Fall Changes

photo credit: Wanderung Hombourg via photopin (license)
photo credit: Wanderung Hombourg via photopin (license)

It feels like fall has come early this year. All the talk of pumpkin spice doesn’t feel out of place like it did last year at this time. Although it is 90 degrees today, the Pennsylvania breeze carries a chill as it stirs the air. Early leaves have begun to scatter gracefully across the pavement. Usually, I want to fight to hold onto the summer, but this year, I welcome the change.

This year, something feels different. It could be that I’m in a much different place than I was last fall. I had just moved back in with my parents after quitting a soul-sucking job. I was applying and interviewing to everything I could think of, to no avail. (I even got turned down for a job at Starbucks.) I almost regretted leaving my suffereable but secure master’s level job.

I’m in a far different place than I was three falls ago. This time in 2012, I was devastated after a misunderstanding at my internship that almost resulted in disciplinary action. I was completely questioning my chosen career path.Every day, I became more an more hopeless and depressed until my last day at the site in December.

This year, my goals feel closer than they did before. The part-time job I started in January has turned into a full-time opportunity, with me switching roles from caregiver to activities assistant. It’s not music therapy, but it’s much closer. It’s still a job that requires much less education than I have, but its a step in the right direction. The part that excites me the most, though, is that once I start receiving healthcare benefits from work, I will be able to afford to move into my own apartment. I already have a place picked out, and I’ve begun dreaming about how I want to decorate it.

I don’t know why things are so hard. I thought that once I completed my master’s degree, I’d have the key to an instantly successful life. Any job I wanted would be open to me. I had certainly labored enough for it. Fighting for jobs that I am underqualified for has felt demeaning. I’ve struggled to not connect my pay or my job title to my self worth.

I see my friends struggling too, many buried under insurmountable student loans. It’s hard to not feel like the millenials have gotten the short end of the stick. We did everything they told us to do in school and it’s not paying off.

What am I going to do? I’m going to keep trying, because that’s the only thing I know how to do. After I get settled in my new job and my new home, I plan to pursue my teaching certification, in hopes that it will open me up to a wider range of job possibilities and give me more opportunities to move up in the world.

For now, I’ll have to settle with moving through life one small step at a time.

10 Things To Know When Things Go Wrong

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photo credit: Lenny Flank via photopin cc

No matter how hard we try in life, we will all find ourselves in this place- many, many times. The bottom will drop out from under us. We will fail. The sh*t will hit the fan. Things will get real. And we will be left in a daze with nothing to do but pick up the pieces.

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve found ourselves in this pit before. We will find ourselves here again. Therefore, each of us needs to cultivate a routine for coping and adapting with challenges. Here are the 10 things I believe everyone should keep in mind during tough times.

1. Let yourself feel your feelings. This one is the hardest, yet it is also the most important. If you let yourself feel your negative feelings, they will eventually pass. If you suppress them, they will linger in your body, where they may fester and cause you more physical and mental woes later.

2. Let yourself take a break. There are times where it might not be plausible to allow yourself to work through your negativity as soon as it arises. That’s okay. When you have time to be alone, give yourself some space to relax and express your feelings to a journal. Or process it with a friend, if that’s more your style.

Along the same vein- don’t make any decisions right away. Wait a few more days until you are more clear-headed, or else you might do something you regret. It might not seem like it now, but the feelings will pass.

3. Remember that you aren’t the only one! When we screw up, we are so quick to assume that no one else could have possibly made the same mistake we did, and as a result, we beat ourselves up over it. That is an incredibly unrealistic assumption! Because of the omnipresence of social media, we are often comparing ourselves to other people . . . or rather, the photoshopped images that we have of other people in our minds. But, we must remember, that most often, people only use social media to display their good news. They aren’t going to go public about their screw ups, unless they’re looking for advice.

Talk to other people that you trust. It is very likely you’ll find someone who has been in a comparable situation.

4. Don’t take it personally. It didn’t happen because God and the universe are out to get you. It didn’t happen to you because you are a bad person, and it didn’t happen because you are cursed.Whatever it is happened because hard times are a fact of life for everyone.

5. Seek perspective. Is it really as big of a deal as you are making it out to be? Again, I find it really helpful to talk to a friend. Many times I have thought I was a total loser who ruined her future, and they have been able to show me where maybe I or someone else was overreacting.

6.  Speak kindly to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would to a friend who is experiencing the same circumstances. Being harsh with yourself will only make you feel worse.

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Good advice from http://www.mindful.org

7.  Participate in your self care activities. To gain your energy back and to lift your spirits up, you will have to rest. Participate in whatever activities rejuvenate you. For me, this includes yoga, meditation, journaling, singing, spending time in nature, and drawing mandalas. For you, it may be one of these things, or something else.

8. Can you learn from it? Now that you’ve let yourself feel and process your feelings, it is time to move on. What’s done is done. You can’t change it, but perhaps you can grow from it. Is there anything you could have done differently? Something you’ve learned so that you won’t repeat the situation again? Take note of all these things.

9.  Determine your action steps. Where would you like to be in a few days? In a month? What will it take to get there? Make a list of these (bite-size) steps, and then start doing them!

10. Seek positivity. Moving on is going to be challenging. Surround yourself with supportive people. Watch shows that make you laugh. I like to print out inspirational slogans and hang them in places where I will see them often. (This includes in my car, on the mirror, by my desk, by the front door, as my laptop and iPhone wallpapers . . .)

The important thing to remember is that although suffering is inevitable, it is also temporary. If you play your cards right, you can find the rainbow on the other side.

Suggested watching: MarieTV: How to stay positive

Love and light,

Mary