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Dear Introvert

writer. creative soul. black sheep.

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motivation

the cart before the horse.

horse

For years, I would try to tell my dad that our thoughts affect everything. This was only after I realized just how obvious the truth of that statement was. He held such a negative outlook on life for so long, that I could barely remember how he lived before the light died in his eyes. I can’t blame him. I lived life that same way for longer than I ever should have. That’s why I won’t sit here on a towering pedestal of optimism and pretend it’s easy to be happy, pretend I don’t know what it is to sink into the depths of a personal hell and burn in my own inferno. Because I do know. And I almost let it cost me everything.

His life wasn’t an easy one, and neither was mine. But not many people’s lives are, for one reason or another. For my dad, it was one tragic incident after another. It only ever seemed to get worse year after year instead of getting better. He played a part in some of his misery, and some of it was beyond his control. I think that’s how it goes for the lot of us.

I know those feelings. It’s hard to look on the bright side when the sun refuses to shine. You’re buried up to your eyeballs in misery. You’re lost in the grey. We wrap ourselves up in a blanket of despair and never poke our heads out from underneath it.

He thought he was cursed – that nothing would ever go right for him, that he had shitty luck, that it wasn’t worth trying for anymore… “What’s the point?” he would ask to no one at all. There was a time when I thought this too.

But not so much anymore.

I told him life has nothing to do with luck. Because to me, it doesn’t. People don’t just luck out on easy lives with an overwhelming abundance of wealth, love, and happiness. I guess you can be born into some of those things, but all three still take work to maintain. And things will come along that will fuck all of them up, sometimes all at once. That’s why life has to be what we make of it, even the shitty parts.

Our perspective and our attitude have a lot to do with how we see things, how we value things, and how we handle things, planned or unexpected. We also must keep in mind that to be human is to error. We will make good and poor choices and we will make mistakes. Things will go wrong. No one is ever happy all of the time. But still, we need to try.

“Do whatever it takes,” I would tell him, “even when it seems hopeless, even when you don’t want to.”

He would just scoff at me. I cant blame him for that either. It’s hard to believe anything I’m saying unless you yourself have made it to the other side. He’d have to take my word for it. And he wasn’t ready for that. None of us usually are.

When I was buried deep in my rabbit hole, there was nothing anyone could say or do to change my mind. In my eyes, my life was over. My life had beaten me down. And I was too weak to recover. I spent all my time drowning in a sea of victimization. The “why me?!” The “what did I do to deserve this?”

Then came the waves of self-loathing, guilt, shame, despair, anger, and the eventual “nothingness”. This is the part where we give up on trying to find happiness or meaning to our lives and we no longer care much about anything. I thought to myself at the time: “Just exist Steph, just survive, go through the motions and expect nothing extraordinary until it’s time to die. That’s all you have to do.” And the best case scenario, I would muster the ability to end it all on my own earlier than my life clock had planned. That feeling… of walking through life defeated, beaten down each time you try to get up, until you are reduced to nothing more than a shell of a person, it’s overwhelming. It takes your breath away, smothering your soul. Upside-down and twisted up in this rock bottom was where I existed for years. Until I forced myself to pull me out of it. What was left of me anyways.

My dad hit rock bottom too, way after me. He thought he had hit it many times before then and maybe he had, but it was nothing like this drop. And it was definitely the furthest down he had ever been. During this particular climb back up, he told me my words popped into his head and for the first time, he chose to make them stick. He kept them there, my voice always in the back of his mind, until he believed it for real.

I was thrilled the day he called and told me I was right all along. It had nothing to do with the satisfaction of being right but everything to do with the fact that he finally believed. It was the way his voice had changed, the confirmation in it. He knew he could find happiness for the first time in many years. And he had begun to seek it out. He sounded almost giddy about it. It was a new lease on his life and he was excited.

He said to me, “Bud, you were right. You never stopped trying to tell me, but I guess in order for me to understand, for me to work towards it, I had to see it myself. I had to believe on my own. Thank you for never giving up on trying to make me see it.” He’s been on the upswing ever since. It’s not easy. But his outlook is different now, and that changed everything.

