reassure someone constantly if they sound like a broken record. I am more attentive to that in others now, especially when I know myself how the mindless game works. When in the thick depths of mental illness, I didn’t want to acknowledge that my own mental state was at fault. It must be something else, right? Bad luck? A curse on everything I do? A demon swinging my emotions around like a pendulum, surely.

As difficult as it may be, we cannot cower away from our problems and expect others to mediate everything for us. We have to face obstacles head-on and be responsible for our actions and emotions.

As cliche as the Pinterest-esque quotes sound, we truly as the protagonists of our own stories. We have to be our own hero. We cannot depend on others to do so for us. If we do not have the resilience and willpower to handle life as it is, then we need a reevaluation of ourselves.

Living as our own hero is a true form of self-care. Let me tell you, as someone who used to strictly be the world’s punching bag, knowing that I have led the life I have makes me proud. I don’t see myself as a victim, but as a warrior. And we are each warriors overcoming our own battles and, in one way or another, will end up victorious if we move forward with the right attitude.

As always, it is about our perspective. And others can only influence us so much. You shouldn’t expect others to do it, either. When you know what it’s like from both sides, you realize that in reality, all of our daily annoyances, our lifelong battles, and everything in between: they’re unavoidable. The least we can do is accept everything as it comes and move forward. Stopping to mope over regrets and what “could be” is just wasting precious time.

Regardless of what we see as our biggest problem, chances are that somebody will be facing worse circumstances. The world is full of hunger, poverty, disease, and disability. We cannot help but look at our own lives and be grateful. Feel blessed for the people in your life, the simple conveniences of living in a modern developed society, your health and body and capable mind.

Admittedly, I will still at some point fall into the self-pity trap. People I encounter will also speak of themselves and their own lives as a giant travesty. I mean, the internet is full of people ranting about their lives and “ironically” calling themselves out. It’s your choice if you want to partake. Just because everyone else lie on the floor after tripping, you can still get up and keep walking.

And if you feel like someone in your life is in this category of mentalities, let them know. Or, if you’re the rash type, let them go. You deserve to feel uplifted, not obligated to reassure and babysit somebody who is questioning and doubting everything. It definitely comes with time and it’s not always easy, but I can say it is well worth it. 

You capable of confidence and strong self-esteem. Maybe not right now, but soon. Keep moving forward. Find the light poking through the fog. Life is a lot of doubt, fear, discomfort, and stress. But nothing in life is too difficult to not overcome. So own up to it. Victomhood or victory: the choice is yours.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Kindle Kindness

We all have plenty of reasons to be bitter in life. It’s not easy facing a multitude of challenges, whether they be within ourselves, a certain combination of circumstances, or other people that really push your buttons. We’ve all been there.

People can just not be fun to deal with, and I know that’s a light way of putting it. Both recently and just in general, I’ve faced my fair share of situations where people have acted wrongly, that they have made a decision that throws me under the bus, that drains and frustrates me. “If -someone- hadn’t of done this, then…”

It’s one thing to think back to your own mistakes and forgive those for yourself and move on, but it’s a completely different case for other people. It’s not like you have control of individuals’ thoughts and words, no matter how harmful. Regardless if we know and understand their intentions, people act as they do.

Admittedly, accepting how others act and what they say is a hard road to take. It’s call people out, to seek some sort of redemption. An eye for an eye, they say. We hope that by trying to reenact the same damage to others as they did to us, we’ll somehow feel satisfied, that justice has been served.

In reality, if you’re seeing this as a game, the other person is still “winning.” They are taking up precious head space as you think about the past, you speculate and scheme and think far too much about the negative situation than you should. It’s not benefiting anybody. And that negativity inevitably reflects in everything you do, extending far behind a single occurrence.

I know I have discussed forgiveness in the past. And even for someone who truly believes in the power of letting things go, I realize certain situations are just hard to swallow. Some things are so shocking or debilitating, saying forgiveness is key and actually following through feels impossible.

Luckily I haven’t had too many instances that I’ve faced this dilemma, but this summer has been full of them. Developments that completely shake my envisioned path into something that makes it difficult to move forward, especially when you have no clue where you’re going. So this is a reminder today for everybody, myself included, to really meditate on your feelings, relationships, and goals.

Whether you’re religious or not, a huge component of faith is loving the people and neighbors around you. I think we can all say we’ve felt unlovable at some point, that we make such mistakes and act irresponsibly that we feel unworthy of compassion. We expect others to lash out and act in revenge.

The best surprise then is to meet empathy and understanding. To encounter someone who, while recognizing anger, does not let that human emotion overshadow the love we all innately share. Just because you or whoever might not be ready to apologize doesn’t mean you can’t be ready to forgive.

So how do we find that zen, that inner peace exuding outward as a loving, accepting embrace? I go back to our quality of empathy. We cannot entirely walk in someone else’s shoes to understand why they do and say certain things, but we can decide to walk beside them and consider everything from another perspective. This doesn’t mean you have to keep in contact with or be close to whoever wrongs you. If the relationship is toxic and harmful, running back to the same situation is lesson never learned. However, you can still take time to yourself to understand the factors involved. Who knows, maybe you’ll have your own reasons to apologize, too.

But there comes a time to move on. How can you just let something that feels shaky, the loose ends never tied up satisfactory, and walk away? Whatever happened, it was for a reason, clear to you now or maybe never. But look at the present moment and, as cheesy as it sounds, count your blessings. Recognize what you’re grateful for. See the changes and growth you’ve experienced. Look forward to the possibilities ahead. What is the end of one thing is a new beginning, new activities and people. Ask for others’ support. Pray on it.

I do think the unjust will receive whatever they’ve given to others, that right ultimately redeems wrong, but you aren’t the one who should be balancing that scale. That’s for God, the universe, whatever to handle. What matters now is that whatever feels like is holding you back, a grudge or regret, is a passing moment. In the grand scheme of life, how much will it matter?

If some sense of redemption is what you seek, the best way to do so is through kindness. When potentially encountering the person on the street, show compassion, be friendly. They are still your neighbor, a fellow human. No human has the right to control your thoughts and peace of mind.

Trust me, I know how hard of a lesson this is to actually embody, to expect everything to come together for some reason immediately, but again, we’re only human. But having faith in growth and kindness is the sweetest treat of all.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie