Sometimes I like to take some time for myself and be alone with my thoughts. On those days, I find myself silently laying on an empty patch of grass listening to the sound of water traveling south in the river close to my home. I fully engross in the feeling of oneness with nature, and enjoy the way the sun peers through the trees and falls on my face. In those moments I feel completely content with my existence in the world. I don’t feel rushed to be somewhere. I am able to simply exist.
However, a few days ago, as I lay in a zen state, my thoughts were interrupted by a group of teenagers traveling downstream in their water tubes. They were laughing and having a good time. I found their laughter refreshing and couldn’t help but smile. But my positive vibes were rudely interrupted by a group of guys, who I can only describe as Neanderthals.
See, one of the people in the tubes who was enjoying his day was gay, and that wasn’t to the liking of these Neanderthals. I could hear the boys say things like “let’s beat that fag up” as they tried to swim towards the group drifting on their tubes. Fortunately, they were too slow to catch up to them.
At this point, I was sitting upright and trying to see who these idiots were. I discovered that the guys spewing negativity were of African-American descent and this angered me even further. As decedents of people who experienced cruelty at the hands of others, simply for being whom they were, these boys should have known better. As colored people we should know not to mistreat people for being who they are. I am not African-American, but I am colored, and I remember being called vile names because I am colored. People who are close to me have been attacked for being colored. Being colored is not choice. Just like being gay isn’t a choice. The thought of attacking people for being who they are angers me to the core, and I was tempted to start a heavily heated discussion with these ignorant people when I suddenly became aware of my surroundings.
I was alone in a park, and I didn’t know how large their group was. I became frustrated with my inability to speak up and vocalize my thoughts. Instead I picked up my things, got in my car and drove home like a coward. I’m not sure what angered me more; listening to these Neanderthals spew their venom, or feeling helpless and not standing up for what I believe in. Maybe I wasted an opportunity to teach these boys to see the world through different lenses.
I will never know how the conversation would have gone, but what I know for certain is there are too many people in the world who judge without reason and hate where hatred is not needed.
Sometimes, I feel as though women travel through life with invisible boulders attached to their shoulders. As a woman, it doesn’t matter what we do, we carry the weight of everyones judgments. We are taught that we must dress a particular way, style our hair, always have groomed nails, etc The list is endless, and the expectations are exhausting to meet, yet we continue to try and live up to societies impossible standards.
Aside from the pressures society places on women, I think being born a woman is a blessing – at least thats how I feel about my life. Women encompass a strength that no other species on the planet possesses, and society teaches us to be insecure to try and suppress us, limit us and prevent us from achieving great success.
I used to be a very insecure person. I was always a tomboy. I liked sports clothes, and playing outside more than dressing up. Dressing up was never my thing. However,, one year in summer school I decided that I wanted to wear dresses and tank tops. People would ask me “why are you dressed like that? They weren’t used to seeing me in girly clothes. I felt insecure, and lied that my cousin made me dress more girly. The truth was, I wanted to wear those clothes, but I didn’t know how to break free from my peers opinions of how I should dress. Instead of saying what I felt, I lied and during the regular school year, I went back to wearing jerseys and track pants.
It wasn’t until years later that I decided to break-free from peoples opinions of how I should dress. I felt very lost and felt like I needed to find my identity. I went through a phase where I dyed my hair every colour of the rainbow. My motivation for doing this was to teach myself that the opinions of others didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered in my life was my opinion of myself. During this process, I had many people approach me to tell me they either loved my hair or hated it. Regardless of the opinion I received, I refused to let myself internalize it. Instead I made a conscious choice to only focus on my opinion. The extra noise of external judgments disappeared from my mind, and I felt free.
While I am grateful for having the strength of a woman and possessing the ability to fight for myself. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish I was free to be myself from the get go. I wish society taught me that it was okay to dress and be myself. I wish girls were taught to be free the same way boys are. However, with that said I am also grateful for the extra step that I had to overcome as a woman, because it made me stronger.
Sometimes I think that happiness is an over rated myth that we blindly chase. It’s an illusion that pushes us to believe that if we behave a particular way, or attain certain goals that we will attain the pinnacle of happiness, and remain in the grips of its ecstasy forever. Perhaps this is our downfall as human beings. We think that our “positive” behaviors and actions will result in the outcome of happiness, and we shamelessly waste our lives trying to chase it, when we need to let the universe bring it to us.
