Should we redefine what an addiction is?

This thought occurred to me as I was watching a movie. A really dramatic and quite ridiculous movie to be exact, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. To just give a super brief summary; a crazy drug lord lady poisons her supply with a deadly virus that will infect whomever uses the drug. It will induce paralysis, psychosis, and eventually death. She does this, and uses it as a threat to the government for money, as her leverage is she has the antidote. In the movie we see millions and millions of people being affected, even some political officials, just everyday people. It’s a ludicrous idea, but it left me thinking. Say something like this seriously did happen, almost every single one of my friends, and even some relatives would be dead. Most of my school would be gone, the people on my block, kids, teens, adults, dead. That is a scary thought.

The legalization of weed is practically on the brink of happening, but lets clarify the real reason why. The government is not legalizing it because they really believe it would help people, it’s a money pit. Same thing with opioids, they are deadly, but again, money. Many people will disagree with me, and I am so open to conversation, but I speak from downright personal experience. Friends that I have since high school have changed for the worse, and it is because of pot and other socially accepted substances. People can not tell me these things are not addictive, because they are. I have friends who have told me, crying, “I can’t stop” or “I wish I could be like you and just say no”. The same goes for drinking. A girl I know drinks half a bottle of wine in between classes because she gets shaky if she doesn’t. Am I the only on that thinks this is a deep issue?

I am a minority, most people I know that are my age drink on the daily. And I’m not implying like going out after work and talking. I mean it’s a mission to get black out drunk and not feel for a while. Friends I have can’t go a couple of days without some sort of substance. They use to do drugs during lunch, rolled joints in class, while driving. They were, and still are addicted.

Granted, these friends and fellow classmates of mine didn’t just stick with weed. They upgraded eventually to acid, shrooms, coke, LSD, even ecstasy. The weed wasn’t enough anymore, and they needed the next best high. Friends I had in HS are now college dropouts, and the worst is seeing recent pictures of them. They look old, and quite frankly, like drug addicts. Newsflash, they are! I’m tired of people, especially kids and teens, being under the impression that pot and alcohol are natural therefore ok. Thinking they can stop whenever they want. That’s not the truth. It is an addiction, I’ve seen it, and so has the rest of the world. My generation has become overwhelmingly stupefied. We classify addiction as a dependence on and inability to stop using a substance. Well, then a huge portion of the young population are addicts. When that becomes the go to, the craving, the need in order to engage in social interaction or function, it is, by DEFINITION, an addiction.

Marijuana has helped adults and children I know with their chronic illnesses or special needs. It hasn’t however, solved anything for my former fully functioning friends. I can see it physically, emotionally, and cognitively. It has been proven that these things deplete the brain of the ability to process information in those who start abusing the drug at a young age. The other side of the argument is that many of the youth now are depressed and need something to cope. That’s not the way to go about it. It’s the same argument for people in pain, they are given opiates and can never really get better. Their “coping mechanism” becomes a full-blown dependence. They don’t even know if they are still in pain, because they have never been given the opportunity to feel without the drugs. This is the same with emotional trauma or problems. We aren’t addressing the issue, we are suppressing it. And just for argument’s sake, is it possible that many of the youth are depressed because they haven’t been given the chance to function normally?They have been given these drugs in the hopes to fit in or seem cool, and can’t get out from under themselves. Why are we normalizing this behavior?

Children with epilepsy and people with cancer arent rolling joints and smoking habitually, they take it in other forms or smoke it occasionally to try to alleviate symptoms of their struggles. So yes, legalize it, but make it clear that it really should be for cases like those. Same thing goes for the excess drinking and other substances, my generation, the one previously and the one following, are becoming addicts.

And I am tired of being shamed because I’m not one.

O

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A Message to the Boys who thought they were Men

To you. You who made fun of me, but told me it was really because you liked me. To those who were family friends and grabbed on me because you thought I was going to be quiet. Why did you act surprised when I fought back? Did you not feel the infant sparks of this fire?

To you, you didn’t catch me.

