Rain or Shine: Our Loved Ones And Mental Illness

I’ve lived with me for a long time.
I wake up to me. I eat with me, talk to me.

I’ve lived with me for a long time.
But you haven’t, and that’s what worries me.

Because I know how I can get, how sometimes I’ll wake up and not want to get out of bed.
And sometimes I’ll get sad almost out of the blue and sometimes I know why and sometimes I don’t.
And sometimes I’ll forget my pills.
And sometimes I won’t want to go out. And sometimes when I do I’ll get nervous, won’t speak, and stare at my shoes.

And I know that sometimes I won’t want to eat and I’ll clutch at my tummy and wish I were smaller.
And sometimes I won’t want to do work.
And I know I compare myself to people around me and worry I’m not good enough and say it and believe it.
And sometimes I’ll just want to curl up in my bed and stay there for as long as I can.

I know how I can get.

And so I worry that one day I’ll be too much for you, that one day, another sad face will be the last straw, that you won’t want to deal with anymore quiet answers and sad eyes. I worry that one day another reassurance will be the last one and eventually you’ll get tired of picking up pieces.

But remember that I love you, deep down to my soul and no matter the day or the circumstance I will always love you: when I’m quiet or sad or curled up in my bed I will always love you. I will always need you.
You are the light that brightens my days. You are the smile that creeps across my face. You are my happy places

And if I could, I would make it so you’d never have to put me together.
But if I have to break down in front of anyone, it’d be you.
And I promise that no matter how I feel today, tomorrow, or the next day, no matter how sad I get, I’ll always need you. And I may not be whole, but my whole heart is yours.

Sometimes the scariest thing about having anxiety, depression, or any mental illness is the idea that your illness will push people away. Eventually, even though they say they’ll always be there for you, people will get tired of making you feel better and picking you up and dealing with your bad days.

When I was first diagnosed with depression at seventeen, my parents were supportive and understanding. But after a few months, when I had mornings where I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, the understanding from before seemed to have worn thin. It wasn’t words of compassion anymore being raised up the stairs to me, it was “Get yourself together,” or “Maybe if you didn’t spend all day in bed you wouldn’t feel like this,” or, “I’m tired of you using depression as an excuse.”

And I’d get angry at them for not understanding or sympathizing with what I was going through but at the same time I couldn’t blame  them. I’d wake up sad and would barely eat. I wouldn’t talk as much as I used to. I’d come down for a glass of water then go back up to my room for the rest of the day. Eventually, I’m sure, they just felt tired of trying to make me feel better and it not working.

I knew it was difficult, having a daughter with depression, just as it would be difficult having a friend with depression. So I hid my feelings from my closest friends and put a smile on whenever I was with them so I’d seem as normal as possible, as put together as possible, so they didn’t have to put me together themselves. But it was always in the back of my head: I can’t do this forever. I can’t keep hiding myself for forever.

Eventually when I went away to college, I was lucky enough to meet a girl who I trusted with my whole heart that I was comfortable enough to open up to. But even after being close to her for almost a year, I realized that I was still scared of her getting tired of hearing me complain or hearing me tell her that I couldn’t do it anymore, or cheering me up or telling me that I’m enough. “It’s not your job to do that,” I’d tell her. Because it wasn’t. Even though she was my best friend, even though she said she wanted to be there for me, her job wasn’t to keep picking up my pieces. And I worried I would suck all of the happiness out of her when I had my worst days and I didn’t want to do that to her, or anyone that I loved – in friendship or romantically.

Just as I had feared pushing my closest friends away, I started to consider myself impossible to be in a relationship with anyone. Because who would want to be in a relationship with someone they’d have to constantly pick up or put together? Who would want to date someone that needs reassurance that they have purpose and worth? Who would want to be with someone that sometimes just can’t see the light when they’re having a rough time?

No one, I always thought. And I wouldn’t ask anyone to, I’d tell myself.

When I finally did meet someone who wanted to be in a relationship with me I was terrified of him having to deal with me and my depression. As we started to get more serious I thought to myself, “Oh God, I can’t let him get too close or attached. He shouldn’t have to deal with someone like me.” Eventually I told him about my depression and he said he would be there with me every step of the way, to help me, to support me, listen to me, and most importantly, love me.

