It's Okay To Not Feel Okay

It's Okay To Not Feel Okay

It is okay; it is normal, and recognizing this is so important.

And I’ve learned this.

I’ve learned this a lot lately, actually, and I have learned that it’s totally fine. I’ve learned over time, that frantically running to the bus for class and making it with seconds to spare, accidentally pinning my fingers thousands of times during the prep of a garment creation, or sobbing into my pillow for a few hours—that these are all just small pitfalls.

Yes, they may be awful, and sometimes my week, or even weeks, can be filled with these pits, but there’s always something that happens to reassure me that I am on the right path.

Although, this path is one that I do not always instantly see.

It can be difficult. It is definitely mentally exhausting to walk into my dorm from The Warehouse at 5 a.m. when my roommate is asleep, to realize I have two hours to rest and convince myself that I am taking a “nap” because my sleep schedule just isn’t cohesive.

My 7 a.m. alarm is not the best thing to hear after falling asleep at 5:30 a.m., and the harsh design critiques we as designers must undergo each day don’t always leave me walking out of The Warehouse with enthusiasm.

But, I know I am here. And I know my talents. And I know my purpose. It might not always scream out to me, but I always know it’s there.

It’s taken years to learn that although it’s okay to not feel completely OK, it’s actually kind of a good thing. I’ve learned how empowering it can be sometimes to have a dip in my day where things aren’t completely looking up, and have the ability to continue moving.

It’s reassuring to know sometimes that downfalls will not interfere with what I am meant to be doing because my purpose is so strong that nothing can distance me from my path.

I shed a few tears this week, and to be truthful, maybe a little more than my liking. But, this week has taught me more about myself than this entire past semester has.

Last Friday, I walked into my 8 a.m. class with my completed garment, running on an hour of sleep and yearning to somehow make it back to campus before midnight. With energy solely from the venti iced macchiato I had just finished, I looked into the mirror at my beautiful dark circles, beginning to be accompanied by tears.

I knew it was time to relax, and I knew that I couldn’t just brush over it anymore. It now had to be acknowledged. I was indestructible last semester—so I thought, until this week when I realized nobody is. This is the week I learned that it is completely impossible, and I could not continue acting like my exhaustion wasn’t beginning to deplete my overall health and happiness.

I walked into this weeks design classes with less energy than usual, and my productivity was not it’s best, although I continued to put my best energy into everything. There just wasn’t enough energy to carry myself the way I would normally.

After many phone calls with family, conversations with friends, and trying my best to check in on myself, I learned it’s time to debrief for a minute. It’s time to still carry the work ethic I have always honored, yet do so without exhausting myself to the point of breakdown.

I am going to try my best—but my over-achieving spirit always does make it difficult. I overviewed my day today, and in contrast to this week, I began to smile. Today was the day I left The Fashion Warehouse earlier than I usually would and was able to take a break with some of my closest friends. It felt so good to know I was doing my body good.

This is the week I realized it’s okay not to feel OK.

It’s okay to not be extremely happy all the time and to not be the gem who makes it through a schedule like mine without a tear, a full cry, or even a complete sob. It is okay, it is normal, and recognizing this is so important.

I would not expect myself to undergo such a demanding schedule without weeks like these. It is just time I give myself more of a break, like the one today, and it is important for us all to do this. Taking some time to debrief is the best remedy, and I am continuing to learn of its vast importance.

One step at a time.

Cover Image Credit: João Silas

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The Ability To Accept Is A Form Of Self Care

And Society's Expectations Of Suffering

The way we live today, it is almost as if some sort of suffering is seen as obligatory.

What do I mean by that?

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Don't you feel that if you go through a break-up, for instance, that it is as if you're expected by society to grieve and suffer?

Or if you are rejected from a major career opportunity that you are expected to be sad and disappointed?

Or if you fall sick, you're expected to lament your fate and the stress-inducing consequences of not completing your work?

It is as if these responses are seen as normal and if you are to react otherwise, you're seen as strange or worse, insensitive.

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How could you not care?

After all, it is human to care. It is human to invest yourself so much into something - an outcome, an expectation, an ideal scenario - that the failure to obtain it, logically, must be met with a devastating outpouring of emotion. Otherwise, it is as if you simply didn't care enough!

