Love Letters From London

“I hope you find yourself out there”
Man, if I could count the amount of times my friends and family have said that to me since I left on this trip — yikes. It’s been a lot. And for awhile, I couldn’t figure out why it oddly bothered me. Because searching for yourself isn’t a bad thing, it is quite the opposite, actually. But because that’s not what I came here to do, it annoyed me for some reason. And with my new realization of why it bothered me, I wanted to write a letter to you all.
I ask that you read it as if it was truly meant for you, with your name on the top.
Dear reader,
Life is weird. Emotions take over our thoughts, circumstances can change our entire life, and for the first quarter of our live’s (possibly longer) we don’t even know who the fetch we are. Now, if that isn’t weird, I don’t know what is. Life is weird. Through my rather-annoyed view on the statement, “I hope you find yourself”, I realized why it was bothersome. And that’s why I’m writing to you.
Our journey in life can really simply be broken up into two segments: discovering who you are, and embracing who you are. In more direct cases, that can mean something like: coming out as gay (trans, bi, or anything of the LGBTQ community), living a life true to your deepest culture (Native American, Hispanic, or any culture/religion/belief), or something that is genetically, biologically, or mentally you. That is a pretty direct way of both finding, and embracing who you are. In a more complex way (not to say that anything from the list above is known as simple, easy, or widely and easily accepted by any means), we discover who we are on a deeper level. I mean that in a sense of what makes us genuinely fulfilled, what we’re passionate about, what we want to see in the world, what we want to learn more about, how we take care of ourselves mentally and what “happiness” means to us. Searching for that, means we’re on the journey to discover who we are.
But what the fetch do we do when we find it? (there’s no “if/when” here; you willdiscover who you are if you want to)
Which brings me to phase two: embracing who you are (which is what I’m doing on this trip).
Embracing who you are means loving and exploring who you are on every level, with nothing other than love and acceptance. For me, writing opened up new doors and made me feel more myself than I ever have; I can’t put a pen down. It allowed me to find the words to express my emotions, let out my pain in a healthy way, and connect with others that happened to feel the same way. Writing, for me, was my “holy shit, this is what I’m meant to do, this is what I want to do with my life” moment, you know? Now, on this trip, I’m writing freely and meeting people that allow me to be myself without question. The beauty of traveling is that we’re all away from home, meaning we’re unknowingly being our truest-selves because nobody that knew us prior is here to question or complain; we’re just present. But just because it’s writing, traveling, and sharing my story for me, doesn’t mean that’s what it is for you — and that’s why I’m writing to you.
So, here’s the most important part of your letter. I want you to dive deep, and get in your feels for this one. If you believe you’re on phase one (still searching for who you are), I want you to answer the following questions. If you’re on phase two, your questions will be further below.
Note: I’m serious –like, read these questions with your ego aside and answer them from the roots of your truest-self. Be vulnerable, be open, be honest. Write the answers in your phone or your notebook and seriouslythink about your answers and reflect on yourself/your life. Remember: this is your life here! Your one life that you get — it’s time to make sure you’re happy with it and know what a life of happiness means for you.
1 – Have you discovered anything throughout your life so far that brings you true joy? If so, what, and how often do you do it?
2 – Have you tried anything new lately? Or tried something you’ve always wanted to do? If you haven’t, why haven’t you? Also, make the plan to. Right now.
3 – Have you been completely honest with yourself about who you are (sexually, racially, culturally, etc.) and both accepted and loved yourself for it?
4 – Are you truly happy in your relationship? Your job? What you do daily with your life? Why or why not? (answer fully, with detail)
5 – What do you believe is possible for you? What is your strongest self-limiting belief?
6 – Do you feel that you handle emotions in a healthy way?
7 – What do you love most about yourself? Why?
8 – Do you feel that what you do in your daily life has meaning? Why or why not?
If you don’t know the answer to, or unsatisfied with some of the questions in this, take 15-20 minutes (or longer) to think about what you need to change, and what you could do to get the answers you’re looking for. For example: maybe you need to travel, maybe you need to move, maybe you need to go skydiving, maybe you need to go hiking and camp in the woods for five days, maybe you need to go to a silent-meditation retreat, maybe you need a holiday, maybe you need to be single, maybe you need to quit your job.
Go do something, and take the first step right now, that will give you these answers as to who you are. Go.
Now, if you’re on phase two and are going to thoroughly answer these questions, I want you to be aware of a few things: 1 – most people in the world find who they are, and never do anything with it. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. We get stuck in school because our parents tell us to, when really we want to just play music and get a normal random job because we don’t care about money, and music makes us happy. We get stuck at a job we dislike in place we dislike because our family is there or we’re scared to move, but we’d really be happy just living elsewhere, in the sun with a job at a coffee shop to meet new people. We have a passion for school and learning and teaching, but our family owns a family business, so we just do that instead. Do you see what I’m getting at here? We hold ourselves back. We think it’s too hard, or it’ll hurt to many people, or it’s too much of a risk, and to be honest with you: that’s just dumb. We’re here (for what we know) one time. ONE TIME. If there’s something out there you want, go get it. 2 – Fake happiness is scary because it becomes real to us, even if we aren’t truly happy. These questions need to be answered in a brutally honest way. 3 – Another thing that holds people back from embracing who they are is the fact that they put their own happiness beneath things such as: their job (also money in general), their partner, their friends, etc. — just overall lack of self-care. Self-care, and being selfish sometimes plays a big role in reaching the state of embracing oneself. 4 – Many people are held back by the simple fact that those around them don’t allow them to grow. It’s subconscious, of course, because it’s usually the people that love you the most that notice you changing and make comments on it. But if that’s the case for you, and you feel as though you’d bloom elsewhere, go do that. Go somewhere else for awhile. It’s easier than you’d think. Be honest about the people you spend your time with and how they help you grow (or hold you back) in these answers.
