The story of NBA basketball player Ryan Anderson as he deals with the loss of his girlfriend by suicide. An awesome perspective by someone who had to deal with his loss both privately and publicly. Watch his story here.
In the rules that we live by.
The laws that govern our behaviour.
The fashion trends that tells us what is acceptable.
The norms that shape who we think we are allowed to be in a given situation.
We see people in their roles, careers and religious beliefs
And so many of them just seem so…freaking… certain.
They seem certain of their place in the society.
They seem certain of who they are, and who they will be.
They seem certain of what is right, wrong, important and not.
Because being vulnerable and honest is not what we do naturally. It’s what we do in the safety of the very few people who make us feel we can be truly ourselves. It is what we so desperately desire to be at the core of our most treasured relationships.
Not having it all together isn’t the way we approach our lives.
Not knowing what we feel, believe, want, desire or need isn’t the “way of the wise”.
Yet, all the while, people are ready to tell you what you need to have it all.
What things, what jobs and what hobbies.
The things that will ultimately lead you to a better life.
But what happens when you just don’t know?
When you don’t know what you want out of life.
When you don’t know what you believe.
When you don’t know WHO to believe.
When you want something else.
You can try. God knows you can spend your whole life trying to be better, smarter and looking for the solution.
Or you can say “I don’t know”.
You can say “I don’t know” to your career.
You can say “I don’t know” to your dreams.
You can say “I don’t know” to yourself, to others, to the world.
But don’t stop there. You don’t have to know to move forward. In fact moving forward without certainty is often what leads us to the most incredible things.
“I don’t know” is saying “I’m willing to be surprised”
“I don’t know” is saying “there is more than this”
“I don’t know” is saying “I’m not and will not pretend to be perfect”
Don’t let anyone tell you that not knowing means you have failed. Don’t let anyone tell you that “I don’t know” is synonymous with “I’ve stopped looking”.
I believe that sometimes “I don’t know” is the best answer.
Because it is HONEST. And I believe we spend too much of our lives pretending we are satisfied in the answers we have given in to for lack of better options.
If you don’t have the answer, That is OKAY.
I don’t either.
I want to say goodbye to false certainty, and look forward to a life of “I don’t know”.
Because no matter how hard we try to know, sometimes we just don’t.
Perhaps you have felt the paralyzing fear that you will be labeled for what you are struggling with. Your self-identified weakness will become your identity, your insecurities will become who you are, your addiction will be all that is ever remembered of you. While we certainly cannot control how other people see us, we CAN control what we believe to be our identity.
What consumes us is always at the front of our consciousness. Whether is is a physical ailment, a skill or talent, or a psychological struggle. There is something that is central to us, for some it changes with the seasons, for others it is a constant battle. Maybe you do not know any different, maybe you do but you cannot seem to remember what it felt like.
You might identify yourself as an athlete.
You might see yourself as a writer, intellectual, student, or mother.
Conversely, you might see yourself as everything you despise. You might see yourself as a failure, sub-par or an almost-made it.
I thought if I shared anything beyond the positive sides of me, that is what I would become. That by saying it I was releasing a part of my identity that would take over anything else I have managed to build for my self-image.
We seem to focus on the negative things that become our identity, but when did it become okay to label ourselves with our pain? In what context does it make sense to reduce our value to all of the things that keep us from being ourselves?
What if I said you are not your pain? What if I said you are not your struggles? What if I said those things are the complete opposite to the core of your being?
Could you even begin to believe that?
Maybe pain is simply a response to everything that defies who you are. Maybe it is your body telling you that things are not right, yet somewhere along the line we thought normality was this pain that we felt.
While sudden pain might have once shocked you and alerted you of danger, now it serves to create an identity of this person you never claimed to be. You befriend this pain, because you can’t see beyond it, and you accept the fact that it is who you are.
While it may not be immediately conquerable, understood or deserved, there is more to it.
We are fortunate enough to have a clear signal that tells us of an imbalance, yet it serves the opposite purpose when we latch onto the pain rather than trying to see beyond it.
Until we can separate the pain and the problem, the problem will just be the pain. We can learn to treat the pain all we want, but if we never try to treat the problem, we are stuck in a cycle of temporary relief.
We have made incredible progress treating many symptoms. But the problem is when we stop there. This goes beyond medical intercession, into all the ways in which we suppress or hide our imperfections to avoid becoming them.
Some are easier to hide than others.
I do not have an explanation for all the things that cause you strife, I simply want to propose the idea that it is not YOU.
It is just the opposite.
What if you looked at emotional pain the same as physical pain? What if you responded with asking for help?
