In retrospect, last year wasn’t bad. It was a rollercoaster–the past few years have been–but it was pretty good.
That was the first time I have admitted that fact and it felt damn good.
I have a problem with stealing my own joy by focusing on the negative and what I don’t have and what I want to happen now. It’s a character flaw that drags me down into the depths of depression. I spent last year, and the year before that being really depressed because my career isn’t flourishing. I have tried, for years, to establish myself as a multimedia journalist, and to eventually get paid to do what I love but it hasn’t worked out the way I dreamed for a variety of reasons. I have been laid off twice since 2009. I worked a lot of freelance gigs in between that stole my soul because my ideas and talent weren’t respected but I needed checks and so I chased them and lowered my standards. I dealt with companies that didn’t want to pay me a decent enough wage to survive in New York, and companies that forced me to stalk them for my money and then I dealt with people who treated me like a dog. A lot more people than I imagined just don’t give a shit about people’s feelings and I gave them my energy at my expense.
A lot of my identity was tied up in being able to get paid doing what I love but the reality of what was happening with work and in my industry (which has tanked tremendously) crushed me. I also compared myself to other people who were seemingly achieving the type of progress that I wanted to see for myself. It made me feel worse…and useless.
I still struggle with that sadness but in retrospect, I realize I had no business working on anything but myself because I was dealing with PTSD from past job experiences. Job PTSD is really a thing, according to my therapist. I’m tenacious, so even though I knew I needed to work on healing, I still didn’t let go. Last year, when I was isolated in a city where I really didn’t have a network or familiarity, and my husband was working all the time (he’d leave at about 9:30 am and I was lucky if I saw him by 11 pm) and becoming a different person because the job he had drained his soul, I fell into such a dark place that I got to the point where getting out of bed was a struggle. It was scary.
People who have never been seriously depressed usually don’t understand what that feels like. The best way I can describe it is that I was possessed by an invisible but palpable entity that wanted me to die. If you’re familiar with Harry Potter, then think about the dementors.
I finally got serious about finding happiness after my therapist suggested being evaluated by a psychiatrist for medication. I couldn’t bring myself to getting on anti-depressants so I needed to get over myself. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded–I still struggle–but I started with thinking about the things that make me happy. Aside from family and friends, there was pole dancing. It was all I had in my isolation and it gave me a sense of normalcy, so that’s how I started passing my time after not having poled in several months since relocating.
Pole dancing lead to Pilates and doing more H.I.I.T. and strength training, and learning about Ashtanga yoga, which I plan to tackle seriously eventually. I also mustered the courage to post my pole pics on Instagram. I did my first Ayesha. My form was off but I celebrated because I hit a milestone that used to seem impossible.
When I wasn’t poling I was working on my novel that I had been working on for over a year. It was taking me forever to finish because of work obligations but I finally completed the rough draft. Now it’s time for me to get a presentable draft together to pitch to potential literary agents.
I quit a job that I hated because it was more of the same of what I had been going through years prior, but not before I was able to save up for travel goals that I had for 2013.
My first goal was to pay for a New Orleans trip to the Essence Festival, where I spent time with the hubby, and even saw friends and family from New York. A couple of months later, I went to London with my mother (it was initially going to be a solo trip but my mom expressed interest in going), which was another goal and then two months after that I went to Barbados. I saw three friends get married and the hubby got a job that allowed us to move back to NYC.
Being back in New York has made me happier but being in the midst of where my industry lives and not being where I want to be is still a struggle. With that, I realize a new set of tests has begun. Living in Chicago allowed me to reflect on my life from the past few years and I realize that it’s important that I build on the lessons that the universe has been trying to teach me in order to move forward.
My career approach will be different. I don’t know how just yet but I’m thinking about it and I have to be OK with that. I must be nicer to myself by nurturing activities and thoughts that make me happy. I will stop comparing myself to other people because I only know my journey. I have to stop letting other people’s behavior drain me especially because 99% of their behavior has to do with them and not me. That doesn’t mean that I have to be a doormat but I also don’t have to fight everyone, including myself. It’s OK to relax and not get caught up in that no sleep hustle culture because unplugging is necessary. I must see everything through. I am impatient and when I don’t see the results that I want when I want then I give up. I also lack faith and have a general cynicism toward my life because it’s a defense and coping mechanism that I have developed. It was easier to expect the worst rather than be blindsided by hurt and more disappointment. I’m not afraid of disappointment. I just got so used to it that I made it second nature and I got tired of wondering if the right doors would ever open.
But having faith is important.
Even through the struggles, my life seems to fall into place when it needs to but I don’t trust the process. I’ve been leading with my ego and emotions but it’s more important to focus on abundance, gratitude and the process during the journey. It’s easy to write that and to say it but hard for me to put it in practice.
So, for 2014, I intend to keep myself busy and happy by focusing on what I’m passionate about and being consistent on the path that was meant for me.