Dear The Boy Who Let Me Go Two Nights Ago,

I REALLY liked you. And from what you told me, you really liked me, too. It was the long distance, we said, that was coming between us. But while I would have dropped everything to make a first date/anything happen, drive thousands of miles and hours just to see your face, the feelings didn’t seem to be mutual. I had to practically beg you. Was I fooling myself? Should I not have believed all the things you told me over text, phone, and Facetime? All the times you told me you missed me more than you’d ever missed someone before? All the times you told me I was different, special? How do you let someone so “special” go then?

You told me you didn’t want to hurt me anymore, keep me waiting, wondering. You told me the timing was just off. I agreed. But do I really? Couldn’t we have made it work? During the four months we were texting, how is it that we never saw each other? 7 hours—that’s all there is between us. Living in a Universe so big, 7 hours is nothing.

Kindred spirits, we called ourselves. We talked about religion, politics, the Universe, our day, how much you wanted to kiss me, how desperately I wanted to touch you… and yet, there were those 7 hours.

I find myself getting angry as I write to you. Seven. Hours. That’s all. I have no choice but to believe you didn’t feel what you told me you felt. I know life was in the way, but what did you expect when you finally admitted your feelings to me? What did you want to happen then?

I tried. And failed. Did you even try?

You are one of the nicest men I have ever met, but there is no denying that I feel played, led on. A part of me regrets the last few months. A part of me wishes we had never gone down the road we did. A part of me wishes I didn’t have to sift through these anxious, angry, frustrated, disappointed thoughts I have now.

You said we should part ways because you were afraid of hurting me so bad that I’d rue the day I ever set eyes on you. Ironic, then, that a part of me does.

I would like nothing more than to spend even just an hour in your presence. That’s all I really wanted. And if you couldn’t give me that, I suppose letting me go, letting you go, was for the best. If I can’t get an hour of your quality time, how can I expect anything more?

I suppose, then, we did the right thing. I only wish you hadn’t said some of the things you did. I only wish I didn’t have your sweet whispers and promises to replay in my head every night before going to sleep, as I desperately try to figure out what I did wrong. Because, if you said you wanted to see me, you would have made it happen. Since you didn’t, then you must have not felt as strongly as you led on.

That, my dear, is what you’ve left me with.

Feelings of inadequacy. I do thank you, however, for showing me what I need to do now. I need to find my own self-worth inside myself, and learn to never rely on someone else for something like that. I plan to avoid how I feel right now in the future. I’ve indentified MY problem; it’s time I fix it.

I wish you the very, very best.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Yes, I made a new blog

Okay, so I liked my “lessons” theme before, but I thought of a better one. So I made a new blog, and BROUGHT YOU ALL ALONG WITH ME.

Why “SincerelyStephanie”? Well, because I want this new blog to be a epistolary blog, made of letters…from me… to the people/events/things/ideas of the world. See, for the last year or so, I’ve been writing letters to get my thoughts out on paper. Letters to my ex-boyfriend, my roommate, my mom, my crush, my friends, etc. None of these people, however, have seen these letters, and they never will. They’re just a way for me to keep my thoughts, negative or positive, from boiling over and erupting inside my head and then melting my body down to a stub as they waterfall to the floor. Too graphic? Yes. Always.

So, on this blog, I’ll be writing a range of different letters: to the asshole who cut me off in traffic the other day, to my lovely used-to-be-roommate who is currently on her way to Portland to LIVE, to my stupid brother, to Republicans, to Donald Anti-Christ Trump, to my cat, to my headache I had last night that nearly killed me… AND SO MUCH MORE.

Honestly, I’m really excited about this blog, and I can’t wait to get started!

Sincerely,

Stephanie (starting to get it?)

Lesson #15: Depersonalization is not forever, Part III

[I’ll add pictures later, I promise. WordPress was being a dick…]

The worst thing about depersonalization is believing that it won’t ever go away. Until it finally does. Time really is the best medication, but the thing about time? You can’t control it.  Unless you can see the future, you can’t count on it. You just have to wait and see. 

