Unemployment and feeling stuck makes you think some pretty weird things. Lately, it’s been giving me a bunch of anxiety and I am not a fan. I’m usually more of a “Woe is me, everything is corrupt and the world is only getting worse” kind of a person, but this time it’s different.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get outside. The outdoors does wonders for your mental and physical health. Lately, I’ve been using my free time to reflect, work on my physical health, and ruminate on plans for the future by hiking with my brother’s dog.
Lately, I’ve been sauntering through life trying to figure out my next move . . . and it’s HARD. Leaving the film industry (even if temporarily) was so freeing, but I still want to take this creativity and put it towards something productive. On top of that, I need to find a
stable career that I find both fulfilling and healthy. If I cannot have time to myself to devote to stress relief, cooking, hiking, and writing (I used to work 12hr days 6 days a week), I know I won’t be happy or successful in whatever I choose. Now, that can mean a regular 9-5 or some strange freelance travel-writing position, but it can’t mean another job that requires 70+ hours of my week at something I don’t care about. That is just insane.
So here’s what I’ve been pondering in that time: “What determines happiness?”
I am nineteen and sitting in the campus counselor’s office. Her room is sunny and overlooks the quad, where boys in shorts toss frisbees with shouts and girls in floral shirts clump together at a picnic table, laughter and chatter floating above their open laptops. I look down at my hands, fidgeting in my lap, as I wait for Alexa to sit down in the arm chair across from me.
The arrangement of the room is more suggestive of a conversation between friends than therapy–– we’re both in arm chairs, a small table between us. Her notebook lies on the table when she isn’t writing. On the first day she explained this to me:
“I keep it there because I want you to be able to know what I’m writing, if you’d like.”
I recently wrote a piece for a new website called “Twenties + Adulting” about my experiences working in the film industry as an unnecessarily pretentious perfectionist and how my perspective on life + happiness completely changed. If you’ve been keeping up with The Barefoot Aya, you know that many other experiences somewhat forcibly changed my perspective, which you can read about here. Below is an excerpt of the piece and a link to the full article. I will occasionally contribute to this new website and I’m very excited. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!
I thought I had tried everything. I thought that meditation, a healthy lifestyle, surrounding myself with good friends, and seeing a therapist regularly were enough to combat my Dysthymia. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Suicidal thoughts kept creeping up on me even though I had been making tons of progress with my therapy and even though everything else in my life seemed to be going well. I was running out of options and assumed that medication was the only way I could save myself even though I wanted to avoid medication as much as possible.