The Art of Accomplishing Nothing

I visited my therapist this past Friday, like I do every week. We were discussing accomplishments and how I am notorious for downplaying even the big and exciting things that happen to me.

“I guess something cool happened to me. It’s not huge, but…”

“You’re doing it again.”

Dammit. She’s a great therapist and she’s even better when she calls me out on my bullshit.

Her point did get me thinking– Why do I downplay myself? Why do I find it so difficult to celebrate the small stuff? I have this irrational way of thinking everything I do or say needs to be momentous; and if it’s not, I probably shouldn’t go about it. I practice this with articles, in conversations, with schoolwork. It’s an exhausting way to go about life.

“Not every accomplishment needs to be big. Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment.”

She’s absolutely right. Sometime’s it’s really fucking hard to get out of bed, or take a shower, or finding time to eat a decent meal. These tasks seem menial, but some days they’re the hardest ones to start or finish.

I had a bad day yesterday, but I still finished my day. I still ate. I still smiled. I still took a shower, found time to eat, checked in with my friends. There was a lot I could have done and didn’t do– but that’s okay. Life goes on and it won’t stop for you or I.

Today started off equally as terrible, but I still got up. I went to class. I did what I needed to do. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane style of our day-to-day, so I try to break things up. I order a different coffee in the morning. I take a different route to class. I listen to a new song. It seems silly, and maybe it is, but things like these do count as accomplishments some days. There’s something to be said for the effort put forth. There’s something to be said for trying.

I’m not going to pretend like this revelation will change my way of thinking all-day, every-day. It won’t. I’m still going to feel very, very unaccomplished some days. I’m still going to have doubt and worry. I’m still going to feel like I’m not doing enough.

But the good news?

I’m ok today.

That’s all I can ask for.

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5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known 5 Years Ago

I spend a lot of time reflecting on the past and how the events that took place during the last ten or so years of my life have shaped me as a woman. I like to think about how I can improve as a human being, a friend, a daughter, a girlfriend– the roles in my life that make me who I am.

Is that a good or bad way to spend my time? That’s up for debate. I don’t have a definite answer, nor do I want one.

What I do know, however, is that there are a lot of things that I look back on and wish I would have known sooner. It seems silly to think about the what-if’s and the could-have’s. That’s not what this article is about. This is merely a look at the lessons I’ve learned and the knowledge I have gained from being a really stupid teenager. The fun bit of this is that not much has changed–as opposed to being a really stupid teenager, I am now a really stupid adult with a caffeine and ibuprofen addiction. (Don’t get old, kids.)

Let’s begin.

  1. Credit cards are not your friends.

Ah, yes. I remember eighteen-year-old me thinking I was so cool because I got approved for a credit card. Instead of being responsible, I just nearly maxed that bad boy out. Why? I was using it to impress other people with bullshit items and buying things for my ex-boyfriend whom literally did not deserve to even know me. What did we learn from this, my friends?

  • Don’t buy things you can’t afford, don’t need, or will not use.
  • Don’t go spending money on men that don’t have any goals/jobs/aspirations
  • If you do not listen to the first two points above, you will end up in debt and needing to take out a small loan to cover the ridiculous balance and interest rate. Don’t be me.

 

2. People are not projects.

There is not a single person in this world that you need to fix more than yourself. I can scream this from the rooftops, from the mountains, hell; I would scream it from a plane if I could. If a person isn’t willing to get help for themselves, it isn’t your problem and it’s not your responsibility to put their pieces back together. Everyone goes through shit–especially you. Yourself. At the end of the day, as depressing as it sounds, you are all you have. Not everyone that walks into your world is going to have the same heart or mindset that you have– that is exactly what makes you so unique. Run with that. Nourish yourself. Eat well. Seek help. Go to the gym. Sleep enough. Take care of you. Unless you have children, everyone else comes second. The sooner you put yourself into this mode, the better. I wish this was something I realized sooner. What happens if we do not follow this golden rule?

  • Heartbreak
  • More heartbreak
  • Disappointment and a lack of trust

3. Not everyone is out to get you.

Listen, if you’re anything like me, anxiety makes you their bitch. There are times I will walk into a coffee shop or a store and feel an overwhelming sense of dread because I feel like everyone is judging me or looking at me. You know what that is? Egotistical. It is absolutely egotistical to think that in people’s everyday busy lives that they’re thinking of me amongst all of the other bullshit they’re dealing with. People have work they need to get done, kids they need to feed, cleaning they need to do. They’re not thinking about me. They’re thinking about how the hell they’re going to clean the house whilst doing a 16-page report for their art history class. What I wish little Leah would have known/did:

  • Nobody cares what you wear
  • Nobody cares what your hair looks like
  • Breathe, you big dummy

