Why You Should Seek Gratitude At Your Lowest Lows

Why You Should Seek Gratitude At Your Lowest Lows

There's always something to be grateful for.

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It happened. I hit a point where I felt broken.

I always try to keep a positive outlook and a radiant optimism in every situation. But when it got to the point where it was exhausting to keep a smile or useless trying to brighten someone's day– I felt like I was malfunctioning. There is no more of a sickening feeling than the feeling that you've lost your radiance.

It's so easy to spiral into a cone of negativity. It just feels so easy to go from one thing that's gone wrong into a giant array of things — things that should be minuscule. So when I reached that point this past week, I wallowed for a long time. It took me a long time to get out of bed, to stop the tears from flowing and to gain the confidence to look people back in the eye. People were noticing it around me and I couldn't help but feel ashamed for being so drastically uncharacteristic.

But during a late night of not sleeping — my thoughts began to go in a different direction. During this life on Earth, there is nothing in our own control. Small things, yes. But ultimately, not getting a certain job, not getting the boy, not getting selected into a society or something is not up to you. What you can control is your outlook on it.

For this reason, I have chosen gratitude. I'm thankful to be where I am and to be surrounded by the people I have. In my four years of college I have made the best friends and together we have created amazing memories — so when the positivity is hard to reach it's important to remember why you care so much. I'm thankful to have enough passion to care about a goal to highly that when it's not achieved I'm devastated, and seeking gratitude for those and with those around you makes failure a much easier burn to handle.

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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

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A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."

Disbelief

Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.

Confusion

It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.

Anger

For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?

Regret

Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.

Pain

The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


Heartache

This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.

Numbness

For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.

Longing

This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.


In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."


If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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Dear Moms, Stop Body-Shaming Your Daughters

Your voice matters the most.

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Maybe I am just really lucky. Maybe I won the jackpot of all mothers, but I didn't know it was that crazy for a mother to never make her daughter feel insecure.

It wasn't until I came to college that I realized that mothers body-shaming their daughters was even a thing. As I became closer with other young women I would often hear them saying how their moms told them what they could and couldn't wear, or they would make vicious remarks.

"You disgust me."

"That dress makes you look like a pig."

"I can't believe you would go out like that."

"Girls like you can't eat whatever they want."

"You're embarrassing the family."

No matter what I say to my friends, no matter how much I insist they are beautiful, your voice will always be in the back of their minds. Every single time they go shopping, every time they go out for dinner or post a picture on social media, they think about how you wouldn't approve.

This isn't to say that discussing a healthy lifestyle is off the table, but how you say things matters way more than you realize. Being a woman in college is hard enough. It is difficult to consistently manage all aspects of your life when you have 3 papers due by the end of the week and 2 tests on the same day. So maybe she puts on a few pounds, do you think mentioning that is going to make her less stressed?

As young women, we are constantly told that we are not good enough. We are shown what the ideal body and woman should look like. We are unbelievably aware of what our bodies look like and what is wrong with them. The last thing we need is for our role models to reinforce those unrealistic expectations.

I have heard the argument that you only "do this out of love", but love should never hurt. Is it really worth your daughter starving herself? Is it worth her throwing up after meals then binge eating? Is it really worth her starting to self-harm? Love is supporting somebody through the good and bad parts of their lives.

What you say not only impacts the way your daughter is viewing herself physically but makes her doubt other areas of her life. What you aren't seeing is that she is staying in that shitty relationship because you've made her feel like she'll never get or deserve better. She will quit studying because she thinks she will never be good enough anyway. She will let others walk all over her because that's what you've told her love is.

I am telling this because she never will- you are hurting her way more than you will ever help her.

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