I had made the mistake of researching depersonalization (DP) online, where of course, I found people who were equally as freaked out as me. They talked about having DP for over 20 years, how it would never go away, how it had ruined their lives. It’s easy to believe that kind of stuff when you can SO relate. It felt like DP was forever–maybe it was…

And then I decided I needed to stop reading all that negative stuff. I didn’t need that. If you believe it’s gonna turn out fatal, you’re setting your fate. It WILL turn out fatal.

So I looked up DP recovery stories, where I found loads of different stories online from people who had somehow gotten past DP–oftentimes, just by keeping a positive attitude. Taking care of yourself. Changing your diet. Finding your passions. Exercising. Most importantly, stop thinking about DP so much.

So I tried all that, and it took a while. Longer than I wanted it to. I wanted immediate results after all. Don’t we all? And then I practiced patience. I sought out volunteer opportunities. I started writing more, specifically on this blog. I got a cat–my precious little Peter Pan kitty. I took Yoga classes at the encouragement of a friend. I confided in people who cared. I found a new therapist. I’m now teaching tap classes. I. Took. Action. That’s the most important thing. Be patient. Give it time. And take action FOR YOURSELF. Learn to love yourself. Learn to love what you have. Take time to meditate. BREATHE. SLOW DOWN.

DP is a defense mechanism. If you don’t slow down, your brain will stay in that place, where it thinks it’s safe. Show your brain a world where you can BREATHE, where you have TIME to love your life.

That’s why I’m where I am today. Not depersonalized. Excited about possibility and life! I can’t promise you or myself that it won’t come back. But knowing that I’ve gotten through it before, I can rest somewhat easy knowing I can do it again. Depersonalization IS NOT forever! It may feel like it, but it’s not. But YOU HAVE to take action.

I won’t say I feel blessed for going through what I did, but I did learn a lot about myself in the process. I was forced to better my attitude and my life. I might not have done that otherwise. So, yes, I’m thankful. Use those challenges in your life that you think you’ll never get over to learn valuable lessons and better yourself. And then, one day, you’ll wake up in the morning feeling so much better than you did two months ago. Not perfect, mind you. But better.

I won’t tell you how long it took for me to get over my DP, because everybody is different. The worst thing you can do with DP is compare yourself to other people. Your healing period will happen as it needs to. It will take as long as YOU need. But please email me if you have questions or need help. Reach out if want support!

Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. Be healed. 🙂

Lesson #15: Depersonalization is NOT forever, Part II

In Depersonalization is NOT forever, Part I, I told you about how I came to know depersonalization. I told you about the mysteries it created in my life. I told you about the fear I experienced, at simply not having answers. And then I found my answers, in this article.

And I believe that’s where we left off.

This article helped me simply because it gave me a name for what I was experiencing.

Do you not feel real? Yes!

Do you almost feel like you’re dreaming while awake? Yes.

Do you feel like you’ve been dropped on another planet? OMG YES!

Does it get worse when you focus on it? HOLY COW, yeah!

CONGRATS! YOU HAVE DEEEEEEEPERONSALIZATION (DP)! 

Learning that DP is simply a defense mechanism in response to “recent trauma” or “cannibis” took an immense weight off my shoulders. I urged my mom to read it, as well as my boyfriend. I finally had answers, and the whole world ought to know!

The article goes on to console those people like me who think depersonalization is forever. It gave me tips for “getting rid of it.” For instance, to stop thinking about it, by not talking about it, being aware of it but not giving it my attention. It all seemed so easy! The solution is easy yes, but it’s just applying it that got so hard.

After reading this article, I felt good…for a week or so. I still felt my little friend DP on my shoulder, whispering strange existential questions in my ear, but instead of freaking out over them, I simply reminded myself that this was just my mind’s way of coping with the scary world.

