I feel lost! In a slump! Comparing myself to others, unsure of myself, WHO AM I? A journey of self discovery.
The restless feeling of a breakdown
I recently had the biggest burnout of my life (up till now). I don’t know if it should be considered a burnout, but I know for sure it’s a huge, huge slump. I can definitely understand how people get depression attacks now. In fact, I believe the experience I went through is called an existential crisis, or existential depression. I felt stressed out and lost the motivation to do things, things like homework, draw, write, things I usually can't stop doing, things that I won't want to waste a second not doing … I even felt burdened when I talk to my friends! It’s like I was disconnected from the world. My mood turned rotten and no, I wasn’t on my period. This plagued me for a week, before it started to get so pressuring that I had to do something about it. To convey my condition in visual terms: I felt like my brain was tugged from all sides, even when I slept, it churned relentlessly. Something was poking at the back of my mind but wouldn’t show itself. And I didn’t understand myself enough to comprehend what that thing was! I felt it but I didn’t know what it was and how I need to get rid of it. I know that I had to get rid of it if I want to move on!
Endless river of doubt and comparing myself with others
Self-doubting questions surfaced, questions like:
“Is my honesty making my friends hate me?”, “Am I too weird? Do I completely lack any sense of feminity?”, "Why do people say what they don't mean and make it as though they didn't have a choice but to lie? They would then blame their decision on someone who technically had no control over their actions," "Why do people engage in hypocritical behaviors in which they say one thing and then do another?", “Am I making myself the target of disrespect?”, “Just because I smile and joke around, will people just assume that it’s how I am? It’s just a front I put up. I would know. Not foreign of me, but part of me. But I don’t act like that all the time,” “I don’t put up with shit. I don’t agree with everything my friend says. I don’t want to hang out everyday. I don’t want to be okay with everything. I didn’t rate the party my friend hosted 10/10. In fact I rated it 6/10 when everyone else enjoyed it sooo much! Why is it I’m so hard to please? Is what I’m doing making my appear unelegant? Making me ugly, even?”, etc.
My mom certainly didn’t help because she started comparing me to the neighbor’s daughter, who is much 'tamer' compared to me. “She’s sporty but she has a certain air of elegance,” she said. It really made me doubt my behavior. Is my being comfortable in my own skin a nuisance to people? I know that no matter how I love myself, I don’t want to be that person who acts like she came from a mental asylum, bothering people with her endless weirdness. In this subjective matter, I had no mentor to help me distinguish from what is right or wrong, if there is even a correct answer to this intuitive question. Should I change? Is there something wrong with me?
As much as I want to believe I’m a piece unwavering steel, I’m not. I certainly don’t get influenced easily, but I get influenced by my mom and what she tells me. Just because … she’s my freaking mom! And if my mom says something like that, no matter how much I want to deny, I can’t! It is only then that I realized … I am not the person my mom once knew, and I will continue to evolve further, and I will transform into the person I want to be, not the person I was sculpted to be, nor the person I am expected to be!
What I did to feel better (and I did!)
And so I did some soul searching. By soul searching, personally, I mean to write down my thoughts or say them out loud without shame (when I’m alone). Sometimes we just don’t want to admit things we know. It’s like not wanting to admit that you’re jealous of someone and instead insisting that you hated her because she has a terrible personality. And our ego masks the truth that exists inside of us, replacing it with a lie that we feel better believing. I also watched some youtube videos (I love Les Brown’s) to rediscover myself. Watching motivational videos works like magic for me because there are always those specific pointers that trigger something in you, something that could change your life, something that you didn’t understand before you encountered a similar experience, something that you can eventually relate to and apply in your life. It’s like how you don’t get the answers until you look for them, even if they’re laid there for you. After some “soul searching”, I concluded the cause of my breakdown as “feeling not good enough”. I believe that I have long left the stage where I try to people-please and constrain my true self, but apparently I didn’t permanently leave that in my past, because this uncertainty has come back to trouble me again.
I talked it out with an aunt, who happens to be the only confidant I have when it comes to matters like this. She doesn’t judge, nor advise; we are vastly similar and she understood what I was going through. All my friends are younger than me, and not all are invested in thinking about life, human behavior, human purpose, etc, so sharing deep and unconventional thoughts are naturally … impractical. I’m eldest, so I move at their pace, until I meet someone who belong in the same channel as me. I love them the same, but when you try too hard to comply with people all the time, you get unbalanced. I feel isolated from my peers, and even my family members, because I know they wouldn't get it. They would just dismiss it as worthless overthinking (even if it technically is overthinking), and give me tons of advice that just further prove their inability to relate to my experience. That's why I don't want to talk about these weighty issues with the wrong people, lest I allow myself to hate them for an action they do out of pure concern. This is why people have best friends—to share intimate thoughts with. You can still be infinitely happy with your close, good friends, but best friends are soul mates. (Yet to find mine.)
The results of my crisis
I concluded that just because I run in the museum (in open space, duh) and express my wonder for the exhibits, doesn’t mean I’m wild. Just because I sing aloud on a buggy car, doesn’t mean I’m insane. Just because I have the world’s most varied facial expressions, doesn’t mean I’m ugly! Just because I say yes when I mean it and say no when I like it, doesn’t mean I’m unelegant! To hell with acting in ways that are attractive to men/the typical human being. Why can’t I look overjoyed when I am overjoyed? I should stop impressing other people and taking people’s judgements personally. What they think has everything to do with them, and nothing to do with me.
This burnout has certainly been training for me and I’m happy to say that I have bounced back with twice the resilience I possessed before. I’m surer and happier of being who I am, as long as it doesn’t disturb other people’s private space and disrupt moral laws. It’s just as Les Brown said, (something along the lines of) “The first thing they tell you to do when you board a plane is ‘fasten your seatbelt’. Know why? Because some turbulence is expected before you reach a comfortable altitude.” Same thing goes to our daily lives. When we decide to rise to another level, the journey is not expected to be as smooth as Rhysand (I can’t get enough for book puns). It’s an abnormal way of thinking, that being in a slump can be a lucky thing, because you learn more about yourself in this downtime of your life, and its lessons will help you conquer future obstacles; everytime you recover twice as strong as before.
I hope my experience helped in your self discovery. Share your “slump” story with us! Feel free to share my story with anyone you know will benefit from this post.
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