challenge · experience · friendship · inspiration · life · love · poetry · self help · society · tips · travel · truth · Uncategorized

meditation over my death

I feel like I am opening up even when I am closed

I feel that my words are falling on deaf ears even when I am silent

I feel every part of me is disintegrating with each passing moment

I feel I am becoming my own nightmares, and dropping my organs off cliffs one by one

Destroying my own body, which is only a shell, only a case for who I really am

Bleeding my own blood, which is only a paint which etches my pain into other surfaces

Constricting my own veins; I am my downfall

I am immortal until I agree to succumb to otherworldly forces

I often do not feel I am the same as other creatures, and lively beings, on this earth

I often wonder what happenstance combination of atoms and matter created so provocative a being

How thoughts rose from lifelessness, and how my revolution will cease the same way it started

How one of these days I will meet you all in the grave, although I never wanted to be in the ground

I wanted to decompose, I wanted to biodegrade, I wanted to fertilize the soil of someone who can continue the dream I once had

I wondered when the instant of my termination would arise, and how I would grapple with its reality

Now I don’t.

I have accepted everything that happens to me as happening precisely the way it should

I am living and dying at precisely the same time

I reek of both desolation and ecstasy

I am embodied by nothing; there is no single word, or symbol, or parameter that could contain the fragments of my soul, strewn about they are inside of me

The place in which I reside can be inhabited by no more than one. With one it already faces the danger of overpopulation

Too much happens here, and none of it is reported

Sometimes I believe I am living the most interesting life to have been lived

Sometimes I stop everything for a moment to bow my head in silence,

Breathing in the essence of exactly who I am.

It’s been twenty-one years and I still can’t put my finger on it.

 

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challenge · experience · inspiration · life · positivity · self help · society · support · tips · truth · Uncategorized

College professors: please worry less about our grades and more about our mental health

TW: suicide, depression

I just got my final grade for a project in one of my hardest classes of this past semester, a project that put me through several panic attacks, crying in public computer labs, pulling out my hair, and contemplating suicide. Even in typing this I am in tears that probably over 50 hours of work rendered a “C.” That telling my professor the hell I went through and the technological difficulties that were out of my control meant nothing to him, meant that my work was just passing quality. I am still upset. I tried to emotionally detach from the results of my project, but when I opened that email and read my grade I couldn’t. He trashed the image quality of what I turned in, something which was out of my control since I wasn’t taught how to use the program we were required to use for our final project. I don’t want to go back to college next semester, especially not to take one last class with him. I think my waves of wanting to end my life have passed, but the fact they even came at all is extremely alarming. And I am not alone. While I was in my darkest place, I did some research and found out that there’s a sickening trend of college students that commit suicide near finals week. I am not alone, and this is a huge, huge problem.

You could say that only already mentally unstable people would be driven to kill themselves because of college, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Even if those of us with mental illness are more likely to be destroyed by the stress of college, college can make anyone reach their breaking point. In college, it is the norm to eat poorly, not sleep, and have constant anxiety and panic attacks. Mental health falls to the wayside as professors assign more and more work. And it doesn’t have to be like this. I have taken classes that are great examples of classes where homework is minimal, and in-class learning is emphasized. Obviously some homework is necessary, but if most college students take 5 classes a semester and each professor expects 3 or more hours in-class a week plus 10 hours outside of class a week, that’s 65 hours a week just on school. Now there’s only 168 hours a week, and we are supposed to use 56 of them to sleep. That leaves us 112 hours to do 168 hours of schoolwork, plus work around 10-20 hours at a job and around two hours for clubs and other involvements. That’s impossible. Why professors don’t realize this, I don’t understand. I have heard countless students crying to professors I’ve had, telling them how their class is driving their mental health into the ground. Does the professor change the format of their class? Never. When we as students come to professors and reveal that we have been mentally suffering because of the amount of work they give us, that’s a cry for help. That’s a chance for them to do something about our suffering, but instead they pin the problem on us and say we need to manage our time better and relax. It’s impossible to do those things when the time to do those things literally does not exist. They think college is the same as it was when they went to school, but it isn’t. We have so much more work, and we are already depressed and anxious enough. What we need from them isn’t harsher grading and harder work, but empathy and understanding. We need them to see us as humans, instead of some abstract idea of a student whose only purpose is to submit high-quality work. When someone is experiencing so much anxiety and stress that their body is in survival mode, their prerogative isn’t to get an “A” and finally earn their professor’s respect (despite the fact that they should already have it for busting their ass all semester), it’s to survive. When professors refuse to have empathy for their students and adapt their classes to their students’ needs, the opportunity for a valuable student-teacher bond is lost, as is the opportunity for that student to really absorb all of the information they are expected to. We aren’t given enough time to learn and do work; we must pick one.

