Full of Emptiness.

There is Something Wrong with Me.

I feel empty.

There. We got that out of the way now.

And it’s not like a “I have nothing to live for” empty, so please don’t be alarmed or worried about me. It’s just… An empty empty.

I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.
-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

It’s the kind of empty that no one really talks about. The kind that just appears because you are either over stressed or overworked or your hormones decided to be – juusttt – a little off (which thanks to a lovely little condition called PCOS happens to me a lot recently). It’s the kind of empty that makes you question what the hell is wrong with you because you have no logical reason to feel that way… You just do.

At risk of being a bit gross here, we (my partner and I) have linked this reoccurring feeling to my menstrual cycle. Because every time I feel like this it’s usually around my “time of the month”, but that doesn’t negate from the fact that every time it happens I lose my ever loving shit trying to understand how someone who is naturally so driven and motivated and full emotion can suddenly, like the bat of an eye, feel so hallow. And we have also brought up the idea that it all may be linked to my borderline personality disorder. That during that time it just decides “Aye, yo… Uhh… You gon’ freak the fuck out now. Kay byeee.” But even though there is a general idea of a culprit, I still feel a sense of annoyance and anger at feeling this way.

Because no one ever talks about it.

No one talks about the “lost” feeling. About feeling unmotivated or like nothing is quite working the way you need it to. Part of it is ignorance towards mental health (I live in a state that is – veeryyy – against providing resources and education on mental illness), but part of it is also, I believe, a lack of willingness for adults to voice when they feel low or having a hard time because they are worried about being viewed as weak. So many (at least where I come from) believe that mental illness is such an “adolescent” occurrence, and by the time you are in your twenties you should have “grown out of it” and moved on with your life. You’re supposed to “stop crying for attention”. Which is so goddamn far from the truth it’s sickening.

They don’t want to talk about how it can make you question things: Debating on dropping out of school, questioning the love you have for your partner, wanting to just be alone… yet… not wanting to be alone.

It’s terrifying. It’s uncomfortable. It’s everything I never want to be.

I will be Okay Again… Eventually.

Inside I know that I will be okay again.

Yeah. I will.

It might not be tomorrow. Well… It most certainly won’t be tomorrow. Maybe next week. Most likely. But I know I will be okay again.

It’s that thought that keeps me going. That thought that one day I won’t feel this way and I will be back to “normal”. Or at least whatever that looks like for me.

And I’m lucky.

You may have to fight a battle more than once.
-Margaret Thatcher

I’m lucky I have Dallas, my partner, who stands by me and reassures me that everything is okay. Who hears me out when I’m in a panic, regardless of how many times I bring up the same concern. Who has never made me feel like my concerns were insignificant or unreasonable. Even when I, myself, am being completely un-fucking-reasonable.

I’m lucky I have a few friends who understand. Or at least try to. Who check in on me when I’m not being myself or when they haven’t heard from me for a few days. Who remind me that it’s okay to be distant and dissociate when I need to, and that they will not abandon me when life gets too much sometimes.

Because I think the one thing that they really don’t tell you in adulthood, is that it’s okay to not be okay. And it’s completely okay to not feel normal. Or to feel empty. You are entitled to that feeling. But one day it’ll be okay again. It won’t be tomorrow. Or maybe even next week. Hell… It might not even be until next year. But you will be okay again eventually.

And it’s okay to talk about it. To make how you feel known. Feeling lost or empty doesn’t mean you are weak. It just means you need some time to feel okay again. And there is nothing at all wrong with that. I know it’s cliché to say “You aren’t alone”… But really… You aren’t. It’s something I’ve had to learn and understand over time. That there are more people in this world that are fighting the same fight I am.

We are all soldiers in the same army.

Just… Sometimes our wars looks a little different.

A Repetitive Sermon

I know, at this moment, I’m repeating a lot of things that are seen on social media like… Every. Single. Day. Literally everyone on any platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, Pinterest, etc.) is talking about mental illness as a way to bring awareness to it.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is a good thing.

Yet, while there is such an increased discussion on the recognition of mental illness and the normalization of being “abnormal”,  there is still such a hush over what it feels like to have a mental illness. How… if it is so natural to have a mental illness (shout out to my millennials cause Lord knows we have a shit ton of them) then why do I constant feel like this is the most unnatural thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

Because no one talks about it.

No one talks about the – details – of mental illness. They just talk about having one.  No one talks about the self isolating feeling that comes with wanting to talk about it (because that is what you’re supposed to do) but somehow not being able to because of inability to verbalize the feelings you have even about having the feelings you have.

Still with me? Okay good. Thought I might have lost you with that last bit there.

I know what it’s like to be afraid of your own mind.
-Dr. Spencer Reid, Criminal Minds

It’s the parts that no one else seems to understand (or at least you think they don’t) that no one talks about. And when they do talk about it, mental illness is almost romanticized or pitied like those of us affected with it are some poor defenseless creature who needs saving.

