Just Because You're Not Where You Want To Be, Doesn't Mean You're Not Making Progress

Just Because You're Not Where You Want To Be, Doesn't Mean You're Not Making Progress

The journey is still underway.
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A few days ago, I had one of those days. You know what I mean, right?

I mean one of those days where I can’t stand how I look. One of those days where I stand in front of the mirror and pick out every little flaw that I dislike about myself. Things that I wish I could change. I’d be lying if I said that the list was short.

I stand there and compare. Well, she has a slimmer waist. She has clearer skin. She probably doesn’t go through this exact same thing.

I can’t help it. I try my hardest to combat those thoughts but they approach far more quickly and deadly this time than they did the last.

We all get this way, don’t we? We all know that there are things about ourselves that we wish we could change. That’s why we make New Year’s resolutions, isn’t it?

We want to be kinder. We want to eat healthier. We want to give more. We want to get in shape. We want to drink more water.

There’s this never-ending list of characteristics that we wish we could possess. If you’re anything like me, your New Year’s resolutions are long since gone (if we’re being honest, did we ever even begin them?), and the judgmental little devil on our shoulder is speaking louder and louder and the days go on.

SEE ALSO: Don't Feel Like You Have To Rush

Something was different when I had yet another one of “those days.” As I stood there, staring at my imperfections in the mirror, I felt this message be laid upon my heart.

“It’s possible to desire change without degrading who you are right now, in this exact moment.”

It was overwhelmingly clear to me in that moment. I was sitting there, completely tearing myself to shreds, focusing on the journey ahead rather than how far I’ve come.

If I look at where I used to be: a shattered, incomplete girl who turned to razor blades instead of God to fill the father-shaped hole in her heart, I can’t help but be proud of the young woman looking back at me in the mirror.

I was so broken. I was a mess. Homeless. Failing classes. Crying myself to sleep at night. Having panic attacks during the day. In endless counseling. Battling the demons associated with divorce and abuse. Depressed beyond measure.

But now, I am so much more. Five years can do a lot to a growing girl. I’m happy. In love with God and the life that He has given me. I’m healed. I’ve found my home.

Sure, there are things about myself that I wish to alter. Things that I WILL alter. Not because I am less than, but because I know that my journey isn’t finished yet.

There’s something so powerful in acknowledging that just because we have room for improvement doesn’t mean we are any less as people.

If we’re being honest, we have to have that drive to become a different person. If we didn’t, we’d be stuck in this endless cycle of complacency that would eventually drive us to insanity. We have to have goals. We have to want to be the absolute best version of ourselves as possible.

It’s natural to have a desire for change - for growth. We should never self assess and find ourselves content with where we are. We should always strive for better. To be better. To love better. To serve better.

If you need to glance back and realize how far you’ve come, then by all means, DO IT! It’s important to remember where you came from in order to remind you where you’re headed. It doesn’t matter what she looks like or what he is good at. Your excursion to a new you isn’t finished yet.

Just because you’re not where you want to be, doesn’t mean that you are any less. You are more. You are so. much. more.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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13 Positive Things To Do If You're Struggling: An Introvert's Guide to Self-Care

How to build your introspective toolkit for creativity and coping during hard times.
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Judging from my newsfeed the past few weeks, everyone's had a pretty rough start to 2018. We all have different ways of coping with it, but having a reference-guide in your bookmarks never hurts. Here’s 13 positive things to do if you’re going through a hard time:

1. App Therapy

The geniuses in Silicon Valley, Austin, Seattle, Boston, New York, and other tech hubs know as well as anybody the stress and pressure of modern life. Whether it’s a byproduct of being a high achiever, an intiative awareness of the culture we live in, or an awareness of the paradox of progress, app-developers recognize anxiety and have put work into making a difference.

One of my favorites is the Calm app. It's gotten me to sleep, through long car rides, and out of an anxiety attack more than once. It’s not always an emergency go-to – sometimes it’s just a way to stay accountable on a mindfulness meditation practice.

You can check out Anxiety and Depression Association of America reviewed apps here.





2. Youtube, Podcasts, and Self-Care Web Content

The internet is full of all kinds of amazing resources --- charities, letters, poems, infinite knowledge. Youtube is full of all the above, as well as some pretty incredible testimonies and art.

There are also playlists full of reiki, sleep-music, self-hypnosis, and meditation – guided and self-directed alike.

If you have a Roku or can't download apps, vids like this one (if you can get past the over-tagged title) are wonderful and very similar to the Calm app.


