F*ck It (& 4 Other Mantras for When Things Get Tough).

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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.

Live the big, bold, crazy life of your dreams.

Because fuck it, why not?


Bonus! Still feeling stuck? These can help:

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Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Travis May

Photo: Pixotolookcatalog/Flickr 


Relephant bonus:

The Simple Buddhist Trick to being Happy.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

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anonymous Jul 30, 2015 3:10pm

My similar mantra is "fuck 'em and feed them fish heads."

anonymous Jul 21, 2015 5:25am

love u girl
i discovered my fuck it attitude a couple of months back and it actually saved my life! i was so like yep, nodding my head in total agreement reading your words! i just had to say tnx babe.

anonymous May 20, 2015 7:31am

MaiLynn, friend suggested i read your story. How i relate, Chaos comes & goes, it’s here now…so i say with abandonment & great joy, Fuck It! I’ll be back haha. Would love to write for Elephant…can’t afford $13 presently however i will be able to soon. XO

    anonymous May 20, 2015 7:54am

    You can write for us! If interested, submit here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/submit/

    Les Eleditors

    anonymous Jun 8, 2015 11:02pm

    " So I say with abandonment and great joy, Fuck it!" Haha, I love that! Take that into your writing, my dear. Write! Write! Write! Because FUCK IT, why not?

anonymous May 16, 2015 4:59pm

.. something with a bottle of grease 😉

anonymous May 16, 2015 8:23am

Hi MaiLynn. I wanted to thank you for such a beautiful article. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety myself, but your article was just a wonderful personal reminder for me. I actually work in the mental health field, so I am aware of all the things you "need" to do to help your mood and it is defintiely things I preach to my patients everyday…but sometimes you lose your own way.. You put words to my feelings of having "too little energy to pull myself up and out of the rut." But you are right, "I am here" and "deep inside me, there is an inner reservoir of vitality." I have survived a difficult path thus far and your article was a beautiful reminder of it. It was pleasant surprise of a "mood-boost" to read your kind words. Thank you!!
I will accelerate through the chaos! 🙂

    anonymous Jun 8, 2015 11:01pm

    Thank you, Kelsey! I'm so glad these words offered you solace and reminder of how very brave and strong you are. Accelerate through that shit!

anonymous May 4, 2015 12:26pm

You rock! I cannot tell you how much of a blessing your article is to me today. But I will say – Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Best wishes in all that you do, fellow unicorn 🙂

anonymous Apr 15, 2015 7:09pm

One of the best articles ive read so far 🙂 thanks great work!

anonymous Mar 29, 2015 11:16am

"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."

That's so beautiful! I'm struggling right now with feeling stuck and lonely and immune to my friends' attempts to show me i'm loved. This article gave me hope.

anonymous Jan 20, 2015 3:45am

Yes! I'm a f*cking Unicorn is my all-time favorite! I find myself saying it repeatedly. Love

anonymous Sep 8, 2014 8:40am

F**k it – I do it anyway – has been very helpful for me … great article, thanks 🙂

anonymous Sep 8, 2014 1:42am

On #5 I also say Fucking A, Fuck A Duck, or imagine myself putting it into the "Fucking File"

anonymous Sep 7, 2014 6:59pm

I just read this article to my 12 year old daughter, cuss words and all. She needed to hear it. She is 12, but looks like a 16 year old super model. she is very tall, pretty, over developed for her age, and very thin at the same time. Seems great, right? No… She is so extremely different from all her peers. She is deep, she is a super nerd, she would happily live in a hole and read manga all day. She hates people, and is not at all fascinated by her school mates. She is on a level that kids her age don’t get. She gets hit on by older boys, and she gets made fun of by the girls….girls hate her….because she is not only extremely beautiful, but because she is extremely mysterious….they don’t get her. She often feels the need to conform to the norm to avoid any unwanted attention, and try to blend in….but In the process….She loses her unique personality. She went to bed saying “I’m friggen unicorn” and I couldn’t be happier hearing her say that. The pressure to fit in, and be a certain way has been really hard for her. It just makes her her ultra aware of how different she really is, and she is feeling as if she is uncool, or stupid for being who she is. I want her to see how much of a beautiful fucking unicorn she is….we both loved this article. Thank you so much!!!!

