Hiatus

Hiatus pic

Like the title says, the time has come for a temporary hiatus from this blog. Unless I feel overwhelmingly compelled to pen a blog entry, it’s going to go silent on here for a little while.

I wish I could say it’s just school that’s convincing me to put That’s Classy-fied on the shelf during this time, but that would be a lie. It is true that I’ll have a lot of responsibilities on my plate and sadly, generating my sometimes thoughtful, sometimes mindless content into the blogosphere goes on the backburner. I’m finishing up my final year of university (and simultaneously deciding if I want to push graduation to July 2015 rather than May), with mostly English and Journalism classes left to do. And somehow, I winded up taking the Editor-in-Chief position of my college’s magazine, a job for which I feel unprepared at the moment. I still have community service hours left to fulfill (as per graduation requirements), tuition to pay, internships to look into, books to read, friends to hopefully see, and post-grad life to still figure out.

And just for the record, I *almost* considered taking on two 15+ hour jobs this semester.

While all these things are perfectly valid reasons for my silence, I think it’s high time I focus on myself. Yeah, yeah, my blog already is mostly about me and my musings, but away from the computer, I need to sort out some things. I have one year to figure out what to do next with my life, but that’s not all. I find myself wondering if I’ve done enough during my young adult life to warrant a happily exhausted sigh come this time next year.

I look at my friends and my friends’ friends, and wonder if there’s something I missed. Did I put enough time into my career prospects? Do I have a clear vision for what those prospects are? Did I focus too much on my education track that I missed out on the fun parts? Was I involved enough in my school? Why didn’t I take that class instead? Why don’t I know more about web design? Should I have taken more risks? Should I have gone out with the fellow from my general ed class? Why are all my classmates already engaged or pregnant or both? Should I have gone to more parties? Should I not have gone to that party? Why do I hate homecoming football games? Why am I really applying for ___________? Am I ready to graduate? Should I consider grad school or law school? Will I ever be ready to step foot into the real adult world? Will I make it?

I have these questions and more, which can only be answered through action.

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The “D-Word”

 

The D Word 6 pic

When I learned of Robin Williams’s death a week ago, I was more affected by it than I expected to be. I love his movies – among my favorite are Mrs. Doubtfire, Old Dogs and of course, Dead Poets’ Society. But I didn’t know him personally. It’s odd, but knowing that he was gone, knowing that this wasn’t just some internet hoax weighed heavily on my mind.

The news report came in shortly before I left for work. While at work, I heard one of my fellow employees say of it, “And he had everything, too…”

“Having everything” is an interesting, and wholly inaccurate way to put it. Because if you don’t have happiness, you really don’t have anything at all. Williams’s death, as you’ve probably already observed, has brought about good conversation concerning how to reach out to individuals suffering from depression BEFORE they do something detrimental to themselves or others.

It haunts me that someone who brought so much laughter into this world left it so unhappily. And it also haunts me that Williams had kept much of his unhappiness from the public eye, as it would likely distract from the happy-go-lucky image of the comedian.

Before I go on…*DISCLAIMER* In no way am I trying to compare my experiences with those of Mr. Williams, because they are very different. Moving on. I hesitate to say it now, but I’ve been depressed before. I’m doing alright now like most average folk are, but I know I probably will be again at some point in the future. Probably most of us will be depressed at one time or another. Anyone who’s been in this place knows how much of a taboo it can be when you try – as all the PSAs advise – to talk about it with someone.

People are so quick to talk about almost anything else, though; the people they hate, their sexual endeavors, work-related stresses and whatever political issue irks them the most, but when it comes to the “d-word,” it becomes awkward. Suddenly, both parties find themselves walking on eggshells. Because who wants to be stuck with someone who is inexplicably sad? God forbid we talk openly and honestly about our feelings.

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Depression is more than just an outcome of stress, mere boredom with life, or a few bouts of loneliness. Maybe it’s a result of a chemical imbalance. Maybe it comes during the aftermath of a death of someone close. Maybe it’s connected to a mental illness, or maybe there doesn’t have to be a textbook reason at all. Everyone’s story is different, and I think trying to pinpoint one single, underlying reason won’t make the shadows disappear.

The ones who say “Just be happy!” or “Snap out of it!” as “helpful” responses are the worst. If you ever have said one of these two things, shame on you. Educate yourself. In my own experiences, I’ve been told that “Christians don’t get depressed” or something similar, implying that if I am indeed depressed, I must be more susceptible to the devil’s handiwork. Something like that. Whether or not you believe in God, I’m sure you’ll agree that being told that you’re not spiritually good or strong enough to ward off the depression only adds to the pain.