Since then, I’ve had my rough days. I’ve had my days where I cried to him over the phone about not being able to do anything or about how I felt like a failure. I’ve had my days where I would be nervous to be around other people because I was too anxious and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I’ve had my days where he’s asked me what was wrong and all I could answer was “I don’t know.”

But he’s stayed. Just like he promised.

And my best friend stayed. Just like she promised.

So to those who were in the same place I was, afraid to open themselves up to others for fear of being too much for them, I beg you not to close yourself off from the people around you. Don’t think that no one wants to deal with you and your illness. Because when people truly love you, they’ll do anything they can to see you be the best you possible. They want you to thrive and they want you to be happy. Don’t be discouraged and think that you have to go through your hardest times alone. Talk to your loved ones about you feel. Trust the people that you feel are true to you and let them in because you’ll end up closer to them than ever and will know you have a true companion. Allow yourself to be helped and to be loved.

And to those who love others suffering from a mental illness, to boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, and parents, know that the people you love who are suffering from something are still the same people you fell in love with when you first saw them. Your daughter is still the loving little girl you raised. Your best friend is still that vibrant, ridiculous, and caring person you first wanted to be friends with. Your boyfriend is still the sweet, doting, funny man that you fell in love with when you met for the first time.

What drew you to us in the first place is still there. We’re still that person.

Some days, our illness might get the best of us, but our true selves are still there. Know that we know you are doing your best to help us and make us feel better and pick us up when we’re down. Don’t take a depressive episode or moment personally. Chances are we’re being affected by things that have little to do with you and even though we might not want you to see us down or depressed, we know that if anyone will understand, it will be you. Be patient with us. Know that we’re trying to get better. Sometimes we’ll hit snags or slip but we want to be better, for ourselves, and for you.

And don’t get discouraged or think you’re not trying hard enough to make us feel better if we don’t cheer up the moment you attempt to cheer us up. Sometimes our episodes don’t go away that easily. But know that we are thankful that we have someone who cares enough about us to even try. Plenty of people have left us to sit in our hard times alone, but not you. You love us enough to try to make us happy. And even though we might not feel better immediately, please know that you trying matters. Because it means you haven’t given up on us. And when we know there’s someone in our corner, days don’t get as dark as they used to. And we get better, because we have you.

For more info and tips on showing love to someone with depression, check out this article by The Darling Bakers.


Stop The Ride, Please: The Struggle Between Work and Well-Being

If you ask me, the end of the school year is the worst time of year: papers on papers on tests on tests on study guide on study guide after study guide.

I don’t do well with pressure, but I do even worse with pressure when I can’t let off any steam which is why I don’t do well with pressure…(et cetera, et cetera, as the vicious cycle continues).

The worst part about not being very good with pressure at the end of the school year is the part where something that throws me off emotionally happens between my final on Tuesday and my final on Wednesday morning and I barely have the time to process it, let alone deal with it. Instead, I have to stiffen my upper lip and walk home to do more studying, all while my eyes sting and I’m trying to sniffle quietly, so as not to freak out the guy standing next to me at the crosswalk. But even when I get home and open a book to study, I’m in a place emotionally where I couldn’t concentrate if I wanted to, with my body drooping over my notes and notecards, my stomach grumbling but having no desire to eat or move, all while a part of my brain shouts, “I don’t have time for this, I have a final tomorrow!”

Dealing with depression and depressive tendencies while being a student is and always has been tough, but it gets tougher when you feel like you don’t have time to even think about what’s happening to you or what’s affecting you at the moment. You can’t address how you feel to try to make yourself feel better and you end up sinking further and further into a melancholy place, which is the last you want to be when trying to study or get work done. And it’s something that I so look forward to being able to put behind me, the constant struggle to keep up with both my work and my emotions, as well as the half-hearted attempt to seem like I have everything under control.

Because I don’t, and rarely do I, over circumstances or outcomes of happenstance, or sometimes my reactions to those circumstances. I can’t plan my episodes or try and pencil them into my schedule and I’m tired of having to struggle with the pressure of dealing with school and all its parts and my emotions, my mental health. And work will come when I’m out of school, of course, along with depressive episodes, but in that realm, for the most part, I have a night to unwind, to be comforted, to figure myself and my emotions out. But semesters often feel like a carnival ride I’m strapped to that keeps turning and turning all night and all day, despite my attempts to breathe or at least keep my lunch down.

