Nobody can tell you how to live reality

Recently, I was with a close friend of mine and she made a comment about my life that didn’t bother me in the moment, but later on I realized how offensive it was.  I confided in my mom about it, and she looked at me and said, “You cannot let anyone tell you how to live your reality.” Those words struck me, hard.

There is no one way to live life.  Everyone’s paths are different; no two should be identical.  And it is none of your business to inform people on how they should live theres.

Now, I’m Christian, and I believe in envangelizing, and have a set of moral and spiritual beliefs that I wish everyone could live by.  The decisions I’m talking about are more neutral; ones in which someone could go harmlessly either way. For instance, college. College is for some people, while it isn’t for others.  I wouldn’t disagree with someone’s decision not to go to college, if they had others means of supporting themself in life.

So I’ve realized not to give people the power of telling me how I should live my reality.  And frankly, telling them to back off.  It’s something I’m trying to get better at.

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I’m not fearless.

Have you ever wondered whether there is a difference between the words “brave” and “fearless?”
I always used to think they were alike, but only somewhat recently did I realize that they were opposites.  I used to strive to be fearless once, but now all I strive to be is brave.

To me, the word “fearless” is an absence of fear.  That you aren’t held back by any fear whatsoever, and are free to do whatever you want to do.  It used to be my goal to be fearless, and I thought it was something high to attain that would take years to master.
That’s when I realized what I should have been reaching for all along was bravery.
To me, “brave” doesn’t mean an absence of fear, but a choice.  A choice to push on and do whatever you are setting out to do, even if you are terrified or shaking in your feet or clouded by doubts.
Brave is a choice to push past these feelings and decide that what you want is bigger than your fears.

So I have let go of trying to be fearless.  There are choices I make in which I am afraid, but despite that, I push on, because I know it will be worth it.
Bravery can come in all forms, big or small, whether it’s going up to a stranger and saying hi, or leaving everything you know and moving across the country for college.
Personally, one of my bravest moments was deciding to go on a month long pilgrimage this past summer.  Although I knew people going, and was excited at the idea of traveling different countries, anxiety put a raincloud over me until it was hard to concentrate on anything else.  To lots of people the situation would just be exciting, but to me it was one big anxiety trigger.  But despite all that, I didn’t let my fears and anxieties hold me back.  I pushed past and was able to go and have some of the best experiences of my life.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to eliminate fears.  But it can be unrealistic to try to force yourself to not be afraid, and have no fears, for something scary.  I see bravery as the alternate of taking a deep breath and saying, “I’m afraid, but that’s ok.  I can do this.”
So next time you are faced with the prospect of doing something but you are afraid, be brave.

Our weaknesses can be our strengths

The other day I was scrolling on the internet, and stumbled across something that put my mindset in a new perspective.  It was a chart listing several mental disorders, and then listing the “strengths” that these disorders bring.
Those with depression tend to score higher on tests, as they have a strong sense of realism.  Those with ADHD can thrive better in disruptive environments.  Those with anxiety have high levels of empathy.

It got me thinking, many view their problems as simply negative, but what if they don’t have to be just that?  What if problems bring their upsides, that one couldn’t have otherwise?
What if the key to dealing with your problems is to use them to your advantage?

This chart doesn’t just have to apply to disorders, but to personalities and characters as well.  I think of it as a scale.  Each personality has its individual strengths and weaknesses, and they balance each other out.  Maybe the reason why so many people have low self esteem is that they focus only on the weaknesses, and don’t pay attention or nurture the strengths.
For example, if you are a person who has a quick temper, and only see yourself as a person who gets angered easily, maybe you aren’t looking at the whole picture.  Underneath this anger may be a strong dislike toward wrongs and injustices, and desiring to change them.  Or maybe you view your quietness as a flaw, but don’t see the considerate, thoughtful nature this can bring.  For myself personally, because of my anxiety, I can be very empathetic and considerate, and easily understand other people’s pain.  So maybe instead of simply viewing your problems as problems, maybe the solution is to view them as something like a secret ally.  This doesn’t mean your struggles will simply be erased.  But looking at your problems through these lens, and nurturing these “upside” traits, can bring you a newfound strength.

