The Unknown


Here I sit, at 29 years old ( I know.. I know.. I’m still young), wondering why I can’t figure anything out in life. I don’t think I’m alone. I’m starting to think that this may be an impossible task. How can you ever have life figured out? How can you ever have yourself figured out? Maybe the answer is… that you can’t!

These are questions I am always asking myself. People are changing every day. Most of the time you are changing without even noticing. All of a sudden, a year has flown by and you are nothing like you were the year before. You could have grown for the better, or, maybe you’re not doing so great. Who cares! Your situation will never stay the same.

I am not one to trust any type of relationship to last forever without pain, let downs, boredom, or drifting apart. This can be romantic relationships,  friendships, family, etc…I have grown apart from people I thought I could not live without.

I’ve been hurt by every single person I have ever trusted.

Maybe that is just life.

We are all human.

I do it to other people too. Are people supposed to be like this? Because it seems like we all are the same in a sense. Some people try to be a saint while others enjoy being the devil. Either way, we all lie, don’t say things that we should, say things that we shouldn’t, are confused, think we know what we want, and we all strive to be our version of happy.

You build your own life and start moving in a different direction. You get married and settle down, you lose your friends and make new ones, you raise your kids and lose focus of everyone else on the planet. Most people get divorced and start over again. Changing all over again, over and over. These changes within you, and within the people around you are constant. Every day you go on with your life without noticing how you are changing into someone else.

Some people learn from their experiences and become more humble, while others are terrified of the world and become bitter. Everyone takes a different path. You travel your path with expectations that you can never fully control. You have no idea what your life will bring.

I always wondered what my “purpose” is going to be. Maybe it is to help others and work my life away. Maybe it’s to raise a family. Maybe…it’s nothing at all. That is the scariest, yet the most beautiful part of life. We don’t know anything…and that’s okay.

Why do we feel the need to know what our future holds? Why can’t we just let things fall into place instead of trying to control everything? I am exhausted from trying to control my entire world.

I do not believe that everyone has a soul mate. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I do not believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason. I believe that things just happen, and we are just people who make a bunch of mistakes. We are people who never stay the same.

Love will come and love will go. Friendships will be made and destroyed. Happiness will come and so will pain. Life can be simple; it’s only complicated because we make it that way.

Maybe I should just go with the flow and see what happens. I try to manipulate my life and it never works out. It’s like I have control, but I don’t. I don’t think a person can be truly happy while trying to control every aspect of their life.

I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know who I will be in the next year, 5 years, or 10 years. I do know I won’t be the person writing this today. Who knows if I’ll be married, single, kids, no kids, working my life away, jobless. It’s all unknown. And I’m okay with that. Accepting the unknown might just be my key to happiness.

 

Meghan Farr
Meghan has an Associates Degree in Human Services, Bachelor's in Human Development and Family Studies, and a Minor in Psychology.

[Insert Inspirational Story/Lesson Here]

For months I have been trying to write a new piece – a piece that has an inspirational lesson from a tough time. One that will motivate someone or have a shimmer of positivity. One that I feel is worthy to be published under Project Wednesday. It hasn’t happened… either due to one of the many reasons I am “too busy” or the endless other excuses I have used to fill my free time.

In a way this sums up my 2017 – I find something I want to do, I plan it in my head and then just let it sit. I have been getting frustrated with myself for not finishing anything, continually feeling unaccomplished. However, reflecting back, it isn’t really the finishing part that has been the roadblock. It’s been actually starting. So here I sit, facing something I have been unable and unwilling to accomplish for months – starting. I still don’t have a positive message or inspirational story for you, but I have me.

 If you were to ask me who I was this time last year, I would have spewed off a few lines about working towards my dream career of being a Registered Dietitian, my love for running, my motivation, unmatched work ethic and passion for new adventures. Today, if you ask me who I am, I don’t have an answer. Yes, I am now an RD. I still run on occasion. I get all the necessary things done, but I wouldn’t describe my work ethic or motivation as I once had. The new adventure is still enticing but my bed and/or couch typically win the battle. Nothing is wrong, but nothing is necessarily right either.

Everything is okay.

I read have read many different pieces with the message that it’s okay to not be okay. I agree. Everyone walks their own path, faces unique battles and, at one point in time, everyone has a moment of not being okay.

But what happens when everything is okay? When it’s not great but not bad either? When you’re not unhappy with where you are, but it’s not where you want to be, but you also don’t know where you want to be? What happens when you have settled in mediocrity and it’s okay?

Is it okay to just be okay?

Kara is a originally from Gordonsville, Virginia and is a recent graduate of James Madison University. She is now pursuing her career in Nutrition and Dietetics in the D.C./Maryland area. When Kara isn’t thinking about, talking about, making, photographing or actually eating food, she enjoys adventuring outside, running half marathons and spending time with her chinchillas, Milo and Asher.

What It Was Like to Live With an Emotional Support Animal During College

I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was in high school. But when I made my way to college, I found that it was getting harder to cope with my anxiety while being away from home and trying to adjust myself to my new setting. During my second year of college, I found myself taking on more: harder classes and becoming a Resident Advisor. My anxiety wasn’t getting better, and I didn’t want to turn to medication at the time, so I asked my doctor about other options for me. She brought up the idea of an emotional support animal (ESA) to support me while at school.

