Growing Pains: The Importance of Being Real With Yourself

“Follow your heart/gut/instinct/dreams” are things we hear all our life, in many variations —but what exactly does that mean? I have dug myself into many holes by the simple task of ignoring how I truly feel. It is very easy to blame indecisiveness on zodiac signs, and pretend like everything's okay, but eventually your true emotions will catch up to you. As I get older, it seems that the number of difficult decisions I have to make based on how I feel are multiplying exponentially. Some of them are similar situations I have already dealt with, but they are no less trying. The thing that often gets in my way is that you cannot just do whatever you want and expect people to still love you the same afterward. But does this fear of losing others take precedence over possibly losing myself? Is prioritizing other people's feelings worth hurting my own feelings in the process? This is something no one tells you about ‘growing up.' 

The origin of our feelings is truly out of our control, no matter how much one would like to believe that they can “turn off” or “change” their feelings. The fact of the matter is that it is just not that simple. Oftentimes, our true feelings can scare us. This is why we may choose to ignore or rewrite them. A lot goes into consideration when it comes to dealing with your feelings, and sometimes the opportunity cost of what you will lose and what you will gain is far too much to bare. This is called taking risks. (The crowd shudders.) We are all familiar with taking risks for school, for careers, etc. because we are socialized to do so. We are always told to reach for the stars when it comes to becoming a contributing member of society, but what about in our smaller, everyday, personal lives? How do we handle taking risks that are as “small” as telling someone you don’t love them anymore, or standing up to relatives whose ideas are outdated and problematic? 

The first way to handle them is to realize that they are not small. If they keep you up at night, or give you anxiety, it’s because they matter. Forget who, when, where, or why you shouldn’t care, because the fact of the matter is you do. Once you admit that to yourself, you will understand the urgency of handling the problem. The next step is accepting the pain. I can almost guarantee you that if you have been putting it off, it's because it’s going to hurt you or someone you love (which could, in turn, hurt you). These, unfortunately, are some of the greatest risks we will have to take in life. We all have feelings, and all of our feelings are separate and independent based on our personal perspective. These feelings are not reflections of anyone but ourselves, but the actions that we take based on our feelings still affect other people. Doesn’t that suck? You could do everything in your power to make sure you live your life on your terms, and in turn, you could hurt someone you care about. Why must other people also be affected by our actions if our choices have nothing to do with them? 

Remember when I said that we can’t control our feelings? Well, unfortunately, it goes both ways. You are also not allowed to decide how your actions affect others. I know, this fact is little-girl-crawling-out-of-a-TV scary, but at its very core, it is comforting as well. It means that one way or another, we can all learn to heal. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is that I can not control how I feel, but I can control how I react to it. Remembering that other people's actions are not because of me, and at the end of the day truly have little to do with me, is really the secret entrance to your own personal El Dorado. It is hard, and it takes time, but we do all of this in the hopes that it will be worth it. We pour salt in old wounds, and rip open new ones in the hopes that we will live our best livesnot only career wise, but mentally and spiritually as well. Every action has its consequence, but we keep curiously moving forward in the hopes that it all will be worth it to us. Once you have come to terms with this fact, the next and final step is to take action. There is no point in dwelling on something for hours, or even days, if you’re not going to do anything about it. Life is made up of a series of decisions. You take your truths, what you know, and what you want and you put them all together to come up with an answer (or at least an idea of what to do next). The most crucial part of dealing with our feelings is doing something with them. Put your feelings into action. I can’t stress enough how important it is. It’s not going to be easy or perfect. In fact, I can almost guarantee that if it’s worth it, it will be very messy. But just as much as I can guarantee that, I can guarantee that if it wasn’t the right decision, at the very least you will learn something from it. In my book, that’s always a win. 

In short: my advice is to listen to the deepest parts of you. Your anxieties, the things that you’re afraid of, and the things that will unravel you may have something very important to tell you. Your emotions are your facts. Take what you know and proceed with caution, but nevertheless, proceed with bravery. Everyone here at Lithium Magazine and I are always rooting for you. 

By Elysa Rivera

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