I’ve been having a hard time lately, a state I’ve been fondly referring to as my “quarter-life crisis.” And while I am accustomed to finding solutions if I look hard enough, the more I look to make myself feel better, the more confused and sad I get. But hey, I guess that means I’m going through some sort of growth spurt, and that this discomfort is necessary for me to be a happier, healthier me. But all this thinking and analyzing hasn’t gone to waste: here are 5 bits of wisdom I thought were worth sharing with you.
1) It’s okay to ask for what YOU need. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
I’ve never been good at this. I put everyone ahead of me and consult my own feelings last. But, I am learning that this is failing to love myself. Which is not selfish., but so so necessary! The other component to this is that I think if I ask for what I need, I will lose the people around me I’ve been trying so hard to keep happy. A part of me knows that, if I do, I do. That’s a hard pill to swallow. But lately, people have really been surprising me. I am learning to trust that the good ones will stick around.
2) Pay attention to your dreams.
I mean this in two ways. Firstly, listen to that little voice deep inside you that is screaming. It’s pushing you towards something, and you should let it have it’s way, even if you have no idea where it’s leading you. Even as I write this, I have a hard time with this one. It’s hard because sometimes your head and your heart say two different things. You’re torn and confused and angry. But I guess, I’ve found solace in the thought that something greater than me is at work. I’m not a religious person, but I am finding more and more that the directions I go are the result of more than coincidence. So trust yourself.
Secondly, I mean your nighttime dreams. Holy cow have they been eventful lately! Trains, bombs, old music teachers, pregnant high school cheerleaders, you name it. They were becoming so vivid and memorable I started to analyze them when I awoke. This is what I’ve discovered: SYMBOLS GALORE! Dreams are really a symbolic representation of your subconscious, and if you listen to them, you can gain some interesting information. While I don’t necessarily think they’re meant to provide an easy solution, they give you little stepping stones for getting there. (I know, how very Jungian of me.)
3) Reach out–you are loved.
When I’m sad or upset, my first instinct is always to hide under my comforter and go it alone. To isolate myself. To spare people the burden. But the more I talk out my problems with friends, the better I understand them. What’s more, is most people want the opportunity to help you. If they care about you, they want you to be happy, so they want to be there for you and help you through hard times. The second part of this is, it may be people you never expected. Hard times tell you who your real friends and family are. That’s become extremely apparent to me lately.
4) There’s always a bright side.
As much pain as I’ve been in lately, I have been trying to hold on to the little bits of sunlight when I can. I’ve bonded more with my mom through this hard time. I understand more fully what love is. I have a new appreciation for the power of art and music. Most importantly, I know that at the end of this growth spurt, I’ll be awakened to a better, happier self (hopefully!). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, just keep your eye on it.
5) Take care of yourself.
You know that old cliche–“you can’t love another until you love yourself.” Believe me, every day I’m finding that to be more and more true. I decided to put something on hold with someone I really care about because I needed to turn my attention to myself for a while. This was a painfully difficult decision for me, one I still question every hour of every day, but I know it’s right for me at this time. I need to get in touch with what makes me healthy and happy, without the distraction of caring for anyone else. So I started drawing more. I started writing more. I started singing more. I stopped drinking almost entirely, and started eating better. I started running regularly. I started going home to see my parents more often. I made girl time more of a priority. I quit my job and applied for one that better suits me. I bought a fish. Each day I spend just taking care of myself, the better I feel. And, come to think of it, I guess that’s the solution I’ve been searching for all along.