3. Yoga and regular exercise

Cardio is proven to help with anxiety and depression – personally, although I’m not the fittest girl in the world, a run is the only thing that can help me work off a panic attack long-term.

Still, for those of us who aren’t active, whose mental health prevents us from building up a habit, or physical ability or disability limits access, yoga practices (with or without movement, and varying degrees of modification – including sitting or stationary versions) have been spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically interconnected for centuries.

I highly recommend looking into vinyasa morning yoga.


4. Nutrition therapy

Making sure to keep on top of vitamin deficiencies (D deficiency is very common in Americans and is associated with depression), but it’s always valuable to check with a doctor before starting anything beyond a general multivitamin. Drinking lots of water to keep the body hydrated, keeping on top of any medication you might be taking for mental health, and eating lots of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables is an act of self-care that keeps overall wellbeing happy.


5. Affirmations

Whether it’s something you write on a mirror, keep on a paper in your wallet, inscribe on jewelry, say to yourself to get through a bad night, or repeat when you need to focus your thoughts, having a few words of comfort that you can take ownership of and re-route your thinking with can be deeply comforting and even motivating. Personally, I got mine tattooed on my wrists --- Always Keep Fighting and You Are Not Alone --- where they’re close to my heart, in the two hands I can take control with at any time, and always at the forefront in what I give to others when I reach out my arms to help. If that’s corny to you, it’s okay --- what works for you is deeply personal. If it helps you, it should always be above judgement.








6. Aromatherapy

Oil diffusers, essential oils, candles, room sprays, or fragrances – whatever you find comforting is valid and meaningful. There’s plenty of web discourse, from bloggers to religious figures to self-proclaimed new age apothecaries, on more specific associations: smells for mood or even healing, depending on how far your interest or belief goes. Scents and spices are sometimes associated with ayurvedic healing practices, and best choices for you can be associated with your personality and body type.

Often, this can be combined with spa days --- look into bath bombs and other classic self-care goodies everywhere from Etsy to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.


7. Creating Your Safe Decompression Space

This can be anywhere. In my dorm, I have a gamer chair with a furry blanket next to a Himalayan salt lamp and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Back home, I have a canopied corner of my bed for movie nights. My best friend always jokes I go into a blanket cocoon – and somehow always convince my guests too as well – on a queen sized bed covered in more blankets and pillows than anyone has a right to --- the key to an epic sleepover/stay-in movie night.

Everyone has their own thing – some people just need white walls and a clean desk. Others have a favorite spot in their library, including registered corrals. As a kid, one of my brothers had a small attic loft he climbed into and read in, my friend had a closet full of Christmas lights, my cousin kept a tent over the bottom bunk of his bed, and my mom had a private writing den in an attached porch. Everyone needs a place that’s theirs. Design yours when you’re upbeat and energized – it will always be there when you need someplace else.

You might also enjoy researching Taoist fengshui or other influences in creating personal harmony within the built environment.








8. Creating A Go-To Playlist

If you have a song, artist, or album that you know always takes you out of your head and into a better space – whether its healing, calming, or heightened-but-cathartic, having a playlist downloaded off your cloud and on your person is always helpful. Headphones in public spaces keep some of the world’s noise out and help to keep the stimulation surrounding you more on your terms than chance. Sometimes having a little bit of familiarity, control, or just a place you know you can go that makes you feel safe or helps you escape is huge.

9. A Go-To Movie Night

When you’re having a really difficult day, you’re ruminating, panicking, or just need to decompress – have movies and maybe a basket of ‘movie night things’ (special PJs folded and kept aside, a bag of popcorn ready-to-go, essential oils, a hot pack, or other treats or comforts) prepared for as little thinking as possible is comforting. It’s like expectant mothers keeping a hospital bag – it’s peace of mind. Pick out movies in advance that always cheer you up – personally, I always love The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, Iron Man, The Avengers, and Pride and Prejudice – is just part of being ready for the days where life isn’t treating you as good as your fav cinematic experience always does.

10. A Go-To Book

Just like a movie or a playlist, you might have a favorite book that’s guaranteed happiness and escape. I know a friend who always carries around her favorite Harry Potter. My mom loves White Oleander by Janet Fitch. My dad likes a particular Clive Custler book. My grandma keeps a mini bible on hand. A teacher in high school always loved Dubliners. Personally, I really love the last chapter of Family Don’t End in Blood, feat. Jared Padalecki from Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larsen when I’m having a really bad day --- but Brandon Burchard’s Motivation Manifesto, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Fitch’s novels – like my mother, and even screenshots of favorite poems (I love Rupi Kauer, Maya Angelou, and Richard Siken) I keep in my phone’s Camera Roll are always there for me too. Everyone has one. Yours could be anything from The Giving Tree and the Kissing Hand to War & Peace and Homer’s Odyssey. Whatever moves you – no shame – could either be kept by your bedside, in your pocket, or in your backpack at all times. Literature is a love that’s between you and your higher power.



