A Letter to my Teenage Self

I let you down.

I’m sorry I was so mean to you. I’m sorry I called you so many names. I’m sorry I didn’t treat you the way you deserved.

Comparing you to everyone else was my favorite thing to do; pointing out each flaw like it was a checkmark on a list of things to fix.

Remember the times when I wouldn’t let you leave the house without perfectly straightened hair? I hated your curls; they were weird and frizzy, and so unlike all the other girls’ hair in your class.

That was unkind of me, because each unique part of you is what makes you so special.

It wasn’t fair of me to starve you so your curves weren’t so…out there. It wasn’t right of me to say you weren’t good enough for anyone and that no guy would ever love you, because you deserve the world.

I wish I would have stood up for you when everyone called you names, instead of cowering and pretending like it didn’t bother you. Telling you any attention was good attention. I wish I could have helped stop the rumors that burned through the school like wildfire.

I should have lifted you up, praising each attribute and letting you know that it’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s cool to be confidently you.

So what I want to tell you today is: thank you. Thank you for persevering. Thank you for using the struggles to be stronger and smarter. Thank you for not giving into the dark voices. Thank you, for being YOU.

I love you and am so proud of you for flourishing.

Hannah

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Life’s not all rainbows and butterflies

I am tired. 

Tired of being the life of the party. Tired of being the one who puts in the extra work. Tired of being the funny one everyone looks to for a laugh. Tired of being the go-to friend for advice. Tired of being the optimistic bubbly person everyone thinks I am. (Which, don’t get me wrong, I am optimistic and usually pretty bubbly, but that’s not the only side of me, folks.) Tired of giving everyone else my time when I don’t give myself a minute.

Y’all, I am just TIRED.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cracking jokes, being the one my friends can lean on, putting in the extra work on a group project. But I can’t be that person all the time. Nobody is happy all the time. Nobody is equipped to deal with outside drama 24/7. And while most of you reading this will agree we can’t be happy or helpful all the time, nobody actually considers this when seeking help on something or wanting a shoulder to cry on.

Sometimes, the advice-giver needs an open ear to vent to. Maybe the person you rely on to do the majority of the group project just can’t muster that extra energy this time. Maybe, just maybe, they need a  b r e a k.

My depression has been getting the best of me lately. It keeps me from wanting to socialize, catch up on the phone, or even just run errands that I typically love. What do I say when my coworker asks me what I did over the weekend, admit I didn’t leave the house until it was time for work Monday morning? Because that would be the truth. But that’s not the fun answer, it’s not the crazy party story people may be used to hearing from me.

My anxiety comes into play when someone bombards my world, whether it be work or a friend or family or whatever. When you’re depressed, you hardly have enough energy to do the things that normally are a breeze. Waking up on time? LOL that snooze is going off at least five times this morning. Doing my makeup? Y’all might get to see me with mascara and brows on that day. So when I’m having a more-than-usual depressive day, I just can’t handle anything else. And if something is thrown my way I’ll go into a panic.

The thing is, humans are creatures of habit. We get into routines, learn people’s behaviors, and then start to expect those routines and behaviors to stay the same. That’s my issue though: because I’m usually the fun one, the advice giver, the hard-worker, that’s what people start to expect of me. And when I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety more than usual, just thinking about someone needing me or expecting my typical happy-go-lucky self sends me straight into stress mode.

Being an empath is both a curse and a blessing. I love the relationships I’ve made and the connections that continue to grow because of the deep conversations, the venting, the listening, the advice giving. But as someone who lives with anxiety and depression, on my bad days I just can’t handle any more emotion. I will get sad about your dog being sick or your grandparent dying along with you. Truly. That’s why it’s both a blessing and a curse.

I know most of this post has just been ranting, but here’s a quick recap:

  • Be considerate, you never know what someone else is dealing with
  • Stay patient with loved ones who may seem moody or distant
  • Check on your happy friends

This blog was mostly just to get my feelings out there and off my chest so I can take a bigger breath. Have a moment to sit still, quiet and calm. But I also hope some of you can relate, and know you aren’t the only one.

It is okay to say no. It is okay to say, “I’m sorry but I’m just not up for that.” It’s okay to put someone else’s needs off because you need time for yourself. Here’s to a more understanding and empathetic future for us all.

xoxo,

HB

Staying true to myself one bad day at a time

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the simplest way.” – Ernest Hemingway

What a beautiful sentiment. These words have resonated so deeply with me since I first came across them. The Old Man and the Sea was one of my favorite books in high school and I’ve always admired Hemingway for his writing, so when I came across this quote of his, I vibed with it.

