“Would I be friends with the person that I was two years ago?”
I ask myself this question as I walk up to a cafe I haven’t been to in two years. The first time I tried this milk tea, I wasn’t too much different than I am now. The first time I went here, I was in a nasty depression-anxiety cycle because I was undeniably terrified of studying abroad in Hong Kong alone, which meant I had to make new friends, live in a new place, eat new food, and leave my core group of friends in the States for two months. Over the weekend, I felt that same nostalgia of being sad walking in. As you know, I’ve been struggling lately, but somehow ended up being at the same place where my depression brought me two years ago.
The cafe itself is exactly the same. The tea tastes exactly the same. The same employees are there. Nothing has changed on the menu. It’s still a bit overcrowded and tables are placed randomly alongside a walk-up coffee bar. But it made me think about how a place can stay the same and the people can change within it. Everyone goes about their life, visiting the same places, but not as the person they were–but as the person they are now. And every time you visit a place, you leave your mark there as the person you were in that moment, and you’ll never be the same person in the same place twice. Life is beautiful and scary and ever-changing.
When this photo was taken, I’d just been through a breakup. The breakup was toxic and hurtful. I completed a summer job, and felt comfortably financially. But mentally, I was not well. I numbed my pain in faking who I was online. Everything had to be curated. I couldn’t go anywhere without taking a picture and posted an edited photo. I spent so long editing this one that I stressed about the likes, hoping they’d reach a certain number. I escaped myself by becoming a “lifestyle blogger” trying to keep up with the ones who’d been doing this because it was their passion for years. (See my self-image story) I’d just deleted my high school Instagram to rid myself of the photos of my ex and I, instead of just taking the time to delete him away. On top of trying to keep up with appearances, the stress of obtaining a travel visa and the fear that I was going to hate Hong Kong caused my skin to begin to “breakout,” and I was starting to get itchy all over, but didn’t know how to control it.
Now, I’m in a much better place. I’ve been getting in touch with my faith. I’ve shifted my focus in what I want out of life and blogging. I’ve been discovering new coping mechanisms for anxiety and my depression. I’ve been enjoying outside more. I’ve been reflecting more. I was feeling so alone for the past few weeks, but yesterday, everything seemed to change. I reconnected with friends. I found happiness yesterday in reaching out for help, instead of being embarrassed about it. I went somewhere new (see celebrating #nationalicecreamday in d.c. with jeni’s!) and I feel like that relieved the fog that I had over myself for the past few weeks. I’ve accepted that I am no longer able to work because of my disability. Instead of letting it destroy me, I’ve been searching for some online opportunities, like applying for artists grants and signing up for affiliate programs. (I signed up for three last night! *Fingers crossed*) While I’m not perfectly content with where I am, I know I have room to grow, but I think I already have in small ways.
To answer the question above, I do think I’d be friends with the person that I was two years ago, but I’d just worry about her. I’d worry about her because of the scars on her arms and her constantly teary eyes. I’d worry about her because her head would always be down. I’d worry about her because she seemed to smile all of the time, but never tell me how she’d feel. I’d tell her that she is not her Instagram feed, and that she is allowed to struggle even if her Instagram doesn’t show it.
*While writing this post, I just received an affiliate program offer! One that I was holding my breath on and really hoping I’d get it because the company because I really respect what they do and the services that they offer. I’ll tell you more about it when all of the forms are finalized!*
Comment down below a place that you visit often (or maybe not) and have noticed growth in yourself!
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