Life is hard. Shit is confusing and complicated and sometimes it hurts way too much.
I get it. I get it more so than I can even tell you. More than I can put into words.
Because yeah, I’ve had my fair share of heartbreak. Of pain. Of awfulness. And unfortunately for me, most of it was self-inflicted.
Because I didn’t understand. Because I couldn’t. I took shit at face value. I took shit personally. And I kept things way too hidden.
It’s OK to not be OK. We aren’t supposed to be happy all the time and we don’t have to lie about it either. Of course, it’s not that simple. In the heat of the moment or when shit hits the fan, it’s hard to take a step back. It’s hard to see that most of it doesn’t matter and eventually, things will even out. I know it’s hard because, for the longest time, my life sucked. That’s the easiest way to put it. If something didn’t go my way, I’d freak the fuck out. I was constantly trying to find ways to escape.
Like if something bad happened, I had to get high. Hell, even if something good went down, I still had to get high. But no one knew that. I made sure of it. What I’m finding out now is that I’m not alone in this. Because most of the ugly I felt on the inside, most people feel too. We’re just too embarrassed to talk about it out loud. We don’t want to be judged. We want to be liked. Accepted. But what’s the point of being like or accepted if we’re not ourselves?
Exactly. We need to start being ourselves.
We have to stop worrying about what others think of us so much. Be crazy. Be weird. Jack Johnson really said it best. “Everybody thinks that everybody knows about everybody else but nobody knows anything about themselves because they’re all worried about everybody else.” But in order to be yourself, you need a backbone. You have to have thick skin. Self-confidence —something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I could never disagree with anyone. If I did, I imagined he or she would get everyone against me.
Furthermore, I couldn’t admit when I was sad either. But I was never going to get un-sad if I didn’t speak up. If I didn’t get real. Honest. Because no one knows what makes us truly happy other than ourselves. And that’s an important concept to grasp because you will never please yourself if you’re constantly trying to please everybody else. We need to stand up for what we believe in. For what we want. We need to show the world our beauty. Like what makes us unique. Because you are. You’re beautiful. You’re unique. And I mean that in the best way.
Because when you do this —like when you feel good about yourself, you’ll know exactly who you are as a person and those around you will see it too. This should help eliminate the people in your life that don’t compliment the person you want to become. Because you can attract those who do. And it doesn’t matter if someone along the way thinks you’re crazy or weird for putting your soul on display. Because you will get the attention and admiration so many conformists crave. I can promise you that.
But once again, it’s not about them. It’s about you.
Because having the courage to show others just how different you are is what really garners respect. Like not doing what everyone else is doing. Like not being afraid of being liked or accepted. Because yeah, there will always be someone who will try to bring you down. It’s just what they’re really upset about is their failure. Their failure to make you conform to their demands. Besides, those people are most likely already miserable. Because they lack the strength to showcase their individuality like you can.
Because as long as you’re content with yourself, everything else will soon fall into place. I can promise you that too. Because once you find yourself, it makes those moments of temporarily sadness and pain not as bad. Because when you’re confident in yourself, you realize that you can, in fact, overcome anything. So continuing where I last left off, here are five more life lessons I want you to know.
6. Hurt People Hurt People and It’s Not Always About You
People in this world have some serious issues. And, because they don’t deal with those issues, they project them onto you. Period. It really is as simple as that. I’ve been on both ends of this spectrum and this I know from experience: the way others treat you is a reflection of how they feel about themselves —sometimes they justify it, sometimes they blame it on others, and sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing it. I still take way too many things personally, but I’m better than I used to be.
The thing is, when you’re on the receiving end of this type of rhetoric, your sanity depends on not taking offense. Because taking offense is pointless. People will always unconsciously cast projections of their own self-loathing on to others. It’s sort of like a survival mechanism. Because we’re all different; therefore, we act and react to different things —well, differently. Because we all endure our own set of struggles and successes.
Some of us have had life-long stability and some of us haven’t. That I know for sure.
What we don’t know is the depth that these connotations have on each person because like I said, we all have different experiences. At the same time, allowing your ego to get tripped the fuck out when someone projects their word vomit onto you is hard not to do. It’s an ongoing practice of releasing other people’s shit and recognizing your own. On the other hand, if I were to hold up a mirror every time I shun another person or cast blame, chances are the one I’m really angry at is myself.
Mexican author, Don Miguel Ruiz sums this up perfectly in his book The Four Agreements. Basically, he says that we all have invisible wounds. And we’ll do just about anything to avoid them being touched (true). We’ll run as fast as we can from the negative emotions we encounter in ourselves —like how I was constantly trying to escape. Like getting high. Dare someone else accidentally touch our wounds, we act as if they caused them. But, they didn’t cause them, and they cannot heal them (true again).
I know. I know. It’s fucking hard.
Reacting is a million times easier than responding. When we feel attacked, it’s instinctual to put up a wall and fight back. But that’s not a long-term coping strategy. What we need to do is look at the bigger picture. Because when we do, we’ll find empathy. Until then, the hurt just spreads like wildfire with a big old bucket of compassion waiting within us to put that fire out. Just make sure to keep a sense of humor close. Because life can be a great fire extinguisher.
