Burning Out

We all have bad days, even bad weeks. But at what point does it cross over from a bad day to a full on burnout in life? At what point do you accept that this fatigue and apathy is long term and needs to be addressed?

Burnout is not simply a result of long hours or being over worked. It stems from a lack of control in life. Maybe the place that you work is being mismanaged and you are helpless to change it. Maybe you feel your work has no meaning. Maybe you don’t have a hobby or project that brings you joy outside of your work. Maybe you are so focused on helping others that you have no time or energy left for yourself.

I’ve come to realize that I need to be much more focused on myself. I need to prioritize not just taking care of myself but nourishing myself. I need to not only find my boundaries but stick to them. And I need to be more intentional of listening to my instincts. By getting stuck in my routine and focused on the go go go part of life, I wound up incredibly depressed and burnt out.

By the time I realized how burnt out I was, I didn’t just need a break I needed a full life shake up. I was in a job that was demanding and unfulfilling, working for people that are cold and incompetent. I was far more concerned with others needs than I was with my own. And all my free time was spent focused on others. I wasn’t sleeping, my skin was a mess, and the very concept of leaving my house became so overwhelming my whole body would feel like wet sandbags.

I didn’t need a break or a vacation, I needed a complete re-evaluation.

But the real kicker is that there were warning signs that I ignored. Red flag decisions at work that the ship was sinking. Demanding patterns from friendships that I know how to recognize but ignored. Small breakouts in my skin that I know how to deal with but didn’t make the time for.

I was just so stuck in my routine and my think positive attitude that my whole life had to be up in flames before I realized I needed to do something about it.

2019 is my year to focus on me. By the end of last year I was so low, so depressed, so burnt out, I knew I had to finally address it. It hasn’t happened over night but I have already come a long way.

I found a new job. Unfortunately not all work situations can be improved. Sometimes you just have to move on. I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about what I need from my job. And more importantly, I know what I am not looking for anymore. I found the next chapter and am taking all the lessons learned and putting them to good use.

I’m learning to say No. Perhaps my biggest hurdle. I don’t like saying No. I think a part of me has a fundamental belief that a person shouldn’t say No. But I am working on it.

I am working on boundaries. Both personally and professionally. Work-life balance, investing in friendships that are fulfilling and reciprocal and letting one sided friendships go, and listening to my inner voice. She often knows what’s up.

Change is hard. Growing is painful. Depression sucks. And burn out is awful. But all of these things are necessary. All of these things have a light at the end of the tunnel. And all of these things lead to better things. If you let them.

Darci

Sometimes You Have to Fail

You’ve heard it a thousand times: failure is a part of life. It’s a theoretical we all know. There are thousands of movies romanticizing the journey of failure. But when it actually happens to you it sucks. Sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sure you are going to grow and find something better and feel like this all happened for a reason and that timing is everything, sure it’s not the end of everything it’s just a bump in the road. But it sucks.

Without failure we couldn’t become the person we need to become. But becoming is painful. It’s not glamorous. There aren’t actually make overs or meet cutes with Chris Evans or constant hangouts at bars with your friends, and there are actually budgets and bills and stress acne. The world keeps spinning and life moves on even though your world is falling apart.

But despite the pain, despite the grief, despite the anger, despite the struggle, failure really is an ok thing. It’s an important part of life. And yes, it really does make you better in the end.

So. What good comes from failure? Here are some reasons why failure is actually ok.

We All Fail

It happens to everyone. People lose out on jobs they wanted, get dumped, don’t get that promotion, get fired, lose that race, and more every day. Failure is embarrassing but it’s the most relatable thing. It’s hard to see in the moment, but we all fail at something in life. Everyone has experienced failure, you are not alone.

Failure is a Good Time for Self Reflection

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s about self discovery and finding the meaning in your life. Failing sheds light on the places you can grow. By allowing failure to dig deep into your character, you come through with a better understanding of who you are and where you want to go.