To my high school “friends”. You cornered me at parties, made game plans involving my name, and tried to set me up with your friends so you could watch. Often gave me that “friendly” squeeze around the waist. To you who would speak about me as if I couldn’t understand your innuendos in front of me. I knew. To that boy, you, the one who held my heart for some time. You isolated me from the friends you said were “a bad influence”. Isolated me from myself. To you who touched me without permission, in public, in private. Then ran away like a sacred cat, leaving me to gather myself. You cut me. You all cut deeper into me each let down. Yet none of you severed the chord. That chord of fibers, embedded within them, my fight.

I say to all of you, you didn’t guilt me.

To the boys who whistle at me on the street. In jeans, leggings, shorts, dresses, nothing stops you. When you think you’re in power, just know it is I who is in control. Remember, you called to me, I never whistled at you. To those of you who follow me home and try to grab on my body, or take photos of me on the train. I see you. I know about you, and I know how pathetic you are. You add those photos to that private collection your wife doesn’t know about. You’re not slick, I see the exit of pride in your eyes when I call you out. I will always stare into the lens of that phone of yours. Go ahead, take the picture, and look at it. See me, seeing you. Forever know that I know what kind of human you are.

To you, you didn’t intimidate me.

College. To my college boys. The ones who thought a photo of my midriff was an indication that I’m open for business. Do not get your majors in criminal justice, for you jump to conclusions without further investigation. To you who would make fun of me because I won’t come out on Thirsty Thursdays with you. Calling me a prude and a tease because you couldn’t get me to follow you. Pushing me, to try to get me to give in, or get worn down. Please. Thinking a follow on Instagram is asking me out, or an invitation for explicit photos. Telling me I’m a waste because you couldn’t use me, or my name, to get you higher on that undiscussed ranking system of yours.

I write to you, you didn’t break me.

You will realize one day. In that moment when you take your loved one for a checkup, desperate for answers, and it is me in the white coat. When you walk into that high-rise office, resumé in hand, and it is my name on that desk. C.E.O. I hope you feel caught, guilty, intimidated, and slightly broken. Not because I actively set out to hurt you, but because you know what you did. I hope it helps you.

For now I will not yell, I will not protest sign in hand, or talk about you. I will never be that “woman, hear me roar”. I will rise in silence. I will keep working and striving to succeed. I am already above the “glass ceiling”, as I wasn’t raised to believe one exists. I will run circles around you like a shadow, and when you look up and see my name, my face, me, drawn in the sky,  you will ask “How did that happen? How did She happen?”. It happened because I do not deal with boys like you. I would never give in to your attempts at persuading me with the fact that you are a “rich man”. I will be the rich man.

I will stand in front of that mirror, admiring the halo of my triumphs. You should know you will not cross the pathways of my thoughts. While you were waiting for the elevator to take you up, I sprinted up the stairs. I will have done it by myself, like I always have. In that glorious moment, I will break that silence. I will validate my power out loud and say:

My God, what Woman am I.

O

Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting back together broken pottery with gold or platinum lacquer. Every crack in the broken ceramic is repaired with a beautiful, metallic resin. The whole philosophy behind this is that the cracks of the object are not meant to be disguised, or the object to be thrown away. Instead, these markings and imperfections are part of its history.  When coming across this, I found it became deeper to me than the physcial art itself. So I started to apply it to myself.

This got me thinking, aren’t we all like broken ceramics. Obviously a person is more valuable than a bowl, but the idea that hiding our imperfections or cracks in our past is not what we should be doing. Experiences that break us should, in a sense, be celebrated. Downfalls in our lives show us that there is better. They make us work harder, make us humble. Why should we not repair our cracks with gold too? We aren’t disposable once we deem ourselves broken or unworthy. Many people let bumps in their journey, or on their skin, set them back. Don’t do that. Paint them in gold.

You don’t have to share your experiences to the world or physically put your insecurities on display, but for yourself, understand that like the philosophy the Japanese so beautifully believe, it is a part of you. You don’t lose your value or purpose when you get scuffed up.  What I love so dearly about this practice is how realistic it is. It shows that we can never be “as good as new” or “perfect”, but we can reinvent ourselves, pass on stories or advice, we can strive to become stronger. The cracks are unique to the person as well. There can be many bowls that are the same shape, size, color, but the cracks will never be the same. Like a finger print, everyone has a different journey, and things that pushed them off the path at one point. Again, that is a part of our history and it should be acknowledged and admired.

