The case for slow learning: Speed isn’t everything

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You already know that I posted this on Instagram. I’m doing it again since it turned out to be longer than anticipated – more of a blog material. In addition, my friend recently messaged me the above, and it provoked me to sharing it again.

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Creating makes me feel more alive and more grounded than anything else.
And yet I go weeks, sometimes months without doing it.

But all it takes is one look at my Instagram feed to find people who are better than me at something. More gifted artists, skilful photographers, captivating writers, creative painters, more flexible yogis.

Does the fact that you’re not ‘the best’ mean that you shouldn’t even try? That you shouldn’t bother the world with your laughable attempts? At least that’s what I’ve been hearing as a child – ”there’s no point in doing something unless you win.” This voice, still ever-present in my head is what scared me away from doing so many exciting things. That constant fear of a big figure showing up and laughing at my lack of expertise and novelty. Nice pictures, just keep them to yourself.

Henry van Dyke said ”the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” People who care deeply about their craft know how much room there is to grow, and it scares them. People who know nothing don’t mind putting any crap out there. How do we move from wanting results yesterday, to relishing in daily practice of craft and ability that make us happy, make us grow?

We need to recognize the fact that ‘overnight success’ is a fad, just like anything hasty. Evanescent diets, fashion, food, relationships – none of it is worth much. None of it will be remembered. Things matured and ripened over time with knowledge, experience and deep caring are those that produce the most memorable outputs. Speed is important in this world, but who is our speedy exercise session going to please? Who is the customer of our creative selves? The world deserves us and our creations at their best.

Let’s take our time. Let’s stop comparing our ‘chapter 1’ to someone’s 2nd book. Let’s devour in the pursuits that bring a little piece of happiness to our bitter serving of reality.

Fragments

i caught an indescribable virus easily characterized by a dark, heavy cloud not to be confused with depression

It merely feels like a burden clouding my senses from presence and mindfulness

and again and again returning me into a state of inner anxiety, scatteredness and thought overload.

What if I break before my walls do?

I’m suffocating in a shell of comfort and mundanity. I try to kick it open but it creates only an insignificant tear, while merely breaking me

I’d rather keep kicking and risk destruction

In short, this is why you’re wrong to fear sugar

Did she just say that? ”I heard that when you crave sugar it just means that your body needs more protein.”

Okay.

I work in an office full of women. Women wanting to stay or get thin without moving their asses, and without giving up their beloved proteins
(and media-induced beliefs).

Juice cleanses, shake programs, no-sugar diets, I’ve seen it all. Not ONE of these people eat a plant-based diet. Their idea of a healthy breakfast unsurprisingly consists of eggs and sausage.

I see them snack on string cheese, and eat their prawn curries and grilled chickens with a side of broccoli for lunch.

As soon as the afternoon hits, the fatigue sets in and they take any opportunity to indulge in office cake, brownies or stuff themselves with supplements and stimulants. Speaking of chocolate brings upon an orgasmic desire, and they do it often.

”Meryl Streep quit sugar and look at how her skin glows,” they ponder.

Honey:

  1. Meryl Streep and other celebrities you’re looking at have private chefs, rigorous exercise programs, the best of the best skin care products. We see them at their best and have no idea how healthy they actually are. Do they smoke to suppress their appetite? Do they drink veggie shakes all day? No one knows. You don’t know. Stop quoting celebrities for health inspiration.
  2. Um, your body NEEDS sugar and carbs. Please read an elementary biology book. Why do you think you crave sweets all the time? Why do you need strong coffee to merely wake up? Could it be because you need more PROTEIN? Or is it because the low-carb crap only works if you’re loaded with stimulants, vitamins, shakes, oils and are working out 3 hours a day?
  3. IT’S NOT THAT HARD, FOR CHRIST’S SAKES. Eat your fruits and veggies. Get in some starches or wholegrain – whatever whole foods make you feel best. Then go from there. It’s beyond me how many people’s building block of their diet are fats or highly processed foods. Do you even read? Do you know that eating those amounts of animal bodies is as bad for you as smoking? Didn’t know that? Now you know.

As long as you keep these very simple, very straightforward, and very common-sense three principles in mind, you’ll be fine.

