Repeating Mistakes

I am extremely familiar with the saying that we learn from our mistakes, but the truth of the matter is, we’re more likely to repeat the same errs than to correct them.

We are creatures of habit (at least I am), so it’s only reasonable to take the same course of action when a similar situation happens. Hindsight is the time to realize that the quick decision may not have been the best (mainly because memories of what happened last time comes flooding in).

I constantly repeat mistakes. There are times when I’ve learned my lesson thoroughly that I choose the more logical, and less harmful, approach. More often than not, I don’t. I am driven by my emotions, so how I feel dictates how I act. When I’m emotional, there is no recognition that what I’m doing is repetitive of something bad from before, it seems like the appropriate response.

Unfortunately, acting on impulse often bites me on the behind.

I guess the lesson that I’ve re-learned is not to take action or do anything extreme while over-emotional… I have no doubt that I will be learning this lesson again in the future.

Advertisements

Keep It Together

“Keep it together.”

I tell myself that all the time.

We live in a society and a culture where it is looked down upon when you fall apart. We’re supposed to be like well oiled machines that work day in and day out. And once we squeak, well, we either need to repair ourselves or we’re cast as an outsider–the weird one, the defective one.

I was always told that I had to buck up and continue. No matter how emotionally or physically exhausted, I just kept going. I kept pushing and pushing to my limits; and that was how it should be, that was the expectation.

I’ve fallen apart a few times in my life, and they were bad breakdowns. It opened my eyes to how detrimental it was to keep going when I didn’t have fuel, when I was worn down to my bare bones. I kept going because I didn’t want to squeak. I didn’t want to set cause for alarm or worry. Most of all, I didn’t want for people to see or treat me differently.

I’d always been called a crybaby, over-emotional, and dramatic. Those were the identifying personality traits, and I grew up truly believing that. So as years past and tantrums weren’t acceptable anymore, I learned to rein it in. I cried myself to sleep, angry that I could not for the life of my hold myself together. I couldn’t be composed, calm and collected like everyone expected me to be. But once the dawn came, and I woke up, I would try my hardest to pretend.

Pretending to be okay when I wasn’t was the worst. It was using up more energy than if I just slumped around the way I actually felt; but, as always, I had to keep a facade. I didn’t want to be that squeaky machine, remember? So I just kept going like that, like the Energizer Bunny. Truth be told, I didn’t have that ongoing, everlasting energy. I was tired. I was exhausted. And I really wondered why I kept trying.

“Why am I doing this to myself?”

“Why can’t I just get my act together?”

“I need to get myself together!”

Eventually, all those feelings changed from fatigue to desperation. I couldn’t understand why I could not function the way I used to, but I couldn’t even bring myself to care. I’d lost the motivation and passion that I used to have. I became a shell of who I used to be. At one point, I was cheery and sociable and full of energy; somehow, it became an act.

But I refused to let the curtains close on me. I wanted to keep going. I really thought I could. Constantly telling myself, “Keep it together.” And I did, as long and as best as I could. Eventually, I fell apart.

The funny thing about your psyche is, is that it can only push you so far. That little engine lied to me, just because I think I can, doesn’t mean I really can. I over-exerted my resources and I came to a crashing halt. The worst part of it? I never even saw it coming. Logically, it was about time, but I just thought that I could keep going, like Wonder Woman or something. I thought I could get by on sheer willpower because that’s what I did all along. Except, I didn’t have any willpower left. Everything felt so pointless. I thought it was.

When I finally collapsed, I decided to take a look back. Okay, I didn’t decide, it was a consequence of feeling like a failure. But as I went through the years, I realized for a good portion of my life, maybe ten years, I was just going through the motions. I was doing what I was supposed to do, not what I wanted to do. I was doing what everyone else did, I was the drone that I tried to hard to be. I wasn’t squeaky, I was just like the rest. The only difference was that the other machines were still going, while I was broken.

