Stress and Journaling: An encouragement to write

I’ve been literally filling journals with my thoughts, problems, prayers, memories, joys, and tears since I was able to write somewhat cohesive sentences. I have a few short entries from when I was about 5 years old in a little diary with two little bears on the front of it. Back then, my problems were so simple – one such entry was from 1996, and I wrote “I will never forget my bum bum hurt.” Bless my little heart. And bum-bum. It was nothing a little Preparation-H could have solved. You can read more entries from that diary here.

Journals Bookshelf

From ages 6-12, I would occasionally write but I think I spent more time playing outside (in the street because we were rebels…and lived on a tiny side street that everyone complained should have been a one-way), watching movies and TV and the like. My writing really picked up when I was 13; eighth grade was when boys started showing interest in me, so naturally that was something exciting to write about.

But with that came frustration and heartache as I realized that these boys were not really giving me attention because they liked my good-natured heart, were intrigued by my silly personality, were ensnared by my sense of humor, or because they wanted to be that knight in shining armor that Disney hyped me up for. Nope, these guys [read: high school boys] were only noticing me and showing interest with hopes for physical pleasure. And when they didn’t receive what they wanted, they swiftly moved on to someone else who would gladly give it to them.

So at that time, most entries were about boys, friends, and my life. As high school progressed, my writing became more frequent, the entries became longer, and my ability to write became more fluent. I know that many entries probably reiterated the same feelings over and over – it was my way of dealing with issues because I was not one to lay my burdens on others or tell secrets to friends. I was always close to my mom, but I didn’t want to put my (seemingly) silly, high school level complaints and issues on her; she had enough to deal with already. I know she was always willing to listen and offer advice, but I just could never bring myself to tell her at the time it was bothering me.

So my journal became my friend and confidante. Yep, I know that sounds super strange and quite pathetic, but at the same time, I am now able to look back at how I was feeling for more than 10 years of my life. Not many people can say that, so I think that’s pretty cool. I can go back and see the crazy rollercoaster that has been my life, with lots of ups and downs, knowing that everything in those journals has miraculously led me to where and who I am today. Cheesy, but whatever.

To make my entries and writing more fun (or maybe personal?), I started to write each one in a different color. There was never any pattern or set rotation; I would simply pick a color that I hadn’t used in awhile, maybe the color of the shirt I was wearing, or a color that matched my mood. Many entries are on the sad or frustrated (even depressed, if I looked back at it now) side and were, therefore, in black. Those were days when I honestly felt I had no one else to turn to, so I needed to write my feelings on paper in order to get them out of my head. It was therapeutic in a way.

ALL the journals

I have many memories that I can look back at and know exactly what day they happened. Lots of high school memories with friends, my high school boyfriend, my mom. Then there was college – a lot of difficult ones take place then. The time after college was probably the most depressing of all – that’s when I was still dealing with the emotional impact of the break-up of my long-term relationship, leaving the safety and comfort of college and the new friends I had made, still unsure of things with Tom who moved away after college, trying to figure out a job situation, dealing with my Mom moving into a nursing home, and living in a house all alone at the age of 22. Whew, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

So anyways, I want to encourage anyone reading this to write. If you’re dealing with a hard time at work, at home, at school: write! Even if it’s just a temporary way to let your emotions out, jot ideas down, get your thinking juices flowing (weird phrase, but okay): write! Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer: write! You don’t have to have a poetic flow or use crazy big words or sound sophisticated at all – it’s for your personal use, your eyes only, so who cares? Get it yet? WRITE for goodness sake!

Now, obviously there are other mediums in which you could let your stress out: music, video, sports, other exercise, cleaning, organizing, etc. Part of the reason I have this blog is to share my ideas and get some emotions (whether silly or serious) out of my head! I still write in my journal every now and then, but this is the place where I can share ideas so that I might help others in the process. When I need to get something out and I don’t have Tom to talk to at the moment or if it’s something I want to remember, I write it in my journal.

I also want to encourage you to seek out someone that will sincerely listen to your hardships without judgment or criticism. I know it’s not easy – I know I could have confided in my Mom for these things, but back then I honestly thought I had to figure things out on my own and keep her from unnecessary stress. I have since learned that it is important to hear and share ideas with others because collaboration is an awesome thing!

Talk to a parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, anyone who you are close to and whom you can confide and feel comfortable with. Someone who won’t judge you or criticize you, but will also not beat around the bush and throw a bunch of fluff into their advice. Honest but truthful, caring but not judgmental. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Yes, you’re more likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Yes, it’s hard to be vulnerable with people and show real emotions. But it’s so healthy to let your feelings out instead of letting them fester inside of you; I’m 99% sure that my Crohn’s flare-ups were caused by my inability to let out my emotions. Honestly, the stress of keeping things in literally started eating away my insides. Gross. I’ll stop now.