Failure Makes You Stronger

Without failure, there is no progress. There are countless famous success stories of how failure lead to the ultimate success. JK Rowling, Oprah, Bill Gates, and Walt Disney to name a few. And sure, we probably won’t all become successful billionaires because of our failures. But we can learn a similar lesson: failure can be emboldening. It teaches you how to keep going and fight for what really matters to you.

Failure Leads to New Things

New jobs, new relationships, new hobbies. Endings lead to beginnings. Meet new people, try new things, explore new paths. You finally have nothing holding you back from pursuing that career, going on that date, trying that new recipe. Before you had nothing pushing you to try something new, now you have nothing holding you back.

Failure Teaches You Empathy

Life experience changes your perspective of the world. Things become less black and white, right or wrong, and you realize that life has no one path to take. Through your own struggles you become more empathetic to the struggles of others. You can be more present with others, more vulnerable, more genuine. Failure makes you a better friend.

You Learn That Failure Doesn’t Kill You

Yes, it sucks to fail. It sucks to lose out on jobs or relationships or things that were really important to you. When it happens you can feel like your whole life is crashing down, your self esteem plummets. But eventually you realize something: you survived. You find a new job, a new relationship, a new hobby, your life goes on and you may actually end up being happier because of it. And once you learn that failure doesn’t kill you, you may actually start taking more risks in life.

Failure sucks. But sometimes you have to fail to get to the next chapter. And sometimes, you may even be better off because of it.

 

Darci

Don’t Overthink It

Confession: I am a very anxious person. I’m a Type A Overplanner who has back ups for my back ups. I make my bed everyday because a small part of my thinks if I don’t then clearly I will fail at everything that day. My house is always meticulously clean because when I’m stressed or depressed I cope by obsessively cleaning. I spend a lot of my time worrying about what others think of me. My mind is constantly spinning.

And it’s exhausting.

Anxiety is Overthinking’s partner in crime. I overthink things because I am anxious and I’m anxious because I am overthinking everything. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break. And what happens when you open up to someone about the things making you anxious: just don’t overthink it!

Google overthinking and you will get endless articles of “10 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Start Living” or “Ways Overthinking is Ruining Your Relationship” or “How to Love an Overthinker”. They break it down in quick sentences and a bullet point list to fix your problems. Just do this! Stop doing that! And the whole problem is now solved.

I hate these articles. If my anxiety could really be fixed by the flip of a switch, a quick daily mantra, or it was just a matter of deciding to not be anxious then I would have fixed myself years ago.

Here’s what I wish people could understand: I don’t want to be like this. Hell, there was probably a time when I wasn’t. But I am. And it’s a learned behavior. It’s my defense mechanism. My anxiety hurts me, sure, but also it protects me. My anxiety protects me from heartbreak and disappointment and abandonment. Sure I could just stop overthinking everything and work on having a positive outlook on life, and I may be happier for it. But it’s just not that simple.

Someone told me recently just to relax, be myself, and don’t overthink it. And I choked back laughter because overthinking is being myself. It’s meant to be a calming piece of advice, a gentle reminder that things aren’t bad so don’t spiral out. But really what I hear is “don’t fuck this up for yourself”.

I’m working on it. Or at least, I am aware of it. I’m trying to find ways to be kinder to myself, to be more positive, to look on the bright side. But anxiety is a part of who I am, and overthinking everything is my core. There is no 10 step process that will snap me out of this, reminding me that my anxiety could ruin my relationships isn’t the tough love talk that’s going to change me. I can’t help the way I think, and I can’t help how much I think. On my best days I redirect my energy into something productive to distract myself. And while I can learn better ways to cope with my anxiety, I am pretty sure it will always be a part of who I am.

And I think that’s the real solution. It’s not about fixing yourself, it’s about accepting yourself. I will probably always be someone with a mind that is constantly spinning, but what I can learn is how to be kinder to myself in the process. How not to be self destructive in the process.

My anxiety isn’t a problem to be “fixed”. It’s a part of who I am that needs to be loved. When I start to overthink and spiral, I don’t need a list of ways to fix myself, I need a hug.

