The program I was admitted through to get into college was designed to accommodate non-traditional students. This means, a lot of my fellow classmates are older than me and a lot of them have had unique pasts. Some have been involved with drugs, others dealt with having children at young ages, some had bad home lives, the list goes on.

After the first semester or two, a lot of students admitted into the program will drop out of college. There always seems to be a sense of disappointment when you hear about a classmate dropping out, no matter how rational the reason is. The program is designed to allow people, I feel, with rough pasts a second chance. My program has a large support system, and when someone can’t benefit from this lovely program it’s truly sad!

I’ve known a few classmates to drop in my 1 1/2 years in this program. It’s not fun and I remember feeling judgmental towards the individuals who dropped out. The program is so wonderful, how could they not benefit enough from it? They aren’t trying hard enough.

However, as I glance through facebook and look at the people who have dropped out, I see that some of them appear to be happy. I know a man who dropped out and started doing missionary work. He seems incredibly satisfied with his life. He is doing exactly what he believes in. Although one drop out is working a job I’m not sure he’s happy with, he is always posting inspirational, thoughtful quotes. I believe he is finding himself.

My point is, I don’t think it matters exactly what you are doing with your life, as long as you find purpose and meaning with what you are doing.

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The Power of Sympathy

Tonight I was watching the news with my family. I watch the news a lot when I’m home, and when I’m not at home I casually read news articles. It is good to stay in the know and to be informed, in a general sense at minimum.

I’m not a politician and I try to stay out of politics, and quite honestly, I don’t understand all of the intricacies of everything that is going on in the middle east. I do, however, understand that there is a war going on in Syria and that gratuitous amounts of people are suffering because of it.

On the World News they have been following the story of people starving in Syria. I don’t completely understand why, and I don’t want to or need to completely understand why. I can understand that children are dying because people can’t work out their differences. I can understand that innocent people are falling victim to a war.

And I can absolutely understand that there is no excuse for that. There is no excuse for a small child to not have had a meal for a week, or for a grown woman to be living off of boiled grass for an extended period of time (and when asking if she can leave, being told she will be killed). There is no excuse for this. People are already starving in other parts of the world because food isn’t available, and food can be made available to these people but a government is withholding it from them to make a statement.

Is this the world I live in?

The tragedy of the situation reminds me how delicate life is. Nothing is guaranteed. Although, it is far less likely that I would end up in a situation that these poor Syrians are in, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for me. My life as I know it could change at any moment.

We are all human but we are so quick to dehumanize people when we are filled with anger, hatred, misunderstanding, and distance (both emotional and physical). Not that we dehumanize these Syrians, but I don’t think many of us fully understand the magnitude of their situation. Do we think about what we would want and how we would feel if we were in these peoples shoes? I don’t think many people do, and for that I am saddened.

Remember that we are all people.

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I keep going through waves of feeling slightly less than average, to feeling not so great about myself and most of my relationships with little to no provocation. It’s frustrating and only contributes to my feelings of being out of control.

When I get in these slumps I feel very weird. I am not overly unsatisfied with myself as a person, but I am definitely not satisfied in the least bit, either. I am neutral. I feel so incredibly average and terrible.
“I have a pimple, I am ugly, I am plain Jane.”
“I have no personality.”
These thoughts snowball into more dramatic thoughts where I assume that (what few relationships I have) are not real. My friends don’t actually want me around or like me, my boyfriend isn’t actually interested. Why would anyone have feelings towards someone who is so incredibly average?

I hate feeling this way! I wish I know where it came from and how to stop it. From what I gather, these feelings are pretty common but I have experienced them about three times in a month now and I feel like that is too frequent. I feel unstable.

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Journey to Understanding

As I continue my quest for a more peaceful, understanding, loving, and kinder version of myself I remind myself of the qualities that makes up a person with those traits. What I was like when I was this version of myself two years ago before I got lost in a sea of negativity.

I realize it is important to be patient. Not only with other people, but myself. What is the hurry? It is far more important to listen to understand than to listen to respond. If I disagree with someone in conversation it is no more than a disagreement. No one is wrong or right because tho other persons opinion is their own version of the truth.

It is difficult to remember these things but I am re-learning.

It is important to remember that things are hardly ever what they seem. What we see almost always just skims the surface of the real problem. When a person lashes out at you, it seems harsh and rude (heck, it IS harsh and rude) but ordinarily, YOU are not the reason the person is acting that way. The reality is that we all have control over ourselves and how we react to things. The person who lashed out at you might be having troubles at home, is having a bad day, or has other reasons to be angry. I must remind myself that people, more often than not, treat me poorly because of their own personal issues and not because of anything I did to them on a personal level.

It is important to speak softly and carefully. It may seem foolish but did Mother Theresa yell kindness to everyone? Think of public figures who are known for their generosity and kindness. Is The Pope a loud man? Was Ghandi known for his booming voice and swearing? It is important to pick words that more accurately describe how you feel. It is okay to take your time in choosing these words. It is important to shout only when necessary, not when you are angry, stressed, or hurt. Word choice is far more important than volume.

