#285: The Trap

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Do you ever feel trapped? Like you’re given to a certain lifestyle for the rest of your life, and there isn’t much you can do about it? Like no matter how hard you try, you’re stuck in a perpetual motion of repeating previous actions from the beginning of your life until your death?

I know that sounds morbid and all, but sometimes I think about what life will be like in ten years, twenty years, thirty or more, and then I remember that life is something we take for granted, that no one is guaranteed to survive forever. An accident can happen, or something totally unexpected. I’d be hesitant to ever say that I know what the next ten years will be like.

I remember being 14, a freshman or sophomore in high school, and barely able to fathom my future at all. I was either a lazy procrastinator, or someone who was punching above his weight in honors classes, trying to fit in among the intellectuals of our grade level. I desperately wanted to be accepted by them, and then at the end of my senior year, in preparation for the senior prom, I remember the ultimate rejection I and other friends faced by certain members of that group. And I remember that so clearly because it serves as an example not to put your trust in others blindly, and to never have your emotional well-being hinge on the feelings of others.

But not all lessons are adhered to easily. Sometimes they take time, but other times they never improve at all. That’s what I mean about feeling trapped, like a hamster in a hamster wheel. That everything has been decided for me by this point, and I don’t have many big decisions left to make. Perhaps I’m over-exaggerating, but sometimes that’s all you can think about, and there’s nothing you can do about it except let those thoughts consume you.

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#279: The Journal

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When I was younger, I used to write in a physical journal, and I carried it everywhere with me. (Have I told this story before? Inevitably, I’m going to repeat myself; not like anyone’s keeping track, but still…)

As someone with low self-esteem and a predisposition towards telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth, my whole life has revolved around pleasing others. But writing is one of my few remaining solitary activities. It’s something I can return to and rediscover my true self and feelings, without reservation. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I truly like something or if I’m just saying I like something to please another person; while writing, I am honest to the only person who consistently reads my writing: myself. Self-esteem doesn’t play a role in my treatment. Everyone deserves the opportunity to discover their voice and allow it to be heard, and a lot has been on my mind lately regarding what I want to do with my life. At age 24, it’s hard not to think of all the ways in which I’ve slowly lost control over things I used to have under control. Appointments, daily routines, large-scale ambitions. Inevitably, all of these things fall apart over time, but I never expected it to be so sudden and apparent to myself.

But that’s a topic for another blog post. Today, I want to solely discuss the act of writing, or keeping a daily journal, as it allows me to flesh out my thoughts in ways I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. In my journals, I am forced to stay consistent with my own thinking, and I don’t allow other voices to intrude on what I ought to write about. The only person I owe anything to with these blog posts is, ultimately, myself, and hopefully that doesn’t come off as selfish to others.

#255: The Do-Over

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Not everyone gets the chance to restart, to begin anew, to refresh one’s life completely. To do things over again.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, and deliberately not thinking, about what to write for this blog post, but I finally feel capable of getting some of my thought process down on this page.

There’s a famous F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that I often return to, one that I have hanging up in our apartment as a reminder to myself. Here it is:

“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

For what it’s worth… Not everyone has the opportunity to start all over again. Some people lack the financial resources to just upend their lives and begin wholly anew. It’s certainly not an easy trial to undergo. I remember feeling overwhelmed, busy, and completely distraught over my decision to leave my first teaching job, full of regrets and future visions. If only I knew what the next few months would hold for me. I regretted spending time treading water, doing nothing while saying I was doing something. “I hope you make the best of it” is all that matters. Try and try again, and eventually your attempts will bear fruit. You just have the make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt.

Future

What’s out there?
Is there
anyone
else around?
Listen.

What to hope for,
what to dream for,
a mystery to me

Nothing on
the horizon,
the sun is all but
gone

Shambling from
town to town,
a forgetful husk
waits for
Fridays and Saturdays
at the expense of
his Mondays and Tuesdays

When the weekend
is all you have,
you wonder, is there
anything else?

Was there ever
anything else?

I forget.

#136: The Mental Health Day

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In continuing my trend of discussing personal issues, such as my health, I’ll today be discussing mental health and what it was like last year, when I decided to take better care of my mental health.

When I used to work in Milford, I would make sure to take time off for my mental health. Little did I know that working in that place would actually deteriorate my mental health to the point of an actual breakdown and collapse of sanity, but I’m sure my decision to take mental health days contributed to the preservation of my sanity in a temporary sense. Taking mental health days helped me stay afloat, basically.

I highly recommend you make the decision to take mental health days for yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and for some reason we only equate sick days with being physically ill. If someone is mentally ill and is in need of immediate help, then taking a day for yourself is a great way of getting back on track and resetting things. Not just for yourself, but for the good of others, too. If you’re mentally ready for things, the people at work will benefit from your aptness. If you’re not mentally ready, you risk alienating and making things worse for yourself and others. Think of it the same way you think of physical health!