So I’m trying not to get better, I’m working on being kinder to myself, and I am trying to love all of the parts of me. And there are good days and bad days. For the good days we have progress, and for the bad days we have wine.

Darci

5 Things to Stop Caring About

Life can be stressful. Life can be chaotic. Life can be hard. The biggest kicker, though, is that sometimes we make life harder on ourselves. By indulging in negative thoughts or memories, prioritizing toxic people, living in the past, we hurt ourselves in the present and delay our happiness in the future. I’ve been working a lot on reshaping how I spend my mental energy. How I talk to myself. What I am spending my time thinking about. Being intentional about catching myself in a negative spiral and changing the game. It’s not always easy. But it’s important work. I’m trying to retrain my brain to think differently. So this week I thought I would share the five things I am working on changing. Take a look:

1. Those Painfully Awkward Moments.

Remember that joke you made in a meeting that didn’t land? Or that answer you gave in class that was definitely wrong? Or that time you thought someone was waving to you but it was actually to someone behind you? Those painfully awkward little moments that your brain likes to recall as you are falling asleep or enjoying some quiet time and now suddenly your heart is racing. Those social blunders that were embarrassing in the moment but that was seven years ago and no one but you remembers them, let alone dwells on them. Even your bigger blunders are probably still only note worthy to you. It’s time to let those go. When your brain starts to remind you, catch yourself and tell your brain that happened years ago and literally no one cares any more. Take the power away from those awkward moments by reminding yourself that it wasn’t as bad as you remember and it is well in the past now.

2. What People From Your Past Are Doing.

I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook stalking is a semi regular event. Social media makes it all too easy to take a passing “hmm I wonder” and turn it into a two hour rabbit hole investigation of what people from my past have been doing. Ex’s, former friends, old coworkers, past roommates, former classmates, all people who are in my past for a reason. And yet, the curiosity gets the better of me every time. It’s natural, though very unhealthy, to look for validation through comparison. But it’s a temporary, fleeting validation that leaves us emptier than we started. It also distracts the focus on your own life. You don’t need to compare your journey, your goals, your accomplishments to anyone to be happy. And, in fact, doing so is hurting your progress. My suggestion? Block those people you find yourself checking in on. That way the next time you are tempted to see what they are up to, you can’t. Eventually you’ll break the habit of even wondering what those people are up to and you won’t be distracted by it any more.

3. Pleasing Everybody.

It’s a cliched lesson, but I think I will spend the rest of my life relearning it. No matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone. There will always be people who take and take and take but never give. There will always be people who are too wrapped up in themselves not noticed anyone else. There will always be people stuck in the comparison game and they will never be happy for you. It’s time to stop worrying about those people. Your life is yours and you have to live it the way you know is best. So keep focusing on your dreams and your goals, keep treating others the way you want to be treated, and when someone shows resentment or expresses grievance over you simply living your life, you now have permission to involve them in your life less. Making time for people who hurt you regularly or openly root against you is silly. It doesn’t matter if they are coworkers, friends you’ve known for years, family, or even romantic partners. Your time is valuable and your mental well being is important. So stop wasting your time trying to please people who can never be won.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Game.

I’ll be honest, I am a fan of this game. Especially when I have a lot of anxiety about a situation or feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes saying your fear out loud can take some of the power away from it. But too much of anything is a bad thing. And I realized recently that I never play the Best Case Scenario Game. My what ifs are always negative. I’m always preparing for the worst, anticipating the worst, assuming the worst. And not only is that way of thinking depressing and unhealthy, it’s exhausting. I find I am always worried, always anxious, depressed far more often. All because I am far too indulgent in my fears rather than focusing on my hopes. I used to justify this way of thinking by saying “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. But what if by dwelling so much on the worst I make the worst inevitable? What if by spending more time focusing on the best, preparing for the best, even planning for the best, that made the best happen? So now, when I catch myself playing the Worst Case Scenario Game, I make myself stop and think about what the Best Case Scenario could be instead.

