Wednesdays

I don’t mind Wednesdays. They’re right in the middle of things, and once you do it you only have two days left, right?

I’ve been trying to change this mentality. I don’t want to live for the weekend, especially since I spend most weekends working on school work anyway. It’s a cultural thing, I think–ever since grade school people have been looking forward to Friday, and we loved school back then. Well, at least I did.

It’s not a good feeling to have 5/7 of your days be days you don’t want to live.

I’ve been doing better with depression and anxiety, but I’ve had a bit of a setback recently. Maybe it’s a spring thing; some people clean ther attic, I fall into depression. 

I don’t know why it’s come back, and maybe there’s no reason. Sometimes it’s for no reason. I can’t help but think of reasons, though. I’m over stressed, as if that’s something new. I’m worried about my birthday, and the party that will have both sides of my newly divorced family in the same house for the first time in…years, wow, it’s been nearly two years. I’m worried about finding a job for the summer, one that pays but still lets me relax a bit more than I am now. 

The worst thing about returning depression is that just the fact that it’s returning is another reason to get depressed.

So, in spirits of fighting away the oncoming doom, I will love Wednesday like it’s Saturday. I’ll take the day’s hardships in stride. Today shall be a day I want to experience, and I’ll stay mindful and present and as happy as I can be.

Worst comes to worst, there’s only two days left.

Allowed Feelings

I’ve been thinking a lot about “allowed feelings.” Meaning, what am I allowed to feel? This may sound ridiculous, but let me give you a personal example. I’m turning 21 in 1 week, and I’m having a bit of a crisis over it. I’ve had a crisis about my birthday since my 18th birthday, and I doubt I’ll stop soon, but this one is particularly bad.

I will be able to do nearly everything at 21. There are no more restrictions for me. And that’s scary. It’s scary also because it’s the last birthday I’ll celebrate while still in college, since I graduate in December. Who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now? What job I’ll be working? Where I’ll be living? Definitely not in this apartment, since I move out permanently in 1 month. Probably not Boston. Maybe not even Massachusetts.

But to tie all this back, I don’t feel like I’m “allowed” to feel crisisy about my age yet. I know I’m young. I know my life is just beginning, I have no agency to be sad about being so-called old. But I do.

There’s a social tendency recently to quantify emotions like this. It’s sort of like when your mom used to make you finish dinner because there’s “starving kids in Africa,” even though finishing dinner did absolutely nothing for starving kids anywhere. It’s good, of course, to put things in perspective. But just because someone may have it worse does not mean that your experiences don’t matter.

So, I suppose just because someone is older than me doesn’t mean I can’t be mindful of getting older. The whole idea of “mindfulness” is taking note of one’s feelings and not judging oneself because of them. It’s hard not to judge yourself. It’s hard not to call yourself names. I’ve called myself stupid probably 1000x more than anyone else has ever called me stupid. We are so cruel to ourselves.

This is a lot to dump on this blog all at once, but I don’t write so much anymore so I guess that’s okay. I’ve been feeling down lately and this blog is helpful when I’m feeling down. Maybe that’s partly why my birthday is a bit scary, too. I’m turning 21! I should be happy!

“Should” be happy. “Allowed” to feel. I wish I didn’t feel the need to fulfill expectations so much.

How are you guys today? Does anyone else freak out over birthdays? Sometimes it feels good to forget about perspective and just wallow in your own experiences. Maybe it’s not the most healthy thing to do, but I believe some days of unhealthiness are vital  to a healthy life. It’s like a diet cheat day, but for your mental well being. Is that an insane idea? Probably. I allowed myself to have a “bad day” like I used to have when I was deep in my depression. I skipped work and just spent the afternoon in my bed. Ever since I’ve een feeling gloomy. Maybe this whole paragraph is a bad idea. Whatever, I know for a fact it’s good to write down feelings now and then, and this is how I feel, so whatever.

A year ago, I felt so much worse than I do now. I have that to be thankful for. My 21st year will be happier than my 20th, and that is an undeniably good thing.

2016

I started 2016 by shouting “Happy New Year” in a small room with my friends from high school. I’ve always liked how the first word I say of every year is “happy,” even if I don’t feel happy at all.

The first six months of 2016 I spent (as my readers know) working for the Boston Globe as an intern. While it was stressful adjusting to a 40-hour work week all while still going to college, I enjoyed my job generally.

In March, I turned 20 and had a crisis. I was spending all my time in work or school. I had stayed on campus alone over spring break. I had been going to therapy for anxiety and depression, but it didn’t seem to be helping and I was thinking about quitting. My dog had died, and my family was ripping at the seams. My article was on the front page of my section but it had been edited so thoroughly it barely felt like my own work…and my boyfriend, the only one I felt like seeing in my lonely, plastic life, was studying abroad in Mexico. I couldn’t remember the last day I hadn’t cried. My dad told me he wanted to see me pull out of the darkness. I did too.

In April, things picked up externally. On April 4th an article of mine was on the first page of Metro, gaining me my first fan main (and, almost more exciting, my first hate mail). I was writing a novel daily, piece by piece on my blog, which was growing in popularity. It felt good to be writing again. On April 16th, a date I had been looking forward to for months, my boyfriend came home for what I thought would be a short lived reunion. I met him at the airport with coffee, had dinner, and he was gone again. I moved back home to an angry house. I felt like April was toying with me, holding a carrot just out of my reach.

June. On June 9 we found out that one of our fellow interns and one of my best friends at work had committed suicide. On June 24, After two months of driving into Boston, spending 3 hours daily in rush hour traffic, my internship was finally over. What should have been a bittersweet goodbye to the company I had enjoyed working for was nothing but relief. No more driving, no more long work days…and no more walking past his desk where his handwritten notes still hung to the corkboard.

