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Ode to me and you
“Everyone is crazy.”
Have you ever been convinced that you’ve gone absolutely insane?
Like all you do is worry about all the stuff you need to get done—like the essay you have to write and the statistics test you have to study for and the bake sale items you still have to make and the NHS forms you have to fill out... Then you begin to worry about how much you worry and how negative you’ve become over the past year. And you worry and worry to the point where you find yourself in the self-help section at the library gathering a pile of way too many books on how to nurture positivity and counter anxiety. Except deep down, you know that you have absolutely no time to actually read any of them; all of your (very rare) free time is designated solely for worrying.
Have you ever wanted to go to sleep and never wake up?
No, you don’t necessarily want to kill yourself… just take a break from life for a little and float around a void, meaningless blimp. Maybe even become an omniscient presence, looking down from above at everyone’s reaction to your absence. How does your family react? Of course they’re shocked and saddened at first... but what are their real emotional responses? Are they actually glad, because your “negative energy” is no longer present? Are they relieved to no longer hear your sarcastic and mean comments? How do your friends react? What about your coworkers, teachers, classmates?
Have you ever felt like sleep is your only escape?
Like the only time you’re able to relax and enjoy your life is when you are literally unconscious and completely separated from it? It is as if the only reason you wake up is just to survive until the next time you can crash under your blankets, which seem to be the only means to keep warm and remain safe from the anxieties of everyday.
Have you ever been miserable?
Days, weeks, and even months pass by and you just become increasingly dissatisfied with your life and don’t know why. You have become extremely passive and don’t find anything in life really enjoyable or exciting anymore. Songs that used to elicit emotions and fond memories now slip in one ear and out the other as your mind wanders elsewhere. Celebrations and get-togethers feel forced and strained, and you feel out of place among even your closest loved ones. When you were younger, you swore you’d always be optimistic and never negative and a burden to your family.
And the crazy thing is that you do not even have a legitimate reason to be miserable. You have a great life. You have been blessed abundantly, not only with a roof over your head and seemingly endless material possessions, but also friends and family who you know will be there for you always, no matter what.
But somehow… somehow, when you’re alone and stripped of the happy faces you put on for everyone each day, you are sincerely unhappy.
Have you ever been consumed in yourself?
As if you were the only person on the earth. All you think about is your problems and how you need to overcome them. It’s all about you, your life, your plans, your goals, and your issues… and you blindingly shut off the rest of the world as you focus inward. Even though it can seem like the right thing (the old “I need to learn to help myself before I can help others”), it’s just another factor leading to self-destruction. Every moment, every action, becomes a self-evaluation usually ends up in disappointment and more self-loathing.
Have you ever wanted to lie in bed all day?
Have you ever not had the energy to pull yourself up and begin anew? You become so bogged down in your past, you feel like you will never be able to recover and move toward a brighter, more positive future. You hear that alarm; know that if you don’t get up right now, you won’t have time to do all that you need to in order to be ready for school, but you just do not have the mental or physical strength to get up. Even on the weekends, you are so fatigued from the week full of school and extra-curricular activities and work; you just want to lie in bed. But the thought of all you have to do to prepare for the next week keeps you awake. So you lie for a time, too tired to get up and start tasks such as cleaning your room and finishing your homework, but at the same time too exhausted to go back to sleep.
Have you ever hated yourself?
You look in the mirror, and are truly dissatisfied at what you see. Your grades are fine, you participate in school as well as outside with piano, drama club, and a part-time job, you try to take care of yourself while helping out the others around you, but still you despise the person that you have become. You think back, even to just a few years ago. The circumstances in your life weren’t that different, but somehow you were. You were happier. You appreciated the little things more. You weren’t so judgmental and critical of others, and especially of yourself.
Have you ever experienced a moment when you thought you couldn’t go on?
Your emotions are so out of check and so surpassing your reason that you come to the honest conclusion that you simply cannot move forward. You literally just give up all hope. Well, you didn’t have much to begin with. You used to, but now that you are perpetually stressed about your family, high school, college, and the future, you have no time to sit back and enjoy any of it. You cannot give everything your all because you don’t have time to take it all in at once. You want to write the best research paper for AP Literature but have to rush through the majority of it because you have no time to work on it outside of class. You want to give your all for this musical, but can’t even attend half the rehearsals and set constructions because of work. You want to be there for your younger brother and sister who need you, but can’t because you’re never home and when you are, you’re cranky and sleep-deprived. You feel like you’ve let them down just as you’ve so often let yourself down.
Have you ever given in to the voices in your head?
“You’re worthless.” “You’re a loser.” “Why don’t you just give up?” Voices stream through your mind constantly, pointing out your shortcomings and failures. And recently, you’ve come to wholeheartedly believe them. They shape how you feel about yourself and how you act in everyday situations. You are more tired and less cognizant, as the voices slowly begin to exceed the voices of concern from those who care about you.
Have you ever held back?
Your self-consciousness once again stops you from trying something new. You want to talk to someone new, but are too shy to say anything. You want to change, but don’t believe you have the strength to do so.
Have you ever conformed?
Have you ever done something, just because everyone else was? Like when you went along with everyone poking fun at the not-so-social classmate or coworker, even though you personally liked them and got along with them just fine, simply so as not to stand out? What about when you concealed your moral or political views so you wouldn’t be labeled as an “extremist”? It’s just so much easier to go with the flow when you don’t want to stand out. But what about that line, “If you don’t stand up for something, you will fall for anything”…
Have you ever met someone who made you question everything you believed in?