For a long time I thought that this was just how college is and I had to suck it up, and I did this for a long time. But it’s been too many years of losing sleep and transforming into a savage-like version of myself for me to believe this is how college should be. We are living in the most advanced society ever, and we have the power to sculpt our own realities. The current reality is that those in power continue to let those without power suffer under systems that do not function for the rest of us, such as capitalism and white supremacy, and often those who suffer do not question the systems they live under, because we are made to believe that it is out job to not suffer. College does not have to be the most stressful years of a person’s life, where mental illness and unhealthy habits reign. Professors do not have to make classes incredibly difficult, especially because when we are working in our profession we will be able to look up any information we forget, and it is highly probable that we will need to, since we can’t and won’t remember half the things we learned in college. College can be a place for learning about different topics and yourself, a place for personal and professional development, and a place to explore the possibilities the world has for us. College should not be a place we crawl out from screaming on graduation day. I told myself for so long I couldn’t criticize college because I was fortunate enough to get a full tuition scholarship, but with this privilege I am precisely the person who should criticize this institution. Most people end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt for their degree, and they shouldn’t have to suffer to get it. This modern world gives us enough mental illness, and college shouldn’t add to it. Despite mental health awareness campaigns, therapy dogs every once in a while, and a counseling center on campus, college students are suffering under the stress of their classes. College students want to escape the one thing they came to college for-classes. None of the other mental health components a college offers will matter if professors continue to treat us like numbers- just another group of students that will pay their bills and hopefully learn a few things. Professors need to be emotionally attached to their students’ success, and this is more than a letter grade.

At the end of the class I was referring to at the beginning of this post, I had to stop putting work into my project. I was running out of time and I was running out of mental stamina. I had cried so hard I had a pounding migraine and I was convinced I would have a heart attack due to the chest pains emanating from my body (I’m sure college students having sudden heart attacks isn’t rare). I had to put my mental and physical health over my grade, and when I told my professor what happened I was hoping that they would understand. Instead, they bulldozed through the humanity I showed them and decided the amount of work I put in meant nothing if my final product wasn’t exactly how they wanted.

Professors need to care about their students’ mental health. I’m not sure if it would have made a difference if I told my professor the deep depression this class drove me into, but I shouldn’t have to tell them I kept thinking of killing myself as the only way out for them to care. It shouldn’t be so hard for them to see their students as human beings who need time to rest and care for themselves, which is impossible if we are given endless work from our professors. I always remember my grade school teachers being there for me. If I had a bad day, I could talk to them. If I was really sick or there was a family emergency, I could make up my work the next day. They saw me as a multi-faceted human being who had other purposes in life than to produce work. I don’t know what happened when we became adults but our educators decided we no longer deserved the same allowances. There was no longer any valid excuse for not turning in quality work on time. Not a single valid excuse. Our only purpose is to be a student. I am not foolish enough to believe this. I know now more than ever that college isn’t for everyone, and they say more and more jobs require a degree now, but I know there are still opportunities for those without a degree. College will continue to not be for everyone as long as it is so expensive and the stress is nearly unbearable. Professors will fail at rendering awakened human beings; instead, their students will walk out of that classroom on their final day and breathe a sigh of relief that their nightmare of a semester is over. For something that is supposed to be the best years of a person’s life, college sure brings us a lot of dread. It fails to promote the idea of a higher purpose for each of us, and seems to be geared towards the same goal as the rest of society- turning us into one more cog in the machine.