5 (and most important to note) – most people — not some, most– go their entire life without asking themselves these questions, or don’t come to face with their real answers until they’re 40, in a marriage they aren’t completely happy in or a job they hate or regret of not doing what they had the urge to do when they were younger. Side note: if you are 40+ please don’t think it’s too late. Welcome to a life in which we now live a healthy life until we’re 65-75 if we want to. Even longer if you truly want to. Also, statistically speaking, the generation that is now entering their 40s is the generation with the highest opportunity to be the healthiest, happiest, and most sort “freedom-filled” generation alive right now. So, shut up, and quit acting old. You too, ya 50-year-olds.
1 – Who in your life builds you up and pushes you to be the you that you want to be? Do you, and some of your loved ones truly know who you want to be/what you want to do with your life? If not, share it with them. If you don’t know, answer the questions above.
2 – Do the opinions of others (others meaning absolutely anyone, including parents and loved ones) hold you back?
3 – Are you happy with your day-to-day life? Why or why not?
4 – Who inspires you and why do they inspire you?
5 – Are you doing what you feel is the most you? What is that, exactly?
6 – Do you truly love who you are, and the people you keep close to you? Do they truly know you, and love you as well?
7 – What do you believe your purpose is in life? Are you following it?
8 – When is the last time you did what you’re passionate about?
9 – If you could think of one thing that holds you back and rattles you with hesitation, what would that one thing be? (if more than one, write them all)
10 – Are you proud of who you are? Is there something you could do that would make you even prouder? If so, what — and go do it.
Now, I’m going to leave you with this: life is too short. It truly is. If you’re alive, and you’re healthy, you are capable of anything. And if something is missing in your life, or you know what you want but you aren’t doing it, you need to go do it. Move to the city, book the flight, make the call, apply for the job, end the relationship, ask them out, quit the job, drop out, switch schools, apply for college, make the CD, write the book, take the test — GO DO IT. Taking the leap is nothing you will ever regret; standing there not doing anything with what you want your life to be, will.
I’ll also end by saying that I’m clearly no guru, nor am I here to basically try to tell you that your life sucks. I’m writing this letter with love, in hopes that it makes you reflect a bit on who you are, who you hope to be, and what you’re doing to both discover and embrace every aspect of yourself. I’m here in phase two: embracing who I am and seeing what I can do with what I want out of life, but that doesn’t mean the journey to get here was or is any less important, nor was it necessarily any easier (not that either are full of ease, to be fair). It is tough mentally, but with heaps of self-care practices and openness, I not only knocked out the intensity of my mental health, but I also found clarity in the fact that I found my purpose in life and I believe in who I am.
If you know who you are, go where ever you need to go and do whatever you need to do that will allow you to embrace it with no hesitation. Practice self-care and self-love along the way; remember that youmatter most, when it comes to you.
Lots of love and Aloha,
Brynnen
P.S. a post-note for my readers that battle with depression:
Did you know that 30% of people that are depressed, are depressed due to individual lifestyle factors? Meaning their lack of self-worth and depressive state are mainly due to their own daily choices. Ex of individual lifestyle factors: alcohol usage/abuse, smoking habits, obesity, lack of overall health (diet, exercise, etc.)  — basically things that impact your overall well-being and amount of self-worth. Another factor that plays a role in a high percentage of depression rates is social and environmental conditions: where you live, where you work, and who you interact and spend your time with. Of course, many depressive-states form at a young age, as do some of the unhealthy habits we’ve built for ourselves, but ultimately the roles that are playing a major part of your depression are in your control. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, that’s not what I’m saying, but it is possible. There’s no way smoking cigarettes makes you feel good; there’s no way that lack of exercise and poor diet make you feel good; there’s no way spending time with shitty people and a job you dislike make you feel good — these things feed a part of you that you don’t want to feed. I don’t care how scary it is or how much is at risk, you need to change your life in the ways that you can. If you have kids and can’t uproot your life, I understand. But that means you need to start with basic self-care: quit smoking, quit drinking, start exercising, buy healthier groceries — value your life as much as you value your children’s life. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone not only deserves, but is capable of a genuinely happy and fulfilled life. Odds are, you know what it’ll take to get there, and I hope these questions above helped you find those answers.
Find your self-worth; take your life back.
GOODBYE FOR REAL NOW, I LOVE YOU,
Brynn

