The Inconvenient Friend

As millennials go, my life is pretty unorthodox. I don’t live in a gentrified neighborhood with a rescue dog. I don’t have a yoga body or belong to an adult kickball league. I live at home. Actually, I live in my aunt and uncle’s home. With my parents. My mother, a victim of dementia. My father, a survivor of two strokes and a heart attack.

If that weren’t wacky enough, I am also a quasi-employed, unlicensed non-driver. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and depression, and the next of 40+ surgeries is just around the corner.

As you can imagine, all of these things make me very popular with my peers. Sure, people think I’m nice. They just wish my life weren’t so… complicated.

In a nutshell, I am the inconvenient friend. That friend who is really nice and well-intentioned, but ultimately unable to contribute her fair share to the relationship. I am the girl who would be so great if only she made a series of changes to better accommodate her hip “friends.”

Every weekend I mourn a little for the life BuzzFeed tells me I should have.

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Source: Google Books

I shed a tear or two for the failed social interactions and never-had dates, all casualties of my inconvenient life. “It’s not fair,” I say aloud to no one in particular. “I don’t ask for that much. All I want to do is wear some fringe while wandering aimlessly around a festival every now again. I know my ‘friends’ are attending these things, but no one is inviting me. It’s my own personal interpretation of Mindy Kaling’s book.”

One lonesome Friday evening, there was a listening ear to my weekly wonderings. My father asked me what was wrong, amid my frustrated listing of reasons my friends have effectively ghosted me. I whined that the lack of inclusion makes me feel devalued but that I refuse to beg anyone to spend time with me, especially not full-grownish adults. He stopped me mid-rant and asked “what about your closest friends? How do they make you feel?”

Subtle spin on a stock psychological question? Perhaps. But I entertained an answer nonetheless.

After giving his question some sincere thought, I rendered a response. “Well, I guess, they make me feel loved… without judgment.”


The last week or so, I’ve repeatedly found myself on the receiving end of some really sound advice:

Let go.

Three of my girlfriends, my mother, and a book all told me to let go. But let go of what exactly? Relationships? Expectations? Society’s definition of success?

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Source: Disney

As millennials, we are accused of arrested development. Spoiled, entitled brats with various strains of Peter Pan Syndrome. But this millennial is ready to grow up. This woman is ready to let go of conditional relationships and society’s prescribed expectations of who she should be. She is ready to navigate life in ways that may not always be popular, or hip, but that will ultimately equip her with everything she needs to change the world!

As I navigate this thing we now call “adulting,” I realize that my path will be unorthodox. It won’t look like the path of my peers. It may not include a gig at a trendy tech startup. There may be no mid-week, underground dance parties at ultra-exclusive speakeasies.

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Aisha at Fernbank Museum of Natural History

I may never get to deliver any awe-inspiring TED Talks.

Or maybe all of these things will happen and my life will be the quintessential millennial dream come true. But I refuse to allow the quality of my life to be defined by some ethereal counsel of cool.

I think my life will be a good one. It will be disappointingly normal and uneventful. It won’t be insta-worthy. But it will be filled with love and good intentions.

I will get my driver’s license. My role will shift from caregiver to employee. Or entrepreneur. I will own my own home and open it to friends and family in need of refuge from the messiness of life. Maybe I’ll get married and we’ll have some kids. Maybe I’ll fly solo. Perhaps I’ll get a dog.

I will let go of relationships that have ultimately run their course, and I will pour into anyone willing to put up with my lack of cool. I will sharpen my skills and hone my crafts and use them whenever and wherever I can to brighten at least one little corner of this place called Earth. I will make some mistakes, of course. But my mind will be open, my heart will be happy, and my life will be… good.

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Life Lift: The Take-Away

Take Away

My first series, Life Lift, has come to a close. I thank you so much for joining me on this journey. Sharing the things that I have done to help improve the quality of my life is truly a project of my heart.

I called the series Life Lift because I strongly believe that so many people are living life at a lower elevation than our ultimate destiny. Suppressed by our past experiences, current circumstances, and defeatist mindsets, we can find ourselves simply existing instead of truly living.

At the end of the day, this series is all about treating yourself right. So many people live stressed out, frustrating lives because we fail to check in with ourselves and make sure we are okay. I know this notion can be particularly challenging for parents; while I do not have children, I am a full-time caregiver for my mother and I understand how easily and unintentionally caregivers can neglect themselves.