Enough with the crappy bullshit discussions of bullshit crash diets PLEASE. My ears are bleeding.

Valentino’s Greek Goddesses & Timeless Allure of Fashion

When it comes to fashion, apparently timing matters. We have seasons, and trends, and releases. It all comes down to who covers it first and how much stuff gets sold. It’s about the creating and being a part of the hype.

Well, that’s not what fashion means to me. Let me ellaborate.

My experience of understanding fashion is comparable to that of watching Beyoncé’s visual album, and realizing that it’s not all about the single.

To me, fashion is beauty, history, expression. Not shock factor, consumerism or sex. It should be about timelessnes, elegance and art.

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Rodarte: Another trend, or thoughtful collection of color harmony and sophistication?

With this being said, I now beg of the world – namely the fashion world – to take a breather and go back a couple of months to Valentino’s 2015 haute couture Mirabilia Romae collection.

Has your jaw ever dropped while watching a fashion show? Have you ever screamed ”oh my god” at your screen (purely because of the beauty of a fabric)? 

I’m not talking about that shock-value screaming crap where you react to a designer who had models carry each other or wear meat.

I’m talking about pure soul joy that comes from a vision of quality and essense. I’m talking helenistic-inspired flowy dresses with accentuated waists, made with luxurious fabric, complete with a golden tiara.

One more thing – friends, I changed the whole layout of my blog for this. Yes, I did so merely to accommodate the grace of what I’m about to show you. I thought, no way that wanna-be modern & catchy shit can coexist with true design. Let’s dive right in.

Valentino Couture Fall Winter 2015 Fashion Show in Paris

I hope you’re starting to realize that ‘Absolute Epicness’ does not begin to describe this

Designers always try to put on a show when showcasing the fruits of their creative labour. It’s called a fashion show, after all. It comes with a themed set, music and a story. Usually, I watch it and I get it, but that’s where it ends. Then I see this:

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and I’m touched on a whole another level.

Is she a warrior princess or what?

Don’t get me started on the hair and accessories

It might have something to do with the fact that if I were to choose an era to live in, I’d choose Troy.

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So powerful in its simplicity

What an honor it must be to be draped in such works of art.

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Give your soul a treat and watch the whole thing here.

Walking out now.

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Day in a Life: Corporate HR Graduate

 

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Before I embarked on the marvelous journey of my first job out of University, I tried Googling what it means to be a starter at a big company (specifically in HR).

What I found were diary entries like ”we had three meetings and then I worked on making the presentation;” never discovering what it is they actually do.

As they say, encountering a problem is merely an opportunity to creating your own solution, so let’s get right to it.

P.S. Due to the confidential nature of my work and the media policy of my company, I will have to abstain from providing all the details.

6:30 – 7:15 AM | I snooze the alarm five times despite of having gone to bed at 9PM. My dreamy vision of getting up before 7 to wash my hair and journal disappears with each snooze. I finally awake at 7:15 questioning my life decisions. Dry shampoo it is.

8AM | I actually managed to make my lunch! Quick & easy veg rice noodles, stir-fried with onions.

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Morning ‘bonus’ of living in London

9AM – 10:30 AM  | We’re having company-wide skill training sessions. I signed up to ‘Finding your voice’, a session aimed at helping you listen and communicate better. I learn that you should always ask ”what else?” in a meeting and got a nice goody bag.

10:30 AM – 12 PM | I check and reply to emails. There’s some about my ongoing projects and some casual conversations with other grads.

The worst thing about having a ”set structured time” to work is that my head always comes up with all these questions that I want to Google immediately. Are grains really bad for you? How to write a short play? What is the metaphysical cause of tooth sensitivity? I start compiling a presentation deck for a training – ”How to manage in a unionized workplace”.

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Do I not seem entertained

12PM | Finally, lunch. I can now stuff my face while checking the Google results of the previously mentioned curiosities. I should also start on writing a short play for my acting class later tonight, but instead get caught up writing this article.

1 PM – 1:30 PM | I’m on a project call. It’s for a project outside of HR that I joined on voluntary basis,having met the manager through a networking event. We’re looking for quick-win solutions to recognize employees. We’re merging with the ‘motivation’ team so it’s a bit all over the place, no one’s sure of their roles and levels of authority. My friends, it’s all about the subtle politics.

