I’m a dark person. It’s not that I’m depressed or mostly negative. I’m simply dark. I don’t like to smile a lot. I think too deeply about things. My mind finds comfort in getting wrapped around my untold stories. The sadness and pain of this world deeply pierces my soul and thinking. I’m the kind of person who dislikes being told to be happy or to smile. I live in a reality shrouded in darkness, but I’m not unhappy. I’m actually quite hopeful and optimistic. I believe in miracles and magic. I trust love prevails over all things.
I don’t like connecting with everyone I meet. It takes energy. Sometimes too much for me to handle. I take solace and pleasure in time spent alone. Being with people for far too long drains me unlike anything I know. I’m a loner. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. This doesn’t mean I don’t want and need human contact. I do. Just not all the time. If I want to function for the next several days, I need to have my alone time.
Explaining this darkness to myself has never been easy, so I feel it’s almost impossible to explain it here without sounding like I’m suffering from sort of severe depression. I’m not. However, in this dark world of mine, it’s necessary to find some light because I do stand on a thin line where I can teeter into soul-sucking, depression-filled darkness. To stop myself from overstepping that boundary, I search for the light inside my persistent darkness.
But finding the light takes work.
The first thing I do is talk kindly to myself.
I tell myself a lot of self-affirming statements to keep exaggerated negativity at bay. I tell my self I’m strong, I’m powerful, I’m incredible, I’m amazing. I can achieve anything I conceive in my mind. I just need to act. And not be afraid of the results.
The result isn’t the most important thing. The process is.
Focusing on the process helps a lot. I focus on the joy and bliss that comes from creating words. I dive in the pleasure that comes from making people do what I desire. My mind explodes with energy from this creative process. Energy from my creative spirit.
I tap into the light of my creative spirit.
This light keeps me from sinking into the bad darkness, the darkness that rips souls apart and infests the mind with hope-eating bacteria. The darkness that makes death beautiful, appealing, and even necessary. The light from the creative spirit chases away the bad darkness and provides the oil for burning my passion for one more day. For one more month. For one more lifetime.
I create even when I don’t want to.
Sometimes I don’t want to create anything in the physical world. I don’t want to write because the darkness is too deep. I prefer to create in my mind. The worlds arise and people move inside these worlds, talking, walking, alive within a story. It’s perfect in my mind, and I want to stay up there. Sometimes for a long time. But the mind is not enough. The real world is waiting on the outside. I need to bring the mind and reality together, and that takes work.
So I create even when I don’t want to. I start and once I do, everything comes together.
Revel in the creation.
I love what I create even when I know it stills needs work. I revel in what I’ve brought forth with my mind. Nothing makes me feel more human. More alive then knowing my work is talking, interacting, making decisions, dreaming, experiencing failure and lost, and healing from wounds.
Remember, it’s okay to feel.
One thing I tell myself to do is to feel whatever dark emotions are swirling inside me. I let them run their course. I don’t suppress them. It’s when they’re out in the open that I can attack them, deconstruct them, minimize them, and make them as insignificant as dust. And then, I blow them away and keep on going.
I am what I think in my mind.
The future isn’t far off. The future is now. I am now. The most important thing to remember is the present moment is everything. Whatever I say I am in my mind is who I am. I am alive. I am incredible. I am powerful. I am capable of being healed. I am capable of healing others. I am learning, growing, and becoming a better version of me because I want to. I am who I say I am.
How do you find the light in your darkness? Would love to hear your thoughts.
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In college I walked in a haze of negativity and self-doubt obscuring my vision and crippling my hopes for a future. I longed to hang out with friends on weekends, laugh for no reason, and work hard on a dream motivated by passion. I desired these things because somewhere deep inside I knew that life couldn’t only be the flames and the aches. Although small and fragile, there was some awareness that I wasn’t meant to live this cramped, self-hating existence I was living. I was meant for something more fulfilling, rich, and beautiful. And that small hope pushed me to apply to graduate school in NYC, a city that stole my imagination and heart after a three-day visit with my family. I wanted to live in New York and the universe and God answered my prayers.
I didn’t know it back then, but I was slowly releasing myself from the throes of negative thinking before moving to New York for school. I was fed up with feeling down, fed up with feeling like I had zero control of my life and where I wanted it to go. Suddenly, it really didn’t matter so much what people thought of me or whether this or that person could perform this task better than I could. I had a desire to truly focus on me without taking the outside world into consideration.
