Angela is a 21 year old law student who is interested in writing funny, thought provoking and touching stories on what it means to grow up in today's world.
Why I Will No Longer Be Making Vision Boards
Feeling like a failure is something almost everyone can relate to at some point in life. However, when it comes from within rather than external sources, it sucks even more. The challenging part is that you're never really sure when the negative thoughts start to creep in; you just start waking up every day and feeling like you’ve let your old self down by not accomplishing all the things you once aspired to do.
This is exactly what I have been going through until quite recently, triggered by a vision board that I had as my laptop wallpaper since late December last year. The funny thing is that I know myself well enough to know that I’m not really a person who relies on visual stimulation when seeking motivation. So, I kinda already knew that I wasn’t too into vision boards, nor had I ever felt the need to make one before. But one afternoon I was hanging out with my best friend, and she told me about all the things she wanted to get together in her life. She then told me how she was planning to make a vision board as a constant reminder of her goals, and I was like, ‘’Hey, maybe this isn’t too bad for me to try too!’’ Oh boy, if only I knew.
Fast forward to a few weeks after I created my board (which by the way, was extra tricky because of my minimal design skills), and I started to notice a change in my mood. “Must be that PMS doing its thing” I thought to myself, and I decided to wait it out. I only decided to do a deep introspection after two weeks passed after my period, and I still felt like doing life was too much and opening the curtains or brushing my teeth was becoming extremely demanding. My depression phase had begun, and I didn’t even know yet.
Now, I don’t like using the word depression loosely because I understand how serious the condition is, not to mention the thousands of lives affected by it. But, even though I have never been diagnosed with depression, it’s the only way I can associate what I felt. I didn’t even want to eat at some points, and I knew it had become uncontrollable when I went an entire day without food because I just couldn’t bring myself to eat.
The challenge, however, remained understanding what was triggering all this. I mean, I have a loving family, extremely supportive friends, and I wasn’t back to school yet. Then I noticed a pattern of intense anxiety every time I switched my laptop on. But no tasks or passive-aggressive emails from my school supervisor were waiting for me. So, what the heck was going on!
One afternoon as I was doing some soul searching and trying to force myself to feel better, I stared at my wallpaper/vision board for a while. Every frame in the grid I had created symbolized something I had promised myself I would achieve by the end of the year. However, I had still not gotten started on any of it. For example, I would love to improve my writing portfolio, but in January alone, I received more rejection letters and email ghosting than someone looking for a last-minute valentine’s date. I moved to the next grid that had a growth graph and money graphics on it–save and invest more was the goal represented by the visual. Yet so far, because I had little to no working opportunities, my bank account balance was (and still kinda is) a difficult topic to talk about.
After checking a few more vision board grids and acknowledging how suckish my life was, yet everyone around me seemed to be thriving, I ended up balling my eyes out for quite a while. Suddenly, I could associate my negative feelings of worthlessness and underachieving with the source. And that just made me sadder because now I could question myself and my “go-getterness” from a solid perspective. In the days after, the thoughts of how much I was lagging behind grew extremely loud in my mind and would only quiet down once I left the house for a brief walk. I don’t understand why I had put so much pressure on myself to work on goals even though I still had many more months to work on them. Despite the realization that the year is still so young, my heart was still heavy, and I knew it was time to open up to someone, and who better than my girls’ group chat!
My self-soothing/cry for advice and help session turned out to be one long voice note to the group chat, where I expressed my constant downcast moods, overthinking, and anxiety, all brought about by my vision board. I told them about how every time I looked at it, I felt like I was a thousand steps away from ever doing anything great. When one of them responded, their advice was easy and practical, yet nothing I had thought of before-just change your wallpaper! She also told me how she related to the sentiments and that making daily and weekly checklists were much more motivating and enjoyable for her because nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment that comes with ticking your list at the end of the day, no matter how simple the tasks on the list are. Eventually, completing your tasks builds up to achieving your bigger goals, like those on my vision board. So this whole time, my perspective was like wanting to swallow an entire hotdog without wanting to take small bites. I swear, nothing ever made so much sense before.
After a few more responses and words of encouragement, I felt like I was slowly getting my groove back. The thing with being in a dark place is that you forget everything going well in your life, including the self-preservation practices you have incorporated into your life. And that’s exactly what happened to me. With the constant pressure I was putting on myself, I had completely abandoned my stoic way of life that I adapted after reading a self-help book. Yet that alone would have been enough to protect me from the ordeal I was going through because stoicism teaches you to accept things as they are–to do your best and set your goals, but to also go with the flow of life while embracing all the challenges and wins you experience. This is the path I have returned to, and I am so glad I was able to pull myself out of the self-critical state of mind. Even though it took going through tough mental health challenges these past few weeks, maybe it’s what I needed to determine that vision boards are not for me. I recognize how helpful and motivational they are in serving millions of people to achieve their dreams, but it’s safe to say that I’m not one of them. I certainly will not be making another vision board any time soon, not for now. And I’m happy and content not to do so.
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