I found the following piece of writing buried deep in the Notes app on my iPad. It was written on May 13th, 2016. Something happened that day that helped turn my life around for the better. I’ll let you read my thoughts from that day before I tell you the whole story.
Sometimes, life is shit. Everything seems the same, or like it can only get worse. There’s no way anything good could happen, or it would’ve already. You’re stuck like this forever, so you better get used to it. Your reasons to get up every day become fewer and smaller, and seem almost silly. Some days, you can’t even think of any. But you get up anyways, and life is shit.
It’s when you honestly least expect it. When you’re in the midst of your routine hell, with nothing to look forward to, it happens. Your life gets better. Karma or fate or luck or hard work or something has swung your way. Maybe it’s something you only dreamed of yesterday. The chance you thought had slipped between your fingers, that you thought you didn’t deserve, is given to you. An opportunity you never even considered came along. People who were there all along become closer. And all of these big victories make the little victories look even better. Somehow, your life is a lot more bearable.
Don’t be mistaken, it’s far from perfect. There are still problems every day, dark thoughts that won’t leave. And there’s the nagging thought at the back of your mind: it’s only a matter of time. If it can work one way, it can work the other. Life can dump a bunch of shit on you when it seems to be great, as well. What’s coming next? But then you remember the good things that the world brought your way, and you can’t hold back a smile. Things are good, just for now. Things are good, and you decide to enjoy it.
It’s like that metaphor of the donkey trapped in a well. People will try to shovel dirt on it to trap in in the well, but if the donkey steps on each piece of dirt instead of letting itself be engulfed, it eventually will make it to the top of the well. Inevitably, some dirt will land on the donkey. Maybe it will stop stepping on the dirt for a while and accept its doom and defeat. But maybe, one day, the people will ease up on the dirt throwing. Maybe they’ll even throw down a little stepping stool.
And yes, the cycle will likely come back around. But that’s the nice thing about a cycle, at least you know it’s coming. You can hold on to the things and people that make you happy; they are your anchors so the sea of misery won’t drown you. If they’re not enough, the only thing left to hold onto is either the hope or knowledge that life will get better. Life will get better.
One Year Later
In the months leading up to May 2016, I was in a bad place. I don’t even remember much of what happened- either because nothing did, or because it was so pathetic I’ve blocked it out of my memory completely. Long story short, I was sad, lonely, stuck in a routine, and I felt like I had no purpose. Looking back, it’s evident that I was in a pretty bad slump.
Every day I would go to school, come home, and do homework. I felt like it was the only thing I was good at. My marks were higher than ever that semester, but that was about the only good thing going for me. I was isolated; growing distant from both people and hobbies I used to love. The rest of my days were spent wasting time on the Internet, eating, and sleeping. There was even a period of time when I had to think of the silliest reasons to get out of bed. I think it’s safe to say that if this had gone on much longer, I would probably be depressed.
But almost magically, things began to go my way. I joined the tennis team at my school, and it was surprisingly really good for me. I had something to do every day after school, I made friends, I felt like I belonged to something, and I was exercising (a literal miracle). And then, on May 13th, I officially became a writer for CelebMix. Since then, I remember that day as the point when things really began to turn around for me. I had hope, I was excited, and I finally found something that I loved to do. The entire experience at CelebMix has changed my life in so many ways- you can look out for another post more about that very soon!
Then school ended, and the little voice in my head wondered when that vicious cycle was going to come back around. But the mysterious good forces in the universe weren’t finished with me yet. I started a summer volunteer position and got back into reading books. I spent some time with an old friend, and I even met someone new. It was like I bounced back from my lowest point. In the words of Dodie: “in a little bit of time it won’t hurt so bad.”
Life will get better. I know it’s cliche, and it’s been said a thousand times before. When you’re at your lowest point, affirmations like this aren’t very helpful. It’s like throwing a pebble at a giant and expecting it to surrender. It feels like you’ll be like this forever, that no one understands or can help you, and that nothing will ever change. But these things are just not true. You have to put every ounce of strength and energy you have left in taking the power away from those thoughts. You may need to turn to others, such as friends, family, or professionals, to help you do that. These thoughts won’t magically disappear, no matter how hard you try to ignore them. But you can take away their strength, and apply it to the things and people in your life that make you happy.
While I was watching an episode of Teen Wolf recently, one of the characters was talking about the concept of “regression to the mean.” I did some research, and it’s basically a law in statistics that I can’t be bothered to explain. But when applied to life, it means that no matter how good or bad things are going, at some point, statistically, your life will return to normal.
Even though math is a strong contender for my least favourite subject, I found this concept very comforting. I wish I had known in spring 2016 that my life did have a purpose, and things would get better. You have no way of knowing how life can turn things around. Yes, that statement can be applied to terrible things just as much as it can to wonderful things. But that’s the point. Things will change, and you always have that excitement and challenge to look forward to.
This post is probably more for me than whoever is reading this. I felt the need to reflect on just how much has changed in one year. I feel so much stronger than I did last spring. Things are still far from perfect, and that vicious cycle I was talking about has definitely come back around a few times since. But I’ve found my anchors now. I know what, and who, I can depend on to pull me back. And I’m proud to say that when I really put my mind to it, one of those people is myself. I’m the donkey. Bring on the dirt.