Temerarious

 

I spent the last weekend bedridden with a horrible flu.

The flu can be detrimental to one’s health in a number of ways- there’s the physical component of the illness, of course, in which the immune system is insufficient for fighting off pathogens, but there’s a physiological component that, in my experience, is far more harmful than any fever, bout of chills, or stuffy nose.

When you’re as sick as I was last weekend, you have no other option but to slow down-your body insists. But your brain is not forcibly stagnated to the extent that your limbs might be. What I’m saying in way more words than are necessary is that I had far too much time for thinking over the past couple of days for my own good.

In a desperate attempt to occupy my mind and focus my racing, unorganized thoughts, I began (and finished) the Netflix original series Thirteen Reasons Why. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I suggest that you set apart the next 13 hours and binge the entire series. If you don’t have the time for that, I’ll provide a brief synopsis.

The story centers around Hannah, a high schooler who takes her own life, but not before explaining her reasons for doing so via 13 audio tape recordings. The topic of each tape is one of her classmates who has contributed to her ultimate decision to commit suicide. Among those reasons are betrayal, rape, objectification, and harassment. Ironically, all things that I have experienced, as well.

This powerful series was profound and resonated deeply with me, and unfortunately, has forced me to face some things that I’ve never truly allowed myself to process. Ever since my body was invaded, it’s felt as though it no longer belongs to me. And sometimes I feel that all I am is a body, and maybe that’s why I haven’t been handled with care-by men since him, or by me. The most practical remedy is to enclose oneself in a pod of isolation-just big enough for one. Because the illusion of control is much more satisfying there.

I’ve been played with, used, ridiculed, and objectified. I am left weak, afraid, and tired.

I’d like to think that I’d never engage in self-harm, but this sudden flooding of relived past experiences has forced me to feel things that I’ve suppressed for far too long, and I’m paying for it now. How does one who’s deceived herself into strength cope with the fact that she’s been wounded the whole time?

I think that the biggest take-away message I got from viewing Thirteen Reasons was that we are reckless. Humans are reckless people with little to no awareness on how significant our actions can be in the grand scheme of things. Our actions have the power to significantly alter another’s perception of self, and the consequences of a poor self-perception can, as in Hannah’s case, be fatal.

Human interaction is a complex phenomenon, and everyone experiences his or her own truth. If you claim that I hurt you, I don’t get to decide that I didn’t. So it’s best to err on the side of safety, right?

Unfortunately, unless you’re Ghandi or Mother Teresa, you will inevitably hurt those you interact with, intentionally or not. But we don’t walk around with a gauge pinned to our shirts, notifying those around us how close we are to our breaking points.

It’d be extremely difficult, and frankly boring (not to mention unrealistic) to treat everyone as if they are fragile as fine China, all of the time for the rest of our lives. That’s where I think that a little self-awareness could go a long way. And believe me, my hands are definitely not clean here.

Watching the way Hannah was treated by her classmates in Thirteen Reasons was piercingly painful for me to watch. I could feel her solitude through my computer screen, and it transported me back to my own lonely years as a high school student. (Which was much more difficult in some ways than my desolate college years now.) Each episode’s conclusion catalyzed another stream of tears from my eyes, and I found myself in bouts of severe regret for the way my life has been going so far.

People can cause a lot of harm, but they can also do a lot of good. The only problem is, once you’ve experienced enough harm, you find that it’d be foolish to put yourself out there in pursuit of some good, because that would leave you vulnerable to even more harm.

So, you withdraw further.

And what’s so noble about being fine all the time, anyway? Why does being able to be okay with people treating you like shit make you strong? Resilient, maybe. But I’d argue that strength is found by allowing yourself to feel real pain-to hurt to the extent that it hurts, and to heal in your own time, and your own way.

That’s what I feel like my experience from this weekend is forcing me to do-to allow myself to not be fine anymore. Because the last thing I am is okay. I am weak, wounded and alone. And if I don’t accept that now and deal with it, the next time I get hurt might pull me completely under water, and I’ll drown.

