The only place to go, is UP

Hey there! I really appreciate you taking the time to read our blog, it means so much to me! Justin and I focus a lot on positivity and mindset and I know sometimes it may get annoying. But I think that it is so important to spread positivity, and offer words of encouragement and support because it wasn’t that long ago that I was in a very dark place. There is so much stigma around mental illness in society today, but with 20% of adults experiencing some form of mental illness, it appears that just like teaching sex-ed in high schools -> if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. Right?

So I have taken it upon myself, as a mission of some sort, to share my struggles with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, toxic relationships and anything else that I have experienced in my life that I feel others might be experiencing too. With the hope to do everything possible in my power to reach out to those who are hurting and let them know that they are not alone. So, with that I ask you (if you choose to consider reading) to please take a minute and let the people in your life know that you care about them (including yourself) and that you are there for them. Because even the happiest of people may be crying themselves to sleep at night.

The other day I received an email reminding me that I had opened my online journal account 4.5 years ago and made my first and only entry on that day. And When I logged in to delete my account, this journal entry opened up and naturally I decided to read what I had written:

November 27, 2014

November 27, 2014

Reading my own thoughts and feelings from so long ago really just breaks my heart. And it makes me so sad thinking about the fact that no one ever stopped to ask me if I was okay or if I needed someone to talk to. I have always considered myself as someone who is very good at interpreting other people’s emotional states and feeling what they are feeling. I was always more concerned with how other people felt and how I could make them feel better.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that not everyone felt this way. I was always doing everything for everyone else, never asking for anything in return because it made me happy making other people happy. And I figured that by them being happy that was enough, but I often felt like I put in way more effort than I received and often was left feeling unworthy and taken advantage of.

Anytime I tried to talk about my feelings (and let me tell you as a teenage girl with raging hormones, divorced parents and two step families -> I had a lot of them) I was more often than not met with “you’re overreacting” or “you are misinterpreting what they are doing/saying, because they would never do that.” And I was left feeling even more unworthy after speaking my feelings than I felt before I had said anything. So I learned that it hurt me less (or so I thought) to just keep those feelings inside. I lived for so long with the belief that my feelings did not matter and that the only thing I gained from sharing how I felt was more pain. It was less that I was overreacting, than it was to hear from someone else.

All I ever wanted was for someone to care about and  validate my feelings and let me know they were there for me. It seems so simple, but often times people are listening to respond and not listening to understand. They were so focused on fixing things and forgot to ensure me that my feelings were understood and they cared. And it only takes so many times before instead of “they would never do that” you hear “your feelings don’t matter, so I stopped trying to ask for help. I now have come to realize that the only person who has the right to decide how you feel is yourself, YOU are the only one. Someone can decide that they didn’t intend to hurt your feelings or that their actions/words may have been communicated, but they have no right to tell you how you feel.

Unfortunately keeping everything bottled up inside wasn’t something I could sustain for forever, and I was slowly reaching my breaking point. I went from being able to live my life by putting forth a facade that I was happy to withdrawing from everyone around me because: 1) I didn’t want to explode all these negative hurt feelings onto some unsuspecting person and 2) I didn’t believe I was worthy of anyone’s time or attention. But, when I finally felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, not for one more day, not for one more second something inside me said “don’t give up.” In that one moment, it became so clear to me that the only person that I ever needed to be there for me was myself. I needed to believe that my feelings mattered. I needed to believe I was worth something. And I decided that I wasn’t going to live another moment on this Earth if I was going to continue to feel this way and I knew I had to decide whether I wanted to stand up for myself or not.

And over time I have crawled out of that deep dark hole I had once believed I had been destined to live inside for my entire life. And as sad as it makes me to see physical evidence of the feelings I once had, it makes me so damn proud of myself for choosing to stand up for myself and get out of that toxic place. So proud that I have worked through all that pain and hurt. I want to be that person that I needed, that person who is there to help others find their strength. Yes, the only person you ever need to validate your feelings is yourself, and everything that you have ever needed is inside of you but you are not alone on this journey.

I may not know you personally, but if you are currently or are ever, feeling like you are worthless, helpless, stuck, numb or whatever it is that you are feeling. I want you to know that I will always be here for you. I am not telling you this because I want your pity or because I want attention. I am sharing this because if the person I was when I wrote that journal entry was to stumble across something like this, I would hope that she would feel slightly less alone.

And I’m also writing this for you all because regardless of your mental health, past or present, I want you to know that you are important and you are enough. I want you to know your life is worth living and realize that you want to live it, and live it to the fullest capacity.I want you to know that your feelings are valid and you deserve to be heard. And I also want you to know that it is going to be hard, nothing in life comes easy, but you don’t have to do this alone. Things won’t always be this way, you didn’t come this far to only come this far -> you just have to have a little faith. You have survived 100% of your worst days thus far and that is something to be so proud of. You are strong. You are a warrior. You can do this.

~ Kylee

Goals and Maintaining Motivation Year-Round

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I learned the importance of goals back in high school track and field. My coach taught us to develop goals regularly and constantly find ways to achieve them. It was a great lesson because it took my very basic goals such as “set a new personal record” to “I am going to pole vault 15 feet by May”. It is very important to be specific when creating goals. I just recently read in the book, The Compound Effect, a quote by Paul Meyer that said, “If you are not making the progress that you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined”. I think this statement really hits it home. Clear and specific goals are necessary to make regular and consistent progress.