Forgiveness.

Sometimes you have to realize you're never going to win:

 

Learning to forgive is something very valuable.  One thing that I have learnt about forgiveness is that often, I have do so because I know it will be more beneficial to myself than the other person/persons.  Holding on to anger or bitterness will not better you as a person, or make you any happier.  So it’s important to learn to forgive, even if the offender is not sorry.
And forgiveness does not equal pardon.  I’ve heard so many people say, “I wish I could forgive so and so, but I don’t think what they did was right.”
Forgiveness is a decision to not hold resentment against another person.  Pardoning is  dismissing what a person has done.  You can be opposed to what a person has done to you, and know it wasn’t right, but still forgive them.  It doesn’t make what they did to you okay.  It means that you have decided to not hold anger or bitterness against them.  So forgiveness doesn’t even mean that this person should remain in your life.  (I’m talking for cases where this is necessary.)
Forgiveness is a choice, like many things in life.  You may not necessarily feel happy with that person, or feel joy or peace about them and the offense.  However, through forgiveness true peace can come.
I know some people may disagree with me, and say there are some people who should not be forgiven.  Forgiveness can be hard.  But for me, only through forgiveness have I been able to heal from the situation, and gain peace and freedom.  Because holding on to resentment is just going to drag me down.
I guess what helps me with this, and makes forgiveness easier for me, is my Christian faith.  Jesus died on the Cross for all our sins.  He forgave everyone.  The murderers, the thieves, the regular people, you and me.  He even forgave the people who killed Him.
Knowing that Jesus could forgive His killers, and knowing that he has forgiven me for every one of my sins puts it all in perspective for me.  How on earth could I not forgive others in return?  How can I expect forgiveness from God, when I refuse to do the same for others?
Forgiveness is not always easy, but it’s freeing.  I promise you, you will not look back and regret the choice to forgive.

 

flowers & people

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I believe there is no such thing as physically ugly people.
Acne, scars, wrinkles, sags-they are all a part of us.  Yes, they might not be necessarily “good”, but they are still a natural part of us.  These physical “imperfections” are inevitable, and we all will, at one point in our life, experience them.
And why are they even called imperfections?
It is natural to have under eye circles.  To develop wrinkles.  To have moles.  To have crooked teeth.  How is the way our human body functions considered “imperfect”?
And it is ridiculous for society to select one physicality, and define that alone as beautiful.  And declare that everybody should want to, and strive to, look like that.
Who would select one flower in a garden and call it the only beautiful flower?  And say that all other flowers are ugly?
All flowers are beautiful.  A tall sunflower, a barbed rose, or a tiny daisy.
No one size.  No one color.  No one shape.
We humans are the same.  All sizes, all colors, all shapes.  Not one alone.
Who is society to tell us that who we naturally are is not acceptable?  That it is something to be ashamed about, and to cover up and mask?
Why do so many happy, carefree young girls grow up to be insecure in a world that preaches “acceptance”?  Why do they hate their bodies?  Why do they cry in front of the mirror?
So the next time you look in a mirror and frown at what you see, remember that you are not ugly.  Your body, your hair, you skin, your face-you are meant to have it.  It is yours.
Don’t listen to society, because it is enough, and beautiful.

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it.  It just blooms.”

No regrets?

