i have always loved october. the crisp air and overly saturated trees make me feel new, vibrant and real. it also helps that my birthday is in october. the joy that this month brings me is what gets me through the last few months of the year– it’s a renewal of myself and my spirit.

but this year, i’ve just been shuffling along. i barely find joy in anything anymore.

no matter how hard i try, every turn i take seems to take me back to what has gone wrong in my life as of late. from weight gain to my incredibly long and desperate job search, i feel like i’m just not enough or not doing as much as i need to be. i find myself looking back at my high school years and wondering where i found the stamina and perseverance to keep hustling at 14, 15, 16.

the more i reflect on it, the more i’m convinced that i worked so hard because there was a tangible end goal: college. higher education would ultimately be my way out of a life of poverty and struggle.

or so i thought, anyway.

my life isn’t as hard as it was then but it’s also not easy. i’ve grown up and realized that there’s more to life than good grades and boys. how paltry my problems seem in retrospect. but that being said, those problems were just as real and difficult at the time. right now, my current problems revolve around money and time. i never seem to have enough of either.

it’s funny– i always thought that growing up meant that i’d know how to handle problems better. i’m slowly learning that adulthood just means being kind of frightened and winging it, all while pretending everything’s okay and stable.

i don’t know if i like the person i am becoming in my adult years. i drink coffee now, the biter liquid serving as a physical analogy of what i feel in my soul. some days, i feel like there’s a dark shroud covering my heart, making me inaccessible to any good in the world. i wear dark baseball caps slung low over my eyes when i commute, hiding myself from the world at large. i feel safer knowing that i can blend into a crowd on the days where i don’t feel like myself. lately, that seems to be every day.

i wish the holidays weren’t coming up. i’m not prepared for the onslaught of people cheerily asking how i’m doing and expecting a ton of good news. i’m tired of people asking me why i’m not as vibrant as i used to be, why i seem so sad and so down. how do i begin? the simplest of explanations wouldn’t be enough and i don’t care to share the whole story. but the truth is this:
i’m not happy anymore; i’m exhausted.

those moments where i forget the weight i’m carrying and laugh unabashedly are few and far between. most nights, i pray for sleep to come quickly so i don’t stay up doing math about the bills and the money i need for the week. i wake up and feel dread build in the pit of my stomach as i contemplate going to work or just letting myself get fired. but i know that it’s not really a choice. i always go.

some days, i feel like i have a handle on everything.
some days, i feel like a dumb kid who barely understands how the world works.

nothing has ever really been easy for me but i’ve enjoyed the sense of stability i’ve had since i graduated last year. losing that has been a harsh reminder that i don’t have the luxury of being comfortable; everything is a hustle.but the upside to this is that there’s no telling how far i’ll be able to go if i keep working at it.

i’m older, i’m tired, i’m worn. but i’m learning to be better at expressing my emotions and keeping them in check as opposed to letting them dictate my life choices. my lack of joy no longer translates into staying in bed and pretending the rest of my life doesn’t exist. i could do that in high school and college because other people weren’t relying on me as much and because, to some extent, i was selfish. my choices made more of an impact on my life and rarely affected anyone around me. now, i’m realizing that my problems and the way i choose to handle them have an effect on everyone in my immediate circles that i love.

newton’s third law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. i keep thinking about this every time something happens out of my control. while i can’t dictate what happens and when, i can control the way i respond to it. i wish i could be the perfect daughter, sister, cousin, girlfriend, coworker, friend– but i’m not. there will be times when i lose my temper, when i start crying, when i fall into the black hole of emotional self sabotage that i was prone to as an adolescent.

but i’m getting better at toeing that line and bringing myself back from the precipice. i’m trying to not become discouraged by all the obstacles in my life and instead, think of this as a long learning curve. maybe i don’t like who i am right now, but that doesn’t have to be a permanent state. there is so much time to change, so much time to grow. every path i make, every road i map– it’s taking me one step closer to the person i need to be.


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