Every person who has reached out to me individually since I started this blog has praised me for being so brave and open about what I’m going through. But what really makes it brave that I’m writing about my problems? Is it because we’re so used to only seeing everybody’s “highlight reel” but none of their “behind-the-scenes”? News flash, EVERYBODY has problems. Even that person who is smiling in every picture and gushing about their accomplishments has issues and insecurities of their own. So many people that you would never expect are dealing with their own shit. But social media might make it seem like you’re the only person in the world who abuses substances, or is going through heartbreak, or feels really depressed and anxious sometimes, or has family problems, etc. We live in a world now where it’s shocking and taboo to admit to people that we don’t have a perfect life. I am extremely appreciative of every single person who has gone out of their way to encourage me and show me their support through all this, but most importantly, I hope it makes people realize that it’s okay to not be “normal”.
For the longest time, my mom has always told me that “normal” isn’t a thing. What really is the standard for a word like that? Because everybody has their quirks, flaws, and things that make them different from the person next to them. I used to feel like I wouldn’t be “normal” if I didn’t drink. I thought, “Why does everybody else get to drink but I can’t?” Here’s a statistic…according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 16.3 million adults who are 18 or older had an Alcohol Use Disorder in 2014. 16.3 million people have drinking problems, but close-minded Lauren thought that I was the only weirdo who did. But in college, when you’re surrounded by people who think binge drinking and doing drugs is the coolest thing since sliced bread, it’s easy to feel like you’re an outsider if you’re sober. But for the record, if you couldn’t already tell, I’m done giving a shit about what people think. Growing up, my self-image was completely crafted by what other people thought or said about me. One positive comment could’ve boosted my ego for the day and one negative comment could’ve crushed my whole world. If someone said something mean to me, I took their word for it. I thought that their opinion of me was more important than what I thought of me. But living life like that with no control of how you feel about yourself and just depending on everybody else to decide that for you only leads to disaster, trust me. I never felt like I was living my own truth. I only did what I thought I was supposed to be doing instead of what really made me happy. When you recognize that quality in yourself, you start to recognize it in so many people around you. I know that I’m not alone, and I don’t want anyone else to feel like they are either.
So, what makes me happy? I love to read, write, paint, run, do yoga, watch Netflix, go on Pinterest and Tumblr, clean, hang out with my friends and family, chill with my cat, lay out by the pool, go to the beach, etc. But for the past 9 months, if you asked me what I actually did with most of my free time, it wouldn’t be that. I dedicated most of my time to slumping around my apartment, feeling sorry for myself, and drinking. I didn’t do the things that made me the happiest anymore and I wondered why I wasn’t happy. So I challenge you to do the things that make you happy, to reconnect with your hobbies and passions and spend some quality time with yourself.
On a happier note, today I got my first Journalism internship. It’s crazy how a couple days after I cut out such a toxic thing out of my life, something positive popped up. I’m hoping that more and more positive things unfold as I shed those negative feelings, mindsets, and habits that I’ve been carrying around for so long. I feel scared about making such a huge change sometimes. I feel like I’ve identified with being somebody who likes to drink, go out, go to parties, and be “fun” since high school, and now that’s all done…I’m not that girl anymore. It feels really weird and intimidating and daunting. But I find solace in knowing that I’ve seen so many signs and red flags and experienced so many close calls that have lead to this moment. That’s what makes me feel confident that I’m making the right decision.