And I just don’t do well with that. I need time, and as easy as it sounds to say, “Make time,” sometimes, you can’t make something out of nothing – and if I don’t have time, where am I even supposed to find time to make it? (That’s just science people). I’m just ready to stop having to put myself and my emotions behind so many other things. Long after the papers are graded and my diploma has been hanging on the wall, I’ll still be living with my mind and I don’t want to suffer then because I had no room to detoxify my mind now. I want my mind and its health to be a priority and I crave the ability to stop putting it last because I shouldn’t have to and I no longer want to.

Tip Time:

If you find yourself feeling held down by pressure, depression, anxiety or even if you just had a bad day, there’s still things you can do to make yourself feel a little better, even when you’ve got a full to-do list. You shouldn’t have to force yourself to bury your emotions or pretend they aren’t bothering you just because you have work waiting for you. Stand up for yourself and take a small step or two for the better. Try one or a few of these tips to help you feel a little brighter so you can work a little better:

  1. Take 30 minutes to talk to a close friend or relative – On the phone or in person, whatever is easiest. Sometimes when we’re having a rough time, we need to turn to the people we trust the most or the people who we know are always there for us. Call or talk to that person and say, “Hey, I’ve only got about 30 minutes, but I really wanted to talk to you. I’m feeling a little bummed,” and let them help you feel better or at least feel like you can accomplish the tasks you have waiting for you.
  2. Watch a show that makes you laugh – What’s your favorite sitcom or cartoon? Studies have shown that laughter can help make depressive or bummed out feelings dissipate for a bit, releasing some endorphins and helping you smile. After watching an episode of your favorite funny show, you might feel a bit more perked up and feel like you’ve released some stress, putting you in a better place to do some work.
  3. Take a short walk – A lot of people list exercise as something to do while you’re feeling down but sometimes it’s even tough to get up and lace up a pair of running shoes, so instead of, “Go exercise,” I say, take a stroll. Walk to a nearby park or store or just around the block, even. Fresh air and sunshine can make your body feel better as well as your mind. Plus, you have time to think about whatever you want or to not think at all.
  4. Play with your pet – Let’s be honest: sometimes it’s hard to be sad when a cute and furry creature is pawing you or panting happily at you. Playing with your pet for 20-30 minutes is not only a great way to take your mind of things that might be making you feel down but it’s also fun! Not to mention that petting a cat or dog can enhance your mood, reduce stress, and just make you feel loved.

The Love Doctor is In: 5 Tips to Being With the Right Person

As someone who’s had a total of two, count them, two boyfriends, I know tons about dating and relationships. But being with someone for this past year has taught me a lot more about finding and knowing if you’re with the right person.

The world of dating and relationships is filled with questions (which I know because I’ve Googled them all):

How do I know he/she likes me?

When will I find the right person?

How do I know if he/she is the one for me?

Will I ever find someone who likes Cheetos as much as I do?

Before I started dating my current boyfriend, I remember having all the questions and none of the answers (because Yahoo! Answers is worthless). But in this past year of girlfriendom I’ve relationship-ed my way to the answers I was looking for. Some of the answers turned out to be a lot simpler and more obvious than I thought they’d be. Others I never thought I’d find the answers to, but here I am, sharing my wisdom (you’re welcome). So for those currently Googling “How do I know my boyfriend/girlfriend is right for me?” while their significant other is in the bathroom and for others reading an article in Cosmopolitan titled ’12 Ways to Tell If He’s Into You”, take peace – the expert is in.

First, let me state that most importantly – you are a strong, independent woman (or man) that don’t need no man.


Sometimes I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be in relationships, to be with the right partner, to be coupled. Sometimes we see our friends or peers in relationships and we start to think, “What’s wrong with me?” But the answer is nothing. Regardless of what magazines, movies, books, tv shows, and your mother say, being in a relationship really isn’t that important. What’s important is you: understanding you, knowing who you are and what you need, being with you, loving (or at least liking) you. Because at the end of the day, when everyone is gone, you’re left with you. And if you don’t like being with you, how will you convince someone else to? We’re all messes regardless but before you start looking for someone to mesh their mess with yours, learn to love your messiness first, which can take a while, but that’s okay. It’s cool to wait!