 

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Crafted

We don’t realize how many memories are stored in our brain; how many memories, and people in them, that are crafted, just slightly, into who we are. Joy crafts you. Of course, pain does too, but that’s almost easier for us to remember— the pain. We forget the moments of pure joy that left a mark on our heart. The laughs brought on by people we might not be close with anymore. The shoulder we were able to lean on when we needed it. The times that made you feel like you mattered to the world. We forget those things as time goes on.

Today I lost a friend I haven’t been close with in years. To be completely honest with you, it’s been so long that I don’t even remember the last time I talked to him in person. We talked via Facebook a few weeks ago about his music, but that’s just about it other than a “happy birthday” kind of message over the last few years. I spent hours laying in bed this morning thinking about my memories of him, and though tears were running down my face as I pictured him laughing, the joy I felt at those moments in time instantly came back to me. I could actually feel the joy again as if it was current. At one point, I thought back to a “first date” we went on (before we decided friendship was a better route for us because his dad wasn’t a fan of the dating life in 8th grade lol) and the memory was so clear because it was the first time I had ever felt butterflies. It was my first kiss that wasn’t a dare. I remember even getting butterflies when he held my hand in the movie theater that night. I actually, somewhere, still have the ring he gave me that night… the ring I wore for two hours before my finger turned green (ya know, we’re on a budget in 8th grade) but it meant so much to him that I wore it anyway. When we stuck to the friend zone later on, we actually loved it. I was able to come to his house now because his dad knew we weren’t dating, so we got to spend more time together. Another vivid memory that came back to me was being with him the night before he went to meet his birth mother for the first time. He was so overwhelmed, I remember feeling anxious for him and praying it went well (even though I don’t even think I believed in God then, or at least knew who He was). I remember, too, the rest of our friends feeling the same way. We loved him so much and we got so involved. The rest of the morning was flooded with more vague memories; memories of him dancing (which he loooved to do), singing and rapping lyrics to his favorite songs, and laughing… always. We were always happy and having a good time together. All of us as a group, and him and I when it was just us. Pure joy, constantly. I remember, still, pep talks he gave me about the fact that I didn’t have a dad around. I remember him telling me that I still had the world in my hands and that I was loved by many others. And this is how he spoke to everyone, all the time. Positive, loving reassurance that truly made a difference. Always, always spreading nothing but love to the people he cared about. Honestly, even people he didn’t really know. He was that kind of guy.

These feelings, though they were all eight years ago now, rushed back to me as if it had happened last night. The crazy thing is, is that I didn’t even know I had these memories stored in my mind whatsoever. Things change, people change, and life goes on. But these times craft us. They craft parts of who we are. Certain songs make me picture his face. And certain songs, smells, places, etc., remind me of other people I also haven’t talked to in years. They remind me of them because a small piece of my heart was touched by the people in these memories. Every person that’s made you feel anything at all, has contributed a little bit into the person you are, whether you consciously realize it or not.

As I said before, obviously things change, and relationships are lost over time for various reasons, but it’s important to remember these people along the way and appreciate the mark they left on your heart. And to remember, too, that you are also leaving a mark on theirs, so your time should be spent showing compassion and kindness to everyone around you, despite what circumstances may be sometimes (which is something the guy in these stories never failed to do). To anyone reading this, and reading it this far, I hope you take a minute to reflect on people that have helped craft you along the way. I’m talking as far back as you can remember; a best friend from third grade, or a coach from high school. Remember the people that covered your days in joy, and reach out to them and let them know that you appreciate it. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Tell old friends that you still cherish your memories together. Be grateful, humble, and kind. And overall, just take a moment every once in awhile to feel genuine appreciation for all those who have touched your heart and crafted parts of your soul in any way. Including people that are in your life currently. It’s so important.

