2014 happened, and I lived through it. The time that has elapsed and the things that have occurred exist and will forever exist in the space-time continuum – or whatever else you want to call this strange thing called reality. One could even argue that this entire world is just an illusion or a dream, if you wanted to get really philosophical.
Whatever this is, I have been a small piece of it. Whatever effect my actions had on the world around me, I’ll never quite know, but they must matter, simply because they happened. Sometimes I have to stop and take notice of my existence. Sometimes I forget to see myself as a piece of the puzzle. Oftentimes I don’t realize how wonderful it is to be alive and 24 years young.
2014 was filled with a lot of negativity, anxiety, and mild depression. I’m not going to sugar coat it – I never do. I think it’s important to be realistic, but I’ve learned something recently that I think will help me in the future. Like many life lessons, it was inspired by a quote:
“Hysteria is impossible without an audience. Panicking by yourself is the same as laughing alone in an empty room. You feel really silly.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
For the entire year, I would periodically wonder why I seemed to cope with things better when I lived alone. Why was I able to get more out of life in the previous two years? Why did I used to feel like a go-getter, but now I feel timid and reluctant to challenge myself? Yes, I put myself into an unfamiliar situation by moving to France and yes, I still don’t feel settled without the right to work, and yes, the time after college is a difficult for almost everyone.
When you live alone, all you have is yourself, so you have no choice but to pick yourself up, put your tough face on, and get on with things. On the other side, when you don’t really have to learn French, when you don’t really have to work (or can’t legally have a job), and when you don’t even really have to leave the house for any reason other than grocery shopping, it’s easier to remain immobile – at least for a passive introvert (who likes video games) like me. Then, you form this habit of inactivity and the more time you spend indoors, the bigger and scarier the world becomes – and the cycle continues.
What I’m trying to say with all this and the quote is that sometimes, even with the best of intentions on both sides, having someone to confess to, talk with, and be comfortable around makes us lazy, keeps us in our comfort zone, stops us from challenging ourselves. Having an audience can amplify feelings just like your voice carries in an amphitheatre, expressing your feelings too much can make them seem much more important than they they need to be. Perhaps I spent too much time crying, having anxiety, or feeling inadequate because I spent so much time trying to talk through it with Erik. I’m a big talker – if I have an emotion or a problem, my first instinct is to work through it via speech. But maybe talking about it and discussing it and mulling it over caused my fears to grow and expand into an even bigger, more pervasive state of mind, rather than just a simple feeling.
Within the last couple months I’ve started reading up about the idea of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy; it’s a mouthful, I know. To make a very long story short, if you think of your emotions as simple chemical reactions in your brain and understand their biological purpose, you can face your emotions without judgement, you can just feel things for what they are and stop worrying so much about why you’re feeling them. You stop allowing feelings define you and stop experiencing guilt at every little perceived shortcoming.
I always wished I could “live more in the moment,” but who among us really knows how to do this? I think by slowly changing my negative thought patterns into more positive ones, I’ll be able to do that more often. I’m not big on resolutions, but I think that would be mine, if I had one. ;p
Many wonderful things happened in 2014 as well! Let’s try to embrace the actual good now. I went to NYC with Erik to get married, I was able to travel around France with my best friend Natalie, I had many picnics in the grass during Summer, two good friends moved into the same city as me, and I was able to see all my old friends and family back home in California over Thanksgiving. We also had our first Christmas and New Year together, just Erik and I in our cozy little home.
We rearranged the furniture a bit to give myself a makeshift desk/vanity, my own personal little space in our door-less apartment. By the way, have I ever mentioned there’s no door to the toilet? :) European apartments… amirite?
Above my desk I arranged some random artwork and post cards on the wall. Whenever I go to a museum I usually buy the postcards of my favourite artworks, but also the ones I find weird and funny. Look at this painting on wikipedia and maybe you’ll see the humor in it too. Also taped up there is a Toulouse-Lautrec dancer, some rose illustrations, an instax of the clock at Rouen, an old water-color painting I found at an antique market, and a wobbly Van Gogh landscape.
I’m looking forward to the rest of 2015. First up, we booked a trip to Amsterdam! I’ve seriously been slacking when it comes to exploring Europe, so we decided to finally bite the bullet and just DO IT! Wasn’t even as expensive as I expected, thankfully! I’m also going to sign up for a yoga class or two per week at a local studio. It’ll give me something to look forward to every week and it’ll keep me more physically active. I’ve gained more weight than I prefer, and I’m eager to fit nicely into my clothes again. I’ve considered posting an ad for English conversational tutoring to see what comes of that, although I’m certainly not trained to be a teacher. Both Erik and I feel the need to make a big change in our lives soon, so that may be coming within the next year or two. We’ll see what happens!