Sorry for the late upload – my sleep schedule was thrown off this week after landing back in MSP at midnight on Monday! This week, I write an update on my general well-being and emotional development. I hope this post brings attention to the importance of mental health and emotional development in every person.
Ever since I went to college, my summers have been weird. Weird in the sense that each summer has a thematic life lesson. The first summer, I worked nearly 50 hours a week and learned that I dislike babysitting with a passion. However, I think it was also the first time when I realized that: 1) I am able to push myself to work in order to earn money and 2) I am beginning to get a taste of adult life.
During my sophomore year and the summer afterward, I realized that overplanning was detrimental to my growth. (If you’re curious, go back to my old posts on beingrachely.weebly.com) I was learning (and still am learning) to be okay with uncertainty. Plans change and while having a life plan at 20 is great, there’s absolutely no need to panic when life does not go according to plan. People like my summer internship advisor, Aneela, are proof that you can succeed in whatever career you choose. Ultimately, I have the power to create my definition of success and contentment.
My Life Lesson This Summer
There was a lot of crying (and there will probably be more) this summer. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m now living alone and spend a significant amount of time in my own thoughts. Maybe it’s because I’m slowly understanding my own emotions. Regardless, I discovered the reason behind my tears.
Growing up, there wasn’t much discussion on emotions. A typical Chinese family doesn’t talk about feelings or emotions, and any sign of crying or tears was a sign of weakness. “Crying is for little kids.” “Crying too much makes you ugly.” “What does crying accomplish?”
Now, for me, crying has always been a sign of my frustration; I would much rather “implode” than to “explode” at someone and say something I can’t take back. As a result of this upbringing, I noticed that I don’t express my emotions outwardly and, on occasion, even suppress my own emotions. To emphasize, I do have emotions- I feel emotions as much as the next person does; I just choose not to show them.
To be honest, my four years of high school was the worst time for my mental health. At my worst, I averaged 3-4 hours of sleep during my junior year. I regularly pushed myself to perform my best despite exhaustion and burnout. When I witnessed another student breaking down crying in the bathroom due to academic stress, it normalized breakdowns for me. Other students are suffering just as much from the academic rigor. I would reach my breaking point about twice a semester and cry as a way to release the tension and anxiety. Ten minutes later, I would be back doing my reading assignment until 2 am. It was a vicious cycle.
LEARNING TO FORGIVE AND FORGET
One of my goals for my emotional development this summer is to learn to forgive myself and release past grudges. In my current stage of life, I strongly believe that letting go of childhood trauma and past grudges will free me of the negativity that I feel like I always carry inside of me. I always hold my tongue when I feel negative energy within me, but I genuine despise myself for possessing negativity. I want to focus on my life and not let jealousy, envy, and competition consume me.
During this journey, I realized that I never fully processed my past emotions – from high school and from situations in childhood. There are events in my childhood that I want to blame on others: people who should have been there for me and my friends but weren’t. There are events that happened in the past that I can’t forgive myself for: deadlines that I have forgotten and am beating myself up for… Maybe there is a better way to go through this process but I’m forcing myself to confront these events. I’m intentionally forcing these emotions to surface again so that I can properly deal with them. I think there’s a limit to how much a person can suppress their emotions before it overflows or explodes, and I want to “empty my tank” so that I’m not being weighed down. I don’t want my past holding me back from my future.
Finding Ways to Let Go
I’m turning to many, many different channels for life advice, self-care, and self-improvement. I’m finally opening up and speaking about these events vocally to people closest to me. If you know me, you know that I use my articulation skills to my advantage; it never sounds like I’m closing myself off to people, but I always carefully select my words to not overshare my life or incite unwanted questions. It is only now, after nearly 5 years of knowing some of my friends, that I’m finally sharing stories about my childhood and my insecurities. And it is here that I genuinely want to thank Jennifer and Adrienne for being great listeners, cheerleaders, and supporting me during this phase of my self-development.
Besides friends, podcasts and YouTubers that are focused on self-development and life advice have also been great resources. In my previous post, I shared one of my favorite podcasts, Perfectly Imperfect. The hosts, Regina and Christine, feel like older sisters in their early 30s sharing life advice for me. They talk about struggles that they went through and gave their listeners solutions to deal with them. YouTubers like Rowena Tsai and Lavendaire are also helpful in giving my life perspective and tidy my thoughts and my physical surroundings. Listening to them talk calms me and prevents me from overthinking. At times like this, I’m glad for the technology that is available so that I’m able to find the resources that I need for my mental health.
Well. What’s Next?
I don’t know. By releasing past negative emotions, I hope I would feel less constricted and suffocated by my past. I want to rid myself of the extremely toxic tiny voices inside my head. And I hope to slowly change my mindset and my mediocre self-esteem into something positive and optimistic. Ultimately, confronting and recognizing the legitimacy of my emotions is going to be an ongoing process for the rest of my life. Better start now than later, I guess.
The process of healing through tears is so important. Behind every strong person and closed door lies numerous heartfelt struggles with an even greater number of stories where people have risen above those trials to take steps to a better them. It is so mature and wise of you to reflect periodically on segments of your life and attempt to find an overarching theme that might help you discover more about who you are not only as a person but who you have the potential to be as an adult.
I can relate so much with the struggle to connect with oneself emotionally and am thrilled that you are paying more attention to that aspect of you. Your journey and shared reflections have inspired me on many occasions to take a number of “firsts” throughout my transition out of high school and well into my college experience. Now as a senior, I can look back, unlike the time I did in high school, and proudly say I have little to no regrets. Keep up the awesome work and look forward to your next post!