What if you simply realized that something is not right, and knew you deserve to live in harmony, not conflict?
What if pain became a signal rather than a secret?
What if it was there to alert you rather than harm you?
What if you truly believed your identity lies in the person that you are in spite of everything you have been bound by?
Maybe it is our response to pain that creates the chaos, not the pain itself. Maybe it is all the ways we try to cover it up, instead of seeing it as important.
Maybe our chains come from letting pain become who we are. And maybe we can break them simply by seeing that there is more.
I need to be honest.
I love writing this blog. I love encouraging people, and I love the feeling that I am able to do so. But I also love getting encouragement. Sometimes so much so that I put too much effort into doing so. I also fear being a hypocrite.
I put a lot of work into writing music and blogs that will be helpful to other people, but sometimes I forget to follow the things that I am saying or “practice what I preach” you might say.
Lately I have felt extremely encouraged by many family and friends. As awesome as that has been, it has made me perhaps too dependant on the online world for recognition. Waking up to check any and all social networks for potential responses. Hoping to see that little red notification pop up on Facebook.
Don’t get me wrong, I mean EVERY single word that I say on here. But I also stress honesty and I realized today that I need to be honest with myself. I need to believe that I am loved without all of the things that I do. I need to believe that I matter beyond what I am capable of accomplishing. I need to believe that people care about more than what I excel at.
I need to be loved by loving myself.
I think in order to do that I need to take some time off. Time off of trying to achieve everything I set my mind to. Time off of self-improvement. Time off of constantly being connected to everyone.
To all of the wonderful people that have been there to encourage me and support me. I appreciate you, I love you and I have been uplifted by you, so thank you.
And so I will try to redirect my time towards my relationships, my academics (reluctantly) and my real, personal goals. I still plan to continue working towards all of the things that drive my passion, but I know that I need to do it for the right reasons.
If you need to contact me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
or text me: 289-808-4804.
I would absolutely love to hear from you, I really would.
As far as my online presence, it’s time for a break. I will be back soon 🙂
While I’m gone, here’s a throwback to You Matter, for anyone who needs to be encouraged or affirmed that they are truly important.
I wrote this song before I started this blog. It was this song that led to me begin writing about the idea of loving ourselves. I don’t think that a lot of people really see themselves as beautiful, but maybe if we were able to truly believe it we could see how incredibly important we are. Not simply for our appearance, but that our whole person is valuable. That every part of us deserves to be appreciated and loved no matter what. So I hope these words inspire you, and I hope you will believe them. These words are for you if you have ever looked at yourself in the mirror and not liked what you saw. They are for everyone who has felt inferior, unlovable, lonely and unimportant. The loudest voice you might hear is your own telling you these things but they are so far from the truth.
Like this song? Grab it on iTunes 🙂
I love you all, thanks for checking it out!
You may know of a story personally, or at least heard of one, where someone you never would have expected, admits to a serious mental illness, eating disorder, insecurity, you name it. Something you could not see from the outside, so you assumed it was not there. Many people have felt that gut feeling of shock in their stomach thinking to themselves in that moment “I never would have expected it”.
I have come to realize that this happens because too often it is the people who have become the best at putting on a happy face that are struggling the most. Not to say we need to discount the joyful people, or the ones who can lead a crowd in laughter.
But it is so important to always be aware of the whole person. To not discount what they may feel. To not assume that they might not need to hear words of encouragement. To not put all the responsibility in their hands just because they seem invincible.
we just… do not know.
We do not know what people are thinking, and though that may probably benefit our sanity, we cannot draw conclusions or concrete assumptions about people based on their behaviour.
Everyone needs love. Everyone needs encouragement. Everyone needs compassion.
If you find yourself in shock of discovering something about someone that contradicts your previous notions of them, then maybe it just means you did not know them as well as you thought you did, or else maybe you didn’t present yourself as someone they could talk to.
Some people have the courage to be open and honest about their struggle, but a ton of people do not. Maybe this is because there are so many social forces telling us to keep it all quiet.
It does not matter how confident, sarcastic, outgoing, happy, or fun someone seems, know that their journey is just as important and real as anyone else’s. That joy absolutely may be real, but it is not up to us to summarize someone’s life based on what we can see.
For those who I have misjudged based on my shallow assumptions, I am sorry.
Those that I did not offer anything but superficial small talk, if you needed more, I am sorry.
For those I assumed had it all together, but were so burdened on the inside, I am sorry.
For those who have created a bulletproof social act in order to keep safe what is really happening, you matter. your struggle matters, and there are people who accept you no matter who you are. If you need to be real with someone, know that you are loved beyond your visible character. And even though it seems like people see you only from the outside, sometimes letting them in can create the most meaningful relationships.
