Change and Destruction

I have had plenty of reasons for the goddess Kali to come to mind lately.

If you are not familiar with her, Kali is a Hindu goddess, frequently representing change. If you look up images of her, you might think of her as a malevolent figure, because she does strike a very gruesome image. In a Christian theology, she’d definitely be interpreted as a demon, between her necklace of severed human heads, her skirt made of severed human arms, and the man’s head that she holds in one hand, catching the blood that drips from his neck in a bowl that she holds in another hand. Not only that, but Kali holds many weapons, and she is depicted as standing on top of the Hindu god Shiva. To the casual observer, one who does not know a whole lot about Kali or what she represents, she might appear to be terrifying – and in some ways, she is. But she is not a malevolent figure in Hindu mythology. In fact, she is quite the opposite.

As I said, Kali represents change, and the thing about change is that it is never easy. Kali comes into your life and destroys everything that needs to be destroyed, and it might be painful. It might be hard to bear. But Kali only does it because it needs to be done, and afterwards, she creates something new, something that you might not immediately recognize to be better, but that is in the long run. Maybe it’s better because it allows you the chance to learn. Maybe without it, you would never have grown the way you need to, never would have developed the strength and the resilience that you didn’t realize you were capable of. Maybe it simply is better, but it will take some time for you to realize that. Or maybe you realize that it is better right away. Either way, it is something that needs to happen. It is change, and the only thing that we can guarantee in this life is that things will change.

This representation of difficult change is not unique to the Hindu theology. The phoenix, for example, must burn itself to ash in order to be reborn into a new life. Only by dying can it become something new, something with a whole future ahead of itself.

Change is difficult. Change can be crushing, heartbreaking, destructive even. Sometimes we will wish that things could just stay as they were, but they simply can’t. Life progresses, whether we want it to or not, and sometimes all we can do is have faith that Kali will serve us well – or at least that we will be reborn like the phoenix. And we are not entirely powerless in this either. As much as change is hard, we can make it that much easier by learning to accept it. We can mourn for the things we have lost, but at the same time we can take our steps in letting them go, in moving forward. If we hold on to the past, then it will constantly drag us back, but if we allow it to slip away the way that it wants to, then we can start moving forward. We can guide our future into place. We can force this change to serve us for the better, and the first step in doing this is by accepting that all things must change. Once we do that, once we stop resisting, then we can fight alongside Kali to put the things we need in place before us.

Being Not Okay

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As I was scrolling through Facebook this morning, I came across this post from QuotesGate. “A strong woman knows how to keep her life in order,” it said. “Even with tears in her eyes, she still manages to say ‘I’m Ok’ with a smile”.

And I’ll admit, maybe I was in the wrong place in life to come across this post, or maybe I’m just not the right audience for this post. I mean, yeah, sure, I’d identify myself as a strong woman, and that’s the only audience that this post specifically calls out, but I’m a strong woman who was diagnosed with depression and anxiety three years ago. Ever since then, I’ve been working hard every single day of my life, every last second that I’m forced to spend within my diseased mind, to achieve peace and happiness. But as hard as I’ve been working, the last month or so has been particularly hard on me. Completing my B.A. in English sent me into an existential spiral, wondering what the hell I was supposed to fill forty hours of my week with now – what would fulfill me in the same way that reading and learning new things did? To try and ease my pain, I got myself a job, which turned out to be thoroughly unenjoyable, and I was let go from it as soon as the busy period ended, which just threw me right back into that very same existential crisis, but with the added depression of wondering what I had fucked up, if I was actually employable in the real world, and what it was about this job that I had hated so much. And on top of all of that, I’ve had a very hard time getting in contact with old friends, I’m not very good at making new friends, and I am very, very, very, very single. And I’m not saying all of this to complain – everything that I’ve gone through is very simply a part of mundane, everyday life, and I know that I will get through it eventually. The only reason I am saying this is to explain why I have not been emotionally okay for the last month.