When I learned about ESAs — which support those with health conditions but are not actually trained service animals — I reached out to the Disability Resource Center (DRC) on campus to find out how I could have an ESA with me at school. After finding out that I could have an ESA live with me in my on-campus apartment, I proceeded down the path to get an ESA. After going through all of the complicated steps (because bureaucracy is so fun), I finally had the stamp of approval and was allowed to have an ESA with me at school.

I chose to bring my dog, Sparky, who is a Corgi/Husky mix, to school with me to be my ESA. At first, I was nervous because having an ESA meant having a physical representation of my mental illness, and could possibly be an open door to ask me about what my story was since I needed an ESA. And that scared me since I was a Resident Advisor to 180 residents and worked with a staff of 20 Residents Advisors and two supervisors.

But Sparky quickly became my miracle.

Sparky was the best medicine I could have ever asked for. On days when I felt low or overwhelmed and didn’t want to get up for me or function, I knew I had to get up for him. We started to create our own little routine. Every morning we would get up at the same time, and depending on the weather would possibly put a sweater on him, and take him outside for a quick walk. Then we would go back inside and have breakfast together. (Sometimes I would spoil him and make us both some eggs.) I would take him on walks, and work outside on homework with him sitting on the bench next to me with his nose in the air taking in all the scents. Sometimes I would work in the Community Center in the community where I worked and would let him look out the window as people walked by, or let him sleep under the desk when I worked at the front desk.

If I had to go grocery shopping (on campus), I would walk him down with me and hook his leash up to the bench outside, and he would sit patiently until I was done (with a few people stopping to pet him). The workers at the small market even got to know the routine, and when I would stick my down the aisle to check on him outside the window, the workers would tell me that he was doing alright and still waiting patiently. And every night, before I would turn off the light, I would tuck him into his bed; then I’d turn off the light, and we would both go to bed.

And even though I was worried, my staff accepted him, and my residents loved him. Nobody looked at me differently. In fact, most people were just happy to have Sparky around.

The following year — my last year at the college since I graduated early — I was excited to bring Sparky with me. I knew that he would be my pal again and would support me, and let me hug him whenever I was on the verge of a panic attack.

When I brought him with me, my staff quickly accepted him and called him the “Cerro Vista Mascot” for our community. In fact, one of my coworkers admitted that she, too, battled with anxiety and that it meant the world to her that Sparky was here with her. Some of my friends on staff even cared for Sparky during times when I was in class or needed a break from walking him. My residents came to love him. Everyone wanted to pet Sparky, especially when he came to community events.

Sparky, however, came to support not just me, but other students around me. I remember when my coworker went through a breakup during our first quarter and came over to my apartment to vent. When my coworker started to cry, Sparky went and sat on their lap and licked them. Residents that were having bad days would often stop and ask if they could pet Sparky. Then, one day, a resident of mine so bravely opened up about her mental health struggles to me and asked me to help her in possibly getting an ESA. Sparky helped me so much, but I learned that he was helping others, too. And that meant everything to me.

As I was nearing graduation, I remember telling my parents that it would be nice if Sparky could walk with me on graduation day. He was, after all, pretty much the one thing that got me through college. He really was my savior.

My parents told me that I should ask. So I reached out to the graduation team to ask if I could have Sparky walk with me during graduation, and they said yes.

And on my graduation day, Sparky walked across that stage with me, holding his head high. My family and friends joked that I graduated with a degree in Political Science, but Sparky graduated with a degree in “Barks and Rec.” But I was so proud to have Sparky by my side that day. And I could tell that he was, too. He got me through some of my darkest days, and he deserved all the attention and love and honor on that day.

So when people ask me what it was like to live with an ESA during college, I tell them it was the best thing I could have ever done. Sparky was my miracle, my best medicine, my best friend. Sparky was what saved me.

Emily Veith
Emily has her bachelor's degree in Political Science, and has always believed in helping and serving others. She wants to make the world a better place, and aspires to be a politician someday to do just that. She is an old soul who loves Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Glenn Miller. When she isn't writing about imperative news- and political-related, she can be found attempting new recipes, playing her guitar or reading a good mystery book.

2018 Will Only Change Your Life If You Do

You stumble into your apartment at 2 am on January 1st, still slightly drunk from the celebration the night before.  You slump onto the couch, dismayed to realize that nothing’s changed.  You feel the same as you always have, even though you promised yourself that in 2018, everything would change for you.  No more failed relationships.  No more emotional baggage.  No more crummy job.

Yet here you are, curled up on the sofa on January 1st, 2018 at 2 in the morning, drunkenly wallowing in your string of short-lived relationships, the pain you’ve held in for the past 20 years, and the 9-5 job with the overly chatty cubicle mate and the salary that’s barely enough to pay the bills.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to go, right?  You’re supposed to enter the new year happy and healthy, with a loving relationship and a fulfilling job.  You’re supposed to become your best self the moment the clock strikes midnight on January 1st.  You’re supposed to have all of the garbage you went through in 2017 magically absolved from your life.  You’re supposed to immediately step into the life of your dreams.