It took going beyond the superficial desires manufactured by my upbringing and society to better understand and be in touch with who I really was and what I could do. I was approaching the edge of this new and liberating mindset, but doubt and negativity kept pulling me back. It would take some great friends to give me the shove I needed into a lake of healing and self-love.
When I first stepped out of the moving van to head up to my room, I instantly felt the rhythm of the city humming beneath the soles of my feet and tingling my skin and senses. The beat matched the excitement of my heartbeat and never stopped drumming until I left two years later. The air had something contagious in it: possibility, hope, uniqueness, coolness, and discovery among many things. I couldn’t help but get caught up in the potential for what things in my life could be. It was a great feeling. Like I said before, I was riding on an amazing high. But I would soon find out that the best thing about living in the city was the people.
New York would have been nothing without the incredible bunch of individuals I met from different walks of life. For some strange reason, the shyness that held me hostage in college dissipated in the city. I was outgoing, confident, and supremely cheerful, and it attracted so many cool people my way. Something about being outside of my comfort zone energized me in a way I never thought possible. I wanted to forge new friendships and connections so I dove right in without an ounce of fear. Doing so allowed me to meet one special friend who helped me confront my negativity straight on and embark on a new path: affirmative thinking.
To be continued…
How about you? Have you ever moved someplace new and it changed you in some way or another? I’d love to hear about it!
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Happy New Year, folks! 🙂
Beginnings are filled with so much hope and promise. There’s always that strong desire to be better, smarter, happier, and more successful than before. Sometimes the change we want doesn’t come as we hope it would, but it’s still worth it to keep trying to change. Hard work is everything. That’s what i’ve learned from 2014 and will bring it with me into 2015 as I attempt once more to make my publishing dreams come true. I will get an agent. I will be published. I will hold my novel in my hands. I will see this day, no ifs or buts about it. This will be reality. I’m sending it out there into the universe for it to happen as I do my part–writing, editing, revising, and querying my butt off. Dreams come true. I’ll make it. And you will too in whatever dream you have. 🙂
400 years is a long time.
It’s a long time. They pointed to our skin and said, “You are not human.” They said, “You do not have a name.” They said, “Your life is nothing.” They said, “Your mind, your body, your hair, even your genitals are not human.” They said, “You are a nigger.” And with that name came concerted, endorsed, and systematic horrors against our black bodies. It’s a profoundly deep and pervasive programming; it clamps into our minds, souls, and hearts; and it takes hold not only of Black and white minds, but also the minds of all peoples from all nations: Black means nigger; Black lives have no value.
And we fought to reclaim our names, to reclaim our freedoms, and to make our dignity as human beings be seen, be felt, be known: we fought, we bled, we died, we raged. And today, despite all the sacrifices, hard work, art, music, and creation of new knowledge, we still fight today.
400 years is a long time.
When you fight in a war, you need to know your enemy. Do we know our enemy? Or are we fighting a war blindfolded? For that is exactly what the enemy wants: for us to be blind. And by us, I mean all the people. The enemy wants our minds to be parched of truth; removed from history; focused on individual acts; trapped in hate; warring amongst ourselves; propagating lies; participating as willful actors; defending individualism; consuming uncritically; chasing after manufactured dreams of riches, glory, and fame; distrusting our neighbors; scorning love; and killing community.
The enemy is not set to be temporary; it seeks to be perpetual. But to be perpetual, the enemy must be smart: it must change, accommodate a little, give in a little, rearrange itself to be more edible to the masses, and create clever and confusing justifications for its actions. Because the enemy knows that it if wants to live forever, it needs consent from the people.
400 years is a long time.
And this is our enemy, the enemy of the world: white supremacy. It’s time. I believe it’s time. I am confident. Hopeful. And I believe in the people. Because 400 years is a long time. And history shows us that we humans can only tolerate bullshit for so long. And the enemy knows this and that’s why it is fighting so hard to stay alive and immortal. But it cannot. It should not. Know this: the enemy is afraid.
So now is not the time to turn away, close your eyes, and put your hands up in despair saying, “Nothing will change” or “Fuck this shit” or “I’m done” or “This has nothing to do with me.” It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or where you call the home of your great-great-great grandparents: white supremacy affects us all. Everyone. It is a poison destroying humanity.
400 years is a long time.
So do whatever you can to fight for the living; to take a stand against the enemy; to give your time or resources; to educate yourself on the issues; read; learn; un-learn harmful programming…whatever it is, just take a stand. Because the enemy lives when we do nothing. There is hope. Change is always possible.