Take from this little philosophy and apply it to your own life. What cracks have you been trying to hide? Why are you hiding them? Know you shouldn’t have to. Remind yourself that you would not be the person you are without the negatives. We forget sometimes how full our lives are. Think about how many interactions and lessons you have every single day. Good bad, indifferent, doesn’t matter. They impact you wether you’ve realized it or not. It is by definition what makes a life, life. If you are unhappy with who you are now, give yourself permission to heal. Allow yourself to move on and conintue with this rich journey. Live with knowing the bad will crack you, but the good will mend you with gold.

O

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to die, just not exist

Without the research into the statistics, or diagnosing the youth of the general population, I can safely say I have witnessed such an increase in depression. So many resonate with constant feelings of sadness, or not even realizing they are sad because they’re constantly numbing themselves with whatever they can. Not just drinking and smoking, but with risky behavior. Adrenaline rushes help distract from the empty pit slowly being filled with these anxious, dark feelings. I write about this because I feel it too. More recently stronger than I ever have. When I was a senior in high school, I was internally a mess. I had anxiety that no one could have imagined and a pretty intense eating disorder. This was sparked by an emotionally abusive relationship I was in, and the fact that I felt so poorly about myself that I didn’t think I could make it through college. I went to therapy, dumped the boy, and yet I still wasnt happy. I wasnt eating, and when I was, I was secretly bingeing. I felt like no one liked me even though I logically knew that wasn’t the case. I was getting attention from guys and when I explained I didn’t hook up or send naked pictures, I guess word traveled. I then wasn’t the first pick anymore. It started to turn me further into myself.

Over the summer of my freshman year in college, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and I started eating again, whatever I wanted. I will always be a health conscious person, but now if I want a damn piece of cake, I have it. This helped me regain some of my lost high school confidence and I felt more mentally strong. Yet, even in my now sophomore year, I have moments where I don’t want to be here. Where I feel so alone and without purpose that I dig myself into thoughts so heavy, I feel like I’m sinking. I stay up at night thinking about irrational fears in which people, who I know at the forefront like me, really don’t. Or about how I’m never going to find someone who values the fact that I do, in fact, have a brain. There are even moments I cry uncontrollably because I’m in such distress. The worst part is, I do it alone. I am so embarrassed about expressing my true feelings because I have fabricated this girl who has it all together. A challenging job for my age, a hard major, good grades, even works out. Those around me explain that sometimes I’m “intimidating” and that I’m this “savage” because I can read into people. The truth is, I can sense people’s hurt and insecurities because I too feel that way. We spot what we know, and what I know is sadness.

Within the past few months I have had a couple of days in which I think closely about not existing, not being here in this life, even just for a moment. When I wait on the train platform, I feel the breeze and see the lights approaching. I then I close my eyes and think about how easy it would be to just jump. But by the time that half-second thought is over, the doors have already opened to board, and I have to continue with my day. I am scared to die, but frequently I don’t want to exist. I say this because I feel misunderstood and frustrated. I don’t know what I could do better. It’s not like I could get sober, work harder in school, or go get a job, because I already have these things. So why the hell do I feel so horrible and unmotivated?

A problem I think many people have is the fact that we are glued to our phones. Glued to looking at people’s profiles and getting discouraged at the fact that they seem to be having a better time in life than you or me. Remember though, would you post about your bad grades, a picture of those jeans that no longer fit, or your puffy eyes after crying about a breakup? No. We post what we think makes us look the best, but its hard to remember that. Social media feels so real to us, yet it’s such a mirage. I used to think about working out solely for being able to look good for Instagram.  That is a sick thought, but it is so commonly the driving purpose for many desicions made.

