The happy girl can be the sad one, too

Before: I wouldn’t write a personal post like this for fear of potential employers, current employers or past employers seeing it. What would they think? Would it change their impression of me? Would it ruin my chances at the next great opportunity? What if, what if, what if…

Now: I am sad and I have SAD.

SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder.

I never really experienced this while living in the Midwest, coincidentally enough, but my first winter in Northern California has proved to be quite challenging.

For my friends in the Midwest, let me explain:

Winter in Northern California equals grey + a TON of rain. Doesn’t sound too bad, but for me it is. In Chicago while it may be in the negatives with snow on the ground, the sun was still shining. It’s easier to want to go outside when your brain THINKS there’s a chance the sun equals warmth. But, when it’s grey and raining… inspiration gone.

I have gained weight because I’ve made snacking my new hobby. I have become addicted to sugar because it is my “treat of the week”… on an almost daily basis. I need 2-3 cups of caffeine to get me through the day. I get less than 6.5 hours of sleep on a regular basis. I’m easily offended and irritated by others. All in all, I’m a mess.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in a cold room in a conference center in Portland watching this video that my perspective shifted…

Human beings put a man on the moon. Think about that for a second. But it wouldn’t be possible for you to record an album, or start an interior design company. Explain that to me. The fear of the unknown is debilitating. We’re all scared to fail. We’re scared to mess with the status quo, even when we’re not content with how things are. We’ll ride it out. Because unhappiness appears better than uncertainty. This in itself is a tragedy…

‘Human beings are the only life form that will do less than they possibly can. There’s never been a tree that didn’t grow as tall as it possibly could. They’re hard-wired to do that.’

Now, I’m not saying that I can just fix my symptoms of SAD by watching inspirational videos. What I’m saying is, that by owning ourself — all of our positives and negatives that make us, us — and sharing that ownership with others… it creates empowerment. It creates conversation. It creates community. It creates change.

I am a happy, loud, friendly, outspoken, and opinionated person that you know…most of the time. What you don’t know is that I tend to hide my insecurities, my struggles, my sadness and my hurts all inside. Why? Because I don’t want to be seen as negative. I don’t want to sound whiny. I want to be a good friend to you. But by allowing the sadness, the hurt, the anger to build, I’ve started to lose the better parts of me a bit at a time.

Instead of being worried of scaring people away, I have decided to live without apologizes. Carrie Fisher didn’t apologize for who she was.Why would I? We admire and remember the ones who dare to be their crazy selves.

The point of writing all of this is to acknowledge my struggles, throw away the stigma I placed upon myself, and encourage others to acknowledge their complexities, because ignoring them won’t make them go away.

Plus, you are beautiful & you are enough.

 

Developing gratitude

We tend to wait until November to think about why we are thankful. But even then, our thoughts are clouded by the gift-giving season. Why wait to develop gratitude?

I have been really struggling with this blog. What voice I want it to have, what audience I want to impact the most, what topics to cover, what subject I should portray myself as the expert of. I spent so much time worrying and judging myself that I didn’t write.

I let ideas come and go. I gave myself excuses as to what was causing me to “not have enough time” to write. I thought, maybe it’s better for me to stop writing until I have “figured the blog’s platform out.”

But, that’s just an excuse. When has anyone really started a creative adventure and had everything figured out? Creative adventures change, detour, fall, fail, and eventually evolve.

Yes, I would love to be a professional writer, aka paid enough to live happily ever after. But, in a way, I only have so much control over that. If I spend most of my time trying to categorize myself, and doubting all the ideas that randomly pop into my brain, then I gain nothing positive.

If I just push myself to word vomit at least once or twice a week, then I’m still growing and nurturing my abilities. It may result in dolla dolla bills y’all. Or, it may result in just another online diary. Regardless, I am thankful for the opportunity.

Thankful that I even have a platform to write to the masses.
Thankful that I have the ability to receive positive or constructive feedback from the audience.
Thankful that I can continue to try to improve, to create and to inspire.
Thankful that I live in a country that doesn’t oppress free speech.
Thankful that I was able to continue my education into my 20s, allowing me to learn even more than if I had been forced to stop while still a young teen.
Thankful that there is potential to profit from this platform.

We tend to wait until November to think about why we are thankful. But even then, our thoughts are clouded by the gift-giving season. Why wait to develop gratitude?

I recently decided towards the end of October to designate a space near my bed where I will write down one thing every day that I am thankful for. It is a practice that my mom started with me when I was in high school & struggling to see the positive. By challenging me (or in my mind at the time, forcing me) to do this, my outlook went from glass half empty to glass half full. It is a challenging practice to maintain, but I swear it works.