I know that it feels like you cannot go deeper than the happy and content person that people have come to know, but if you need to, then DO IT.
Unfortunately, we will never really know how people see us, therefore it is pointless to try and live up to an expectation that you think you need to uphold. You will never know if you are doing it right. Instead you will discard the parts of you that are real, the ones that create honest and meaningful connection.
Know that I get it, I am there with you, day by day, unconsciously shaping my outward performance, and I am not asking anyone to live from the inside out.
Just know that there are people who want to know the real you, because that is what sets you apart. That is what matters.
You are amazing! Thank you for reading 🙂
A new video to be posted soon, stay tuned!
There are two reasons we trivialize our problems and personal value. First, we think we are alone. What we are going through is different than what anyone else has experienced. They will not understand, they will think we are weird, they just won’t get it. Or it is the complete opposite. The fear of being told that everyone else feels that way. Ugh, it is like a punch in the gut, when you are forced to believe that you should be just fine because everyone else has it the same way. You are not fine, but if other people can figure it out what is your problem? How can you be the ONLY one who cannot make sense of it? Something must be wrong with you, maybe there is something different… maybe you are alone!
Enter mental breakdown.
I think I would rather be totally isolated than believe I am the exact same as everyone else. Though it feels like it has to be, you do not have to fit either criteria. Believing that you do is what will drive you infinitely far from any possibility of improvement. Let’s start with the first one: You are not alone.
Sometimes that is what we need to hear. Sometimes you need to watch a video, read a book, or just talk with a friend who gets it. Someone who can honestly relate to your story with no judgment or shock, instead with genuine empathy because they have been there. Everyone has experienced this at some point. That moment in a movie where you feel like the character is living your life, and you gain even just the tiniest bit of perspective. I believe loneliness is the ultimate fear of every person, because it cuts you off from all of the best parts of being human. Loneliness makes you feel different, unlovable and unimportant. So when you feel something that you think only you have felt, the fear of no one understanding makes it much worse. If no one else will understand then what would be the point in talking about it?
Then you hear the words “You are not alone” and for a moment you realize that other people have felt your pain, other people have felt isolated, other people have felt like a failure. The list is endless. For some people, this is enough to start the change. It can be enough to reach out to someone, join a group or quit a job. Knowing that you are not alone can give you the power and motivation to be who you are because it is okay to do just that.
I have needed to hear those words before. I have been so confused that I convinced myself I was the only one. That no one else understood. But when everyone thinks like that, we all suffer together, all the while so terribly isolated. Those words have incredible power, and I think everyone needs to know that they are not alone, because you never are. No matter what. Someone understands, I can say that with absolute confidence.
BUT, sometimes those words can do the exact opposite of what they intend to. “You are not alone” turns into “Everyone feels that way” and all of a sudden you are back at square one, trying to figure out why you feel so screwed up if everyone else feels the same. There must be something you are missing, some secret that other people are aware of. You might as well just continue on alone, because if everyone struggles, you are not any different. Minimizing the problem in order to make sense of it can make everything that much more confusing.
This happens all the time. Not because people want to trivialize another person’s life, but because it is so natural for us to simplify in order to identify. If we can say that everyone feels that way, we can identify what it is that they feel, and go on from there. If 7 out of 10 people experience this, there must be some sort of explanation.
It is a terrifying feeling, thinking everyone else feels the same way you do. Why am I the one who is so distressed? Why can’t I deal with it like any “normal” human being would? This leads to just as much loneliness as it would to believe you were truly alone.
There must be a balance, some kind of middle ground that we can meet at. Here’s what I propose.
It is true. You are NOT alone. What you feel, what confuses you, what you struggle with, you are not the only one. Other people are scared, lonely and searching for something more. Other people have been hurt, betrayed and taken for granted. We are all real people with real stories, even though the false ones often become the most popular. We all need love, acceptance and purpose. I truly believe that people understand and can identify with virtually anything that makes you feel alone or different.
But that doesn’t mean you are not important. Just because someone else is also insecure about their body image does not mean that it is easy to move on from your own insecurities. Another person may share your fear, anxiety, jealousy or pain. But it is still yours, and yours alone. Not yours to hold, but yours to be a part of who you are. The understanding of not being alone may allow you to really see others, but knowing your story is your own is equally important.
Someone else may share your fear, but that does not mean fear is good, and it does not mean you instantly no longer have any reason to be afraid. Although it is true that when you bring darkness into the light it will be diminished, any darkness that emerges is not to be joined into a black hole of humanity, you deserve the right to own your part, as hard as it may be.