2 PM – 2:45PM | I’m jumping into another call about our strategic graduate challenge. Our class has been given a business issue to solve. We’re stuck at the moment, but achieving real progress during the call by choosing 3 ideas to distribute people into and pitch proposals on next week.

3:30 PM | My manager stops by and I briefly show her my progress on the Union slides. She likes them and gives me another urgent research project assignment, related to a legislation that could affect us. She tells me to start sending materials ASAP. I get started.

4:50 PM | My research breakdown is done, consisting of legislation definitions, case studies, examples and considerations. I send it out and she’s very happy.

5:00 PM | I’m zoning out. I keep reminding myself to write the play for class later. I get started after reading some tips on writing 10 minute plays. I jumped to the store to get some quinoa crisps and grapes.

6:15 PM | Play is done. It’s about a homeless man asking for shelter from another person. It’s two pages long and has a surprise ending😉. (P.S. He wanted to get arrested all along).

6:18 PM | I’m deciding to leave for class earlier. Reading an article about Dolce & Gabbana’s couture show that my friend sent me. È così bello!

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D&G killed us with a spectacle of opulence

CONCLUSIONS

The wheel keeps turning, the time keeps flying; but one day you turn around and think about where has all that time gone and – and you’re unlikely to come up with an answer. You are likely get to meet people across countries and functions though. Some of them are even fun. #AllIhaveToSayAboutCorporations

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On the plus side, some days we get a nice sunset

Why I haven’t been writing

Find your voice, they say. Speak your truth.

What if you don’t know what that is anymore?

Look. I’m battling some major cognitive dissonance issues. If I once knew who I was, and what I wanted, it has all disappeared into tiny ashes of unfulfilled visions and lost dreams.

I don’t want to sound depressing. Sometimes, you find yourself walking down an unexpected road, and you realize – wow, that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. Even though you never would’ve been able to predict it.

But what if you find yourself walking down a road that feels wrong, alien, untruthful and stuck? Yeah, it’s only ironic that I’ve been trying to advise others on how not to feel stuck (e.g. previous ‘free advice’ response articles).

Thing is, I told myself some years ago: ”I know that I’m running away from myself because I’m scared of the responsibility that will come with finding myself. I’m scared of having to act on it. I’m scared of not having the courage to do it. But I’ve had it. I need to discover my truth. I’m willing to risk it. Please, Universe, help me find out what I want?”

Turns out, that wasn’t that hard. Although it is still confusing. What I do know for sure, is who I don’t wanna be. And that’s a powerful thing to know.

There’s only one problem. I’m living the life of a person I don’t want to be. Sort of. My vision is a hundred miles apart from my reality. I can’t even post my issues under my real name, because people in my life would find out, and they wouldn’t like to hear what I have to say. Why? Because they could never see it coming. My internal self and my external self couldn’t be more alien. They’re enemies.

There’s a couple of barriers holding me back from changing that. Mainly, logic. I trained myself to make life decisions with logic. No one teaches you in school that oh, following logic won’t make for a passionate, sparkly, full life. Following logic leads to safety, reasonable decisions and social approval.

Too bad my heart is saying FUCK logic. FUCK security. And FUCK society. Yes, see, if you turn away from your inner yearnings, you are turning away from other humans too. Somehow we are all connected, and your inner relationship with yourself defines  all your other relationships. I’m not gonna cite a bunch of studies to prove this. I could, but logic won’t help here. Just think about it. Does it resonate with you?

Now, I’ve learned to wake up everyday, put on a modest-colored costume, and spend 8 hours as the more sensible, reasonable, analytical version of me. And inevitably, also as the less fun, energetic, enthusiastic, loving, funny, alive me. I thought I could live like this. Work vs life, you know. I get to be me after 5PM and talk about energy healing, and crystals, and acting, and veganism.

Only it doesn’t work that way. You can’t be someone else for a major part of your day (life) and still have some respect for yourself. Your voice fades away. You start blaming others. It’s not good.

