For some strange reason when I was growing up, I had this idea that when I became an adult, things would get better year by year. I’ve found the opposite to be true for some time now. The unexpected hardships that I’ve faced really made me bitter for a while. I was depressed and angry and retreated into a hole where I was virtually unreachable to those who knew me well. I became an expert in self doubt and self sabotage.
I went about the business of daily life, to be sure, but it was on autopilot. In such a state, I wasn’t of much use to anyone, and I suffered most b/c I kept it to myself. Then one day, probably after a conversation with my Yaya, I decided to be a Pollyanna again. I’m not saying that this works for everyone or that there is some magical cure for depression. Circumstances hadn’t changed, but when I decided to stop constantly freaking out over things I could not control, life felt a little bit easier.
I didn’t just let go of some of my anxieties though, I also became a little bit braver. I stopped running away from or ignoring problems and instead, have faced them head on. I have also stopped denying that I may have some talent or ability and I now take the compliments as they come. I think that’s actually the area I still struggle with most. As Luvvie would say, it’s probably a low shelf of steam issue. I have to give a lot of credit here to my husband, mother, and close friends who encourage and support me. They all think I can do anything which is both sweet and ridiculous. I don’t need to be able to do everything, just a few things well.
This year has been difficult in many ways, but also filled with brilliant high points. The first has been that I’ve seen my family and friends more in the past year than I probably did in the three years prior. I’m working hard in school and dreaming of the day I finish and can call myself a librarian. Along the way, I’ve been investigating new possibilities for work. I’ve also made some decent strides with my hobbies including having a photo I took of a friend and her now husband featured in the NY Times. Just the wedding section, but still. I took a photography class recently and will take another soon. I’m really looking forward to it not because I’m planning a career in the field, but because I like to be good at the things I do. I recently jumped over two hurdles when I finally learned to can and also pushed down my weird fear about sock knitting and bought some small circular needles to make it happen. This is all very exciting to me.
And apparently, research supports what I’ve experienced. Have you heard of the documentary Happy? I watched it last night after following a link to this post. The psychologists in the doc found that people with strong support systems who stay active and try new things generally have greater happiness levels. The things I’ve done may seem small, and in fact, some have only taken a few minutes or a few hours. Through the process I’ve learned that most obstacles aren’t insurmountable and that I do have the ability to persevere. I won’t say that I don’t freak out every so often, but I usually get over things pretty quickly and move on. And that seems to be key to my wellness and happiness.