In my mid-twenties, depression hit me. I felt lost and alone after facing so many unmet expectations in my career, relationships, and life. It took every ounce of energy to get out of bed and go to work. At work, all I could think about was crawling back under the covers at home to cry or sleep. I started to disassociate myself from friends and family. I stopped eating, because I stopped caring. Not many people knew about it, because I kept it hidden and felt ashamed. From an outside perspective, everything was good, so why was I so miserable? I blamed myself, saying, “you should be happy!” Not a good place.
This was me two years ago in Dallas, TX. Unhappy and dissatisfied, it took me hitting rock bottom (plus a bit of a family intervention) before I decided to make a change. After putting in the work to be in a better mental state, I took a month-long, self-reflective trip to Europe. Two weeks with friends, the rest alone. London, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Florence and the Cinque Terre: as I traveled, my self-confidence grew. After coming back to the States, I packed up my car and decided to do something crazy – move to the West Coast.
Family helped me acclimate to California, and pretty soon, I started dating a guy who epitomized the San Francisco dream – driven, intelligent, well-traveled, passionate. Fast forward to now, and I live in a beautiful apartment in the city with the most amazing people as friends. I’m in full swing pursuing a career switch. There are beaches, wine country, and mountains for weekend getaways and beautiful scenery. It’s a hub for the most cerebral and forward-thinking individuals, Stanford and Berkeley just a drive away. You’re at the cutting edge of technology: Google, Facebook, and start-up employees abound. Never a loss for things to do.
Sounds like everything someone could ever want, right? This easily could be a ride off into the sunset type of story if I stopped there! But not yet.
I started this blog two years ago because I felt disconnected from my goals, values, and authentic self. I wanted to make a change, and I did in some respects. Even amid all of the positive changes, I fell back into old habits: harboring that feeling of being off-balanced and uncertain. Somewhere between the move and now, I once again lost my sense of self. I lost my vision and path. I’m not where I expected to be in 2017.
Behind the veneer? I have doubts about my career change, only recently getting back on track with it (is it the right choice? what if I’m making a mistake?). That great guy I mentioned above — we ended it after almost a year and a half. I’m not where I want to be financially (the Bay Area is just as $$ as you would imagine it). And while my mind is constantly stimulated at the center of tech and innovation, at the same time, my insecurities persistently whisper at me: Are you smart enough? Ambitious enough? Creative enough? Can you REALLY make it in Silicon Valley?
Ouch. You might be saying, “But I don’t understand! Isn’t it supposed to work out?” Perhaps you feel robbed of a happy ending.
The truth is, life is an up and down journey. There isn’t a happy ending because the story is still happening! We write our own stories with fate throwing in some twists for good measure. Less fairytale and more ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’. Life isn’t linear, it’s dynamic. Emotions fluctuate, and there are seasons for everything. The good and bad. At some point, you realize that someone isn’t going to come rescue you. You come to this conclusion not out of resignation, but out of strength! To move towards taking responsibility. To be active instead of passive. To create a life that you love, becoming who you want to be.
As my sister likes to say, “be the heroine of your own story”. Strong — with the ability to be self-compassionate in times of struggle. And that can be kind of scary, especially when you’ve held so many negative beliefs for so long. Excessive thinking, “shoulds”, not feeling good enough — those habits can be difficult to change.
As I enter my late-20s, there is still so much to learn. But I’m ready to take on those lessons. Despite the challenges, I’m so grateful for everything that has happened these past few years. I’m so happy to be at this point in my life, even in times of sadness, loss or regret. I have so much hope for the future. I want to approach life full-force: with love, passion, authenticity, understanding and openness. Fostering self-acceptance as well as dropping judgements of myself and others. Moving past fear and forward with courage. Being okay with who I am, where I am right now. Having a strong sense of self. Creating a life that I’m excited to wake up to in the morning.
I hope that you’re creating a story that you love too.
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