I know one day none of this will matter and I will be relieved and happy to walk away from my university with two well-earned degrees, but right now it matters enough to put this out there. I had to suffer mentally and emotionally for the better part of my college years. I will be glad to leave and focus on feeling alive and purposeful, like I do in the summers and breaks between semesters. College students shouldn’t have to reach their breaking point to turn around and feel grateful for their college experience. It’s unnecessary to make the experience any more stressful and distressing than it already is. We are planning for an uncertain future and have enough on our minds and schedules without apathetic professors making their classes as hard as they possibly can. I am thankful for the opportunity to attain a higher education and it has definitely opened up a world of possibility for me. I am proud of the hard work I have done, how I have not procrastinated or been irresponsible, how I have juggled at least two jobs, two clubs, and 5 or more classes per semester. I can look on the positive side and say all of these things about my college experience, but it is only after countless unnecessary tears shed and panic attacks endured. I don’t want to be thankful for my degrees because I had to overcome so many mental and emotional challenges to get them; I want to be thankful for them because of how academically challenged I was to get them. For how much the institution of higher education expects from us students, I expected more from it. And I don’t just expect it now, I demand it.

poetry · Uncategorized

repackaged and repurposed

I’m not sure what I look like or who I am or what makes me happy other than making everyone else happy
It hit me
It really hit me
Would I say no to something I know would make you happy?
No,
I wouldn’t.
I’d say yes like I’ve practiced saying yes for the past sixteen years of my life, pushing aside my needs for your own.
Forming my own personality that doesn’t revolve around bending your needs and filling you with energy.
Where’s my energy?
No one has filled me because I’ve been gone too long to fill myself and no one has learned to think of me as their human friend- imperfect- rather than a robot who performs precisely how they want.
Are you sad? I will comfort you.
Are you happy? I will cheer with you.
I don’t understand my emotions without these cues that remind me I’m only of use if I can bend over and give them what they want.
I always give them what they want
Maybe because I’ve felt the sting of disappointment too many times to wish it on anyone else, even the ones who truly don’t deserve the energy I provide them.
What have they done to earn it?
And when they’re done, I’m disposed of, having fulfilled my only purpose in life- being a vehicle for the satisfaction of other humans. My soul is made up of other souls. I’m no original content. I’ve been repackaged and repurposed and I’m ready to get hurt again. I’m ready to sacrifice myself for you.

Uncategorized

What music means to me- “Eyes on Fire”

I’m laying on a yoga mat in a warm room with ten other people doing the same. My body is sweaty and tired from the past hour of intense yoga, and I’ve climbed a mountain. I’m finally at the bottom, about to walk off back into daily life. But there’s one last step before I re-assimilate myself into the outside world- savasana, or final relaxation. The instructor directs us to relax our bodies, our facial muscles and limbs which fall easily to the sides. Usually I struggle with rest, but the great contrast of intensity to complete stagnation convinces me I’m worth it. I’m worth these moments, laying here, breathing, and doing absolutely nothing that my body does not need. I’m lulled into a deeply meditative state by the instructor’s words, and hear the strumming of a guitar coming from the speakers, followed by an enchantingly soft voice. I don’t care what she’s saying; I can feel it. My bones blend into my muscles and my mind bows to its only purpose: keeping me alive. The song only lasts a few minutes, but it feels like hours. We’re instructed to make our way back up to the mat, even though I’m not ready. We bid the instructor goodbye with the traditional “namaste,” and that’s it for the practice. But this wasn’t the end of the road for yoga and me. I practiced enough with this older student instructor who I admired, and one day inquired about where and how to become an instructor myself. I got in contact with her boss, and arranged to meet with her soon to discuss. Within a couple weeks, it was decided that I would become a yoga instructor and mentor under the instructor who had shown me the wonderful song “Eyes on Fire.” the mentorship process was transformative, and I and another student took the journey together, after a semester and a Yogafit Level One training ready to teach our own classes. It’s been two years since I first heard this song, but it still takes me back to a time where I regularly laid on a yoga mat as a participant, and not an instructor. I have grown a lot as an instructor these years, but I still have a lot more education to acquire and I’ll be getting my 200 level certification in 2019. If it weren’t for that first yoga instructor, her sweaty but rewarding teaching style, and unique mix of a playlist, I might never have taken a leap to learn the new skill of yoga. “Eyes on Fire” reminds me of a time I knew much less, and reminds me to stay humble, realizing how much farther I can go with my practice. It also reminds me the benefits of continuing to attend other instructors’ classes, to learn from them, better develop my own style, and to give myself the time for my own practice, breathing and meditation the same as we all do, students and teachers alike.

challenge · experience · friendship · inspiration · life · love · poetry · positivity · self help · society · tips · truth · Uncategorized

On forgiveness

There is more to be earned from forgiveness than from bitterness.