My life has not been kept in order. I’ve been trying to keep it in order, but I’m twenty two years old, which means that I have a whole lot to balance right now. My arms are filled with creative pursuits, my job, my ambitions, my friends, my family, my health, my love life, my passions, my financial situation, and because of my history with depression and anxiety, I’m holding all of them while balancing on one leg. And for the most part, I don’t think I’m doing a particularly terrible job at holding them. Some things slip from time to time, sure, but I’m confident in my ability to pick them back up again. Maybe not right now. Maybe not for a long time, and maybe life will suck a little bit until then, but I know that I’ll figure it out eventually, or at least learn how to live without them.

And here’s the thing – many of us have lives that aren’t in order right now. I am not alone in this. And more than that, many of us have lives that aren’t in order, and yet we don’t know how to put our lives back in order, but why should that make us any less strong? Having an orderly life is not the thing that indicates strength – what indicates strength is your ability to persevere, your ability to keep trying even when things aren’t in order. A strong woman (or man) may not know how to keep their life in order, but they shouldn’t be expected to. That is a hell of a thing to expect from a person, because nobody has all the answers, not even the strongest of us. The strongest of us just don’t give up, even when we don’t know what the hell we’re doing.

But more than that, let’s talk about the second part of this post, because it might be the part that irks me the most: the part that claims that a strong woman (or man) can tell the world that they are okay, even when they aren’t. And, yes, sometimes it is incredibly admirable of a person when they put aside their own feelings to fix or otherwise manage a situation. But that is not something that we can expect from someone constantly. As someone with a background in depression and anxiety, I know this firsthand. Sometimes, emotions get to be too much. Sometimes I need someone to talk to. Sometimes I need to let those tears in my eyes actually spill out onto my cheeks. And sometimes, when I’m not okay, I need to admit that I’m not okay, because that is the only way that I can figure out the best way to deal with the situation.

Emotions do not make us weak. Talking about our problems and admitting that we are not okay does not make us weak. For generations now, young boys have been told that strength means swallowing their emotions to become men, and as a result, there are many men who are emotionally immature and unavailable – this is not a message that we should be extending to women and girls now. Because here’s the thing – emotions are simply a part of us. We should be allowed to learn how to deal with this, how to talk about it, how to learn and grow with our emotions. Suppressing our emotions does not get rid of them – it only makes them manifest in different, more harmful ways.

And from my own personal experience, I was only able to confront my feelings around depression and anxiety when I was finally able to talk about them. I was only able to become okay when I was able to admit that I wasn’t okay. Because being not okay is perfectly natural. Sometimes it happens – there’s nothing shameful about it. And sometimes, admitting that you aren’t okay is the strongest thing that you can do.

The Pros and Cons of Social Media

I’ve met two different kinds of people when it comes to opinions about social media.

On the one hand, we have the social-media-is-the-god-of-modernity people. These are the people who live on Twitter or Instagram, the people who defend the existence of the internet by pointing out that it is a part of society that isn’t going away, and so we should not only get used to it, but get good at it. These are the people who think of social media as something that will be of growing importance, something that you must understand in order to function in the world.

And then, on the other hand, we have the social-media-is-the-gateway-to-hell people. The people who don’t have anything more than an email account because everything else is pointless at best and opening you up to being stalked at worse. The people who worry about children getting a hold of social media because they are not capable of enough critical thinking to realize that they shouldn’t share private information with strangers, or send out images of themselves that could lead to bullying or unfair treatment from others.

And the way I see it, both sides have their points. I know many people who have dealt with misfortune as a result of social media. Although I have never personally experienced cyberbullying, I have spoken with people who have, and they have told me that it is even worse than face-to-face bullying because there is no escape from it. It haunts you constantly, always there on your phone or your computer screen no matter what actions you take to try and avoid it. I have known young girls who have taken sexualized photos of themselves and sent them out on social media, only to be humiliated when those images fell into the hands of someone who was not intended to get a hold of them. These are problems that have existed before social media, of course, but social media has made them easier to persist.

But social media is not the problem. Social media is a merely a vehicle, and it can be used for just as good as it is capable of evil.

