I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I can say “I’m a really happy person”. It hasn’t been easy, and this happiness isn’t something that was just handed to me– I had to work for it. And even now, I have to work in order to stay happy.
I don’t think it’s possible to be in a constant state of bliss all the time. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s even desirable. Ups and downs are a natural part of life, and it’s because we have the downs that we can really appreciate how wonderful the ups are, isn’t it?
I think negative emotions like sadness, anger and fear have their purpose. They can help us deepen our relationships with others and with ourselves. I’m not someone who gets angry very easily, but once I got really angry at the teenage boy of my host family. He had been kind of rude to me since I arrived in France, hardly acknowledging when I tried to make conversation with him, and not communicating with me to let me know when I needed to pick him up from school and such. Once I went to pick up the two kids and sent the boy a text message asking if he was coming. He came to the car soon afterwards saying that the teacher had taken away his cell phone for the rest of the year, and that it was my fault because I should have known not to send him texts during class! I told him it was not my fault, and that he should have put his phone on silent mode. Then, just a couple of days later, I got a text message from him. When I saw him later that day, I mentioned it and said it was good he had gotten his phone back. He then said, “Oh, I didn’t really get my phone taken away. I just said that so you would remember not to text me in class.”
At that point, I completely lost it. My frustration with him had been building for the past couple of months, and I had tried to keep it all inside and to be nice to him, but I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. So I yelled at him.
“That is not cool!!!,” I shouted lividly, the words pouring out of me almost of their own accord. “That is so not cool! I really thought you’d gotten your phone taken away, and I didn’t do anything wrong! It was YOUR responsibility to put your phone on silent mode during class, and it was NOT my fault! Don’t EVER do anything like that again. Do you understand?!”
Well, then he shut up. I think I must have shocked him a bit with my sudden outburst, and at first I was worried that maybe I had gone too far. But amazingly, after that he has never again been rude to me. In fact, things have gotten a lot better, and I now get along with him quite well! I guess I had to make it clear to him that I was someone who demanded respect.
Too many of us try too hard to keep our feelings bottled up inside all the time. We think we’re helping our relationships go smoothly this way, but sometimes we’re just letting wounds fester and making things worse. When you have a negative feeling, I think it’s there for a reason, and you need to let yourself feel it. Because often, the first step to getting out of a rut is to just let yourself stay there for a while.
When I first got back from Barcelona, I felt demotivated and kind of sad. I think it was mostly just fatigue, both physically from all the walking I’d done, and emotionally from all the crazy feelings that had taken a hold of me during the trip. And so I just let myself be lazy for a while. I ate too much. I slept too much. I sat around watching silly videos on Youtube. I continued to slack off on my Russian word of the day. And after a while, I felt better. And even though the experience with all those negative emotions was unpleasant, I feel wiser because of it, and I know some things I need to do differently in the future.
Of course it can be dangerous to let yourself stay in a rut for too long, and if you’re going through something really serious, you might need a good friend to help you get out of it. But denying the negative feelings and pretending like everything is peachy can be just as dangerous in my opinion. Sometimes, you just need to let it all out.
So, I think I can now say that I’m officially out of this rut and ready to get back to working on my crazy ambitious goals. I only have four months left here in France, and I plan on making a few changes in my strategy to continue improving my French, among other things. In the next post, I’ll give you a bit of an update on where I am and how I plan to proceed from here!