i am a lot of things…

I am not a failure.

Of course not. I’m just a college drop out, a procrastinator, and a crier.

Each day I beg the universe for a change and that’s my most toxic trait– expecting the life I want to be handed to me as if I’m owed anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I have a great support system, a roof over my head, a job that treats me well. I have food in my belly and a shower to use and a crazy cat that cuddles with me. I wake up each day in certainty that I am taken care of. That’s more than what some people could ever imagine having.

And with all of that knowledge and all of those gifts from this universe, I’m still ungrateful. I can say I’m grateful all I want, and it’s half true– I do appreciate what I have. But there is still so much I have taken for granted and continue to take for granted regardless of recognizing my own issues. The majority of “problems” in my life stem from my decisions and the mistakes I continually make. I bitch and moan about being overweight, but I don’t go to the gym. I get upset about my career when I don’t make an effort to explore my passions. I stress about money when I could be working more overtime or cutting out unnecessary expenses. I run out of excuses faster than I run out of underwear; which for the record, is alarming fast.

Each Sunday my phone tells me how much I’ve used social media. It’s both impressive and revolting. I complain that there’s not enough time in the day, but I sure as fuck make time to see drama unfold on Facebook and look to see if Sally is having a boy or a girl even though we haven’t seen each other since senior year of high school.

I am my own worst enemy; because as much as I know I need to improve, I lack the capabilities of giving credit where credit is due.

I’m a college drop out, a procrastinator, and a crier.

I am also a lover, an empath, and a fighter.

I like to make people smile. I appreciate a good compliment. Last Thursday I told the cashier at Marshall’s she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. It was genuine though– I don’t do inauthenticity.

I am bad at a whole lot, but at least I’m good at it.

Moral of the story?

I am a lot of things. I am human, I am unbalanced, I am who I am.

I am not a failure.

today I dropped out of college // final blog post | 2019

Today I dropped out of college.

It was over as soon as it started, and that rush of defeat stings more than I thought it would.

I didn’t want to drop out. I didn’t want to put my academics on hold. This was never supposed to be in the cards for me. I was destined for internships and the dean’s list and scholarships.

Except I wasn’t.

Financially, it was not feasible. Private loan companies wouldn’t approve me on my own and the government harshly decided I made too much last year to qualify for aid. I’d have owed thousands by mid August, a goal so unattainable its almost laughable.

Today I dropped out of college.

I love writing. I love media. I love scrolling and reading and liking. I love how vast social media can be and how helpful it has been in so many circumstances. But I know deep, deep down that maybe this path wasn’t meant for me; at least not yet. I have a lot of growing to do. I have a lot I need to figure out. I can’t pursue something 100% if mind and my wallet aren’t ready. One day they will be. Maybe today is not the day, but who’s to say tomorrow won’t be?

Today I dropped out of college.

I hate how dirty that feels to type out, as if my worth is based off of a thirty-thousand dollar piece of paper. I hate how the art of comparison has made it difficult to focus on myself while my peers move forward in life post-grad. I hate that I can’t be part of the social norm. Most of all, I hate that I’m allowing myself to think that way. I preach and preach and preach about everyone growing at their own pace, but fail to accept the same advice for myself.

So what’s the plan?

I find a better job. I work towards saving money and paying off accumulating debt. I accept that everything happens for a reason, and it’s important to note good things take time. But mostly, I learn to accept dropping out of college does not make me dumb, or a failure, or anything else. It doesn’t define me. It doesn’t need to be permanent.

This will likely be my last blog post for awhile. Writing has been a passion of mine since my father passed, but I have some growing to do before I continue to influence the internet with the stories I tell and the words I piece and sew together. I love writing and I always will. And just like college, I’ll come back to it one day.

Thanks for reading and being a part of me and my passion. The support I’ve received for this blog has brought me so much happiness over the past few years.