Anthony, the live’s you touched will remember you forever and they will all reflect on the same things; your contagious laughter, your huge smile, your kindness and compassion for everyone, and your heart that was incredibly large and always loving. We love you, always. And I pray that you knew you were this loved before you left, and that you impacted everyone in your life as much as you did. Thank you for changing each and every one of our live’s in your own way. Rest in peace.

Consumed

I’ve reached a point in which pain is just who I am. Not forever, of course, but for now pain has made a home of me.

A good friend of mine told me the other day that they could actually feel the presence of my pain, that they could feel it across the room and they felt it the minute they saw me. I’ve been told the light inside of me is gone. Even when I have really good days, and even when I feel genuine happiness throughout the day, I lay down at night and feel the pain that’s being stored in my body. My muscles are tense, my jaw hurts because I realize I’ve been clenching it all day without noticing, and I’m exhausted when I get to bed. My body knows I’m in pain. My mind denies, it but my body knows. My soul is fighting to get out of this but the pain is just there. It won’t go away. It’s consumed me. People feel it when they talk to me. They hear it in my voice, they see it in my eyes, and they read it on my smile. It’s there, and it’s shining brighter than any feelings of joy, happiness, or love. It’s stuck here, and it’s stubbornly still.

Pain has made a home of me.

Signs

Depression: feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
“self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression”
I just recently got back from Thailand, and my post-travel depression was no joke. I hadn’t battled with my depression that much in two years. In the beginning, it was just the post-travel struggles that got to me. But of course, a couple months later, I knew it had grown bigger than just the hunger of wanting to be “free” like I was in Thailand. It had turned into something more; it had turned into a major issue… again. I ignored my signs for a long time, but I’m acknowledging them now and wanted to share, 1: because I want to let others know how subtle they can be, so they can be aware. 2: because I just need to write about it. And 3: because I want to share my progress on fighting back.
“Self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression”
This is the example that Google gave, using “depression” in a sentence. The term “self-doubt” is spot on, and that’s a major part of the signs to look for. Self-doubt, lack of self-care, and feelings of worthlessness. Ex: I am a neat-freak and a total germaphobe. My room, work place, and car need to be clean. I could be completely exhausted when I get home, but I will always shower before getting in my bed. Not because I’m just a spaz about it (thought I kind of am), but because I know I won’t feel like my best self if I don’t feel clean and orderly. A few months ago I started to notice myself being a lot less mindful. My room was a disaster and I didn’t care. I was slacking at work and my office was a mess, and I didn’t care. My car was covered in old food, empty water bottles, and clothes, and I didn’t care. I washed my hair in the shower maybe once every few days, because I didn’t care, nor did I have the energy to take the time to even get it wet. I washed my face maybe once a day, which is not normal, because I know how important it is to take care of your skin. Putting lotion on felt like a total chore, which again, I know how important it is to keep your skin hydrated (especially during summer) and I didn’t care. I was eating poorly, rarely working out, and some days, I wasn’t even eating at all. I had no care in the world about how I looked; the less time I had to look at myself in the mirror, the better. I wasn’t writing in my journal; I didn’t open my journal for almost two months (and I usually write daily). I wasn’t reading. I hadn’t meditated in months. I wasn’t hiking or taking the “me” time I usually do, because that felt like too much work, too. And sleep; ugh. Sleep. Some days I could sleep for hours, and felt like I wanted to sleep for literal days. Other times, I could get maybe three hours of sleep, for days on end. My body couldn’t deny the way I was feeling. Most days, my body showed it much more than my brain did. I was getting sick, I was so tense that I threw my back out twice, and had random little injuries all the time. My body couldn’t function correctly at all. I, in general, could hardly function most days. These subtle, semi-mild signs of lack of self-worth grew bigger over time (mainly these last few weeks, which is why I decided to take action). My self-worth dropped to the point of having suicidal thoughts again; not to the point of acting on them, but to the point of just wishing something would happen to me so I didn’t have to do it myself. Driving down the road, all I could think about was “I hope a car hits me”; going to the doctor, all I could think was “I hope I’m diagnosed with something awful and I only have a few weeks left” when really, all I was even there for was my birth control. Thoughts of dying didn’t scare me; they were something I hoped for. I felt like my life had no value, and that I was staying here only because I had to. The collateral damage of taking my own life is too messy and too hard for the people that care about me, so the thoughts (more so like the hope) of something happening to me naturally, crossed my mind daily. Probably multiple times a day. So, clearly, my self-care and self-worth had reached their lowest point. I had no way to deny how terrible my depression had become.
Depression, though, at least for me, is more numbness than it is anything else. I wasn’t waking up every day feeling sad; I was waking up feeling numb and just going through the motions I had to that day. I’d get up, brush my teeth, put on my clothes, go to work, stay no longer than needed, try to eat, and hangout with my friends until it was time to go back to sleep. To me, that’s all my days were at that point: just going through the motions because I had to. There were times, though, (even sometimes days in a row) that I did feel genuine joy. I wasn’t completely numb every day. Some days hanging out with my friends would make me feel like I could feel something other than nothing. And though my friends would probably never admit it, I think some of them noticed. I was tense, irritable, and sensitive. But I think the days that I was normal made them feel assured that I was okay. It wasn’t until I was in a situation that made me feel other emotions so strongly, that I came to the point that I am now; admitting where I am mentally and trying to fix it. The anger, sadness, and overall pain I felt from a slump I hit (even though they were bad feelings) made me remember that I can feel things. So, now here I am. Where do I go from here? Not only do I have to push through the depression I’ve been burying, but now I have to also work through the pain that I feel. I have to work on my self-growth in every way possible, and not let this depression take over me completely, anymore.

