I feel like absolute garbage. I know what everyone’s thinking: “What? But you’re spending a month in the tropics with drinking coconuts, surfing and lying on the beach all day!” Although that’s true, and I am extremely grateful for the experience, I’m finding my mind diving head-first into a deep well of negativity.
Inevitably, I ate something weird and have been sick for the last three days. I won’t go into details, but it’s very uncomfortable leaving the hostel and I’m feeling stuck. My body is aching and unable to consume much food, I can’t sleep, and my mental state is starting to suffer. At the best of times, I tell myself stories about how I’m worthless, have no talents and will never amount to anything, but I can usually call their bluff. But today, exhausted and dehydrated, I believe every. single. story. As I write this, I know how ridiculous I sound. If I recognize what I’m doing as self-deprecation, why do I still believe these lies? I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’m not alone in this.
It’s 2019 and we can choose any path we want. We are living in a much more accepting and free world than previous generations. Yet there is an unprecedented epidemic of loneliness, depression and anxiety. People are paralyzed by self-doubt, low self-worth, and all-consumed by what other people think. It’s so easy to become discouraged when we carry the world in our pocket. We scroll through social media and think: “What’s the point? Everyone is so much better than me, more talented, is prettier, more successful, has more money and friends. I should just work at McDonald’s forever (which is awesome if it makes you happy!)” Thoughts that specifically plague me are: “I should quit music, I don't work hard enough, I’m fat, I have no skills, I’m a fraud.” Social media represents such a small percentage of who a person is. Most people only post things that make them look like their “best self”. (I'm guilty of that.) But I guarantee those same people have days like the one I’m having today.
So how do we turn it around, into something positive? When I look at Instagram I want to feel not only encouraged to keep following my passions, but also proud of what I’ve already accomplished. Have you ever scrolled through your own feed with the intention of thinking only complimentary thoughts? When is the last time you took a look behind you and thought “Wow, I’ve come a long way. Go me!” I had a voice teacher in college say to me “Anna! I know you are frustrated. I know you want to be more accomplished than you are now. But if three years ago you could’ve heard yourself sing today, you would be SO impressed.” I keep that as a mantra on days like today when all I see is an uphill climb.
Peeling off even more layers: who are we without the labels we wear? Accountant, singer, boxer, lawyer, vegetarian, hippie, father, daughter, old, surfer, creator etc. Are you proud of who you are, when it’s just you? Who even are you? Everything else is just gravy. I’m pondering this idea and self-reflecting about who I am without the nametags I wear. I think I know, I think I’m proud? For now, as the sun begins to set, signalling the end of this day and start of a new night, I promise to be a little more gentle with myself.