And then it got harder again. I thought maybe this whole DP thing WAS forever. Suddenly, I didn’t want a name for my issues! I just wanted them to go away. I was angry at myself for smoking the pot. I felt like a virgin having sex for the first time and then finding out she contracted HIV. I felt like one decision has ruined the entire rest of my life.

Journal entry from 4/29/15: Anxious. Anxious. Anxious. Feel trapped. And scared of feeling this way forever. The world seems so scary & dark when I’m like this. I can’t deal with death. Thinking about it, it makes me wonder what the point of it all is. I feel hopeless right now, but I know it’s not forever. Everything just feels so distant from me.

I laid in bed, staring at my ceiling, feeling alone, thinking about morbid stuff like death. Good, clean fun. Nothing felt real, and it was isolating, living alone in my own little world, separated by the rest of the REAL word by a thick veil. I read message boards (BAD) about people who had had DP for 40+ years. Oh God, I thought. That will be me. Of course, it was THAT kind of thinking that kept me trapped in DP-land…

I was still able to work and go about my life, but without fail, at 6 p.m., I’d go to my room and brood. Again, nothing about this was helping me. Also, there was other stuff going on in my life that wasn’t making my healing process any easier.

I sought out a psychiatrist, hoping he’d have some kind of answers for me, but not many people know about DP, which makes it all the scarier. That’s really the main reason why I sought out answers online – because it was the only place I could find them. But, eventually, I realized I needed to stop. I needed to stop reading about people who were “ruined” forever from one stupid mistake with drugs and assuming I was just like them. I tried to be positive, and I relied on my boyfriend and my mom like crazy, but they didn’t understand.

My psychiatrist tried me on different anti-depressants, which didn’t seem to help with the DP. Quick tip: Changing your meds won’t help with DP. DP is a state of mind, and it’s foundation lies in anxiety. So yes, I suppose it could help a little, but really, time and a positive attitude are the only two real therapies for DP. Realizing that can be hard. I’m a control freak, but knowing that it was up to me to get rid of DP intimidated me. It was easier just to assume I’d have it forever. But that’s a defeatist attitude, and it won’t get you anywhere, folks! Patience is a virtue–truly.

It looks like I’m going to have to do a “part III” for this topic, because it’s getting to be too long.

In “part III,” I’ll talk about how I came out of DP, and how I’m thankful to have gone through it. Seriously. As corny as that sounds… it forced me to find peace within myself, which takes a lot of freaking time. I’m still in the process… but to be honest, DP essentially motivated me to start this blog because I learned SO MUCH “in my fight” against it, and I wanted a place to share it. So, with that being said, UNTIL NEXT TIME!

Lesson #16: Depersonalization is NOT forever – Part I

It’s true. Depersonalization is not forever.

This particular lesson means a whole lot to me because it hits close to home. I’ve touched on depersonalization in a previous blog post, where I claim it’s safer to assume you can’t be cured of anything because, if you lead yourself toward false hope, then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.  I still stand by that statement. Things in life always have a way of coming back when we least want them to. What’s that old saying? “Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best”? I respect that idea. It goes without saying that life is not perfect, and it’s certainly not predictable. The best we can do is prepare for the worst, and hope the worst doesn’t happen. But wouldn’t you rather be prepared if it does?

I developed symptoms of depersonalization after a bad high. I’d call it a “trip,” because that’s what it felt like… Believe it or not, I had made it through both high school and college without smoking a single ounce of pot. My parents always told me, “Honey, you won’t like it. You’re an anxious person already.” But I was always curious. Besides, as an aspiring writer, I figured I needed to experience all there is in life. Typical writer excuse. So I tried it, and it was okay the first couple of times–nothing special. But I had my boyfriend monitoring my intake to make sure I wasn’t doing too much. And then, one night, he handed me the bowl and I took a hit, a much bigger one than I intended. To make a long story short, I spent two hours on the floor that night feeling like the room was spinning and wondering why my voice didn’t sound like my own. It was an absolute nightmare. From that night on, I vowed never to do pot again. And I haven’t.