So your assignment is to go (you guessed it) write; you can always open up a Word or Google doc, but I prefer handwriting journal entries. Either buy a composition notebook from the dollar store or one of those fancy journals from Barnes and Noble. Even a napkin will do! Just grab something to write with and something to write on, and start writing! Don’t force it but write what’s on your mind. Let it flow. You can sing that to the tune of Frozen. You’re welcome.

Entries

Taking Stock.

I got this idea from Hannah [The Art in Life] and thought it would be great to take inventory (or, as the title states, take stock) of my surroundings and life every once in awhile. Mostly because it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of work, the vast possibilities of the internet (I could watch YouTube and/or Netflix for hours), and the stresses of days past, present, and future.

So I decided to take this post for a spin. Some of the items are a little questionable and not very applicable to me…like, sewing and bookmarking…so I took those out.

Enjoying: Re-watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Andy Dwyer is amazing. As are Leslie, Ron Swanson, and everyone else. Except Jerry. He sucks.

Waiting: For Tom to wake up. He’s been on a really strange sleep/wake schedule, so I’m hoping he’s not out for half of the day.

Liking: The yoga channel I found on YouTube – I have now done 4 days of the 30 Day of Yoga series. I like doing it on days when I don’t workout at school with my co-worker. Adriene is calming but also quirky and makes yoga enjoyable, not boring or awkward.

Making: I’ll be making a couple lessons for Monday and Tuesday today.

Cooking: Well, I just had cinnamon raisin toast and two hard-boiled eggs with coffee for breakfast. Tom and I will be making a couple dishes for tomorrow’s Super Bowl party at our friends’ place.

Drinking: Lots of water – I’m trying soooo hard to drink the recommended amount for my weight everyday (8.5 glasses)

Reading: Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. I just started it this week and it’s so interesting already. I recently finished The White Queen by Philippa Gregory which was long but interesting.

Wanting: A FURRY CREATURE TO LOVE AND SNUGGLE WITH!!!!! And a house so we can have more than one furry creature. Preferably cats and dogs. No sloths because they’re just disgusting and ugly.

Looking: Always looking for inspiration and for ways to be healthier and happier.

Playing: Not at the moment, but I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on our PS4; I’m about 27% through the game.

Wishing: I wish I could pay off my student loans, like, yesterday. Such a big source of stress for the next 10 years…

Wondering: When we’ll start getting rid of some of these comic books taking up space in our apartment (and my mind).

Loving: YouTube and Netflix, as usual. Favorites on YouTube at the moment: Nikki Phillippi (health, lifestyle, and inspirational themes), Grace Helbig (just plain hilarious), Mamrie Hart (again, hilarious + alcoholic beverage recipes), and of course the Saccone-Jolys (Irish daily vloggers with 2 adorable kids).

Hoping: I’m hoping to be productive today. The past few weekends have proven super unproductive which isn’t always a bad thing, but I would love to change the course of how my weekends are spent.

Marveling: At where God has taken and brought me in life. High-school Holliday would never have believed where post-graduate school Holliday is right now.

Needing: Ugh, I need to do laundry and go grocery shopping and clean the apartment. What are weekends good for?

Smelling: My amazing candle warmer warming up an amazing scent I ordered from Etsy two years ago. It’s called Plumberry Spice. It’s amazing. I already said that, but seriously it is. I just went to find it so I could link the wax melts, but the shop no longer sells them – Nooooooo!!!!!

Wearing: Pajamas, of course. Again, it’s Saturday.

Following: My gut? I think? Oh, I’ve also been adding a bunch of blogs onto my Feedly. Any suggestions for your favorites?

Noticing: The tightness in my left shoulder every time I inhale. Need some yoga today. And a massage.

Knowing: I know so much about makeup from watching millions (okay, not millions, but at least hundreds) of beauty videos, and knowing I own a few good products, but never actually wearing a full face of makeup. I want to, but then I sometimes feel like it would be a waste of time. Tom doesn’t like lots of makeup either. Also, I don’t feel like risking a break-out and a bunch of clogged pores.

Thinking: About what the heck the next unit for my Integrated Algebra II class should be…suggestions?

Feeling: Tired. And bored. And sore and tight from working out/yoga-ing.

So there you go! Definitely give it a shot – it’s always good to get in touch with your emotions (sappy, yeah; necessary, of course). I’m sure if you did it once a week, you might start to become more positive and more aware of your thoughts and feelings.

Jealousy and FOMO

I’ve been pretty jealous lately. And I know I shouldn’t be. But I have been. It could just be that I’m tired or simply a female with emotions. I try my hardest to let things that cause these feelings slide off my back, but it’s not easy.