I became really bitter and angry. I felt so down on myself and I went through a phase of blaming everyone else. Yet, the other part of me still said, “If only you could have kept it together.”

I’m not repaired. I don’t know if I ever will be. Finally breaking down after years of trying to feel normal and be normal took a toll on me. I’m still struggling to figure out who I am, what I want, and where to go from here. Sometimes, I feel like I hit the rock bottom of my standards.

I try to tell myself it’s okay. I try to let myself release all the pent-up frustration or stress when I feel overwhelmed. Yet, that haunting phrase remains deeply ingrained, “Keep it together.”

I can’t.

Resolution

Where opportunities lie, we must tell our fears goodbye.

I am one of those people who want great things in life. Yet, I am the same variety of people who wait for the world to present opportunities to them.

I can say that I may have let my fair share of opportunities pass me by simply because I am too afraid to take the necessary risks. Too fearful of rejection and feel like a nothing — tortured by the failures abound. Unfortunately, there is no way to escape failure or rejection, it is an integral part of life. They are the ingredients that help build character, set inner strength aflame, and most importantly, encourage perseverance.

I have big dreams. I have dreams of starting a non-profit organization and to become a published author. I have dreams of the white picket fence in a quiet suburb with a loving husband, four children and a dog. I desire all the things that people would call impossible. I may be a hopeless romantic, an idealist, but those are the most basic parts of me. I want things beyond what most people believe are within reach. Still, I let fear cast a shade over my dreams, and set me into the cruel reality. A reality that tells me that I’m not good enough, that no matter how hard I try, there will always be obstacles in my way.

I wish I could say that I easily push those naysayers and negative thoughts aside, but I don’t. I have little belief in my self-worth and my capabilities. My confidence is shot, and no matter the encouragement I receive I do not believe it. Why? The easy way out would be to say depression, but even at the root, it’s fear. I am afraid. Afraid to let others down, afraid that my dreams really are too far out of my reach.

I am taking a semester off from school so that I can work toward my goal to become a writer. Every day when I wake up, all I want to do is register for classes. All I think about is to get that stupid degree and get a full-time job, dead end or miserable as it may be. I just want to follow the typical path, the one everyone expects me to pursue because it is the norm. But I want more than that, I know in my heart that I am meant for more than the typical 9-to-5 job. But I also know that in pursuing my dreams, I am walking straight into rejection central.

There is no person who made it to greatness without struggle, without insecurity, without rejection. We live in a world of handheld devices, computers, and the Internet. But not long ago, the idea of a personal computer was impossible. There was a time when social media was just a dream. It took capable people who believed in their dreams to make it come true. They overcame adversity to create what they saw in their dreams. Just as all writers, each one has received at least one rejection letter telling him or her that the writing was not up to par. I’ve received a rejection before, and to say that it hurt would be an understatement. It was nearly crippling. Yet, the names we throw around in reference to most accomplished or successful, started off in the bottom too. They had to climb their way up, they saw opportunity and jumped towards it.

I want to be one of those people. I want to be able to say goodbye to the anxiety and fear that hold me back. And because I want it so desperately, I am sure that I will be able to do it. Not to say that doubt won’t be a constant companion, but I will be stronger and I will push through and prevail.

2015 is a new year, and it is this year that I stop putting my pursuits on hold. Instead of saying I want to do things, I will do them. It’s the only way to get to where I want to be. Fear is the most potent deterrent there is–it’s harder to overcome than lack of money and support, it’s harder to avoid than harsh critique and negative people. But my resolution, not only for this year but life, is not to let fear get the best of me.

Hello, Opportunities.
Goodbye, Fear.

Honesty

Growing up, we are taught, “Honesty is the best policy.”

Ironically, as we grow older and garner more experiences, we realize that people lie. People lie all the time, and there isn’t a single person who is completely honest or truthful to anybody, not even him or herself. But why do we lie?