Maybe in a fairytale.  In 2018, it’s time to face the harsh reality of new beginnings.  

2018 will only change your life if you do.

In 2018, you have to be willing to better yourself, to dedicate yourself to building the life of your dreams.  Without resolving to change yourself this new year, your life will stagnate, and as 2019 arrives, you will find yourself enveloped in the same problems you’ve refused to solve for years.  In 2018, work to become the best version of yourself.  Work to give yourself the life you deserve.  Work.

If you’re searching for a stable, loving relationship, commit to self-examination this coming year.  Recognize that your fear of commitment is preventing you from experiencing the longevity you crave.  Understand that your fear of intimacy is cutting ties with your partners and holding you back from the love you deserve.  Know that having a “type” is trapping you in a set of love interests that may be wrong for you and is also preventing you from expanding your worldview.  Resolve to meet people who love you wholeheartedly and challenge you to overcome your fears.  In 2018, work on committing yourself to love, to intimacy, and your love life will blossom in ways you’ve never dreamed possible.

If you’re seeking an end to your emotional distress, commit to finding happiness this coming year.  Reignite the spark for the passions you’ve left behind.  Engage with nature, music, and the arts.  Do whatever makes you smile.  Grow closer to the people who uplift you and cut toxic friends out of your life.  In the midst of your overwhelm, prioritize searching for the help you deserve.  In 2018, work on creating your own happiness, and your world will once again become light and joyous.

If you’re longing for a new career, commit to paving the way for a brighter future this coming year.  Discover what fulfills you, what would fill that void in your professional life, and begin to seek it out.  Take inventory of your current skill set, then commit to developing the skills you need for your dream career.  Apply to jobs in your desired field, even if they seem far out of your reach.  Work on coping with rejections, and strive for self-improvement instead of giving up at the first sign of failure.  In 2018, work on pursuing the career of your dreams, and your professional life will flourish with exciting, new opportunities.

In 2018, work to transform your monotonous life into the life of your dreams.  On January 1st, as you find yourself drunkenly crying on the sofa at 2 am, wishing for a more fulfilling life, remember that 2018 will only change your life if you do.

*Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.

 

Kelly is an avid writer and mental health and disability advocate with a focus on personal growth. She is passionate about using her life experiences to help others. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world -- no matter how small. When she is not writing or educating others about life with disability and mental illness, Kelly can be found listening to music and cuddling her cat.

Longing For Y2K

18 years ago, you could have found me daydreaming about the end of the world.

Excuse the little girl I was, she didn’t realize just how bad things could have gotten. Instead, she was totally caught up in the idea that the world as we know it could completely change in an instance. For those who weren’t old enough to remember, Y2K was the predicted tech apocalypse we were warned about the entire year of 1999. The theory was that computers would become useless because of a programming error caused by the date shift from 99 to 00.

When nothing happened, I was devastated. It fundamentally changed my understanding of the world. Since then, I’ve fiercely questioned anyone making extreme claims in either direction. No politician is going to fix all of our problems. No natural disaster will be so great that we won’t rebuild. And I promise, even if the worst case scenario happens for you at work, or in love, you’ll rebound.

Y2K was my inoculation against mass media fear-mongering. No other New Years has come close to having as big of an impact on me. Lost in the avalanche of “new year, new me” memes and advertisements for gyms, are some lessons we can take away from this annual event that might actually benefit us.

For starters, you can’t wait for a sign to make a positive change; you can’t wait for the end of the world. By then it’s too late. I had a rough childhood, and looking back, I can see now that I hoped for something big to happen because I felt helpless. The most powerful forces in our lives are the ones we become blind to. They are the daily routines that are set in stone. If you want to make a change, that is where to do it. Throwing a rock in the river on the first day of the year will make a splash but it won’t build a dam.  Quickly the ripples fade, and the current goes on its way.

It’s in this spirit that our lives are forged. Our moments of glory and love are built upon the foundation of the daily mundane choices we make. Big dreams require an untold number of baby steps. Little Chelly thought a major shakeup could bring her dreams to her as if they would fall into place. But, if we don’t put in the daily baby steps, we won’t be ready when our “perfect” moment happens.

We live in an age of sensationalism. Everything is the most this, and the worst that. Step back, breathe, and find a perspective that helps you grow. Y2K was a major bust just like every other end of times prophecy. Still, there were important lessons buried in each headline. At the very core of the Y2K phenomenon was the very real and very human fear over the growing role of technology in our lives.  Which, isn’t a new fear. With each jump in technology, there are fears of it destroying our way of life.

So often we indulge in believing that this time is special. That right now, while we are alive is fundamentally different than any other time. But it isn’t. Change isn’t a single presidency or a new generation. It’s slow, incremental, and so subtle that we take it for granted. The roots of Y2K can be found in the industrial revolution when cities began to grow and farmers turned into factory workers.  The past didn’t exist for us, we exist because of the past. So when you are being told that the end of the world is upon us and that all hope is lost, remember that the world is bigger than just today.