Me and Mommy

About four years ago, when I left my job in healthcare to be with my mother full time, my health quickly began to deteriorate. I dedicated every moment of my day to my mother’s care — doctor’s appointments, medication gathering, physical therapy, occupational therapy, bathing, feeding… loving.

If I ate, it was a couple of bites of a McDonald’s cheeseburger and half a Coke to keep me awake. I began to lose weight, but not in a healthy way. I suffered severe migraines, chronic hives, and digestive challenges due to stress. I knew something had to change. If I was going to be there for my family, I had to be there for me.

So I began to pray and ask God for guidance. I asked for help getting healthy and staying positive. Although the daily stressors of being a caregiver remained, I began to see progress in my own life. I began getting regular exercise and made sure I ate every day. I even took the opportunity to read a few inspiring books.

This message is not intended to be some sort of “pull yourself up by your boot straps” lecture. Quite the contrary. Maybe you have no boot straps. Maybe you really are hanging on and feel like life is dragging you by the hair. But I encourage you to do all you can to care for yourself amid the chaos.

Life may not always be the party you imagined, but it may not have to be as overwhelming as it is right now. Whether it is five minutes every day or a 24-hour per day commitment, you must to determine that you are worth the time. Once you have made yourself a priority, and begin taking care of yourself, you never know what the results may be.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.3 John 1:2

Life Lift: Part Five -Fitness Fridays

Friday

Woo-woo! It’s Friday! For many of us health-conscious folks, that means it is the opener to the cheat-centric weekend. HCheat Mealellooo Krispy Kreme. How you doin’ Cheesecake Factory? Do tell, Häagen Dasz!

As exciting as “cheat days” can be, we have to make sure we don’t make them the focus of our health. That is why I would like
to introduce “Fitness Friday.”

The CDC recommends at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week for adults ages 18 to 64. While this is an awesome goal to work toward, not everyone is “there” just yet. And that is okay, because every success story has a beginning. So maybe you aren’t up to 2 a half hours yet, but if you can dedicate one day to making sure you get in some physical activity and make healthier choices, I believe it helps get your mind and body committed to healthfulness.

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I began seriously pursuing weight loss in 2012.

In addition to alliteration, Fit Fridays also prepare you for what may become an over-indulgent weekend. I have found that when I really commit to healthfulness throughout the week, I become more aware of the fuel I feed my body on the weekend, and I’m less likely to over-do it. [Note: Keep an eye out for a future post all about my 60+ pound weight loss!]

This does not mean that I never enjoy a slice of cheese pizza with extra cheese. Because I do. But I am proud of my physical achievements and would hate to completely negate all of that progress by inhaling an entire large pizza by myself.

We are all busy and may not always know how to prioritize physical activity in our lives. Sometimes we simply need a time and a place to start to form good habits.

So talk to your healthcare provider about what types of food and fitness routines work best for you — your body, your schedule, and your family. Then, take things one meal, one exercise, one Friday at a time.

Here’s to a healthier, happier you!

Life Lift: Before We Begin

Life Lift

Welcome to my life-hack series, Life Lift! I am over-the-moon excited about sharing these little life lessons I’ve learned in hopes that they might benefit someone else.

Before we get started, I want to go over a few disclaimers and things you should keep in mind as you read and learn over the next seven days:

  1. First and foremost, I am not a mental healthcare professional. I currently have my bachelor’s degree in sociology with a social services emphasis. I do not claim to practice medicine, nor do I have any training in the mental health field.
  2. The “methods” discussed in the Series have not been studied or proctored by mental health or medical professional. These are simply suggestions based on one amateur individual’s personal experiences and not intended to treat or diagnose any illness, disease or condition.
  3. Always consult a medical professional before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutrition program.
  4. If you believe you or someone you know is experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, please contact your local Emergency Services (9-1-1- in the United States) for assistance.
  5. If you need to talk to someone, there is help. Please contact one of the following resources:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1.800.273.TALK (273-8255)

    For hearing and speech impaired with TTY equipment: 1.800.799.4TTY (779-4889)
    Español: 1.888.628.9454

  • National Child Abuse Hotline

    1.800.4.A.CHILD FREE (422-4453)

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline

    1.800.799.SAFE FREE (799-7233)

  • Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN)

    1.800.656.HOPE FREE (656-4673)

  • The Trevor Project

    1.866.4.U.TREVOR FREE (488-7386)

  • Veterans Crisis Line

    1.800.273.TALK FREE (273-8255) PRESS 1

  • Crisis Text Line

    TEXT “TWLOHA” TO 741-741

[Resources Source: To.Write.Love.On.Her.Arms.]