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.

 

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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?

 

Lessons From a Dead Man

Someone highly important to me recently recommended I read “The Last Lecture,” by Randy Pausch. I never even heard of it, nor did I bother to see what it was about before purchasing it.

I won’t reiterate what can easily be Googled. Instead, I want to emphasize the importance of the message:

Positively overcoming obstacles and making the most out of any situation– even the tragic ones.

Randy Pausch knew he was going to die. He was well aware that he could spend the last of his days sulking in his unfortunate demise and feeling sorry for himself. That’s exactly what he didn’t do. Due to the nature of this book, I don’t want to use the word “positive” to describe it, but that’s exactly what I got from it– an overwhelming sense of positivity.

When you find yourself in turmoil, it’s easy to become engulfed in negativity. It’s easy to ask dead-end questions.

“Why did this happen to me?”

“What did I do to deserve this?”

For a long time, I dwelled in my sorrow. I made excuses for why things weren’t getting better. I became complacent with my self-destruction because it was comfortable for me. The less I had to think about the root of my problems, the easier it was to ignore them.

I don’t know if I have a definitive answer as to how I got myself out of the mess I made for myself. I wouldn’t expect it to help you either– we are all vastly different individuals, set on different paths with varying degrees of hardships. My answer may not be your answer.

I will say that I woke up one day incredibly tired of the way my life was panning out– after having been in the hospital for complications with my anti-depressants, experiencing sleep paralysis nightly, completely emotionless– I knew I had to make a change.


In the ever-evolving world of social media, it’s hard to make positive changes in our lives when we are constantly reminded of what we don’t have. I pretended like social media was helping me in a positive manner, but really, it was destroying my self-esteem. It’s easy to lose yourself in the mess of the world wide web. It’s easy to forget what you do have when you’re surrounded by images of things you don’t.

Differentiate what is real and what is not– only then will you find peace.

I think a majority of my unhappiness stemmed from Facebook and Instagram because I was not emotionally secure. I was outwardly happy, but inside I was a mess. I was not confident. I was not proud. I was letting my past and the struggles I had faced dictate my every move. The image I had yearned for was not realistic. It was not me.

So I cut back, like a smoker trying to reduce the amount of packs she smokes per day. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true– social media is addictive. I spent so much time trying to keep up with everyone elses’ lives because I knew it distracted me from my own.

Maybe not completely, maybe not a lot, but I did cut back.

And just like that, I was happier.


When I made the decision to move away for college, I had been broken up with my on-again-off-again boyfriend for a few months. I knew I couldn’t have made that decision while dating him. Moving away was something I needed to do so I could grow as a human being, so when we got back together again– and became engaged– I knew it wasn’t going to work and I knew it wasn’t for the right reasons for either of us. I loved him, but I loved myself too, and I knew this was something I needed to do alone.

So I did.

I moved.

And along the way, I found myself and I found the things I knew I needed– self-love, ambition, and a drive for happiness and well-being. I slipped up along the way, but that’s fine– good, actually. Everything that has happened can be chalked up as a learning experience, a lesson, and maybe even a laugh.


Randy Pausch made a valuable point:

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

Truth be told, life can throw us some pretty shitty, inconveniencing, nasty shit. It’s what we do with it that means the most.

One year ago I was stuck, but I was fortunate enough to know it didn’t have to remain that way. I didn’t have to stay in my situation if it made me unhappy. I was free to live life how I wanted to, despite what anyone else thought of it.

You know the cool thing about that?

You can too.

You are not shackled to your past, or your problems, or your insecurities. You have just as much right to live fully and freely as everyone else. What others think of your passions or dreams is none of your business. After all, this is your life. Do what makes you happy.

If a dying man can do that, we all can.

Be good, do good, and remember that everything you want out of life is attainable; and if nothing else– know that I am rooting for you.

We need you.

Twenty-Two

Yesterday was my twenty-second birthday. If I said it was bittersweet, well…that would be an understatement.

We don’t realize how quickly time passes until we sit for a moment and really reflect.

In 2018, I’ve ended an engagement. I’ve watched a friend get buried. I’ve gotten my heart broken. I’ve nearly died. I’ve been manipulated and hurt.

I’ve also graduated college. I’ve moved away from my hometown. I’ve started therapy. I’ve made new friends, lost weight, earned a ton of self-respect and self-love. I’ve met some undeniably beautiful, incredible people.

It’s hard not to focus on the negative. When a new year approaches, it’s so easy to say, “I can’t wait for this year to be over!”

I had a conversation with my therapist today about living in the moment and how hard I find that to be.

“Do you ever sit back and find the ‘pause’ in life? Do you breathe?”

No, I don’t fucking breathe because my mind goes a mile a minute and I’m ever-so-gracefully trying to play catch-up. That mindset has singlehandedly robbed me of so many good, pure opportunities. It has taken away so much happiness. It has ruined a lot of great things.

The good news is this:

Thinking destructively is reversible. I am not destined for failure because of it. I am not doomed. Because of my ability to recognize a negative habit, I am that much closer to flipping it into something better and healthier.

In short, I’d say this year was a success; much like all the other years under my belt. I’m alive. I was fortunate enough to feel emotion and express it. I’ve made people happy, and people have done the same for me. It’s bittersweet in the sense that I’ve gone through a lot of heartache, but secretly, that’s the beauty of it. Everything, even bad things, happen for a reason. I am empathetic, experienced, and above all else– I am happy.

I am ending this year confidently with a few amazing people and a better frame of mind.

I am ready.

 

 

 

 

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.

Anxiety + Coming Out of the Comfort Zone

 

Simple situations garner the most anxiety.

Ordering food, walking into an unfamiliar situation, speaking to someone new– all of these brainless tasks can immediately send me into panic mode. I’ve missed out on so many positive experiences and beautiful people because of fear.

