“Keep Your Head Up, Nothing Lasts Forever”

Culture & Society, Re-framing Your Thinking

Kudos to Kelly Clarkson’s songs for inspiring me.

 

There were so many things that I wanted to blog about this week. Yes, I’m that kind of person who can’t go anywhere without a notebook (or Evernote, if I must be parted from my beloved Moleskine for some reason).

 

No, I did not close my eyes and point to a topic on my ever-growing list of topics before churning out a blog post (although I am debating doing that at some point).

 

But I decided to combine a few topics and put them under an umbrella, and talk about gratitude again.

 

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I’ve talked about gratitude before. Two times, to be exact. So what’s so compelling about this subject that I decided to do it again?

 

Chiara De Blasio’s recent article on XO Jane really got the cogs turning for me. Because I was in her shoes. On my bad days, I would say that I still am.

 

I had everything that so many people wish for. Clean water, clothes, food, a bed at night, an education. And I was taking it for granted. I was selfish. I was ungrateful.

 

I couldn’t recognize how rich I was, how fortunate I was.

 

I’m in a better place now, but that doesn’t mean that I never have bad days; everyone does.

 

Even when some friends catch me on a bad day, they don’t really believe that I still deal with many of the issues that I tell them that I dealt with. In their minds, it’s been over a decade. A decade should be plenty of time right? Get up, dust yourself off, move on.

 

In the past, people have called me selfish, thought that I was seeking attention.

 

I’m here to give them a big (hopefully very loud) wake up call.

 

These conditions are not picky. It’s not like someone decides, “This person is going to get X, this person is going to get Y, and this person is going to Z.”

 

People who have these conditions are not selfish. Our brains just work differently. Sometimes we go to these dark places because it’s the only way we know how to cope with the world. It’s hard to be grateful for what we have, to even see what we have when we feel like the world is out to get us.

 

The world can feel very unsafe for us sometimes. I know that as a victim of bullying, I felt unsafe in school. It didn’t matter if I was eating lunch, in class, laughing with friends. I still felt unsafe.

 

I don’t think people who deal with mental illness are selfish. They’re warriors. They’re dealing with life the best way they can, with the tools they have, just like the next person. Sure, the tools may be a little different, a little unorthodox, but they’re still trying to live, trying to survive.

 

Some would say that they’re just not seeing the big picture. I was told thousands of times that I wasn’t seeing the big picture, that being detail-oriented was a bad thing, that I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees.

 

Were they right?

 

Maybe.

 

But sometimes what you say to someone doesn’t register. The things you say to them aren’t interpreted the way you intend them to. Sometimes we need events to remind ourselves not to take things for granted.

 

It’s sad to know that it takes the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls or a local fire to remind us to be grateful, to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have the most basic of things. But this is the world we live in.

 

The best part is, we can change it.

 

We can help turn this world into a place where girls from all over the world are given the gift of an education. We can work to make this society a place where human trafficking victims’ stories can be heard, a place where the stigma of mental illness is no longer taboo.

 

What are you grateful for? What sorts of changes would you like to see in the world?

Image Credit: Pinterest

 

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The One Thing To Know That Will Make You Feel Like The Goddess You Are (And How It Can Help Stop Comparisons At the Door)

Learning To Love Yourself

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How many of you remember that one really popular girl in middle school that everyone imitated because they just wanted to be her?

 

The one every other male in your grade had a huge crush on.

 

The one with the most chic wardrobe that every other girl wanted to raid.

 

Let’s just say, for example, that both of you (coincidentally) wore the same shirt to school one day.

 

Did you:

 

a)    Think “Oh my god, I’m wearing the same shirt as she is! That automatically makes today awesome.”

 

OR

 

b)   Think that you look awful because you’re standing next to your middle school’s version of a Victoria’s Secret model and proceed to look for a hole to materialize so it could swallow you?

 

Knowing how awful middle school was for some of us, I’m going to assume that you went with the latter option.

 

I’m not trying to assume that everyone’s middle school experience was traumatic. I mean sure, it’s possible that you could have had a great experience and picked option A.

 

But middle school is generally hard. That’s when puberty starts doing weird things to us, and we start dealing with a lot. Friends, boys (or girls), grades…you get my drift.

 

We start to solidify our beliefs about how the world works. We start trying to navigate the world.

 

And with the media throwing airbrushed images in our faces all the time, it’s not hard for us to look into the mirror and think: “God, I don’t look like (insert celebrity’s name here). I fail at life.”

 

It took me going through high school and college, but I finally figured out how to put a dent in the “I must constantly compare myself to other people” cyclone, and I want to share it with you.

 

See Miss Popular who wore the same shirt as you today?

 

She wasn’t the one who decided that she looked better in that shirt.

You were the one who decided that it was an iron-clad fact that she looked better in the shirt than you did.

 

Miss Mini-Victoria’s-Secret-Model over there can’t control the fact that you think she’s better looking in the shirt than you are.

 

I mean, for all you know, she could think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

 

Long story short, you are the one who controls your perceptions. The people you compare yourself to? Chances are they don’t particularly care what you think (assuming you’re comparing yourself to someone who doesn’t know you exist). And the people who do know you exist who you compare yourself to? They can’t control what you think about yourself.

 

You do.

 

Feel powerful now?

 

Yeah, I do too.

 

This isn’t to say that it’s easy; personally, I’m still working on my inner lizard (as one book I read so aptly put it), but knowing that I’m in the driver’s seat when it comes to how I think makes me pretty willing to make myself better than I was yesterday. It’s the little things that you like about yourself that build your confidence.

 

And knowing that I’m better than I was makes me feel a lot better about myself than I would if I were staring at photoshopped pictures of Miranda Kerr all day.

 

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That person staring back at you from the mirror?

 

Let HER be your competition.

 

What sorts of things do YOU do that help you stop comparing yourself to others?

Image Credit: Pinterest.