I’ve tried to convince Alex to take more days for herself, similarly to what I did, but it hasn’t been super successful yet. It’s still a work in progress for sure.

Plus, above all, I get to spend days with Angus, my best friend and greatest companion of all. Nothing compares to the benefit of mental health bestowed by being with a dog companion.

#115: Stress

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Stress. We all experience it, one way or another. Stress over work, stress over school, stress over relationships. It’s normal to be stressed, unfortunately, despite it being so toxic and corrosive to our mental health. There’s always been talk about how stress and challenges are essential to learning, that in order to be truly engaged or challenged in a task, there has to be some degree of urgency associated with it.

In some ways, I agree completely. How can I ever expect to learn how to handle stress, for example, without having experienced it in a more constructive, educational way in school? School is and has always been a reflection of life after school, but with handlebars and the bumpers up. Teachers are dictators, at least according to kids, and counselors are helpful, guiding friends. School has the makings of a microcosm of life itself, and the lessons learned in school help students in that they can apply those lessons when they reach adulthood. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t claim that this is what everyone’s school experience was like, or even mine for that matter, but I hope I can convey a sense of idealism, not realism, in this.

So, looping back to stress and the factors that go into it. I am somehow who gets stressed easily, and the second a student says one thing that’s slightly disrespectful, I am taken aback and reeling all the way home. My mind absorbs all the emotions and energy of the room around me, internalizing it all. That’s the life of an anxious mind. But in order to overcome stress, I like to think some advil and World of Warcraft does the trick. (That’s partially a joke; I do play WoW to unwind, though.)

Yet Again

You see,
it isn’t easy
coming back from the
edge and surviving

Living to
tell more tales, to
die another day,
to give it all
another
shot

Yet again, those
thoughts return
like bees to
their hives,
ears ringing and
eyes bulging

Yet again, like
residual hatred,
like time itself
it can be delayed
but always finds
its way back
home

#85: The Millennial

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I am a millennial. A word often heard in the media, used as a scapegoat for the country’s problems: “Millennials aren’t investing in the stock market as much as previous generations,” “Millennials don’t care about the housing market or lottery tickets or old mall favorites like Macy’s,” “Millennials don’t want kids any more!”

I read an article in the New York Times the other day about millennials, and it said that they have adapted to a “rise and grind” lifestyle. That millennials, who grew up expecting extracurricular achievement and good grades to amount to a lifetime of happiness and fulfilling their creative passions, feel left out by the world that gave them that idea in the first place. Crippling student loan debt and rising gentrification in big cities, significantly higher than previous generations, has set a standard for what we have come to expect from the outside world. When a person went to college before the 90s, were they expected to pay seven figures over 20 years to ever make up for the cost of their education? Since when has an education been so expensive?

Either way, the article in the Times talks about how the “rise and grind” lifestyle adopted by so many millennials stifles creativity and ensures a lifetime of boredom and depression. I’m not the least bit surprised. Waking up at 5am to go to Milford every day, for example, was not the ideal lifestyle for me. And yet it represents a kind of necessity, a need demanded by outside forces. Is there any wonder why millennials have some of the highest rates of mental illness of all generations? Is there any surprise that people suffering under false promises given to them as children feel betrayed as adults?

Just some food for thought today. Not sure what to think about it, but the article got me going a bit.

Loud

What are you thinking?
Make an observation,
“the classroom is quiet”
and so are we
Life is naturally loud

What might scientists
look for?
Predators, prey
The silent cries
underneath green

What happens to
their food?
Herbivores, carnivores,
eaters and feeders and
readers and writers

Food source declining,
pollution and pesticides
and
Human Interaction,
natural disasters,
weather and climate change,
icebergs thinning,
Freud in crisis as
ego drowns beneath
the sixth grade waves
the waves, the waves

#76: Doubt

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I doubt whether my clothes fit well, I doubt whether my hair looks good, I doubt whether my personality is likable enough. I doubt the sun shines in the morning when it’s supposed to, and I even doubt when I’m supposed to go to bed. But most of all, professionally, I doubt my lesson planning work. What I need to focus on more is trusting my instincts, and if something doesn’t go well, trusting that I can make up for it the next time, or improve from my mistakes. I’m so afraid of making mistakes sometimes that I prevent myself from making them; I shield myself from error by copying the work of my peers or mentors instead, trusting that they have better ideas than I do. There’s never a time when I’m not wishing another person had done this before, but better, so I could copy them and be rid of the anxiety of having to be accountable for my own ideas. It’s an easy, affordable way of avoiding accountability, which is not very good.

But let’s make this a positive and productive blog post. I don’t want to mire in negativity forever. I think I have a lot to offer as an educational professional, it’s just a matter of unleashing that potential appropriately, actualizing it in just the right way. If I need to go to college again to figure that out, then so be it. If I need to stay here for awhile first, then so be it as well. Doubt is a terrible infection, and I need to overcome it one way or another. My ideas aren’t as terrible as they seem in my head; it’s just my self-critical ways acting up. Self-esteem is a tricky thing.