5. Where You Should Be in Life at X Age.

Again, comparison is a dangerous habit that pretty much only leads to depression. Just because you aren’t married yet, don’t have kids, haven’t gotten that degree, don’t have that professional title yet, doesn’t mean you are falling behind or failing. School was very structured, and it gave all of us this false illusion that the rest of life would be too. But there is no order of events, no timeline to follow, no progress report, no big moments you need to hit by a certain time. Plenty of people followed “the plan” of getting married young to someone they weren’t actually compatible with, had kids even though they weren’t ready to be a parent, or worked their way up the ladder for a career they didn’t want. Too many people do what they are “supposed” to do without considering if they want to do it. And too many people feel like they are failing at life because they aren’t doing what they are “supposed” to be doing right now. But the most freeing moment in life is when you realize that you get to call the shots for your life and you get to decide what path is right for you.

Why is it so easy for our brains to think negatively, to be stressed or anxious or overwhelmed, to focus on comparisons or the past, but we doing the opposite takes so much work? I’ve been wondering that a lot lately as I’ve been working on intentionally changing my patterns. When did those patterns form, I wonder. And when will they change? It’s hard work, it’s consistent work, but it’s good work. And hopefully it will stop being work someday and start being a way of life.

Darci

Ash Wednesday As A Not-Sure-Believer 

I don’t talk about religion here much. It’s a complex topic that I am not fully confident in navigating. I was raised in a very conservative religious household, but as I venture further into adulthood I have adopted very different values than the ones I was raised with.

I don’t know entirely where I stand on what I believe and what that means for my life. I do still find it important to engage with my spirituality, to study religion, even practice to a certain extent. But I don’t know to what end, what point. How much am I doing because I would feel too guilty to just completely not do something? Or am I practicing things still because I really believe in it?

Today is Ash Wednesday. This marks the start of the season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter. It is a season of reflection and preparation before celebration. The idea is to replicate Jesus’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. And that all starts today.

I’ve always found the intention behind Ash Wednesday to be quite poetic. Honestly, I think Lent can be beautiful, whether you are Christian or not. This idea that you spend five weeks reflecting, looking outward, being intentional. I am a big fan of reflection. And I think that this can be a great opportunity to seek betterment that has meaning.

But the reality of how a lot of Christians end up participating Lent isn’t my favorite. The idea is that you are supposed to fast from something, to suffer and deprive, just like Jesus. To better understand his sacrifice. But in practice, Lent really just becomes the Christian fad diet season. I’m giving up sugar for Jesus! I am giving up carbs for Jesus! I am giving up soda for Jesus! There are even trendy Christian diets you can do during this time, like the “Daniel Fast” (Chris Pratt just did this one, btws).

And it just always bugged me. Like if you want to go on a diet, fine go on a diet. But saying you are doing it “for Jesus” always bugged me. You aren’t giving anything real up, you aren’t suffering, you aren’t looking beyond yourself by giving up coffee for five weeks.

Years ago, I had a youth group leader who shared my grievances with the attitude a lot of Christians took towards Lent and the Christian Fad Diet Season. And she had a suggestion to help reframe the sentiment in our minds. Lent didn’t need to be about giving something up necessarily, it could also be about adding something to your life. Ad something every day that brings you outside of yourself.

And I really took that to heart.

Again, I don’t know where I stand on this or that and what it all means. But I do know that I think the world would be a lot better if we all spent some time intentionally thinking beyond ourselves. If we could all find intentional time to think of others, to help others, to really see others. And I have a deep respect for people who intentionally practice this.

 

-Darci

GUEST WRITER: Online Dating

Want to be a Guest Writer for Angry Feminist? Let me know! 

I am new to the dating scene.  I haven’t been here since 2009, and let’s be honest, I didn’t really date then either.  I’ve been in a monogamous relationship from then until now, and the whole premise of dating has changed since I was looking last.  Everything seems to have moved to dating apps. There’s always a new one, and my social media ads are flooded with promises to find me “The One” or at least someone to keep me entertained.  It’s a strange world, and I’m not sure what to do with it other than dive right in, with my friends scanning the waters for sharks.

