okay guys, come in close so you can hear me on this…
I’d be lying if I said this first year of blogging didn’t feel like a mess. I was a mess and life was a mess, but I pushed through. I’m so grateful to still be in the game and thriving, but now I feel it’s time to transition.
I’ve discovered that sometimes moving forward means pausing to unpack.
I know many people have had what we call a “lightbulb moment” where something just downloads into your spirit, or your gut. That was me while eating coleslaw the other day. Random? Yes, I know. See this blog was originally going to come out the first of the year, but I struggled to push it out. I still had some thoughts to work through and things to unveil. Too often we think because life has transitioned, i.e. entering a new year, that we have also transitioned inwardly and that is just NOT the case. It takes intentional, consistent work. So here I am at work finally getting to sit down and eat and I notice my food order was wrong. I ordered some Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers (hey Cane’s if you’re reading this send me free promo please and thank you) and instead of my usual double fries I had been given coleslaw. Now I haven’t eaten coleslaw since I was itty bitty, literally. One time as a child, I don’t even remember age, I was about to attack what I thought was a salad with ranch and was wildly disappointed. The experience was so off-putting I never touched coleslaw again, even a decade plus later. So here I am at work like, “not today Satan.”
But guys, I was HONGRY, okay. So in my impulsive, always curious fashion...I ate it. I would’ve killed it all if I hadn’t gotten full. It was actually good to me. Why had I missed out all these years over ONE experience? *face palm*
So much like this coleslaw revelation, this is where I find myself in life. My name is Jasmine, and I’m a 24-year-old going through a midlife crisis. From the outside looking in my life is pretty straightforward. I work as a Medical Laboratory Scientist. I’m engaged. In my free time, I blog. I have four, yes four, stepchildren, and I’m a super weird, random, but friendly geek. Most would think I have it all together and that is nothing farther from the truth. In fact, I’ve found that “functional” is a toxic place to be.
The problem is, my life only seems straightforward, and it keeps going forward, but I don’t fully know where I’m going anymore. At a time I did know, but as you grow into yourself, naturally you change: you adapt new ways of thinking, your tastes change, etc.
Someone I know asked if there is a point past burnout. If I had to guess that’d be autopilot. Some may argue that autopilot is a state within burnout. Either way, when you find yourself at the point, if you even realize it, is that you’re just doing rather than thinking. You become a zombie. By the time you come to, there’s so much to process and catch up to mentally. Which brings me to my now. I’ve been functioning for a long time. So long that, functional became my new normal and I figured that this was the way to life. I was coleslawing myself, if you will.
coleslawing - denying yourself new experiences due to an established complacency and lack of perception, coming to Webster’s Dictionary in 2022.
I find myself at a plateau. I feel like I’ve been going non-stop for years - both mentally and physically - that now that I have paused to focus on me, there’s.so.much.to.unpack…
Here’s some background. I don’t travel much but I am proud to say I’ve at least been coast to coast in this great country and like most people I HATE unpacking. Unpacking signifies the end. It is all the dirty work of washing clothes, putting things back in place, and just reseting yourself for the next thing. You have to inventory everything. It’s tedious and doesn’t come with much reward. Now imagine constantly going from place to place, packing new bags and being able to complete the trip, but never actually recouping.
Physically I haven’t stopped in the sense that off and on through college I was the live-in caretaker for my grandmother. I was more permanent my senior year where I juggled clinicals by day and tending to her by night. Any community service and liesure time was sprinkled in where I could considering I was also President of my sorority’s chapter on campus. I don’t know how I did it, but I just did by God’s grace. I lived in two places - never fully moving in with grandma or out of my mother’s house. I was a modern nomad. I kept my clothes simple to prevent unnecessary trips between houses. I wore a lot of black, nothing too flashy to stand out because I was never too shamed to repeat an outfit. I could skillfully pack the bare minimum and make it work. I could make money STRETCH because during this time I couldn’t work and was fully dependent on my parents. I was innovative, creative, and got by for so long it felt normal. I made so many changes subconsciously and just did it.
Adapting is nothing new for me though. So many times before I’ve been the odd man out in spaces whether it be a summer camp for the gifted many states away and feeling like the dumbest genius in the room or being seemingly the only one on my championship dance-line with two left feet. Wherever I was, I always stood out and had to try harder to assimilate and adapt…to no avail. The thing with traveling is you don’t always have the full set of anything. Travel size is smaller, less than, etc. There’s the popular saying that you play the hand that you’re dealt. Meaning, my parents worked hard just to get my foot in the door of a lot of prestigious spaces so from there, I had to hustle. And hustle I did.
Unpacking is needed. It sucks, but it’s healthy. Staying busy has blessed me with a lot of great skills and connections. I am thankful for how far my upbringing has gotten me. However, my style of constantly moving on to the next thing has now taken it’s toil. I’ve gone from burnout to autopilot to teetering on survival mode. I’ve functioned long enough and now need maintenance. Before I can do this maintenance, though, I have to inventory all that I am now, and honestly it’s hard.
I started mental health counseling some time in 2021 and that was life changing. I still am not finished, but it opened my eyes to a lot of things that I had buried whether from childhood or various experiences in college. Some things are hard to think through. For example, with my parents with whom I’ve also counseled me, it’s hard rationalizing how they were GREAT parents and did everything they could for me, but that somethings still had to be addressed. I went through loops in my mind of “I wanna be grateful for what I have, but I don’t want to feel like this forever either.”
Unpacking can get ugly and it’s a long process. I find that at 24 I have been holding on to so much baggage from my many trips in life, that I’m weighing myself down. Rejection from various people groups in my life triggered me to change over the years in desperate attempts to fit it. Adrienne Houghton from The Real Daytime explains perfectly for reference.
From youth I was blessed with the burden of being unique. I didn’t realize it was a blessing at the time and being ostracized over and over became triggering to the point that now I’m not sure what authentic means to me. So much of my persona was almost forced for so long that there are blurred lines...
But that’s why I want to unpack. Although some of me was forced and/or birthed from survival, some parts I have grown to love. I just want to figure out who I innately am first and build on that. I just want to rediscover me and all the packages that I am made of.
So here I am. Every day. Unpacking so I can #befree. Will you join me?