Just kidding. Waiting is the worst. I’ve spent plenty of nights alone eating animal crackers and watching Law and Order in my bed. And I’ve kissed dozens of frogs (not that all of you boys were frogs, some of you were lovely). But it wasn’t always fun and sometimes it felt lonely. But I waited. I kissed frogs. And then a prince showed up and all that waiting was worth it. All the waiting and complaining and crying and listening to friends say, “I can’t believe you’re not dating anyone yet, you’re like PERFECT!” was over. And that will come for you, which I can only say because I know it will, because it happened to me when I was convinced it wouldn’t.

And it’s thanks to the guy who came along that I’ve learned these five things to look for while trying to find someone to be with or when trying to figure out if you’re with the right person.

Find/stay with someone who:

1. Loves your quirks – My boyfriend thinks it’s cute that I have an obsession with eating ice cubes (did I ever mention I have an obsession with eating ice cubes?). Most people think it’s weird. I think it’s weird. But he accepts it. Because he accepts me. And along the accepting lines, find/stay with someone who…

2. Loves the things you’re insecure about – I always thought I had weird thighs. For a while, my legs reminded me of tree trunks. And not like long, Rihanna leg tree trunks. More like stumps. That is until my boyfriend gave me a little perspective: “They’re perfect set-ups for your butt. And I like that butt. But you couldn’t have that butt without those legs.” Okay, while completely true, that’s a fairly silly example…wait, here’s a better one:

I have vitiligo on my lips that I developed when I was 14. And I hated it. I thought it made me ugly. I did everything I could to hide or get rid of it. But it wouldn’t go away. Sometimes I would look in the mirror and feel miserable because of it. One day, I mentioned that I was ashamed of my lips, that I hated the way they looked. And all my boyfriend said was, “I like them.” “Really?” I asked. “Yes. They’re different. They remind me of a calico cat. And I like calicos.” And he smiled at me. And every so often, when I’d take off my lip color, he’d say, “You don’t have to hide them you know. I like them.” Over and over. “I like them. I like them. I love them.” And now, my lips are no longer a feature I’m ashamed of. I don’t try as hard to cover them up. I go to school with no lip color on. I run errands. Because someone said that they loved something that I struggled to love myself.

And while these are fairly superficial examples, the principle for any insecurity is the same. It’s important to be with someone who will embrace the things you’re insecure about and who won’t just gloss over your insecurities with a compliment or a “Don’t be silly”, but will do their best to help you see yourself in a brighter light and help you learn to love the things you’re insecure of until you can get to the point where you say, “You know what? This thing I was insecure about isn’t that bad. And I do like this about me.”

3. Who is nice to you – Now this one seems obvious but it needs to be said. I have seen too many individuals, myself included, forget that one of the most fundamental qualities in a partner should be that they’re actually nice to you. Somewhere along the line, we started to allow not responding to text messages and acting uninterested and being disrespectful to be acceptable. “That’s just how guys are now,” or “Maybe it’s me,” or “She’s just playing the game” started to become our excuses. And when something nice was done for us, we immediately think the person doing it is weird or clingy (God FORBID someone wants to talk to or even hang out with you) as opposed to thinking, “Hey, maybe this is how I’m supposed to be treated”.

Fun story: During the time when my boyfriend and I first started hanging out, there was an instance where I was texting him about my day, which had been a rough one – long and tiring. After getting home late that night, I walked into my room and saw a bouquet of flowers on one of my pillows. And I started bawling. Literally. On the floor, crying.

Zooey crying

It was then that one of my best friend’s greatest lines was uttered in the doorway to my bedroom: “You know, most girls would be thrilled to have flowers brought to them after a rough day. You’re on the floor crying.” To which I responded by half-crying/half-yelling, “WHY IS HE SO NICE?” I couldn’t even compute it. After being so used to being used or manipulated or ignored or forgotten, someone genuinely showing, not only that they’re interested, but that they cared about me, literally fried my circuits.