It turns out that my idea to promote more positivity & gratitude into my life was on track with others. Recently, I discovered from a colleague of mine that she was participating in the Thanksliving Workbook. This idea is the brainchild of she works His way, an organization that encourages wisdom for women to pursue Christ, serve their families well & use their gifts to bless others. While there are people who have had negative experiences with religion & Christianity, I encourage you to still check out this wonderful workbook. It does not judge, condemn, or pressure. It builds you up, loves you, and strengthens you.

Personally, I was raised Christian. I went to a variety of Christian churches, but spent the most time in the Lutheran congregations. I was also very lucky in that I went to a high school that had us study world religions, morality and ethics. I have friends of different faiths. My spiritual relationship is my own & still a work in progress.

Regardless of my questioning, I still find inspiration in religious services, traditions, texts and individuals. I believe that exposing oneself to a variety of experiences will only make you a better member of humanity. Therefore, I believe the Thanksliving Workbook can be used by everyone & shaped to their own experiences. If you’re interested in using the Thanksliving Workbook, and would also to be a part of a virtual community while participating, leave a comment below and I will get you set up with the private Facebook group that I am a member of!

If you’ve reached the end of this longer than usual post, thank you. It’s your readership that keeps me accountable. Until the next post… I challenge you to write down 5 things you are thankful for at the end of today & share them with your friends & family online! End 2016 on a note of positivity & start 2017 with a new mindset!

 

How can I care about personal goals?

It’s the Friday of Labor Day weekend, and I am writing an overdue blog post.

Overdue because my goal is to write at least one post a week, but lately, my timing has been awful.

For some reason I am unable to keep my own personal goals to the same standards as my professional ones. From a strategic standpoint I know this post isn’t going to get many “hits.” The timing is almost a horrible as if I was publishing this on Christmas. But you know what, if I don’t write this now then it’ll be another week with no blog post.

I’m a control freak. Therefore, I hate flying. I love telling my boyfriend when he’s wrong. I love knowing about a news story before my mom or dad. I love, love, LOVE control. Maybe that’s why when it comes to my own personal goals and aspirations, I dilly and I dally. Instead of taking the bull by the horns and writing every day like I should be, I just THINK about writing every day. I keep the ideas inside my head and hope that they’ll still be there when I FEEL like writing them out.

I’m a planner. I’ve always had multiple planners for my various areas of life – personal, professional, and educational. Two out of the three are covered in check marks & crossed off lists, plus a neon rainbow of Post-Its. The other has cute little plans, but no actions. The other looks pristine next to the well worn & (sometimes aggressively) handled two.

Am I just now realizing that I’m a fraud? I go through the motions, make the plans, but the follow through is no where to be found…and why? Because it’s easier to say, “well I tried and the timing wasn’t right” versus ACTUALLY challenging myself and trying with my whole heart and soul and still failing, or even perhaps not be good enough?

Or, have I just not found something that’s good enough for me? Do I hold myself to such high standards that I will only pursue an avenue that I believe 100% in, so much so that it eats me alive?

This isn’t a question I can yet answer today, because it’s a long weekend and I gotta go do a whole lot of nothing versus a whole lot of something.

 

Sometimes you’ve got to give in to win

 

I must confess the truth.

Leaving Chicago has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I tried. I really did try to make it work. I gave myself completely to the demands of the city. I worked overnights, double shifts, all for minimum wage. Tried to mold myself to fit in to the different social groups – the comic, the newsmaker, the socialite, the designer, the athlete. I couldn’t find my niche, my people. I was never good enough to be first rank, always second at best.

I have never felt lower about myself and my worth than when I lived in Chicago. I worked for some pretty talentless, rude, and idiotic people. It still amazes me how some of the people I answered to were in their positions of power.

I told myself the struggle was normal, that it would pass. But you know what? That’s bullshit. Young professionals should NOT be killing themselves over their jobs. It is not fair, nor okay, for their bosses to say that their over-the-top sacrifices are necessary for the good of the company or the good of the team. Never should a person feel so low as I have felt and be okay with that. It is NOT okay. It is NOT okay to work for a company, a boss, or a department that allows you to feel empty, alone, exhausted, frustrated, un-appreciated, under paid, and damaging your personal life.

Young professionals are NOT brats, selfish, or lazy for standing up for what is right & deserved: good mental health, a challenging yet balanced work environment, and respect from their peers & bosses.

