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  • Writer's pictureMacy Cooper

Real Life

With a recent, very public incident here at Purdue University, there has been light shed on the importance of self-care. Although self-love and mental wellness are much more spoke about in society, there are still many barriers and negative connotations to psychiatric hygiene. In this post, I will be addressing what taking time for yourself can look like, how to shift your mindset to foster this lifestyle, as well as how to overcome barriers that inhibit our road to happiness. My goal is for you to agree that real life is not rainbows and butterflies and that the truth of the matter is, it is not always easy, but there is nothing wrong with that. Life can kick even the mightiest minds down from time to time, and if we let it steamroll us, it does not pushing past us.

My struggle with mental health is not something I am ashamed of. I have had my rounds of depression, battle with my anxiety on a daily basis, and have been in therapy sessions wondering why I can’t catch a break. To be completely transparent, I have been diagnosed with multiple psychiatric conditions depending on the situation. Do these diagnoses define me? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! You do not need a diagnosis to understand why you are the way you are. This is something I sought for a long time, and not all that long ago. I thought that if I had a diagnosis, it would explain all my hard times and struggles, allowing me to understand why I was always a bit different. The truth of the matter is, I am a unique person, sometimes a tad uptight, and chronically overcommit myself until I break… likely not all that different for many people.

My diagnoses go alongside my chronic fatigue and inadequate attention to my needs as a person. Shifting my mindset from “why me” to “let’s be realistic,” has allowed me to attempt to slow myself down, and surround myself with like-minded people. I cannot emphasize enough about how important it is to have a support system because let’s be real… LIFE IS HARD! This concept applies to social media as well. If you see someone’s posts or pictures that make you feel bad about how you look or who you are, DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!!! Only following people that have your best interest can be hard, especially in a time where social media is our highlight reel essentially, the other 99% of life is real, raw, and quite honestly, not glamorous what so ever! The truth about the picture you see above is, it was my birthday, and less than an hour before I was sitting on my bed crying because I did not feel pretty enough or loved. Real life wake up call, I needed to take a deep breath and appreciate those around me, but I also needed to remove my preconceived notions about myself, my day, etc. We chose not to highlight low times in our life, but there is a big difference from pretending we are superhuman and don’t have days where life kicks our ass and being like the rest of the beautiful souls we surround ourselves with that sometimes have an outright terrible day. I do not think social media intend to shame others or to make people feel alone in their struggles, but unfortunately, this is a result for many people. If something hurts us or makes us feel bad, our body tells us not to do it. For example, if you put your hand on something hot your neurological system is triggered (insert a whole lot of science stuff I TOTALLY retained from anatomy and physiology at Purdue….) to protect the integrity of the body and our safety. Applying this to real life, we do not have this same reaction to emotional constructs, but that doesn’t mean we have to shame ourselves everytime we get on Instagram or any social media platform for that matter. You are the only person that can take charge of your happiness, security, and self-love. Let’s be real; you are astoundingly beautiful in your way, so you should feel like it!!! Enough about me… about how to shift our mindset and lifestyle from “why me” to “let’s be real.”

Really quick reality checkpoints

  • your life isn’t as bad as you think

  • you are insanely beautiful in your own way

  • life doesn’t have to be hard

  • we are all lucky to get to do what we do every single day

  • smile and laugh because you can

These are a few affirmations that can transform how you look at life. Sometimes I will write down affirmations, NOT “you look hot today in your new purple leggings Macy,” but something along the lines of “you are lucky to be able to foster things you are passionate about, and cloth yourself in pride and humility.” I have tried many different forms of affirmation in my life without success. I had someone tell me to write down 10 affirmations in a notebook or planner and look at them on those tough days, so I did, but nobody ever told me how to be real with myself. The reality of it is, I don’t feel pretty every day, some days I don’t try my hardest, and some days I don’t have the energy to care… that’s life yall! Translating our affirmations to speak the same language as our everyday life is crucial in making steps towards accepting our beauty in reality. I challenge you to write 3 (being realistic 10 is a lot lol) positive affirmations not only about you superficially, but about the life you live, your passions, or the reality of your blessings we sometimes forget to carry with us every day. Place these affirmations somewhere you will see (i.e., on a sticky note on the mirror you will see getting ready in the morning or write them in your planner on a day you know you have a lot going on to provide yourself some positivity when you already know you will need it). Using the example of my realistic affirmation above, create something applicable to your everyday life, not your highlight real type days because that is not the whole truth.

There are many barriers to truly accepting ourselves, and some of these barriers we actually make. Instead of making life harder on ourselves I want us to focus, unapologetically on our own wellbeing. Once you know what your outlet of self-care is, making it a priority is the next step. You may choose to meditate, pray, workout, drink a cup of coffee with nothing on your mind, whatever it is that you like to do that fills your soul with warmth is going to help you appreciate your self-worth. I have been working on the space you see above to remind me to take time for myself and I like to spend my time for myself by reading personal development books. If you do not know what this is or would like to try some of the above examples, please reach out to me and I will do my best to connect you with resources in your area of interest. The best advice I have for not only finding the time to love yourself but actually practicing your passion is to schedule it and keep yourself accountable. I frequently recommend this to clients wanting to become more regular gym goers or get into a healthy habit, but I do not skip anything I write in my planner whether it’s a meeting or doctors appointment, I am there. By scheduling my meditation or whatever soul nourishing activity it is, I am able to dedicate that time for the activity and myself. This may be hard to do for us busy humans, but even 30 minutes set aside for our passion will not only help our self-worth and happiness but also make us more productive and focused on other tasks as they relate to what makes us who we are each and every day. Real life here, yeah sometimes we oversleep our meeting, or run a little late here and there (currently working on being on time) so if it doesn’t happen when we wanted it to, that doesn’t mean gloat in self-hate, know that is real life, and replenish with a few deep breaths and take a rain check.

I hope I was able to provide some tips and tricks to accepting real life in a busy lifestyle driven by social media and perfectionism. If you know of a Purdue student needing help or are worried about any of your peers, please check out the link below for more resources or reach out to me as always!

-Stay beautiful -MM

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