Advice,  Personal

Kind Reminders

In this day and age of what seems to be endless bad news, bad luck, bad energy, and just bad vibes, it’s hard to stay above water and navigate the seas to find positivity. I’m not just speaking of the personal things I’ve gone through, but collectively what we are all going through these days. I think what people are really longing for most at this point is the light at the end of the tunnel. When is all of this bullshit going to be over and done with? Scientifically and medically speaking, we aren’t even close. Yes, there are vaccines and yes there are people who believe COVID-19 is just a conspiracy theory, but the evidence says more and more people are biting their words when they land in the hospital and face their mortality. We are not anywhere closer to understanding what we need to do because the population is just too big and too opinionated. If you’re like me and you dwell on social media a lot to pass the time, then no doubt you see the chaos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc… It just breeds continuous misery and pushes us further away from living happy lives. So, what do we do now? I mean, we tried doing all the things we needed to keep positive throughout the pandemic and it either served its purpose for a while or just didn’t work out. We’re just within reach of beginning another year with this epidemic still in our lives. Something has to give.

They say the Lord is good, while others less religious and more spiritual say the universe is good. Either way, don’t forget this because it’s absolutely true and you will ever-so-often receive kind reminders. That’s what this piece is all about; reminding ourselves that there are good things brewing behind the scenes and better things about to happen. I know, I sound like a sappy meme, but my experiences this year are now being wrapped up with a nice bow as 2021 comes to an end. A few short months ago, if you had asked me how I felt this year was going, I’d have told you it was utterly horrible. Health issues, family dilemmas, relationship complexities, friendship woes and professional frustrations were some of the highlights (which I touched on a bit here). I found myself asking what disgusting thing could come next to really kick things up a notch, but at some point in the last week, a good friend of mine shared a distinct perspective with me that overturned my way of thinking. She admitted that this was a year of many big challenges, but it was also a year where many loose ends got tied up.

Let’s take my health for example. I had some ongoing concerns for a while, but for the last decade I simply lived with them and ‘toughed it out’ if you want to call it that. The reality is I ignored a lot of it with the hopes that the problems would just go away. Well, in the real world it doesn’t work that way and it would seem this was the year where that realization sunk in for me. After not seeing my doctor for years, it felt like a shock to the soul dealing with multiple new doctors and finding a new family physician (because the last one was an abysmal sack of shit, but that’s a story for another day). Tests, consultations, studies, and much more ensued, and at the time it all felt extremely annoying. After majority of the year passed with me feeling confused and exhausted, I began treatment and recovery. Let me just articulate one thing… symptoms and ailments I had been suffering for so many years of my life just disappeared suddenly. I was finally functioning like a normal person, and I couldn’t even process how it had come to this. Why didn’t I deal with this sooner?

The family drama was a hot mess of its own. At first, I thought it wasn’t up to me to correct other people’s bad behavior, and I still think this to be true. Looking back on it now, there was more to it than just that because I had to change the way I navigated through my own unhappiness in order to overcome years of what I like to call abuse. No, no one physically harmed me, but just remember that anyone who breaks apart your love for yourself and/or your ability to love yourself is abusing you. Period. I cannot express to you how miserable I was at the hands of my household and how sure I was that I wouldn’t survive for much longer. I had to learn two big lessons and execute them to move past that helplessness. The first step was to shut up and comply. Pride and ego are of no use when dealing with people who are incapable of evolving past what they are. You might be thinking you have solid principles by sticking to your guns, but sometimes you just need to bow out of the fight because you will never win the battle with certain people. Do not misinterpret my advice; never give up on what you genuinely believe in or what your values are. What I’m saying is that you need to assess who is worth seeing that side of you and who will appreciate it. My second lesson was to never set anything in stone. No matter how adamant you are that you will never like someone or something, just know that anything is possible, and things can change very quickly and randomly. Suffice to say, some relationships I thought were doomed and were going to be the literal death of me ended up becoming very bearable. I admit that some of it was just the universe finally conspiring to shift me out of my long-standing circumstances, but how much of it was also the result of me sending out the SOS for help and finally being heard? We’ll never know, will we?