You are faced with someone new, someone different. It could be a colleague, a classmate, whatever. There is something intriguing about them, although you cannot quite put your finger on what exactly it is. You ask them questions and soon come to learn that they are totally and completely different from you. You share similar interests but believe in completely different things. You have been brought together, but, holistically, are completely separate. But you want what they have. A certain quality. A certain artistic expression, a certain freedom, that they possess that promises to lend itself to you if you prove yourself worthy. Some days you feel so rooted in your own beliefs you would never compromise, whereas some days, you’d give anything to forget it all just to experience something new.
Have you ever done something rebellious?
Like when you were first presented with something seen or experienced before, maybe even something you never thought you’d come across. And you take a risk. Part of you feels guilt, part of you is proud. Part of you wants the world to know, part of you wants to keep it a secret from everyone forever. Even though it is an insignificant act to others, it’s a defining moment for you, in which you come out of yourself, and for even just a trivial moment in time, feel infinite.
Have you ever pushed yourself out of your comfort zone?
What about when you first decided to go for that extra-curricular you never thought you’d try? Or when you took that class that at one point in time sounded like a nightmare, but ended up being the most worthwhile semester you spent in high school? And just remember the instance when you finally came to understand the truth about limits—it is only in stepping outside them and moving beyond that we can learn what we are really made of and what we’re truly capable of.
Have you ever drowned out the voices in your head?
Ya, sometimes they’re pretty loud. But just think about that time when you came to realize that you have the power to block them out. You came to see that sometimes your logical side could overpower your emotional one. And the reality of the situation is, you can stop those thoughts. And you can shut those voices up.
What about, “You’re worth it”? “You can do it”? “Keep trying”? Only you can choose to change the voices to be uplifting, so make that choice.
Have you ever had an absolutely perfect moment?
A few come to mind. When you were a child, and you were swinging on the teeny playground in the backyard while mom mowed the lawn and dad helped bag the grass and watch over the younger siblings. Or the time a random act of kindness had a very exact effect when you and some friends made a few people smile when you held signs telling them they were loved. Or when you surprised a friend who needed a pick-me-up after a difficult or stressful time. Sometimes it really is the smallest things that reap the most significant and pivotal effects in the long run.
Have you ever realized how big the world really is?
Like when you went to New York for the first time and you saw how you, your home, your school, your town, are just tiny pieces that make up the puzzle of the vast world we live in. You walked around Times Square and forgot about all the minor and insignificant worries and concerns you had at home, just the day prior. You saw more amazing sites and diverse groups of people that only proved to you more that there is so much more to life than what you thought—than what you see every day and become accustomed to. So you strive to never become comfortable with familiarity and habit, because you know these will only stand in your way in life.
Have you ever loved yourself?
Have you ever looked in the mirror, and been truly satisfied with what you saw? Because even though you’ve failed, which you certainly have a lot, you’ve also recovered from failure. You’ve gotten back up, and faced the demons in your life. You’ve pushed through difficult times and have seen the silver lining at the end. You’ve fought tirelessly for what you believed in and never compromised just to please others who might disagree. You have accomplished so much already, and still have so much more life to live. So accept the person that you are and always work for betterment, recovering each time you fall, and love you…for you.
Have you ever felt unstoppable?
Have you ever woken up and felt like you were ready to conquer the world? Those days are rare, but sometimes you just feel like you can handle anything that life throws at you. So take advantage of those times, and be unstoppable.
Have you ever been indescribably happy?
Like when you totally connected with your friend or united with your fellow employees. When you were one with yourself, with the world around you, with the people you encounter every day. Happiness is not a state of being—it’s a choice. Usually, it’s not the easy option. But choosing happiness will alter your thinking, your outlook, and your success in the future. Choose happiness.
Have you ever wanted to live forever?
When you realized how awesome your life really is. When you have a defining moment when you once again see how blessed you truly are. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and evaluate your life. Often, it is completely your perception that creates the negativity. You have the potential to be positive, to be optimistic, to be helpful and caring to yourself and those around you. So let those moments of sheer joy define you. Like when you go to your favorite summer destination, whether it be a beach house in Marco Island, Florida, or a tiny shack in the unknown town of Sebewaing, Michigan. Or when you create a piece of art you’re proud of. When you showcase your talents and remember the potential you truly possess. You can live life to the fullest and contribute to your world. Just remember to remain optimistic and use the gifts you’ve been given. Don’t let your talents and opportunities remain untouched. Seize each day.
Have you ever realized that you’re going to be okay?
Maybe it’s because you’ve finished all you needed to get done, or maybe it’s because you realize how small all the trifling worries really are. You look at all your self-help books and realize how ridiculous it all is. To spend all the time you have worrying about what’s wrong with you when you should be focusing solely on improving yourself and living each day to the fullest. Because even though you know sometimes it’s nearly impossible to see this and to believe it: It is going to get better. Everyone goes through difficult times. Everyone has burdens they have to deal with and overcome in life. Times of struggle are what form you and develop you and make you stronger. Don’t let one bad day convince you that you have a bad life. Don’t let one sane person convince you that you’re insane.
After all, aren’t we all a little crazy?