4. If a man cares about you, he will not force you into having sex with him.

Ah yes, you all knew this was going to get uncomfortable at some point. Guess what? Life is uncomfortable, and awkward, and overall messy. Get over it. I wish I could go back and smack 18-20 year old me in the face for this. No man will make you do any sort of sexual act and call it love. You know what those guys are? Assholes. They are assholes. A man will never disrespect you or your body for their benefit. True men will wait as long as they need to if they truly respect you and your boundaries. Manipulation is not synonymous with love. Key points:

  • You don’t need to have sex with someone in order to love them
  • Sex is a two-way street
  • If you withdraw consent, it is then considered rape
  • Be safe

5.  Be honest with yourself.

Listen, the hardest part of recovering from anything is admitting there is a problem. It’s silly and cliche, but you’ll never heal unless you allow yourself to realize that things are either not good, not healthy, or not progressing. Everyone and their mothers go through rough patches, fall on hard times, and go through phases. You are absolutely allowed to feel that way. However, it is up to you to get up and brush yourself off. It might be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Show yourself some respect and better yourself from whatever tragedy, problem, or slump you are in. Don’t wallow in self-hatred and don’t be the “woe is me” person. I have dark humor, and I joke constantly about self-loathing– but truth be told, I know my limits and I know that my happiness is entirely up to me. What I learned:

  • Nobody is going to pick you up when you fall except for you
  • Don’t rely on others to make you happy
  • It’s going to take a long time to get to where I need to be. I may as well enjoy the ride

And kids, there you have it. I could probably think of many more things I wish younger-me would have known, like remembering to change the oil in my car regularly and not to talk to strangers on the internet or whatever. However, my fingers are sore from typing and I have other adulty things I need to get done today.

Keep on keeping on and remember– we need you.

 

 

Overcoming the Losses in Life

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The ninth anniversary of my father’s suicide is next Monday.

Its strange to me. Not because of how quickly time has gone by, but how I have healed from the loss. I won’t say I am complete– I never will be. But I am at peace with the situation, mostly.

I’ve had so many great losses in my short lifetime, whether it be deaths or broken friendships or relationships. In the heat of the moment, the emotions you feel always seem everlasting. Its hard to look hardship in the eyes and say “This is only temporary. This too shall pass.”

As humans I expect none of us to be perfect with how we manage our emotions towards any unideal situation. The lives we live are not black and white, and the tragedies we suffer through are not black and white either. Shades of gray and black and whites fill up our world, making whatever we’re going through that much more complex.

The ugly truth is, we all handle loss in our own way. There is no right or wrong. There’s no secret manual to guide us through all of life’s major and minor inconveniences. We can debate for as long as we live why things have to be the way they are, or we can be sensible and say to ourselves, “Okay, this is what it is for whatever reason. How do I become better from here?”

I’d like to say that managing any loss, big or small, is easy. But its so far from easy. Its heart-wrenching, its exhaustion, its I-haven’t-eaten-or-slept-in-weeks. Its a multitude of very high-highs and very low-lows.

And the only control we have over what happens is what we choose to do with our attitudes and reflections towards the situation.

That’s the hardest part.

The only ease we have is knowing that despite how lonely we feel during a time of loss, there’s a billion people out there that feel very similar to us. Everybody has or will lose somebody. Sometimes we lose a lot of people. Sometimes we lose people who aren’t even dead.

But we owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward. We have no time to waste.

We could be next.

 

 

Reality Prevails–A New Chapter

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The bravest thing I’ve ever done was step out of my comfort zone.

How cliche is that? I know, its gag worthy. I’m actually mad I typed it out and used it in an article.

But reality prevails.

As I creep closer to my move-in date and revel in the truth that my life is about to change, the more anxious and emotional I get.

As much as I hate this area, its home. NEPA is the center of every experience I’ve ever had, from tragedies to triumphs. This is where my dad rests in peace, where friends were made and buried, where memories are burned in floorboards of outdated homes and in cars with too many miles. This is where I experienced my first heartbreak and last conversations. NEPA is where I graduated, became self-sufficient, grew strong. This is the root of who I am and how far I’ve come.

I remember being sixteen and angsty; promising myself that I would move far the hell away from here, start a new life with new people and a fresh slate. I never thought it would happen. In fact, seventeen-year-old me would be shocked to learn that I haven’t killed myself, a feat that is exceptional on its own. I never thought I would make it this far, and yet I am here.

I waited so long to say that I’m officially getting out of here, and now I am petrified. I’m sad. I’m doubtful. I have a lot to offer the world; that I am sure of. But the lingering doubt that encapsulates me is the worst of it all. Did I make the right choice? But what if?

I don’t know if I made the right decision. I don’t know if what I’m doing is out of my reach or too far-fetched. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a writer, or be anything at all, really.

All I know is that my lease is signed, and that bitch was expensive; so there is no turning back.

The future is mine.

 

 

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