Let’s Talk

Image by Shinetext; @shinetext on Instagram

We all own insecurities. By this, I mean we all own something about ourselves that makes us want to burrow down into a sweatshirt and hide from the world. Sometimes these insecurities get the best of us; they wrap their hands around our throat and stop us from being what we want to be, making new friends, pursuing a new relationship, and so much more. 

During the past few years of my life, I let my insecurities sit in the driver’s seat while I sat patiently in the backseat waiting for it to be my turn. During my senior year of high school, I became stuck in a hole that just kept growing deeper and wider with each passing day. I was riddled with anxiety and faked a smile every day to create a persona that fulfilled everyone’s ideas of who I was but also to pretend that I was the person I was craving to really be.

Everyone has insecurities, so how does anyone truly love themselves through and through? This is a large question that used to swirl around in my brain quite often. But, through growth, patience, a little TLC, and a compilation of fleeting moments that play in my head from time to time, I may have found one thing that leads to self-acceptance and love: talking.

Talking about your insecurities with another person who you trust is one of the most important things you could ever do for yourself. In a time infested with new media being presented to us every second of the day, we encounter thousands of images and stories of people being happy. When was the last time someone like Kendall Jenner expressed to her followers that she was depressed? See my point? Due to this toxic suggestion that everyone is happy and loves themselves without question, we, the readers of this content, begin to forget that we are not alone in our insecurities. 

As I was battling through my insecurities, I was aware that my friends also didn’t like certain things about themselves, but I always assumed they were happy, just like how they assumed I was too. It wasn’t until I opened up to them about everything I had been feeling, that they opened up to me. This was a huge lesson for us.

Since then, whenever I am beginning to feel down again, I am not afraid to reach out to a close friend to talk about it. In fact, oftentimes they relate to me and express that they have been feeling similarly.

Because of this feeling of connection that occurs when you talk to someone about something as serious as your mental well-being and insecurities, everything begins to feel more valid. One of the major reasons we hold our feelings back is because we feel as though they are not valid enough. But who could blame us? There is something so odd about telling someone you have been sad for no reason at all, right? However, there is a reason and telling the right people can and will help you. 

If you are a regular reader of my posts, you have probably noticed that I like to offer advice and encouragement to other people that I hope will help them in some way. However, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I could ever share with another person who is trying to love themselves is to talk to others about it. Don’t go through this journey alone, and allow people who care about you to help you, even if it’s just one person. It doesn’t need to be a therapist either; go to your sister, your best friends, a parent, or whomever you feel most comfortable being vulnerable with. You deserve to love yourself, so talk about it. 

Setting Your Own Agenda

Recently, I began a book called “The Moment of Lift” by Melinda Gates. If you are familiar with Bill Gates, you are probably aware of his powerful presence in modern technology and how he invests countless hours and insane amounts of money on giving back. More specifically, he attempts to give everyone he can the power of technology. However, his wife, Melinda Gates, plays just as an important, if not a more important role, within their organization. Her book is about women empowerment and how, through her endeavors in philanthropy, she has discovered the only way to truly save a community is by lifting women up.

A few days ago, I was reading her book while sitting in my dorm room when I came across the quote, “If you don’t set your own agenda, somebody else will.” After my eyes ran across the sentence, I hopped out of bed, wrote it down on a piece of stationery paper, and hung it up on my wall. As I stared at this sentence, I couldn’t help but feel as though it was staring right back at me. At the top of my stationery paper, my name is printed across each piece in blue cursive lettering which made this moment even more intimate. I began to read it more like, “Laine, if you don’t set your own agenda, somebody else will.”  But what does this really mean?

Most human beings have the tendency to get caught up in the “Herd,” if you will. The Herd includes the people who get walked on by others. They are the people spending their weekdays at a mundane job in a cubicle, and they are the people who go to college and don’t study something that they are actually passionate about but rather something that will provide a safe source of income. The Herd is made up of the people who let life happen to them rather than them taking on life. Although there are a lucky few who don’t get sucked into this greywater stream, that is how the majority operates. That is how most of our parents are, as well as our siblings and ourselves. But this only happens because we forget that we have the power.

Since the beginning of mankind, humans have had the power to create. When humans needed a way to tell stories, they engraved cave walls with images of dancing humans fighting a buffalo, and when humans needed warmth, they created fire. That drive and willingness to create lives in each person around us. The people who are brave enough to set their own agenda, even on just a day-to-day basis, are the ones who are in touch with that inner power to create. Being in touch with your capability allows you to sit down in front of your planner, calendar, or whatever you use to organize and plan out everything that you want to do that day. It allows you to be your own boss and to take control of your life by seeing and doing the things you always said that you wanted to. 