It is incredibly important to remember that people are just people. You are not above or below anyone. We all have the same basic physiological needs. We all poop. We all have light and dark inside of us. Where we are located in financial classes, how educated we are, and how “”important”” our jobs are do not define us. Our choices define a larger part of us. Happenstance, being born into a wealthy family, and opportunity are all things we, as people, have little control over, and, therefore, do not define us. Remember that next time you come across a homeless person. Remember that next time you come across a corporate executive. Remember that we are all fighting our own battles and that we all have our own strengths.

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Working on Myself

After drowning myself in a sea of poor relationships, I have allowed myself to forget who I am. I am very disappointed in myself and, very generally, frustrated.

I felt like I worked so hard to be where I was on an emotional and mental level about a year and a half ago and it feels like I am starting all over again, from square one.

I felt like I was calm, thoughtful,understanding, and active among other qualities. Now, I feel hateful. I feel myself feeling angry and frustrated most of the time. I find myself not knowing when to keep my mouth shut and when to stop arguing with people or when to just leave them alone. I find myself reacting. I feel out of control.

I know it is odd to call myself “calm” especially since I have anxiety disorders, but I have always been a calm person despite my anxiety disorders.

I blame myself for the negative people I have allowed in my life for this horrible effect. I am trying to rebuild.

This being said, I do not believe in New Years resolutions. New Years resolutions imply that you are introspective one time out of the year, and decide to work on yourself then. I believe in being introspective all the time (or at least trying to be) and working on yourself, always. After all, everyone is only human and we can never reach perfection but we can strive for it. You will never be perfect, so why not work on the aspects about you that aren’t so attractive that you have control over.

It is going to be hard to work on these qualities. They are deep. But I hope by summer I will have made significant improvement between being aware of my actions, working on my actions, and surrounding myself with new, more positive people who encourage me to be the best possible version of myself I can be. I refuse to allow this world to make me hard! I want to be soft!

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As a society I think we tend to admire certain personality traits when we aren’t completely obsessed and distracted with superficial qualities.

I think as a society we tend to admire courageous, strong, brave, gentle, kind, and caring people (among other traits that I am unable to think up of at the moment.)

What I feel that people fail to recognize is that these traits do not spawn within the souls of individuals miraculously. These traits are often birthed from ugly experiences. We don’t talk about how people become so kind and understanding because they’ve gone through hell as well!

We are born with temperament, sure, but our experiences help shape us and our perspective on the world. How we see the world influences how we think and act and how we think and act, influences how we see the world.

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Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

I live my life through many quotes and sayings. I love quotes. I love relating to people, past and present, of various intellect and importance. It reminds me that people are just people and that we are all bound together by some common interest.

There have been many sayings that have especially helped me with my battle of anxiety. One of the bigger sayings is, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch.

It’s very simple but profound, in my opinion. If you try to challenge it, you can’t. Are you happiest when you exclusively do what you are comfortable with? When have you been exceptionally proud of yourself? Was it when you laid in bed all day or is it when you did something you weren’t entirely comfortable with? What’s the most fun you’ve ever had? Were you comfortable throughout the entire event or was there some anxiety involved?

You get my point.

For me, in all of the aforementioned situations I have been anxious.

College is a great place to challenge your anxieties. I live by myself so I am alone with my thoughts a lot which is both healthy and toxic. I am around (for the most part) people around my age which means a smaller comfort zone for me, yet it allows for a community of support. We are all bound together by our common interest: being college students.

As this semester comes to a close, I reflect on all of the ways I have challenged myself. For the most part, the challenges have been active decisions.

I am not ashamed to say that I have a therapist who has helped encourage me to step out of my comfort zone (sometimes I need gentle encouragement to proceed with my ideas).

My biggest achievement this semester, probably has been being comfortable with being insecure in public. Specifically, being comfortable with being insecure with eating at the dining commons by myself. At first I hated it. I texted my friends and my mom the entire time and would only eat facing the wall. I only got food that I knew exactly where it was located. Now, I text less, and am more willing to face the masses while I eat (although I still prefer not to, it’s not a disaster if the only seat available faces everyone, either) and I have explored the coffee area of the dining common that I visit. I feel like I have so much more freedom now that I know I am capable of doing one more task by myself.

Eric Fromm said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”

On a smaller scale, I have been trying to make a point to put on my brave face and be friendly to people when I can, no matter how little I may know them. Sometimes it is hard for me to respond to someone in the simplest of ways. Recently, someone I have not officially met told me to drive safely. I was not expecting this good wish and quickly got overwhelmed and only grimaced in response. This probably was not reassuring to the kind stranger. But I have been thanking people who open doors for me, and responding to others when they thank me for opening the door for them, and excusing myself when I am in the way. I am not rude nor do I try to be rude when I don’t respond. It sounds very simple but I get incredibly flustered very easily.

I have also had to face my (intense)insecurities in the face everyday, every time I leave the room. They have not gone away or diminished by any means, but it has been a “fear” I have faced everyday.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'”

And Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.”

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