As much as I have known people who were tormented through their interactions online, I have also known people who have an incredibly difficult time making friends in face-to-face interactions, and social media has made that just a little bit easier. Social media makes it easier to talk about things that we do not tend to talk about in our daily lives, because it’s easier to bare your soul before an empty screen than a human being. You can be honest on social media, exploring issues like mental illness or personal insecurities without fear of judgment. You can reach out to people without ever meeting them face-to-face.

This has happened to me countless times: I discuss depression, or suicidal thoughts, or my struggles with my sexual orientation – the sort of things that I would never explore in vivid detail face-to-face with someone, and the next thing I know, I have people messaging me on Facebook telling me that they have felt the same way as me. Maybe they’ve felt suicidal at some point, but they haven’t had anyone to talk to about it. Maybe they’re closeted bisexual. Maybe they’ve simply shared my thoughts at some point. Either way, social media allows us to be more open, more honest, and because of that, it can make us realize that we aren’t alone. That our fears, insecurities, and struggles are merely human. They are something that many of us share, and the burden becomes a little easier to bear when we realize that we aren’t the only ones carrying it.

Social media allows us to meet and make connections with people who are nothing like us, as well. I’m a young white woman, and maybe the majority of the people who I see day-to-day are young white women, but that doesn’t mean that those are the only people I can ever speak to. Social media opens up my world to so much more than that, to so many different perspectives that I may have never considered before. I can read the private thoughts of someone living halfway across the planet if I want to, and I wouldn’t be able to do that quite so easily if it weren’t for social media.

Social media allows us to learn about people. Sometimes we learn ugly lessons about how much we are able to trust a faceless stranger behind a computer screen, and sometimes we learn to open our mind and consider perspectives that we’ve never encountered in our daily lives. So altogether, what does this mean? Is social media a good tool, or a an evil one?

Well, in my personal opinion, it’s neither good nor evil. Rather, it has the capability to be both. There are many things in this world that are just as beautiful as they are sinister, but that doesn’t mean that we should avoid them completely. Social media is a passive tool that is shaped completely by the person using it – it is up to them to make it what it is. And I can say that we should just be careful about what we post and try to make the internet a positive place for everyone, but at the same time, that’s a difficult thing to maintain completely. Some people are going to use social media for ill. Some people are going to steal images that don’t belong to them, or hack accounts, or simply be generally rude, and sometimes there’s no real way to avoid that. That’s just life. But just because there is negativity out there, that doesn’t take anything away from the wonder that exists as well.

I Need To

I need to write a post. If I write a post, I’ll feel better. I need to write need to write need to write need to-

No. There are other things I need to do. I need to study. But I already have studied. But if I don’t study I’m going to fail. But I’ve already studied and I think I have it under control. But I haven’t even done all the reading. But I’ve done most of the reading and the stuff I haven’t won’t even be on the test, I’m fine. But I need to study need to study need to study.

I need to write a post.

I need to fix my life. My life is a mess. My life is in shambles. I have things to do and I keep fucking up. I need to get a job. I need to keep applying. I need to keep looking and I need to keep trying and I need to find the best job. I need a job that will pay well because I need to be an adult. I need an apartment of my own. I need to move to the city because that’s where things happen. That’s where I’ll meet people. That’s where my career will take off if it ever does. And if I’m going to move to the city I need money and to get money I need a job, a good job, a job that pays. So I need to keep looking. I need to find a-

No. I need to study.

No. I need to write a post.

I need to write a post because I need to get my writing out there. I need people to read it and no one’s been reading it and I can’t let that happen because I need to get my name out there. I need a foundation, a start, so that my writing can get out there and my life won’t be a total waste. I need to write a post. I need to try harder. I need to I need to I need to-

And if I’m going to, I need life experience. I need to get out there and do stuff. I need to talk to people. I need to make friends. I need to date.

What about the girl from the party? She was nice.

She wasn’t right.

Why wasn’t she?

She was exactly like all of my friends, but she wasn’t interested in being friends. She wanted to go on a date, and she’s not like the sort of people I date. She wasn’t right, she wasn’t- what’s the word… ambitious. She wasn’t ambitious and that’s the thing I like. She needs to be ambitious because I’m ambitious. I’m going to study and I’m going to write and I’m going to move to the city and I’m going to write a post.

