First off, welcome to my blog! Today’s post is actually going to be the first I’ve ever shared openly with the public. Terrifying, but a big milestone for myself since this is something that’s taken me a very long time to rally up the courage to do.
To reiterate on what exactly this is: “Mind Fart Mondays” is inspired by my friends from Jubilee Project, Taylor Matsunaga and Brian Zhang, who started a tradition called “Word Vomit Wednesdays”, where they speak very openly about a randomly given topic, and put forward their raw thoughts into a blog post every Wednesday night. Since then, other Jubilee Fellows have been following suit, and we’ve been finding comfort and inspiration through writing about our own personal journeys, allowing us to be vulnerable with both our families and our friends. Since Wednesdays are a little more hectic for me, my posts will be going up on Mondays! Hence, “mind farts.” I mean, I’ve got to have a little bit of my immaturity in here, don’t I?
If you’re interested in reading some of those amazing, well-written blogs, please click on the links below! I promise, you won’t be disappointed, and there’s definitely more to come. And, I definitely encourage you to start writing for yourselves if you feel the urge to. It’s a tradition worth starting, and it’s always great to have more reading material from inspiring individuals!
This weekend, I finally had the opportunity to watch what is now one of my absolute favorite animated films- “Inside Out.” Thanks Pixar for reminding me just how easily you can bring me to tears.
But what I learned from watching it was that my perception of strength has always been centered around this flawed idea that those who can control their emotions- show that they can be happy when times are rough, or bring joy to other people when they themselves should be sad- are the ones that should be looked up to.
In reality though: our sorrow is what paints us to be the amazing creatures we are now.
Nowadays, it’s become more than a habit for us to hide those darker emotions away. Expressing our sadness to those around us is sometimes looked at as a weakness. Personally, I hate crying in front of other people. I feel vulnerable, awkward, looked down upon, and judged. I want to show them that I’m a positive person, and am strong enough to pull through tough situations and obstacles. But if I’m being completely honest with myself, I am far from the image of a “well-put together individual.” If you’ve seen my last blog post, you’ll know I’m actually a huge mess 99.999% of the time.
However, (spoiler alert), if you’ve seen Inside Out for yourself then you’ll know this too- our sadness and joy go hand in hand with one another. Because if we were never to experience our low-points in our sorrow, how could we ever appreciate our highs in experiencing joy?
One of the most prominent memories of mine where my acceptance of sadness and willingness to share that sadness with others helped mold me into a greater person was in my freshmen year of college. I had just started taking classes, and I was still recovering from my hair loss from my senior year of high school that left me with an obvious bald patch on the back of my head. It was humiliating for me. I couldn’t hide it very easily. and hats would only irritate it further. But I told myself that as long as no one mentioned it, I’d be okay. Then unfortunately, a few boys in my class did.
I was sitting in the middle of a lecture hall, and could hear the boys behind me chuckling and whispering about my spot, unaware that I could hear their every word. The entire class, I tried to reassure myself in my head, “You should be happy they’re making themselves look like complete idiots right now. And be happy those aren’t your friends. Be happy that you’re being the bigger person in this.” Be happy. Be happy. Be happy. Repetition was key. But in my heart, I grew depressed. Every week I had to attend that class, I sat myself far in the back, or skipped the class entirely if I couldn’t. I even went out of my way to buy this disgusting black hairspray to cover up the spot, just so it would look a little less obvious. And I never told my parents about it, or explained to them why I was doing it. I refused to acknowledge that my sadness was getting the better of me.
Then, a few months later, in one of my favorite classes- a speech class taught by Professor Derek Tang (highly recommend him to any CSUN students by the way)- our professor told us to talk freely about how brokenness can build our character. “Look at yourselves, and tell me how your weaknesses can give you strength and joy.” For the next week, I thought deeply about how my weaknesses could possibly make me strong. “If anything, they make me feel worse,” I thought to myself. Finally, desperate for help finding answers, I went to my parents, and came clean to them about how depressed I’d become with my physical appearance over the year. I couldn’t see how any of it made me a strong person, and the tears finally came pouring out, taking them by surprise. And then, I found my answer as they took me into their arms and told me that I was going to be okay. “You are beautiful. You may not see it now, but you are beautiful.”
That openness of emotion showed me that by accepting the sadness in my life, I could discover the joy that God has blessed me with in the gift of my family and friends.
Later, when I finally made my speech, I went without the disgusting black hair spray that I hated putting in my hair. I spoke about how my physical appearance and bald spot had made me feel worthless and hideous for so long, but now, gave me the courage to speak out more about the results of bullying, and the need for people to foster the worth of inner beauty in those around us.
Now, working as a teacher myself, I realize that all of those experiences now help me to comfort some of my students who find themselves thinking the same way that I did. “It’s okay to feel sad about it. But just remember…you are worth it. And you are beautiful.”
Our sadness may make us feel like we are weak, fragile, and defeated. But truly, it does the opposite. It allows us to grow into more mature, understanding individuals who can appreciate true happiness. And when we embrace that sadness, and accept as a necessary part of our lives, we can use it as inspiration to find joy and bring joy to those who need us. And when it comes down to it, there really is only happiness in that.
(P.S. Thanks for reading this far! I hope Destiny’s Child is now stuck in your head thanks to the title. You’re welcome.)