To those of us out there who are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel, who are here, reading this in a state of desperation, looking for a sign that all will be okay:
I wish I knew how to put your mind at ease and how to erase the pain and frustration that you bear every day. My hope is that my story can show that you're really not alone, no matter how isolated you may feel right now.
I grew up with horribly low self-esteem and a fear of judgment because I didn't have the same interests as people my age. I was raised in the age of Justin Bieber and Ugg boots, and I was that one kid who read from an 800-page Beatles anthology every day. I struggled with so much social angst; in high school, I would literally eat lunch in empty classrooms to avoid others. That way, nobody could judge me because nobody really knew me. I could also read in peace, which was chill. I missed out on so much, though. I missed my prom, never attended any events, and never joined the drama club, which is something I really wanted to do. I was filled with regret by the time I graduated and also with resentment toward myself.
You could never tell that I was struggling so hard to like myself, though. I presented so happy and joyful, and for the most part, I was. I took pride in being "the funny one." However, when I was alone, I was haunted by thoughts of never being able to measure up, of being different, of being worthless.
It took until I was about twenty before I learned how to reach out to other people. I had to literally force myself out of my college's library and make myself talk to people in my classes. It was hideously awkward at first, but to my surprise, people did like me for who I was, and I did make some connections!
One such friend taught me about spirituality. I was raised Catholic and always faithful, but bolstering my faith with meditation and healing crystals genuinely made me feel at ease, a feeling I had never before experienced. Faith and trust in God's kindness and power have been one of the main ingredients of my healing journey. I highly recommend turning (or returning) to any faith or spirituality practice you choose. In my case, I lived most of my young life believing I was a mistake. With each passing day, as I deepen my connection with God, it is abundantly clear that I have a purpose. God does not make mistakes. YOU have a purpose, and now that you know, you get to discover it!
This is not to say I'm healed of the anxiety that has crippled me and caused me to hide. Far from it, in fact! As I grew more social, I found myself turning into a chameleon, taking on the traits of my more outgoing and mature friends, and hiding the silly, happy-go-lucky, one-of-a-kind individual that I know I am.
I shudder at the memories of wearing those awful layered shirts that were so popular a decade ago because my friend wore them! In moments of clarity when I realize that I'm doing myself and the world a disservice by not being my authentic, wonderful self, I throw myself back into the pit of despair, dwelling on the time wasted.
I accidentally stumbled upon this app while in one of these despair pits. It's been such a help. It's helped me realize that I've been focusing on all the wrong priorities. I have so much to be thankful for. I have a home, a wonderful family, a healthy relationship, two dogs, and my dream job of being a teacher. It's also helped me realize that while being unique was tough in high school, it has made me a pretty cool adult. I'm funny, I'm caring, I'm helpful, and I know I'm a great teacher because I know whatever support I needed as a student that I didn't receive, I can be that support now. I'm really grateful to have been given a gift through my dark times that allows me to help prevent others from experiencing the same darkness.
Dear readers, my hope for you is that reading my simple (yet, somehow, very long 😂) story might help you understand that there are others out there who feel similarly to what you may be feeling, that really, genuinely, you are NOT alone.
And if you really feel that there is not a soul on this planet who cares about you, know that I do. I may not know you, but I honestly wish you all of the happiness and peace in the world. If you're in that pit of despair right now, please take a breath, grab yourself a nice glass of water or a cup of coffee, think of one thing about yourself that is undeniably awesome (you can do it!), and allow yourself to feel joy in the little things. You may not understand it now, but you deserve it. 🌱