Monday, April 7, 2014

Once young, always young

I was emailing back and forth with one of my reader friends over the weekend when he said something that really jumped out at me.

"Once young, always young."

We were talking about the weirdness and swiftness of getting older (I just turned 22, he just turned 23), and I asked him if he felt like an adult yet. I expected him to say something like, "Of course! I mean, I'm 23. It's about time I start feeling like an adult. Don't you??"

I guess I have this weird assumption that everyone on the face of the planet that is past the age of 21 (except me) feels and acts like a fully functioning adult...Silly, silly me.

Being young and being taken care of is what we know from the moment we're thrust into the world. We're born with the instinct to rely on people and screw up and be vulnerable/innocent. Growing up is probably the hardest transition anyone can make (even for the people who make it look easy).

We are going to learn, re-learn, and make the same mistakes over and over again. We are going to want people to hold our hands, reassure us, and take care of us when we're sick, sad or confused. We are going to call our mothers and grandmothers for cooking advice and rant and complain about things we "should" be able to handle on our own. We are going to experience feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, fear and loneliness. We are going to get excited about ice cream and Disneyland and old Nickelodeon cartoons. We are going to forget how to spell "necessarily." We are going to Google the difference between a mutual fund, a bond, and a stock investment.

I'm starting to think that none of us ever really "grow up." Growing up is equivalent to aging (obviously). It continues to happen whether we like it or not, and it never stops. We age and age until we die. Just like we're never done aging, we're never done growing up. I continually make the mistake of thinking that being a grown-up is a destination I have to reach by a certain age. It's not. There are people in their 50s and 60s that struggle with the exact same things I do.

We may grow, change and transform over the years, but we're still essentially the same person we came into the world as. Maybe we're all little kids on the inside---little kids longing for love, attention, guidance and stability.

And I suppose growing up doesn't mean you have to be a grown-up.

<3 Madison  


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Feeling like a victim

I have a habit of feeling like a victim of my life circumstances, whether big or small. I always hear about how you should take responsibility for everything that happens to you, and while that can be insightful advice at times, I must say that sometimes it makes me pretty grumpy.

I prefer a slightly different approach to feelings of failure or victimization.

Get angry.
Be hurt.
Eat Zebra cakes.
Think about giving up.
Decide to keep going.

Rinse and repeat with each sucky situation in life.

It is true that while we can't control what happens to us, we can control how we respond to it. But that doesn't mean that we should plaster on a "happy trooper" face when we actually feel like spitting in a belligerent person's juice or posting a lengthy, annoyed rant on Facebook (and I advise against actually doing either of those things, but it's okay to feel like it sometimes).

Life isn't fair. People will rip you off, employers will change their minds, friends will leave, mother nature will shit storm on your plans, strangers will judge you, people with seemingly less talent will succeed more than you...The list goes on.

It's okay to feel like a victim sometimes. It's okay to get upset when life takes a hard and unexpected left. It's okay to feel like throwing in the towel twelve times a day.

I guess I'm just tired of feeling bad about feeling bad.

<3 Madison    

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I've been having some super unsettling dreams lately---not going to school naked, falling off a cliff, or being chased by a serial rapist and/or murderer unsettling, but unsettling in a more realistic way. I've been having dreams that are making me hyper-aware of my insecurities, flaws, and basically everything that I frequently find myself ignoring and deflecting---dreams that open up that little box in the darkest corner of my subconscious and let the contents of that little box go nuts inside my brain while I'm in my most vulnerable state.

It's an awful way to start your day. Who wants to wake up with a heart or mind full of anger, depression or fear? When you wake up with those feelings, they have a way of following you around and butting into your day-to-day routines and interactions.

"It was just a dream," most people will say. But what if your dreams have glimmers of truth?

Maybe you had a dream about your significant other breaking up with you, and you wake up with the reminder that you don't feel good enough for him or her.

Maybe you had a dream about your father throwing insults at you, and you wake up with the knowledge that he already does and will more than likely continue to do so.

Maybe you had a dream about a bully threatening you, and you wake up with the fear that threats probably aren't too far behind the bullying.

Maybe you had a dream about being fired from your job, and you wake up with your already existing feelings of professional inadequacy.

I'm actually really fascinated by these types of dreams. It's like our brain, heart or soul is trying to talk to us about the one thing we choose to ignore and distract ourselves from. It's like the back contents of our mind shoot to the front the second we put our guard down. It's like a little cry for help, a planting of a seed the size of an invisible elephant, or maybe just a cruel little reminder of what we feel the greatest fear and insecurity towards in our lives.

