Marie Kondo or HGTV?!
I’m unhappy and I don’t know what to do about it— waves of thoughts are coming over me and I’m not liking almost any of them. I can see what’s bothering me, but the issue has snowballed into much more than what it was; most of the thoughts have become unreasonable yet I can’t stop feeling the way that I do. Like: “Ugh, I hate my life, why is everything so difficult?” stemmed initially from overwhelm at the fact that I wasn’t getting enough sleep and have been so sore lately. Or feeling like “no one cares about me-- I’m so alone!” because a friend flaked on our plans.
You’ve identified the problem and feel very down about it. But the thoughts are drowning you into their narrative. First, always take a deep breath and reset. Get up, take a walk— get some air, do something even if you’re bodily vessel doesn’t wish to.
I’ve had a lot of these moments in life, but they’ve definitely become much more exacerbated in my time thus far in New York.
New York. Just so you know, is where I’ve called home for a little under two years. It’s been representative of a lot of change in my life. I left my full-time teaching job in California to pursue my passions in life; helping people, teaching people, inspiring people and on as grand of a scale as I can possibly reach.
Of course, I’m still reaching. I’ve been the type of person that would probably never really say “I’m there, I made it.” But I’m learning to find importance in valuing the journey. Because I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes when we reach too far and high, it feels like you’re always working for something that you can never quite take in and that can take away from your being present. It has for me. It always becomes about the next step. Passion is great. In my time in New York, I have taken on so much— I began with modeling, and picked up personal training and acting together. I was learning such tough lessons about branding, marketing, social media, boundaries with people, forming new ties and breaking old ones— I mean the lessons have been endless especially because of having to start over. Naturally, I became quite reflective and I love sharing and helping others so I began writing around the same time on my ups and downs. I had to document the journey. There was and still is too much going on for me not to do that.
It’s been so nice. But it has come with a lot. I remember my mind running in so many directions with questions like: So if I’m going to play the social media game, how do I get my followers up? I have to post more. I need more content. Let’s make videos. Let’s put that on Youtube too. Shit, I barely have any subscribers— how do I get more on there too? I really just want to model, but I need to book jobs. I need an agent. How do I get one? I have to go to these open calls and keep submitting myself. I want to act too. How do I get work for that? Okay, Onkar, one step at a time. Let’s learn how to act first. Let’s learn how to make videos first and then we’ll get there. No no, you’ll figure it out as you go— just GO. No no, I want to make it right, so let’s slow down and be proud of what is put out there. Okay I like my thinking, I want to share my lessons learned with people. Let’s write more. People just want to see your pictures on Instagram, so I should have a blog to write in. I need to make more time for that. But I also need money. Shit, money. I need much more of that. What am I going to do in the meantime while I build my creative skills?
The thoughts and processes are endless. I could build an intricate flow chart with all of the avenues I’ve gone down, explored, possibly turned back and gone in another direction with, created new pathways from dead ends, or have just gone through the typical paths most creatives do and found my way through to other routes for myself. I could go on. But I want to show how intricate it can be and how many places you can get stuck and caught up with the bigger questions when the little ones don’t get answered:
Should I be doing this? Am I good enough to be doing this? This is really hard, maybe I should just move back home and be in my comfort zone again? Maybe try something else? My friends keep questioning what I’m doing, maybe I don’t really know either? Why am I interested in so many different things? I feel like I’m being judged, why won’t people just accept me? I want to be myself but my family and friends don’t support me, do I need their validation and support? I don’t really know anyone out here, how I do make friends? I do have friends, but they don’t care about me and are so flaky— do I really need them? I feel guilty going out because I don’t have enough money or time, so why do I keep wasting both when I should be working harder?
Problems lead to questions. And questions lead to seeking solutions. And I’m the type of person to be very resistant to change at first so I’ll want to just run. Run, change, let’s go back, let’s get OUT OF THIS. At the same time, I expect results, I expect change to come. So either we get through this quickly and I see change happening, or I’m out. And I’ve been thinking about that these tendencies a lot lately.
What do I do? Do I scrap the plan entirely and move on to something else? Is this really not working? What do you do? Do you really just have a toxic group of friends or an individual friend that’s not being kind to themselves and therefore not kind to your relationship with them either?
Intimate relationships. Career. Family. Identity. These are some of the huge themes I continue to question—not because they are so unsettled, but because they are important to me and also because they hold so much power over me. I need to know who I am so I can figure out my career and what I’m passionate about. I don’t want to be insecure and reinforce bad habits that make me a toxic person to be around in my relationships nor do I want that for myself. I want to be happy and in-tuned with myself. I don’t like it when I become numb and stop expressing myself— I become disconnected and resistant to what I’m feeling which only elongates the process of healing.
“Fear collects negativity like a snowball rolling down a mountain.”