A month or so later, I started to feel generally uneasy. I felt vulnerable, scared. Mundane thoughts began to throw me for a loop. I remember my brother asking me a simple question about numbers and me feeling a sudden rise of panic as I pondered the significance of numbers inside this small reality and why we operate by them. Real existential shit. I remember going to an amusement park and looking at chickens, wondering how it was possible that I happened to live on the same planet as “the Chicken.” REAL EXISTENTIAL SHIT. Almonds! I questioned the lines on an almond! Let’s just say I was high without being high. Naturally, this freaked me out. Life began to feel unreal, as if I were floating above it… I couldn’t connect quite like I had before.

Journal entry from 3/17/15: While do I feel like I’m losing touch? With reality? Am I just anxious? Is this just normal anxiety? Everything–well, not everything–but most things seem wrong. What’s the matter with me? I don’t want to be like this forever. 

When I looked out the window of my apartment, everything outside looked like the backdrop on a stage, sort of 2D. And all the while I grappled with big questions like: Who am I really? What’s my purpose? And the worst… What’s the point?

I had no idea what was wrong with me. I’ve had bad anxiety since I was 17, but this felt different. This just felt wrong. I felt like an alien dropped onto a foreign planet. Half my brain lived on Earth; the other half had floated away, and I had no idea how to bring it back. There were times I looked at my parents and felt like I hardly knew them, as if I hadn’t spent 21 years under their roof, as if they weren’t my best friends!

Journal entry from 4/6/15: Why do I feel like the world isn’t real? Maybe I’m just too focused on that. Maybe I’m just letting it get to me. Everything in front of me is real. I think I’m just scared of it, because no one else will understand it. Hell, I don’t even understand it. And that’s what’s so terrifying. If I don’t understand it, then how can I fix it?

I remember writing that. I remember because I had a REALLY bad panic attack right after. Everything around me felt like it was falling apart. That night, I ended up going home to my parent’s house. I had to work from there for a week, because I was too freaked out by what was happening. But amazingly, I kept it together. A part of me wondered if maybe I was feeling the aftershocks of my horrible high, but I didn’t put two and two together until I started researching online. The best and worst thing to do, folks.

That’s when I came across the word “depersonalization.” This article to be specific. I encourage you NOT to read the comments on ANY depersonalization/derealization forum; it won’t do anything but freak you out. I know because that’s what happened to me. And it caused a WORLD of hurt. Lucky for me, and lucky for YOU, that hurt is NOT forever.

(To be continued…)

Lesson #15: Jack Dawson IS the King of the World

Turns out, Jack Dawson IS the King of the World. He knows his shit.

kingoftheworld

He knew exactly what he was doing when he took Rose to the front of that boat. He was well aware of the fact that if you stand on the railings and stick your arms straight out to the side, whilst rubbing your tush against Leonardo DiCaprio’s crotch, ANY girl will think they’re flying.

Now, my boyfriend, Tim, is, unfortunately, NOT Leonardo DiCaprio, but I love him anyway. He makes me feel like I’m flying in his own way.

There’s something you should know about me. I LOVE the movie Titanic. I was going to say I’m obsessed with it, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. But I do LOVE it (all caps). So, naturally, when I boarded the Freedom of the Seas last week for a one-week cruise, I planned on duplicating every major scene from the movie. At night, when I went to bed in our small little cabin, I imagined a Model-T car to be sitting idly five decks below, just waiting to get steamy. When I went to dinner, I whispered to Tim that I wanted him to slip me a note that read, Make it count. Meet me at the clock. And then, I wanted to meet him at the clock, where he’d ask me, “So, you want to go to a real party?” And then I wanted the scenery around us to magically morph into a wild, Irish music, below-deck dance party where we’d dance all night and I’d drink beer in one gulp and stand on my tip toes and impress all the foreign men around me who assumed high-class girls can’t drink or stand on the tops of their toes.

Well, that didn’t end up happening. But we DID have access to the front of the boat… where this happened…

For the record, I hate fedoras.
For the record, I hate fedoras.