As a child, we may lie to get out of trouble. To avoid punishment, we may dishonestly accuse another person.
Spilled milk? Nooo my imaginary friend or younger sister did it!

Another possibility might be to reap rewards that we don’t deserve.
Did you clean you room?
Yes.
Okay, you can have a cookie before dinner.

Even in our childhood innocence, lying is a natural thing for us to do. Is it a learned behavior or is it innate? Do we lie because we want to, or because we are simply incapable of being honest?

Then as we get older, we realize that the truth might not be the best thing to tell someone. It can come off as brutal or insensitive. And now we have to be conscious of how we express our opinions and feelings without hurting the other party. Sometimes we phrase our thoughts different, sometimes we stretch the truth, or tell a “white” lie.

No matter how small, or how good the intention, a lie is a lie. Period. You don’t get away with saying it was his or her own good. That’s his or her decision, you can’t make those choices and you can’t coddle someone from the harsh reality. If you’re not the one to be honest, someone else will be, and in the end the person who asked for honesty in the first place will feel betrayed.

Does this dress make me look fat?
No, it makes you look curvier.
Not to be rude, but the dress makes you look a little frumpy.

Then we become more cynical and jaded as life continues forward. We may not be lying because of malicious intent, but we start to lie to manipulate and get ahead in our careers, success, life. People always tell me to bolster my resume, to “sell myself” on cover letters. They tell me it’s okay, everyone does it and that employers know this too. But why would I want to get a job or acquire an interview on something that is not my actual merit? Why would I do that to myself, and to the person that hires me?

Moreover, there are people who play mind games to get what they want. They use their knowledge about you, what makes you tick and uses it against you. Those liars are the worst. Those are the ones that leave the scars behind from which you need to learn to heal. We’ve all dealt with one of those people, and if you haven’t, one day you will.

Liars are everywhere.

I admit that I’m a liar. I lie to people I care about, I lie to people I barely know, and I lie to myself all the time. I am dishonest as a way to keep myself safe, to set up a barrier to keep those who can hurt me out. I may not tell the truth to try not to hurt other people’s feelings, but lately I’ve been more honest and open. Sure, they may be mad at me now, and yeah they may leave, but don’t ask for my opinion if you can’t handle my response. I lie to myself to keep myself from falling into the depths of depression, and to build my self-esteem. It’s not as much lying as it is staying in denial (which I guess is a form of dishonesty).

I don’t like lying, it makes me feel rotten. It makes me angry at myself because I didn’t have the courage to express my true opinion. I’m working on honesty, and I wish others would too. I am sick of people lying to my face, and then turn their backs and do something contradicting their words. If you don’t want to be my friend, just say so. I won’t force you to stay. Don’t say that you’ll be there for me when I need you and be MIA when the time comes. Don’t tell me you care about me, when you don’t even bother texting or calling to check up on me. Don’t tell me you miss me and not make the effort to see me.

I just want honest people in my life. Open communication, honesty, trust, and respect. They all go hand in hand, and I don’t want anything less. I deserve at least as much as I give. And if I’m willing to give that much to you, then I expect the same in return.

Those are my honest thoughts.

 

Insecure

“I act like shit don’t phase me, inside it drives me crazy; my insecurities could eat me alive.” – Eminem (“Hailie’s Song”)

For the longest time these lyrics resonated with me. Ever since the first time I heard this song, I identified with Eminem’s words. I am insecure about lot of things: my looks, my intelligence, my relationships, etc. All these things have taken a toll on my sense of self-worth and self-esteem; hence, the battles with constant depression.

But this post isn’t about depression, it’s about a new relationship that I am in. I am still in disbelief that someone could want to be with me. I am filled with doubt and fear, and eventually it’s going to bite me in the ass because he’s going to start thinking that I don’t trust him. That would be an absolute lie, because I do trust him. I may trust him more than I’ve trusted anyone else in my life, and that’s saying a lot. I’ve only known him about two months, and he already broke through the walls I built and made himself a little niche on the inside.