This whole online dating thing feels like a video game.  If you hop on Bumble (which I have) or Tinder (which I haven’t) you have a seemingly endless number of guys at your literal fingertips who you judge based almost solely on their first picture.  If that first picture doesn’t immediately turn you off, maybe you look through the others and see if they wrote anything interesting in their bio. “Something interesting” means they have the same generic list of enjoyed activities that I do.  I like reading, music, dancing, and watching reruns of The Office at all times. These are pretty low bars for connecting with someone, so really it’s just a constant influx of “Hot or Not.” And even weirder is knowing that presumably all these men are out there playing the same game with my pictures.

It has happened a few times now that I “match.”  Someone played the game and agreed that I have similar interests to them and I passed the “Hot or Not” test.  Then we get to play the game of “how do you talk to a stranger on the internet.” I hate this game. With a passion. I struggle.  Mightily. Not being able to read facial cues, see if they laughed or not, not being able to present my own social cues with expression, intonation, inflection, makes communicating very difficult for me until I actually know someone.  I’m highly sarcastic but rarely feel like that translates well in text. I dislike using emojis with people I don’t know, as they can come off pretty childish, and I judge men who use those as their primary form of communication. But despite all these lacking levels of communication, maybe half of the men who swipe right ask for a date.  Which brings the next level of weirdness to the situation as a woman.

I am a hyper vigilant, small-ish framed, 5’8” woman. I have no doubt in my mind that if someone wants to, they can easily overpower me. Which means that actually meeting these strangers from the internet whom I have judged via pictures comes with a certain amount of anxiety about my own personal safety. My friends and I came up with some ground rules as I started this, to make sure I was as safe as possible.

-I always meet in a very public place.
-I do not tell anyone where I live or work.
-I do not tell them my last name. I made this mistake once and instantly regretted it. He did not take the rejection well and edged towards stalking.
-I let my friends know if I am going on a date, and
-If it’s late at night or nearing dark hours I let them know his name and send a photo. Just in case someone needs it to investigate my disappearance.

Again, I’ve always been hyper-vigilant.  I’m very aware of the dangers of being female at night, and always have been.  Most of these are common sense to women. Many of these things are just how I have always lived, but with the added danger of meeting strangers and living alone, I’m even more cautious about them. I strongly suspect that none of these issues cross men’s minds, unless they are one of the conscientious men who look at those things for the woman they want to date. Again, not for their own safety.

Despite all this weirdness, I have managed to meet a few guys. So far the dating experience itself has been interesting.

My first date who got a repeat was Monday Guy.  Monday Guy was thus dubbed because he would consistently ask for a date on Mondays (creative, I know).  Monday Guy was wildly attractive, very in shape, intelligent, and held a conversation well for a first date.  I thought he would be fun, until our second date. At this point, he waxed poetic about the joys of being able to hunt and kill things, hit other men, and just generally know that he could handle himself in an attack situation due to his Jiu Jitsu training. This is all fine and dandy, but became an issue on the walk back to his car.  He went out of his way to swagger through a group of motorcyclists standing outside, and I cannot emphasize the word “swagger” enough here. He intentionally went out of his way to walk directly through the middle of their group. Even better was that it was the wrong street, and his car was not actually parked there.

Needless to say, that was our last date, but not because I didn’t try for another. No, at this point, I was still putting up with what I thought might be the expected level of asshole in a cute guy.  We all have faults, and I assumed machismo was his. I asked to hang out again, he gave me a maybe, then ghosted. I was upset at first, as this was the first guy I had dated and thus the first guy to reject me.  After a few days, I recognized how toxic his attitude was, noticed more of the things he had said that were deeply problematic, and felt much better about no longer being in contact. I learned not to put up with assholes.