I was hit by a thought a little while ago: I don’t really regret anything, and I wouldn’t want to change anything about my past even if I had the power to.
Even though there has definitely been things I could have avoided doing (small example, I have a terrible sense of time and tend to waste it pretty easily) and there’s been times I’ve wished I could change things about my past, now I don’t want to.
I wouldn’t have learnt most of the things I have in life if it weren’t for my mistakes and the things I’ve been through.  I mean, think about it.  If you had the power to, would you really want to change or cut out parts of your past?  Everything happens for a reason.  Everything that happens to you in life-that’s meant to happen to you.
If you erased parts of your past, chances are, depending on how big it is, you’ll be a completely different person today.  Struggle makes you strong, and every struggle teaches a person a specific lesson, maybe a lesson they couldn’t have learnt any other way.
When I developed anxiety at 13, I would always wish that it never happened.  But now I’m thankful for my anxiety.  It’s the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to me.  It’s made me the person I am today, and it’s taught me many things.
If I never developed anxiety problems, I would have been a completely different person because it was something that really altered my life.  And now I realize that it’s also taught me things that I’ve desperately needed.  And I don’t think I would have learnt them any other way.
I think the same goes for everyone.  You need the struggle you have in your life.  It might not seem like it at the time, but later things will start to fall into place and make sense.
Hardship happens to everybody.  There’s no way it can be avoided.  If you could take out one problem in your life, true, you wouldn’t have it anymore.  But chances are, something else will pop up in place of that.
And for the regret thing, I guess I believe this.  I have some of them, but mostly I don’t.  Every mistake is a lesson learned.  If you didn’t make that specific mistake, it wouldn’t have taught you anything.  But if you did make the mistake, and went back and erased it, you’re taking out the valuable lesson learnt because of it.  And we really need those valuable lessons to learn and grow, and to not repeat the same thing next time.
So my thoughts.

{Reflections on reading}

I just finished the Book Thief by Markus Zusak (I know I know, everyone has read that book by now, but I bought it last year and got into a huge reading slump for the longest time, so I only finished it now) and wow…

I was just trying to process all of my emotions after finishing it.  It’s one of those books that after reading, you feel like your heart has been ripped out and stomped on the ground over and over…
but you would totally recommend the book! XD
Haha, that’s how I feel about most books I’ve read. ^  And I don’t know what it is, how we can connect to nonexistent people so deeply, so far as to feel their pain and joy, and to laugh and cry along with them.  And to feel like we’ve visited nonexistent places, and wish we could go back to them.

Well, honestly, I’ve never actually cried at a book before.  I’ve teared up before (like I did for this one) but that’s about it.  It kind of makes me feel heartless, because no matter how sad the book might get, or how sad I’ll get, I just can’t cry at it…I don’t know what it is.

But it’s weird how you feel as if a part of you is gone after reading a really good book.  I’ve actually physically missed the characters a couple of months after finishing a book series.

So can you relate?  Have you read The Book Thief, or what’s the last book you’ve read that made you feel this way?

So before I leave, here is one of my favorite quotes from The Book Thief…

 

~B

“Hidden” inner strength

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So I’ve heard quotes like, “You have so much more hidden strength inside of you than you realize.”  And, “Your strength will come out when you need it most.”
And I always used to like these kinds of quotes, but then one day I realized…I don’t really agree with them.
How I see it: you can start out with little to none inner strength, but through difficult situations, you can gain it.  Strength is something that is created.  
I kind of think of it like training for a race.  You can start out being a completely un athletic person, but if you really want to, through the hard work and struggle of physical training, you’ll start to become a strong runner over time.  You’ll gain muscle and a strong body through the countless exercises.  There will be the ups and downs, and low points, but the important thing is that you must want to continue and not quit.
So I think the same goes for non physical strength.  You can start out having no confidence, no strength-whatever it may be-but through hard situations it can be created.  I don’t think it’s some kind magic superpower you didn’t realize you had.
Just my thoughts.