Some random guy took this shot. I think he may have a career in photography ahead of him. I mean, look at this picture. It’s incredible. Speaking of incredible, this experience, for me, was incredible. Not because I felt, for two seconds, like Hollywood’s power couple. But because I actually felt like I was flying! What did I tell you? Jack Dawson, I repeat, Jack Dawson is the King of the World. He’s done us all well.

I was a little embarrassed at first, being so cliche and all. “They WOULD reenact the famous scene from Titanic. Typical white people.” But surprisingly, we weren’t judged. In fact, the guy who took our picture told us his girlfriend just had him do the same thing. PHEW! I gave her a look that read, Jack Dawson, right? So hott. She returned the sentiment with a cocked eyebrow. Now that I think about it, she might have just been confused. But I digress.

not lame

I think Tim finds my love for Titanic cute, because he doesn’t criticize it too often. Conversely, I think it bothers him how frequently I accidentally call him “Jack” in bed. Well, Tim, it bothers me that you won’t call me “Rose” and paint me like one of your french girls! Take a damn art class, you uncultured sloth.

I’m not obsessed, I promise!

Ok, maybe a little...
Ok, maybe a little… Damn.

Tim, I love you. And you’re an amazing sport. Thank you for putting up with me… I couldn’t ask for a better adventure buddy. {End sap.}

Lesson learned? Jack Dawson IS the King of the World. He deserves some kind of award. 

Ooohh... awkward
Ooohh… awkward

Lesson #13: There’s nothing more pretentious than cruising

There’s nothing more pretentious than cruising.

And when I say “cruising,” I don’t mean riding along with your four best buds around town, throwing empty beer cans at the elderly, and rapping to Fresh Prince of Bel Air. 

Hey, why not?
Hey, why not?

By “cruising,” I mean getting on a  gigantic boat with a bunch of rich people and exploring the world, preferably the warmest parts.

Well, I’m just the type of person who enjoys being more pretentious than everyone around me. That’s right, I’m cruising tomorrow–Royal Caribbean, brah. From Florida, to Haiti, to Jamaica, to Grand Cayman, to Cozumel, and back to Florida. I think I might have gotten the order wrong, but whatever; I’m just along for the ride.

The best part? I’m going with my boyfriend, Tim. (Yes, my boyfriend, Tim, has the same name as my my dad. What of it?) Tim is my best friend, and just the kind of person I want to explore the world with! Makes dating him a little more convenient. That, and because he likes cheese dip almost as much as I do. He would argue he likes it more. That’s a lie.

Anyway, I’m incredibly excited! From relaxing on the dock, to chilling out with stingrays in Grand Cayman, to endless cocktails, there’s not much more a “more pretentious” girl could want.

Awww
Awww

How have I prepared?

Well, I put off packing until today. 99% sure I packed my entire wardrobe away. I’m sorry, but I need options. My anxiety can’t handle the concept of under packing. I MUST be prepared. And that’s why I got myself a manicure and pedicure today with my mom.

Hell yeah
Hell yeah

Because God forbid I get on that boat with gnarly toe nails. Sounds like blasphemy to me. Or I’m just digging myself an even more pretentious hole. #ownit

[Disclaimer: Do not do a Google-image search of “girl in hole.” You won’t like what you find. Lesson #14.]

I don’t know if I’d call this week’s lesson a REAL lesson, but I needed a way to tell you guys I’d be MIA for a week. But don’t worry; when I get back, I’ll have TONS to tell you about! I’m sure I’ll make countless stupid mistakes and learn a whole lot, like Lesson #14: Do not attempt to take the sting ray home with you, or Lesson #15: If the hypnotist calls people up on stage, stay firmly planted in your seat where it’s safe, or Lesson #16: Put the drink down. Maybe I should just go ahead and preemptively write that last one…

My journey begins at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!! And don’t worry, if you think I sound pretentious now, you just wait. I’ll sound even more pretentious upon returning. HUZZAH!

pretentious

Lesson learned? We’re all more pretentious than we think we are. But especially when cruising.