I haven’t been writing, because no matter what I write, it feels like a lie. I had this blog with the intention of being my ‘real’ me here, but what is the real me now? It’s not just the sparkly, excited self. It’s also the anxiety-ridden, depressed, annoyed, zombiefied self that I drag to work everyday. It’s the self that sits on a subway and drives a hatefully judgmental inner dialog about others, myself, and my life. It’s the self who’s asking for permission to do things in life, like take a day off; – while believing that no adult should ask for permission to do what they want to do -; and the self who puts ‘creating managerial guides’ before HER needs and HER desires. It all makes me sick to my stomach.

And we’re back where we started. Cognitive dissonance. Not living your truth. Incongruence. Call it whatever you want, it means that me, the uncompromising upholder of authenticity, spends 90% of her day as an inauthentic fake, and it’s just not right. It makes me mad at myself and it makes me mad at others.

The one thing I’m incredibly blessed to have are friends who now – after I spoke my real voice to them – know me, and support me. One of them sends me updates from the fashion world, so that I could make a timely blog post about it. ”Valentino couture is out today! Hurry girl!” That’s so sweet. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because this friend seems to be a part of the reality in which I am who I want to be.

Sad, because it confuses me. Which of my ‘selves’ is supposed to write that fashion article? My daily self? Or the self who loves fashion? Where is she? Why doesn’t she ”have time or resources” to be her unique fashionable self at work? How can she write articles about fashion when, while insisting it is her passion, she doesn’t dedicate any time to it? All throughout every personality level, the fakeness spreads, and rots, and marks the levels that once were true and real.

I’ve been reading a lot of Liz Ryan lately. She speaks my language. She wrote something on finding your own path and writing your story to realize it, which gave me inspiration after a long time of confusion.  We’ll see where it leads me.

Also, I’m not gonna fill this text with uniquely touching pictures found on weheartit.com to increase readability. I want this shit to be real. And I need to find my own way of making it so. I’m exhausted from this polished dream that is sold everywhere in this Zombietown. I’m exhausted from trying to make myself, and my life, polished. I’m ready for real.

The Hidden Side of Me

Life is short.
that, we know.

Every day should somehow contribute at least a little bit to either:
a/ having fun/pleasure/a little bit of happiness
b/ doing stuff that will get us to a/
c/ contributing value to this world, society, family, or other people; with what we’ve got and what we know.

And yet, days go by with lighting speed and none of the above seems to be happening.

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At first, it’s depressing and enraging. People ask ”how are you?” and you’re like ”well this is not ideal actually..” But you don’t wanna complain too much, because after all no one’s got a perfect life anyways.

So you drop a remark or two, and they give you sympathetic stares and you realize no one reaallyy cares and the
situation is unlikely to change. Every suggestion for change gets turned down with a ‘but’. BUTs are a risk. Apparently
life’s too short to risk. Isn’t it too short not to live at all?

Stage 2 – silent acceptance. Numbness. Not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Days are the same. Physical
tiredness starts to emerge. You realize you’re not gonna magically start having fun here. Other options pose a big ‘but’.
You try to ‘go with the flow’, make the best of it by packing good lunch and having more conversations with coworkers.

It makes everything a bit less… plain; but you realize the spark inside you, the passionate fire, is surely dying out.

Are you gonna get it back?

And then I remember – this is not me. This fake smiling, office going, routine worshiping, mundane-task-completing person. This is not someone I can be proud of.

I believe in spirituality. I feel the energy of crystals. I believe in touching the souls of people, not in making small talk. I believe in raw, real, authenticity. I believe in letting go. I believe, all this can be present in acting – a discipline of not pretending, but rather exploring your own vulnerability. I believe in dance, and colors, and love. If I keep this, me, hidden, throughout my daily life, for the fear of being judged or disliked or thought of as crazy, I will never awake from this numbness I call reality.

It’s not a good term actually, because ‘reality’ can be as good as, or better, as your brightest dreams. If you dare. If you’re real. If you’re present.

I used to think ‘success’ was the ultimate aim, and it meant pushing your imperfect self away and putting on a mask of confidence, acquiring a layer of analytic knowledge, and influencing/manipulating people to get what you want.

It turns out, all this makes me want to puke. Who would’ve thought.

 

Welcoming Life Back

Looking through my drawer full of memories of my adventurous year, the difference between who I was and who I’ve changed into couldn’t scream out more loudly.