Until next time,

Leah

overwhelmed & underestimated|2019

When I was small I used to play out scenarios in my head of “what-if” situations and stress over the imaginary outcomes for hours. Sometimes I wonder if this early indication of anxiety is something I was genetically predisposed to or something that just worsened over time.

Don’t get me wrong– I’ve come a long way. I used to be scared of meaningless tasks, like walking into a room full of people or placing an order at a restaurant. I loathe the worrying. The constant go-go-go in my mind makes life feel exhausting. If I didn’t spend the greater portion of my day worrying about what came next, I might actually enjoy what’s right in front of me.

When people think of the word anxiety, they likely think about minor worry or nervousness. Rarely do they think of the intense headaches, fatigue, shaking, crying, and frequent panic attacks. I’m not weak, I just have a lot of intense feelings and thoughts that lack a positive outlet.

I care deeply about everything even if I don’t initially show it. I have so much love for a lot of things and I have a difficult time expressing myself thanks to my friend Fear. I love a lot and I don’t want to lose the things that allow me to be myself.

I don’t like being cynical, but I do like to be honest with myself about my fears and their control over my daily life. I won’t pretend like I’m not perpetually scared of the what-ifs– I definitely am. What’s scarier than the what-ifs? Missing out on good things because Fear has me by the throat.

The anxiety might never go away, but neither will my desire to be better.

halfway there | 2019

Eight months ago I walked onto a new campus without a clue about anyone or anything.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Don’t get me wrong– there were days I hated every second of it. On more than one occasion I found myself up at odd hours in the early morning; crying and wishing that the feeling of loneliness would dissipate as soon as possible.

I learned a thing or two in the process and I hope someone can take from my ignorance.

  1. It’s going to be hard. University classes are a lot different than community college courses. It’s easy to walk onto campus with a big ass ego and assume you’ll be fine just by showing up. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a reason why college kids are so burnt out. Give yourself ample time to prepare for the week and allow yourself to make mistakes. No one knows what they’re doing. Give it your all, do what you can, and at least you can say you tried.
  2. There’s a lot of assholes out there. Quite a few of them can be found on college campuses– don’t let their jadedness steer you away from the good that can be found. I know its disheartening, but there’s assholes everywhere. If you know a few, be kinder. If you don’t, boy do I have some news for you…
  3. Having fun doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend every weekend in a random dirty frat basement surrounded by Chads and Brads. If that’s what you’re into, party up. If not, that’s plenty ok. Find what you like and run with it.
  4. Not every professor has your best interest in mind. It’s hard having had such a good connection with former professors only to be heavily disappointed by people that look at you as a paycheck instead of a person. These types of professors will drain the hell out of you. Keep filling yourself up.
  5. You will fail tests. Hell, you might even fail a class. You’ll be late some days, you’ll skip entirely, you’ll lose sight of what’s important because life gets in the way. That’s ok. We’re all on different paths to success and we’re growing at various rates. Remind yourself that nothing in life is perfect nor linear. Get up, do what you have to do, and own every bit of success and failure that comes your way. In the very least, you’re doing the damn thing and that’s more than what some people can say.

I have no idea what’s in store for me next year or what experiences the next few months will gift me. All I know is that the same rules apply– do what you’re capable of, love every second of it, and remind yourself that there’s more to life than a bad grade and a shitty day.

 

killin’ it with Crohn’s— a journey with Renee Taylor | 2019

“As long as I keep looking for positivity, I’m pretty sure I’ll find it. The world isn’t that terrible after all.”

After months of excruciating hardship, Renee Taylor baffles over one thousand Instagram followers with her ability to shine light on a bleak situation she certainly didn’t ask to be a part of.

In May 2018, Renee entered the hospital with complaints of massive, painful bumps on her shins and left with an unexpected Crohn’s disease diagnoses. Erythema nodosum, a symptom of Crohn’s, were the bumps that left Renee unable to walk. Within a month of the diagnoses; Renee lost twenty-five pounds– unable to eat anything without experiencing extreme digestive issues.

Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory problem that primarily affects the digestive tract, isn’t all that common– only about 200,000 cases occur in the US per year.

“The hardest thing that comes from this disease is the loss of normalcy. I understand there is no true normalcy to this life that we live, but it’s simple things like not being able to work out or shower because I can’t stand on my own,” she explains. “I’m a very independent person, so losing that independence is very hard for me.”

Looking at Renee, standing 5’3 with sunshine seeping from her aura, you’d never initially know there was anything wrong. The idea that someone so seemingly healthy can be going through their own personal hell is a reality check to all who witness her daily struggle.

“I wish people knew that Crohn’s isn’t just a stomach problem. Running to the bathroom is the least of my worries when it comes to the terrible symptoms I experience. The inability to walk, mouth sores, skin rashes…the list goes on. It hurts when people try to relate by saying they have stomach issues. I know they mean well, but sometimes I just want to say ‘you don’t fully understand!'”

Renee’s treatment includes weekly injections of Humira, a TNF blocker that helps reduce inflammation and eases the debilitating pain of Crohn’s.

“When I’m not experiencing a flare-up, I live completely ‘normal.’ I can eat what I want, exercise, I don’t have to go to bed by 5 p.m…things you don’t really think about. There are times it’s hard for me to keep myself going, getting up, and walking on my own. It becomes a matter of picking and choosing what I get done that day. Sometimes I simply don’t have the strength or energy.”

Despite the daily pain Renee experiences, she continues to shine light on the silence of Crohn’s disease with her Instagram, @killinitwithcrohns, where she openly expresses her struggles and educates her following about the disease.

“You can find positivity when you’re looking for it.”

If you are searching for the epitome of something special, look no further– Renee is your girl. We could all learn a thing or two from her– and maybe we should. It’s easy to take the small things for granted when we are healthy and happy.

If you’d like to follow Renee on her journey, she’s available on Instagram @killinitwithcrohns.

the five worst things about social media | 2019

Like most youngins’, I find myself scrolling through Instagram and Facebook far more often than I would like to admit. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of filtered vacation photos, selfies, and righteous life-changing announcements from all two-thousand of your Facebook friends, including but not limited to:

That girl you met once at the bar

Your middle school lab partner

A former coworker you haven’t seen since you quit your job in 2010

That guy you’ve never met but has 200 mutual friends

It’s nearly impossible to focus on the good in your own life when the flowery, super-fucking-cool, undoubtedly awesome, magical lives of others are blasted on every platform you’re part of.

This is why I compiled a list of the top five worst things about social media:

  1. Unrealistic expectations

No average person has a life that revolves around nonstop vacations, parties, and trips from around the world. If they do? Good for them. If you don’t? Good for you, too. Comparison is the root of evil. Enjoy whatever path you’re on. You will forget, (I know I do!) you will be envious, you will get upset– that’s life. Find the pause and remind yourself every day if you have to. You don’t need constant sun-kissed beach trips and expensive lifestyles to be happy.

2. Competition

I know people that obsess over the amount of ‘likes’ they get on a photo because they truly believe their worth is defined by a bullshit construct. Please; for love of everything good and pure, find your worth in anything other than Instagram likes and Twitter favorites. You are better than that.

3. Followers

Unless you’re running a business, creating a brand, or promoting your craft, why does it matter if you have one-thousand followers or fifteen? Does it really make a difference?

4. The need to impress others

The only people you should care about impressing are potential employers, customers, or the audience for your art. Why does it matter if Amy from freshman year thinks you’re cool? It doesn’t.

5. The influence ads have on your wallet and mind

You don’t fucking need Gucci slides and Yves Saint Laurent handbags just because everyone else does. But hey, if that makes you truly happy– you do you boo. No judgement from me. Just make sure you’re buying it for you and not because you feel the need to impress others.

