It’s okay to not be okay as long as you work on the fact you’re not okay.
In my freshman year of college, I was not okay. Even though I thought I was.
Six months earlier to my first day as an undergrad, I had experienced the death of my father after a year-long battle with cancer and the passing of one of my good friends from an undetected medical condition.
For a while, I thought I could bottle everything down. I had to move on and I believed that I had.
The first semester of my freshman year didn’t go great for me. I was playing football and fell out of love of playing the game. I ended up dropping a class and switched another one to Pass/Fail so it wouldn’t hurt my GPA because I stopped going.
Deep down, a part of me knew there was something wrong. One day, my adviser was going through all the services that the college provided and one of them was you get 30 free therapy sessions.
“What do I have to lose?” I thought.
I began my therapy sessions with a therapist named Tamar who gave off the vibes that she spends a lot of her free time meditating and focused on her chakras.
As I began the therapy session, I told her the story about my dad and I could see the empathy on her face. I had never told the story about him at that level to a stranger before.
It was hard to tell that story but when I told it, I was kind of jaded towards telling it. I told it to her like I was telling someone some fact about the world. I had no emotion towards it. That was when I knew I had some deep issues to work through and throughout those therapy sessions, I learned a lot about my psychology.
We Manifest How We Feel Through Our Actions
When I was going through therapy, I realized how our subconscious feelings ultimately manifest themselves through our actions. My lack of motivation in life was due to a part of me trying to escape the reality I was in.
At that point in my life, my work ethic and motivation reminded me of my dad because we used to wake up at 5:00am to go to the gym together. Having a work ethic reminded me of my dad so my antidote was to run away from it.
I realized that I cannot go through life without any aspirations towards anything. That is a quick path to resentment and nihilism.
My antidote to this was by trying new things out. I ended up quitting football and started running. I auditioned for the college's theater program and ended up becoming the lead role twice. I started writing more in my spare time as it became therapeutic for me. I ended up becoming an avid reader.
I learned how it’s important to not form your identity around what you do. We wear different hats everywhere we go in life and it’s important to not wear the same hat for too long as we can often forget that we are wearing that hat.
When I lost my father, I felt like a piece of my identity was gone. It was only when I started to branch out did I realized that I am more than any one thing that I do.
You Learn More About Yourself
One thing that I learned is that I have a good internal compass. I knew something was wrong during that first semester in college.
This is what I would equate with what David Goggins calls “the cookie jar.” We often forget about the great things that we have done in life as many of them we don’t think of as great.
What have you done in your life to show you’re a great friend? Often we overlook things that are second nature and fail to see ourselves for who we are.
You may also see the areas in your life that are your shortcomings. This can be frightening at first. During those early stages, you will steer away from going deeper into it and that is natural. However, over time you will start to be able to open up to them more and begin to discover that all of us have shortcomings and we’re not perfect. Even the people that you idolize aren’t perfect.
I learned that there are things that we can learn from everyone. All people have an experience or view that we can learn from if we think about why they think that way. Until you can learn to do this with yourself, it will be more difficult to take it a step further.
You’ll Understand What You Want
Before I started therapy, I had never articulated to myself what I wanted in life. I had never thought about where I wanted to be after college. I didn’t even have a vague idea of what I wanted life to be like.
I was letting life happen to me instead of trying to make things happen for me. I was acting like the moment I was living in was going to last forever and that no opportunities were going to pass me by.
While I got better at identifying this in my life, I still carried this with me for 4 years after college. I missed opportunities but I also learned from missing them. I was seeing life pass me by and decided that I needed to do something about it. I needed to identify what I wanted in life. To do that, you must try new things out. If you sit on the sidelines of life, you will continue to be someone who thinks but never does.
You Still Start To Notice When You Slip Back Into Old Habits
The first step to changing a habit is to identify the moments when you are slipping back into your old habits. The shorter the duration of the old habit, the easier it will be to understand.
A bad habit could be that you’re a people pleaser and bend over backward to do things for others even when you get nothing in return making you resentful.
Identifying a habit is the first step to taking therapy from the session to apply it in real life.
How It Ended Up Working
As it turned out, I graduated from college four years after that tough first semester. I was 1 credit away from graduating a semester early. I worked 36–40 hours a week at Starbucks during my junior and senior years of college to help pay for rent and groceries. Instead of giving up, I found a solution to what my problems were.
Therapy helped me remember the great things I had done in my life and how I can apply those things to move forward. I learned that it’s okay to not be okay but it’s also not okay to be complacent with staying not okay. We must try to do the best work we can to build the life we want. If we don’t, we will be caught up in loops that we can’t break out of.
Accomplishing your goals is a lot easier when you set yourself up for the week. That’s why I started the Setup Sunday Newsletter at Running Relentless. Every Sunday morning I will send out an email on how I am setting myself up for the week and questions you should ask yourself on how you can set yourself up.