I apologize if you’re here just to hear about NYC. Feel free to skip straight down to the “older” arrow and disregard this all together, because this post has little do with NYC (& at the same time everything).
I’ve had a number of conversations with close friends and family lately about timing and life. It’s so fascinating how different life looks when we get the opportunity to look back. We see those difficult times (that were truly, truly difficult) as only a short blip. Even years can look short. Time is such a human construct.
Today I had a reminder pop up on Timehop about a blog post I had shared three years ago entitled “Why I’m not going on a mission.” That post got more attention than all of my other posts combined. Reading it again, three years later was almost bizarre. I felt so disconnected from the girl who had those challenges. I remember feeling like I was drowning. There was no end to the stress and pressure of not going on a mission. It defined every part of me. Now my life resembles none of that.
But in the midst of a personal hell, it’s the longest never-ending torture imaginable. It’s unbearable. It’s irritating when people say things will work out (but what can they say?). It’s the time your journal (& prayers) look like (& are) straight raw emotion and anger.
A few days ago I was looking through my notes on my phone—a semi-regular activity. I found a note from April 2015. I hadn’t read it since April 2015 because the title was “The day in which Self-Hate is a very real thing.” Sad. But true. I hadn’t read it because I never felt strong enough to revisit that very real weak moment in my life. And even though I had essentially banned myself from reading this note, I never deleted it because I hoped someday I would feel strong enough to read it. Mind you, not deleting it is a big deal because I am a compulsive deleter and organizer.
Sitting on my small bed in my tiny NYC apartment last week—I read it.
I read it and then I reread it. I was first impressed by what it said. The pain really brought out beautiful thoughts. Although it did make me sad, I was strengthened by it.
In the note I had outlined things about myself that I couldn’t stand. I talked about how being in my own company without anyone else was difficult. I talked about my anxieties, my insecurities, my tendency to genuinely hate myself when I made mistakes or didn’t live up to an (incredibly) unrealistic image I’d created. (Sound familiar to anyone?)
Here’s part of the note: (Yay vulnerability)
“We’re all growing and changing so much, because we’re human beings. We’re created by a God, a perfect God, & so we aren’t stagnant. Like the age-old escalator analogy we’re always moving whether it’s up or down. But in the last year or so I’ve become so fascinated by the gray space, because there is so much gray. Everything is not straight up or down, there are a lot of angles at play here. & God sends us curve balls to round us back to the track.
With that change comes a lot of growing and I’ve realized that a lot of the things that define me, Bailey, as who I am are things I have such a difficult time loving and accepting.
With all that happened with (insert names here) there was this underlying battle of discredit, this idea of how could they like or accept me because I don’t even like me. I am so incredibly filled with flaws and mistakes. I am made up of all the experiences that have and haven’t happened to me. Everything defines me.”
& now as I read through these specific things (outlined later in the note) that I hated so much about myself, I find peace. I find acceptance. I find change. I’m not perfect and I don’t love myself perfectly, but man do I love myself a lot more than I did in April 2015.
But I want to make something very clear. NYC didn’t fix me. Moving and graduating didn’t change me to suddenly like myself. We can’t just wait for the day when we’ll accept ourselves. It’s not an occasion. That note was written in the midst of change. For the last four years (or more) I have battled (in a very literal sense) with my mindset, my fears, my anxieties, my insecurities, my confidence & myself. It takes a lot of work. I haven’t won the war. It’s not over. But I am very comfortably in the lead.
Coming to NYC didn’t change me, but it helped me to gain perspective. It’s helped me to focus on things from a wider angle. When getting your groceries is an ordeal, you can’t keep worrying about tiny things in your life. & I’m a worrier. I’m not saying I don’t worry in NYC, because that list could take a whole page. But the added perspective is refreshing in a way I didn’t realize I needed so critically.
My point in sharing this, I guess, is to further emphasize that we all need to be a little more patient with ourselves and with others. We need to hold on. IT DOES GET BETTER. I’m not perfect or miraculously ‘healed’ from my ‘problems,’ but I am in such a good place. AND I didn’t do it alone. I had help. Reach out to friends, family and professionals if you need. Needing help is not a sign of weakness, but a chance to be stronger.
I’m sure I’ll be knocked down again and again in my life. In fact, approximately 24 hours after writing this I had a minor-ish breakdown about life. It happens. But taking time to reflect and recognize things like this now is so so important.
Finally—if I had a list of all the comments about how ‘put-together’ and ‘planned’ and ‘happy’ and every other comment that’s been (kindly) sent my way over the last few years, you would be surprised. But in the moments when I feel like a few shreds of a person, just trying to push forward and make the best of life, people think I have it all figured out. You just never know. You never do. Looks can really be deceiving. So be nice to everyone, because even people you’re close with have secret demons and being nice never hurts.
So thank you to everyone (and I mean everyone, which is another list that could go on and on) who has been there for me whether you knew you were supporting me in a much needed way or not. Ultimately, life is good & if it’s not I promise it will be. Just hang on.