Before I continue on a tangent, I want to point out that within these two months I’ve kept trying to end whatever we have. He didn’t try to persuade me to stay, but he let the decision stay mine. I actually asked whether or not he wanted it to end. His reply was so simple and heart rendering: “If I wanted this to be over, I would end it.”

How? How could someone still want to be with me? How can someone who can clearly see my insecurities still want me? How could someone want me in general?

See, my insecurities extend far beyond the surface. When I say looks, I don’t mean oh, I’m fat or whatever. Nope. That may be an issue, but it’s never been my issue. By that I mean, people would always make fun of my weight, and it bothered me, but not to the extent to make me extremely insecure about it. However, I am insecure about my stretchmarks, my thighs and my body shape. The only time I get insecure about my weight is when I can’t fit into my clothes or the size that I think I am when I go shopping.

Next, I have this issue with being “loved”. I put it in quotes because I don’t think my current relationship has reached that point yet. Anyway, I am only able to see the flaws in myself so I can’t imagine anyone seeing anything else. How can someone love a person who hates herself? Who constantly criticizes herself? How can someone even want someone who is so broken and cynical? I have no idea.

You know, in one of our conversations, he called me a Picasso. I was so thrown off, I told him that’s almost insulting. He told me, “Everyone sees the mess, I see the beauty in it.”

I told my friends from the beginning that he reminded me of myself. The same ability to read people and see beyond the surface. I keep forgetting about that, especially because I’ve never met someone with the same uncanny ability. So for him to say that, shocked me, it actually brought me to tears. The good kind, of course.

So if he can see the good in me, like I can see the good in others… I should be able to accept that he has affection for me right? I should be able to accept that this whole relationship isn’t unrequited or one-sided because he’s proven time and time again that it isn’t.

My new insecurity is that he’s going to get so sick of dealing with this part of me, the one that’s constantly unsure and doubtful. There’s a limit to how much a person can take, and when it reaches that limit, he’s going to leave me. And I won’t have anyone to blame but myself…

Let’s Talk About Depression

Recently, an icon of both television and film passed away. If you haven’t heard about it, I’m talking about Robin Williams. We know him as a comedian, the voice of Genie from Aladdin, and the ever-so-charming Mrs. Doubtfire.

The cause of death? Suicide.

And it is for this reason that I make this post. There have been dozens of news reports, countless of interview re-runs, but never is the focus on the illness that caused Robin Williams’ demise. Depression.

I am sick of people blaming him, calling him selfish or even saying that he had no reason to take his own life. I’m sorry, but are you him? What he battled with is just as tangible as cancer and HIV. The battle is just as drawn out. Maybe you couldn’t see it on the surface, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Do you have feelings? Well, are you sure? I don’t see them. Don’t feelings only exist when there is laughter or tears? If you think I’m being utterly ridiculous for even saying something like this, well, you should understand that is how people treat mental illness. They don’t believe in it because there is no proof. By the time something tangible appears, it may be in the later stages already.

The reason why I am so passionate about this is because I saw a segment on Robin Williams yesterday. It casually mentioned that the cause of death was depression, but then tried to shift the focus to his finances. As if the only reason fathomable for him to end his life is because of his cash flow.

Depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t care if you were or are the happiest person in the world.  It can strike, it’s omnipresent, and very potent. Depression takes prisoners and feels no guilt. Imagine how long Robin Williams must have battled with the illness before finally reaching his breaking point.

Some see the action as selfish. Taking your own life, wow, how selfish. But maybe after all those years of living through the torture for others, it’s time to be selfish. Or even more so, maybe the person could feel as if his or her act is actually selfless.

If you’ve never had a bout of depression before, let me tell you, it is not pretty. You don’t see the positive in anything. You don’t think that you can get out of it. But worst of all, you feel alone. And if you don’t feel alone, you feel like you’re dragging everyone down with you. You’re moody and you’re reclusive, friends start getting annoyed at you for skipping out on plans. You barely feel like a person, just a shell. You try to sleep to escape reality, or you engage in other risky and self-endangering behavior.