Looking back on that day from where I am now, happily in a relationship with the guy who brought me flowers that made me cry, it’s hilarious to think that at one point, a boy being nice to me was such a crazy idea to me. Because, duh, I deserve someone who’s nice. I deserve someone who wants to brighten my day when I’m having a rough time. I deserve someone who wants to be around me and wants to talk to me. I deserve someone who will treat me like they cherish me. And so do you. And the best thing about dating someone who’s nice to you from the get-go: they stay nice to you. You can tell when someone is just being nice to get what they want out of you or to keep you around. But you can also tell when someone genuinely cares and wants to treat you the right way because they want to be with you. And those guys/girls don’t change.

4. Makes you better – Relationships aren’t just about having someone to steal french fries and blankets from (although those are pretty important too). The best partner is one that accepts you for who you are but wants to see you be even better. The best partner  wants to see you achieve your goals and wants to help you achieve them. They want to see you make choices that will better you as a person. They want to see you succeed. And they’ll be there when you feel like you can’t do something or when school is too hard or when work is getting you down and they’ll pick you up because they know you have it in you to keep going. They believe in your ability to be amazing, to be the best you can be. And that’s what they want. They believe in you.

5. Makes 365 days go by in a blur – Or makes a day go by in a blur, or an hour go by in a blur, because you’re too busy living in the moment with them to keep track of the time. When you’re with someone who you love or are head over heels for, you can’t believe how quickly the time passes. One minute you’re taking a walk in the park at noon, the next thing you know the sun is setting. (One day, he’s giving you a ride home, the next, you’ve been in a relationship for a year.) And at the same time, a day without them, without hearing from them or seeing them, feels like a week because all you want is to be with them.


As I stated previously, I know all of these things are true because I’m practically a relationship expert. But I also know they’re true because, after a long time being in the dark, feeling my way through the dungeons of dating and douchebags, I found a light at the end of the tunnel. And he’s been my light for the past year. And I never thought I’d find him. Which is why I decided to write this post, as a reminder to those with people to cherish and as a hope for those who are  feeling their way through the dating dungeon and hook-up catacombs. I never thought I’d find someone like the one I did. I thought I was destined to be discouraged and dangled on strings forever. But here I am, happier with someone than I’ve ever been.

It’s achievable.

It’s worth it.

And if you hang on long enough and find it, it’s absolutely wonderful.


In Defense of Being a Negative Nancy

I don’t like a lot of things.

I don’t like deli sandwiches.
I don’t like small talk.
I don’t like salad dressing.
And I don’t like people.

I hate people as a matter of fact. They’re terrible, infuriating, often sh#@!y sacks of skin that meander through your day with the sole purpose of making you miserable and frustrated (of course, I don’t mean you, beloved reader. I bet you’re great).

I can see you now, however, thinking to yourself, “Frenchie, that sounds a little extreme, don’t you think? That’s no way to live.” But let me explain:

Hating things (particularly people) gets such a bad rap, but the truth is: it’s completely normal, if not evolutionarily necessary! Consider this example:

You’re a caveman/woman, living in Stone Age. There are, like, eight other cavemen/women for you to hang out with. Most of them are pretty cool, have sweet drawings decorating their caves, do a pretty good job at hunting – top shelf cavepeople. But amongst this tribe of cavepeople are two or three cavepeople who don’t bother hunt because they figure they’ll just grab some of your sabertooth tiger meat, and don’t bother learn any skills like hunting or gathering, things that would benefit them or their tribe, because they’re too busy picking leaves off of trees and eating them, trying to find the ones that make them feel like they’re flying. If caveman-you hung out with them, you’d probably be dead before the end of the Stone Age, most likely from being ripped to shreds by hyenas because the lot of you were too stupid to learn how to make weapons and protect your cave, which you even more stupidly left meat outside of, because you all were stupid.


Mmm, idiots.

See? Survival of the fittest involves the company you keep too. The surviving cavemen/women made it to the next round of natural selection probably because they were like, “Oh my GOD, I hate Oolga so much. She never helps us gather berries and she’s always too busy staring at herself in the river. Eww, she’s coming over to talk to me, no thank you. Tell her I’m not here.” And they got to live to see the next Stone Age.

Now, I’m not saying you should go through life hating everyone you make eye contact with. You’ll miss out on a lot of awesome new friends and experiences that way. Everyone you meet has the potential to add something enriching to your life, has something to teach you, something to show you. And everyone you meet has the potential to be someone you don’t want to live without.