I was once a burning-bridges type of human

The one that feels the sting of rejection and malintent

And cannot forget it.

And cuts ties to reduce the persistent pain.

But I have learned there is much to lose from not forgiving.

Even if I have loved more, given more, been more for the other person,

They may still have something genuine to offer

It is enchanting: the power of pushing away what has proven difficult

But what bewitches me more these days is the idea of not how others can improve

But how I can improve, for one

Doling out more chances for imperfect humans

To provide some sort of shelter for us both

Sometimes the strongest bonds are also the most volatile

And other times, if a mountain of energy is gifted for little to no return

It is time to let them go.

But one should know

Only after trying, really trying,

To form something real-

Because deep below the surface, profoundly, within all of us, exists

A desire to connect and an obscured ability to do so

So maybe all our comrades need is a reminder

That the effort is worth it

That their humanness means something to you.

advice · experience · life · self help · Uncategorized

Am I a Fake Minimalist?

Moving back into my father’s house, I was unpacking suitcase upon suitcase. It wasn’t an extreme amount of stuff, since it could fit in my car to make the journey home, but it was enough to take me over an hour to organize. It was too much.

After downsizing my life and trying time after time again to sell and responsibly ditch my possessions, I had too much.

Was I a fake minimalist?

What is a minimalist anyways?

You apparently must buy a very small number of things from the day you start bringing things into your life. I will be twenty this year and I am still drowning in possessions.

This is a warning to everyone: stop buying stuff. You don’t need even half of what you buy.

Re-evaluate why you bring things into your life. Do you feel better when you buy things? How long does it take for that feeling to fade? Then you’re stuck with less money and more junk. More things and less space in your home, and less time since you must spend some of your time organizing and tending to your possessions.

Your possessions will possess you.

It happened to me.

I went through an emotional process of purging myself of possessions, and I still have too much. I have repeatedly had to confess my sins: my past prioritization of possessions and my past purchases from unethical businesses. The businesses I paid to enslave other humans for my benefit.

I have been disgusted and disappointed with my former, ignorant self. And I have drastically transformed my habits. Now, I only buy what I need. I shop from responsible retailers, and I promote sustainable choices to others. I try to repent for my sins, but I still have the evidence of my former self.

I have realized nothing I do now can erase my past mistakes. I will be shedding these remains for years to come, as I learn, my style evolves, and I let go. I realize I am more myself, less stressed, and can travel more easily with less stuff. I can’t erase my past mistakes, but I can make better decisions today. Now, I am extremely hesitant to purchase anything that is not a necessity. Now, I stay woke about the movement for fair labor, and I stay active in pushing for this. But still, I can do more. I can write to companies asking for better. I can use my voice to speak to mainstream companies, rather than just opting for ethical alternatives (a boycott might not always be the best solution- more on this later).

I am less concerned about the “minimalist” label, and more concerned about the role I play in the overconsumption that swallows this country whole. Now when I stumble upon my mindless purchases, I can acknowledge where I was when I made the decision to bring that item into my life. I realize how far I have come, and how healthy it is for me to keep letting go of my old possessions. When I brought these things into my life, I was trying to fill a void. Now, when I let go, I can fill that void with something more meaningful: travel, introspective time, and exploring. The less I have, the freer I am.

Heed my warning now and save yourself some heartache: stop buying so much stuff.

