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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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

 

 

 

 

 

Let 2018 be the year you learn to respect yourself. Not just “love yourself”

Growing up, I used to hear my parents speak often about people in a way I did not yet understand. “I don’t love him, but I respect him”. What does that even mean? Do they not go hand in hand? Don’t they have to be synonymous? No, they do not. Loving yourself has become a rage. Will the progression of social acceptance and openness, many people have grown to become determined to love themselves. However, many a people do not respect themselves.

The difference was never clear to me, as it wasnt really explain. This is the perfect time to explain exactly what this difference is. The beginning of the year, most people have resolutions to better themselves. Get in shape, eat healthier, find love. All of these things can help you love yourself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up respecting yourself. I know many girls for instance, whom love their appearance, their senses of style, their grades, but they do not respect themselves as individuals. Girls who will follow the lead of any man because they just paid them the time of day. They’ll stop talking if they feel inadequate in a conversation. Stupefy themselves to garner attention from those they’ve placed the worth of themselves in the hands of. You can love yourself, but not respect.

Another instance is one many people have dealt with. You look in front of the mirror day after day, finding things you find appealing about yourself and play those attributes up, or see something you don’t like and try to fix it. Accepting the way you look and feeling comfortable with it. Those are all positive things, yet notice how they are all physical. Things we can physically alter, hide, remove. Those are the things we tend to focus on when we strive to love ourselves. However, very few people can step away from the mirror and feel comfortable with themselves on the inside. The goal is to step away and respect your thoughts despite the physical. That is hard to do. I have never had trouble attracting attention from men, and I say this humbly. Yet, they didn’t treat me with the respect, and having worked to respect myself, I shut many people out. It isn’t common, especially for girls of this age to do that. There is such a rush of needing to get attention from others in order to feel whole. Good, bad, momentarily, doesn’t matter. Many smart girls, who are confident in their looks or presence, still do not respect themselves.

Now, love is a feeling. It can be instantaneous, or grow over time, but respect is not that simple. And I’m talking about real, true respect. For instance, you can think you respect your boss, but if you speak poorly about them when they are not around, that is not respect. That is teh respect of authority, not the indivdual. My goal in this (as I sometimes need help with it too) is to help people when they feel doubt, to know that they are enough within themselves to not cave into the negativity of others. People can comment about how good you look, or how bright your smile is all day long, it gets old. When no one is giving you credit for your hard work, or intelligent contributions, find it within yourself to know that it is you who needs to validate your own actions. Do not go searching in a mirror to veil the insecurities with your love for your waistline, or hair. So many people do that, lets stop that. Let us respect our minds, and our feelings.

In order to further display that there is a difference, I have another example. One many could probably relate to. Have you ever been in a situation, or witnessed one, in which something was presented to you and it brought up an instinctual feeling. A feeling of either “this is wrong” or “this could be something fantastic” and you ignored that feeling or did the opposite? That was not respecting your feelings. I see it all the time. When people are asked to do somthing they don’t feel comfortable about, and they passively voice their feelings to just fish for validation, but because they think it would make them look a certain way, they comply.

Trust your ability, trust your gut, trust the fact that there is a whole other side of you beneath your skin. Dont let the plagues of what society says is cool, even what your friends say is cool, sway how you truly feel. Do, of course love yourself, but please, do not rely on the mirror or what other people say towards you to build you up. Respect yourself when you are in a group and when you are alone.  It will never steer you wrong.

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