Just Stop & Breathe

Just Stop & Breathe

Life works in funny ways.
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You know it is funny how life works. We are raised being told to obey. Then when we mature we are told to understand things on our own and to take care of ourselves. Then we get in trouble for doing just that. Now independence is a loose term, because freedom is not all it is cracked up to be. You are free to do as you choose, but there will ALWAYS be consequences.

Yes, always.

Even for girls who never speak out of turn, for boys who hold open doors, for women who remain humble and maternal, and even the men who remain faithful and morally sound. Everyone will redeem their stream of consequences. Some call it karma, I call it the cycle of life.

See we never really stop going through obstacles because the only way to grow and improve is to keep pushing toward something and never settle. Life is a balance of insanity with prosperity and while that sounds like an odd mixture, we all take part in this vicious whirlwind of emotions.

I grew up doing what I was told, obeying the rules to a T, helping others, and letting others get their way to avoid confrontation. How did that work out for me? I got taken advantage of. Again, and again and again. To this day I still continue to allow those around me to consume MY life, but it is because that while I saw myself as an independent young woman, I would remain in the back hiding my voice and following the rules so that I would stay out of trouble.

It is a choice I made willingly because I figured the outcome would turn to me being able to expand my horizons trying new things. I do things for the experience, not for the compensation. That is where I was wrong.

Now I do not think I am the prettiest or the smartest girl around town. I won’t say I am ugly or dumb either. But I will bring into the light that I, like any other 19-year-old girl, take on self-conscious qualities and take the brunt of others misery. Meaning at times I allow myself to basically get used as a pass-through punching bag. Got problems? I got answers. Need help? I’ll be there. Need someone to take the work load off you? I can take it. It became such an overwhelming feeling for me that I realized I was no longer doing anything for myself. I was doing everything to please others and while I was receiving the credit and awards, I wasn’t receiving the satisfaction I deserved.

My routine to others seems so simple. “You’re a regular teenager” or “You’re a soccer mom in training” are the two most common responses I receive. That’s not the case. I am overworked, overachieving, and overly stressed by my own doing and I didn’t realize it until after I saw myself in the mirror one morning while washing my face and I did not recognize who was staring back at me. Physically, I knew my appearance had not changed. But I had allowed myself to go through 6 months of this work sleep repeat routine that I was no longer happy or doing what I loved. I was forcing myself out of bed to meet the requirements of those around me. I was skipping meals unintentionally because of how busy I would get throughout the day. There are more occasions than I can count where my boyfriend would make me food and he would ask whether I had eaten earlier and a null look of I cannot remember would appear on my face.

With loss of appetite came mood swings, mood swings led to attitude changes, which led to aggravation and before I knew it I went from the little girl who was so excited to grow up into the adult that absolutely hated the world she has surrounded herself in.

I would write my problems away. Literally. My destressing outlet had always been writing and photography and suddenly I found myself hating that too.

It was not by the fault of my career or personal life. I always dreamed of doing exactly what I am doing today, but I didn’t imagine losing my grasp of life during the process. I have always had my outlets for stress relief and while they seem like normal activities to others they completely change my attitude towards, well, everything.

I run to breathe.

I read to breathe.

I sing at the top of my lungs with all the windows down to breathe.

I do yoga to breathe.

I just get away to breathe.

I write to breathe.

Everyone’s life is consumed with a whirlwind of emotions and nine times out of ten you will find them ignoring their problems and finding their outlets to destress and ignore their world.

Let me tell you from experience. That will NEVER work.

I grew up in a high school where basically 90% of my grade has smoked something in the past or uses marijuana as their outlet because it is an easy “medication” to a much deeper-rooted problem. Vapes, E-Cigs, Cigarettes, weed, toxins which rot away your lungs and brain. I am a rare breed and while I have been offered and told time and time again to “just take a hit” I say no. I know it sounds like such a small instance and has absolutely no substance when looking at bigger pictures but I stand my ground and get the rolling eyes or the “don’t be a prude” and the stares like I am some crazy alien… but I say no. And I say this because as far as I can remember, it is the one thing that I have never settled to avoid conflict. I have never lowered my standards to allow others to dictate MY life. I have taken charge of my life, not because my parents told me to or because of all the insanity caused from “getting that one high”. I am sure that one time probably won’t hurt me, and I see everyone else doing it. But if I allow myself to bow down before a drug to forget the world, I will forget who I am. I will forget my goals and settle for average.

I took red ribbon week and made it a 365-day event. “Drug free is the way for me” and “Say no to drugs” might as well be imprinted on my forehead.

You see I say all this because everyone goes through their stages of doubt where they wonder what if I just let myself go and see what it’s like to be wild and free. I personally am too hard-headed and stubborn to allow myself to break the promise I made to that girl in the mirror when I was young. I promised myself to never allow something or someone to control my life and my happiness, and that if I ever didn’t recognize myself, to just breathe.

I know I am not perfect. I know that there will be days where I wake up and wonder why I am not happy. I also know that the only way a caterpillar call become a butterfly is by completely metamorphosing its life. Surrounding itself in chaos within a tiny cocoon. Being under the ruble mess that life throws at you and rising above to not ignore the situation but fix it is the only way that you can transform into the beautiful being that you are. I am not saying all smokers are bad or that they are giving up on life. I am saying that If you want to achieve the impossible, you have to limit your distractions, keep your promises, and do everything in your power to be happy WITHOUT self-medicating and WITHOUT a substance which just causes you to forget.

We cannot grow when we hold ourselves back. Love yourself and know that no matter how bad it may be at this moment, no matter how much you want to curl up in a ball and never spiral out, no matter what insanity is taking over your existence. It just gets that much better as long as you stand your ground and know your purpose. Stop taking in these toxins mentally and physically. Stop making a mountain out of a mole hill. Stop settling for comfort. Stop pressuring yourself to be perfect when you don’t even know who you are yet.