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I used to be so careless, so light, so trusting of the flow of life and where it would take me. I used to laugh and make silly jokes and hang out with people I found interesting. I was never perfect, but I used to try to ..be alive, in my way.
Since then, I’ve become a lot wiser, more organized, and risk-aware. I became heavier, slower. I started trying to calculate the consequences of my actions. A bit too much, perhaps. I started giving up on even attempting to start things that wouldn’t lead to a grand ending with large value. Use the 80-20 rule, they said. Avoid negative people, they said. Get rid of what doesn’t work and double what does, they said.

And I listened, but before having any idea of what my miraculous 20% was. I gave up on all hobbies that wouldn’t lead to a career or fame, so to speak. I gave up on making effort on acquaintances and small conversations that wouldn’t lead to a utilitarian end. I wouldn’t go for a walk if it didn’t have the potential of turning into a 10km run with a record finish time.

I gave up my lightness, my randomness, my ease of thought in regards to results or consequences. I gave up the silly things in the effort of only focusing on what’s important, which made me dependable, lonely, and feeling like while I have a few important people I trust with my life, they have many others to focus on. I used to be that careless, free person that they all seem to be and my god, I miss that person. I miss her so much.

She used to go out on a whim, strike up conversations with unlikely people, always reveal too much of herself and invest too much emotion into things and people who may have not deserved it. But it filled her up with all that life had to offer – the pain, the sadness, the joy, the euphoric feeling of freedom.

I now think before I speak. I judge what people say in my head based on its relevance and coherence. I make conclusions about the world and its inhabitants without really experiencing anything at all. I do this to remain safe. I do this because it’s easier than being out there and making mistakes.

What’s life, if not a series of mistakes that you one day realize are blessings in disguise. It now seems that one avoiding mistakes, is one avoiding life.

I strayed from life and now I feel lifeless. I feel as if some walls in my head were prohibiting me from going for a night walk, initiating a conversation with a stranger or starting a brave project. I’m scared. I’m scared of fucking up what I already have. While it may not be perfect, I’m lucky to have a lot.

But lately, with each day, my fear grows in force. Not the fear of mistakes. The fear of not having lived. The fear of not having been heard, even if my voice is flawed. The fear of not having been loved, even if I’m not the perfect companion. The fear of being irrelevant, not in the minds of geniuses, but in the hearts of everyday people.

I now welcome this fear and whisper to it, pray to it that it guides me. I summon and embrace this fear to give me a nudge every time I decide to remain silent and observat in a room full of people.

I grasp this fear and tattoo it into my heart, to remind me that each big thing begins with a little thought. And if my projects, my career, my life don’t ever become big, that it wouldn’t have made it better to stay home and contemplate why. It would all have been worth it had I been out there, fighting my fights, with as little or as much strength as I’ve got to offer.

Mistakes are what puts the little pieces of wood into a large ladder. If I open my heart, this ladder can one day lean on a beautiful spectacle. If I don’t, I’ll always remain in the safety on the ground – perhaps unjudged, unbroken, unfallen; but numb, lonely, and lost.

 

Through mistakes, maybe one day I’ll find what I’m looking for. If not, I better make sure I’m in the business of making some frigging fun mistakes.

Unicorn Life Advice + response to Alex

This is a response of my Unqualified Life Advice section – a space for you to anonymously share your troubles and get a heartfelt, useful advice.

Yo, people pay moneyzz for this stuff. And I have a psychology degree. So join in.

‘Cause helping you out guys, or at least lecturing you authoritatively, is a whole new experience for me. And I like it.

Alex wrote:

Hello there! Thanks for the blog, I am going to give this a try🙂 I have recently been noticing that I am very sensitive to how my friends and family treat me and what they say or do and as such my mood can fluctuate greatly around this. Moreover, I often feel like this over-sensitivity puts me in a naturally weak position where others have more power and I have little control in relationships and hence get scared and irritated easily, which in turn makes me even more reactive, so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. I would like to change this because it makes me feel like I have no control over my feelings and moods. I was told this could be because I base a lot of my worth on external sources/how others view me rather than on myself. I have been trying to work on this recently but haven’t actually found much practical stuff on how to go on about this. Any ideas on what might work?🙂 Thank you and looking forward to hear from you! Ps. your blog is great! Xx

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What a great comment, Alex. You have deep levels of introspection. And I’m glad you like my blog.