Recently, I became very ill and spent many days in the hospital being poked and jabbed with needles, attached to an oxygen supply 24/7 and seeing an array of doctors. At the time, I was afraid and didn’t think I would be coming home. My body had become very weak, and mentally, I was very drained. I have always been an independent person, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t perform basic tasks for myself.
However, in retrospect…well maybe I shouldn’t say retrospect because I am still undergoing treatment, but getting sick was the biggest blessing the universe has given me. Getting sick forced me to see my flaws and shortfalls. I learned that I am a control freak who cares too much about the small details in life, and I need to learn to let go and enjoy life. Coming home from the hospital, my incredible husband had to carry the complete weight of the household. Not only was he making me three meals a day, he was cleaning the entire house. I would become frustrated because he wasn’t cleaning it “correctly”. How does one correctly clean a house? And more importantly, how stupid was I being that I was seeing a “shortfall” and becoming upset? I was missing this opportunity of happiness that the universe was giving me. Without any complaints, my husband was taking on the huge responsibility of running a household, and he was doing a great job. I had a partner who stepped up to the plate when he needed to. He didn’t shy away from the responsibility, or try to put the burden on someone else. Had I failed to open my eyes, and see the gift that was in front of me, I would have missed out on the opportunity to be happy and thank him.
I had become so calculated with my life. I thought that if I secured a particular job, or achieved a certain goal that would be happy. When in reality, that wouldn’t have made me happy. I would constantly be looking over the next hurdle to become happy. In the process of charging through life to be happy, I would have missed the opportunity to experience the happiness in my life. Being sick, the universe stopped me in my tracks and taught me to open my eyes to what happiness really is.
Happiness. What does it really mean? Happiness means enjoying the process of growth as a person. It means taking time for yourself to reflect on how your life is amazing. It is appreciating the little things and not worrying about the details. At least that’s what happiness is to me.
As I sit here, starring at my fingers calmly placed over the keys of my keyboard, I am overcome with a sense of calmness. Perhaps it is the familiarity of the keys under my touch, bringing peace to the convoluted thoughts spinning around my mind, I’m not too sure. But I continue to sit here patiently, willing my fingers to decipher my thoughts.
I’m not sure how I feel. As I look around the world around me, I see that everything is in its correct place. My clothes are tucked neatly in my closet at home, my car is parked in its regular parking spot at work, and everything is as it should be. Yet, while I know that everything is the same as it always has been, everything has changed.
My outlook on life has changed. The person I am is different from who she was just a couple of weeks ago.
I have always been a person who loves clothes, and any method of self-expression for that matter, but recently I can’t help but think “what’s the point?”. What is the purpose of establishing your individuality?
Recently, we experienced the loss of a family member. She passed away quite young and as I walked around her home, I couldn’t help by notice many of her possessions neatly organized in their assigned homes. A thought flashed across my mind,
“once upon a time, she had gone to a store, and picked out
each item because it spoke to her in some way”.
Days after her passing, the items remain, and she is no more. It’s true that she exists in our memories and left behind a legacy of learned lessons, but we can’t touch her. Instead we are left with items that she purchased to express who she was as a person, and that person no longer exists.
This realization has left me with an internal void. What is my purpose? I believe that my family member passed away young because she had fulfilled her life purpose. She had fully blossomed into the most beautiful flower and I believe god always picks the most beautiful flowers in the garden. But what is my purpose? Am I fulfilling it? I don’t want to leave behind a house full of things if I didn’t use them to make someone else happy. I don’t want to become so fixated on the things in my life that I become sidetracked and neglect fulfilling my life purpose.
I love my job and feel that I am making a valuable contribution to the world around me. The company I work for changes lives for the better, and that inspires me to work to my full potential every single day. The technology this company creates saves lives, and makes an impact in the world that I could never make as an individual. But, I can’t help but feel like there is more that I can do.
There is a very big hole in my heart filled with sadness. I’m saddened by the way you treat me, disappointed that you didn’t take the time to get to know me, and frustrated that I am giving more than I am receiving. I don’t know how to open up and tell you how I feel and that frustrates me. I can see my weakness and yet I don’t know how to overcome it. I wish I could tell you that I don’t like how you treat me without having a tsunami of tears stream down my face. The tears would show I am weak, and my current persona of being a strong person would instantly fade away.
