I thought about writing this and I talked myself out of it, a lot. No one wants to expose their weakness to the world, but I wouldn’t be the blogger I want to be if I couldn’t be relatable.
I have always struggled with mental health in my past. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and spiraling that I understood what mental health even was. Much like any college student, I resorted to alcohol as a scapegoat from my problems. It was my poisonous liberation from inhibitions. I’ve had to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol many times in my life, especially when I was in a constant state of losing my things; friends, items, and my dignity, nearly every weekend.
Somewhere and somehow, I grew. I found a new relationship with alcohol and I constantly work to keep that relationship as it is. Along the way, I started channeling my time into changing my inner narrative, focusing on self-empowerment rather than self-hate. I found strength in who I was, I built foundations in my own body. My favorite quote ever that I always think of when I find myself struggling is by Rupi Kaur.
“It was when I stopped searching for home within others and lifted the foundations of home within myself I found there were no roots more intimate than those between a mind and body that have decided to be whole.” – Rupi Kaur
I realized I no longer needed anyone but myself to be happy. Happiness was not in a location, a perfect job or another human. Happiness is within all of us. I stopped trying to be liked by others and started trying to like myself. I had always had things I wanted to be more of and less of. Less selfish, less reckless, less shy. More kind, more intentional, more poised. My problem is, I was never changing those aspects of myself because I was regarding it in a negative way. Why can’t I do this? Why do you suck, AJ? Why can’t you get one thing right? You deserve to fail, you’ll never become anything of worth.
The day I decided to regard myself with respect was the day that I saw real change in my person. It’s cliché to say that our worst enemy is ourselves, but it’s true. We will never change anything about ourselves with negative inner-sentiment. I’ve become such a self-love junky because the moment I realized inner-strength it was like waking up out of a dream and seeing the world in a different way. Suddenly I was making healthy decisions for myself. I was constantly in touch with my emotions and feelings, practicing mindfulness. The way I describe it to others is like this: self-love and strength is the feeling you get in your chest of pure ecstasy, pure bliss like you get when you fall in love. But unlike falling in love, which is a joy bridled with a constant state of fear that this “won’t be the one” or the person “doesn’t feel the same way,” falling in love with yourself is a joy untouched by fear because you will never leave yourself.
I write this because I came to Europe to for a few reasons. 1) to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone 2) to see the world 3) to empower other humans and spread love. I’ll admit it, I’m the girl at the bar that is giving powerful speeches about self-improvement, but that’s who I am. I am owning it. I have had so many women thank me and tell me that I’ve changed their perspective in just one conversation. When they say that to me I think that maybe I’m doing what I am meant to. Maybe I’m making a good mark on the world. Maybe in a time of pain and hate, in a time where I accidentally stumble upon the site of a horrific attack on others lives, in a time where everyone feels unwanted, in a time where women are still in horribly abusive relationships and think its normal, I can make a small change. No matter how small it may be. Maybe I can be a little light in so much darkness.
So why am I sitting here writing this very long and truthful blog? Because I don’t want to feel like a flake. I preach and preach about self-improvement and yet I’m starting to drink too much. I’m starting to wish I had someone who would hold my hand and walk through a park in Berlin with me. I’m starting to spiral. I knew coming here was going to be difficult and I was afraid to lose myself. I think I just need to say it. I think I need to write this and share this with you all so that I can begin again. Set backs are normal and mistakes are normal. Social media is a façade that travel is blissful, that moving abroad is easy and that all that matters is cute pictures in cute clothes with good food. Most travel bloggers only show the cohesive filtered photos that make travel seem dreamlike. That’s not what Young and Bold is. I want to be honest with you all because I want Young and Bold to be an authentic account of what it’s like to move to a new country. I want it to be an authentic account of being human.
This journey is not without its challenges. But that’s okay. I am ready for these challenges. I will grow from this and I will enjoy every minute I have. Please don’t get me wrong. I love being here, I love what I’m doing and I’m happy, but that doesn’t mean I’m not facing battles of my own on the inside. I want to share this with you in hopes that you can relate. That you can find inspiration in my words for whatever battles you’re facing. Don’t give up on yourself and always speak to yourself with respect. Start putting down roots in yourself, define your goals and take the first step. If you are feeling inspired, share your story in the comments section. You’d be surprised how vulnerability inspires others to be strong.
Let’s end this with another Rupi Kaur quote, shall we?
“It has been one of the greatest and most difficult years of my life. I learned everything is temporary, moments, feelings, people, flowers. I learned love is about giving, everything. And letting it hurt. I learned vulnerability is always the right choice because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft. I learned all things come in twos. life and death. pain and joy. salt and sugar. me and you. It is the balance of the universe. It has been a year of hurting so bad but living so good, making friends out of strangers, making strangers out of friends. learning mint chocolate chip ice-cream will fix just about everything, and for the pains it can’t there will always be my mother’s arms. We must learn to focus on warm energy. always. soak our limbs in it and become better lovers to the world. For if we can’t learn to be kinder to each other how will we ever learn to be kinder to the most desperate parts of ourselves.”
Side Note: The art featured in this post is by Banksy, an anonymous street artist that uses art to make social commentary.