And I’m definitely not saying that you should hate someone for prejudicial, judgmental, or words-that-end-in-ist reasons (I mean this is a blog run by a girl who also wrote about not wearing underpants to bed, people. I’d pity the person trying to justify racism with this post…).

But those things being said…
some people, after you get to know them, you’ll find, are actually awful human beings that you want nothing to do with. And that’s okay too. Don’t let the Polly Positives and Libby Love-Everyones of the world make you feel bad about it. We’re not going to jazz with everyone we hang out with; we just aren’t. Can you imagine if we did? All of our birthday parties would be scores of people large. So, really, not only is hating people evolutionarily necessary…it’s also just more economical, but I digress.

Look, I’m not advocating putting poison in peoples’ drinks or spitting on them when they walk by — You can still not like someone one but be nice to them – then they can’t hate you back because you’re rad — you’re welcome *wink*. I’m just saying that maybe we should cut feelings of intense dislike a little slack. Everyone feels them. Why do we demonize the act of not liking things? It’s a feeling. We feel feelings and that’s one of them. (Although, pro tip…don’t let your hatred consume you. Nothing good comes out of that one…I’m pretty sure that’s almost murderer territory so let’s keep you out of jail). You (the person reading this) are an awesome person. And if something inside you says that so-and-so sucks then fine. Maybe you have a reason for it that just makes sense to you. That’s cool. And if you don’t have a reason, well maybe reconsider that one. Or at least keep an open mind. Maybe at some point so-and-so will suck a little less and you can be cool with them then. People change – whether it’s them or it’s you. Or maybe not and so-and-so is destined to be an ass their whole life. In that case, good riddance!

All I’m saying is, you don’t have to be friends with everyone; you don’t have to like everyone, and you certainly don’t have to feel bad about it. You are entitled to hating people or things and I promise you aren’t the spawn of Satan for doing so.

I know.
I hate plenty of people and my parents aren’t Satan at all.

Cover Your Butts

Let’s talk about this past week:

It all started when I went to bed.

Here’s a fun fact for you (fun fact for some, possible TMI for others): I don’t like to wear pants/bottoms to bed. They’re constricting. They rub against the sheets and keep your bum from the warm, comfy goodness. I like to be free when I sleep. So I don’t wear pants.


(Here’s where we get personal.)
After reading an article about proper feminine hygiene, I learned that some doctors, mothers, and other young ladies don’t wear underpants to bed because it allows certain areas to “breathe,” so to speak, which is better for…certain areas because they’re covered by fabric all day. Not wearing underwear to bed allows for certain areas to be free from foreign fabrics.

So…ever the mature young lady…sometimes…I don’t wear underpants to bed. There. I said it. IT’S COMPLETELY NORMAL. But I digress…

It all started when I went to bed one Sunday night with a nice glass of red wine to help settle me in for sleep (and prepare me for the Monday morning to follow). I laid on my bed, crawled under the covers, and grabbed my glass of wine, placing it on the bed next to my computer in a place where it stood by itself as I began scrolling through various hilarious posts on tumblr. A couple of minutes in, I shift to get more comfortable…and my precious glass of wine spills.

On my precious laptop.

It shorts, I get a miniature strobe light show from the screen, and then it goes dead. I freeze, staring at my laptop, my whole life, as it sits blank in front of me, only to be comforted by my boyfriend’s soothing words: “Oh man! That’s not good, dude.”

He jumps up, grabs the laptop, and runs to my bathroom, desperately trying to drain it of the fermented grape juice I forced down its gullet. I lay on my bed, not moving.




My wordsmith boyfriend starts comforting me from the bathroom. A computer networking major, he starts spouting solutions and possible options for what just happened. I look at him, silent. I can’t even hear anything he’s saying. I stare as he speaks and think, “He’s got undies on. He’s so prepared. He’s clearly the smart one. I start to slip into one of my “It’s all my fault/I’m the stupidest person on earth/Stupidest isn’t a word/I’m an idiot” phases. After a lot of coaxing and cooing that it isn’t my fault, Captain Underpants gets me cleaned up and puts me to bed. He promises to fix everything.