For me, coming across this quote was a wake-up call. I’ve struggled a lot in my life by doing what other people want me to do or acting the way that other people want me to act. Although it can be hard at times, it feels liberating to be able to lie down in bed at night and think to myself that I spent my day the way I wanted to spend it. Although I can’t say that it is a completely true statement because if I was really doing what I wanted to do I would be running through the streets of some crazy city in a completely different country or at the top of a mountain taking in an expansive view. However, for a freshman in college with no car, being able to reflect on my day and getting to say that I sat at my favorite spot on campus and read my book, feels good enough. Hopefully one day I will continue to create my own agenda, and I’ll be able to lie down in bed and think to myself how liberating it feels to say that I ran through the streets of some foreign city earlier that day. 

Taking Control of Gray

The color gray has invaded Athens. Nearly every morning I have woken up and the sky has been gray, the sidewalk has been wet, and a piercing wind has ripped through my winter coat. Stress had taken over my week and the gray sky only seemed to heighten my concerned, anxious self. A few days ago, as I walked from class to class, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth could I bring some color into such a dreary January day. Then, as I walked up Court Street, I noticed a colorful parking meter, and the voice in my head went, “Art!” So, I sat down in my favorite café, pulled out my journal, and began to draw.

Stress is an overwhelming feeling that everyone experiences and nearly everyone’s stress seems to grow when everything around them is monochromatic and dull. The best advice I have for anyone who is attempting to try and figure out how to cope with these seemingly sluggish days is to pick up a pen and create. We often get so caught up in all of the tasks listed in our planners that we forget how to use pen and paper for fun. Being creative, no matter if you’re an actual artist or just someone like me who doodles in the margins of your paper, can release your brain from everyday stress. It also provides splashes of color during a rather dim day. Whether it’s stealing paint from your RA in order to create a masterpiece with friends (I may or may not know from experience) or just using the blue and red pens sitting at the bottom of your backpack, color can come into your day in a form that you may not have expected.

Carving out the time to sit down and draw or paint something you find wonderful, will make the world feel a little less big and a little brighter. The pictures featured within this post are all things I have created either alone or with the help of some friends and they have all been made on days when our window panes were painted gray. As you can tell, I am not the best artist in the world, but it certainly makes me feel better when I pretend to be! The next time you need color in your day, open up to the back of a notebook and scribble something that you find great, and feel some weight come off your shoulders.

Welcoming in Uncertainty

Illustration by Rukmini Poddar, Instagram handle @rockinruksi

In the midst of the busy first month of the new year, many people, college students especially, find themselves facing the fear of uncertainty. I especially relate to this overwhelming sense due to my lack of knowledge in what I want to do with my life career-wise or how I have too many dreams that feel I need to achieve but have no idea how I will ever get there. 

Uncertainty is an old friend that everyone seems to share but it only comes knocking at our doors in waves. For many, these “waves” come at times where we feel the most change. This is oftentimes at the end of a year, when we move to new cities, or on birthdays. I recently came across an image on Instagram by the artist, Rukmini Poddar (Instagram handle @rockinruksi), in which a man is staring into a large, approaching being as he utters the sentence, “Welcome, my old friend, Uncertainty.” To me, this is a perfect depiction of how many college students feel but no one outright says it.

I am a freshman here at Ohio University, and I am constantly surrounded by people — like my boyfriend, friends, or mentors — who seem absolutely certain. They seem so set on what they want to do in life, and they appear to already have the connections to get an internship. It even seems like they are already set on what they want for lunch tomorrow! I am an indecisive person and I have been my entire life. My mom has always laughed at me because I have too many hobbies to count but now, I have no idea how to use any of those hobbies to get an actual job. Is there a major for collecting snow globes? Nope! 

However, my point is that I am constantly uncertain about a lot of things in life. I have no idea where I will end up, what my career will be, or even, what I will be eating for lunch today. But the catch is, no one else does either. I have had to be told this a lot in this first year of college, but even though I am surrounded by people who won’t switch their major, who seem like they have already found their reason for being put on this Earth, those people are just as uncertain as I am. My birthday recently passed and the entire day, the large figure named Uncertainty consumed my shadow. I tried to turn my head away from it, to block it out, but then I scrolled past that image by Rukmini Poddar on my feed and I turned around and welcomed Uncertainty with open arms. If you are uncertain about something in life right now, don’t hide from it, don’t pretend you are certain. Embrace the fact that you may not know where or what your next endeavor will bring you. Focus on things that you are certain about and go from there. Remember that no one is certain about where they’re going or their future in general for that matter. It is okay to be uncertain. In fact, it’s probably better than actually knowing where you’re going. Although it can feel beyond frightening, there is something so exciting about stepping into the unknown. Your uncertainty will lead you to somewhere brilliant — all you need to do is welcome it.