I left Chicago because it was a do or die situation. I made excuses for my misery. Luckily for me, I was challenged by someone I love to either do or die. I chose do. And while it’s been challenging on my pocket book, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am finally standing up for what I deserve. I am finally doing what I’m passionate about, even if it means cutting my livelihood in half. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you aren’t dreading about doing something uninspired for 8+ hours of your day.

If anyone ever needs to talk to someone about hating their job, hating their path, being depressed, lost, confused, alone, frustrated. I’m your girl. Even though I’m free from my big city demons, I’m still challenged each day to continue discovering who I am and what path I’m on. So, I’m not completely put together & all knowing. But, I can empathize. I can listen. I can try to help others feel that they do have options, albeit different than what they may be comfortable with at first, but worthwhile in the longterm.

And hey, maybe one day I’ll lay out all my grievances about particular individuals & employers, because wouldn’t that be juicy & funny? But for now, I’m going to keep giving in to my wants and desires and ya know, just keep on winning.

Post inspiration brought to you by the song “Sunshine” by Atmosphere:

Allowing myself to wallow

Each week I experience, at least once, what many call “the blues.”

Yes, I live in the “greatest country on earth.” Yes, I experience white privilege on a daily basis. No, I’m not carrying around tens of thousands of student loan debt. I am healthy. I am loved. I am free.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sadness. Disappointment. Frustration. There’s always more, isn’t there?

Depression, alcoholism, and bipolar disorder have been diagnosed on both sides of my family tree. Knowing this causes me to be more aware of how I express and deal with my feelings. Some days, the stigma of mental illness creeps in and I worry that “something is wrong with me,” and that I am “feeling too much.” I used to get frustrated with myself for feeling this way, I felt that I was in the wrong. But, that only made me more unstable. I would bottle the disappointments, frustrations and sadness away, until they popped open, usually unexpectedly, and made a mess everywhere.

“Just keep swimming” is motivational for me 85% of the time. It pumps me up! Keep me going! Gives me that drive to take on the day! I could look on the bright side of things. I could keep getting knocked down and get up again, cuz’ you’re never going to keep me down. Most of the time.

It is important to allow that one day to wallow a week. Why? Because it helps me to maintain a healthy, and mostly happy, relationship with myself and with others around me. 

No, I don’t hold in all of my sadness, disappointments, or frustrations until this ONE day. The day of wallow is when those emotions overcome the happy, the joyful, the excitement of the day. I acknowledge them. I acknowledge that I want more out of life. I acknowledge that there is more to life. I throw a last minute pity party for myself. I blame others for my shortcomings. I cry that I don’t have a better “plan.” I question my path, my passions. I wonder if I’ll ever be good enough. Simply said: I feel all the feels.

So, why am I sharing this? Because, I want readers to know that it is okay to wallow. It is okay to be sad, disappointed, frustrated. It is okay to feel. Find a healthy way, that works for you, to express yourself. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to cope with what’s happening inside. You gotta do you.

So, if you need a Wallow Wednesday each week, take it! But then, when it’s over, wake up and make it a Tremendous Thursday!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why I succeed at failing

I have been letting myself down a lot this past year. I’ve been making excuses for why I’m treading water. I’ve been blaming the universe for giving me difficult circumstances, that prevent me from moving forward. I then decide that the solution to get away from all this negative juju invading my headspace is to well, move. Queue positive vibes & blissful living!

Nope. Maybe it was blissful living for the first two weeks, but then the frustration with life came roaring back.

You see, ever since I graduated from college almost 4 years ago, I haven’t felt fulfilled. Or, if I did feel fulfilled it was fleeting. My dreams were cut down by reality, so I adapted. But for me, adapting isn’t good enough. I tried the whole full-time job thing. Fine at first, and then life hit me again and again with dilemmas.

Caitlin, your family needs you.

But Caitlin, you have rent to pay.

Caitlin, live each day like it’s yours and their last.

Caitlin, how are you going to excel in your career, adulthood if you keep going off to follow your heart? 

I am a rational person. I would like to think I’m smart, even. Maybe even overly cautious sometimes when it comes to taking a risk. A square.

But when it comes to a career, I fly by the seat of my pants. My heart bleeds down my sleeve as I continue to search for that soulmate,  that fulfillment. I can’t force to do the easy thing and “just find a full time job until you figure it out.” That seems so wrong for me. Soul-sucking. Uninspired.