While this was written decades ago, I see it ringing true here and now in 2018. Our country is in chaos, the president of the U.S. is the laughing stock of the world and the headlines in news get worse each day so intensely that we’ve become desensitized to horrific violence happening all over our world.

But, back to the quote above.

About a year or so ago, I told myself I would be honest about my feelings and not hide in my hurting anymore. Today, I don’t feel like donning my typical wide-mouthed smile. And that is OKAY. Am I moping around like Eeyore? No. But am I hiding behind a smile and saying “fine” or “good” when people ask how I’m doing? Also no.

Life is hard. It’s hard for everyone in different ways and on different days. On a hard day, the easy way out is to simply grin and bear it and hope for a new day tomorrow. Well – not today, junior!

Y’all know I struggle with anxiety and depression. I’m not shy about admitting it. But, it’s still hard on days when I’m down and don’t want to get up. My typical response is to laugh it off, act extra happy and hope I can convince myself that I truly am.

Well, here’s how I’m feeling today:

  • tired
  • lost
  • in pain

I woke up on Monday with back pain that I haven’t experienced since my surgery (for those of you who don’t know, I had back surgery Dec 2015 on two herniated discs at the bottom of my spine). While my pain level isn’t anywhere near what it was pre-surgery, it still sucks. I haven’t been sleeping very well this week because of the pain and the anxiety this pain is causing.

Broken. Let down. Failure.

That’s how I feel. I’m 25 years old – why the hell am I dealing with 65 year-old health issues?! I get stuck on that question a lot, “why?” or “why me?” But, this isn’t healthy thinking.

Healthy thinking is believing in yourself. It’s staying on task so you feel accomplished checking off your to-do list. It’s working on your full self: mind, body and spirit. So today, I’m letting myself hurt. I’m accepting the back pain I’m dealing with today and challenging myself for a better tomorrow.

I know this blog isn’t quite as strong or captivating as my others, but this is for me. I’m writing down here and now that I am working on myself, for myself, by myself and won’t stop until I feel like I’ve reached the top of this mountain.

                        xoxo,

HB

 

Why is it so hard to love myself? 

Most of you who are reading this are probably thinking to yourself, “but she exudes confidence” or “she’s always so bubbly and happy to be here.” And most of the time I am happy to be where I am – I’ve always chosen to take the optimistic approach and try to find the silver linings in life. But realistically speaking, even the more sunshine-y people out there have bad days and question their worth.

Growing up the baby of a huge family, I’ve always tried to be louder (let’s be real, I didn’t have to try too hard to be loud) and get the most attention by nature. Working hard to be the best of whatever my latest venture was has always been my goal. Determined to succeed, I’ve held dozens of leadership roles in various student and non-student organizations since I was 15. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my high school class, excelled in the Journalism School at KU, moved to Dallas to work at an international marketing agency, moved back to Arkansas to work at an agency closer to home, and now am once again residing in Dallas and employed by the University of Texas at Dallas, doing what I love.

I’m 25 years old. I have my own apartment, the world’s sweetest dog (not up for debate), live with my amazing boyfriend and have had dozens more experiences than your average 25-year-old.

BUT. For some reason, more often than not I criticize myself, my work and my place in life. The majority of these self-doubting thoughts are along the lines of “why am I not more successful” or “why don’t I have the perfect body” or “why can’t I figure my shit out!?”

And you know what I think is a large contributing factor to my self doubt in this day and age? The brutal culture and expectations modern day America has on people, especially women. Growing up I looked up to all the supermodels and A-list celebs who are all size 0 and wear designer everything. How ridiculous is that? Even when I was in my fitness prime, I still wore a size 9-10, knowing damn well I’d never look like the entertainers on TV.

But instead of looking at my accomplishments and giving myself that much-needed pat-on-the-back, self-criticism trumped all. Comparing oneself to another’s accomplishments or body or life in general is only going to do damage and harm to the soul.

Thankfully, a friend very near and dear to my heart reminded me of my self-worth today and inspired me to write this post. I know I’m not the only one out here who feels like their appearance and demeanor on the outside doesn’t match what’s truly going on inside and felt I needed to share these thoughts with my readers.

Anxiety plays a role in this dilemma for me, but even the women out there not living with mental illnesses struggle with loving themselves daily. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and instead learn to relish in our accomplishments and be proud of them in a positive way.

After reflecting on this, here is my mantra for the week:

I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am worthy.

xoxo,
HB