Are you sure you aren’t being too picky? Are you sure your standards aren’t too high? How many ambitious people will look at you, with your life in shambles, and actually want to be with you?

I can’t lower my standards, not again. Because when I lower my standards, I end up with people I don’t like and then I end up hating myself.

You hate yourself anyway. And if you don’t lower your standards, you won’t date and you won’t make friends and you won’t get experience and you won’t write and you won’t move to the city and your life will be a waste.

I need to write a post. I need to apply to jobs. I need to study. I need to I need to I need to

A Story of Doubt – Being Bisexual, Self-Conscious, and Ready to Embrace Who I Am

The internet is my unpaid therapist, and I will exploit that to the best of my ability. Partly because it feels good to vent – to scream into the void, it sometimes feels like. Partly because I like the idea that my experience is somebody else’s experience, and maybe that somebody else will stumble upon this and relate, or maybe somebody who knows that somebody else will stumble upon this and better understand what they’re going through. Either way, what do I have to lose with honesty?

And I’m not saying that my experience is every bisexual’s experience – that would be an extremely reductive statement to make, and we’re all different people, all dealing with a similar circumstance in our own unique way. But maybe my experience has been felt by other bisexual people before. Or maybe my experience contains echoes of other issues that I’m not aware of, and you can find other ways to relate to it. Who knows what the power of words are?

But my point is, this particular scream into the void is regarding my status as a bisexual woman. I’ve known that I was bisexual ever since I was about ten years old, when I started to become aware of the fact that I noticed girls just as much as I noticed guys. When I first realized it, I thought I was being pretty accepting of the idea. I mean, I didn’t tell anyone, not at the age of ten, but still, from that point forward I lived with that understanding of myself, I didn’t really think about it all that much or question the hows or whys.

In elementary school, I developed little crushes on multiple different people. The boy who struck me as different and maybe a little bit better than the rest. The girl who defended me from bullies. They never really progressed all that far, but still, I had them and I never doubted them.

High school was much the same – I continued developing crushes on people that never really went anywhere, because I was a Strong Independent Woman who had my grades to focus on and a novel that I was working on. Before high school graduation, I only really had two crushes that were seriously note-worthy – one on a male friend, the other on a girl in one of my classes. And although my adolescent years was the time that I started to become bombarded with insecurities, I never really doubted who I was in that regard. I became aware that some people might not be able to love me because they came to my status as bisexual with preconceived notions, sure, but it didn’t matter because that was what I was. I never forgot that.

It was only after high school graduation, when I entered university, that that all changed. Because the thing is, the transition from teenager to young adult was very hard on me. I lost most of my friends, and had difficulties making new ones. I was shipped off to another town, to attend a school that I somehow doubted was the right fit for me. And more and more, I was becoming increasingly aware of the fact that there were certain milestones in a person’s life that I was supposed to reach yet that I just hadn’t. I should have had a serious relationship by now, I should be into drinking and partying, I should have made that one big mistake that fucks up my life for a couple of months but then I get back on the horse and everything’s a-okay. Drowning in a sea of regret and confusion, I became depressed and incredibly, almost cripplingly self-conscious.

Let me try to explain to you how self-conscious I got, because this is a big part of the story: I had difficulties talking to people because I felt like I had nothing to say that was of value. I felt like my life was a waste, and that I had barely lived it at all. I felt like I hadn’t touched anyone or done anything, and nobody would miss me if I just went away for good. My point is, I got low, and when you get that low and you simultaneously have a barrage of media telling you that there’s something else that’s wrong with you, you tend to be kind of susceptible to it.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the negative stigma regarding being bisexual that I gave into. It wasn’t the idea that we’re all whores (I could combat that opinion with my own lived experience), or that we’re all going to hell (I still don’t even know if I believe in hell), or that we’re undeserving of love (maybe that was true for me, but there were a lot of contributing factors around that). No, the belief system that affected me the most was the simple assertion that we don’t exist. That all bisexual people are wrong and greedy, that we can and should just pick one gender or the other. I felt like I was committing some cosmic violation by being bisexual, so I tried to be something else. There was a period of time where I tried being straight, tried going back to factory settings, but that all fell apart when I came to terms with the fact that I was living a lie. So if I wasn’t straight, then therefore I was a lesbian, right? I talked like a lesbian, thought like a lesbian, even tried to assert that I was a lesbian to a certain extent, but just like pretending to be straight, it always felt like a lie. It felt wrong in a spiritual, gut-level sort of way, different than the way that being bisexual felt wrong. Being bisexual felt wrong because I was told it was. Being straight or a lesbian felt wrong because I was neither.