I fully admit that I’ve done more than my fair share of harm to other people. My hands are far from clean. But I’ve gained a heightened awareness of my deeds and their potential for harm or help to my fellow man.

But why are we so reckless with each others’ lives? Should it not be more of a priority to minimize the pain we inflict? Or are we simply just not aware?

M.

 

 

Ubiety

Y’know how when you ask someone how they are doing, you expect them to say, “good, and you?” even if they don’t mean it?

Well, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I can provide that customary answer with genuineness.

How are you?

Good, and you?

I am good.

I am doing well.

I am doing well, despite the tragically disheartening election (that is as political as I am going to get on this post-no bad vibes here), rapidly decreasing temperatures, and hasty intensification of menstrual symptoms.

I am doing well, without SSRI’s or therapy sessions.

I am doing well, despite the fact that my diet has entirely derailed over the past week or so and I have only been able to make it to the gym once. I’ve tasted chocolate and bread and beer and allowed myself to be filled, where a few weeks ago, I’d eagerly and dedicatedly attempt to purge it all from my body.

I am doing so well that those around me are starting to notice. I’ve gone from enduring my daily obligations to truly experiencing even the most mundane of tasks. I’ve been spending less time maintaining my continual presence on social media or allowing my hair style to dictate my mood.

I’ve been spending less time on the scale and more time in the quality assurance department of my social sphere. I’ve been smiling more, and not for the sake of selfies or snapchat. I’m letting out deep-belly laughs until my abs feel sore. My tunnel vision has broadened, and I’m seeing more and more of the bigger picture, I think.

I’m sleeping longer and deeper, and I’m truly listening when you talk. The air I breathe fills my lungs to capacity and I can feel it energizing my cells before I release it in an exhale. The anxiety cloud still lingers over my shoulder, but it trails behind on a longer leash. I’m nervous and scared and excited, but have shrunken these legitimate emotions to a reasonable and respectable proportion.

I’m doing all that I can now to prepare for later without sacrificing all that right now has to offer me.

I’m no longer allowing external expectations to dictate my personal development, morality, appearance, or cognitions. I have removed the shackles of arbitrary guilt, and traded them for a personalized air of humanitarian passion.

I pride myself in being a life-long student, and I am learning more and more about what the point to this entire living thing could possibly be, and as much as I hate to admit, the clichés are probably right.

It’s about the journey, not the destination. Blah, blah, blah-I’m annoyed already. But in all sincerity, I truly believe that the whole point of experiencing a life worth living is to learn how to be truly happy, and maybe help one or two others find their own brand of happiness while I’m at it.

In order to do this, though, sometimes you have to let go of obstacles that restrict you from doing so. And for myself, that means I have to ease off the gas pedal.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still the overly ambitious, in-over-her-head, millennial perfectionist you all know and love, but my pace has been altered.

One day, I’ll have that perfect bikini body featured on all of my fitness Pins. But today, I will munch on crackers and sip diet soda to alleviate my unsettled stomach, and perhaps go for a jog later.

One day, I’ll be conducting pharmacological research, aiding in medicinal advances that can one day significantly improve the quality of life of another. But today, I am going to leisurely study for the GRE and beg around for research lab experience to add to my Curriculum Vitae.

One day, I will leave my residence and immerse myself in a plethora of other cultures, and allow myself to marvel at all that I see, without regard to what time or day it is. But today, I will take scenic drives up the canyon and gape at my own backyard with true appreciation.

I’ve wasted too great of a portion of the one life I’ve been given being anxious, sad, and suffocated by self-deprecation.

I hope all of you have already come to realize all of this.

Here’s to actualizing personal fulfillment.

M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felicity

Hey guys! Yup, i’m still kicking. Not that I owe anybody an explanation for my lack of posting, nor do any of you probably care, but I have been super busy figuring myself out lately, and I’m happy to report that I believe I’ve made substantial progress in that regard.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about happiness, and how even the basic definition of the word varies from person to person. For me, happiness is individualism, the rewarding feeling of accomplishment, and independence. I know many others who would define happiness as the complete opposite. That’s what’s fun about it-happiness is completely subjective.

