If you’ve ever met me face to face, you’ll note that I’m a bit of a wizened old veteran. It sounds funny, considering I’m about 2 weeks short of 29 when I write this. The issue is, I have been through more in my almost 29 years than some people deal with in their entire life. So, I feel (and maybe even look) like I’ve been through my own personal hell.
And don’t take this feeling sorry for myself – I really don’t, at least most of the time. Sometimes I’ll have a bad day and wallow in it, but I want to share this because I’d like you to know where I’m coming from, and what I’ve learned from my experiences.
There is always a reason to keep going forward. As someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past, this is one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. There is always, always a reason for you to move forward. Even if you feel like all hope is gone, there are people who love and care about you. I lost my mom and my grandma with 18 months of each other (a week ago today was the 5 year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, actually), I ended relationships on bad notes, and I struggle with anxiety and depression – I have had plenty of reasons to try and give up, but there are always reasons for me to keep going. I am here to make some sort of difference – haven’t learned what it is yet, but it’s there.
There is never a reason to be cruel to others. I’ve had my moments where I’ve gotten angry, and said cruel things. Some of it is totally my fault, because I allow my temper to get the best of me. Some of it is a result of my social anxiety, and sometimes I can’t help it. I’ve been trying to work on this in recent months, but it’s very difficult for me sometimes.
Life is too short to hide who you are. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, one of the reasons I started this blog is because I wanted to re-brand myself. I wanted to let myself be who I am, without worrying about people judging me (red alert – I’m terrified that you’re judging me). Obviously, I will still act professional, but I don’t want to hide. I spent too much time hiding from the world. I’m almost 30 and I feel like some people in my life have no freaking clue who I am. That needs to stop now, and if you’re hiding who you are, you need to be brave and show people who you truly are.
I love the Savior that I follow, but His followers are imperfect and sometimes do a lousy job of emulating Him. Note: I’m not perfect. If I ever say I’m perfect, take me away because I am having delusions of grandeur. Anyway, none of us are perfect. And I have fought a long time to try and live a life that represents Jesus. I love Jesus with everything that I have, but there have been many, many times that Christians have hurt people. I used to think that it was blown out of proportion until it happened to me. I will admit, right here – going to church is hard for me, now. It’s very hard for me – harder than it should be. If I have ever hurt you in the name of faith, I am so, so sorry. Because it is the worst feeling in the world. Why in the world would you hurt people in the name of a God who is the epitome of love? Why do Christians do this? Because somewhere, we’ve become entitled and indigent, and way too defensive. In my case, I got hurt because I didn’t fit an image. Jesus came to heal the broken, and if you don’t like that I’m broken, then you just need to deal with it. /endrant (sorry).
The current stigma of mental health makes it hard for people to get what they need. I have mental health issues; I have had depression and anxiety problems since I was a preteen, but only in the past 5 or so years have I had a name for those problems. I had panic attacks in high school and people just thought I was too sensitive – now I have a name for them. Why did it take so long? Because my family had this image of mental illness that resulted in ignoring it. Now that I’m older, I’m suffering the consequences, because I’m a bit of a recluse and it’s hard for me to interact with people regularly. I am starting treatment very soon (I have my program intake appointment this coming week). I am not the only person who has this problem, either. There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people who are left un-diagnosed because our society (and sadly, our churches) think of mental illness as something that is “all in your head.” It’s not- it’s reality for millions of people deal with it every day. This stigma makes people afraid to be honest about it, and many times, people will just try to “stuff it.”
Friends are the family that you choose for yourself. This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve ever learned. My family was one of those “family comes first” families. My mom (God rest her soul) would get really upset if I would forgo family activities for friends. Did I do things correctly? No. But if I had not accepted that my friends were part of my family unit, I’d be really screwed right now. I have a number of people in my life that are like brothers and sisters to me, and I am thankful for that. I’ve had a couple of people who have come in and taken care of me as if I were their daughter. They’ve come around me in recent years, and it means the world to me. Sometimes, your family life is rough, and it’s okay. Blood doesn’t determine whether or not you’ll have a family – sometimes you have to make your own. My family is still in my family unit, but it’s a lot different now.
What have you learned in your lifetime? What are the life lessons that you wish other people knew? What words of wisdom do you have? Do you have any questions for me? Share your thoughts in the comments – I can’t wait to interact and hear from you.