Hello readers! It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. Long enough that the blog has been infiltrated by my best friend, Katherine!
All jokes aside, I would like to sincerely thank Katherine for writing on here, and commend her for her bravery in sharing her stories with the world. Look forward to more of her wisdom, experience, and beautiful writing on here in the future.
Today I want to talk openly about the time that’s passed since my last post. Where I last left you, I was deep in a depressive episode. I quickly realized that this depressive episode was as a result of unwelcome side effects of a new antidepressant. But no worries, I’m on a new pill now and am feeling a lot better.
This period of time since moving home to CT has been a time of realization and growth for me. The biggest realization I have made is one that shocked me. I realized that I made the right choice in transferring home. This came as such a shock to me first of all because it was the opposite of what I had been telling myself since the move. And secondly, this is the first time I have had a positive opinion on a decision I made.
I recently read a book by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements. The premise of the book is that every person is raised from early childhood to agree to things about the world. We agree to the meanings of words and to proper social etiquette. We don’t get a choice in these agreements as children. However, along with the innocuous agreements, like the meaning of the color red, come agreements about ourselves based on what is said about us or inferences we make about ourselves. So if someone tells you that you aren’t good enough growing up, you’re going to believe and internalize that, and ultimately agree to it subconsciously.
The reason I bring up this book is that it helped me to realize that one of the agreements I have agreed to is that I am not good or smart enough to make my own decisions. I won’t make the smallest choice in my life without consulting everyone in my sphere of conversation. This applies to anything as small as an Instagram post, to anything as large as a career choice.
The problem with having this mindset is that when you consult everyone, you are going to get a thousand different answers and opinions, none of which are your own. And then you’re faced with the equally taxing task of deciding who to listen to. Oy vey.
So, this is the first agreement I am making the conscious effort to break out of. I am doing this in small ways, like resisting the urge to send all my friends desperate pleas for outfit advice. Then, there are also the big decisions, like my decision to move out into my first apartment in the coming months. (Hopefully more on this in a future post!) I am striving to make decisions that I think are best for me, even if I don’t have anybody backing me up. The scary part about this is that if things go wrong, I only have myself to blame.
That leads me to another important thing that I am realizing, which is this: It’s okay to make the wrong decision. It’s acceptable to do the wrong thing. Another point made by Ruiz in The Four Agreements is that other animals receive one just punishment when they do something wrong. On the other hand, we humans will punish ourselves over and over again for the same mistake or screw-up. As a person living with depression and anxiety, this resonates particularly clearly with me.
The truth is, our mistakes inform our future decisions and lead to growth and healthy development. Accepting that mistakes are not failures is an important step to change your habits of punishing yourself excessively. My advice is to let yourself sit and reflect on the natural consequences of the mistake. Don’t lie to yourself about the badness of the thing. Accept it for what it is. And then it’s time to move forward and let the mistake remind you to make better decisions going forward.