We are influenced by every interaction in our lives, and not just human to human, our lives on our phones impact us too. I’ve been thinking deeply on it, and I’ve realized that it makes me sad. I’m living my life through the pictures of others, or in my imagination depicting what I want in my future. I’m wishing time away because I don’t like my now. We need to enjoy our now. Indulge in these current moments as best as we can or else we will always be fantasizing about the future instead of building it. Its hard, its lonely at times, and it takes strength to fight depression and anxiety. It’s a scary place to be, because like me, most are very good at hiding it. I dont want to hide anymore. These emotions take up space in my head and in my body. They consume your thoughts and  goals then turn them into seemingly impossible tasks. Self love is a term tossed around by everyone these days, but no one explains how damn hard it is. How hard it is for everyday people, who dont have a modeling career or a huge successful business, to learn to love ourselves when those claiming they’ve reached this self-love Nirvana are commonly not every day folk.

This comes back to my point about being so engulfed in the lives of others, especially online. Turn of your phone, go for a walk, write, sing, pet your dogs, tell your mom or dad that you love them. Do something that centers around your life and not others online. Do for other people. Volunteer if you can, even just give a stranger a compliment. This could help someone who may be having a dark time like you feel a little hopeful, and it could fill something in you as well.

In my heart I know I don’t want to die, I really dont. I want to exist because I value my abilities. I will continue to sweat to love myself, to cry to love myself, and to laugh to want to be in my own skin. I never want to allow my mind or body to leap off that train platform, and I dont want yours too either.

O

Tips for the sober college student

“Its going to get better” is that phrase many of us have heard. From parents, teachers, therapists, and strangers. We’ve all heard it. I’m sick of that damn saying. I heard it in middle school, high school, and I’m still hearing it in college. I don’t have many friends, I’m not in a relationship, I don’t go out much, but I am happy with myself. Many of us have been groomed to equate happiness with how other people make us feel, or perceive us. The worst possible place you could put your happiness is in the control of others. I would know, I’ve been doing it since I’m young, we all do it. That will set you up for disappointment without fail. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. I find with being sober in college, I end up getting disappointed quite often. It isn’t on big things like driving accidents, or friends forgetting my name at a party. Its little things like introducing me as the sober girl, getting teased, or getting asked if “something happened” that made me avoid substances at all costs. Being sober in college is apparently such a phenomenon that it has become, in a sense, my identity. It has probably become many peoples identity as well, and there is no reason to feel embarrassed of it.

There are things I’ve learned along the way that continue to help me feel comfortable when placed into certain situations. One thing I’ve learned, and quite possibly the biggest, is to just be straight up honest. If something did happen and you feel comfortable stating that, say it. If you’re afraid to get bloated, say that. Or if you just don’t want it, guess what? Say that! It’s not something that should make or break anyones interactions with you, and if it does, its on them. There are also moments in which people will not invite you places. It will hurt your feelings, but in that hurt recognize that it still isn’t you. You aren’t a stick in the mud, and you don’t have a stick up your ass. You just choose to spend your time differently, and that is ok. Do not forget that. With that being said, do not criticize others as well. They have a choice too, it may be different than mine or yours, but it is still their choice.

All these substances, weed, alcohol, have become a social bridge that people need in order to connect with others. Its a “must” for every party, every get together, every celebration; that gets hard when that isn’t your go-to. My dad would always tell me “just hold a cup, or nurse a beer”, just so people would get off my back. But why the f*ck are they on my back in the first place? What is the big deal? This is a question I ask myself almost every-time I meet someone new and they ask me about it. It isn’t a big deal, it is just different. It isn’t the usual response. When most people say yes, you probably say no. Thats why its “weird”. I never nurse, or make a fake drink anymore. You shouldn’t have to do that in order to feel comfortable. If you want to order a water in a sea of beer and liquor, don’t feel bad. I do it all the time, and the reason is because I don’t feel the need to hide (and because I really just want the damn water). If someone tries to push you into ordering something else, calls you a wuss, or tries to make a spectacle of you, make a joke. One thing I tend to do in an instance like this is turn it on them. Not in a rude or accusatory way, just simply say “wow, have you been focused on me this whole time? Thats so weird. Why do you care so much what I do, focus on yourself”. Or one of my personal favorite lines is “Honey, I don’t need a drink to have a good time”. Saying this with a smile helps get your point across, but also allows you to still have a good time. When you stand your ground and proceed with your original intention, it sends the message that you’re not one who needs to change to fit the mood. You create you’re own. Own that.