 

Lesson #12: Rise above the insecurities

Rise above the insecurities. This lesson might be  my most important; though, I’m not quite sure how to apply it yet. It’s proven to be my MOST difficult.

But as they say… once you recognize the problem, you can work on the solution.

I am an insecure person… and as a 23 years old, I’ve never been more insecure. Ironically, it’s at this time in my life that I crave an ease of confidence in myself–an ease that can take me places to discover new things, about myself and the world around me.

But alas… So, with that being said, it’s never been more important for me to rise above the insecurities. How? That’s the part I don’t know.

It’s been a year and a half since I moved out of my childhood home, to live forty-five minutes away from my parents and brother–three people whose lives I covet more than my own. My dad is the funniest man alive. My mom, the sweetest and most selfless. And my brother? Well, there’s something about him, that I can’t quite put my finger on, that I just adore. I often ask myself, Why did I ever move away? I was so happy around my family. I felt loved. Have I simply humored the ideas of society by taking the next logical step–which, apparently, is moving out of your childhood and into your adulthood within the first few months of graduating from college, an hour away from home, and shit-out-of-love? I guess?

I say “shit-out-of-love” because I’m used to living around people who love me unconditionally. But here, in adulthood, I can’t find that. I don’t feel wholly loved–loved so fully that it surrounds me, like a protective shell. Here, on the island of adulthood (or maybe childhood was the island), on which I’ve been ship-wrecked, stranded, left to my own devices, I can’t help but feel alone, truly left to my own devices. Vulnerable. 

People tell me I should be loving my life right now. I should be celebrating my youth and independence. But I can tell you right now, I am not. I am not content. And for that reason, my insecurities are filling the gap my confidence left behind. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve grown in my confidence in other ways. I think I’m great at my job, and I’m pretty good, to a fault, at self-analysis, but when it comes to my self-worth, I’m shot. And all I want to do is be a kid again, when love was never hard to find. When imaginary friends were more loyal than real ones.

(I swear this post ends on a positive note, so keep reading…)

My first instinct is to blame the world and everything/one in it. Don’t we all wanna do that? It’s safer. If we can blame the world, we don’t have to blame ourselves. But as I’ve said before, I am always the problem. No matter what hand we’re dealt, we have control over how we move forward–how we rise above the insecurities.

Let me give you a list of some of my insecurities. Not because I’m a masochist, but because it’s important for us to recognize our shortcomings. That way, we know what areas need the most work.

  1. My looks. I have good days and bad days.
  2. My reputation.
  3. Feeling significant. This is a big one. Most of the time, I wonder if anyone would notice if I simply disappeared. Sad, right?
  4. My future.
  5. My own conscience. I don’t trust myself to make my own decisions.
  6. My words, my motives, and my feelings. I can never tell what’s right and what’s wrong.
  7. Right and wrong.
  8. My brain, because anxiety/depression are a bitch, and I don’t think most people understand it.

I could think of more, but there’s no need. I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not all together sure of myself. And I could make a list of ALL the reasons, all the external stimuli, which have led to my insecurities, but it won’t matter. I can’t brood on the past.

So, now we get to the How? How will I overcome the insecurities? This isn’t some easy task that can be righted by morning. This is HERCULEAN. And anyone with horrible insecurities will understand. Insecurities are their own mind-sets, and they are extremely convincing. If I begin to feel like my friends don’t love me, I WILL BELIEVE IT. I’ll begin to ask myself why my friends haven’t been texting me and assume it’s because I’m boring, or unwanted, or expendable. And whether it’s true or not, my brain IMMEDIATELY comes to the most detrimental conclusion. I’ll begin to feel sorry for myself and say, Well, maybe I’m better off alone. And then, slowly but surely, I’ll begin to resent the world for not meeting my expectations. But you know what? I can’t expect anything from the world.