What kind of life is that to lead?

I am sorry that Robin Williams went the way he did. I’m actually devastated. But his death opens this window for a very important discussion, one about mental health and mental illness. Unfortunately, that’s not what our focus is on, we’re focusing on what other reasons could have caused this event. What we as a society is saying is that depression is not enough of a reason. But it is.

One symptom of depression, one very well known one: thoughts of suicide, or harming yourself or others.

If that’s the thing most associated with depression, than can you explain to me why it’s still not enough of a reason? When someone says that he or she is depressed, isn’t our first reaction to worry?

Instead of looking for loopholes or excuses, can we please talk about the real problem? How little we understand about mental illness, and how little we do to expose the dirt on such prevalent diseases. Millions of people suffer from mental illness, hundreds of thousands die.

If those numbers aren’t tangible to that numerical part of you, then I don’t know what else to say. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

And for those who say that it was a choice… Yes, to a rational and reasonable person in the right state of mind, yes it may seem so. But to someone so far gone, overtaken by an illness like depression… it may not seem so.

Sometimes a choice isn’t really a choice. Depression is irrational and unreasonable. You can’t explain it, you can only feel it. And when it gets to you, you can’t even figure out up from down, so how can you understand what’s real and what’s your distorted point of view? And what if your distorted view is your reality?

Let’s talk about depression. Feel free to leave me comments.

This is an important topic to me. It’s near and dear to my heart, and I want for others to understand that Robin Williams lived a wonderful life and did wonderful things. His name, and any others who end their own lives because of mental illness, should not be shamed or tarnished over something they could not control.

 

Moving On or Running Away?

Ever had those moments when you just instinctively feel that you’ve done what you were supposed to do in a certain place? It’s like a feeling of completion, and a compulsion to move on.

Ever had those moments when you start doubting the gut feeling you have about your decision right after you make it? You start taking in all the circumstances surrounding your choice, and all of a sudden you feel like a coward, as though you’re really running away.

If you’ve had either of those moments happen to you, you have the gist of what I’m feeling right now.

For a while I felt a sense of belonging; as if I were exactly where I was supposed to be and doing what I was meant to be doing. That feeling has since left, and I feel a pull to move forward with my endeavors, gravitating toward new opportunities. But even knowing that I’m meant to be walking ahead, I can’t help but shake off the uncertainty and doubt. It’s not unusual to feel doubt when making huge decisions, but it doesn’t quiet the question: are you moving on, or running away?
Regardless of how I feel, I can’t help but look the situation objectively as well. To any other person who is not myself, it seems as though I am taking the coward’s way out. It seems as though as soon as obstacles rise, I’m running for the hills. And it makes me wonder if that’s exactly what I’m doing?
I try not to let others’ opinions affect my decision, but it would be a lie to say that I didn’t put any stock into what my friends and family members’ advice. The future is unknown; what may or may not happen is as good a guess of mine as it is yours. So how do we really know what’s the right path for us? No matter what we choose, there’s going to be a moment in the future when we wonder what it would’ve been like had we walked the other path.

I guess that’s what Robert Frost was trying to say in his poem, “The Road Not Taken.” There will be moments when we have tough decisions and two roads if not more to go down. No matter which one, it leads to something, and people will have travelled all of them at one point or another. Unfortunately, we can’t take all the roads, and there’s always going to be a mystery of the other. So depending on perspective, I could be moving on or running away, I could be making the best change in my life or making the worst mistake. It’s something I’ll never know, something I’ll always think about, but in the end, what’s done is done. No matter how I feel about the decision, it’s a choice I have to make.

Here’s some advice for you, and for me: no matter what choices we make in life, we should stand firm in our decisions. Even if we live to regret it in the future, at some point in the past, it was what we thought was best.

– Ling