Next was Tractor Guy.  We had some great dates that always involved live music.  He was fun, kind, and great to talk to. He was also overly attached and emotionally messy very quickly.  After two dates, he started waxing poetic with actual poetry, which was incredibly uncomfortable for me. He wanted to lend me books and borrow books from me.  He sent me a collection of recipes with the “healing spiritual properties” of various fruits and vegetables (as in “figs will open your heart and heal emotional wounds” type properties).  He’s clearly a really sweet guy, but was ready to jump right into a full fledged relationship after a couple dates, which was not what I was looking for. After the recipe incident, I sent him the classic “I appreciate your time but I think we’re looking for different things” text (which I first drafted with my friends to be sure I wasn’t being insensitive).  He wished me well and we moved on with our lives.

Move on to Aladdin, thus named because looking like Aladdin was all he had going for him.  Younger than me but not by much, his profile made him look well traveled and well educated with a master’s degree.  All true, but he neglected to say that he lives with his parents “except on the weekends.” I cannot tell you how confused I am by that statement.  Where does he live on the weekends? I did not ask. He walked me to my car, tried to put his hand up my dress while kissing me. When I stopped him he cracked a joke about me being a prude. I told him to walk away and did not talk to him again.  Disturbing as that experience was, it’s something most women can relate to. Somehow this stranger that I had met two hours before thought he was entitled to my body and had the right to cut me down for having boundaries.

The next date had the same problem, with 6’8” Professor.  Again, touted himself as an intellect, well educated, nice guy.  We met for a date in the middle of the day, kissed at some point, and he slid his hand onto my ass in broad daylight in the middle of a bookstore.  I moved his hand. Later he did it a second time. I moved his hand and told him I wasn’t comfortable with that level of PDA. On our goodbye, he did it a third time and laughed.  Clearly my boundaries were a joke, and something that he didn’t have to respect. I am grateful this date was in a highly populated, well lit area. I am grateful I didn’t give him a second chance.  My “No” was clearly heard and just as clearly ignored by someone a full foot taller than myself. I did not feel safe.

Farmboy was a beautiful air force guy who seemed incredibly nervous on our first date, which was flattering.  He didn’t try to kiss me, which made me feel like my boundaries were being respected. He got a second date, and I realized that what I had mistaken for nervousness was actually just his personality, which was disturbingly reminiscent of my ex.  He continuously guided the conversation to point out how good he was at certain things. We went to a bar with very niche decor, somewhat horror story-esque (think Poe more than slasher), and sat in what can only be described as thrones. He talked about how much he loved the bar, how great he thought everything in there was, from the black ceilings, walls, floors, drapery, and candles to the taxidermied animals.  I politely nodded along but had very different opinions, which when he asked about, he then proceeded to negate and tell me why I was wrong with that opinion. He attempted to manipulate my emotions and actions multiple times throughout our date. I ended it after recognizing why this pattern felt so familiar, and told him we would not be seeing each other again. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to read people as well as my ability to turn someone down without being mean.

My most recent experience was the strangest and most worrisome.  I’ll call him Angry Guy. We got drinks and talked for about three hours, during which time I enjoyed the conversation but noticed some red flags and did not feel any real attraction to him.  However, he seemed like a nice guy, so I gave him my number and told him he could see me again. That night turned into a lot of texting from him, and I started to second guess my decision. He seemed to be getting very attached and somewhat territorial after one date.  He asked for two more dates within the week, and when I said I was busy he cracked jokes about my popularity on Bumble and how I should try not to let anyone else impress me before our next date. He assumed I was going on other dates, but was already setting a precedent that I shouldn’t.  Things he had told me on our date came back that I had somehow overlooked at the time. For instance, thinking it’s appropriate to tell me on a first date about how his ex called the cops on him because he was burning pictures of them in a barbecue while drunk is definitely a reason to get out of there fast.  But I laughed it off and chalked it up to crazy exes even though HE WAS BURNING THINGS WHILE DRUNK AND SHE CALLED THE COPS.

I never said I was smart.

