Somewhere Along the Way, I Stopped Thinking and Started Being Happy

You have have noticed that my last post was nearly a month ago. Heck, I’m not proud of that. But instead of wiping the blog clean and simply pretending it never happened, I’d like to acknowledge it.

As soon as I made the decision to graduate early, I was feeling lost and confused, and thought I needed to jump on The Next Big Thing to feel complete in my life. I am always on the go and I like to distract myself instead of dealing with my feelings. I pride myself on my productivity, on my many passions and career goals. But this was a time for me to take care of myself, to heal up, and it’s impossible to be real with yourself when you’re always catapulting from one goal to the next.

I’m a total analytical junkie. I love thinking, I love numbers, and I love running through my thoughts. Is this valid? I might think. Am I enjoying myself enough? What could be a better use of my time?

All this questioning made me really unhappy. I knew over thinking was not the answer. I knew it was making me unhappy — I just didn’t know how to stop it. I thought this blog would help me — but in the first week, I fought my thoughts every day. I felt like an imposter, a preacher of self-worth and confidence that I did not have — did not even come close to having. But I wrote, still, tried to keep my head up and positivity on my brain.

I’ve learned you can’t force the cycle of thoughts to stop. I slowly had to ramp myself down from over thinking everything to only thinking about the necessities. It was a total pain. I hated slamming the brakes on my brain — in a weird way, it felt like I was limiting myself,even though in reality, I was freeing myself up to be more productive about real issues. Obsessing can be addictive to me — once I start, it’s hard to stop. So I had to take another approach — I tried not to let myself start thinking at all.

I hung out with people. I buried myself in books. I ran to the tunes of bass-thumping pop music. I wrote fiction — one of the few forms of where I allow myself total freedom. I tried to do things — quite simply, I tried to do things that made me feel like me, things that had fallen by the wayside.

I messed up a ton. I’m only human. But it was only recently that I’d realized that I stopped thinking and started being happy.

I took this month to slow down. I might not have documented it all, but here are some highlights:

  • November 15: I went on a scavenger hunt at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, through Watson Adventures. My team won the challenge, coming in first place on a trivia hunt! We were so shocked that we won (we’ve done several and always tied or lost by a point or two) that we started laughing when we heard the results!
  • November 26: I went to the library for fun for the first time in forever and read Insurgent cover to cover in three hours.
  • November 27: I took time to cook and spend some time with my family on Thanksgiving. Watching the parade and the dog show on TV is a must-do (I was totes rooting for the Sammy dog.) I also finished up my final essays and presentations for classes.
  • November 28: Went shopping with my mom very late in the day (no a.m. rushing for us!) and managed some good deals nonetheless.
  • December 1 & 2: Watched the entirety of season seven of Supernatural on Netflix. #noregrets #whoops I also cooked a lot of vegetables.
  • December 3: I remember being grateful for the hauntingly beautiful moon on a late night stroll.
  • December 5: I gave my final presentation for one of my favorite classes — thereby finishing all of my undergraduate work (except going to classes) until my final on December 16. (The presentation, by the way, was on Gluten Free Hudson Valley.)
  • December 7: I met up with a friend from ASME and explored Manhattan. Followed through with the tradition of going to Rockefeller Center and stopped off at the Plaza as well as our old stomping grounds.
  • December 8: I slept for 16 hours (unheard of for me!) and it was glorious.

In between, I caught up on my laundry, chatted with family and generally enjoyed myself. Have I done anything remarkable? No, not really. But I’m recharging my batteries, I’m happier than ever…and I think not writing that down, that sort of progress, would be a damn shame.

I’d be lying if I said I was happy all the time. But I’ve made bits of progress where it counts. The negative inner self-talk is now recognizable, and I’m stomping it out. I try to find the good in situations instead of immediately jumping to the worst possible scenario. I’ve learned there is a time and place for relaxing, and sometimes you need to embrace it, not fall into it kicking and protesting (my usual strategy.)

I’ve come a long way in (just under) one month. Every day feels more possible to live the life I’ve imagined for myself.

I couldn’t have written this post a month ago. I’m glad I can write it now.

Day 33 Mantra: Don’t beat yourself up over the lack of a log — the important part is the result of the journey.

Resolution Recap

In lieu of making New Year’s resolutions, I made resolutions just for January. With January coming to a close, I think it’s a pretty good time for reflection.

Exercise three times per week:
I’ve been doing great with this! Except for one week, when I was sick, I swam, biked, and ran my way through January. I loved taking advantage of swimming almost every day while I spent time with my family in Florida. While I love the campus gym, nothing beats running through sunny days and swimming when it’s 80 degrees out. It was a great time!

I’m hoping to continue the trend by participating in a campus fitness challenge with my roommates. Participants earn points by attending exercise classes, rockin’ the cardio equipment and weights during open rec hours, and receiving free health assessments and personal training. I’m really excited. Working out with other people is always motivating and I love combining socializing with exercising. My two favorite things in one go? It’s a necessity for every time-pressed person.

Eat a little bit better: Although I admit I fall back on sugar for an energy boost sometimes, I only had two cups of coffee for all of January! I’ve also been eating yogurt almost every day and slurping down orange juice (well, sipping, in polite company). I’ve also become quite creative at the dining hall. Today, I had a hummus wrap with spinach, romaine, honey mustard, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes. It was fresh and satisfying, and definitely a new favorite in my rotation.

 

Work toward completing 50 push ups:

Okay, I admit one incomplete resolution. I was so psyched to complete push ups that I overdid it and advanced too quickly through the program with poor form. I only made it to week two before my back was killing me and I had to stop. I’m signing up for personal training sessions (free! I love student perks) in February to learn how to do things properly. The Internet is a wonderful resource, but sometimes you need a real live human to make things work.

Some January photos courtesy of my snazzy new iPhone:

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I went for some bike rides with my dad. It was just as cheesy as it sounds, but I love hanging out with my family. (We also pledged to eat healthier together and ate tons of yogurt and spinach that week.)

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My parents dropped me off two miles from where we were staying on my birthday. (At my request, of course!) I sprinted back and finished just as the sun was setting. It was a perfect end to my twentieth birthday after mini golf and classic 50s burgers and fries for a late lunch.

January was great, and I hope 2013 continues the positivity and energy that flowed in for me this month.