There will also be many people who paint you out to be this person who thinks they are better than everyone else. That you’re trying to make people feel bad about their choices. These are the people you meet that are insecure. There are people who are uneasy about their choices and will project that onto you. This may have set them off simply because you made a different choice that they may not have been strong enough to make at a certain time. In moments like these, remain humble, be truthful and state that it is in no way your intention to do so. Remember that people who say things to hurt others are hurt themselves. Not all interactions are this deep, but many people who rely heavily on substances are hurt, or stressed, and that comes out occasionally on sober people like us. Do not take it personally, as you and they know, it isn’t true.

My last piece of advice would be to hold on. Im not going to tell you it will get better for you soon. “It” being the people and social settings you are surrounded by, but what can get better is your relationship with yourself. I encourage you to keep focusing on yourself and building You up in a social climate that is trying to put you in a box. It can get lonely to be sober. I find most days it does. And listen, if one day you want to have a drink, by all means do it. Don’t feel like then you are going against yourself. You are only doing that when you place your happiness, and identity in the hands of others. Its super hard, super confusing, and extremely frustrating. You may lose friends, get your feelings hurt, and will feel lonely at times. In reading this however, remember you truly are not the only one, you’re not weird, or a buzz kill. You’re just different from the norm, and as history has proven itself, that will most likely benefit you in the end.

O

What it’s like to be an Antisocial Butterfly

To start this whole adventure off, I just wanted to state, this is not a place to mope and project the whole “Woe is Me” attitude. This is a place for those who feel that way to engage in thought about why they aren’t alone, or strange. To stop questioning what is wrong with them. The simple answer is nothing. My whole life I have never felt like I fit in. Yet, I wasn’t the girl who was staying up late at night, praying to some higher power, wishing I could become the popular girl. The truth is, I was never unpopular. I have always been very well liked, and sought after in social settings. However, I feel like I never belong anywhere. My favorite part of any social interaction was, and still is, saying goodbye. I am referring to the fact that I don’t subscribe to the social norms people do today. I do not smoke, I do not drink, I don’t like frat parties, and I never figured out how to use Tinder. I mean for crying out loud, the only streak I have going for me is the fact that I haven’t posted for 20 weeks! Many reading this may think “thats not a big deal, who cares?”, but many of us know, people do seem to care. Well, actually “care” isn’t the word, its more like they seem confused. To reiterate, I am a college student, in New York city, and I don’t like what has been presented as the way to “enjoy your youth”.

Despite what many say, it does become a struggle for those like us. It becomes a big deal when your out with friends at a bar they picked out, and you ask for water instead of a beer. Peoples heads tilt. Or when your at someones home, sitting in a literal social circle, playing hot potato with a blunt and you don’t take a hit. Expressions become those of  offense. Many of you know the looks I am talking about, and you understand what it’s like to to feel you have to try to defend and explain yourself. Eventually you may have gotten to the point where people just don’t invite you. Not because they don’t like you, but because they know you wouldn’t engage in what they are planning. Thats a horrible feeling. It hurts because you haven’t done anything wrong. I think the feelings of sadness come from the fact that we try and do everything right. Go to work, try hard in school, maybe even exercise, drink eight glasses of water a day, whatever it is, we try to do the right thing. And yet, it feels wrong. Even my boss and coworkers were confused as to why I, an underaged girl, wasn’t drinking off the free wine cart with them.

I am listing all these experiences because I want to convince you, not peer pressure you, into feeling that I understand, even though many people don’t. I have these experiences every day of my life. I know what its liked to be social but to feel embarrassed for what you don’t want to participate in. To try and hide how you feel because you’re afraid of  being alone. This is why I started Odd One In. I want to build a community in which people feel supported for doing the right thing and not looked at as lame. You are not. We are not. I can assure you, as well as myself when Im in doubt, just because we don’t meet people like us often, it doesn’t mean we are alone.

O