So sometimes we hide. We hide behind a grin, a pithy one-liner, our work, or a façade that says everything is fine. What kills me is that Williams too hid, behind thousands of jokes and lines that brought smiles to the rest of us. It’s as if depression is something to be ashamed of. I should add that depression does not make anyone weak. I also subscribe to the belief that the toughest battles are reserved for the strongest warriors.

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There are of course little things one can do to help alleviate the depression; sometimes they work, and sometimes they only help for a moment. When discussing his various addictions with the media, Williams said, “My battles with addiction definitely shaped how I am now. They really made me deeply appreciate human contact. And the value of friends and family, how precious that is.” This is so important. More than baked good goods, depression pamphlets, and offers to accompany the depressed to therapy sessions, your time and consideration are the most meaningful gifts. If you know someone going through a dark time, don’t be that person who tries to diagnose the problem to a science. There are specialists for that, and unless you are that specialist, your job is providing love and companionship; two things that medical treatment and therapy can’t always compensate for. In short – don’t treat the ones with depression as psychology experiments.

Yet somehow in coming to terms with Williams’s death, I think I got a bit closer to the meaning of life. When depressed, we often question our significance in the cosmic universe. We also question whether or not we think the sun is going to shine again, and if we’ll even care if it does. While watching a local news outlet honor Williams in a 2-minute bit, someone who had had the pleasure of meeting the man remembered something that Williams said to him; that his real job was making people smile, whereas acting was simply his “day job.”

The meaning of life isn’t to be happy, like I’d previously thought. Its meaning doesn’t even have to do with us, but rather what we can contribute to it. For Robin Williams/Genie/Mork/Mrs. Doubtfire/Peter Pan/Dr. Patch Adams/Theodore Roosevelt/etc., he did far more than his fair share of contribution. He provided us laughter, making the world a little bit brighter. I only wish the world had been able to do the same for him.

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Withdrawals

Withdrawals pic

I’m sitting here at Peet’s Coffee listening to a Lord of the Dance playlist remembering a time when all my Spotify ads were spoken by an intelligent-sounding British man. And it goes without saying (though I’m saying it now) that I have my very own pot of tea sitting next to my keyboard.

In a few short weeks, I’ll be going back to school – back to school where I must stay seated 4+ hours on most weekdays, job juggle, and try not to fall asleep during classes after my morning workouts (and as a consequence of the fact that I’m 20 and still don’t know how to make a cup of coffee…).

I’m 90% positive I fall into the miniscule percentage of people NOT entirely enthused about the prospect of going back to school. For one thing, school for me ended the last week of March. Not even sure if I remember how to take notes.  And gone are any hopes of taking a quick weekend getaway to some obscure European city…the most exciting places to go in the LA area require a car (or a friend with a car) – otherwise, the nearby Starbucks and Donut Man are the closest hotspots.

And though I’d love to ignore the fact that I still have two GE’s to tackle, I can’t, and will consequently miss reading Austen and Bronte for “homework.”

I’ve been through the post-travel withdrawals with Thailand, so this feeling isn’t totally new. After getting back into a pretty routine schedule, it’s almost as if it all never happened, except for all the photo evidence and the new friends I’ve made through the process. And sadly, as anyone who’s had a similar experience will understand, you almost have to pretend it didn’t happen – or at least not bring up the topic so often – as even the most well-meaning of your friends and family only want the 2-minute spiel (and understandably so).

But while my routines and habits abroad aren’t the same here, the feelings, memories and realizations of what I learned about myself and life remain. Not everyone has to cross oceans to finally realize what it is they want out of life, but this is just how it happened to work out for me. Similarly to how I find myself haunted by sights, sounds, smells and memories associated with my time away, I am continually reminded of the things that I’ve always wanted to do, but put off because of fear and doubt. These too, though in a different way, are withdrawals.

The word “draw” is in the word “withdrawal,” and I think it’s because the things we want keep drawing us out of where we actually are. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, but I know where I’d like to be, in that I know where I DON’T want to be. I won’t want to be sitting in the same place, always drawn to another in my mind.

The more I’m out and about in these familiar places, driving past the play areas of my childhood, the Barnes and Noble I love to frequent, the foothills where I take my therapeutic drives – the more I realize that there is nothing for me here, or at least nothing that I don’t have now. This place has already given me all it can, and I need to go elsewhere and continue taking what that has to offer me, or better yet, to teach me.

Have you ever put your ambitions on hold for the sake of practicality? Perhaps placed your big ideas on the shelf, intending to take them back down again only after you have your life together? Probably to different extents, we’ve all done this.  Another question is this – how often does your mind wander to those old ambitions and ideas when you’re supposed to be doing something else? Have you ever wanted something so much that it scared you? Then there is no question remaining; run towards it.