Specific goals also help you avoid falling into the trap of “working really hard but accomplishing nothing” that we sometimes fall in to. It is a disappointing place where you feel like you’re doing so much but not really getting anywhere. If you’re ever feeling like you are in that place, it is because your work is not focused or you are trying to work on too many things at once. It is better to go all in on one thing and do it well than half-ass ten things and make no progress with any of them. Kylee and I went to go see Made for More by Rachel Hollis last night (author of Girl, Wash Your Face) and Rachel made a metaphor that I really liked. She made the comparison of throwing a boulder into a lake versus throwing in bunch of small rocks—which one makes more of a ripple? By going all in on one thing and making progress in that one area, your motivation and drive that you get from that one area will naturally spread to other areas of your life and you will naturally make progress everywhere. Rachel’s content is mainly directed towards women but the message is universal and I really enjoyed it. We will be hearing her speak at the coaching summit that we are going to this summer and now we are even more excited to go! Ladies—definitely check her stuff out. Guys—buy your girlfriend one of her books or something.

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People often find a little extra motivation around the new year so this is an excellent time to capitalize on your newfound drive! To make your motivation actually last more than the first two weeks of the new year, you need to create a plan for each of your goals. By making a plan and accomplishing goals regularly, you can maintain that motivation year-round. The plans need to only be as complex as the goals. Even for simple goals though, I would recommend coming up with three things you can do to accomplish them. For example: if your goal is to cut out soda from your diet, you might stop drinking soda (obviously), come up with an alternative to drink when you crave soda (tea), and keep track of how many days you’ve gone without soda. If you give in to your cravings, document what you had and why you ended up having it. Writing down why you gave in is a good exercise to do because you’ll usually end up finding the reason why you gave in to be ridiculous and you’ll be less likely to do it again. Most importantly, if you do give in, don’t beat yourself up over it, write down your reasoning, and just get right back on the horse. Failing is just a part of the process. The only reason you can’t accomplish your goal is if you give up and you’re less likely to give up if you have a plan! Another great quote from The Compound Effect is “a goal without a plan is just a fantasy”. Don’t let your goals just be fantasies. Go write them down, make them specific and quantifiable, create a plan, and please read The Compound Effect.

Being Adaptable and Staying Positive

I have changed course many times in the last 5 or 6 years since beginning college. I started college at Paradise Valley Community College to run track and study business. I knew it was common for people to switch majors throughout college, but I did not realize how difficult it could be to decide on one. Throughout my two years at PVCC, I fluctuated between business, exercise science, mathematics, and eventually landed on teaching English. I was able to decide on teaching English because I reframed how I was approaching my major. I was struggling to pick a major because I did not know what I wanted to do with a degree once I got it. I decided that I might be better off picking a job and then going back and finding an appropriate major that would set me up for success in that career field.

            I knew that I wanted to see the world and I knew that if money wasn’t a factor that I would be a teacher. So, I boiled it down to wanting to teach, wanting to make money, and wanting to travel. After doing some research I found that teaching English abroad would be the perfect way to achieve all three. I could make a decent wage, live abroad, and teach! My plan, while abroad, was to also study the education systems I taught in so that I could eventually come back and figure out how to help our education system here. What I didn’t realize at the time I made this plan, was that my motivations were backwards.

Celebrating finishing college before going right back to college!

Celebrating finishing college before going right back to college!

            When I transferred to Arizona State University to begin working on my degree in secondary education and began interning in schools, I realized just how poor our education here is. At first, this reinforced my desire to go abroad. I was just going to steer clear of the craziness that is going on here and head out. But, in my last semester of the program during my student teaching, I became interested in graduate school. With graduate school, I would still be sticking around for a while longer, postpone my teaching a little bit, and setting myself up for bigger possibilities for a career in education. Still with the teaching English abroad plan in mind however, I applied for a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MTESOL).

            I realized upon starting the semester in the MTESOL program, that MTESOL is a much more research-based degree based on the theory behind second language acquisition and not necessarily a teaching degree. This realization did two things for me: one, I decided that second language acquisition, while interesting, was not really a career path that I wanted to dedicate myself to, and two, I realized I have an interest in research. So, now I have switched majors at the Associate level, the Bachelor level, and now the Masters level. I have decided to switch out of the MTESOL program and am now in the application process for getting into a program called Learning Sciences.

            Learning Sciences is a little more focused on educational research and considers the systems behind learning in a variety of contexts. I think it is a cool degree because it goes beyond just education in the classroom and studies what learning looks like in other environments and systems as well. I excited for yet another change of pace and can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in a program that I feel is better aligned with my motivations. I have come to realize that I do not need to wait to try help our education system in the future when I can get started on it now.

            Ultimately, the point of this post is not to go on and on about the different kinds of graduate degrees that ASU offers, the point I really want to illustrate is that it is completely fine to decide that you don’t like something and switch gears. You can do all this planning and have it all laid out and the suddenly something new enters your world and changes your perspective on things. Or, you might get started and have an epiphany a few weeks into your new graduate program that perhaps you did not fully understand your own motivations. Whatever happens, it is important to be adaptable. Destinations change so it is important to enjoy the journey. I can view my change in programs as an expensive mistake, or I can view it as a valuable lesson. The choice is mine, and mine alone. I know I can adapt and roll with the punches and I am good at finding the positive outlook in any situation. Having a positive mindset is the key to being adaptable. I believe that if you can develop a positive mindset, you can handle anything. If you are stressed out or unsure about what you are doing or where you are going, you have the power to change all of that. Even if you don’t know what road you are on, know that it is the road for you.

 

3 Quotes to Ponder:

I’m a big fan of quotes and phrases as a source of motivation and a way to stay positive!

I’m a big fan of quotes and phrases as a source of motivation and a way to stay positive!

 “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose on thought over another”

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”

 

Comment below how many times you have switched majors/careers or one of your strategies to stay positive!