Either way, I think it's time to start paying attention while I'm awake.

<3 Madison      

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Miscellaneous thoughts (Part 10)

~ While I don't think it's a good idea to be too busy to have time for yourself and others, I am starting to understand the value of hard work and busyness and why it is so appealing to so many people. Being busy keeps you out of your head, gives you something to feel good and productive about, and makes you appreciate your downtime more. Therefore, I am making a conscious effort to stay a little busier.

~ I read the following quote in a blog post the other day and it really jumped out at me: "Have you ever noticed how after a long walk, a good visit with a friend, or a great yoga class, you feel really pretty? And when things are super stressful and terrible, our clothes don't fit and we hate our hair?" What happens in our external environment can greatly affect how we feel and what we believe about ourselves. Do you really think you're a worthless loser, or did you just have a bad day? Do you really believe nobody loves you, or are you just upset about the stranger who gave you a dirty look at Starbucks? Challenge your negative beliefs the next time they pop up. Chances are, you're just feeling really stressed or having a bad day. Negative thoughts and emotions are fleeting. Don't give them so much power.

~ Some things just aren't fair. You have every right to piss and moan about it, but it still won't change the fact that some things just aren't fair. But if you need someone to complain to, I'm here.

~ You can't change certain people, but you can change the way you react to them and the role you allow them to play in your life.

~ If something seems too good to be true, it might be. I'm not going to say that's always the case because it certainly isn't. Sometimes things are really wonderful and there's no catch at all. But if something seems really, really, really too good to be true, be careful and don't get too excited.

~ Listen to "I Believe" by Christina Perri the next time you feel like giving up on something important. It is quite possibly the most inspiring and lyrically powerful song I've ever heard in my life. We all need something to turn to when times are tough.

~ The best remedy for uncertainty is staying present. Don't focus on what may or may not happen 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, 5 months, or 5 years from now. Focus on what is happening right now and how you choose to respond to it.

<3 Madison      

Monday, February 24, 2014

My manifesto

"Manifesto" is a pretty word. It sounds so empowering and official. Given that I generally have a lot on my mind at one time and don't always feel like narrowing those things down to one specific thing, a manifesto seems like an appropriate thing for me to write. It will be like my "miscellaneous thoughts" posts, only bigger and better.

But first, an introduction to what inspired it:

Being in my early twenties is one of the easiest and hardest things in the world. I can be young and take it easy, but there's still a lot of pressure to grow up and learn how to stand on my own two feet. It's an adjustment period. It's a growth period. It's a time of learning about myself. It's a time of navigating the battlefield of head vs. heart. It's a time of helping people through my experiences and letting other people help me through theirs. I'm both a kid and an adult through the eyes of others. I've experienced soul singing bliss and debilitating self-doubt.

I have a feeling 2014 is going to be one of the best and most challenging years of my life. I am turning 22. I am traveling more. I am finally reaching for a few of my wildest dreams. I am trying to be a better friend. I am trying to choose love and trust over fear and uncertainty. I am asking myself some tough questions about life, love, money and work. I am trying to remind myself for the umpteenth time that change is the only constant in life and that I will never learn and grow without it. I am rediscovering the meaning of balance. I've started caring less and less what people think of me, which used to seem like an unfathomable feat. I've been doing a better job at keeping my intentions clear and eliminating the word "should" from my vocabulary. My heart has softened, and my skin has toughened.

So without further ado, here is my 2014/early twenties/Journey of a Soul Searcher manifesto:

I propose to stay true to my passions in life, even if it means being behind my friends, having anxiety attacks when I look at my income, or sacrificing what I want for what I can tolerate.

I propose to be patient and let my journey unfold naturally.

I propose to always consider myself as equal to everyone else.

I propose to work on keeping my priorities straight.

I propose to dedicate more time and energy to building my career each day.

I propose to connect with bloggers, readers and clients more often and not just when I have a request for them.

I propose to follow and work for my dreams instead of just writing them down and waiting for them to come knocking at my door.

I propose to get serious about personal finance and nurture my relationship with money.

I propose to keep this blog authentic and write it for the same reasons I've always written it.

I propose to try new things.

I propose to keep my heart and head open.

I propose to do the things I want or need to do without always feeling the need to justify my reasons for wanting or needing to do them.

I propose to choose happiness over popularity.

I propose to stop placing age limits and timelines on my goals and accomplishments.