There is dignity and pride that comes with owning something. So no matter your story, know that no, you are not alone. There are people who understand and have experienced similar trials. There are people who can help, and people who care. You are not crazy, and you are not alone. You are not a failure or disappointment.
At the same time, you are not the same as everyone else. Where you are at is unique to you, and you need to know that is important and worthy of sharing with others. Though someone else may understand, only you know your own story. So do not trivialize your life because someone else feels that way, and do not for a second believe that you are alone.
Have ideas for posts? Things I should write about? Want to chat about life? email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
I didn’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I knew of him. I never met him, but still I am affected by his story. As the world responds to his death, some with sympathy, some with shock, others with indifference, it surfaces the truth of how many see addiction.
We are visual people. We see someone doing something that we deem wrong so we label them a bad person. We take the visible behaviour and define it as the problem. I get it, that is what we see, what we understand. But the problem is, what we see is not the problem.
“Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.”
Russell Brand knows the terrible powerlessness that accompanies addiction, and he so powerfully describes that yes, it is difficult to feel sympathy for people when all you see is a problem that they have the power to overcome but don’t. You can stop after one, so why can’t they? You can seek friends for help when you need it, why can’t they?
“As long as the public perception of “addict” is a selfish, immoral person who acts out of unprovoked malice, we will never break out of the cycle of shame and discouragement that prevents alcoholics and drug abusers from seeking treatment” says Huffington Post writer Jenny Trout.
But this stretches beyond addictions. This is about taking the time to see beyond what is visible. It’s about understanding that what you see is not what you get, and what we decide is the problem is not that at all, it’s an attempt at a solution.
Think about it. I can almost guarantee that a vast majority of you know the feeling of stress eating. Responding to bad news, bad grades or bad relationships with junk food, most of us do it at some point. But if a friend were to comment, you might be quick to explain that no, the chocolate isn’t the problem, the problem is that you failed the exam, the problem is that they were unfaithful. Take away the food, and you don’t solve anything, except maybe a stomach-ache. Why do we assume that removing the mechanism of choice is all it takes to cure an addiction?
We all have them, coping mechanisms and tactics to aid life’s problems. If what I said in the last post is true, than an undeniable truth of our common existence is that we will experience difficulty. Yet we will all respond differently.
I do not want to equate a tub of ice cream with a drug addiction, or I would be doing the exact opposite of what I hope to convey. Because drugs are not the problem, they are an attempt at a solution. And somewhere along the way, it becomes the only solution, and once addiction grabs onto you, it is not letting go without a fight.
That is just it. It is a fight. It is not a one sided decision where someone can rationally chooses one outcome over the other with ease. That is not how it works. No one would ever wish to be powerless over something, yet somehow we think that this path is chosen, that it is willingly taken and seen as good.
The difference between people who use drugs recreationally and those who experience addiction is that the former do it to it feel, the latter to not have to feel.
When I said “you’ll be alright”, I do not mean if you just stop doing something, or start doing something else. If it were that easy, there would not be such thing as relapse, treatment or recovery. What I believe is that there is always hope, no matter what, and with the love and support that we are all entitled to and deserve to receive, life can continue.
I do not want to come across as if I understand all there is to know about addiction, because I do not. Everyone has their own story, and we cannot generalize anything even though we desperately try to make sense of everything. But I do know what it is like to cope. Everyone does.
Please see addiction as the illness that it is, not a weakness or failure. There is no quick fix to addiction any more than there is a magic six pack abs solution.
You do not get addicted because you are selfish, or ungrateful, weak, ignorant, or wrong. You have entered into a battle, and reality hits back. It pains me when we dismiss these things or place judgment on people because of the actions that we could observe. There is always more to understand, yet we inadvertently force each other to appear put together, then sadly discover a struggle when it is too late.
I hope that you may see Philip not just as an actor or celebrity, but as a human. As someone who felt pain, fear and rejection. Drugs may have taken his life, but take those away and you are still left with a man in need of support, love and understanding.
It does not matter what it is, your means of survival may be harmful or helpful, neither make you better or worse than someone else. We need to be available to each other, and empathize with pain, not reject because of assumptions.
If you are reading this and currently struggle with addiction, please talk to someone. Even if they are not sure how to respond, a lack of understanding does not mean a lack of care. I truly believe everyone has the capacity to understand and care, even if we don’t take the time to do it. Don’t believe the lie that you need to fit certain circumstances to be allowed to struggle, because we are only fit to handle so much before we need other people to succeed. We shouldn’t have to figure out how much that is.