7. Oh, And Don’t Forget That Most of the Weird, Sad or Ugly Things You Go Through, Everyone Else is Too.
No matter where you come from, or how cool you are, we all have our shit. Call it strategy or survival instinct, but we as humans are really good at blending in with the crowd. In looking and sounding normal. As if nothing is wrong. The truth is, most of us aren’t. We’re typically not as happy as we pretend to be. For me, I’d pretend to be OK. I’d smile through the hurt because I thought nobody cared. I thought nobody understood. But those were lies my mental illness fed me. Because everyone experiences some form of pain.
Like when you appear happy to others —literally smiling, while internally suffering is how I’d define it. And since most of us with it don’t even know we have it, smiling depression often goes undetected. Like those hurting usually discount their personal feelings. Because the smile and external façade is merely a defense mechanism, an attempt to hide how we truly feel. Most of us do this because we’re afraid to be called “weak.” That’s not true. You’re not weak. So don’t feel embarrassed about it because chances are, someone else out there is going through the exact same thing.
Let’s get honest instead.
8. In Fact, You Should Be Awkwardly Honest. People Love Raw Honesty.
This is new to me. For the longest time, basically my entire life minus five years ago, I lied. I lied about everything. Even stupid shit no one lies about. Except, I’m slowly learning, I really wasn’t trying to mislead anyone intentionally. I was merely lying to myself. Because I could never be my true authentic self. Because I didn’t even like myself. But today I do and I see it all so clearly. I guess this is what we call hindsight. Because it really is 20/20. And honesty isn’t just about telling the truth.
It’s about getting real with yourself. It’s being real with others about who you truly are, what you want and what you actually need to live your most authentic life. Because there’s no point in anything else. Because honesty promotes openness. It will bring you closer to those around you. It also empowers us. It sharpens our perception and allows us to observe shit with way more clarity. In short, it cuts through the red tape.
Because honest intentions in speech and action gain the respect of others.
People say they like me these days because I’m honest. Like if I’m in a social setting and it feels a little awkward, I’ll say it. I call myself out. I own it. But when I look back, like every time I lied (that I can recall), I realize that I was trying to excuse or misrepresent my own shortcomings. I was trying to over-compensate because I didn’t know who my true authentic self was. I was also afraid nobody would like it. Hell, I didn’t like it.
And it’s because of that, that I was finally able to let the bad shit go. I was able to take a good look in the mirror. I was able to see that I didn’t have to lie anymore. In fact, I never did. Because those in my life who are supposed to be there —like the positive ones, they don’t care either way. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter. Because honesty will help motivate you to become all the good things lying helped you pretend you already were. Because now that I live my true authentic self, I’m fucking free.
9. So Yeah, Let That Shit Go.
I’m not going to lie (haha). I’m a dweller. I was back then and even though I wish I wasn’t, I still am (see —that’s me being honest). Except now, I understand that holding on to pain doesn’t fix anything. Replaying the past over and over again doesn’t make it go away either. And wishing things were different doesn’t actually make things change. In some cases, mostly when it comes to the past, all you can do is accept whatever it is you’re holding on to and then let it go. Because that’s how everything changes.
10. And If You Can’t Forget, I Suggest You Forgive.
I suggest you release whatever it is that’s hurting you. Whoever it is that’s hurting you. That person you think you can’t forgive. Like even if it feels impossible. Because deciding to hold on to whatever it is you’re holding onto will only hold you back from creating a strong sense of self —a self that isn’t defined by anything other than who you want to be. And I want to be free. Because you won’t be free until you forgive. Now, I’m sure you’ve heard this saying before:
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
But it sounds really cool and fits perfectly right here so I’m saying it. I said it. Because it’s true. Forgiving people who wronged us isn’t about them at all. It’s about us. You. Me. Forgiveness means freedom. And don’t you want to be free? So even if it hurts. Even if it feels strange. Even if you think you can’t —you can. I promise you that. We’re all a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Because as cliche as it sounds, we really don’t know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have.
I mean, there were times during my addiction where I thought I was going to die. There were moments when I wish I had. But for whatever reason, I held on. I held on for dear life and kept going. Even though I didn’t want too. Even though I didn’t know where I was going. But now that I’m on the other side, I see everything so clearly. It’s that damn hindsight again. And in a strange, detached way, I’m almost grateful for my rock bottoms. Because I’m a different person these days. And in this case, different means good.
Because I used to care what people thought of me.
I used to be afraid to speak my truth. To disagree. I had to be liked. Accepted. And if I wasn’t, I thought it was something I was doing. As if there was something wrong with me. But that’s not the case. It never was. Because we weren’t created to be the same. We weren’t created to be liked by everyone either. Because no one is you and that is your GOD damn superpower. Because we can’t find peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. So yeah, my life was pretty fucking shitty for a while.
But because I had to go through all that crap (quite literally), I don’t take anything or anyone for granted. I like the life I’ve created. I even like myself. I want you to say the same. Because yeah, I still have flaws. Obviously. Who doesn’t? And yeah, I’m still a little sensitive. I’m working on it though. Because we’re all a work in progress. So be yourself. Don’t hold back. Be absurd. Be weird. Crazy, in fact. And then find someone or a few someones who match yours.
So don’t forget: hurt people hurt people and it’s not always about you. In fact, it usually isn’t. Because most of the weird, sad, and ugly shit we go through —that makes us feel alone, actually bonds us all together. Because everyone else is going through something too. So be honest. Be awkwardly honest. Let that shit go. And forgive. Because how other people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. Because we’ve been fooled into thinking we need those other people to be happy. We don’t.
Above all though, know who you are and know that’s enough.