Instead I lash out, hoping that maybe you would listen to what I’m saying and not how I am saying it. I admit that I come off as harsh when I express my feelings. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I care too much, and I wish I didn’t. Maybe if I stopped caring, my heart wouldn’t hurt so much. Perhaps then I wouldn’t feel like a prisoner of my mind, and I could spread my wings and be free.
Doctors have told me that I need to learn to let things go, because the unnecessary stress that it creates in my mind is causing my body to shut down on me. But, I don’t know how to get over things without getting closure. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to overcome my fair share of loss, and that’s left me with so many unresolved dead ends. I’m not too sure, but I feel like I need to discuss things with people in order to move forward with the relationship, and I’m not strong enough to have that discussion with you. Maybe it’s the fear of rejection, or the fear of not being heard that is acting as a barrier, preventing me from voicing my feelings. I’m not too sure.
What I do know is that I am a strong person, and just like any other obstacle that has been placed in front of me, I will overcome it. The way I see it, I have two options, I can either work on my relationship with you by expressing how I feel, or simply walk away. I know the latter would be the easier option, but how would that help me grow as a person? Isn’t the purpose of life to grow and become the best version of yourself that you can be? If I simply walk away from the relationship, what would I learn? How would I grow? I would be doing myself an injustice. Maybe the best approach for me to take is to express how I feel whether I am heard or not. I need to do my part and try. I can only control my actions and reactions to events. If I am not heard, or if you don’t care, at least I know I tried. At least I will know that I tried to fight for myself.
Lately, I’ve been feeling confined by the shackles of my mind. The harder I pull to break free, the tighter the shackles become. I try to maneuver to free myself from the madness of my mind and when I think I’m finally free, the elasticity of the rope I’m tied to flings me back against the wall, and then I’m back to where I started. I can’t escape the hollow feeling inside me. The more I try, the stronger they get. I’m trapped in a world of self-inflicted sadness – my mind keeps playing tricks on me.
I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the person I see in front of me. I feel lost, and at the height of vulnerability, with no one to turn to. No one to understand the depth of my emptiness. I’m not sure how I got to this point. I was completely blindsided. Maybe there has always been a part of me that felt this way, and only now that I am taking the time to learn about myself do I see this side of me as clear as day.
Maybe we all have a place inside us that is dark and hollow and filled with vulnerability, insecurity and sadness. After all, we are all human and we share the ability to laugh or cry, or be happy or sad. Our emotions are the thread that tie us all together. We have the ability to feel and analyze the world we live in. We possess a unique ability to learn about ourselves, understand our strengths and our flaws. However, our perception always seems to skew how we see our lives and sometimes prevents us from seeing the good.
Perhaps the trick to overcoming these emotions is to understand that these emotions don’t define us. They are what make us human. We need to understand that in life we all have ups and downs, and to not allow ourselves to get stuck in the lows. Maybe we will forever remain shackled to the games our mind plays on us and a part of growing and learning in life is to find ways to maneuver through life with them. Perhaps it is the shackles that teach us life’s most valuable lessons and we have to learn to understand those lessons and continue on our journey.
Breathe. Pause. Take a minute to regain your strength and understand your worth. I feel as though I’ve become a prisoner of my thoughts. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I can’t pull myself free from the shackles that are my insecurities. I try to stay positive and focus on the present. But the more I try, the stronger the memories of my past become. I’m not trying to run away from my past, I appreciate my past and the lessons I’ve learned. However, lately I’ve become fixated with the negative emotions associated to the events that have taken place in my life. I wish I could control how I feel about the current circumstances in my life – instead of projecting the negativity of the past on to the present.
I feel as though I’m standing in quick sand. The harder I try to free myself, the faster I sink in. While I exude confidence, I feel like a black hole inside. I feel lost and at the height of vulnerability. I feel haunted by the thought that I’m not good enough. When I least expect it, a little seed of insecurity appears in my mind, and like a fungus spreads to taint all of my thoughts.
Perhaps my insecurities aren’t insecurities, but rather fears in disguise. I’m at a turning point in my life, and maybe I’m afraid of myself. Maybe the fear of the unknown scares me, and I’m unintentionally sabotaging my mind to think that I am inadequate, when deep down I know I possess the potential to be great. Perhaps I need to just let go and see where life takes me. Perhaps I need to take my advice to myself literally. Breathe. Pause. Take a minute to regain my strength and see where life takes me. Embrace the new direction of my life with open arms.