July and August were when I tried to grow. I learned how to cook more. I spend time editing my novel. I prepared myself for study abroad. I worried myself over making friends. I saved money, writing about farmers markets for the local papers. I dreaded leaving my boyfriend again. I was scared.

In September, October, and November, I went to the Netherlands, Berlin, London, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, France, and Switzerland. I made friends I know I will have for life, friends I am closer with than I ever imagined possible. I have done things I never dreamed I would get to do. I grew. I found inner peace. I found independence. I found courage (which I was sorely lacking). I cried exactly once–when my flight was cancelled back from Berlin–a great improvement over “every single day.” I was happy. I liked my life.

In December, I was glad to come home for awhile. I got a puppy, Lacey, who I already love. I discovered a healthier and deeper relationship with my boyfriend which has left us both with less stress and more joy. I patched things up a bit with my sister. I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. I got a new internship with easier hours at a creative literary magazine. I secured housing for all of 2017. I was still happy, even though I wasn’t in some amazing place anymore.

On January 1, 2017, my first word was, once again, “Happy.” Only this time, I meant it.

I don’t know what will happen in 2017. I don’t have a plan anymore, and that’s good for me. I want to write more. I want to read more. I want to discover more about myself and the world. I want to be a better friend. I want to lead a healthy life. I want to stop thinking about myself so much. But most of all, I want to continue the positive path I am on. I no longer feel anxious or depressed most of the time, and for 2017 I want to keep that trend going no matter what happens.

Amsterdam for Introverts

Hello friends! I spent this weekend in the lovely city of Amsterdam, and wrote all about it here: https://deargodson.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/amsterdam/

But here, on my introvert-y blog, is where I tell you about how to be an introvert in this city full of life.

First of all, do the typical introvert stuff during the day when you have tons of energy. Go to the Rijksmuseum and wander around in quietness. Then enjoy a peaceful coffee–but not in a coffee shop. Those sell drugs. Try a “cafe” instead.

A paddleboat may sound nice and calm, but there are many speedy boats that might give you anxiety. Oh, and speaking of speed, watch out for the bikes. Follow the traffic laws to a T, and don’t cross the street without looking both ways for silent bikes and motorcycles that come out of nowhere. Keep in mind, sometimes the lanes go onto the sidewalk as well. Really, nowhere is safe from bikes.

Looking for a quiet experience that will blow you away? Two words: Anne Frank.

Finally, I suggest steering clear of the red light district. Even on a guided tour, the area is loud, bustling, bright, and overall not made for an introvert.

While Amsterdam has quite the nightlife for extroverts, there is also plenty for introverts as well, from the high-culture shows like ballet to the more niche shows like The Amsterdam Dungeon, there is something for everybody.

Enjoy a nice, quiet, lovely, amazing time in this beautiful city:)

Pretending to be an extrovert

There are occasions throughout life when being an introvert is not ideal. A semester abroad is one of those times.

Since the Boston airport I’ve been chatting with people, joining groups on a whim, striking up conversations, and sustaining small talk. It’s been exhausting, but also really nice. I went from having no friends and being really nervous to having plenty of friends and lots of travel plans.

Throughout the week I kept bonding with whomever I could. It’s been difficult but lovely, and it became easier the more I did it. I think it’s good to be able to pretend to be an extrovert.

However, it is not a mask I can wear for too long. Thank goodness for no-class Mondays! I spent today, everyone’s first day of class, on a solo bike ride down a lovely Dutch bike trail. I saw some cute animals along the way, like two horses, some cows, some sheep, and even a small herd of deer that someone had kept as farm animals (or pets? I’m not sure). Then I got back to my room I share with two other girls, and it was empty. What a rarity! I caught up on my YouTube shows and ate a few Stroopwafels, allowing myself to unwind.

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I was impressed with my ability to make friends in such a hectic, crazy, beautiful, wonderful place. I feel like I’ve already grown as a person while in the Netherlands, and it’s only been four days!

More importantly, I can see now where I may have gone wrong before, like with high school and the beginning of college. There are some introverts here, I can tell. They sit alone at meals, they don’t talk before class. I realize now that seeming shut off to the world like that can make one seem unappealing to befriend. A bit of reservedness is fine, but appearing too introverted can, I would say, be a bad thing.

Perhaps when one can’t be alone, one should embrace company. Nothing is wrong with reading at night, or a solo-stroll around the grounds, or any other time alone, but when I must be with people I will BE with people. Openly, honestly, 100%.

Basically, I don’t feel the need to hide myself anymore. And I feel good about that.

The good things 

My family always honored hard work and resilience. They’re all about gritting your teeth and baring the hard stuff.

I can do that relatively well (to a point). I can put up with anything, keeping my anger and exasperation in check. As I have worked on controlling my anxiety, even things like being late, which used to make me go crazy, are manageable now.

I think the trouble is that I can handle bad things, but not good things. Maybe that’s why I still feel empty when my life is so full. I’m lucky, and privelidged, and I should be happier about that. 

Maybe it’s the good old Catholic guilt of yesteryear nagging me. The kind that told me to always keep my luck in the front of my mind, to always feel bad that someone out there had it worse than me. That’s why we licked our plates clean at dinner, right? Because of those starving kids out there who would love to have those beets?

I do that well, too. I’m great at downplaying my successes, at smiling quietly, at keeping things off Facebook. 

Maybe I need to spend some time bein happy instead of instantly repressing it. I should take the simply joys and relish them instead of hiding them. 

Or, should I? I always worry about making people feel jealous, or making them think I’m bragging. Nothing is worse, in my family, than a braggart.

I don’t know. When is it okay to feel happy? When is it okay to show happiness? When can guilt stop infiltrating joy?

I guess, always, if I let it.