the art of living without a finish line
Ugh, I love being busy. That might sound strange, but if you know me or follow my blog, it shouldn't be that much of a shock. But, man, my life has been HECTIC for the past couple of weeks and I am 100% basking in it.
I leave in two days for a 6-week long, study abroad program in Sevilla, Spain through the University of Richmond. I have been bursting at the seams for the past couple of weeks (after I finished my play) to go, and it's finally almost here. But, it wasn't all excitement.
Now, first, here is a little bit of context about me: I don't really get homesick. The only time I can ever remember being homesick was when I was about 10-years-old at a gymnastics camp a couple of hours away from Boston, and my roommate/friend from home got really homesick and started sobbing. Then I started crying but when one of the camp counselors asked why I was upset, I had no idea except for the fact that my friend was upset. Monkey see, monkey do. I love walking through my front door after being away for a while, but not enough to ache to come home; so I was never worried about that.
What happened about two months ago, after I finalized all of the payments, scholarship details, and plans for my summer study abroad, I had a brief moment of panic. When I talked it over with my mom, therapist, and thought a lot about it myself, I realized that I was being irrational. Why? I was doing so well that I was worried I would crash and burn. I couldn't accept that I was finally doing better, that I was beginning to get back to being happy and so I was self-sabotaging.
There are a million things that we don't address nearly enough in regards to mental health, but something I'm realizing from my own life is that we don't talk about what happens when you start to do better.
First of all, we often describe it as this imaginary, metaphorical "other side." You know, "You just have to push through and soon enough you'll be on the other side!"
Let me make something very clear: the other side does not exist.
Does that sound depressing? Hopeless? It's not! But, regaining positivity and happiness, pulling yourself out of depression... there is no finish line. I often talk about everyone being "works in progress" because of the very fact that no one ever reaches a point where they have no more room for improvement. This is especially true in regards to mental health.
Me in Spain (Summer 2014)
I almost bailed completely on going to Spain simply because I was terrified of having a lapse in my improvement. I feared the worst; sinking back into that paralyzing depression but being stuck across the world, without any of my resources that I’ve built up over the past two years. But, the truth is, even if I did, I would be okay.
I would be okay because 1) technology. Everyone is just a phone call away. 2) I am so much stronger than I have ever been in my entire life, so I can handle whatever my brain decides to throw at me. 3) And most importantly, IF I start to feel shitty again, and that’s very much hypothetical because it may not happen at all, it’s 100% acceptable.
Why is it acceptable? Because I’m human. Because my brain isn’t perfect. Because my mental health isn’t perfect. Because perfect doesn’t exist.
There is no other side. There is just you and me, and everyone else on this earth. We deal with things as they come and adapt along the way. It’s not depressing that there is no other side, because let’s face it: if we just had to reach a singular finish line and live the rest of our lives blissfully, that would be a hell of a lot more boring AND weak.
I prefer to take things day by day where I’m constantly being tested to see how strong I am, how kind I can be, and how much I can appreciate the art of living.
۞ ally ۞