After I reevaluated spending more time with this guy, I sent another “Hey, I appreciate your time, but I’m actually not feeling it” text and expected a similar response to my previous rejections.  What I got instead was hours of progressively angrier and more accusatory texts that continued sporadically from 8 pm to 6 am. His first text was reasonable and asked for clarification about what had changed my mind so suddenly, which I replied to.  The following texts declared me cold, heartless, confused, told me what a missed opportunity this was and I would end up regretting my choice, that we should still be friends, etc. When I didn’t respond to any of his texts, he sent a similar message on instagram because surely the issue was that I just wasn’t seeing his texts.  He told me I had misinterpreted his interest, that he wasn’t actually as interested as he seemed and we should go on another date. This is strange logic. He told me he was out drinking with a buddy and that’s why he sent so many texts. When I woke up to another text the next morning stating that I was cold and cruel, I blocked him on every platform I have. Lesson learned about not paying attention to very obvious red flags.

Gentlemen, these are not acceptable behaviors.  Why anyone thinks that guilting someone into a second date (or third, or twentieth) is a good idea, I will never understand.  The appropriate response to “I’m just not feeling it” is to say ok and move on. It’s not up for discussion. It’s not a debate.  I do not know you, I owe you nothing, and I have no interest in keeping you in my life. Drop it.

Online dating is strange, but I’m learning.  I’m strangely growing more confident through it all.  I’ve discovered that I am decent at reading people, and I have learned to trust my instincts.  If something feels off to me, it usually actually is. I’m learning to pay attention to how people treat me and have it mean something.  I’m learning how to give and accept rejection gracefully, and experiencing firsthand people who haven’t yet. I’m learning to spend time with myself, and feel strong in my independence.  Yes, dating is fun, but it’s not the be-all end-all that it’s often made out to be. I’m glad I can say I tried dating apps, but I’m happy to give them a break. I’m logging off for now.

 

-Victoria

We Are All Broken

In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – Jennifer Dukes Lee

When I was a junior in college I broke my arm. More specifically, I broke my radial head, the part of your forearm that connects to your elbow. I had never broken a bone before. And honestly the inconvenience of not being able to use my arm for the better part of two months was far more difficult than the pain. I couldn’t bend or twist my arm at all for the first several weeks, I couldn’t grip anything with my hand. You realize how much you need your arm when you can’t use it. I couldn’t do most house chores, I couldn’t tie my own hair back, I couldn’t open my own pill bottles, I couldn’t put on a bra.

I became very dependent on everyone around me and it was challenging. I needed my roommates to cook my meals, do my chores, tie my hair back so I could wash my face. I needed my coworkers to do most of my job for me. Growing bone is also exhausting, so I was tired all the time. Honestly, it was a pretty embarrassing, helpless time.

But because I broke my arm right at the elbow, I didn’t have a cast. They wanted me to start moving my arm as much as possible as soon as possible so that it didn’t heal in one position. I had a sling that I was supposed to wear to alert people around me that I was injured and I needed space. But the sling was removable. So I often didn’t wear it.

Because I didn’t want people to know I was broken and helpless.

All in all, it worked out. No one ended up bumping into me, I didn’t trip and fall and hurt myself more, my chores got done, my job got done, I got fed, my school work was completed. For eight weeks I went about campus and almost no one knew that I was injured and exhausted. My arm healed, and life went on.

My point, if it isn’t obvious yet, is that we have no idea what someone is going through. Not everyone you encounter will have a literal broken arm, but everyone around you is going through something. And we don’t want the world around us to know. Your coworkers may be struggling financially, your friends marriage may be falling apart, your family members may be struggling with depression.

We are all hurt, we are all exhausted, we are all embarrassed at how broken we feel.

So this week, I challenge you to be kinder. Ask your barista how their day is going and really listen, give the people on the sidewalk a little extra room, reach out to your friends who you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know you still care. If someone is short with you, give them some grace. If someone is quieter, say hello. Set aside your pride, your self-centeredness, and be kind instead. Find one moment every day this week to be intentionally kind.

Maybe we won’t change the world with kindness, but maybe we will.

 

-Darci