 

To become more aware of the impact of your consumption, visit:

Slaveryfootprint.org

positivity · self help · society · support · tips · Uncategorized

10 Reasons why I’m 19 and will never drink again

Don’t get me wrong, I used to drink alcohol. It was a good year from the summer after high school to the summer before my sophomore year in college. But I slowly started to realize I do not need nor do I want to consume alcohol or drugs in any way. There wasn’t a singular bad experience that brought me to this; just the realization that I am more me, and a better me without the façade of drugs and alcohol. Here’s why:

  1. I only really did it to conform in social settings. Party without alcohol? I’m not begging someone to go get it. Party with alcohol? I’m drinking what everyone else is. To me, this didn’t make sense. I equally am not motivated to consume alcohol in either of these situations yet in one I feel coerced into doing so simply to fit the social setting. The solution? Don’t put myself in that setting.
  2. Drinking “to get the edge off” is not a good thing. For me, drinking was a way to rid myself of the nervousness of being in settings with many people I didn’t know and probably wouldn’t hang out with under other circumstances. When you’re half-drunk you can have fun with anyone, even if they’re kind of a terrible person. This seemed appealing at first but I’ve realized I would rather have three real friendships than a billion fake friendships with people that I really have nothing in common with other than we drink together. That’s not enough to build a positive relationship, nor a meaningful social interaction. Translation? Not worth my time.
  3. Again, not worth my time. I only probably have a good 82 years left on this planet and I don’t want to waste a single more second with a hangover. Even moderate drinking isn’t worth it. You know what’s five times as fun and takes absolutely no loss of motor skills? Road tripping. Traveling. Things you probably shouldn’t do half- drunk. Although I’m young, I have far better things to be doing than wasting my time getting drunk. Do you see the world we’re living in? My time is valuable and can help others. Which brings me to…
  4. I know I’m young, and I’m “allowed to have fun” and I do have fun. I’m young but I’m not immature. The mistakes I make are honest mistakes. I don’t see the point in intentionally getting myself drunk and getting sick, and calling that my valuable youth experience. My valuable youth experiences include navigating the middle of California by myself and trying to learn as many languages as possible. I still make human errors along the way, and I am learning about life. But with intention, not in a beer bottle.
  5. I know I’m in college. I know a good majority of the kids in college consume alcohol and use drugs. Truthfully I don’t care. I am at a university to learn something that is hopefully useful for my future. I am here to become a better human and change agent. I’m not here for the parties. That’s literally $1,000s for parties. No thanks.
  6. I understand myself more deeply now. I know my desires and goals more and more each day and I am centered on these. I am so purpose- oriented that I don’t have the time nor the energy to pretend I am not. Yes, I have plenty of fun but I will not waste away my nights doing something so purposeless. I do not need to conform to others; I need to keep my eyes on my purpose.
  7. I have determined by now that I am an introvert. Expanding my social circle is not necessarily my goal right now. I have enough friends. Going to parties to blend in with the drunken crowd is at the bottom of my priority list.
  8. Alcohol isn’t healthy. Many studies show increased cancer risk even with moderate alcohol consumption. There’s added dyes, chemicals, and sugar in most drinks, and I already avoid these as it is. Plus, over time, alcohol damages your liver and other internal organs. It isn’t worth the risk.
  9. Drugs control you. I even avoid caffeine. Even a small amount can help you develop an addiction. Drugs alter your mind and perception. I am the only one who is in control of my mind and I want it to stay that way. As a yogi, I honor this and practice this. Allowing a substance to control me is dishonorable to my mind.
  10. By keeping my body free of foreign substances, I allow myself to further purify my soul. You probably didn’t think this would get so philosophical, did you? The truth is- my mind, body, and soul are near and dear to me. They are my temple. My home. I guard that shit with my LIFE. I try to live the most minimalistic and natural life I possibly can and honor what I need at any given time. If I have too many distractions, I will lose sight of this and will not be as satisfied with my life overall. I am the sole gatekeeper of this precious life.

As a young college student it can be awkward being one of a few that choose to not consume alcohol, but I avoid putting myself in uncomfortable settings as much as I can. I know my true friends will honor my decision. I am not condemning the consumption of alcohol for everyone; in moderation it can be okay. I can only speak for myself and what I know is that, I have many goals in this life and I am determined to do as much as I can to alleviate the societal ills in this world. Without added distractions, I am more focused, physically and mentally stronger, and have more time and energy to do this. I know now how to listen to what I need much better- and refraining from drugs and alcohol is just one of the ways I can honor that. I just encourage everyone to truly uncover their short-term and long-term intentions, and figure out what is their best path to achieving these. And honoring that fiercely.

And to the people at the party-yes, really, I’m fine with water.

Signed,

Forever D.D. (designated driver)