on comparing ourselves.

When I was in college, I wanted to be a physician. I thought that I would be married by 22, so that my husband can take care of the household finances while I make $0 completing medical school and residency. I thought I would have a kid soon after medical school when life is less stressful. I even bought a new car in college and financed it so that it is paid off by the time I was married so as not to burden my future husband. This is what I honestly thought.

Never mind that I knew deep down I did not want kids – and only planned it because it’s been what’s expected of me growing up female. Never mind that I did not believe in marriage as I grew up very familiar with divorce – and rapidly shedding all religious ties. Never mind that I did not want to give up my entire 20s to work in a field where I quickly lost passion – due to the “kill the symptom, not the source” of healthcare.

I planned my life as such because it was what society, family, and school said was the right way to live my life.

I was 24 credits short of graduating when I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. Of course, at that time, my major was set in stone – and I didn’t have the luxury to swap. So I graduated and dabbled in healthcare, accounting, insurance, and education to figure out what I want to be “when I grow up”. In this sense, I am still very much in the beginning stages of my career.

At 24, I had the wherewithal to realize that maybe I should figure out what the hell I want out of life and work towards it. But – people don’t mature at the same level. What I learned at 24 might not have hit someone else until mid-30s. Or 40s. Or 19.

How many people out there still feel worthless because they haven’t hit the arbitrary goals created in their teens? How many have conceded by marrying someone they feel deep down is not the one because they just want to be married already – so they can show others and themselves of their “achievement”? How many have stayed in a job they are not fully invested in because they think they are past the age to start in a new industry or go to school? How many had kids before they found themselves and/or figure out why they want to have kids? Even worse, how many have set their lives in stone because they made a decision they were not ready to make to begin with? I know of countless people that can no longer afford school to change industries, can no longer follow their dreams because of a child, and/or feel stuck in an empty marriage due to uninformed decisions?

We compare ourselves to the version of life that society said we should have at (insert age here). It takes a deliberate act to stop listening to society’s expectations.

Does anyone really sit and think why we follow these expectations?

  • Having kids early is because the average life expectancy back then was much, much lower. 
  • Buying a house early is because you had the aforementioned kids early - and no one really moved around back then.
  • Having a career path set in stone is because the dream is to find a cushion job to stay until retirement - since you didn’t move and had a family to feed. 
  • Getting married young was a thing because you had to find a partner to take care of your kid in the home you never leave while maintaining the same job until you die.

This is what our life goals are based on? A backwards life where women couldn’t earn enough to take care of themselves + the reason to have a job is survival, not fulfillment.

Is this real life?

Sincerely, Tania

on mental illness.

I have a friend going through a rather difficult time right now.

There is a very real chance her boyfriend is developing a mental disorder.

After a few weeks where she was deemed the bad guy by her boyfriend, my friend feels guilty for wanting to bail on the nine year relationship - and wondering if she is in the wrong. And I don't know what to say. In this instance, the man is becoming sick. It's not right to leave based on a sickness. On the other hand, if she stays and takes this emotional beating, then she is enabling him. If she leaves in his time of need, then she is in the wrong. So what do you do when you know someone is developing mental illness but does not want to get help? He has a girlfriend and best friend willing to take him - and probably front money - to get treatment. He doesn't take the offer out of pride

How are you supposed to handle this? Mental illness is a real issue. If left unchecked mental illness can lead to homelessness or violence. After a violent act, everyone preaches "you should check in on your friend if you think they are having problems" or "you should get help for those you love". What do you do when the friend lucidly describes the episodes they are having and doesn't think they have a problem? Where are the memes and perfectly designed IG quotes for these situations? Because the fact of the matter is you can't make them go to the doctor. You cannot call up their doctor to verify they actually made an appointment. You cannot call a clinic to make sure someone visited. You cannot visit and ask for results. Unless the friend committed an act that hurt others, you cannot grab and physically force them to check in anywhere.

You can't do anything. You talk on the phone until you're blue in the face - or until they shut their phone off. Then what? Is it on you if you did everything you are legally allowed to do but they still shit on your offer to help? Is it on you if they end up hurting others while your hands are tied?

Where is the line where you're allowed to go back to your own life?

The truths are: the victim has to want your help and the victim has to be strong enough to accept help.

There are so many tips of living your best life. 

You want to eat that ice cream? "Treat yo'self, boo!"

You are too tired to work out? "Be confident in the skin you're in, babe!"

You want to spend your last $5 on Starbucks instead of gas to go to school? "YOLO!"

We're so focused on "living in the present" but forget the past. There are steps prior to developing mental illness. I don't know his past trauma, but I do know that everyone has - at least - one. I have one. You have one. Your best friend has one. Your boss has one. Your boss's boss has one. We all have at least one. The difference is that some of us want to get past it - instead of hiding it behind perfectly staged Instagram photos, well phrased Facebook statuses, and carefully chosen spoken words.

The problem with mental disorder is the stigma. This guy is afraid of the label 'disorder' because it signals weakness. We need more emphasis on the normalcy of being affected by childhood trauma. Moms are fighting each other on raising children the best way, presumably because they were raised the 'wrong' way and gave them enough of a complex to find the 'right' way. How about we sit and look at what went wrong. What prompted the thought that there is a wrong and right?

And, how about we all seek help? I don't want to know your problems, just like I don't want to share my problems. But we owe it to the world - since our actions affect others - to seek help. As grown adults, it's time. 

Sincerely, Tania