The word “ignorance” is one of my least favorite words. It’s right up there with “closed-mindedness”. Lately though, I’ve been completely overwhelmed with the state of the world. The increased rate of rape and assault on women that makes me terrified to even leave the house sometimes. The unfair treatment of women. The overwhelming misogyny of some men. The constant “you’re not doing enough with you’re life because you’re not doing _____”. The drought in California. Police killing unarmed people. The crises in Gaza and Ukraine. The smattering of “look like this” or “do this to find a relationship” articles. The ignorance and lack of compassion we have towards each other…our fellow human beings. I can’t even go on Facebook anymore without having a near panic attack.
I’m just so tired of it all. I know the only thing I can control is me though. I’m never going to be able to stop world wars and stop terrible things from happening in the world as much I would like to be able to. We should live in a world where women can walk home alone or go to the grocery store at night and not have to worry about being raped or murdered. We should live in a world where we actually try to understand one another and our beliefs rather than trying to change them or persecute each other over them. We should be focusing on prettying our insides and not our outsides. We should focus on being compassionate and not being right. We should be doing whatever we can to preserve this Earth we call home. We should be worrying about liking ourselves instead of worrying about how many “Likes” we can get.
Sometimes I wonder if ignorance…to a certain extent…is bliss. I strongly believe we need to know what’s going on in our world and to care about it in order to be better people and to care about each other more. But right now, I think I need a little distance from the constant news feed of social media and of life. Once I get a little more right with myself again, I’ll be able to go back to it, but right now, the less I know and the less negativity I read, the better I think I’ll feel.
It’s no secret that 2014 hasn’t been the best year in my life for a variety of reasons. I think it’s been made even tougher by the fact that 2013 was such an amazing and incredible year, especially around this time. I went from going to Seattle for the first time to a trip all over the US to my dream trip in Ireland. I always knew after I went to Ireland I would probably feel a little bit of “now what?” I checked off #1 on my bucket list so it leaves you feeling a little…empty almost.
I’ve done some travelling this year but it’s been on a much smaller scale. I went to Hawaii for barely 4 days (yes, I know I shouldn’t complain about that) and then Idaho for my best friend’s wedding. I just feel like I’m having travel withdrawls still. I don’t have the milestone of my first big trip on my own. I don’t have a dream trip to look forward to. I’ve been trying to make London happen because it’s another place I’ve wanted to go for a long time. But the clock is slowly ticking on the year and come January, we’ll be getting into busy season at work and I won’t be able to take any substantial time off.
It’s frustrating because I think this year is the year I feel like I need a trip the most. I need to get away and to refresh. I need to do something on my own to remind myself of how capable and strong I am. I need to get out of the monotony of the day to day. This is definitely the first year in my life where I’ve sort of craved solitude or doing things on my own. I’ve kind of just wanted to withdraw from people for a while and get to know myself again. That’s not to say I don’t love and appreciate my friends but sometimes I feel like I just need to unplug from the world and plug back in to myself.
I think about how I was last year and I certainly still had my rough patches, but I haven’t really liked who I am most of this year. I was so happy and upbeat last year. I’ve been irritated and angry a lot more than I’ve been happy and positive this year. I got my new job in January of this year which is the last time I can remember being truly high on life. I’m certainly working through everything and I’m hopeful the year will end on a positive note but I think I feel like travel might be able to fix some of the issues I’ve been having. Ultimately though, really the only thing that can truly remedy that is me. It doesn’t matter how far away I go, the only way that angry, irritated person is going to go away is if I try to overcome it, no matter where in the world I am. I think the bulk of what I miss last year isn’t necessarily the travel itself but more the way it made me feel and the way I felt overall throughout the year.
I still hope I’m able to fit some kind of trip in in the next 6 months. There’s still so much of the world for me to see and the only one who can make my travel goals come true is me. I just have to figure out a way to make it work and make it happen.
“Happiness is when you feel good about yourself without the need for anyone else’s approval.” ~Unknown (taken from tinybuddha)
I wanted to start off with just a little note about the tragic passing of Robin Williams this week. There’s been a plethora of articles written and opinions spread across the internet about it but it’s such a sensitive topic that I’m not going to dedicate a full post to talking about my own views or thoughts on it. We can analyze it and argue it until the sun comes up but at the end of the day he’s gone and I just want to share the impact he left on me personally. He brought so many people joy but he literally was a part of my growing up. I never met him and certainly didn’t know him but the broad spectrum of his work came out from when I was a baby all the way to the age I am now. He made me smile and taught us all to find our inner kid in Hook. My best friend and I still quote Mrs. Doubtfire to this day. And you can’t forget Good Will Hunting and his incredible performance in The Dead Poet’s Society. I looked forward to getting home from work this past fall so I could watch The Crazy Ones on my DVR. He made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt sometimes. He wasn’t just a celebrity for me, he was a part of the joy I experienced as a kid and as a movie watcher and he was also a part of some of my best memories and for that, I will be forever grateful.