Just Stop.

And breathe.

Cover Image Credit: Tishtrya Cama

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50 Things To Be Happy About

It's the little things in life.
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It is always easier to pick out the negatives in life. We tend to dwell on them and drown out the happy moments. I asked a friend to tell me something that made them happy. They sarcastically laughed at my question then thought about it for a minute. Nothing. But they could easily come up with things that made them unhappy. Then I read them my list, and they were smiling and laughing in agreement the whole time. There are so many more things to be happy and laugh about than we realize. After all- it's the little things in life that can mean the most! Here are 50 things that make me happy. What are your 50?

  1. The first warm day of the year
  2. Laughing so hard your abs ache
  3. Freshly washed sheets
  4. Looking through old pictures
  5. The smell of a coffee shop
  6. Eating cookie dough
  7. Reading a bible verse that perfectly fits your current situation
  8. Seeing someone open a gift you got them
  9. Eating birthday cake
  10. A shower after a long day
  11. Marking something off your to-do list
  12. Drinking ice cold water on a really hot day
  13. Dressing up for no reason
  14. Breakfast food
  15. Being able to lay in bed in the morning
  16. Finding something you love at the store
  17. And it’s on sale
  18. Cute elderly couples
  19. When a stranger compliments you
  20. Getting butterflies in your stomach
  21. Taking a nap
  22. Cooking something delicious
  23. Being lost for words
  24. Receiving a birthday card in the mail
  25. And there's money in it
  26. Finally cleaning your room
  27. Realizing how fortunate you are
  28. Waking up from a nightmare and realizing it wasn't real
  29. Fresh fruit
  30. Walking barefoot in the grass
  31. Singing along to a song in the car
  32. Sunrises
  33. Sunsets
  34. Freshly baked cookies with a glass of milk
  35. Summertime cookouts
  36. Feeling pretty
  37. Looking forward to something
  38. Lemonade
  39. Comfortable silences
  40. Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you have more time to sleep
  41. Surviving another school year
  42. The cold side of the pillow
  43. The smell of popcorn
  44. Remembering something funny that happened
  45. Laughing to yourself about it
  46. Feeling weird about laughing to yourself
  47. Printed photographs
  48. Wearing a new outfit
  49. The sound of an ice cream truck
  50. Feeling confident
Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Doing Drugs Isn't Cool, Period

This so-called "cool" epidemic needs to stop, especially in the college atmosphere.

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Adderall, Ritalin, LSD, Ecstasy, Xanax, Valium, Alcohol; the list can go on and on. The point is, they all can be addictive and they all are promoted in college. No matter what university you attend, you will likely come across someone using at least one of these or overhearing a conversation about them.

For you frat party-goers, you are blind. You are risking yourself to eventually use at least one addictive drug. You may think that you'll never get into drugs, but that's what they all say when they're presenting their story to a crowd of millennials while being handcuffed to a chair.

Be honest with yourself.

If you're questioning if something is safe or not, most of the time, it's not. Studies have shown that college students involved in sororities, fraternities, and athletic organizations are at higher risk of abusing dangerous substances. That doesn't mean don't join these clubs, but it's more of a warning to what could happen if you aren't making smart decisions.

It has been reported that 80% of U.S. college students have abused alcohol.

Your weekly Thursday Instagram post captioned "Thirsty Thursday" while holding a White Claw isn't cool. Please ditch the trend of taking pictures in front of a tapestry in the basement of a frat house. I hate to break it to you, but it really doesn't go with your feed, Brittany. Just because it is Thursday, doesn't mean it's an excuse to feed your alcohol addiction and whatever else you may be doing at frat parties.

Attending weekly parties held by frats is increasing your risk of using addictive substances. Picture this: you had a really tough day of classes on Thursday. Your "Thirsty Thursday girls club" group chat just texted you and said they are going to multiple frat parties tonight. They plan on pre-gaming in your dorm room then walking to the frat party nearby.

If that party is lame, they plan on walking to another one down the street. You immediately express how tough your day was and that you're excited for the later hours of the night. You plan your best outfit, do your makeup and hair, and they come over.

You're having fun during the pre-game, so you invite some more people. You now have close to 10 people in your 130-square-foot dorm room. Someone reported a noise complaint to your RA. Your RA knocks on the door and you scatter to hide all the alcohol and be quiet. They say to keep the noise down because someone made a complaint.

After that, it's time to head out.

You're walking, or shall I say stumbling, to the first party. You get stopped by campus police and they write everyone a ticket for being intoxicated in public and underage drinking. You brush it off and still go to the party. You get blacked out drunk and there's a group of guys pestering you to try LSD. They explained it to be "another world".

You buy a single pill and try it. You convince your friends to try it and you all love the feeling of "tripping". You buy more and take it back to your dorm with you.

As you're walking to your dorm, you collapse. A cop happens to ride by and see you on the ground, and they take you to the hospital. You wake up having no idea where you are and your parents standing next to you. You are presented with multiple tickets and now you're being interrogated so the police can figure out who has possession of the drugs.

Approximately 110,000 students between ages 18 and 24 are arrested every year for an alcohol-related violation, such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence.

Yes, that may seem extreme, but doing drugs because someone convinced you to is not cool! It can lead to addiction, legal issues, hospitalization, and even death. Don't make decisions based on people's ability to convince you. Although that was a made up story, it happens in real life!

If you're prescribed Adderall for ADHD purposes, use it wisely. Don't tell people you have a prescription. Don't sell it.

My point is, be smart and don't do drugs to seem cool to others or to fit in with the crowd.

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