Moral of the story?

Find happiness in other areas of your life, not social media. Be kind to others. Understand you are worth more than a Facebook like and Instagram follower.

Thank you for coming to my Ted talk,

Leah

stop bullshitting & start living: note to self

They say good things happen when you least expect them.

Maybe there’s some partial truth to that.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life and how drastically things have changed for me over the past several years. I was always hell-bent on having my life turn out a certain way that I forgot to enjoy the present moments, whether good or bad. I thought that if I kept looking for the things I thought would make me happy, I would find them.

I didn’t.

It took a long time for me to accept that life is not linear. It’s not a step-by-step manual to be followed word for word. Truth be told, nothing works out according to schedule. Plans falter. People come and leave. Ideas fail. Opinions change. There’s zero wrong with any of these things– in fact, they make for great lessons and even better stories.

I remember being seventeen and having this idea that I would move to a big city to start over and get away from the monotony of my stagnant hometown. I guess I was partially right– I did move away. I did start over. I did get away. The problem with my grand idea was that it wasn’t entirely realistic. Looking at life through a rose-colored lens is unrealistic. Nobody told me how lonely it would be. Nobody told me about the debt I would accumulate up to my eyeballs. Nobody told me it would be one of the most refreshing, yet heartbreaking decisions I will have had made, to date.

Just one year ago I was engaged to the wrong person and lying to myself about our relationship. I can’t tell you if it was the insecurities keeping me from being completely honest with myself, or the inability to escape from my comfort zone that trapped me for the duration of that relationship. I wasn’t happy with myself, there was no way in hell I would be happy in a marriage. The moment I decided to put myself first was the moment I grew as a person. From that point forward I knew I needed to do whatever made me happy, regardless of what other people thought or what their reactions would be. I hurt a lot of people; but to be fair, a lot of people hurt me.

The way I live my life now is a complete 180 from what I had grown accustomed to for so long. It’s amazing what self-love, the desire to be better, and an open-mind can do for a person’s attitude. I still have bad days. I still cry, (a lot, might I add.) Along with all of my faults, I’ve grown mostly comfortable with how things are turning out. I can say that while although my life is hectic and crazy and I’ve made a lot of questionable decisions, I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

I worry a lot, I panic a lot, I think ahead a lot. But I’ve also overcome so much more than I could ever dream of putting into words. I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the unknown. I’m trying to stop questioning the good things in life and start accepting them at face value.

If you told me one year ago how my life would look like today, I would undoubtedly tell you to fuck off. I’m glad I changed.

Let those good times roll.

 

more than a diagnoses | 2019

“You have nearly every sign of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Do you know what that is?”

I recently visited a psychiatrist at the discretion of my psychologist. I knew that the tendencies I had were unhealthy; and I knew that I was different from others, but I always chalked it up to anxiety and my personality as is. I guess the idea of being bipolar crossed my mind, but I never gave it much thought. Why would I?

I also knew my thought process was different from my peers–it always has been. I had an idea that some of the things I was doing were destructive. I have a bad habit of blowing all of my money without second thought or thinking of the consequences that may rise from it. At twenty-two-years-old, I’m a few thousand in debt from credit cards alone because of impulsive decision making. It’s not that I don’t know any better– but in the moment of being manic, I don’t think about the shit I could face from being rash.

The past few years I’ve gone through periods where I’m on top of the world and I genuinely feel like I’ve “cured” my depression while my anxiety maintains a normal level. I’m happy, carefree, and I love my life. I feel this way every few weeks. People notice and I love the attention when they say “You look happy,” and “You seem to be doing well!”

Then it hits.

The lows are always heavier than the highs. They last longer, they take up more mental space, sometimes they leave me thinking things I’m not proud to admit. When I’m crashing I don’t see anything half-full, rather I’m questioning if my life is worth living or not. I feel empty and voided. I always thought this was just depression and nothing more. It didn’t occur to me that this cycle of highs and lows was more than just a typical case of depression.