He deserves this more than anyone I know. It’s been a long time coming. He tried so hard to be both my mom and my dad pretty much my entire life. He did the best he could. But it killed him when he thought he let me down, on a few occasions, for reasons I won’t get into here. There are things that happened to me that I kept from him until only recently. I didn’t want to burden him. I didn’t want to hurt him. He blamed himself for that too when he shouldn’t have. It wasn’t his fault. Hell, it wasn’t mine either, but the shit happened just the same.

Now he understands. Only we can pull ourselves out of the deep. He could have been there for me if I told him everything, but only there as much as I would have let him be. And he would have helped, as much as I would have let him. Which back then, might not have been at all. Loved ones can be there for us in our worst of times, holding out their hands for us to grab onto, but only we can choose to take hold and stop drowning. We have to make the choice to swim to dry land. I chose to drown myself back then.

There are so many things that can go wrong in our lives – through our own fault, through someone else, through circumstance, through things beyond our control. Things happen that we can’t understand, things happen that aren’t fair, and there can be overwhelming amounts of pain, tragedy, sadness, loss, anger, and grief. We find ourselves being swallowed in the white noise.

But amidst it all, there still exists love, beauty, and happiness. We have to force ourselves to shift focus even when we’re being blindsided by the bad. Until it becomes habit to do so. We are the curators of our own happiness only if we choose to believe. We must have faith in that. We hold our universe in the palm of our own hands.

A lot of us face insurmountable hardship. Some have it worse than others, but it’s not for us to think about. We carry the weight of our lives in different measure. Our pain is our own. It is not up to us to measure it against someone else. We cannot trivialize others’ pain because we feel ours is worse. Nor should others do that to us. It will always be worse to the one that lives with it. We have to understand that we’re not all built to just “get over it” immediately. But we are all built to fight, to rise up, and to come face to face with new hardships and tackle them head on, refusing to allow them to define or control our happiness.

We discover that we can hold on to the happiness we create and use it as a shield against the pain. When the pain consumes us, we can’t see the good. It’s like being caught in the eye of a tornado. Life is beyond the funnel but if we’re trapped in the middle of its storm, all we see is the darkness. We get swallowed whole. It’s hard to move beyond anything other than just trying to stay alive. Happiness is hard to find there.

I can’t tell you that storms don’t exist in my life anymore because I choose to be happy more days than not. That would be bullshit. They do. Storms are a constant, varying in size. Terrible things have happened since I started the fight many years ago. But I kept fighting anyways. And I find myself riding through the storms a bit easier. What was once an F-5, leveling my existence, may now be an F-2, with some minor cleanup and bounce back required. But my happiness remains intact, shaken maybe, but never leveled completely.

I may not have a lot, not in comparison to some people, but I am happy. I try to see the good in every day and I am grateful for all that I have and who I have. I try to give as much as I can, filling the world with more good, more kindness, more compassion.

I worked hard for this, all that I have built. I don’t care so much about the physical or the material, but more the emotional and the mental.

I control the storms now. I don’t let them control me.

I am aware of where I was and where I want to be. I am aware of who I was and who I want to be. I am firm in the belief that I will always be a work in progress but I live and love the best that I can. I will be hungry for happiness as long as I am alive.

We need to find what is important to us and fight for it, every single day. We define our happiness. It starts from within and radiates outward. It doesn’t matter if your happiness is different from others. What matters is that you want it, and you will do what it takes to find it. Our thoughts manifest. They do. Decide to stay on the positive wavelength.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. You have to do something different in order to grow. And in order to grow, you have to change. And to change, you have to believe. And when you believe, you will move forward.

The only person that can take you there, is you.

There is no such thing as instant happiness. And there is a HUGE difference between pretending that you’re happy versus feeling the real thing. You can’t fake happiness. All that does is actually mask the real work you need to do. Real happiness amidst the fucked up shit in our lives takes work. It’s a struggle, it’s a process, and it’s a fight. It could take weeks, months, or years. It could take losing everything, including your mind.

