Sometimes I worry if my writing always feels too familiar to people reading. I wonder if it’s too formulaic or a little bit overdone, if people will get bored by the motifs I seem to repeat from blog to blog. I guess it comes from a fear of not being impressive enough or ‘fresh’ enough or unique enough. This fear of not being perfect has been a theme in my life for as long as I can remember, but there is something about writing that makes me feel so vulnerable. I mean, you are literally reading my deepest thoughts, and it’s almost as if you get to jump on a page of my journal, so if it feels too formulaic for you, imagine what my brain must look like! The reason I am always writing about mental health, or people’s stories, or the way we make connections with one another (be that through memories or words or art), is because writing is my way of making sense of the world. Therefore, you are almost always joining my thoughts at a time my brain is filing through these same topics–you are almost always joining me at a moment where I once again attempt explaining the meaning of life to myself. Figuring out this meaning is a lot to take on, but you’d be lying to yourself if you said you didn’t try to do the same.
So, you must be wondering what I am thinking about this time. Well, I’m not sure if you remember, but you last paid a visit to my brain around 3 months ago–right when I found out my life was about to press play for the first time in about a year. I wrote about the Pixar movie Inside Out, about mental health during a global pandemic, remember? I believe a few sentences I wrote cued you into what snapshot of my life you got to join me in this time, “I found out recently that I would actually be able to live on my college campus starting in March. When I found out, it was as though my brain didn’t know how to react. My pure Joy and even Sadness had been on hiatus for so long that I was afraid to feel them again. I guess that for so long I had been afraid to recognize this emotional hiatus, or at least show it to the world–I was afraid of being seen as weak or dramatic or being a burden. But it’s in acknowledging this fear where I begin to find true resilience.”
Well here I am, on the opposite side of that endeavor with thoughts about mental health, peoples’ stories, and new connections swirling through my brain, and if I were to write a journal entry it would probably go a little something like this.
It just so happens that I’m back from school right as mental health awareness month has begun. It’s usually a time where I preach the importance of so many things I don’t practice for myself–getting enough sleep, paying attention to what your brain needs, practicing mindfulness, or finding ways to actively relieve stress. However, I’ve decided that this will be my summer of wellness, and maybe writing this down will be the best way to hold myself accountable. This way, with words on the paper, it’s not just a thought I can continue to push away.
While on the subject of writing things down, I think it’s important to name the events that brought me to this decision. During the pandemic–you know, the thing that’s been looming over everyone’s heads for over a year–I think I really lost myself. I lost myself between disappointment and isolation. I lost myself between anxiety and fear, between regret and sadness. I lost my connection to a lot of people, it felt as though I had been written out of chapters in stories I felt I was a recurring character in. I also felt as though I couldn’t really share this with people, and deep down I think my heart smiled a little less than I was used to–and I was really used to a heart that beamed.
In all honesty, sometimes it’s hard for me to have concrete memories. I guess as an empath, the way I store memories is through feeling and emotions. It’s where my love of words and music and photos lie because although I don’t have many conventionally vivid memories, I have feelings that glow so bright, that they seem tangible to me. So, I knew I lost myself when these things that I loved, words and music and photos, began to be connected to negativity. Don’t get me wrong, there were some people who I know would never let my heart go fully dark, as they continued to relight the flame thhat I felt flickered more than normal when winds of sadness came through. My little firefighters, or I guess fire-savers, who I don’t think I could ever fully express my gratitude to. I’m hoping this doesn’t sound too dramatic, but hey, this is my diary entry.
Anyway, it wasn’t until I got the chance to go to school that I finally began to feel like myself again. Suddenly, songs reminded me of new friends, and photos encapsulated our now formed memories. My feelings became tangible once again because with new friendships came new bonds, new inside jokes, and new traditions, which of course made it infinitely more difficult to say ‘goodbye’. Obviously, it wasn’t goodbye forever, and the songs and photos will help ensure that. But it was goodbye to the experience. It was goodbye to the first time my life had hit play since March of 2020, and with this came an intensity of finally being “unpaused”, making this new experience feel so short. Of course I was beyond excited to come home to my fire-savers, bursting with these feelings I wanted to share with them, but that didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. I’ve always been really bad at goodbyes, and I guess I know now that it’s almost always because it’s saying goodbye to the experience that’s the hard part. I realized through writing this that my difficulty is rooted in the fear that I will never have these exact same feelings again.
There’s this show I love, it’s called This Is Us. It’s basically an amalgamation of everything I wish my writing to be–it’s about life, existence, family and love. It’s about the infinity of past, present, and future. It’s somehow sappy and authentic without ever feeling over done, and you know I’m a sucker for sentimental value and authenticity. So there’s a quote I’ll leave you with, “I think that’s sort of how it works you know? We go through life slowly but surely collecting these little pieces of ourselves that we can’t really live without until we eventually have enough of them to feel whole.”
Because what is life if not an accumulation of a billion slightly different little feelings?
Thanks for listening,
Anastasia Meininger is a college student currently studying psychology and communications.
She has been writing for The Daily Feels since she was 15 years old. Now 18, her life may have changed, but her wonder and passion for storytelling has remained the same. Falling in love with performing arts at a young age instilled this passion, as she found comfort in the idea that everyone and everything had a story.
She loves listening to music, taking photos, and dreaming of places to travel one day. Her family and friends are her most prized possessions, and her hometown of White Plains holds a permanent place in her heart.