Because of this fact, there is no one way to live a happy life. What uplifts some may frustrate or even hurt others, and it takes a lot of getting to know oneself in order to navigate to the kind of life that will truly make you happy. I think that for someone who has only been here just shy of two decades, I have come to know myself extremely well. Over the span of just a few months, i’ve been really immersing and engaging my mind in the search for truth and knowledge in this life, and also forming my very own, unique belief system about this knowledge. There is so much knowledge out there-so much that I could spend the rest of my life-60+ years, if I’m lucky- studying, and still not even make a dent in the copious knowledge that humankind has obtained to date.

Now, I am no scientist, but I theorize that one of the main causes of unhappiness in this lifetime is depending on the beliefs and behaviors of those who come before us and raise us, and never really take the time to evaluate things on our own. We are social creatures, and have a constant need for acceptance within a group in order to survive, and I think that that kind of inhibits us from exploring our own thoughts and beliefs. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find it really easy to take new knowledge for its face value. Critical analyzing of the data we intake on a daily basis takes a conscious effort, and as a full-time student and part-time registrar, I don’t exactly have much free time for soul searching.

I have to attribute all of this thinking and over-analyzing to my Intro to Philosophy class. I have a bittersweet relationship to this class. Bitter, because sometimes, ideas are presented that are simply too vast and broad for me to wrap my tiny head around, (ahem, Euthyphro’s Dillema) and sweet, because it raises questions that would never cross my mind otherwise. Real questions. We’re talking questions about morality and what is good and evil, right and wrong. The best thing about this class, though, is that sometimes there is no right answer, and that’s okay.

The most frustrating, yet valuable thing i’ve learned from this class is how truly little we know about anything. It scares me, really, and is truly humbling to realize. However, I find myself wanting to know so much more about what I don’t know, and I think the more we learn, the more we know how much we don’t know. Have I confused the hell out of you yet?

Okay, so i’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent. My point is, since we don’t know anything about anything, it’s up to me as an individual to decide what is true and false in my world, and the only way I am going to become qualified to make those decisions is to learn more.

In summary, belief systems need to be developed on an individual basis, including beliefs on what happiness is. Nobody can tell me that the way I choose to live my life will not bring me happiness, because they are not subject to my individual belief system. So rather than decide whether a person is living in a way that will lead to lasting happiness, I’d like to propose that we all focus on developing our own definitions of the word, and pursue that route.

M.

Complacent Vs. Contentment

As most of you are rightly assuming from my previous blog posts, I am quite the philosophical thinker. It’s a curse, really. All this engagement in deep thought is draining on a poor lass, and instills a lingering, permanent sense of worry in me. 

Lately, i’ve been concerning myself with matters involving complacency. You see, my worst fear in this life (aside from the typical environmental fears such as heights, snakes, and big bugs) is not achieving my ambitious goals and winding up somewhere in a repetitive, life-running, average 9-5 job in Anytown, USA, and growing wildly unhappy and disappointed with my accomplishments (or lack thereof). 

These concerns haunt me on a regular basis, especially once I’ve fallen into a structured routine. Day after day, with nothing seemingly significant occurring, I begin to fear that perhaps my repetitive little agenda is all that’s out there for me. I feel that I am limited in what I will accomplish. I starve for change. 

Justifiably, my problem-solving skills aren’t up to par with seasoned and experienced adults. My solutions typically involve running away to Europe and starting a new life with a new hair cut and convincing accent, or simply just not showing up to things anymore. 

Even though I’m barely 19 years old, I feel like if I’m not accomplishing something huge that will have significant impact on my life, I am wasting time. My sense of contentment is endangered. 

Is it possible to feel content without becoming complacent? To be happy with the way your life is here and now and simultaneously be working for something bigger and better? 

This widespread belief that “things will be better when_____” or “once i’ve accomplished X,Y, and Z, then I will be happy,” is quite the obstacle to tackle when trying to be content with the here and now. 

Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind as I awoke this lovely Friday morn. 

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, and down with repetition. 

M.