What can I say about my relationships that I haven’t already said? They’ve been annoying and largely unnecessary. Literally on the first day of 2021, I had started speaking to someone who I was vibing hard with. I honestly thought things were going well and I was excited because for the first time the attraction was mutual and clearly defined. Alas, after so much open communication and effort, I was ghosted. I think this one stung a little more than the average ghosting because over the years I had gotten used to not putting in all my energy into relationships. Call me pessimistic, but I grew accustomed to things never working out. This time I allowed myself to be a little more vulnerable and it didn’t get me far. I left that situation feeling more jaded than ever and I ended up believing I needed a huge disconnect from anyone who was wasting my time still. Alas, be careful what you wish for because I mostly got what I requested. The truth is I was still harboring feelings for someone else and couldn’t detach myself fully, but somewhere along the way I just knew I preferred peace over the comfort of that person still being in my life. And sure enough, the major leftover players in my life started to dwindle and fade out, leaving me a free man.

I can’t go into great detail about my friendship troubles or professional worries because both things are still too relevant, but I will write a few sentiments. When the going got tough for both those aspects of my life, my default setting was to quit. I stopped caring about ‘hanging in there’ and trying to salvage what I had built. I just wanted out of everything that was making me feel crazy. It wasn’t until another friend of mine told me that I shouldn’t throw away big friendships so easily that it dawned on me that I had already done so in previous years. My best friend and I started to grow apart, and when he wanted to talk about it with me, I just never ended up speaking with him. Years later it’s a relationship that no longer exists. Why did it take me so long to realize that I’m a part of the problem? That I’d become someone who would rather throw away anything or anyone that just became too burdensome to deal with? (If you’re reading this, you weren’t burdensome… it’s just the word I chose to use for that sentence.) This epiphany of sorts taught me that I can’t do that anymore with the current people in my life. As someone who is such a firm believer in communication, I sure wasn’t living up to it. Similarly, I found myself questioning where I fit in at work. I’d been feeling that way for a long time, but more than ever this year I was ready to give up. Despite the way I was feeling on the inside, I didn’t falter on the outside and continued to work hard and push through it all. Perhaps this is the way to go (optimism) because sure enough, there is a tremendous change coming in 2022 that will give me the chance to reinvent my career. It’s happening because I chose to persevere, whether consciously or subconsciously.

The one thing I didn’t list above is something I’ve chosen not to explicitly explain, but would be remiss to mention. This year I was involved in something that was incredibly painful and completely uncalled for. It came at a time when things were starting to go astonishingly well for me, and it knocked me right off my horse and into a pit of despair. For a couple of months, I kept asking what the point of it was. What was the lesson to be learned? The worst part is I couldn’t think up a single answer to that question because there was just no logical reason as to why it happened. The first couple of weeks after the event, I was restless and anxious all the time. I wasn’t afraid, but I felt empty. I felt all the things missing in my life simultaneously and could only remember the dreadful things that took place in my life. I felt loneliness despite having so many people to support me. All the things I accomplished went down the drain and all that was left was numbness for a while. This was the official nail in the coffin that made me believe 2021 was a wretched year. I eventually drifted back to a sense of normal routine, but the scars remained. I was complaining to my friends more than ever, and it wasn’t until someone flipped the script on me that I started to see things differently. Do you remember that one particular friend I mentioned who told me about all the loose ends getting tied up? Well, allow me to elaborate a bit on the remainder of what she said to me.

Yes, it was a year with many challenges, but as she said, loose ends got tied up. What does that really equate to? It means that this was a year of momentous change in my life. And as all humans do, I assumed that change meant terrible things happened. The reality is that change isn’t usually a comfortable thing to deal with, and the events of this year felt extremely uncomfortable. However, when I look back on it, so much good came out of all the things I discussed above. I prioritized my health and solved matters that had been affecting me for almost half my life. I survived and overcame family obstacles that plagued me from the day I was born. I grew out of the relationships that were tying me down and holding me back from living stress-free. I realized the value of friendships and what part I must own up to, even when it’s not an ideal situation. I stood strong through office politics and hardships to find direction and find a plan for the future. Finally, I went through a traumatic experience and was able to learn that life is too short to waste time on the unimportant and not be good to yourself while you’re still able to. That was the lesson I was looking so hard to learn, but didn’t clue into until I was given a kind reminder that blessings are here.

I conclude with this: 2021 was far from perfect and at first, I was willing to lump it in with all the other horrific years of the past decade. Yet, there was a key difference about this year. Past years brought sadness, anger, and maybe not as much happiness as I would have liked. I was under the impression this year was the same, but I was wrong. Everything that took place was a catalyst for big changes, many of which improved my life for the better. And each day more things are happening that lead me to believe that good things come in due time. It takes hard work, patience, and a good attitude, but it can be very exhausting to rise to the challenges every day for years on end. So, do yourself a favor and be kind to yourself along the way and find kind reminders to keep going. I promise you things will get better!

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