It makes you feel things you don’t want to feel, see things you don’t want to see, come to terms with things you’d rather avoid, removes you from the denial, and it provides a hell of a lot of clarity that you sometimes wish you can push back out of focus. You see yourself for who you truly are, and you learn to fall in love with you, flaws and all, as hard as that may seem. You forgive people you don’t want to, even when they’re not sorry. You also forgive yourself, sometimes that’s even harder to do. But you do it so you can let go and be free from it. You have to. You don’t think it’s possible but then you feel it for real and you’re like holy shit, it is possible.

So this is a case where I feel like I can tell you to put the cart before the horse. Because eventually, the horse will move into place.

You just have to trust that it knows what to do.

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let it settle.

www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz
Photo from: climateoutcome

If you ask me what my biggest fear is, I would tell you without hesitation, that it would be to live an unfulfilled life. But my second biggest fear is living a lie. Some of us build and shape our lives and our relationships from a foundation of fiction. Forged selves. Distorted histories. Fabrications we tell other people, but mostly, ourselves. Lies are often times born from fear. The majority of people lie from the fear that truth brings. Funny though, I am more afraid of deception than I am of your truth.

What most people don’t realize, is that there is a freedom in truth if we choose to acknowledge it, if we choose to embrace it. They say wear your truth like a badge of honor, let it build a coat of arms around you so that no one can hurt you. But I see a problem with that. The armor, so carefully crafted, so meticulously designed, so custom fitted, it becomes an extension of ourselves and creates a barrier. It means no one can hurt us. But it also means no one can see what’s underneath.

So I have a proposition for you, an alternative let’s say, to what we’ve been taught. My method is to stir it up. Stir up your truth like a sand storm and walk straight towards the eye. Choke on it. Let your lungs fill with its grit. Be blind to everything else, other than the truth that surrounds you.

Let it strip you of your armor as it buries all the excuses, all the justifications, all the every-which-ways you want to believe other than what your truth really is. Let it tear the mask from your face. Let it exfoliate your soul. Allow it to be so abrasive that it wears away all of the rust that has built upon your heart from every year of the life you have lived up until this very day. You will walk out of this truth storm with a raw essence of self you have never known before.

And after your truth has done all these things…

let it settle.

Let it settle deep within you like sand at the bottom of the sea.

And there it will stay.

There will still be times in your life where the truth stirs up. Where someone will dive in and start mucking around looking for your shipwrecks, for your buried treasure, for your skeletons. Some seek your history because they value it, others come looking to pillage through it and leave if they don’t like what they find. You don’t want people exploring the depths of you. But you can handle this, all of this. I promise. If only because you have already stirred up your truth for yourself. You know every last single thing that lives down there and you’ve made peace with it.

It doesn’t matter how much lies there.

At surface level, your waters are still.

In the shallows, you float.

In the depths, you still rise to the surface.

All the weight that once drown you has been spread evenly across your ocean bed.

You now swim with grace.

With courage.

With strength.

With conviction.

Most of all,

acceptance.

So I’m asking you to go to war with yourself. To ride into battle against what might be your worst enemy: your own reflection. Take out every single weapon in your arsenal and get ready for the fight of your life. And do it all, barebacked, without armor, stripped down to the bare bones of yourself. You will be bruised, bloodied, and beaten. But it’s better than the death you live while you’re still breathing. Because that’s what you’re doing. Slowly killing yourself every day running from the truth and tripping on the lies you leave scattered around to keep it away from other people and from yourself.

You have to accept what you are, who you are, and what you were in order to become who you want to be. You have to accept what you’ve already done and what you might not have done in order to move on to what you will do.

Acceptance is the key.

You must love yourself.

All of you.

The good and the bad,

the dark and the light,

the downright beautiful and the fucking hideous.

