Thursday, September 24, 2015

Defining Ourselves

Never one to sugar-coat a situation, truth is that sometimes you drown. I have felt like I’m drowning more and more over the past year and even more so as the last few months have passed. Life’s changes have a way of making you look at things in different perspectives. Paths you weren’t planning on taking become the road more traveled and the life you once thought you longed for seems farther away from where you are headed. Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression (surprise, surprise). Having depression can be a heavy load and as of late, while still drowning, someone seems to have tied bricks to my ankles.  My depression effects every part of my day and particularly the little mind-games I play with myself in terms of how I perceive a situation or more importantly my own self.  My sister has a plaque in her home that reads “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Now, I am sure we’ve all heard that at one time or another and the amazingness of that quote is more than apparent.  Aside from the fear of failure however, how incredible would it be if we could look at these moments in our lives from the perspective of hindsight while we suffer through our consequences and decisions made to see that everything will truly be alright in the end. 
We are all the creators of our own destiny … or so the saying goes, yet I feel as if every possible outside factor is taking hold of my life right now.  It makes me wonder if I am psychologically forcing myself to be in this place because I feel I deserve to be punished and perhaps I am playing the “woe is me” card versus how much truly is out of my control.  How much of the shit show that is swirling around me is created by my own self and why does it seem so matter-of-fact impossible to stop the chaos?  I have witnessed people of all ages go through their own  (for lack of a better word) “mid-life crisis,” and I refuse to believe that I’m going through this at the age of 27 but what if it’s a mid - mid-life crisis? No matter what I want to call it, at the end of the day I need to stop looking for whatever rational is going to make me feel better about my situation and just face the music.  There are times I witness others going through depression or having a bout of anxiety and I instantly think to myself how silly they are being and how everything will be just fine.  When it is me wearing the depression hat or having my own anxiety issues, that I very much have, I feel like my world is consumed and the ways out of the situation do not seem obtainable.  Funny how life has its own way of humbling us and reminding us that we are no different than one another.
In the personal wars we face in the span of our lives, the most damaged casualty can often be our own self-worth.  We gauge our success and worth by our jobs, our relationship statuses or by the amount of weight we have lost.  We see each other’s lives on Facebook and everyone else appears to be so happy.  They look as if to lead these perfect lives and the comparisons become overwhelming. At the end of the day however, are we still good, worthwhile people even if our employers or ex’s don’t agree?  Can we still be considered successful in life if our relationships do not work out or if we don’t have the stick figured or muscled physique we long to have?  I ask this because I feel all of it.  I will be the first to tell you that I have a prideful side to myself and that I love my jeep and I prefer to have the newest iPhone model.  I’m the guy that will drive 20 minutes out of his way to shop at Super-Target rather than walk into Walmart that is only 3 minutes away from my front door.  I’m more than aware these things do not matter in the long run and yet I find myself following these rules I have set for myself that get me nowhere in life.  No one knows where I bought my deodorant or at what store I purchase the cereal I eat for breakfast (okay who are we kidding I eat cereal for lunch and dinner as well).   These are things I have put in my own way and told myself that I need to do things this way in order to feel good or to be happy yet I cannot (for the life of me) understand why I have put these barriers in place. 
If we’re being completely honest, I have been having certain struggles in my place of work that are making me a nervous wreck.  These concerns bring me to realize how I am not where I thought I would be at this point in my life and bring about the unfortunate realization of how much harder those aspirations seem to be from where I currently am in my life.  Those close to me know that I have a tendency to push people away when I am going through a difficult situation and it is safe to say that I have stayed true to my pattern as of late.  It was brought to my attention that I am trying to change a lot about my life and I am trying to do it all at once.  This can be stressful and I am letting it consume my ability to function in my day to day life.  The other day, after a rather emotional day in the office, I sat in the hot tub at the gym and allowed myself a few moments to attempt relaxation.  While there, this elderly gentleman started chatting with me and within a few moments I learned that he use to work at my current place of business and that he as well use to do photography and the kicker was when he told me that he worked for Disney and knew Walt himself and began to tell me stories of their encounters.  I sat there in complete bewilderment. I had just had one of the worst days at work and out of nowhere I am meeting this man that has lead the exact life I want to lead.  On this particular day I had turned my phone off after leaving work and just requested to be left alone and to be honest I was rather annoyed when this gentleman began interrupting my alone time but I needed the conversation that took place to happen at just that moment. It showed me I’m not doomed and that I can have these things I want so badly in life.  The goals I have set for myself are obtainable because I was sitting there listening to a man tell me how he has done all of the many things I plan to do with my life.  It was surreal and felt like one of those moments in the movies where your guardian angel comes to tell you a message and you turn around and they are gone in the blink of an eye. 
We must have hope. As with everything else in life, it is so much easier said than done but we must stop putting these barriers in place that prevent us from living more simply and finding joy in the little things that so easily can put a smile on our faces if we only give them the ability to do so.  We must stop considering our lives failures only because we are not able to see our current situation in hindsight or an immediate result.  As hard as our circumstances may seem, there is always at least a ray of light in the distance.  Things do turn out for the better and we must remember, as Walt himself always said, to “Keep Moving Forward.”  We never know when our outlook may change or when the rainclouds will part but we must be open to the possibility that today just might be that day.  And if we feel like drowning, like I very much do at this very moment, perhaps we should stop waiting for a flotation device and just start swimming for our lives.  These challenges we face are only what we allow them to be . . . so why do we put ourselves through the ringer, when all we need is not attend the boxing match.  Here’s to hoping we all find that ray of light sooner rather than later (or at least remember how to make our own flotation device out of our jeans like we were taught in boy scouts).


  1. Chris! I love your perspective. I hear the frustration and have lived a lot of the same frustrations, especially as it goes to "mid-life" issues and comparisons to the "perfect crowd". One of the very valuable things that I've learned is exactly what you point out here... When I start feeling like I need to grip tighter and squeeze whatever it is I'm holding on to, that is the exact opposite of what seems to help. The tighter the grip, the more easily things pop out of your hand. Taking some time to relax and "let go" allows me some perspective to dig back in and keep rolling. Thanks for writing! Very good stuff.

  2. There was a time when I knew I must let go, but I just didn't know how and in that moment, after not letting go for year after year, I realized by being honest enough to admit I had no idea how to let go or what that even meant that I began to experience what it meant to let go. Life is so random and so beautiful. I realize that what I think, feel and believe are things that exist in my head and the world I live in exists outside of my head. So if life is about living in this world, I simply am not afraid to be wrong. I relish the times I learn a better way ...today.

  3. Life has a funny way to throw curb-balls at us when we think we have things figured out. I've had to start over more times than I care to count; a job that didn't work out, a move to a new state that didn't pan out, a crappy relationship that lasted way longer than it ever should have existed, etc--but once you hit the proverbial rock bottom there's no way to go but up!

    But on the other hand, when good things happen--WOW, life is so beautiful and it is likely that more wonderful things happen in our daily lives than crappy ones, we're sometimes just so overwhelmed by the bad stuff that we fail to sit and watch a sunset or appreciate someone doing odd acts of kindness, etc...

    I've learned that instead of expecting life to turn out the way I see it in my head I'd rather try to mold things in a way that I'm ready to take on the opportunities when they come and that I'm able to, doesn't always happen, but even when bad things come that give me stress I know they won't last forever--sure failing at something is scary, but the thick skin you grow from that is a good thing.

    Hang in there--everything shall pass.