Growing up, I became accustomed to the people in my life passing away. Through the emotional trauma of losing loved ones, I learned to withdraw my emotions from the relationships I created, and to live my life with an inability to feel for those around me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had concluded that each individual’s presence in my life would be short lived. Until one day, I realized that I had created an invisible dome around me that prevented anyone from getting too close. I started to feel lonely and isolated, and I realized that I needed to make a change in my life.
Over time, I slowly learned to stop putting obstacles in my way, and to start fighting for myself. If I felt lonely in my life, I needed to evaluate my actions to see what I needed to change to overcome this emotion. I created strong, long lasting bonds with people, however, I never truly overcame my fear of abandonment.
Recently, a very close friend of mine told me that she’s moving away. I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me until I digested what she was saying. She’s going! While I know this is a great life decision for her, I can’t help but feel saddened by the news. She’s leaving me. This news has caused me to experience a whirlwind of uncontrollable emotions. I feel sadness without purpose, frustration without cause, and a void that is bruising my spirit. This is a great opportunity for her, and while I know there is no cause or reason for me to be upset, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. I don’t want her to go. For some weird reason, I just always assumed that she would be near. If I ever needed anything, she would be there.
The best way to describe my emotions is that she was a pillar in my life, and her absence in my life will be missed. Yes I can rearrange the pillars in my life to make sure that everything stays in tact, but I’ll always know that I’m one pillar short. I know that she is only a phone call away; but it’s not the same. I feel defeated, and need to find a way to come to grips with the shift in my life, and be proud of my friend. She is taking a huge leap into the unknown, and as a friend, I need to learn to not be selfish, and understand the insecurities and fears that she is feeling. Venturing into unfamiliar territory can be scary, and I have to have faith in our friendship and ensure that I am strong enough to be a pillar in her life to help her be successful in the transition into her new phase.
I’m sorry – they’re gone. The words feel like an avalanche of rocks, causing you to momentarily lose your breathe. The words cut and it feels like a sharply edged sword that leaves you feeling at the peak of vulnerability. It’s as though, at the snap of a finger, the world as you see it has slightly shifted its axis, and you have to find a way to exist in this new world.
Like many, I’ve had close relatives move into the next realm of life, and each time it has had made an impact on my life. I hold my memories of each passed loved one close to my heart, and once in a while I catch myself fondly thinking about the great memories we created together. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people, and I appreciate the impact they have made on my life. But, that doesn’t stop me from missing them every day, especially during milestones in my life. During my wedding, I remember missing my grandfather and wishing he was there to share in the great memories that were being created. He was the only one I wanted at my wedding that wasn’t on the guest list. While I know he lives in my heart, I wish I could physically touch him, talk to him, and interact with him, in some way. But, I know that’s not possible. So I hold on to memories of him sneaking me chocolate bars when my grandma wasn’t looking, or shopping for my very first bike. Memories that I’m latching on to with more strength as I grow older.
I also had a friend who commit suicide when I was 11 years old. This was my first real experience with death – he was my age – and at the time I didn’t understand why he chose to end his life. Growing up, I learned that he was bullied because he was gay and had a hard time accepting it, and in retrospect if he was, I wish he had told someone how he felt. I would have been there to support and listen to him so that he didn’t feel isolated and lonely. It almost angers me to think, ‘if you had just fought for yourself – the world is a different place now. If you felt shamed – you shouldn’t have! The tiny bubble of high school isn’t a reflection of the real world’.
Sometimes, in life, I feel that we unintentionally get lost in the present clouds of sadness. We look around, search for something to grasp on to, and when we finally think we’ve found our footing, we start to feel the turbulence. Grief is the same, we feel it in stages. After the initial shock has worn off, and we start to regain some stability, the second bout of grief hits us. That is when we truly start to feel the pain of loss. However, we need to accept that life isn’t a constant. People come and go. Life’s circumstances change. The only thing that remains constant is how we grow as people. What was the purpose of us undergoing events in our lives? What did we learn about ourselves? How did the situation positively impact us? My grandfather gave me my sweet tooth for chocolate. In general I don’t like to eat sweets, but I love chocolate. My friend taught me compassion. He taught me to never judge people and let them exist the way they are. Everyone has a life journey, a purpose and when their time comes to move on, you have to accept it. Take the lessons that you learn from them and the happy memories you have created and cherish them.