But back to playing defense…we had an offsite meeting today for work and one of our speakers was going to have us do an exercise that involved squatting down. He said 3 times how we “must be thinking how easy that is”. I finally had to speak up and say, “well it’s not if you have a physical disability.” I will freely admit that one of my biggest problems living with a disability is I get super defensive about it and this was a shining example of that. Specifically, I get really irritated when people call things “easy” that I know aren’t for me or other people with MD. I hate commercials with people climbing and hiking and doing active stuff that I, or a large part of the population, can’t. And I really get irritated when you hang out with a group of people and all they want to talk about is the marathon they ran (and how many medals they got) or how much they work out. This will sound harsh, but I get so irritated with how much time people spend out here in SoCal running and biking and whatever else…never thinking that there’s people that will never physically be able to do those things.
I know it isn’t anyone else’s fault I was born with this and it’s certainly not their fault that I can’t do the things they can. I’m sure there might be things I can do that they can’t. The root issue for me is just that people don’t sometimes seem to think that people that have disabilities exist in the world. TV and movies certainly don’t. I can’t tell you how many times the handicapped parking stall has been blocked by a car or had people standing in it because they don’t think anyone will actually need to use the spot. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an afterthought of society. It isn’t until I actually say something or assert my disability that people even think about it.
I know I’m also just frustrated with myself. I’m frustrated that I can’t do those things. I want to be able to share in the experience and relate with people who run and bike and hike, but I just can’t. I thrive off relationships with people and with connecting with them so when the topic of being active comes up, I become an outsider to the conversation instantaneously.
This is just something I know I need to work on. The world isn’t out to get me and people not thinking about others having disabilities isn’t necessarily because they don’t care. We all are guilty of just not thinking about others sometimes, or being self-focused. I don’t need to make an enemy of people or all of Southern California just because they enjoy something I’m unable to. I’m happy that my wanting people to understand what it’s like for someone to have a disability led me to starting this blog though. Raising awareness is never a bad thing, and the more I talk about it, the more people will be aware that there are people out there with different physical abilities than theirs. And wouldn’t it be amazing if in the near future, we could have more people with disabilities present on TV and in movies?
I read this awesome submission to Tiny Buddha earlier today and I think the answer is absolutely yes. Not just for myself but for a lot of the people in my life also. I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve sat through where the other person is on their phone almost the whole time. Or walking the aisles in Target trying to talk to a friend I’m shopping with and they don’t even respond because they’re texting or checking their Facebook.
I remember when I realized how bad our addiction to smartphones had gotten. It was when I got my Disneyland season pass two years ago. I was waiting in line for Toy Story Mania with my friends and I looked around and at least one person in every group had their phone out. It was eerily quiet too because no one was actually talking to each other, they were all checking things on their phone. It made me really sad actually. That was always part of the fun for me in going to Disneyland. Waiting in line and getting into interesting conversations with whoever I had gone with. I’m the first to admit that I get way too reliant on my cell phone. These past two weeks it’s been from waiting for people to text me. I’ve started to get antsy or bored when I’m not texting someone or receiving a text. Before that, it’s been a reliance on social media. When that starts happening, that’s when I know it’s time for a break.
Don’t get me wrong…smartphones are amazing technological innovations. I don’t know where I would be without Google Maps or Yelp sometimes. But like many good things, there’s a downside if it starts getting abused. There’s so much going on around us in life that’s worth witnessing. Go outside and watch a sunset instead of watching your phone screen. And when you’re actually spending time with someone, why would you not want to focus your full attention on them? Don’t you want to make sure they know that they mean something to you? Facebook statuses, Instagram likes and texts from other people can wait if it’s not an emergency. I don’t want to have to talk over a phone or not be listened to because someone cares more about their smartphone validation than what I have to say and I certainly don’t want to make anyone else feel that way.
I’m going to do my part is stepping away from the smartphone for a while and not even taking it out when I’m with other people. Life’s too short to spend it doting on a piece of technology instead of the people we love and care about. When we look back on our lives, we’re not going to remember the number of likes we got on that photo one summer. We’re going to remember all the amazing memories we made with amazing people.
“Take chances, take a lot of them. Because honestly, no matter where you end up and with whom, it always ends up the way it should be. Your mistakes make you who you are. You learn and grow with each choice you make. Everything is worth it. Say how you feel, always. Be you, and be okay with it.” — Unknown, Positive Outlooks
This quote really struck me today. I’ve been working hard on sharing exactly how I’m feeling with everyone…including friends. I’ve really gone through most of my life bottling up my emotions and not letting myself be vulnerable at all out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of losing a friendship, fear of hurting feelings. But I can’t really be true to myself if I’m not being honest about how I feel. When you start the process of being honest about your feelings, you almost automatically start taking more chances. I took several chances just in the past few days with my feelings. One turned out just fine and the other is still to be determined (but it’s not looking good).
It’s really hard to put yourself out there. It’s hard to say “look, this is how I feel” and wait for the other person to either accept it or not. And if not, having to move forward. But, as cliche as it is, if you don’t try…you’ll never know. If you stifle all of your feelings and stifle your voice, you’re stifling who you are. You’ll get lost in trying to hide your emotions like I have for so long. You won’t truly be living and you’ll never know what might have happened if you had taken that chance. Maybe it won’t turn out the way you want, but what it will do is turn out exactly as it’s supposed to.