I started off so well, with me posting my first post on day one. But since then? Radio silence. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this blog.
Volunteering today on the Crisis Text Line, I had a texter who was beating herself up because she got a misdemeanor and was convinced that her life was ruined. Understandably, it’s not something that you want on your record, but by no means does that one event define her. Once we got the ball rolling on how she is not the worst person in the history of the world ever (I can think of at least one other person who could fit that title better – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, EX BOYFRIEND) (Just kidding. Sorta) we got down to the real root of the problem – learning how to forgive yourself.
It’s hard enough forgiving others, but forgiving yourself? NEAR IMPOSSIBLE.
The hardest part might be because you know your self worth. Let me share a bit of my freshman year of college with you. I was young and on my own, for the first time away from my parents while also being in a challenging engineering program. Uh oh. Yep, you know where this is going. I’ll speed things along. By the time it was about halfway through my second semester freshman year, I knew I was in trouble. Classes were hard and boring, I was dating this guy who was cheating on me with a girl who was back in his hometown (I only found out AFTER the semester, but I had my suspicions – seriously, who goes home 3 hours away every other weekend?), and I was spending too much time avoiding my problems, rather than acknowledging them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch myself before I fell and I ended up failing enough classes that semester, forcing my parents’ hand to demonstrate that they weren’t going to put up with my crap – or at least not fund it. The next semester I spent back home, going to community college and trying to figure out a way to finance my college career and proving to both myself and my parents that I learned from my mistakes.
That summer in between was brutal for me. I had already known that I wasn’t coming back to school that following semester around Easter my freshman year. The depression kicked in and I spent a good majority of my time sleeping and being unproductive. It wasn’t much better when I moved back home. I was on a much shorter leash and in an awkward position with my parents. I knew that they were just trying to teach me some tough love, but at the same time, I had such potential (urgh, there’s that word again) coming into college from high school, that I thought I would’ve been able to save myself. Turns out, we all need help sometimes. And there’s no harm in asking for help. People don’t think you are weak or judge you. You are not weak for asking for help, if anything, that shows the strength that you possess for knowing when you are taking on more than you can bear.
But I still was beating myself up. I knew I should’ve done better the following year, that I should have paid more attention to my school work and gone out less and BROKEN UP WITH THAT STUPID GUY. You can’t change the past, no matter how hard you wish you could. What’s done is done. You can only learn from your failure. This is where the forgiveness steps in.
Forgiving yourself is really grieving about the future you lost, if you could just undo that one mistake; take one less shot, study one more hour, not driven that car, etc. And just like grief, you have to go through all five stages.
- First, I was in denial about my grades which was dumb, because I saw them only get lower every day. Then, I was in denial about my parents’ threats. I was convinced that they would let me go back to college on their dime, because they loved me and because I told them I was sorry and stupid and every other thing in the book.
- Boy was I pissed when I realized that they were sticking to their guns and not paying for me to go back. And, being the whiny brat I was back then, made sure to let them know I was mad. My logic was flawed, obviously.
- I was desperate. I tried applying to different colleges. I tried praying to God that this was all a very bad dream. I tried figuring out who was the bad cop and who was the good cop with my parents to try to work something out (spoiler alert: they were both the bad cops in this situation…or maybe both good cops? Definitely bad cops before I learned my lesson, good cops now that I have). During this stage, I wasted a lot of time and money avoiding the problem some more, instead of accepting fault and trying to make some lemonade out of these lemons.
- Oh darkness, my old friend. Once I realized that I was really staying home from my friends, with the stigma that I kinda sorta failed college, and that I was stuck in my hometown going to community college (not that there is anything wrong with that, looking back I wish I went that route longer, save some money!), the depression hit. I was sad and cried all the time. I listened to depressing music and cried some more. I slept a lot. I cried a lot. If this was a movie montage it would be really boring and filled with ugly crying faces.
.Yep, Kim-K-ugly crying faces.
- Finally, I accepted what I was going to have to do the following semester, and made a plan to succeed. I made myself “re-live” the past year, thinking of specific situations and having a plan for how I would’ve have done it better, just in case they come up again in the future. And by doing this little project, I proved to myself that the past year wasn’t in vain, and I had learned from my (very expensive) mistakes.
It took me that whole summer to forgive myself for putting me in that situation, and then some. Luckily, I hit my stride and managed to graduate on time and with two different minors. But I had to make peace with myself, before I could make peace with the situation. Something to keep in mind is that one chapter in your life story doesn’t mean that’s all you talk about for the whole book. You are more than just a few moments in your history.
And on the note of school, I just thought I’d share, I’ve paid off all of my student loans! Wooo, officially student loan free :] Just got the car and a small personal loan from my parents (love you guys) and then I’ll be 100% debt free!
This was me after I paid off the loan, but slightly off beat.