    anonymous Jun 8, 2015 10:59pm

    Chica, what a lovely mother you are! Your daughter certainly sounds like a bold, beautiful unicorn. There will be days, weeks, months that she forgets this, as the world tends to treat extraordinary people poorly, but I have no doubt you will always be there for her, reminding her shine bright even when the world tries to dull her down.

anonymous Jun 12, 2014 11:53pm

A couple of my 'favorites'..

Lighten Up!

Be Positive!

    anonymous Jun 14, 2014 6:29pm

    Thanks for sharing your mantras, Michael. I could probably tell myself to "lighten up" more often 🙂

anonymous Jun 12, 2014 12:39pm

Great article, especially number 5 as that too is my mantra that I have taught to others. One thing I would say about it is that you don't need to whisper it, you don't need to yell it, you just need to mean it, fuck it.

anonymous Jun 11, 2014 9:12am

Such a well-written piece, MaiLynn! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. "F*ck it" is definitely one of my popular mantras, too! So I can definitely appreciate this article.

anonymous Jun 11, 2014 9:09am

Love it! Love it!! I am still in my half century crisis but really enjoying what I am learning about being a unicorn. I say "Fuck it!" often and find it releases the feelings of anger and…if I can admit it….feelings that I am stupid, a failure and don't fit in anywhere. Of course I don't! I am a "fucking unicorn". And I LOVE it.

    anonymous Jun 14, 2014 6:28pm

    I agree, Jackie. It's amazing how the little messages we tell ourselves can have such a big impact on our lives. During challenging times, it can be so easy to ruminate on the bad. But with practice, life's difficulties can become our greatest strengths. I love what St Paul said in the Second Corinthians, "I take pleasure in infirmities, for when I am weak, then I am strong."

anonymous Jun 11, 2014 7:04am

i really loved this kick ass article!!

anonymous Jun 11, 2014 1:13am

Dear Sharone, what a gorgeous thing to say. All of our stories are different, but I do believe there is universality in the feelings born from our hardships, and also universality in the ways we deal, heal and grow. It's beautiful to recognize that the world is full of soul sisters (and brothers), not strangers. Thank you for your words, soul sister!

anonymous Jun 9, 2014 9:04pm

Yay! I loved this article… Not to swing the attention to myself, but I earnestly felt like I could have written this article, and related to each word and experience as it was unfolding, as my own! Then I get to the bottom and end of it, and see the actual name and photograph of the writer, (thank you MaiLynn!) and feel even more of an uncanny connection. Feel like a soul sister just reached out and said a direct hello and sent me a direct message, and also even sent me a direct affirmation to a question I just posed, right here on FB- where I too also spend too much time… and somehow, I realize now again, tough things, make for very tough but very beautiful girls. Thank you lady! xo 🙂

Cj Schepers Oct 28, 2018 10:01pm

Fantastic piece! I needed this... Pure Heart, Cj Schepers

Ginger Bennett Oct 10, 2018 5:27pm

The best $24 I spent this past year is on my Elephant Journal subscription. This is an awesomely inspiring article from an awesomely inspiring publication.

VeLita Hill Oct 10, 2018 4:54pm

I absolutely love Elephant Journal. Thank you for all of the knowledge that share!

Julia Djeke Oct 10, 2018 12:39pm

Small nuggets of wisdom packaged with beauty and humor. Thank you!

Kathy Geddings Aug 26, 2016 2:23pm

Amanda Haxer Downey, this is my true life matra! Love it

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MaiLynn Stormon-Trinh

MaiLynn Stormon-Trinh is equally fascinated and frustrated by ideas around identity, quarter-life-crises and the ways we communicate with each other, the earth and ourselves. She spends too much time on Facebook and she blogs to give the odd details of her life a home.