I hope it does not take dozens of celebrities struggling with addiction to show us that fame does not mean life is perfect.
Read Russell Brand’s full article here
Read Jenny Trout’s full article here
Drug and Alcohol Helpline:
Kids Help Phone:
1 800 668-6868
It’s pretty intense sometimes hey? That may be a severe understatement for you. Yeah I get it. Sometimes it knocks me down too. Sometimes it feels like everything we are thinking makes up the totality of our existence.
You ever feel the same?
Cool. That’s just one thing we have in common then, I bet there’s more.
See, the biggest battle is the one fought against ourself. How we respond to what we’ve been given, how we treat ourselves based on how valuable we think we are.
Forget the things you have to get done. Forget any expectations you have at this moment. Forget relationships, family, school, jobs, just forget it all for a second. Okay, maybe that’s not so easy, but for just a moment, try.
This is about you.
YOU. The real you. The one behind all of that other stuff. The one that longs for freedom, love, truth and joy. The you that grew up from being an innocent little kid and is now faced with a world that asks for too much.
You’ll be alright.
How do I know that? Because you’re not alone. We all feel that way. We all fail, we all don’t measure up, we all struggle, and we all give up. Don’t think I’m saying that makes you any less important. Because it doesn’t, it just makes you real. It makes you a part of this crazy thing we call “being human”. It’s the human condition. You were destined to think, feel, hurt, laugh and cry. Without these things nothing would have any substance. If you could only laugh, it wouldn’t differ from tears.
If you couldn’t hate, love would cease to exist. You can’t choose truth unless there is are also lies.
So what do you do?
Well, sometimes there is nothing you can do. Sometimes the things that will change your situation lie beyond your control. That’s a scary thought. But it also can be relief to know it’s not all on you. And it’s not. It never has been.
So just know that you’re doing okay. Right where you’re at. Whether you are in the midst of achieving your dreams, or whether you feel like they are permanently out of reach. If you don’t even know what they are, or if you are just used to telling yourself that you can’t do it. You’ll be alright.
Because somehow life goes on. It goes on for the people feeling joy, and it goes on for the ones in pain. It gets better right away for some, it takes longer for others. For some, laughter is the stranger and loneliness is all too familiar.
The faster you realize your life is never going to be perfect, the faster you can stop striving for it. I hate to tell you but you’re never going to have it all figured out, if you did you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
The crazy thing is, we’re all in this together. Though I may never have met you, I share your pain. I share your hurt and I share your joy. I’ve felt that happiness, and I felt the sting of those tears. We all have. If we could just admit to each other how similar we are, maybe compassion wouldn’t need to be learned and practiced because it would be second-nature to our existence.
Your life is unique, you are important and your story is one that no one else can tell. Yet at the same time you share the story of humanity, one that longs for good, for love and for belonging. None of us have it figured out, yet still we keep going.
You’ll be alright. Keep fighting because you’re part of a bigger story. No matter what your story, you are a living example of rising above adversity, no matter the kind.
Take in the joy, and savour the laughter. Love with everything you have and don’t hesitate to receive the love that is given to you. Let yourself fail, because it’s all a part of life, and being imperfect is what makes you alive. It’s what brings meaning to the joy.
You’ll be alright. Because we’re all in this together. And it’s not over yet.
Subscribe for new posts each week, thanks for reading! 🙂
What do you do for you?
Today isn’t going to be a lengthy post because honestly, I needed a week off. Ironic that I’m still posting something, but hey, this whole writing thing actually can be pretty therapeutic.
I feel like we all could use time off. At least a day off. A day off from expectations, a day off from commitments, a day off of all the self-depricating things we might think about ourselves. A day off from it all. Sounds dreamy eh?
Although it might not be feasible to ditch everything you probably have going on tomorrow, I’m curious of one thing:
What do you do for you?
What do you do that makes you happy, and you have absolutely no obligation to do it except that you love it? What brings you joy, peace, purpose and excitement?
What can relax you even in the most chaotic of times?
Let’s face it. We spend most of our days doing things for other people. If you’re a student, technically it’s for you, but most of the time it feels like you’re there for someone else. If you’re a parent you are busy taking care of your kids, balancing a job and everything else that is thrown at you.
It’s a nice thing to think that we do a lot of things for other people, but sometimes that means we are quick to neglect our own needs. So what are you doing just for you? Are you doing anything at all?
I hope you can find time to do those things in the middle of everything else that’s on your plate.
As one of my new favourite sayings goes… Just do you.
Have a wonderful day!
Here’s a photo, I hope it brightens your day 🙂