 

Step One: Accept that this is where I’m at, and know that it’s okay. Remind myself daily that this is something I can get out of. I will value my life again some day.

Step Two: Remove myself from the situation that’s causing me this extra pain and stress. It doesn’t matter if this situation is involving my family, friends, or even my job; get out if it’s making things worse for the time being.

Step Three: Everything else doesn’t necessarily need to be done in a certain order, but these are things that I know I need to start doing to get back on track. These are things I’ve done in the past that always pull me back: writing out my thoughts; reflecting on how I feel/why. Reading a new book, specifically a spiritual one that will remind me that I’m more than my depression (if you aren’t spiritual at all, that’s okay, hunt down a book that you think will help you. Also, I really genuinely suggest exploring your spirituality if you haven’t yet before. It helps me immensely). Making a list of things I’ve stopped doing that I need to start doing again, and a list of things I started doing that I need to spot doing. Ex: I started watching too much T.V., so I need to stop doing that, and take that time to read/write/meditate, etc. because those are things I stopped doing that I need to do again. Make this list your soul focus. Attack one change at time; don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do it all at once and put too much pressure on yourself. Take your time. Exercise! Even if you didn’t before, start now. Even if that means just walking a couple miles a day, do it. Your body needs endorphins, and your mind needs the clarity. I know it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Go workout. If possible, change your scenery. Most people, obviously, can’t just up and move. But if you can, do it. If you can’t, just take a weekend get away. Be surrounded by new people that have no idea what’s going on, and nobody that you need to wear a mask around. See places you’ve never seen before; get outside. Breathe fresh air. Try a new hobby. Explore some new music. Eat clean, healthy, nutrient-dense meals. Your body needs it. Do something that makes you happy, even if that’s something as small as going to the park and laying in the sun. Confide in someone (whether that’s a friend, family member, or counselor, just have someone to talk to). Take a break from social media. Do a community service event to remind yourself that there are ways to give back and touch other people’s lives. Practice basic self-care: keeping your house, car, and work place orderly; having a morning/nightly routine; stretching and focusing on what your body needs, etc.

These practices got me through these thoughts I had two years ago, and for the last two years, I genuinely enjoyed my life and felt immense joy. These are the same things I’m going to go through this time around, and I’m determined this time around to stay more self-aware so it doesn’t reach this level again.

*Also, a new thing I’m going to try that was a suggestion from my amazing friend, Nathan*: making a list of things I believe make me, me (he says this will help me remember that I’m more than just my depression). It’ll remind you who you are and what you value about yourself.

Whether you battle with situational-depression, seasonal-depression, or just depression in general – know what your triggers are, be aware, and make self-care your top priority. Daily. Take time to breathe, and take time each day to take care of yourself. Don’t ignore the signs creeping in, and take the time each day to value yourself and the person you strive to be. Value your life the way that you would a best friends. Stay cautious of your thoughts and remember that your self-care is the most important thing about your life.

 

“Today I affirm: self-care and self-growth will remain at the top of my priority list, no matter how chaotic life may get. I will work on myself daily, because I am worth it.”