Yesterday, after an Alexander-the-Great-style terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, I fell into a seemingly bottomless pit of sad tweets and depressing Tumblr reblogs that lasted most of the early afternoon. Thanks to some encouraging words from my real friends and a little good ol’ fashioned motherly optimism from hers truly, I picked myself up by my emotional bootstraps and started to see the silver (or silver-ish) linings hidden in my overcast outlook. Today, when something I saw threatened to pull me back into my slump, I had a little bit of an epiphany. I had tweeted something earlier yesterday, in the midst of my downward spiral, to the effect of “Sometimes it’s okay to have no one you can talk to when you’re going through it. It teaches you to be your own strength ..” What I mean by that is, sometimes you have to take control of your own happiness. Here’s how I did it, and how you can, too.
- Count your blessings. I know it sounds cliché, but no matter how things get, more often than not, they could always be worse. If you hate that you’re single, remember that there are shelters filled with women who wish they had the luxury of being crazy-nigga-free (you know what I mean). If you don’t have any friends that you can really count on, don’t forget that you can always be there for yourself; it will make you so much stronger. I used to always get down about not being in a relationship, or even seeing one anywhere on the horizon. But now, I see what some of my friends go through with their significant others, and I’ve learned that I’m just not that type of girl. I have plenty of friends who, even at 18 years-old, are going through the old ball and chain situation, or the “He’s too much of a guy to discuss his feelings” thing, or even the “He cheated on me, but I still love him” deal. I like to get my Nelly Furtado on, and being tied down and lovey dovey and hanging on some nigga’s every word just isn’t my cup of tea right now. I would be miserable having to call and check in with someone all the time, or dress up in heels and a full face of makeup every weekend, or sending “good morning” and “sweet dreams” texts at this point in my life, and I’m okay with that. No sense in crying over it. My time will come, and not a moment too late. And even if I do get lonely sometimes, at least I didn’t eff around and have to take care of a baby that looks just like the guy I love to hate while he’s out getting his jollies off in someone else’s playground. As funny as it sounds, just think of it this way: The grass on the other side may be greener, but the grass is always shittier somewhere.
- Give yourself a moment to be sad; Then MTFU. Earlier today, I stumbled upon a tweet that made me extremely uneasy. It was one of those “anyone wanna join me doing x, y, and z? ladies, please” kinda tweets; and it put me in one of those ”I’m up here having to think about him while he’s thinkin’ about not just one other girl, but droves of hoes .. wish he was thinkin’ about me, at least a little bit” kinda moods. All of a sudden, my mind was racing with undeserved annoyance, misguided jealousy, and girlish sadness. Then, I stopped myself. I learned this from a movie. When asked how he never got scared doing whatever it was that he did for a living, this guy (I wanna say Ethan Hawke) said that he did. But he confessed that he gave himself 5-10 seconds to freak out inside his head, and then he got over it and got back to the task at hand. (I really should figure out what that movie was, it changed my life.) So I employed this practice earlier today. I closed my eyes, and gave myself ten seconds to think all of the negative things about this boy, and all of the negative things about myself that involuntarily came with thinking about him, and then, as I opened my eyes, I dropped it. Give yourself a time limit. Don’t pore over all of the glass-half-empty thoughts swirling through your head. Let them dominate for only a short time, then take back control. Put them out of your head, and move on. Now, I believe I was born a G, but I understand that everyone doesn’t have this ability right away. It takes practice, but at least try to minimize the time that you feel sorry for yourself each day, so you’re not crying yourself to sleep every night. If you need help thinking positive after your sad-freak-out time’s up, refer back to #1.
- Do things that make you happy. Again, I know this sounds cliché as hell, but we spend so much time trying to please everyone else. Sometimes you just have to do things that make you happy, even if they don’t make sense to anyone else. Throw inhibitions and judgments to the wind, and make yourself smile. Now I’m not saying go out and kill the person that made you sad, because it’ll cheer you the fuck up. But, for example, yesterday, after I got out of my funk, I ordered a Giordano’s Tropic Deep Dish Pizza. Then on the way home from picking it up, I stopped by Potbelly and got a vanilla shake, a bag of salt & vinegar potato chips, and one of their signature sugar cookies. (If you don’t live near me, that probably means nothing to you; just know that those are all some of my favorite things to eat in my hometown.) And I didn’t apologize for any of it. I’m sure all of the signs to everyone standing behind me in line pointed to a pity party that I would pay for in the gym in the morning, but I didn’t worry about what they were thinking. And today, I slept until three in the afternoon without having to answer to anybody. When I woke up, I watched cartoons in my pajamas, then washed my hair and stayed in the shower until my fingers were all raisin-ey. And as lazy and weird and unproductive as that sounds, I was unbelievably blissfully happy. Trust me, if you do it within reason, it really helps.
- If you don’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, learn to love it. This sounds a lot easier said than done, so I’ll give you my personal example. I often get depressed about my weight. It’s easy to feel like Sisyphus when it comes to getting in shape, but at the end of the day, I’m like this because of me, so it will only change when I decide it has to. ”Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said Einstein. If I don’t like my weight, I’ll have to change something in order to like it. Another physical thing: I hate my feet! Feet in general, but especially my own. I wish people had been created like Bratz dolls, with those little nubby balls for feet that just stuck into shoes. But anyway, I can’t change my feet. But I make sure them ugly mugs are consistently pedicured, polished, and moisturized. I buy heels that take attention off of my feet, or showcase them in just the right way. And I learned that they’re not going anywhere, so I better get used to them.
- Do something good for someone else, for you. This sounds a little funny, but I’ll explain. It really warms my heart when I do things to help people. It has just as much of a pick-me-up effect on me as it does on those on the receiving end. Yesterday, after my mopey period was up, I remembered a cause I’d been meaning to help. (Call it what you will, I believe God reminded me.) I went onto the website for fashionABLE scarves and read about the organization and the stories behind each scarf. If you know me, you know that that is probably the one main accessory that I own in an excessive amount and am willing to splurge on. Not only were the scarves super cute, but they weren’t much more expensive than those you’d find at H&M. And each scarf comes with a grateful message. The one I like the most, the Dember, says “Because of you, I am ABLE to Feel dignity in my work. Thank you, Dember.” My next paycheck, I vow to purchase one. It lifts my spirits to not only have a cute scarf, but to know that I’ve made even a small difference in the life of someone else. If #1, #2, #3, and #4 don’t work, I promise this one will.
Now, I’m not licensed to give advice or anything, so don’t blame me if you’re still all sad and mopey after you try all of this. I’m just telling you what works for me for now, in hopes that it will help somebody.