2009

The decade ends in less than one week.

I’m trying to wrap my head around all of the crazy, beautiful, tragic things that have happened within the past ten years.

I lost my dad to suicide. I graduated. I moved…twice. I got engaged…then I broke it off. I met some incredible, exquisite people. Life handed me so much heartbreak and I sewed it into a big, warm blanket to wrap myself in.

I remember ending 2009 in such sadness. After losing my dad earlier in the year, I couldn’t fathom how life could get any brighter. I remember the years that followed his passing were some of the darkest I think I’ll ever have. The thought of making it another ten years wasn’t plausible. Laughable, actually.

I turned twenty-three yesterday.

I’m pleasantly surprised.

When you think there’s nothing left to give, you muster up the last minuscule amount of energy and make it happen because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You manage because your potential outweighs the demons that hinder your ability to fight.

Maybe I didn’t accomplish as much as some, but I lived.

I think that counts for something.

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

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

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.

 

 

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder | 2019

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

Things have been good. You’ve been doing well and everyone knows it. You look healthier, your attitude seems lighter, and it’s like a weight has been lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. Whatever you’re doing, it’s working. Maybe you’re better now.

But like all good things, that feeling of contentedness comes to an end. Nothing happens. Nothing prompts it. You’ve got it good– so why do you feel like you can’t “handle” it anymore? Why do you feel like you’re six feet under? You get mad because you know there’s no real reason why you feel the way you do–it just is what it is. You get even more angry because you know people out there have actual problems. They should be depressed, not you. You’ve got it good.

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

They say talking about it helps but you can’t find the right words to say because nothing makes sense. Like water on ink, everything blurs and deciphering it would be a waste of time. You’re afraid that if you speak about your feelings, you’ll stress them out. Your parents have heard it enough. Your friends don’t take you seriously. They all wonder when and if you’ll ever get better. They know you’re trying. Do they know you’re trying?

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

You don’t know which is worse– being numb or feeling everything that has suddenly piled up. You don’t even know what you’re fucking sad about and that’s the most frustrating part. You were happy a week ago. It frustrates you and them. You don’t want to be a disappointment. You don’t want to be the let down. Why can’t you be like the rest of them?

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

You thought you were ok, but you’re not ok. You know you have the ability to overcome it, but the idea of going through the cycle again exhausts you. It’s not worth it. Is it worth it?

How do you, in good conscience, tell your family you don’t want to live anymore and you don’t know why?

 

The Unknown | 2019

The bathtub is filled half way with cool water. I wanted it hot, but it must be all out. Sometimes that happens.

I try to focus on the drip drip noise that comes from the faucet but I can’t hear anything. I feel heavy and indifferent. My mind is racing, but my body is slow and forlorn. I try to focus on anything but the thoughts running rampant in my brain, but they don’t stop.

That’s the funny thing about anxiety. It doesn’t stop.

Anxiety doesn’t care that I’m a good person, or that I have goals to achieve. He doesn’t care that I have a job to go to and friends to keep up with. Anxiety doesn’t care– it just is.

I sit up in the bath and I try some deep-breathing. It helps sometimes. My body is cold and the water is slowly draining; but I don’t care. I’m slowly draining, too.

The optimist in me knows that I have the strength to conquer even the hardest days–fuck, she’s never been wrong before. What makes lately any different?

My therapist confirms that my worry stems from The Unknown, a term I’m coining for my anxiety. The Unknown is a part of me. It is my ultimate downfall and my biggest blessing.

With it; I am haphazard. Without it; I am not me.

Some days I don’t know which is worse.

I’d like to take full responsibility for how I feel because it seems like the right thing to do. For awhile I blamed my dad’s suicide, and the sexual assault, and this and that. I was hell-bent on finding someone to blame other than just letting it be what it is– a part of who I am and something I don’t have full control over. I’m not a controlling person, but Goddammit, I wish I could be in control of this.

Anxiety doesn’t have to be a negative thing, though it’s damn hard to flip the switch on something with such a depressing connotation. Manifesting something so self-debilitating and turning it into a power tool to create a better you is not something easily mastered. I won’t pretend like I have done it myself– I haven’t. But I have complete faith that it can be done; only, and only if, you allow yourself to become wholeheartedly vulnerable.

I get it. It’s hard for people to come to terms with anxiety and all it entails. It’s hard to admit when there’s a problem; and even worse, it’s hard to seek help. When you do receive help, it’s hard to accept what’s being told to you. It’s too easy to fall into the rabbit hole, constantly wondering why do I have to be like this? and why can’t I just be normal?

I guess everyone is different. I’m no expert, you know? I have no idea what the hell I’m doing most of the time. All I really know is that I go through some shit and with that comes a burning need to help others that are dealing with the same emotions I am. Not everyone is strong and level-headed. I can’t fix these people, but I can be there for them as much as they’ll allow me to be.

The water in the tub has completely drained. The air has frozen my body but I make way to grab a towel. I’m frozen, but my mind is not. She keeps going, and going, and…

I have a theory that everything happens for a reason. All the good, bad, and traumatic has a place in our lives. We aren’t always meant to know why. We aren’t always going to understand it. It’s okay to not understand. Roll with the punches, take shit at face value, allow yourself to be engulfed in whatever life hits you with.

Hm, maybe I should take my own advice?

I’m out of the tub now, sleepy and ready to rest my head.

Tomorrow is a new day, and maybe The Unknown won’t be so bad.

But even if he is, we’ll get through it.

We always do.

My Apologies

In the new year, a lot of fresh ideas and new beginnings come to light. People are excited to go to the gym, eat healthier, become more organized, and bask in the idea that there’s a better version of themselves ready break through.

I have a different idea.

I have spent a great portion of my life, even from childhood, feeling like a burden and feeling bad for everything; like somehow my existence is a bother to those around me. Because of this; I shut myself out, I don’t talk about my feelings, and I apologize for everything.

I don’t want to be that way this year.

Feeling like a burden is a really exhausting way to live, tiptoeing through life because of the fear of being annoying or the fear of being “too much.” I tell everyone I’m sorry for “this” and “that,” and most of the time I don’t have a clue what it is that I’m sorry for. I don’t think it’s due to a lack of self-esteem or self-worth; but maybe subconsciously it is. I have a habit of thinking that all the good things that find their way into my life are bound to fail. I don’t know if thinking like this is a direct result from the trauma in my past or because I fail to have a balanced way of thinking. I don’t know if it matters.

Regardless of reasoning, I’m tired.

I’m tired of being sorry. I’m tired of thinking that I don’t deserve more. I’m tired of manifesting anxiety, but not accepting it. I’m tired of being too hard on myself. Most of all, though, I’m tired of being tired.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to know, it’s that even the most damaged or broken pieces can be fixed and healed. Even a bad habit or a bitter attitude can be mended with patience and zeal.

It’s unrealistic and foolish to think that this is something I can change overnight. It might take months or years before I don’t feel like a burden anymore. I’m going to fail. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to royally fuck up. The good news? I have a lot of time to get up and start over again.

I’m lucky enough to have a few people in my life that truly understand me and accept me for who I am, despite my many flaws and weird habits. When the going gets tough, I know they’ll be there. I take great comfort in knowing I don’t have to go through anything alone.

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.” –Mark Manson

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