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But is that really true?

Does my big emotional reaction to failure mean that I cared enough? Or is it merely an excuse not to work on ourselves to better learn to accept that which is thrown at us?

The ability to accept is integral to a happy life.

Why is it then that we find it strange if someone is able to accept their circumstances with the snap of a finger?

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Because it is difficult for most of us. We find it incredibly challenging to detach ourselves from the ensuing disappointments, feelings of injustice, anger, and resentment. We find ourselves easily lost in the fears that come along in an uncertain future.

Isn't that all the more reason, though, to learn the art of acceptance? Don't we all want to be free from the pain of disappointment, the stress of anger and the anxiety of fear?

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I say yes!

The person who is able to accept the circumstances around him, in fact, cares so much about the happenings of his life that he does not want to waste a single second in self-loathing, pity, grief or pain. He knows that those emotions will arise, but there is no reason to get lost in them.

They can exist but they do not have to stop him from moving on and continuing to live life to the fullest.

Cultivating the ability to accept is a form of self-care. It is knowing your human limitations, recognizing them and allowing yourself to be free from suffering. It is knowing when it is time to let go, to stop resisting the flow of the Universe and understanding the importance of capitalizing on every living and breathing moment.

It is understanding deeply that you shape and create your life with your thoughts and feelings and so choosing to accept and let go rather than resist and suffer in order to create a happier future.

So the next time you see someone not suffering as how you think they ought to based on the events of their life, don't judge them. In fact, perhaps admire the strength they have to continually choose to accept what happens to them rather than channel energy into suffering and choose to learn from their way of life to benefit your own.

Who knows, you may just be happier.

Cover Image Credit: Mathew Schwartz

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To Those Who Feel Everything So Strongly, Do Not Let Your Empathy Crush You

Empqthy and You

I’ve talked about a lot of things on this website, and ultimately, they all have one thing in common: they exhaust me. Every time I write an article or a journal entry or a homework assignment for one of my many classes which focus on human suffering and how to address it, I wind up completely burnt out. My emotions come at me from an alternate angle—as if they were not my own—and I just want to lie down somewhere and sleep. Problem is, sleep won’t fix that kind of tired.

You see, I’m not writing this article to commiserate about how hard it is to be black in America—or on Wake’s campus—or how hard it is to be broke in America—or on Wake’s campus. I’m writing this short little piece of me down to tell the people out there like me that it is okay to get tired. It is okay for you to back off all the save-the-world projects and save-your-friends projects sometimes. It is okay to go home and sleep like the dead for a week instead of going out and doing what other people think is fun. It is okay. But what isn’t okay is taking on all the problems you encounter at the expense of dealing with your own.

For those of you like me—those of you who feel everything so strongly that it seems every day has the potential to crush you—it is important to temper your own empathy. This isn’t to say that you need to lose some of it—lord knows I couldn’t get rid of any of the empathy in my heart if I tried—but you have to learn how to manage it. If that means completely unplugging from life over spring break, do so. If that means talking to a counselor once a week or once a day, do so.

If it means meditating or doing martial arts or reading, please do so, because the world needs you and your empathy more now than you could ever know. The world needs people like us, people who can’t look at the news and mean it when they say, “Whatever, people die every day.” The world needs compassionate teachers, doctors, food service workers and mail-carriers. The world needs more empathy, and it won’t have it if you let your empathy crush you.

Ultimately, this piece is for those of you who are beginning to wonder whether or not there is a point to trying to change anything. This is for those of you who are so tired that it doesn’t matter what you do, you remain that way. This is my acknowledgement—however little that may mean—that you are not alone with how you feel.

The weight of the problems you are trying to face are not yours alone, and you can shoulder the burden, but you must have help and you must make sure you maintain your own emotional, psychological, and physical strength to do so.

This world is fucked up in a million different ways—I won’t deny it, but without empathy and without compassion, we can’t do anything about it. Without you, we can’t do anything about it. So, as I said in a speech once: “It’s okay to lose hope sometimes, as long as you find it again,” because, without hope in the face of everything hurting the world, without those of us who are willing to understand, listen, and feel what others feel in order to address the problems we see, the world will die. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be the one who lets that happen.

Cover Image Credit: Alexander Holt

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