Tough Times Call for Beautiful Measures
Life is not easy. Living in a world full of negativity and trying to pull away from it is not easy. Trying to fit yourself into the standards of society by looking, or being, or doing as everyone else is not easy. Healing and moving forward is not easy. Being happy and positive all the time is not easy. We all fall victim to making life harder than it needs to be mostly by focusing on the bad and forgetting the good. Even when people perceive their life as being easy or perfect, it’s not. We all have our seasons, our negative thoughts, our tough times, or our ruts and honestly that is okay because we are human. We are allowed to feel all of our feelings, we are allowed take a break if we need it, and we are allowed to express ourselves in a real, raw, honest, and authentic way – however that may be.
I haven’t always been this happy, go-lucky, positive, and bubbly person. It has taken me years, 29 to be exact, to get to where I am today. It hasn’t always been easy, in fact, it’s honestly been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done; healing, growing, learning, forgiving, and finding peace within myself. There are still days where I doubt who I am and how far I’ve come. There are still days when I want to give up and just throw the towel in. There are still days when all I want to do is crawl into bed, forget the world and everyone in it like I used to. But I don’t, because I’ve grown, and I’m better than that. I no longer feel like I need to escape from my reality because I have created the reality that I want. Yes, some days I feel whole, content and happy and other days I feel the complete opposite. But it’s progress and that’s what counts.
Something that I have have come to realize is that I feed off of others emotions. Which in some cases can be a good thing, but in others it can be harmful and toxic. Unfortunately, I spent many years surrounded by negativity. In most situations there was nothing positive to look at because there was always an issue, something was always wrong, and someone was always unhappy. I learned that people who were doing well for themselves were in the wrong. I learned that people who took care of themselves or created a better life for themselves thought they were better than everyone else. I believed it all. Thankfully I have finally learned that there is nothing wrong with being happy, with bettering yourself, for making a living, or for just literally being a nice person.
I used to hate seeing happy and positive people because they made me feel insecure about myself. I would always think, “What is going so well in their life that they can be that happy?” or “What am I doing wrong?” and I finally figured it out; Mindset. Maybe they didn’t specifically have something good going on or maybe they were actually having a bad day but they decided to focus on what they thought was positive in that moment. Who was I to judge or make assumptions? Why was my focus on other people and their happiness and not mine? Simple. I was unhappy in my own life and I was jealous of theirs. That was my own problem, my own mindset, and it was something that I needed to work on.
Because of my previous learned behaviors, I became an anxious and negative person. There never seemed to be a positive, bright or happy side to any situation. It felt like nothing good had happened yet, so nothing good was to come, right? I stayed in my comfort zone and I didn’t try new things. I lived the same day over and over; waking up to go to a job I didn’t like, went home and ate unhealthy meals, I didn’t exercise, and I drank a lot. I didn’t have any future plans. I didn’t know what to do and I was at my worst – I was unhappy and I knew it. It took me years to pull myself out of this rut and to finally make myself my first priority.
I never thought that I would be where I am today after the continuous obstacles that I’ve faced. When everything changed and I was on my own for the first time in my life I felt so many things, but the biggest feeling I felt was lost. I had no idea what to do or where to go, all I knew was that this was a fresh start, and I had to do everything and anything I could to make it count. If I was going to grow, I needed to learn what was preventing me from doing so. As Alexander Den Heijer said, “When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” So I did. I left the toxic environment in which I called home, I set boundaries with the toxic people in my life, I focused on myself, and I started over.
I started making changes and putting in the work that was needed. I started showing up for myself and working through my past trauma. I found out new things about myself, I found new hobbies, new passions and new ways to create my own happiness. I found things that made me tick, both good and bad. I put more focus on the bad; where they stemmed from, how and why I was reacting the way I was to them, and how to improve that. I took the time I needed to rest, recharge and reset. I set boundaries with the people in my life to ensure that I was taking care of myself first. I learned to say ‘no’ without giving a detailed explanation for my reasoning. I learned to listen more to what people were saying instead of responding. I learned what my triggers are and how to deal with them when they arise. I learned how to deal with my anxiety, how to calm myself when I was feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, and how to remain calm in situations that made me feel like I needed to be in defensive mode.
I put in a lot of work to unlearn the behaviors I was taught to believe were right. I stopped letting negative feelings intrude my thoughts, I stopped thinking that happy people were bad people, I stopped thinking that bettering yourself was wrong, I stopped being mean to others when I was upset with myself, and I stopped letting one bad thing ruin my entire day. I learned to no longer accept tough or toxic love. Being disrespectful to your loved ones by pointing out flaws or putting them down “as a joke” is not love. Ignoring your loved ones feelings or boundaries is not love. Putting your loved ones in bad situations that could have easily been avoided is not love. Making others feel like they are to blame for situations you created for yourself is not love. Telling others to push their fears and feelings down and to let it go is not love. Making others feel like they don’t matter and that they are not safe is not love. These behaviors are toxic and they are unacceptable. It took me a long time to figure out what love is truly is, and I can tell you, tough and toxic love is not it.
After a couple years of focusing on just myself I stumbled upon an old friend who drastically changed my perspective on life entirely. Slowly, a friendship turned into romance, and romance turned into love. Now I get to spend every day with the man that I love with my entire being, who is quite literally my best friend. After spending so many years of my life in toxic environments and relationships, it did not seem real that there was someone out there that was so positive, supportive, understanding, loving and just an amazing person inside and out. But there was and I was lucky enough to find him. On my worst days or through tough decisions, he is always there supporting me and reminding me that there are still positive things to look at. I give myself so much credit because I know that I put so much work into myself by changing my mindset and outlook, however, I would not be where I am today and I would especially not be here writing or creating, without him and his unconditional support.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my days. I still have a lot of progress to make, but I am putting in the work every single day. There are many things I wish I did differently throughout my life. Things I could undo, or at least redo. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that was my path. Without that path, the one I paved for myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My life could be totally different and honestly, I don’t want that. I went though everything I did to come out on top, to be a better person, to learn lessons and make the necessary changes. I truly and whole heartedly believe that everything happens for a reason and that we are always one decision away from a different life.
It is important to acknowledge that there are always things we can improve on because things are constantly changing within and around us. How we respond to and handle these changes is key. Things don’t change, we do. Things don’t get better over time, we do. Life is always going to throw you something unexpected, ruin your plans or make you question everything. But it is how you respond to it and overcome the obstacles that matters. Your mindset makes the difference. Pick up your anchor, grab life by the sail and change the direction you want to go because life is a continuous cycle of obstacles and journeys; sometimes it’s those that are unexpected that lead you to the most beautiful destinations.