We need to stop

We need to stop.
I am so tired of hearing, “Oh, I’m so OCD” when someone likes to be neat and orderly. (Which is not even the full definition of OCD, google it.)
Or when someone calls themselves or someone else bipolar because they have mood swings.  Or when someone labels themselves as having insomnia just because they have trouble getting to sleep at night.
The one that ticks me off the most is, “Oh, I almost got a panic attack!”  When someone simply gets freaked out.
No, you did not “almost have a panic attack”.  Do you know how serious they are?  It’s not okay to throw the term around like it’s nothing, when they affect so many people in a such a big way.
Another one that bugs me is when people throw around the words “phobia” and “fear” like they are the same thing.  No, they are not.
Anxiety and fear = not the same thing.
Just because you are afraid of spiders does not mean you have a phobia of them.
This is what a phobia is:

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.

Mental disorder = a serious problem that takes over your life and makes it hard to function like a normal human.  That’s what anxiety and phobias are.  That’s what OCD is.  That’s what an eating disorder is.
So just because you struggle with something a little bit, or maybe slightly more than a little bit, does not mean you have a mental problem.

Some people may think that it’s “overly sensitive” to get upset over things like this.
Um, is it being overly sensitive if I get upset over someone saying, “Oh, I so have cancer?”  When they don’t?  No.  It’s wrong and disturbing.  Just like doing the same for mental problems.
Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t make it invalid.
I know how hard it is to get on the internet and drag your fingers over to the search bar to google “OCD” or “eating disorder” or “depression.”  But I believe in you.  You can do it.
…..Yeah, no it’s not.  It’s super easy to learn more about mental problems.  Read an article online, there’s tons of them.  Pick up a book.  Or ask someone who has a problem, who can better explain it to you.
It’s just so wrong that people rush over to help someone who has a cold or stomachache, but push those away who have DEPRESSION and invalidate it.
You would never go up to someone who has cancer and ask, “Really?  Do you actually have cancer?  Because I feel like you might be making it up.”  Or go up to someone who has diabetes and say, “You know, I think you’re doing this just for attention.”
Or someone who has a cold and say, “Just get over it.  You can control it.”
I just wish we didn’t have the stigmas that come with mental problems.  Just because you have one doesn’t make you crazy.  I mean, I’ve had three mental problems in my life, and I’m not crazy.
So educate yourself on mental problems like you would the same for physical ones.  And just be mindful of those who have to live with and struggle with them.

 

Opening up

Sometimes I wonder…am I too private and closed off?
I’m the kind of person who loves genuine people and deep conversations, but at the same time I don’t like sharing personal aspects of my life. I know, I’m just a mess of contradictions.
Even just telling a friend I’m having a bad day is hard for me. Doing stuff like that makes me feel uncomfortable, and also paranoid. What if the people I share the messy stuff of my life with one day just end up leaving? Especially if they leave on bad terms?
Sometimes I wonder if I am just trying to protect myself by not letting people in, or if this is who I am. I mean, it is a trait of INFJs’ to be “extremely private”.
I mean, I’ve never been an over sharer. I’ve always been a reserved person who doesn’t openly share my thoughts like some other people. But at the same time, sometimes I wonder if is normal to be so…private. And afraid.
I used to have big trust issues because of something that happened to me in the past, and it caused me to be really paranoid and shut off from others. But I’ve gotten a lot better from that since, and I thought I was pretty much completely over it. But now I’m not so sure.
I struggle between wanting to show interest in people and interest in developing a friendship-because I really am-but being too afraid to let them in and open up about myself and my life.
I have some really great friends, but I still find it hard to tell them stuff like what I did that day, or open up to them about something I’m struggling with, no matter how small it may be. I’m just afraid that letting people in will end up not being a good choice, and that something bad will happen because of it.
I feel like I can just end up coming across as not interested, which is not my intent.
I try to tell myself that people will come and go in my life, and that’s normal. But I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to accept it. Not everyone will leave my life on bad, terrible terms.
I also just feel like I keep too much to myself, and don’t know how to vocalize what’s going on in my head.
So can you guys relate? Do you have trouble opening up?