Warning: plenty of F-bombs up ahead!
Sometimes, often actually, I forget that I am powerful.
I lose hope. I give into depression, anxiety and the million nagging questions that scream through my head demanding to know what hell I am doing with my life.
I’ve traveled all over the world and have gone on long silent meditation retreats looking for solace. I’ve seen therapists and psychiatrists. I’ve swallowed both antidepressants and alcohol as wishful remedies.
Through all this, I’ve learned that as much as my thoughts can cause me pain, they can also lead to my salvation. I’ve cultivated my own faith based on five positive messages. Call them mantras, personal life mottos or supplications to the divine. In any case, these messages, along with my best intentions, have helped me find courage and strength during difficult times.
1. Accelerate through the chaos.
I learned this mantra while studying theatre in college. From an acting point of view, it is about being able to stay focused on the moment as it unfolds, despite a gawking audience and a co-star who’s screwed up their lines. A good actor is able to forget the moronic fight she had with her equally moronic boyfriend just hours before the show. She is able to move gracefully through the chaos of the outside world in order to connect totally to the character she is embodying.
My acting days are long behind me but this mantra echoes through my life all the time. After all, as the grand William Shakespeare proclaimed, “All the world’s a stage” and we constantly face the challenge of staying with ourselves as mania unfolds around us.
When life presents me stress, anxiety and pressures, this phrase helps remind me that there are things in this world I cannot control, should not ignore and will never be able to change.
I must accept these truths in order not to lose myself in the madness.
2. I am a fucking unicorn.
The first elephant journal article I ever read just happened to be one of the few pieces of online writing that has irrevocably changed my life. I won’t explain too much about it, since Bryonie Wise says it best herself in “I’m a F*cking Unicorn. (Or 10 Things to do when you get fired for the first time).”
I stumbled upon Bryonie’s words during a time in my life when I felt an overwhelming sense that I was repressing things within myself for the sake of fitting in. This, my friends, is a painful, painful way of living.
These thoughts might always be a struggle for me. I still sometimes feel alienated by my surroundings or like I don’t belong, but it is immensely helpful to consider that perhaps the reason why I don’t quite fit in is because I am a magical, mystical unicorn and everyone else is horse, mule or a common ass (pun intended).
This saying does more than help me remember to stay true to myself. It makes me feel pride in who I am. I am a fucking unicorn.
3. Deep inside me, there is an inner reservoir of vitality.
I have one of my long time yoga teachers to thank for this gem of a mantra. My teacher introduced this saying into my life during the middle of a difficult asana flow sequence that had many of us sweating, gasping for breath and feeling like we were going to crumble into the earth below us. Her words kept me going.
There are moments when I feel like things are just too damn hard. That I am stuck. That I have too little energy to pull myself up and out of the rut I’ve been holed up in. And then I remember: I am here. I am alive because deep inside of me, I have this reserved pool of strength that will always be available for me to drink from, no matter how parched and tired I get.
Here is my advice to those who suffer from depression and don’t know this already: inside of us is an ocean of health, trust me. The moment before things become too much to bear, our little toe, or the smallest part of ourselves, will find the waters of this shoreline.
Knowing that there is this innate strength inside myself has been immensely helpful for me during my darkest hours.
4. I want to live a big, new, happy, free, unusual life.
In my early adolescence, I found a book entitled: A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life sitting on my mother’s bookshelf. The cover of the book illustrated a woman walking down a road, kicking up her heels in a fit of joy. I remember thinking to myself that, “Yes, this is what I want for my life.”
I’ve never met anyone who actively seeks a boring, small, average life. However, so many of us are brought up in a society that only teaches us to live a life that is just this.
I have to actively push myself to go against the grain, take risks and to spread my wings as much as I can. It’s not always easy, in fact it is never easy, but by god, I don’t want to look back on things and realize I said “no” to life. The way to prevent this is to never settle too long with boredom.
Try pretty much anything. Be open. Be bold.
5. Fuck it.
Crass, yes, but I’ve found this phrase to be possibly the most profound two words ever strung together.
I cultivated “fuck it” as my life’s motto during a particularly free-spirited but challenging time in my life.
It’s sort of like the non-corporate, vulgar version of Nike’s “Just Do It,” or the mellower, “Why not?” phrase that we often take and give as words of encouragement to be brave, take chances and follow our passions.
There is something in this phrase that is incredibly liberating. These words somehow belittle the monstrosity of a challenge. Saying it also makes me feel so damn cool, calm and collected even when taking the biggest of risks.
“Fuck it” is behind all of my great travels and adventures. It has been there for me when I resolved to quit jobs that weren’t good for me. It resides in me every time I sit down to write, something I find utterly fulfilling, but also utterly difficult and scary. “Fuck it” has opened my world up to love and relationships. It makes me feel like even life’s toughest decisions are never final (which, mostly, they aren’t).
Next time when feeling afraid of making a leap, go on, try whispering these two small words.
Those who are anything like me, might often forget how infinitely powerful they are. It may take a few encouraging words before it resonates how brave and beautiful they really are. So I urge everybody to find their own mantras.
Accelerate through the mess in this world.
Wear the unicorn horn with pride.
Prove that dancing is always possible, even with a heart ache.
Because fuck it, why not?
Bonus! Still feeling stuck? These can help:
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Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Travis May