So, to combat these feelings and find peace within myself, I’ve been volunteering at an Animal Shelter. I’ve started teaching tap classes. I’ve tried to blog more about the lessons I’m learning on my journey of self-discovery. I’m trying–TRYING– to forgive myself and my feelings. I’ve been thinking about pursuing my photography. I’ve adopted a cat simply because I wanted one and named him Peter Pan (we’re the best of friends). I’ve been putting more time into making others happy (I would advise you to limit this, though, if you’re not first happy with yourself. This is something I’m beginning to realize…)

There’s a reason imaginary friends are more loyal than real ones.

Because imaginary friends are YOU, which proves that the only person who can love YOU the way you need to be loved is YOU. When it seems your friends don’t love you, it doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean they hate you or don’t want you around; it means you need a different kind of love right now. It means YOU need to love YOURSELF. You need a Bing Bong.

1923_BingBong_InsideOut_501_copie

At this vulnerable time in my life, I want to be happy. And I can’t rely on others to help me with that. It’s up to me. 

Lesson learned: I have to rise above the insecurities…on my own. 

Lesson #9: Expect To Lose It All This Holiday Season

My Christmas “Lose It All” Playlist

  1. All I Want For Christmas Is My Money Back
  2. Santa Baby [Please Save My Bank Account]
  3. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Poverty
  4. Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain [Dollah Dollah Bills Ya’ll!]
  5. Here Comes The IRS
  6. Do You Hear What I Hear? [The Dry Cough Of My Barren Bank Account]
  7. The Twelve Days Of Financial Insecurity

Ahh, don’t you guys just love these Christmas classics? Me neither.

Lose It All

money-down-toilet

Christmastime is like going to Las Vegas with $1000, knowing you’re going to lose it all, and then losing it all. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts; but it’s buying them that becomes taxing. The worst part comes once Christmas is said and done, after everyone has opened their presents and the excitement of watching their faces when they open their gifts has worn off. The worst part comes late at night, at the darkest hour, when you’re laying in bed alone, surveying your bank account. Only then do you realize what you’ve done. Did you lose it all? Yes, yes you did. You, my friend, just got crapped on by a Christmas Craps table.

4895865
Way 2 go!

And the only person laughing is good ol’ Saint Nick, a contrived symbol of Christmas spirit–a man who prides himself on his ability, or should I say resources (i.e. elf slave labor), to spread holiday cheer across the globe–a soul who’s sole purpose it is to guilt you into fulfilling this gift-giving expectation and spend all your money on pointless things just so you can check off a “good deed” for the year.

Cindy Lou Who _2
‘Lil Cindy was onto something…
Yikes... nevermind
Yikes… nevermind

I sound like The Grinch. I’ll tone down the cynicism, because I’m not really at all cynical about Christmas. I LOVE GIVING GIFTS. But isn’t it interesting that we only do this once a year, excluding birthdays? Why aren’t we giving gifts all the time if it so clearly makes those closest to us happy?

I’ll tell you why… and it starts with a $. Because all that money you’ve saved up so you can move to Chicago in a year–you’d lose it all. Every last drop. At least, it will feel that way. But hey, it doesn’t mean you can’t surprise your best friends and family with a little something every now and then. Heck, I know I’d appreciate it. (Hint Hint)

I just finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, and while it came as a relief, I soon felt a deep, yearning emptiness in the part of my heart that’s synced to my bank account (You’ve got to buy the app). So you know what I did? I took off my pants (as I do when I get home) and got in bed. If I were a robot, the minute I closed my eyes would be accompanied by that sound robots make when they’re powering down, like a jet deaccelerating, a low yrooommmmm. Then begins the recharging period. But because I’m not a robot, I let myself fall asleep, enabling the defense mechanism that prefers to slip away into dream world rather than face reality.

