When I was 23, I had an exceptionally difficult year. If you want to know more about what happened, come talk to me… but suffice it to say I was in rough shape, mentally and emotionally. I recently came across some writing (in the form of secret blog posts!) from that year, and it was so crazy to look back on some of the things I was thinking and feeling. I learned a few things about enduring suffering from revisiting my younger self and wanted to share those things with all of you.
- Feel your feelings — These blog posts are dripping with emotion, to a point that is almost embarrassing (one delicious phrase: “look me in the eye and see the despair in my soul.”). I truly believe that if I didn’t have an outlet to express what I was feeling, those emotions would have exploded in much less productive ways. I know I was not always a fun person to be around during that time, and writing helped me get my feelings out and make sense of them so that I could have better conversations with loved ones about how I was doing or what I needed. Feel your feelings and then deal with your feelings!
- Ask questions — At that time in my life I was trying so hard to come up with answers to really big questions. Questions like, who am I?, what am I made to do?, how do I make sense of my feelings?, and what is the meaning of my life? I was also asking questions that were way less profound (e.g. “how can I move to New York without living there first?” [this was actually a huge challenge, but I figured it out]). I believe that asking questions is one of the most powerful tools we have as human beings. Everyone has times in their lives when they need to wrestle with life’s questions, big or small. And even if the questions we’re asking don’t have clear cut answers, the process of being honest about what we don’t know and earnestly seeking to learn and grow is invaluable.
- Look at how far you’ve come — Reading through my posts was a fascinating experience. I laughed, due to both humor and embarrassment. I maybe judged my younger self a little for some of the more extreme angst. I felt compassion for the young adult I was, lonely and frustrated and confused. I smiled while reading my take on finding joy in the small things. And I felt proud of myself for weathering a difficult year and coming out on the other side stronger, wiser, and more empathetic. I am thankful to be the person I am today, and I know I would not be her without 23-year-old me.
Whatever season you find yourself in, I sincerely hope you can journey through it with honesty, strength, and optimism. As always, please let us know if we can help you on that journey.
Audrey Aukeman | MA, LLPC