11. Art Therapy

While this term being used too casually is problematic to art therapists, it is our cultural go-to to describe expression and the arts as a means of catharsis. Adult coloring books are extremely popular right now. I discovered them in an airport bookstore while I was looking for something to do on a seven hour flight – and have always kept one in my desk since. Some are overtly meditative – mandalas, spirituality-inspired drawings, some are academic (inspiring figures, feminism), some are funny (comic book style), and others – my favorites – are TV inspired (Supernatural, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings). Whatever you look, the mindless task of coloring can be a true pleasure for some – and even help you channel an inner child from a more carefree time.


12. Forest-Bathing

Exercise aside, sometimes it’s important to find a way to get both shoes on and walk outside. Being surrounded by nature has been shown to increase mood (and the Japanese actually have a deliberate practice for being around nature - Shinrin-yoku - translated as Forest- Bathing), but you don’t have to go find the woods to do it. Sometimes a walk in the park, or just being in the fresh air under the sun is enough to change the tone of an afternoon.

To be fair, Scandinavians have an untranslatable word for being comforted and increasing happiness indoors – hygge – which means spatial and also interpersonal cosiness inside during the wintertime. It seems there are good things anywhere you go with intention and positive vibes. So, if you’re not an outdoorsy person – you can always read poetry about it next to a warm hearth or against a window on a rainy day!


13. The Notebook

Pen and paper – the place where anything’s possible. This might literally be a diary to talk about your day (studies show journaling reduces depression and increases overall happiness), a sketchbook (see: art therapy!), a mood journal, a place to note memorable quotes, a listography book, or a place to put poetry and ideas – a note app on your phone, a blog. I always keep a literal notebook for ideas, doodles, homework reminders, and anything else I need to work through, get out of my head, or make sure I don’t forget. My notes app is similarly full. Sometimes I go to Instagram and edit pictures I take throughout every day, or I often work on Odyssey contributions here, or most especially – write poetry for one of my Tumblrs.


I say it often, but only because I believe in it so fundamentally: whatever works for you is important, fair game, and genuinely good. However you engage in self-care, work through anxiety or depression, and find ways to inspire yourself to be a part of the world is a good and worthy way to take care of you.

January was hard. February is still being an absolute pain. Hang in there.

If you have your own tips or want to share what you enjoy, comment below!


Affirmation tattoos via Miranda Wheeler. All other photos via Pixabay.com.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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You Really Need To Dress Up, Not For Others, But For Your Own Well-Being

It's self-love thing.
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I have heard many people talk about the importance of looking nice for a job interview or the first day of class, statistics about how a person judges and forms an opinion of you within seconds of meeting you. But a more important aspect of the benefits of dressing up that I don’t feel is often enough discussed is how it can affect your self-esteem.

Something my mother really emphasized in my education while growing up was the importance of always dressing up for yourself.

I was the little girl in school with a bow bigger than her head, the one tripping over her new dress, and in later years the one that kept a hairbrush in her backpack.

This may sound shallow, but I think this part of my education shaped me into who I am today, and most importantly taught me the importance of looking nice for yourself. This has helped me focus more on what I think of myself as opposed to what others do because if I am always dressing nicely, I won’t dress up to impress anyone but myself, and that, I believe, is who I should be aiming to impress anyway!

Why shouldn’t we aim to be our best selves in all aspects of our lives, including in how we look? Even if at times I may not be feeling my best, or be satisfied with certain aspects of my body, at least I have the comfort and pleasure of knowing that I am trying, that I am actively working towards being my best self in this aspect.

I believe this actually reflects on other parts of my life and motivates me to take on more opportunities and improve myself in other aspects, and for this reason, I think that everyone should at least try dressing up all the time for a week.

And I don’t mean wearing heels or a suit everywhere, but simply wearing clothes that make you feel good about yourself, that don’t have stains or are rumpled (I know, I also hate ironing) and that you haven’t used as pajamas the night before (unless you are late for class). Who knows, you might find yourself feeling more confident and put together, or condemn me as shallow and vain for giving this advice.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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