To paraphrase, you feel that outside factors can affect your mood and ruin your day. You’re aware and try to prevent it from happening, but your fear seems to makes things even worse.

This might have something to do with you deriving your worth from external sources. You don’t know how to change this. You’re looking for practical tips, as to how you can derive your self-worth from da self (assuming that’s where the issue lies).

First of all, this is something we all go through at one point. We, the artistic, humanitarian, analytical unicorns with big hearts, taught to suppress ourselves and our strong emotions our whole lives.

What I think is happening, is that a magnificent bird of compassion and love (= the real you) has been pushed aside, forgotten for years. Now it is  awakening and the experience is much like the experience of a newborn – awkward, painful, you’re learning from scratch.

Or not.

If this is an issue concerning the self and your worth rather than a conditioning stemming from hurtful upbringing or unsuccessful past relationships, let’s address that. The two might be connected.

Sensitive people (women, younger siblings…) may adopt people-pleasing behaviors in their relationships. This shit is like the flu, spreading through the consciousness and stealing the power to make decisions and speak up for yourself. It whispers into your ear that the day you do what you wanna do, everyone will leave you. The day you say what you wanna say, people won’t care or like you.

It’s really a fear-based way of avoiding conflict and ensuring harmony. The only sacrifice? Your heart.

Once an introspective human on a self-development journey becomes aware of their people-pleasing habits, they usually find it unacceptable and annoying about themselves, and they want to get done with it immediately. They don’t say ”my people pleasing behavior is surely solving some kind of an inner need, let’s identify it and replace it.”

They say ”I’m putting an end to this habit now.”

Result – brain’s autopilot is disrupted. Each social interaction becomes a conscious fight/flight/freeze situation with anxiety bursting out, and a conscious longing for approval and understanding. God, let this pain end.

Look. There’s nothing wrong with the need for harmony in your  relationships. Also a quote comes to mind: ”Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

Perhaps you were surrounded by a lot of drama and insensitivity in your youth, which taught you to guard your emotions. Now that you’re on your own journey trying to open up to the relationships of your own choosing, you feel too vulnerable and affected by the emotions that come up.

This is just a theory. Another theory is that too much of your value is derived from other people. People pleasing doesn’t mean you’re always sacrificing yourself and your time to others.

It can also mean doing the things you think you’re supposed to do. Saying the things you think you’re supposed to say. Getting an opinion from someone before you do something with your hair.

If that’s the case, it must be draining. It reeks of the need for approval and it will make you dependent on other people’s reactions at your attempts to make them like you.

Lemme ask you a question. How often do you do what you truly love, what you truly want to do?

A lot depends on your answer to this. Because if the answer is ”never” or ”not very often because…”, it must mean you’re living someone else’s idea of a life. It means you’ve decided to sacrifice certain parts of yourself in the favor of getting love and acceptance from some people.

Again – I can relate. For the longest time I couldn’t understand why me, a jolly, enthusiastic and emphatic being, would turn so cold, and judgmental, and quiet at work.

Then one day I realized I fake smile at my colleagues. I withhold my honest opinion. I make myself smaller. I adapt to what I think they want me to be. And then, on the inside, I judge them. I get annoyed at them. I get mad when they don’t make the effort to fake-smile at me. I’m thinking – all this bullshit I go through for you, and what do I get in return? I wasn’t aware of the prison walls around me until the moment I realized this.

A lot of things changed. I had to stop blaming them for my behavior and my reactions. I had to realize that no one was forcing me to withhold my true self, to be quiet, and to fake-smile. No one was telling me: ”try to be likeable”.

Everything everyone was doing was about them, and not about me. Perhaps a realization like this could help you, too.

And I finally took the first step towards pursuing one of my passions. And I realized, goddamn, why was I waiting for permission this whole time… It was poisonous to my journey and poisonous to my relationships. It made me bitter. When your cup is empty, you expect others to fill it up. Then you get upset when they don’t.

An incredible book I read on this subject a while ago is called ‘You Are God. Get Over It!’ by S. Waters. Don’t get put off by the title, it truly is a fascinating read.

