starting point

Inside out

 photo by  Corey Bao

photo by Corey Bao

I’m itching to create something but I don’t know what, and not knowing what to do is making me feel stuck. I feel the need to express myself visually, emotionally, recreationally, but I don’t even know who it is that I’m supposed to be.

I feel like after 20 trips around the sun I should know myself a little better, second guess myself a little less. But I still find myself regretting every decision that I make, every thought that I have, every step that I take and I lay awake at night hating myself for it, thinking that I’m less for it, beating myself up and down instead of taking it and using it to improve.

I used to think that thinking all of the time would help me to learn more about myself and the world, it would make me smarter than those around me, I would be more aware of what was going on and how to react to given situations. I was horribly wrong. I used to think that being in my head would help me observe and come to conclusions and I guess it did, but I kind of wish it didn't. Because being stuck in my head is a prison. I'm locked in, and I can't even attempt to escape because hello, that's it, this is me.

I've been living from the inside out, peeking out between the small cracks in my shell, jumping to the worst conclusions and seeing all of the bad in the world above the good. It's made me cynical when I was once whimsical, drawn my attention to the dark corners of the earth when I was once in love with the sun. And I'm working to get back to that, really, but it feels impossible sometimes when I feel caught up by mind, held hostage by my brain.

My peers have told me I’m unusually self aware, as if it’s a good thing. I suppose it’s better than the alternative, but all it’s done for me is cause me to overthink just about everything and analyze everything I do to try to get better. I feel like I’m tricking myself into thinking I’m moving forward when I’m actually going backwards, stuck in a cycle of self hatred and a desire to overcompensate. Isn’t that more dangerous than even not trying? Would it be better to care less, think less? The obvious answer is no, and mine might change depending on the mood I’m in, but sometimes I feel trapped inside my own mind, unable to escape the faults of human nature on a more personal scale, and that feeling takes a toll on me and my everyday life.

So what is one to do about it?

Be an enthusiast in life. Find something you’re interested in and go at it full speed. Above all else, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.
— Roald Dahl

It has never made much sense to me why people shy away from passion, as if having strong feelings is something to be embarrassed about. It is passion that fuels creativity, creativity that inspires art, art that makes life interesting. We spend a lot more time looking for the bad rather than the beauty in things, as if it is not surrounding us, encasing us in every second of our lives. The world is wondrous and it is a gift to be alive in this moment, to be alive at all, and it seems like a waste to live a life without truly caring about anything, without reflecting on the chance we’ve been given and appreciating what we have.

It took me a long time to realize that, and funnily enough I spent a couple of years trying to feel the very least that I could, which is not only unrealistic but deadening to the soul. We aren’t shells for empty beings, we’re bursting of incredible life that shouldn’t be withheld or made out to be less than it is.

So it’s not that I shouldn’t dream big, that I shouldn’t have high hopes and want for the best for myself. It’s that I should take those wishes and make real, tangible goals out of them, and instead of stopping to think about why I couldn’t or shouldn’t try, I should just do it.

And I’m young. So incredibly young and I have more than enough time to pursue my passions and find what it is that really makes me go.

I know things will get better, I know they already are, and I’ve been working on being more present in the current moment, more grateful with what I have and where I am rather than being upset because I’m not where I will be. We’re not meant to live our lives measuring our days by productivity or stressing about the future or doing anything but simply just living our lives, which sounds like an obvious statement, but one I’ve found is easily lost in the tangled mess of our busy work schedules, our deadlines and finals, our relationships and heartbreaks.

Instead of being safe and secure in a life without dreams, let’s be inspired and thankful, willing to give beauty back to the world that gave us life, knowing that we have been supplied with the ability to do anything we truly set our minds to.