Today is my third Life Day. And I feel…weird. I’ve been oddly depressed in the time leading up to today and I’m not really sure why. Today is meant to be a day to celebrate the life I’ve lived since I tried to prematurely end it. But I’ve been discouraged this past month. I thought “3 years later” would feel different. I thought my life would be a lot more stable, that I’d be happier, that I would've done more, I’d be more successful (whatever more means).
I thought I would have a college degree.
I thought I would have a job.
I thought more people would want to hire me.
I didn’t think I would still be having panic attacks
or that I’d have to take meds every morning.
I thought I would have “gotten over” my depression.
I thought I’d be able to effortlessly get out of bed every morning.
I thought I would know what I want to be when I grow up.
I thought I would be completely self-sufficient and independent.
I thought I would have more friends.
My therapist is good about reminding me that these expectations I have on myself are arbitrary and that the bar I set for myself is way higher than anyone else would expect from me or that I would expect from anyone else.
“Jonathan, do you know the golden rule?”
“Yeah…” *said with attitude and questioning where this is going
“What is it?”
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
“I think you need to do the opposite of that. For you, let’s say, ‘Treat yourself the way you treat others.’ Cut yourself some slack, give yourself a break, and be proud of what you've already accomplished."
Why. does. that. seem. so. damn. hard.
But he's right. I would never hold anyone—especially my closest friends—to the standards I've set for myself. It's time to take a breath, give myself some grace, and realize that if today went a little differently three years ago, I wouldn't be here at all. In these three extra years I've been given, I've learned so much and have gotten to do things and live in places I never dreamed of. Today, I may not be where I wanted myself to be by now, but I sure as hell have come pretty far. In these three extra years,
I started taking more pictures.
I learned that going for a drive to nowhere and listening to music can be the best therapy.
I learned that alone-time can be a good thing.
I jumped a few fences I probably shouldn't have.
I explored abandoned houses.
I watched the sun rise over the Shenandoah mountains
and the sun set over the Pacific.
I spent a week in San Francisco with a group of people I had never met...and wasn't murdered (in fact, they turned out to be some of the coolest people I've ever met).
I visited Facebook HQ.
I learned that sharing the ugly parts of yourself doesn't scare everyone away.
I learned that a lot of people don't know what to do when you share the ugly stuff.
I learned that everyone has ugly stuff they are too scared to share.
I found out that more people are cheering me on than I thought.
I got really into coffee.
I found out that community tables are the best.
I learned that it's okay to ask for help.
I learned that someone sitting with me in silence can be a comforting thing
and that it's more comforting if Keeping Up With The Kardashians is on TV too.
I got two tattoos (and a third in the works!!!)
I learned school isn't for everyone. For me.
I dropped out of college.
I learned to be okay with uncertainty.
I learned that self-care is different than selfishness.
I learned that the people and environment I am surrounded by is critical to my health.
I learned that change is okay and usually precedes growth.
I learned that not having time for something is just a priorities issue.
I learned to say yes more.
and that it's okay to say no.
I got Bosley, my family’s golden retriever.
I got two adorable nieces (and another on the way!)
I stopped cutting myself.
I got my first pair of Birkenstocks.
I was featured by a brand for the first time.
I lived in LA for a month.
I went to Belgium.
I started writing more.
I made my first internet friends through Instagram.
I moved across the country to Phoenix where I knew two people.
I got really into podcasts.
I learned about Spiral Dynamics and how it helps understand culture and human development.
I learned there is so much artistic beauty in rap.
I learned I’m a 7 on the Enneagram and a Meyers-Briggs ESTP
which taught me a lot about how I see the world and how to relate to others.
I learned a lot of my friends are introverted feelers.
I built a lot of stuff out of wood. And painted a lot of wood. And sweat a lot.
I survived working in 120ºF desert heat. And sweat a lot.
I sweat a lot.
I learned the importance of rest.
I got a free mattress.
I stood on the wings of airplanes.
I found out that the desert is one of the most beautiful places. and one of the most colorful places if you look close enough.
I began to let people see my scars.
I was named an Instagram photographer under 10k followers to follow by Moment.
I visited Vermont.
I learned that doubt is okay and leads to growth.
I saw the Grand Canyon.
I moved back across the country to New York City.
and ended up living above an escort service.
I became a graphic designer.
I got to see Kanye West preform live
then run off stage when Kim was robbed in Paris.
I was reminded that I have a lot of friends who are amazing and beautiful artists.
I moved across the country, again, to San Diego.
I got to live with my best friend.
I found out that my body doesn't like a lot of what I've been eating.
and my new diet means I don't feel nauseous all day every day.
I started to eat more and *slowly* gain weight.
I read a lot of books AND enjoyed reading them.
I stopped drinking Coke and replaced it with La Croix.
I learned that a lot of social media can be noise that doesn't need to be heard.
I learned silence can be a good thing.
I started being more thoughtful about the things I own.
I learned that there are a lot more people doing good things that I thought.
I got a bike.
I started to paint.
I learned the importance of stopping and taking a breath.
I started to meditate.
I learned about hygge.
I learned people aren't thinking about me nearly as much as I think they are and they really don't care what I do—which is really freeing.
And I'm constantly learning that I am more resilient than I think.
I may not have the job I wanted. I may have some of the same battles to fight every day. But I've gotten to live one crazy, wild, lovely, brutiful life. And for that, I am grateful. That's what I get to celebrate today.