love the word serenity. I'm a wordy kind of person where I love finding the perfect word to describe something, a word that embodies exactly what I am trying to express. And some of those incredible words are absolutely beautiful, like the word serenity.
People talk about the loud and noisy and busy world we live in all the time. Some people absolutely live for the noise, they relish it. And being an outgoing person myself, I admit myself that I love conversations and doing interesting things with different and unique people. Quite simply, I love people. But people are very loud. Even quiet, shy people are loud. Their silence and quietude is almost louder than noisy and talkative people like me. When you live life constantly thinking about the next thing and the next conversation and the next activity, you rarely stop to truly listen to yourself. If you believe like I do that there is a deep reason everybody is on this planet, then you understand like I do that everybody has something incredible to say and contribute but before we can share that with the world, we have to listen to us ourselves.
Though it's rather a contradiction, I find it quite easy to hide in conversation. I hide from myself and God as well in many things, including conversation. I prefer tuning into the busy world that tells me to do what I want instead of myself and my inner thoughts and consciousness which is telling me something that I don't want to hear: this planet that I both love and despise simultaneously is WRONG, that I am wrong to listen to it and throw myself into it.
And then we return to serenity, "the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled". I laughed the first time I read the definition. I'm only fifteen but oh to be UNTROUBLED again. I can't distinctly point out a time where I have been absolutely and completely untroubled since what I call the point of "awareness" in my life when I began to actually understand and comprehend and think about important things. For a time I didn't like the word serenity since it felt like an impossible ideal to reach. But truly, it isn't an impossible thing.
I am no expert in this (believe me), but I am working on ways to teach it to myself. I am such a goal oriented person, that I become terrified when I take a step back and realize I'm not in any way enjoying the present moment. Serenity is the way in which I've discovered I can do that. For the first time in my life, I search for serene moments and time where I am completely tuned in to myself and my thoughts. Doing that allows me to then write down my thoughts here.
Calmness is such an essential part of serenity. Find somewhere where you can truly be alone. Personally, I've found the best way to "tune in" is by focusing on the white noise that is always present, the sound of the waves, the air conditioner, the wind, perhaps the physical silence. I allow myself to focus on the first, most random thought train that rolls through my mind. And I dwell on it for a while. Sometimes our consciousness and our instinct (guided by God) gives us the best advice we could ask for. Without worrying or being anxiousness and just simply BEING and THINKING, you start understanding yourself more than you ever thought you could. It rarely occurs to us that at some level, we have to meet ourselves. We and God are the only two beings we absolutely have to live with for the rest of our lives, shouldn't we be able to know and understand them?
If anybody's ever been in a truly black mood before, then you'll understand what I mean when I begin describing this dark place I got myself into one evening. It's this all consuming vortex of loneliness and melancholy swirling with all your deepest fears. Lovely, right? Before you begin thinking that I need a therapist, I will warn you that this was brought about mostly by severe exhaustion. The thoughts that brought me down to this place were feeling let down. I felt let down by the people closest to me, the friends I trusted, the people that have raised me, the people who are related to me (disclaimer: I really do have wonderful friends and family. I was seriously in a very bad mood).
And so if you believe me that I truly do have wonderful friends and family, you're of course questioning why I would ever doubt these people that are in my life. As I often do, I blame society. I blame a culture that seeks unrealistic perfection. I am a huge believer in self improvement, while oppositely I absolutely despise unrealistic perfection. It's this addiction that never allows you to find happiness in the present moment as you constantly search and are looking for ways in which you aren't up to par and fixating on those aspects until they are fixed. I personally set perfection expectations of myself. It's a blessing in some ways, but in many more it's a curse. Having high expectations is completely healthy, but perfection expectations can slowly kill a person.
While I internalize these expectations, there are others that externalize them, focusing their perfectionistic ideals on those that surround them: looking for perfect relationships or perfect houses or perfect appearances. Unfortunately, my internalized expectations can sometimes lead to externalized ones where I expect and want the highest caliber of relationships possible when we live in a world that that becomes incredibly difficult.
When I look at other peoples relationships, I see the perfected picture that they show the world. This is of course makes me feel worse about myself and even worse about my own connections with others. And this is what led me to my lonely dark mood.
My personal way that I've come to deal with this is prayer, which is an entirely different topic in itself. And secondly, I change my outlook. I have to constantly remind myself to look for the good in others but not seek and demand the perfect. Though we all should strive for excellence, we are human. We aren't God so we aren't perfect. If I shouldn't be asking and seeking absolute perfection of myself, how can I possibly ask anybody else to do the same? So instead of demanding and expecting perfect people, perfect relationships, perfect things and getting ourselves into dark holes when we predictably don't get this, we simply have to remind ourselves to see the joy and most especially the good in what we have. And when people and relationships temporarily or permanently fail, we can't blame them when we ourselves could be failing right along beside them.
I read a quote today (randomly on a shopping bag) that said something along the lines of "your outlook on life is a reflection of the way you view yourself." If any of you have ever had a mind blowing moment, you'll understand my description of this revelation of mine as a small, personal epiphany. It's often small things that strike us the most. For me it's usually a random quote on Pinterest, or something that is casually said to me. I'm sure I will be discussing a number of other epiphanies like these in future blog posts, though you likely may have already thought similar things yourself.
To return back to the epiphany at hand, I certainly don't consider myself a negative person though I wouldn't go as far as to describe myself as a positive person at all times, as few if any at all are. That being said, I have a number of dissatisfactions in life which I often blame on my circumstances, rather than myself (egotistical, I know). The first time I read the much afore mentioned quote it didn't quite register with me until I really began to think about the problems in my life that can deter my naturally positive outlook into a negative view. My dissatisfaction with my family isn't necessarily because of any fault of theirs. Rather, the deeper root is due to my dissatisfactions with my own failures as a daughter and sister. It's a similar situation with my friendships. My occasionally negative views aren't due to any wrongdoings of my friends, but my faults in being a good friend.
So instead of blaming others for our personal problems that lead to negative life outlooks, we really should be looking to ourselves and bettering our own actions in order to improve the way we view the world around us.
I discovered weird markings on myself the other day. Convinced I had cancer and the end was drawing near for me, I told my friend that I was pretty sure I was dying. When she saw the marks she just laughed and told me with a smile, "Claire , those are stretch marks." Now this didn't assure me much more because I had always considered stretch marks to be something that happened to women after they had kids, or to "older people". She then proceeded to show me that she had stretch marks herself.
It's funny how we consider these physical reminders of growth a negative thing. We hide them, we are ashamed of them. We want to appear that we have perfect lives, and that we remain the same happy, beautiful, intelligent, creative, kind people all the time. Stretch marks don't fit this facade that we show the world. And so we hide them, as we do all the things that are a reminder to us of our uniqueness, our personal identity, our flaws, and the ways we've changed from what we ourselves or others would like us to be.
Sometimes growing up is painful. But it's something we like to hide. Except sometimes for our closest friends, we don't want to admit it when in the process of discovering our identity that we struggle, constantly and often. Nobody stays exactly the same forever, at least if some people do I've never met them. But the process of stretching, reaching for our goals hurts. Anyone who has done physical stretching before or after running or playing a game understands the uncomfortable, slightly painful, yet welcome feeling that comes from actually stretching our limbs. Growing up is kind of like that too. It's painful, but at the same time we know that through the pain is something good.
Stretch marks are a reminder of our physical growth, but in a way they are also reminders of the continuous growth of our minds and our hearts. It's a "blemish" on our skin, while really they are the markings that tell us that change can also be good and beautiful though it may not appear that way at first.