Alex, I urge you to accept your whole self including your potential need for relationship harmony. I wish you the energy and the strength to be who you are, and to do what you want. Without waiting for permission. Only you can give yourself that.

I think a person who’s happy with themselves cannot be put down by anyone else. There simply wouldn’t be a trigger to pull.

I might be wrong. But think about it.

I hope this helps, Alex. Feel free to comment for a follow-up.

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And back to you, my patient reader. Again, feel free to comment below or email me at astrixwhitesand@gmail.com with a struggle of your own. Hell, why don’t you email me with your success and what got you there! Totally happy to read/post that as well.

If you liked this article, share it with your friends or family who might need some advice!

Where to turn to for advice? Response to Senseiblake

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to offer my readers advice on a problem of their choosing. I got some interesting responses and this is the post that will feature my first answer.

In case you missed it, click here to read an overview or jump right to the comment section to vent about your situation.

Let’s get right to it!

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Senseiblake wrote:

Anonymous advice would be good, I will take absolutely anything I can get because my life feels just stuck right now and I’m at the lowest point I’ve ever been. I’ll try to make it as short as possible. So after high school, I went to college for music. I had to drop out during my 2nd semester, as my girlfriend got pregnant and I had to devote more time to work in order to pay child support. We broke up. I worked in a restaurant. A few years later, still stuck waiting tables and having no direction, my sensei asked me if I wanted to run a martial arts school, which I graciously accepted. Eventually got back together with baby’s mama, but for the wrong reasons. We are going through divorce right now, been separated over a year. We have a special needs kid, making it real hard for mom to find work. Also I am totally sick of my job. I didn’t realize how much stress went into the business aspect of it, and while my personality type is great for teaching, I’m really not cut out to be a business man. Add on top of this, I met a girl over summer who was absolutely perfect for me in every way, fell in love, and she dumped me. I have tried to date again, and what I discover is my late hours at work make it really tough. Anybody with a job works normal hours, and is going to bed shortly after I finish. So i’ve been living with my parents, who just split up a few months ago, are selling the house, and also I have no friends to give me any type of support. I know what I want-a new career path that has earlier hours, a friend or 2, and someone to love. It feels like I’m totally trapped, I can’t go back to school because I’m still financially responsible for child support and alimony for another 2 years, any other jobs I can find don’t pay enough, I’m not qualified for anything else. I find great women who I could probably build a relationship with all the time, but my schedule always prevents anything from going anywhere. So what would your advice be?

Thanks senseiblake for sharing, it probably wasn’t easy to write it all out. (Jump to ‘Concluding Notes‘ if you’re outta time).

It seems that a bunch of things are wrong. You feel stuck, you’re coming from an uneasy past,  you’re dealing with your own AND your parents’ divorce, there’s job dislike, heartbreak, loneliness, financial difficulties, career uncertainty, relationship struggles and to top it all off, a crammed schedule preventing you from building a new relationship.

Let me just say before I even start that I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain. In order to make my advice as helpful as possible though, please keep in mind that there will be some tough love in my response.

I can write you a whole book on how unfortunate you’ve been, how unfair everything is, and how you got thrown into a bunch of mess you didn’t deserve. And perhaps there would be a bit of truth to that – but it wouldn’t help you change the situation.

Your story reads like a victim statement. You didn’t come here to write about an issue we can solve, you came here with a black-and-white mindset (mostly black) focused on all the darkness you have encountered, hoping for a savior. Now trust me – this is coming from a girl who led the most depressing journal you can imagine (and quite similarly along the lines of your post). I am trying to help you while I’m saying this.

Three things you may not be aware of pop up right away:

1. Our past does not define us.
2. It is normal – crucial, even – that life has its ups and downs, and what really matters is how we react to them and what we learn from them.
3. ‘Stuck’ is a feeling, and it is in you, not in reality. It is a fear of letting go of the old and the familiar, although we know we must move on. The Universe is indifferent. You can claim all the power you need.

Now that we got this out-of-the-way, let me elaborate.

Let’s start with the theme of feeling stuck and trapped. This is something near and dear to my heart since I’ve been dealing with the same thing for quite some time, until very recently. Therefore I’m gonna spit out a bunch of statements, based on my experience, some of which might not fit you – so apologies if I’m not getting this right.