Because 400 years is a long time.
I’m not exactly sure how I ended up here. I had imagined my life to be different, to be elsewhere right now. But life has a way of surprising you with detours when you least expect them, and you find yourself living in a hostel in downtown Boston instead of somewhere in Southern California. I’ve been madly craving the west coast for a while now, but I can’t seem to get myself there. And now I’ve decided to go to grad school here in Boston. As if I needed any more reason to endure another New England winter. My life is in a total flux, and only I can save myself from whatever impending doom awaits me before the fall semester. I’ve got only one hope now. My writing. I’ve written a book, and I think it’s good. I just hope I can get some agents to bite, just one person to give me a chance. That’s all I need, I believe, to propel myself forward to the future my heart desires. It won’t be easy, and I never for one second thought it would be…okay, I did once. When I had faith.
When I had faith, I thought the world would fall at my feet. I must have been delusional or something. I was delusional. Illogical. Naïve. And with eyes so bright that I was too blind to see myself stumbling down a dark hole of stupidity and failure. That’s one of the main reasons why I gave up my faith. I believed too much. I had limitless faith that God would help me as long as I did my part. Wrong. There’s no one there to do the extra 50% to my 100%. I had to do it all. 150% and then some.
I can understand why people would cling to their faith, however. It’s scary to accept that there’s no one out there beyond the sky looking out for you. That you’re all alone and that your life is left to chaos. Sometimes even random events. Nothing is for sure. And the only eternity you experience is death. But I’m not afraid of death. I know I’m made up of the stuff of the stars; that I’m made up of this earth. When I die, I simply return to where I began. And that’s okay. All I can do now while I’m alive is make the best of this life by loving my family, friends, others, and myself. And making a lasting change that benefits society in some way. That’s the meaning I have in life. The meaning I make.
The road stretches before me, beckoning, asking, “Where will you go?” I answer, forefinger pointing toward the horizon, “To where beauty lives.”
How about you? Where will you go?
2014 hasn’t been kind to me so far, which bites because 2013 wasn’t a blast either. I’ve been on a failing streak with one setback rolling in right after the other. Just when I think life has decided to give me a shiny gold coin, it pulls it right out of my reach before I can take it. Lucy would’ve been proud. And of course like any normal human being, I’ve buckled under the pressure, cursed the gods, and experience internal torment. Thankfully it’s not my style to stay broken and buried. Even if I have to claw my way out of this grimy pit, I will get out. Strangely enough misery motivates me to change whatever hasn’t been working.
First thing I did was get a haircut. I have this strange ritual where I cut my hair as some sort of external display of rebirth. I look in the mirror and see the new look, thinking about how I’m going to change. But that’s just 1% of the work needed to transform my situation. Usually my gut reaction to my problems is to leave the country. Runaway and teach English in some far off country where I don’t have to think or deal with any of the demons back home. Sadly, I’ve grown practical and can’t bring myself to do such a thing. Running away won’t help because my problems will follow me wherever I go. They live in my head, which last I check isn’t detachable. So what do I do?
Create opportunities. Work harder on my craft. Remember that the bad times won’t last forever. Be a better person to my loved ones and the people around me. Exercise regularly. Eat better. Get help in the form of a therapist. I’m pretty sure I’m holding my breath underwater and it won’t be long before I drown. So I have to keep all these things in mind to move forward and attain the life I want to live. To remember that life is worth living no matter my environment or my circumstances. Life is worth living.
What do you do when everything goes wrong? Would love to hear your thoughts!
It’s going to be okay. No need to feel broken and separated from everyone else. It’s no longer necessary to find escape through deep sleep. You can find peace here. It is waiting for you in your heart. You can find healing for your mind, body, and soul. You can find it now. It’s not hidden someplace far beyond your reach or calling to you from in inaccessible planes. It’s here. It has always been here. You simply forgot or didn’t believe. Your peace. Let it massage your tired muscles, calm your heart, and help you breathe anew. It will awaken your mind and replace your dulled senses with the alertness of creative energy, bursting with power and amazingness. Unleash the inhibition chained to the logical spaces of your mind. You don’t need it. Let go of control. Let go of unspiritual needs of what they say will bring you happiness. Create happiness in this moment now. This moment loves you and will give you sweet kisses of joy, pure and refreshing. You will forget what once hurt your mind, your pride, and hope. Put it in the past and go forth with a new voice, a new song, waiting inside to be sung for all to hear. I want to hear your new voice, your new song deep within the caverns where you keep them all hidden. I’m waiting for you. Don’t keep me waiting long. I am happiness. I am joy. I am fulfillment.