Lizzie McGuire gifPlus, with the invention of Facebook and other social media outlets, avoiding jealousy has become even more difficult. I can’t go a day without checking my newsfeed (about 100 times) and seeing new pictures of proposals, engagement rings, weddings, baby bumps, and baby pictures. Then there are all the statuses to accompany new jobs, new homeowners, and mushy couples declaring their love for each other. A whole lot of happy people enjoying happy things taking place in their happy lives.

And I get jealous.

Well, now that I sound like a complete crank, let me just say that I am in no way complaining about my life. I understand that this is most definitely a first world problem and I have no reason to be jealous when there are starving people in China, Ethiopia, and, oh yeah, America.

But let us, just for a second, put that aside and talk a little about FOMO. A couple months back, I wrote a post about the “Fear Of Missing Out” or FOMO for short. Basically, in this day and age, we have so many issues involving commitment and “doing stuff” because we always feel like there might be something better going on. We don’t want to lose out on the possible experiences we could have. If we’re already committed to going to that lunch date or that party on Saturday, what other amazing things could we be missing out on? If I take that full-time job, what if something great comes along? Will I want that other job? Will I want both?

Take it from me, I should be in FOMOA (FOMO Anonymous) because I constantly crave doing things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a night here and there to just relax and watch 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars or Revenge. But after that night, I’m over it. I need to be doing something. I feel useless and lazy without a task that needs to be completed. When I went home 2 weeks ago, I had almost every minute booked before I even bought my bus tickets.

When I was working multiple jobs at a time, I still felt as though I should have been doing more. I wanted more time with friends. I wanted more hours at work. Now this may be due mostly to the fact that I was living in my house alone, constantly going stir-crazy, but I digress.

And now I’m in NYC and feel as though I have not done nearly as much as I should have done in the first 5 months. Granted, I have gone to a hockey game and a concert and a lot of my time has been devoted to school. I’ve eaten at a few restaurants and have found some good places to run. However, I have only gone to one museum, and it was for a class project. I avoid finding awesome places to eat because I don’t have money to blow on wonderful food. Instead I buy a loaf of bread and make PB and Nutella sandwiches all day, everyday.

Touristy stuff is expensive and shopping costs money. On top of that, I am already taking out huge loans for my brand name education. I do not have a consistent income and I feel completely lost as to what on earth my future holds – what do I want to do with my life? Will I even make it in teaching? Do I have what it takes?

And then I get on Facebook and see all of these posts and photos of friends and family who seem to have their lives together. They are happy and life is just working out for them. They are buying cars and houses and getting married and adulting.

Bridesmaids gif

I understand they too have encountered roadblocks, potholes, dead ends, and whatever other traffic situations that can be applied to life’s trials. But you don’t see that on Facebook or Instagram. And why would you? Other than those annoying people who post their every emotion, pictures are generally happy and show off the best aspects of their lives.

We want to show off the awesome time we had at a bonfire with friends. We want people to envy our newly toned bodies, or the fact that we attended that off-the-wall party this past weekend, or that we got to travel to an exotic place. So, is it all just a game to show how important and awesome we are?

Mean Girls gif

We hesitate to unfriend people because then we will lower our “coolness stats” or Klout scores, and therefore seem less awesome. So then we wonder who would want to be our friend in real life.

So how do we overcome this pressure to look awesome, like our life is completely solid and we know what we’re doing? I guess one option is to disengage from all social media sites until you feel restored of your self-confidence. And I’m serious about this one. If it is honestly hurting your self-worth that much, take a break. Stop obsessing over everyone else’s life and go make your life awesome.

And then come back and post that stuff on Facebook to make everyone super jealous!

Just kidding.

I’ve recently been told the secret is to “fake it til you make it”. Everyone has heard this old adage and I guess you could make that work for you. But don’t you think that’s pretty much lying to everyone, including yourself? I mean, listen, if you have the confidence to just B.S. your way through things, great. Good for you. If it gets you where you want, cool. But I think it could create sticky situations because you’re basically creating a false-self. Maybe it’s a better self, and maybe that’s the boost you need. But not all of us are built for that.

Elf gifI’m not a good liar. I suck at lying and deceiving people because I hate being lied to and deceived by people myself. It makes me uncomfortable. And since I blush pretty easily, being uncomfortable is super obvious with my pale skin. Instead, I do my best, I try to be as true to myself as possible, and hope it works out. I hope and pray that people might just like me for me, even for just a tiny reason.

But I think what people need (or maybe just what I need) are better ways to improve self-confidence without having to resort to shutting out the world or lying our way through. I want to be the best person I can possibly be without constantly feeling the need to compare myself to all of those [seemingly] happy people I see on my computer screen. But it bugs me that I can’t simply be happy for them, and that there has to be that dichotomy between joy and envy.

So anyways, what sorts of strategies do you use to pump yourself up? How do you control your jealousy and self-consciousness in order to be yourself? Talk to friends? Family? Listen to music? Talking yourself up in a mirror?

In the mean time, get it girl (or guy).

White Chicks gif