The next few days I spend a lot more time in the school library, using and cursing their computers while my superhero boyfriend fixes my laptop. With all that quiet time to myself, diligently working at a cubicle (not going on Facebook or tumblr just in case the whole monitoring-what-youre-doing-on-our-computers thing is real) then walking back to my apartment alone later on, laying in bed before finding sleep with no dimly-lit screen to watch me, I had time to reflect. And as ridiculous as it may sound, I found a message in this whole mess. Maybe it was just the internet-deprivation getting to me but I found it all a beautiful lesson wrapped in a wine doused box:

Sometimes life throws you for a loop when you least expect it. When your guard is down (or pants are down) – BAM – there’s life ready to smack you in the face (or on the bottom). But that stuff’s going to happen. To us all. But you can’t go around blaming yourself for it. Everything isn’t your fault. Bad things do happen to good people, some more than it should. But you’re not an idiot. You’re not less than. You’re not the worst person on earth – you’re human. And not even in the sense that you’re human and you’ll make mistakes, but in the sense that you’re human and you’re experiencing life. And part of that experience is having shitty stuff happen to you. But you find the people who demand to be there for you, lean on them, take time to breathe, and you’ll make it through. So uncover your butt. Don’t be scared. Drink wine at your computer (it makes your keyboard smell like happiness). Make less-than-the-best-decisions. Live a little. It won’t kill you.

Life’s going to spank you at some point.

Might as well be comfortable until it does.


Being Alone


As much as colleges seem to tell its students how individual they are, how important their personalities and qualities are, it also gives the impression that should you choose to keep your individual to yourself, you’re just being selfish.

“Join this club!”

“This club needs you!”

“Be a member of this club or else you’re lame and have no purpose and no one will hire you for a job ever.”

How contradictory.

I like being alone. A lot. Not that I want to be alone forever – I’ve experienced days upon days (upon weeks) of alone-ness and if not carefully executed/monitored, alone-ness can turn into loneliness, and that’s a detrimental island.
But, back home I’d beg my mother to let me run an errand for her just so I could drive to the store by myself sometimes. Even a drive to Costco and back was enough to make me happy. And living on my own in Phoenix has shown me the comfort in being alone as well: walking here and there, running errands, shopping alone, people-watching alone. It calms me.

To be alone: “having no one else present; on one’s own”. That’s important, I’ve come to realize. It’s vital, even.

My freshman year of college I had a roommate mix-up at the start of the year and for the first half of the semester I had no roommate. My new friends asked, “Don’t you get lonely?” or “Don’t you want someone to talk to?” But the answers were always no. I had them, after all. I hung out with them, ate with them, laughed with them. But when I went back to my room, it was like my sanctuary. And I can’t wait for that sanctuary to come again. To walk into a place that was waiting for you to come back, just you. Maybe pat a dog’s head on the way in, cook myself dinner, pour myself a glass of wine and just be.

We’re surrounded by people every day – people we know, people we don’t. We fake smile at tens of people every day, tell people, “I’m great! How are you?” on our crappiest of days. We clothespin smiles to our faces every day. Then go out into the world and throw our energies at people, constantly, as we listen to them, or talk to them, work with them, smile at them. We wade through people all day. But when you can be alone, you can finally take those clothespins off your cheeks. You can smile for real, or frown if you want to. You can sigh, you can cry, you can scream. You can breathe. It’s just you and yourself. You’re the focus when you’re alone. No more pandering to others or putting on a front. It’s about you.

Being alone is necessary. And it’s okay to be alone or to want to be. Sometimes I’d feel weird about liking the idea of being by myself because college bombards you with pictures of friends hanging out, walking in pairs. Everyone (or what seems like everyone) is going to parties and if they aren’t, they’re always doing something, being movers and shakers. And all that is fun and and should be taken advantage of and it has its place. But so does being with yourself. It’s then that you listen to what’s in your own head. Too much time around others can drown out who you are. It’s in the silence that you acquaint yourself with yourself.

My favorite thing about parties (next to a few other things…) was being a tad bit intoxicated, but putting my key in my apartment door, locking it behind me, then walking to my room, closing the door, and laying on my bed, looking up at the ceiling. There, while the remnants of my time with others fades, the memories will play in my head, but I don’t have to talk about them; there’s no more buzzing in my ears. I could just close my eyes and be, feel the moment, feel the sheets, feel myself with no one else present, but me.