A bunch of stuff happened, some of which you had control over, some of which you didn’t, and you ended up in a non-desirable situation. At first you can’t quite put a finger on what’s the matter, it just feels wrong, so you keep searching for logical reasons for your unhappiness. And they keep showing. One day, you have a whole myriad of them to list out. So you do, to yourself, over and over again, and to anyone else who will listen. And yet, that didn’t help you. You’re still in the same place, now very much aware of all the things that are wrong, and don’t know what to do next.

In a cycle of negativity and unhelpful habitual patters that keep repeating themselves, casting a huge net over your head and your desires, the only way out is through shifting focus.

You, my friend, are a survivor. A fighter. A person who didn’t give up even in spite of the fact that all the things that could go wrong, probably did go wrong. You need to rewrite your story in your head and realize you did the best you could, at any given moment. Just like everyone else involved. Bad things happen to good people, it’s not your fault. But now we need to move on and let it go. You gotta get out a piece of paper and split it into 3 columns. Column 1 – where am I right now. Column 3 – where I wanna be. Column 2 – the actions that can get you there.

You simply cannot go to a better place if you don’t know where you’re going, what your intention is. Set a vision for yourself. No matter how small.

If I learned one thing from my episode of stuck-ness, it’s that only action can break the pattern. You gotta follow your curiosity, your desires. This will be scary. You gotta do it anyways. Do the tiny, necessary, life-changing things. Fill out a job application. Get a part-time certificate. Go meet people.

Now just so that I don’t forget what seemed like the most important part for you – you asked how can you build a relationship while your schedule is preventing you from building anything.

I’m not an expert on relationships, but I do believe that the problem isn’t some outside force preventing you from dating. I think the problem is that despite the fact that you want a relationship, and want to be loved and supported, your subconsciousness is scared. Look how you’ve described your previous experiences! It wasn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns. Maybe you’re scared to trust someone again, or to be vulnerable, or to share your problems with them. Our brain is smart enough to protect our ego from our fears and replace them by something logical, like ”I don’t have time”. Of course you do. You can make time. You can communicate about your schedule with your potential partner. But perhaps that’s not really the issue. I would really recommend you to have a look at some EFT stuff, the best thing out there is Brad Yates’ YouTube channel.

Sadly I’m not able to give you more ‘practical’ advice in regards to this without knowing you better and asking you questions!

On another note, I absolutely empathize as to how hard it is to have a job you love. I used to be this idealistic millennial, thinking if you do the right things, you can work from a beach and fulfill your life purpose at the same time, or something like that. (Not that I actually put any effort into that… Perhaps it is possible). I just know that sometimes, a passionate person can be at the right place at the right time. And if not, you can always think of ways to make your current job more bearable. How about hiring an intern to help out with the business side of things?

Lastly, with all this talk of taking control, I’m going to drop a massive paradox. Sadly (or fortunately?), life is full of them.

Sometimes the best thing you can do, and also the most freeing, is to completely let go and trust the flow of life, so to speak. Just give up your expectations, beliefs and goals and let yourself be truly present in the moment, carried forward on a wonderful wave. I’m not talking drugs. I’m talking, giving it all a break, putting a stop to overanalyzing everything, and enjoying the simple pleasures. A ray of sun. A stranger smiles at you. A stranger brushes their arm on yours in the tube. (This got real creepy, real quick). Seriously though. Sometimes you gotta give up control, to get your life back.

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Concluding Notes|Recap

  • Being stuck is just a feeling, and you’re in control of your feelings
  • The only thing that can drive change is action. The only thing that will drive positive change for you is intentional action based on your desires, while ignoring your fearful ego telling you you can’t do it. Not easy, but very rewarding.
  • Forgive yourself & forgive others (check out EFT)
  • Let go for a minute and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a 100 reasons to smile🙂
  • And remember, no one is living a perfect life! All this crap we see on social media is highly edited, and besides, no environment directly controls how you feel inside. You do!

This is all I got for you now, though I could probably babble forever. I hope at least some of this will be helpful. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Good luck – and know that you’re not alone in your struggles.