Honesty and truth mean more than you can ever imagine. Giving yourself the gift of truth is freedom. Giving the gift of truth to others is freedom. Allowing others to care about your true self, is freedom. Maybe you can’t accept everything. But the beauty of it is.. you don’t have to. There are other people who will. People who see things differently and love things you never will. Or they might just show you how.

One of my favorite quotes is this:

Tell me all the things you don’t love about yourself so I know where to start.

You need to know all of the things you don’t love about yourself. It’s okay to recognize them. It’s okay that they are out there in the great wide open and it’s okay to allow yourself to be present with them and for others to be present with them. They shouldn’t be ignored. They are still a part of you. Big or small. But remember, let them settle. Because when the dust clears, you’ll know those people there in your life, the ones that are treading in your waters… chose your ocean on purpose. And they would love nothing more than to dive in the deep end.

And you,

you’ll float on,

with your truth settled softly…

below the surface.

on meeting life’s deadlines

image by dear_introvert
image by dear_introvert

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” – William Shakespeare.

Are there deadlines that one must meet in life? You come of age at a certain time, you become a legal adult at a certain time, you ability to drink alcohol legally occurs at a certain time, and you are deemed a senior citizen at a certain time (even if you don’t feel like one).

But what about..

an education, a career, a marriage, a house, a baby, many babies?

It seems as though society “expects” certain things. Timelines. Deadlines. Acquisitions. Quotas. It puts a lot of pressure on you. Society doesn’t have to be the collective. It could be your parents, your friends, or your peers. It could be your significant other. Or it could just be that voice inside your head.

So by 30 years old, do you need all of the above to be considered “on track” with your life? I hope not. Otherwise, I’m one serious rebel. I deviate so far from the track that my life train has derailed full speed without a brake system.

Expecting things and making deadlines to reach in your life means you might set yourself up for failure. Leave the deadlines at your job. It is awesome to set goals for yourself, meet them, and sometimes exceed them. That’s great! I’m not saying live life like a free-spirited gypsy soul wandering aimlessly and living life with reckless abandon. No. Everyone needs to strive for what they want.

But it can really dampen your spirit if you happen to not meet certain life deadlines when you want to. Everyone you know is either engaged or married, has children, maybe five of them, at least lives together in an apartment or might even own their own home by now, has forged a successful career after completing their college education.. I could go on.

And here you are, attending graduate school with people that are still practically teenagers (thanks to those five year accelerated degree programs that didn’t exist when you were fresh out of high school), living in a dilapidated bungalow the size of a shanty with no insulation that’s propped up on cement block stilts, no wedding band, no babies (besides your fur kids), and no career to speak of. You still make under $25,000 a year.

Maybe it’s not kids or a house or marriage that you expect. Maybe it’s finishing that novel of yours and getting it published, maybe it’s a travel adventure you want to take, maybe it’s a cross country move, or even just the ability to live financially independent and secure. Whatever it is, just keep striving for it. The time and the date and those years are all merely numbers to give us structure to our days, not to inform us that we are too late for life.

If I held grand expectations for my life that fit into the perfect puzzle of time, I’d be diving into the great depression right about now wondering where I’ve gone wrong in life, drowning in a sea of failure. But I’m not.

I’ve decided to live expectation free.

I am not you. I am not them.

I will not compare my life to the lives of those around me. And neither should you. Even despite all they will say, can say, do say. In fact, it’s none of their business how you live your life. To be honest, if they’re not in your life to support you, you should shed the heavy weight they throw down on your shoulders with their judgments, opinions, and those damn expectations I’ve been talking about.

As one of my favorite quotes goes: “Everyone is fighting their own battles, try not to be a cunt.”

It’s the truth dammit.

There is nothing set in stone somewhere with the rules of life for all to follow. And for those who don’t succeed in meeting them means you have failed. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not where you thought would be today. What battles have you overcome? What ones are you still fighting? As long as you are moving forward, that is all that matters.

Just like Dory says in Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming.”

Love the person you are because you fought to become her or him.