Recently my roommate asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with her. I’m fairly sure I laughed in her face.  I laughed in her face.

Gym? Don’t know him.

Despite telling her no, she basically forced me into going with her.

I’ve wasted money on memberships I’ve never used because fear would not allow me to better myself. Fear controlled me 99.9% of the time.

But I went. Once, then twice, then three times. For someone that never leaves her apartment, this was truly a step in the right direction. (I’m not sorry about this terrible pun.)

Living with anxiety is a lot like taking 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. I’m not lazy (despite contrary belief) and I’m not unmotivated. I just don’t always know how to turn the negative into a positive. I don’t always feel like I am worthy of change or happiness. The “what-if’s” consume a good portion of my thought process, and it’s something I’ve always dealt with. What if they judge me? What if I make an ass out of myself? What if I can’t do it? Most days I don’t think twice about it– I am anxiety and anxiety is me.

I do know that I’m tired of letting irrational fears control who I am and the things that I do. Anxiety has made me older than I am. With her, I am burnt out and worn.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

So, I will say this– I’m no fitness guru, I didn’t lose any weight, and I’m not remotely close to my ideal shape.

The good thing? I have time. This isn’t a race, nor a competition. This is a journey towards self-expression, health, and productivity– powered by me.

If not now, then when?

As always, we need you.

–Leah

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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.

 

 

The Art of Pleasing Others– and Why it’s Bullshit

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Living is hard enough. Living for others? Bullshit.

Societal pressures, family, friends– they all tell us we need to be something other than ourselves.

If we don’t do this then we won’t amount to anything.

If we don’t lose weight we’ll never be attractive to the opposite sex.

If we don’t have kids, our futures are worthless.

If we follow our dreams, we’re irresponsible.

If we play it safe, we aren’t living. 

Quite frankly, it’s all bullshit.

I truly believe our early twenties are the roughest years in terms of trying to find ourselves. It’s painful to be pulled in fifteen different directions, silencing your inner voice for the sake of others’ happiness. We are afraid to branch out and see things for ourselves because we can’t handle the unknown. We are petrified of not being accepted. We are so consumed in other people’s (irrelevant) opinions that we often forget that our only duty is to keep ourselves happy and healthy.

When I first enrolled in college, someone told me I was “stupid” for studying anything other than computers or technology–words I remember being spoken like shards of glass in my back. It hurt to be let down, but it hurt even more coming from someone I thought I could trust.

Gradually, things began to change. I found something I was good at and ran with it. It’s hard to incorporate passion with career. It’s hard to keep your head above water when it seems like the whole universe is attempting to drown out your hopes.

Don’t let them steal your spark in life.

The day I enrolled in university, I knew I had to do it for me; regardless of what people thought or how crazy it seemed. They thought I was crazy for studying media and culture– but I thought they were crazy for not giving me a chance to prove myself.

The art of pleasing others digs much deeper than career choices or college majors. I’ve done a whole array of things that my family has deemed questionable; from relationships to my appearance to how I act or what I do. Its exhausting pretending to be someone I am not.

So I stopped.

I imagine it hasn’t or won’t be that easy for others in the same situation. I feel for them.

Truthfully speaking, I don’t owe anyone any explanation for why I do the things I do– and neither do you. It is not our job as humans to conform to what other people want. We need to do what’s right for us in order to grow and contribute as decent people. Being someone we are not gives the false idea that it’s okay to hold back.

It is not okay.

We aren’t doing the world any favors by keeping ourselves on a tight leash. The world desperately needs more authenticity.

At the end of the day, it is imperative to remember these three things–

  1. You don’t owe anybody shit
  2. You are you for good reason– don’t question your worth
  3. You don’t need anybody that doesn’t need you

When life seems to be getting too tough, too unbearable– keep going. We need you.

We really fucking need you.

First Day of University–What I Learned

library-1400313_1920.jpg18-year-old me vowed to herself that she would never go to college with a laundry list of half-assed reasons and little to no idea what to do with her life.

Like most teenagers with a plan, (or lack thereof) I was wrong.

I ended up enrolling in a community college near my house when I was nineteen and graduating with my associates degree in journalism and media writing when I was twenty-one. Next step? Bachelors.

It is to be expected that a university is vastly different than a community college, but man, what a slap in the face today was.

Here’s what I learned on my first day of university:

  • Invest in the world’s comfiest shoes, because a lot of walking is to be done. I expect to lose 25 pounds by the end of the semester. Updates to follow.
  • Try to be nice to the bitchy girls. It’s rather difficult considering their bitter attitudes and overall negative energy, but they are people too. Maybe they are having a terrible day–maybe not. None of my business either way. Karma knows what to do, so let her.
  • The freshmen are nine times out of ten terribly annoying, but they are excited. Let them be excited. The world is too jaded. Let them have their dumb fun while it lasts.
  • Your roommates are supposed to be your friends. Bake cookies with them at bedtime even when you’re in a bad mood. They’re your first friends in a whole new world, don’t shut them out.
  • Allow yourself ample amount of time to get lunch anywhere on campus because lines for a rice bowl are absurd and no one has that kind of time to be wasting.
  • DO. NOT. DRIVE. ANYWHERE. UNLESS. YOU. ARE. READY. TO. FIGHT. SOMEONE. FOR. PARKING. NEAR. YOUR. APARTMENT. I really wanted to throw hands at the Honda Civic for taking my parking space, but life goes on…I GUESS.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one in undergrad knows what the hell they’re doing, even if they think they do. Just be nice to one another.

I suppose most of this is common sense, but what a day it was…

Be good, do good, smile, and remember that no one in life gets out alive.

We need you.

🙂

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