Don’t get me wrong– I’m entirely skeptical of this newfound diagnoses. It seems like everyone today has some sort of mental illness. I almost don’t want to talk about this because it seems silly– more than three million Americans have bipolar disorder. If nearly everyone seems to have some sort of mental illness, what is that saying about our society as a whole?

I’m not any different than I was before I visited the psychiatrist. I’m on medication now; sure, but I’m still the same person with the same beliefs and values. Generally speaking, I believe we let ourselves be defined by what we have and not who we are–myself included. Maybe that’s our downfall. Who we are is based off of experience and values, not what we take medication for.

I take mental illness seriously because it has affected me my entire life. I would not be half as compassionate and empathetic if it weren’t for the obstacles I’ve been dealt since I was small. As much as I advocate for mental health, and as important as it may be in my life, it’s not who I am entirely. I’m a daughter, a writer, a girlfriend, a friend. I’m a student, an animal lover, and a procrastinator. I am many things– not just some girl with mental illness.

All I can hope for is to wake up tomorrow a better version of myself, and if it takes a prescription to give me a little push, then so be it.

If all I am in life is bipolar, I think I’m doing pretty damn well.

So are you.

 

 

regaining the stolen self-worth

The sad part about today’s world is the hard truth that most people have probably experienced some sort of abusive relationship; or in the very least, mildly questionable tendencies from their partners.

For a long time I had this idea in my head that I could fix or change someone if I tried hard enough. If they weren’t changing, I wasn’t trying hard enough. I became so lost in trying to fix someone that I lost myself in the process.

It was great in the beginning– I felt loved and worthy and he seemed to really care about me. It didn’t take long for him to singlehandedly destroy my self-respect by manipulation and complete disregard for my best interests. I’m frustrated that I let it get to a point where such a thing would be possible, but I’m even more mad that his behavior has influenced me long after our breakup.

I never thought I’d let the actions of one man affect my future romantic or platonic endeavors, but I have. I can’t help but think someone won’t be nice to me just for the sake of being nice or out of genuine concern. I can’t help but think that when someone’s busy they are actually just furious with me or sick of me; when truthfully, they’re just fucking busy. I can’t help but wonder “What’s wrong with me?” or “What did I do wrong?” when I haven’t done anything at all. I’m mad at myself for letting someone who didn’t deserve an ounce of me or what I had to offer ruin all of the confidence I had in myself.

I recall one time he was irrationally angry with me over an innocent misunderstanding. When I defended myself against his harsh words, he responded with name-calling. He told me it was my fault I felt the way I did and if I was “more careful” he wouldn’t have said what he did. I can’t imagine treating someone I love with such blatant and blunt disrespect and cruelty. That is not love. I regret to admit this was only one layer of his physically and mentally abusive habits.

I believe the worst part is when someone authentic and worthy comes along, it’s hard to completely open-up because you’re afraid of judgement and you’re afraid to be looked down on. I spent too much time believing I was dumb because that’s exactly how he wanted me to feel– so why wouldn’t someone else feel that way about me too? My anxiety often translates something innocent into something entirely different in nature. I can’t take anything at face value. I’m frustrated that I let a man who had no confidence in himself take all of mine without any remorse. It’s embarrassing for me to admit this so long after the fact. Realizing that not all men/women are bad or inherently mean is a difficult thing to accept when you’ve been treated so piss-poor before.

Regardless, I give future relationships and friendships my all and understand that’s all I can do. He may have taken my confidence, my self-worth, and my ability to fully trust– but I can get all of that back with time and practice. I learned a valuable lesson and he can’t ever take that from me.

Don’t let past experiences influence potentially beautiful opportunities. We are all worthy of happy, healthy relationships. If you haven’t found yours yet, it’s coming. Be patient; but more importantly, be kind to yourself.

 

 

 

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