But I wanted to be one or the other. Being straight looked easier for obvious reasons, but being a lesbian looked easier too because at least I saw them. When I watched movies or TV growing up that included LGBT+ characters, they were always gay or lesbian. Never bisexual. They were whole, they were complete, they didn’t have to worry about being taken seriously as a member of the LGBT+ community because no matter who they ended up with in the end, their partner would always reflect the fact that they didn’t belong in the heterosexual world. And if they ever got married, they wouldn’t have to deal with people saying the sorts of things that bisexual people have to deal with: “So you’re a non-practicing bisexual?” “So you’re straight/lesbian now?” “Do you ever miss being with insert-other-gender-here?”

Now, I’m not saying that being a lesbian is easier than being bisexual – truth be told, I don’t know for sure which experience is easier, as I’ve only lived the one, and at the end of the day, it isn’t a competition. I’m just trying to explain my thoughts and my perspective.

And the strange thing is, when you start trying to tell yourself that you’re one thing, it sort of throws everything into doubt. Sure, I could remember having crushes on boys back before high school graduation, but were those really crushes? Heteronormativity is a bitch, so maybe I was just trying to tell myself that I was bisexual? Yes, being bisexual felt more natural to me, but how much could I trust that really? And besides, after high school graduation, the only crushes and relationships I’ve had have been really unhealthy, distorted and ugly versions wherein I choose who to flirt with based solely off of who’s flirting with me, rather than because I’m actually attracted to them. And therefore, the fact that I haven’t been attracted to the boys I flirt with must be because I’m not attracted to boys, right? It never even crossed my mind that, maybe, it was because I had really low self-esteem, and therefore I only gave the time of day to whoever validated me as an attractive individual, regardless of what I thought about them.

This has been the limbo that I’ve been living in for almost four years now – uncertain, self-conscious, and trying to force myself to fit a narrative that I don’t belong in. But the other day, I went to an event hosted by my school’s LGBT+ club, and while I was there, I was listening to one of my friends joke around with one of the club’s leaders – a girl who I haven’t spoken to very often. They kept referring to this girl’s partner, and after a while, I became aware of the fact that they were using male pronouns to refer to him. That was when it struck me – one of the club’s leaders, a girl who is welcome in this space and taken seriously as a member of the LGBT+ community here, is either a bisexual or pansexual woman. Up until that point, I don’t think it had really occurred to me what I was thinking, but it struck me then how really fucked up it is that I’m trying to make myself one thing when I’m not, and when there’s nothing wrong with who I am. I don’t have to ‘choose’. I just need to start taking myself more seriously.

So here I am: a new arrival on the long, uphill road to self-esteem. I don’t know how difficult it’s gonna be, but I imagine pretty darn difficult. I have a lot that I need to address about myself, and a lot of things that I’ve been saying that I need to start believing. Because I can say, surface-level, that there’s nothing wrong with being bisexual, but that doesn’t mean that I believe it right down to my stubborn, hard, little core. I can say that this is who I am and the world is the one at fault for trying to convince me that that’s wrong, but I am the one who needs to be convinced of that, first and foremost. And I’m ready to make myself.

And if there’s anything that I want you, the reader, to take away from my story, it’s this: there’s nothing wrong with being who you are. Whether you be a fabulous bisexual like me or something else entirely, you’re okay, and you need to tell yourself that you’re okay. You need to believe it. You can read all the inspirational crap on the internet you want, you can try to tell the people in your life that it’s true, but you need it to sink in. Because that’s the only way that you can be settled in this weird little life you’ve been given.