I propose to understand and help other people understand that there is no end point in life until we die. There is no destination. We are never finished becoming who we are.

<3 Madison      

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

7 ways to motivate yourself when you're running on empty

To be honest, I sort of pulled this post idea out of thin air because I started to feel guilty about the fact that we're nearly halfway through February and I haven't blogged since January.

I generally hear from a lot of people who are seeking motivation and encouragement to follow their dreams or simply get through their week without wallowing in self-hatred or ruining their relationships with others. I understand that need for motivation and encouragement because I frequently seek it myself.

Although I'm certainly no expert on motivational techniques, the following ideas usually work for me when I feel like sitting around and doing nothing all day:

1. Make a conscious decision to show up for yourself.

You don't have to be super perfect or super successful at whatever you're doing, whether it's writing an article or planning a trip. All you have to do is be willing to show up, regardless of the results you cultivate. If you don't show up for yourself, nothing will happen. If you do, you'll get somewhere. It might not be exactly where you want to be, but it's better than nothing.

2. Read this. (Shameless plug)

I wrote this post a year ago. Today's topic reminded me of it.

3. Take a break.

Don't overwhelm yourself. If your brain is fried or you feel like slamming your face against a brick wall, it's time to take a break. It's okay to step away from whatever you're doing long enough to eat, bathe, take a walk, or watch a few episodes of your favorite show. Chances are, you will feel more refreshed when you return.

4. Turn off all distractions.

Turn off your phone. Turn off the TV. Turn off your music. Stop reading the pointless celebrity gossip stories that are trending on Yahoo. Stop checking your Twitter and Facebook every five minutes. If you're trying to get something done, distractions will make it nearly impossible.     

5. Start small. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by a task or conflict, remember to start small. You're not Superman (or Wonder Woman). Take baby steps, and don't expect yourself to accomplish everything in one fell swoop.   

6. Check in with yourself.  

If you have zero motivation to do something, it's a good idea to ask yourself why you're even doing it. There are some things you simply don't have to do. The next time you're stressing out over a lack of motivation to do something, ask yourself, "Is this something that absolutely has to be done?" If the answer is no, don't do it. What a relief!

7. Be okay with not being okay. 

You will have days where you just hate everything and feel uncomfortably discouraged. There's no magic formula or cure for these days. We all have them sometimes. If you beat yourself up for having a bad day, you will only feel worse. Sometimes all you need is a little self-compassion and a reminder that tomorrow might be better.

<3 Madison

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Choosing what resonates with you

As an avid Internet user/blog reader/people pleaser, I get fed a lot of information and a lot of opinions on a daily basis. I try to look for the truth is almost everything I hear, which is a terrible habit now that I think about it. Sometimes I'll hear something that makes me feel really uncomfortable or insecure. My head will say, "Well that has to be true. A professional/a more prominent member of the blogosphere/your mother/a famous person said it." And then my gut will say, "No no no, I disagree, I disagree. This doesn't feel right!" And yet I still adopt other people's beliefs as my own until I don't know what I believe anymore.

We all have views, opinions and beliefs about things. It doesn't necessarily mean that anyone is right or wrong. I've been trying to make more of an effort to really decide what resonates with me versus what doesn't. If I don't stay true to my own views, I tend to lose myself. I become a mindless follower of everyone else. I lie to myself. I get terribly confused and terribly frustrated.

So from this day forward, I propose that each of you choose the views, opinions and beliefs that resonate with you. It's okay if your best friend, partner, grandmother, or goldfish disagrees with you. They have their way of life, and you have yours.

Some people may believe that you have to do something big in order to matter. Others may believe that simply being alive and happy is enough, regardless of what you do or don't do.

Some people may believe in saying yes more often. Others may believe in saying no more often.

Some people may believe in playing the field and dating lots of different people. Others may believe in playing for keeps or not playing at all.

Some people may believe in living off of green juice and kale chips. Others may believe in giving yourself permission to indulge in cupcakes and tater tots.

Some people may believe that feeling beautiful means wearing hair extensions and fake eyelashes. Others may believe that feeling beautiful means throwing their hair back in a bun and being okay with their aversion to make-up.

Some people may believe in constantly fixing themselves. Others may believe in accepting themselves just as they are at any given moment.

Some people may believe in following a traditional path in life. Others may believe in marching to the beat of a different drum.

Whatever your beliefs, views or opinions, own them. You don't have to stray from your path just because a seemingly cooler/more experienced person says you should.

Cheers to being yourself...unapologetically.

<3 Madison