If you’re someone that wants things in life and doesn’t just want to be comfortable and cozy, then there will be pain and difficulties. If you have been through trauma in your life where the narrative that you don’t deserve love and that you are not enough were reinforced, then know that future experiences that come even close to reminding you of your pain will trigger you. When you don’t feel safe and comfortable, you will begin to question everything. It really can go from “I don’t feel competent or secure at my job and I’m afraid I’ll get fired every time I’m there” to “I can’t do this, I’m going to quit and change direction with my life. Being a *insert job title* is b/s— this is NOT for me.” Fear collects negativity like a snowball rolling down a mountain.
When something or someone pushes your buttons and triggers that story you have in your head about “Yeah you should give up, this is too hard and not worth it” or “See, she didn’t pick up my call, she doesn’t care about me and never has!”— REALIZE it and acknowledge it. Also realize when objective goes way south into the subjective; the “she didn’t pick up my call” to “she doesn’t care about me at all!” (Funny enough, I always overhear couples in public arguing about this exact thing and assuming their partner didn’t pick up because they’re talking to someone else i.e. cheating).
It’s important to distinguish the subjective from the objective. Because although your current difficulties may just be triggering deep-rooted pain from your past, they do have some validity that needs attention too. Just because your friend isn’t being responsive and is being a shitty friend, doesn’t mean you have zero community and don’t deserve love. BUT there is a problem there that needs addressing. The objective “not being responsive” is an issue. The subjective “he/she doesn’t care about me at all!” and any further negative thoughts on the matter also are an issue— but have more to do with you than them.
So acknowledge both. Acknowledge how much of your reaction is based on the problem at hand and how much of it is your own story (as negative as it may be) wishing to validate itself at the forefront of your thoughts? That is the first step.
Because I’ve realized— before you decide whether to cut a friend out of your life or work on the relationship, it’s important to have clarity as to how much of it is what you are telling yourself and how much of the issue actually exists outside of you and is something you both need to work on (in this case).
I like to think that most of the circumstances that we’re presented with are just mere reflections of who we are, what we struggle with, what we’re afraid of, and what we want most of all. So the reason I explained so much of my struggles and processes here in New York is show you that although most of my difficulties could be attributed to the city, my creative entrepreneurial path, or my network at face value— I’ve changed my circumstances enough at this point in my life to know that it’s really just me most of the time.
At face value, I may be seeking validation from modeling and acting now whereas before it was from being a good teacher—but underneath it, I am still seeking validation from my achievements to feel good enough. I may be questioning my relationship and whether or not I feel loved and cared for, but I’m merely making up a story again to validate why I should really be a lone wolf; to protect myself from people so I don’t get hurt.
“But most of the time— you just wish you had the green grass on the other lawn because you haven’t been watering yours. “
Now don’t get me wrong. Some relationships really are toxic. Some circumstances do require boundaries and for you to distance or protect yourself. That’s when you Marie Kondo that shit. But most of the time— you just wish you had the green grass on the other lawn because you haven’t been watering yours.
Make your home a home. Take time to build a proper foundation right where you are. Your friend is not a flaky asshole— they just have their own baggage going on. If you work on becoming more vulnerable with them, they will become more vulnerable with you and it’ll be exactly what you were hoping for. The city that I live in is grimey and I don’t feel the love—but this is the third city I’ve been in in the last four years so I know what lonely is and I know it takes time to build community. Getting up and moving again would only make my problem worse. And if I continue to see my time here in New York as a temporary experience, I will be less invested in making my home a home—from taking time to buy comfy furniture, to finding my regular coffee spot, to exploring the pockets of my city that truly bring me joy, to the people that fill my cup up; it takes time but it will happen if I build it. And last, my partner really does love me if they are with me. Yes we have problems, yes I sometimes find other people attractive and begin questioning my relationship. But everything I wish I had and hope to have can be had right in front of me. Make what you have fit for you, work on crafting it rather than constantly wanting to drop what is working for something “better.”
Better is subjective. Maybe you’ll try harder next time. But most likely, the next set of circumstances will only make you face yourself again and you will be right back where you left off—having to confront yourself when you really didn’t want to.
Your “problems” will show up in various forms no matter how many times you change your circumstances. We don’t level up until we overcome the challenges we have in front of us. And they will keep repeating themselves. How many relationships will you walk way from feeling drained before you learn to draw boundaries and not set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm? How many career changes will it take for you to realize you are afraid of failure or cannot take criticism and will avoid either at any cost? How many times will you push your friends away assuming they don’t care about you before you realize you are just as harsh on yourself and you are both suffering as a result?
Make your home a home. Water your lawn. Because there’s nothing better on the other side, the other side is getting over your own self-damaging narratives and opening up to what is possible. You are loved. You are enough. You can do this. Everything outside of you is merely a reflection of what is happening within. So look deep within, give yourself what you need, and the rest will come.
Grab a copy of Growing Pains the Book if you haven’t already!