Never rush things. All things worth having are worth waiting for.

Too much of our time can be wasted comparing ourselves to others. Sometimes we even wish we were someone else. Or had a life other than our own.

Please stop that. Um.. right now.

If you can accept who you are and who you aren’t, what you have and what you don’t, and that all great things reveal themselves as they should, it will simplify life. Time has a way of working things out. Don’t rush it. When you expect less, life gives you so much more.

One of my greatest freedoms is not caring what anyone else thinks. It’s hard to do, it took a long time to get here, but the struggle was worth it.

When I told you earlier that I have yet to meet those “life deadlines” I failed to mention it doesn’t bother me in the least. It used to, for quite some time before now. I won’t lie to you. But life and all it has brought me thus far, has given me the ability to let the expectations go – along with the opinions of my peers, the lives of my friends, and that nagging bitch of a voice inside my head.

I say – good for them. Whether they worked hard for all of it or had it handed to them on a sliver platter, or even just got lucky, it is theirs to have.

And what is mine, is mine. Therefore I embrace it all in the glory of everything that is opposite, different, out-of-the-box, and upside down from the “norm.”

True bliss is defined by the individual. That means you can create happiness out of anything or anyone – so live unguarded – don’t be left wanting. Some of the best days of your life haven’t happened yet.

Believe in yourself and the path you walk down no matter how off-beaten it might be.

That path is your own. Now run that shit like a marathon.

everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

taken from: http://idealmente.tumblr.com/post/49005407167/the-king-by-tubasa-wings
taken from Pinterest

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Mike Tyson spoke those words.

Shit happens. Unexpected shit happens more. But you’ve got to know your game plan. You’ve got to know your next move. You get hit, what’s your counter move? Unsure? Slow reaction? Caught off guard? Well then what happens next might be your TKO.

You’ve got to be ready for what life has in store for you. You need to kick ass. In order to do that, you might need to hustle. You might need to work one, two, three jobs. You might need to sacrifice. You have to know how to take the hits and keep getting up, keep coming back for more.

Don’t expect all good things to just fall gracefully into your lap or come express delivery to your doorstep by an angel with golden wings riding a purple unicorn who crop dusts a glitter trail of success and good fortune from its ass.

You’ve got to hustle, stick and move. Especially when life graces you with circumstances that make for rocky roads, unbeaten paths, and a light that tends to flicker out when you need it most, when it’s meant to light your way.

This makes me thing of one of my favorite quotes by H. Jackson Brown Jr:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

Brown couldn’t be more true. You only die once, you live every single day. Hustle to get to where you want to go, hustle to achieve your dreams, hustle to do the things you love whenever you can, hustle to live life as you choose, despite circumstance. Fuck fate. You make your own destiny. You didn’t choose the life you were born into, but you can take control of the life you live now. Maybe you have to work harder than others. So what? You don’t know the strength of your own capabilities unless you test them.

Push your boundaries.

Fear is only a state of mind. Never let it decide your future. It is nothing more than an obstacle that stands in the way of your progress.

I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become. Remember that.

Fight.

Grow a lion heart.

It’s important to know who you are, where you came from, but ultimately, where you are going. Whose to say you won’t be the next da Vinci, or Thomas Jefferson, or Mother Theresa. We all have the same amount of hours in a day. The scary part is that we all don’t have the same amount of time on this Earth. Make it count. Hard work pays off, even if you have to do more of it than anyone else you know.

If you work hard, good things will come to you. It might be hard to believe that but there are people out there who are living proof of it. Keep a kind heart, don’t let hardship define you or change you in a negative way. Count your blessings, few as they may seem. They still exist, even in darkness.

And remember:

If life punches you in the face hard and unexpected,

get back up,

and countermove that shit.

**P.S. I, dear_introvert, want you to leave a tidbit comment of your favorite inspirational quote or person. Or maybe there is someone or something that motivates you? What is your driving force?!! Please share:: let’s keep the “kick-ass” & the “grab life by the balls” inspiration going!

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