Ever had a time when you had to hang onto hope and hope alone? And that hope wasn’t some thick, metal chain with a hook, but rather a thin, fragile thread. Add any more weight in the form of one more setback, one more frustration, or one more instance of your environment driving you crazy, and that thread would break. You’d fall back into a black pit of despair with outreached hands toward that small string of hope.
I’ve been there. It’s not a fun place to be. It hurts. And worse, you have a hard time shaking off this terrible feeling of powerlessness, like nothing you do will change things. That’s a lie, of course. Yes, some things are beyond our control, but other things aren’t: like the state of our minds, our future, and day-to-day decisions. Since returning from Korea about two years ago, I was introduced to different ways of thinking through books, friends, and websites. The shift from feeling helpless to feeling empowered gave me a new pair of eyes; I finally saw the big picture and realized that that picture could become reality. I could change things. I wasn’t a robot or a puppet with its hands tied to invisible strings making me dance to somebody else’s song. I had my own song to compose, sing, and dance to. And compose, sing, and dance I would.
One avenue that got me thinking about my dreams, productivity, internal motivations, and purging suffering from life was a website called Personal Excellence by Celestine Chua. This lovely spot on the Internet helped me worked out problems with self-doubt, productivity, and goal setting. From then on, I found myself taking in a lot of information about pursuing dreams, maintaining a positive mindset, and not letting one’s environment affect you and so on. It turned out to be quite overwhelming at one time. It is overwhelming. So, if you’re on a similar journey to pursue your heart’s desires, here are five ways to stay sane in the middle of it all.
1.) Have a plan/make a schedule with a goal in mind.
Sometimes we believe creative people do things on the fly or whenever they’re inspired or feel motivated. That plans, schedules, and goal making are for the boring crowd that we’re trying to escape from. No. There’s a reason why people make plans and set goals. Doing so concretizes the ideas floating in your head and brings you up one notch from dream to reality. If you want an effective model for setting and achieving goals, I recommend Celestine Chua’s ESPER, Establish, Strategy, Planning, Execution, and Review. Trust me. You won’t regret taking a look at it.
2.) Be patient and lean into the process.
Personally, I struggle with patience and the process. I had to train myself to take a deep breath and live in the present. I like looking forward to the future and thinking about the good times I had in the past. But doing so made for a lousy present in which I was frustrated with my progress; afraid that I stood at a standstill; and angry with myself for not getting things done quicker. I wanted the beautiful picture in my mind to happen now. But life isn’t about the results. It’s about the process, all the stuff in between the big moments—success or failure. And each moment of the present is precious. Like a good friend used to say, “Enjoy the moment.”
3.) Don’t focus on the progress of others; focus on yours.
Everyone’s journey is unique. Remember that. Just because so and so is three paces ahead of you doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. Know for sure that if you’re working on your dream, then you’re most likely three paces ahead of someone else. Someone out there actually envies you! Don’t compare yourself to others. It is the most destructive thing you can do to your mind. Instead, zoom in on yourself and on what you need to get done. You’ll get there when you need to get there. Just keep working hard.
4.) Don’t let your environment wear you down.
As I’m writing, I’m enduring an environment detrimental to my mental health and creative process. But I’m not letting the foolishness and negativity around me stop me from doing what I love, which is writing. If I could leave this second, I would. However, I don’t have the resources right now to do so. That doesn’t mean I’m not working on making my exit. I am. But until I can get out, I have to stay focused on what matters most to me. I can’t allow my environment to depress, discourage, or drive me crazy. The three Ds if you will. You don’t need ideal conditions to work on your dreams. If people waited for perfect surroundings to create magic, then there would be tons of things today that we would not be enjoying. So, press the mute button on the noisy environment and soldier on.
5.) Not all advice works for you. Remember to be true to yourself and your heart.
People everywhere have something to say about how you should live your life, what steps you should take, and what you should avoid. Some pieces of information may work well for you while others may not. It’s good to know the difference. I have missed some pretty amazing opportunities by following the advice of people who meant well but didn’t know me as much as they thought they did or, surprise surprise, the future. I believe the future rewards those who face it with humility. Life taught me this the hard way. The minute you hear someone giving you advice that sounds arrogant or narrow-minded, warning flags should fly.
How about you? What are some ways you keep yourself in check in the middle of pursuing your dream? Would love to hear your thoughts.