Tag Archives: #lifeisworthliving

You’re Becoming You

2017 liam at devil's eye in lembongan

A little while back, on June 2nd, 2017, I read the following text underneath one of Brandon Stanton’s photographs for Humans of New York (thanks for your inspiring work Brandon. I hope you don’t mind if I share this here):

“I don’t think I’m going to miss eighth grade. It’s been a tough year. A lot of my friends are struggling with depression and self-harm, and it’s hard for me to watch. I just care about them so much. Growing up is so hard for some people. It’s such a big thing. It’s your foundation, I guess. You’re becoming you. It’s such a big thing and we’re going through it right now. Some of my friends are struggling with loving themselves and loving life. I think they forget that we’re still learning. They think that they’re already who they’re going to be. They think they know the future. And it’s going to be horrible. And they’ll never be able to fix it. But that’s not true because we’re still changing. And we’ll always be changing. Even when we’re old, we’ll be changing.”

As I read the musings of this insightful teenager, what she said struck me as such a profound truth. She talked about herself and her teenage friends, most likely never realizing that, by doing so, she described the human condition in general. Most, if not all of us, face similar existential questions and troubles no matter our background or age. Many of us are struggling with loving ourselves and loving life. And yes, we’re all continuously changing. Life and change are one. Irrevocably. We spend our entire lives becoming who we really are… learning, un-learning, growing, evolving with each experience we make throughout our turbulent life journey. There is nothing to do but to face those waves as they crash over our heads. Some breakers will pummel the crap out of us. They’ll push us down like a bully in a kid’s swimming pool until we can barely catch our breath. Other rollers will lift us up and carry us further than we ever imagined.

Conquering those Mountains…

2013 at lake minnewanka

“As a teenager, I started to feel like a dwindling army, spread over too many fronts. Slowly but surely, I spiraled into a deep depression.
My parents were in no position to help me. Apart from me witnessing their arguments, their involvement in my daily life was minimal. They were too deeply entangled with their own demons. I never felt free to openly discuss my problems and thoughts with them. They rarely helped with homework, teenage angst and insecurities. I had no choice but to overcome all obstacles by myself.
Gradually, the stress at home, alongside my other troubles, became too much for me to handle. I became suicidal. During this phase of my life, I frequently jumped up onto bridge railings, despite being probably the worst athlete anyone had ever laid eyes on. With no sense of balance or coordination, I would teeter at the edge of the abyss. One part of me hoping I would fall and wondering who would notice or care. Another part of me shaking my heavy head at my stupidity and wanting to live, to live a full life more than anything.
Thankfully, these moments of tempting fate taught me how much I loved being alive. After only a few months of contemplating taking my own life, I dug deep and found courage. And I made a decision: whenever faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, I would do my best to stop running, stop resisting and instead choose to embrace them.”
(Excerpt from “Paralian: Not Just Transgender”, Chapter 5, “Swabian Ocean”)

I’ve experienced times like these more than once over the years (and probably will again).
It just got too much sometimes as I became a sherpa struggling through my very own Himalayan mountain ranges. As life added bag by bag to my load, the weight began crushing me. Labouring on, lonely, caught in a storm, the air thinning with every step I took, it seemed soothing and attractive to simply jump off the edge of a cliff and have it done with.

I am glad I never jumped. It’s not just a cliche: there always IS a way. And life is damn beautiful precisely because those forbidding mountain ranges sometimes rise up way too high in front of us. So we go forward, put one proverbial, optimistic hiking boot in front of the other, over and over, until we conquer those mountains. We have the strength to do it more than once in life if we have to. And along the way, throughout our journey, we discover moments of pure happiness we’d never have found otherwise.