So, in the eyes of many, I continue to succeed at failing. Failing to conform to what generations before me did because “they had to,” but really did they? Failing to be comfortable with a steady income at a job that is just a job. Failing to do something “useful” and “productive” with my $50K+ college education, therefore disappointing my parents. Failing to be normal.

I always had said growing up that I would HATE working in an office if it wasn’t work I loved doing. “I’ll never take a job just for the money.” Well, I’ve done that in the past…slightly unavoidable Younger and Unknowing Caitlin.

But now, I’ve decided to embrace my failures. Things didn’t work out for a reason, because if they had would I really be my best self? My happiest? My most fulfilled? Maybe my failures are leading me up to a road of successes that just so happen to occur later in life, because I’ll handle it better then and not become a drug addict or fame whore.

I want to keep failing. If I keep failing then I’ll keep growing. If I keep growing then I’ll become a more evolved individual. If I become a more evolved individual then I will be fulfilled.

Simple enough, right?

The “Bite Me” Chronicles Return

For the past two months I have been helping my mom clear out my grandpa’s house and now our own home, my childhood home, as she readies herself for her new adventures out West.

I’ve found pretty hysterical pieces of artwork, toys from all stages of various obsession, and dozens upon dozens of journals.

IMG_8686.jpeg
After spending hours reading dozens upon dozens of Jelly-ink filled pages dated as far back as 1996, I realized how far I’ve fallen from my writing roots.

Granted, I’ve learned how to spell better since my last school-assigned journal, but other than that I’ve failed miserably at expressing myself post-elementary school years. Writing became an assignment, a chore. It wasn’t something I did for me, it was something I did because I had to.

“When I grow up, I want to write.”
“I want to go to UNC, and learn how to become an author from Sarah Dessen.”
“When I graduate from college, I want to visit Tokyo and teach English there.”

Nothing is more stunning than realizing you’ve forgotten all of your childhood and teenage dreams – the dreams that made you happiest, and true – and are worse off for it.   

I would like to think that my downfall started with the start of puberty. Once I left elementary school, my priorities shifted. Creativity was put on the back burner for tests, gossip, and make-up. I became resentful of writing for “fun” as I was told what to write about and how to write about it for the next 12 years of academia. So, I stopped.

My artistic expression, my self-improvement goals, my “hitting-it-big-as-a-published-author” sized dreams, stopped.

I stopped. My best “me” stopped.

Six-year-old Caitlin could give a fuck what people thought of her stories, of her horrendous spelling and awkward grammar. She felt all of her feelings, and poured them out onto the page. She documented current events. She described struggles and tragedies. She took the time to re-live her day through her words and pictures, because it was important to her. It made her, be.

Once adulthood hits, we all want to become a kid again. It’s easier, right? More fun, carefree. But, is part of the reason why we want to become a kid again because we realize how brilliant and wise we were? How nonjudgmental we were of ourselves and each other? How we could balance being selfless, yet also be selfish for the sake of what made us the most happy? Being a kid, you do you 24/7.

Screw it. I’m going back to being six.

I can’t please everyone. I can’t be afraid of not getting hired at some job because my blog is too this or that. I gotta do me. I gotta make six-year-old Caitlin proud. I gotta lot to release onto these pages.

So, bite me! I’m going to use my First Amendment rights! If Donald Trump can, well, shit, anyone can!

P.S…

IMG_8638.jpeg

 

And Then There Were Two

Only two full months left until the end of 2014…and where do I see my year ending?

At my two jobs, in my cozy (I refuse to say tiny) studio apartment with my newly adopted senior kitty named after the Mother of Dragons and my constantly supportive and constantly corny boyfriend as my roommates.

While not all of my year goals may be accomplished before the year’s end, it’s not for a lack of trying. At least I’ll be 1 for 2 – moving out of my parent’s house and into my own.

Perhaps I’ll be 2 for 2 before the clock strikes midnight and 2015 starts us all refreshed and renewed, but for now I’m keeping my expectations low – hell, who doesn’t a love a good life-changing surprise?

But I will say, I should be taking more risks. Well informed risks, that is. I’ve made too many excuses. I need to work on that.

I keep saying if something’s meant to be, it’ll be. So, why am I so afraid to work harder for what I want, what I deserve?

Not having picked out one path doesn’t mean there isn’t “THE” path for me, it just means there are MANY different paths for me, and I should be excited about that, I should be enthusiastic about it, I should embrace it!

Stop thinking, and start doing!

So what’s next… grad school, move out West, career change? How about 3 for 3 in 2015?

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions…”

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?”

— Jim Rohn, courtesy of Elisabeth Taverine of CHAARG