For the Bad Days

There are good days, bad days, forgettable days, memorable days, meh days, yay days, days you dread for months, and days you wish would last just shy of forever. You could fill a whole Dr. Seuss book with ‘em, a la Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish…you get it. Insert a metaphor about how life is a patchwork quilt of feelings and experiences that allow you to grow and shape you as a person yadda, yadda. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to maintain that balance between the good and the bad.

So, if you’re like me, upsetting that balance feels like a failure. By my own definition, I’ve been failing for a while now. The bad days have seamlessly turned into bad weeks, which have grown into bad months. There are lots of phrases for it, and I’ve been tossing them around for so long that I’m going to have to start to get creative: “going through something,” “having a tough time,” “in a rut,” “not feeling myself.” For a myriad of reasons and non-reasons, I’m unhappy, and it’s making my days a little rougher.

I feel pretty uncomfortable just throwing that into the black hole of the internet, but I owe it to you guys to be real when it comes to the bad days. It’s easy to have a blog and chronically over-share when everything’s shiny and wonderful, and I generally function at a shiny and wonderful level. My day-to-day is filled with shiny and wonderful things! But sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes it takes a heck of a lot more than shiny to pull ourselves out of holes. That doesn’t make us weak, but human.

I clicked on an article the other day that was designed for current rut-dwellers like myself. It presented a list of “ways to fall back in love with your life.” At first I was all like “wow stranger, way to steal that #showerthoughts idea I had for a blog but never actually said aloud or acted on, hate you.” And then I actually read their recommendations. Some highlights were “learn to forgive” and “be kinder to yourself,” which are, admittedly, definitely on my to-do list…right next to one hundred other idealistic and currently unattainable goals for future me. This article left me wondering, where are the baby steps? Where’s the gold star for making it to class, or getting out of your pjs, or eating a vegetable for the first time in weeks? Now’s the time to take on some molehills, not climb mountains.

So this one goes out to all of you staring down a long line of bad days, whether you go to Hopkins, are coping with the stress generated by the college admissions process, or are just looking for some ways to get by. I’m no expert, of course. Just a college student with an online platform, ~faking it until I make it~. Feel free to join me.

6 (Doable) Ways to Fall Back in Love with Your Life Survive The Bad Days

  1. Indulge in some minimal wallowing. Hear that? That’s the sound of me immediately losing my credibility. You’re supposed to live it up! Seize the day! Do the thing! But pretending like everything’s peaches and cream is just as unhealthy in the long-term. So let yourself feel the feelings, at least for a little while. Have a cathartic cry, preferably whilst hugging someone who loves you a lot. It helps.
  2. Cut back on social media. You know what doesn’t help? Being constantly plugged in and bombarded by the lives of other people. It’s a continuous source of blaring stimulation that you really don’t need. Detachment is peaceful and quiet. Deleting the Facebook app off of my phone for a while did wonders for my psyche. And don’t follow anything or anyone who brings you down.
  3. Laugh. Whenever you can. I try to work a little Louis CK and Amy Schumer stand-up into my day, even if it’s just in short bursts. You know I don’t mess with science, but I definitely learned in Intro Psych that boosting your mood can be as easy as laughing and smiling. It may not seem like much, but there’s no way out of the hole without a few giggles.
  4. Frequently treat yourself to pick-me-ups. For me, it’s taking a hot shower and belting along to Broadway Showstoppers Pandora, or marathon-ing old Tim Burton movies. Do them often, plan ahead so you have something to look forward to, and always follow through.
  5. Embrace routines. When everything’s awful and your brain is full of crazy, turn to structure. Get up, study, eat, and go to bed at the same time every day. Organizing and imposing order on the things you can control feels so stabilizing when what you can’t control seems unbearable.
  6. Hold on tight to lovely people. Those who stick around through the bad days are yours for life. Make time for them, fill your days with them, allow them to be the uplifting, healing forces that they are.
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I know none of that is earth-shattering. It’s not supposed to be. I’ve found there’s no art to getting by, just a series of little choices I make every day that get me to tomorrow. We’re doing this little-engine-that-could style.

My favorite commentary on happiness comes from the king of depressing Russian literature, Leo Tolstoy: “If you want to be happy, be.” Work on that whole being thing, and happiness will follow.

Until then, keep on keeping on.

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