Give It All

Yeah, it sucks having to spend so much money during Christmastime, but there’s nothing like seeing the smile on the faces of the people you’re gifting. There’s nothing like the warm feeling you get in your heart, that trumps the aforementioned emptiness. Yes, giving gifts is selfless, but it’s also self-fulfilling. It feels good to give gifts, at least for me. It feels much better than the regret I feel upon handing my hard-earned money over to the cashier. That’s what it comes down to. If you’re not a gift-giver. Don’t force it. Everyone has a love language, and if gifting isn’t, do something else to show you care during this holiday season. Take your mom out to lunch. Write a poem for your boy/girlfriend. Compliment your best friend all day until they can’t take it anymore. Do what you do best on Christmas Day… unless you’re REALLY practiced in kleptomania. Do us all a favor and try to deny that compulsion, at least for a day, k?

Lesson learned: Expect not to lose it all during Christmastime, but give it all. And expect to be happy about it.

happy_christmas_0051

Lesson #7: Avoid social media at all costs

In the midst of heated debates about gun control and Syrian refugees and gross generalizations about people, religion, and society, it’s been hard for me to keep silent.

I grew up with a conservative father, but I never found much interest in politics. In fact, I’d proudly assert my disdain for all things political. It’s true that, today, I still don’t particularly like “politics,” simply because, to me, the word holds a rather negative connotation (I’ll explain later). Instead, what’s changed is the attention I’ve chosen to pay the world–to what people do, are, and say. I can’t ignore it. I can’t ignore our blatant disrepect for people who need our help. I can’t ignore the hypocrisy spewed by the people claiming to want what’s best for the world. I can’t ignore the fact that I don’t trust our government, because half the members are too prideful to act on behalf of the good of the country. Name one politician who doesn’t act on behalf of themselves these days. But only if you can prove it.

Call me naive, but “politics” isn’t what it used to be. I can’t imagine even half of our presidential candiatates this year care about the issues they relentlessly debate. These days, it’s about power and winning the argument for your “team.” In the end, what matters is the scoreboard. And my biggest question is “why?” I’ve never asked a more important question in my life.

Why? I don’t understand. Why do you think this…? Why do you believe that…? Why are you so…? Why the pride? Why the hypocrisy? Why can’t you see what you’re saying?

But the sad thing is… I fall victim to these things, too. Hypocrisy. Pride. Ego. Cynicism. All the things that make us humans. And the name of our game is self-destruction. Go figure.

Pride leads me to social media, Twitter, Facebook, where I find myself in a heated, yet mature, debate about gun regulations. I always told myself I’d never do this, but as many of you know, it’s incredibly difficult to avoid chiming in when the person who last chimed in presented his opinion with five whole paragraphs and obviously bias, oftentimes incorrect, information. See? I’m getting angry just typing about it. Why? I never wanted to be one of these pretentious people–the people who pride their opinion and demean anyone who opposes it. I’m trying to gain perspective–really, I am. I’ve been reading blogs, articles, whatever I can get my hands on. But it’s hard to gain perspective when we’re all sitting behind computer screens, casting our opinions out into the sea of our “friends,” forgetting that social media gives us the hidden and valuable space, seperate from the real world, where it’s too easy to have a one-sided argument, where we’re tricked into thinking we’re “saving the world” by “liking” a promotional article about defunding Planned Parenthood or filtering our profile pic to the colors of the French flag, where we can provoke opposition and show off our expertise and skill at articulating our views on contemporary issues. Where the media tells us what we should and should not care about.

Have we forgotten what it really takes to save the world? I have. It doesn’t take logging on to social media and looking for posts about guns, or violence, or Muslims so I can give my input and fulfill my desire to prove my opinion worthy, possibly even more worthy than everyone participating. That’s bullshit, Stephanie. It forces me to ask myself, “Do you really care about the issues? Or do you just want to win the argument?”

No, we haven’t forgotten what it really takes to save the world. We’re just too lazy to do it.

Lesson learned: Stop arguing, and start acting.  

Click here and here to make a difference for Syrian refugees.

Click here to gain perspective on Islam.

Click here to help people around the world.

Click here to help those who lost so much in France.

Click here to support teenage Pakistani activitist, Malala’s, fight for education around the globe.