I don’t need saving. 

I just need to talk. To be heard. Even if you don’t understand. Because these are things we… The world… Need to talk about. In order to better understand each other. In order to better love each other.

I don’t know man…

We just need to start talking to each other about the emptiness. Especially when we are feeling empty.

 

Xoxo Nykole

25 Cheers to 25 Years.

A Quarter Life Identity Crisis.

Today is my 25th birthday. I’m still not quite sure how I made it to 25. There were certainly some days where I didn’t see myself making it to 16. Or 18. Or even 20. But I did. I have reached the “quarter of a century” mark in the timeline of my life. Now, you may be asking… “Hey! You made it to 25! What have you accomplished?” And ya know, that is a very interesting question. One that does not (probably) have the answer that you would expect me to give you.

Not jack shit reader. Not. Jack. Shit.

To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.
– E.E. Cummings

Don’t get me wrong. I have accomplished – some – things. But as any twenty-something year old from a middle-class family who had borderline-exceedingly-high-and-almost-unrealistic-expectations, what I have done is not up to par with my personal standards.

I’m finishing my second university degree (of three mind you). I have an okay job that is the very definition of “entry level”. Which don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but it’s far from being able to provide a comfortable life for myself, my partner, and my cat. But as most “post-grad” jobs will require a minimum of two years experience to even be placed in a job that earns $30k annually…. I guess I can’t complain that much. I have a small one-bedroom apartment with my partner that we keep in relatively good shape, and we are currently looking into upgrading to a two-bedroom within the near future.

Even in that perspective, I am fairly successful for a twenty-five year old.

However, I often find myself in this tug of war between two different identities that I actually find myself caught in the middle of: The world of high level academia, and the world of a Midwestern American middle-class factory town. While in the first world I am on track to be successful with a stacked two-page CV and a Master’s Degree from a well regarded state university. In the second I am so drastically far behind the rest of my peers is depressing. Primarily because I am both unmarried and have not yet sacrificed my body for the purpose of reproduction. And by no means am I saying that I don’t want that… eventually. It’s just not on my radar at the current moment. I have far too much going on and my life is still to unsettled. Which some may very well take as a failure on my part, but that in itself is up for debate.

So, here I am. Situated somewhere between these two poles. Sitting right on the line between these conflicting worlds that each have such a drastically different expectation of what you should have accomplished by 25. So, naturally, you could say I’m having a bit of an identity crisis.

Defining My Own Success.

Usually on my birthday’s I get into that really cliché thing of “I’m going to have a goal this year”. Separate from your traditional “New Year New Me” goal, because I rarely ever stick to those well anyway. I mean… literally every year I do the whole I’m-going-to-lose-weight-and-be-healthy thing, or something vaguely similar, and I never really follow through. Because literally who in the fuck can realistically stick to healthy eating and working out when you make less than $15k a year with TWO jobs while also on the unpredictable and heavily sporadic schedule of a graduate student (end rant). But usually on my birthday I try to evaluate the previous year and work on changing something small about myself, or focusing on something else more.

For example: A few years ago I challenged myself to go out of my way and spend the month doing random acts of kindness. Another year I challenged myself to become more organized. Last year I focused on preparing myself for my comprehensive exams, starting my thesis, and applying to my next academic program (still waiting for acceptance letters…).

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I have spent a lot of time in the last year reading other blogs and articles about what is expected when you turn 25. And I think it is because of this that I have decided that my goal for this year is to try and stop letting other people determine what success looks like for me, and instead focus on how I want to define it. I have come to the realization that I have literally spent – soooooo – much of my life comparing myself to others. Am I where they are? Am I as good as them? Yet, I never stopped to realize that I was never on the same path as them to begin with. Me and everyone else I’ve ever compared myself to are not even running the same race or remotely in the same competition.

So what if I’m 25 and don’t quite match the “standard” for all 25 year olds? No one else in the world is running the same race that I am. Yeah, fuck, I don’t have kids. But I’ve done a damn good job at raising a cat by myself (at least until the last 3-4 months) to a beautiful and healthy age of 5 1/2. Sure, I’m not married. But this last year I have managed, somehow, to book my own flights, schedule my own car maintenance, and not burn down my apartment trying to cook weird (sometimes rewarding) things off Pinterest. No, I don’t have a job that even remotely pulls me out of living below the poverty line, but I sure as shit know what I have to do to get there one day. And no, I am nowhere near where I personally thought I would be at 25, with the marriage, and the children, and the like. But I am happy right here when I am. With my partner and our cat.

I am happy. Even though I may not be where society, from either world, tells me I should be.

Today, on the dawn of the second quarter of a century of my life (if one more person texts me “hey you’re halfway to 50!” I might actually scream), I awake with the realization that I need to stop trying to conform my reality to expectations of others. And I awake to a revitalized energy of wanting to build a life that I can call my own. How I want to and with who I want to. 

And I’m excited to see where the next 25 years takes me.

Xoxo Nykole