Last night, I knelt down and pulled my journal out from the darkness of my desk. I write in my journal when I’m flushed with inspiration, trapped in a state of dismay, or about to pass through a major life experience.
I graduate college tomorrow.
For the last 9 months, from August 2018 to May 2019, I’ve experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. I mean lows so low they felt unbearable. And highs so high I’d remain there forever if I had the choice.
As I opened my journal to write my latest and greatest introspections, I peered into the past and read some of my previous entries. In an instant, I retracted to the desolate, dejected version of myself just 3 months prior:
“Life is so strange. I’m living in a dream. I’m completely alone. For the first time in literally ever. I was with her for 6 years. I was 16. I didn’t know anything at 16. Never in my adulthood have I been alone.
The world around me feels distant. Everything’s changed. Everything. Communication is bleak and clunky and slow. I have anxiety about many things that aren’t normal. I feel tension and awkwardness. I feel displaced, misunderstood.
My ideas and focus are thin. I live alone. I have to grow up. I have to keep moving forward even though nothing seems stable or familiar. I’m concerned for my well-being. I have to stop ruining my mental. I have to remain in control.
I’m in limbo. Areas of my memory have become black and white like static. They are clearly telling me things are not okay. Everything has changed.”
That entry was the pinnacle of my stress. In that moment, you couldn’t imagine the weight I felt bearing down my being. You couldn’t imagine the pessimism I felt about the future. You wouldn’t believe how worried I was about who I was becoming. I remember feeling like it was over and that I’d failed. Like seriously. My life was majorly fragmented and confusing. Never in all my years of school would I have thought my last year of college would entail extreme trials with fear, loneliness, and social anxiety. At that point in time, just months away from graduation, I was supposed to be on top of the world. I was supposed to have it all figured out but I didn’t.
Thinking Vs. Reality
In this story, I’ve written a lot of “I thought” and “I feels.” We live in our heads everyday. I constantly find myself comparing and contrasting my current situation to where I think I’m supposed to be. Or where I’ve wrongly been.
I went to counseling this semester.
It went completely against my whole idea and self-perception of who I was. “I’ll never need to go and talk to a stranger,” I thought. However, given the predicament I found myself in, this was kind of necessary.
The student counselor offered some very valuable advice:
“When you’re thinking negatively about yourself and feeling insecure, ask yourself if there’s evidence to support it.”
Basically, am I basing my self-worth entirely on how I think and feel? Or, am I looking at my situation realistically with evidence provided from the past?
This made me realize I wasn’t an incapable failure who couldn’t function properly. My past experiences and accomplishments did not align with that notion. I wasn’t the fear-ridden person I depicted myself out to be because there’s little to no evidence to back that up — I was simply experiencing immense change, going through stress and discomfort, a life situation. And although I felt those ways, they didn’t define who I was at my core.
A few days after my meeting with my counselor, I decided to realistically reflect and take inventory of my day:
“I just want to write about my day. I woke up at 7:43am and was incredibly sore from yesterday. So sore it hurt to be awake. Chest day was intense, I repped 225 and did negatives resulting in something called hyperplasia.
I had coffee. I read my book. I meditated for 5 minutes for the first time in months and I had no issues. It was relaxing and went by fast. I needed that.
I got dressed and went to class. I saw someone I thought about saying “hi” to, but didn’t. I went to class and had anxiety about presenting and spent the entire class in angst. I ended up not presenting today, so that will resume on Thursday.
I had a two hour break. I went to Panda Express and had mushy orange chicken and a silly fourtune. I then went to the library. I found a soft, almost futuristic count to sit on and read the 2nd chapter of The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. I watched people walk around.
I then met with a group at Einsteins for a meeting about the campus newspaper were helping for a business consulting class. We had some good ideas.
I went to Mass Media after. I took an exit exam for the business college and found the test oddly amusing. I worked on my online course. “First Class Beat” is something I came up with.
I went to an accounting seminar. I dreaded an accounting seminar.
I had to run to catch the bus and felt like Peter Parker. I made it home safe. It was really rainy and cold today and I didn’t dress warm enough. When I made it home, I broke down and sobbed for a bit. It was necessary and reasonable.
I spoke to a friend on the phone for 45 minutes. We agreed to meet at the gym around 8pm. In the meantime, I got a haircut. I listened to Swimming by Mac Miller on my way in the rain. I got my haircut. The lady shaved the skin raw on my neck and it hurt. It wasn’t a good haircut.
I went home and showered. My hair felt way lighter. I got ready for the gym then left to meet my friend. We did a little bit of everything. After, we went and got Mexican then hung out for a bit. I just got home. I am happy.”
Given the way I felt two weeks prior, the fact I could write “I am happy” at the end of that page is astonishing. That day was so full. Everything I wrote really happened and I recall being in awe of how able I was given all my suffering.
Whatever you’re feeling right now, it won’t last forever. So don’t get too caught up about it. Accept it and act.
That sounds so cliche, but, as I reflect on my journal, that’s the theme I find time and time again. So often, everything feels set in stone. I convince myself “this is how its going to be forever for the rest of my life and I was always have to deal with this problem.” And that’s simply not the case. People have the ability to update. Even when we feel out of order holistically, when we are fighting against ourselves, we are capable of growth and change.
There is help outside ourselves.
Dang. Everything worked out. I could have never predicted life would go so great over these last couple months. I truly feel like I’ve blossomed and I’m actually kind of bummed everything is about to change… again.
This last month, I’ve gotten over my lonlieness, anxiety, and lost love. I got the job I wanted. I found a new home. I’ve talked to new people, developed strong relationships, and started pursuing a relationship with God. I feel so surrounded by friendship and I’m very confident in who I am.
I love college. I can’t believe its over… I don’t want it to be, I feel like my “college experience” had really just begun. I’m so comfortable where I’m at, I want to stay here forever and hold on to this happiness.
These last two months have been possibly the best of my life. So refreshing, eventful, and inspiring. I hope to continue on this bright path in the future, no matter what comes next.