Replacing Apologies With Gratitude

Often, people don’t know how to tell you things aren’t your fault. They don’t understand where the toxic roots come from, and they don’t understand how to comfort you when you feel the way that you do.

“Thank You” is the new “I’m Sorry.”

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on April 4, 2017.

When I was younger, I was a sounding board for many of my friends who felt they didn’t have anyone else to talk to. I heard stories of depression, anxiety, suicide and anything else you can imagine teenagers between the ages of fourteen and sixteen have to say. It was a really demanding and heavy job; I often felt that I had no where to release my own feelings and began to absorb others’ on top of my own. Soon, I found myself in a toxic environment where I was doing everything wrong and so I began apologizing for everything, even when there was nothing to apologize for.

Being in a toxic environment is like suffocating; being surrounded by several toxic people at once is like drowning. It’s heavy, it’s debilitating and you always feel guilty and shameful. Toxic relationships have a way of bringing you down, as if you were shackled to a wall inside a tornado. Manipulative people take your fears and insecurities and their own insecurities and demons, and your life becomes a whirlwind of darkness. You feel as if everything is your fault, because they make it seem like you’re to blame. You’re not, and sometimes you know you’re not, and that’s what makes everything harder.

Leaving a toxic relationship of any kind is stressful and scary; you’re never quite sure if you’ll make it out alive. The first few steps of freedom are light and airy, and you wish you had done it earlier, if only you had known you were being manipulated. The bad times don’t stop there though. After leaving a relationship like that, sometimes you take those habits with you long after the fact.

Always feeling as though things are your fault is a common habit that follows you and weaves its way into your other relationships. The roots a toxic person digs into you are so deep, even when you thought you had severed the last of them, there are still seeds hiding underneath your memories.

Often, people don’t know how to tell you things aren’t your fault. They don’t understand where the toxic roots come from, and they don’t understand how to comfort you when you feel the way that you do. They often say something like, “Oh my god! Stop apologizing!” or “It’s not your fault.” Well, we all know it’s not your fault, but it’s become a habit to feel like it’s your fault, so you speak that feeling.

The best way for both parties to decrease the amount of apologizing and animosity toward the constant apologizing is this: simply replace the word ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you’.

When someone is speaking to you about something that is bothering them, do not apologize. Instead try saying, “Thank you for confiding in me.” When someone is apologizing for something that isn’t their fault, try saying, “Thank you for listening to me.” or “Thank you for your concern.”

The thank-you-replacement can go for other situations, too.

Instead of apologizing for being late, try saying, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Instead of apologizing for speaking your mind, or expressing your feelings, try, “Thank you for understanding and comforting me.”

Stop apologizing for everything. It’s easier said than done, of course, but it’s pretty simple to replace an apology with an expression of gratitude. You will begin to feel less heavy with guilt, and the roots of that toxic relationship will eventually dissolve as you become more thankful for your surroundings.

When I was a junior in high school, and I found myself surrounded by toxicity, I found the clearest way out of the situation and rode the solo wave for a while. It was difficult to repel the signs of red flags I saw in other people; I was always on my guard so that I wouldn’t be in a similar situation again. I was so scared of being sucked back into the darkness that I didn’t know how to immerse myself in meaningful relationships again.

When I began replacing my apologies with gratitude, it was like I had opened an entirely new door to my future. There is so much beauty in the world, and we take advantage of it every day. Expressing gratitude for my friendships, my family and myself became something I would try to build on in the future, and attempt to gain more of as I grew older. The remnants of guilt and heaviness from my previous toxic experiences soon faded away and dissolved into my past.

I am still triggered by some things relating to those relationships today, but I no longer let them weight me down long term. I remember to thank my lucky stars for what I have in present time, and what those toxic relationships have provided me with since. Gratitude in place of apology has opened my eyes up to the little things, the little bits of beauty we forget to remember.

I am thankful for the light I have discovered outside of the toxic relationships I once had. There was a time when I thought I’d never see the beauty I have. Getting away from toxicity is difficult, but it is not impossible. Know that gratitude will always be waiting for you to embrace it, even when you think there is nothing to be thankful for. There will always be something to be grateful for, and unlike guilt, gratitude is never apologetic.

You Are Alive For A Reason

We help one another to realize their passions, ambitions, and reasons for fighting. We are a machine that cannot work without all of the parts acting in unison.

Just because you haven’t found it yet, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on March 20, 2017.

You are here for a reason. Plain and simple. That’s why you’re alive. That’s why you must continue to live, and that’s why you must fight for your life. Your reason may not be obvious to you; it may not be something you inherently know from the start. You may not discover your reason until much later in life. It may even become clear that you have several reasons for being alive. It’s okay to make up your own reasons, too.

Your reason(s) may or may not be simple; they could be to serve a purpose, a person, and that person could be yourself. It’s OK if that person is yourself. That’s not to say that I’m encouraging you to be selfish, but rather self-serving. Putting your own happiness and interests first isn’t vile or rude; it’s human nature. If, perhaps, your happiness is reflective off of others’ happiness, then being self-serving really isn’t a crime at all.

If you find that your reason for being here is to serve some sort of purpose, know that it’s okay to change that purpose. If, for example, your parents had you so they could have an extra hand on the farm, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t leave and become successful elsewhere. Though everyone has a purpose in life, you are never limited to that purpose, and therefore, you can always change your reasons for being alive, and your reasons for living.

We were all placed here on Earth to change something. We are destined to fulfill the reasons we are here even if they change. Everyone can change the world even if the world we change belongs to just one person. The population thrives on progression, and all of us are a team. We help one another to realize their passions, ambitions, and reasons for fighting. We are a machine that cannot work without all of the parts acting in unison.

If you ever feel lost or alone, know that you are not either of those things. Life is full of twists and turns that will shake you up. Know that when you fall down, it is one hundred percent OK to rest on the ground before you attempt to get back up.

It is so incredibly easy to become bogged down by the pressures and demons of everyday life. It is easy to think that there is nothing out there for you especially when you let the darkness consume you. No matter how many demons drag you down, know that there will be twice as many hands to pull you back up. If you don’t see any hands, look elsewhere.

Don’t give up because you are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do not give up because you cannot see success in your future. Stand tall, stand strong, and never stop asking for help. Your light is there. Your future is there, and you will find your success where you least expect to.

You were put on this earth for a reason. Just because you haven’t found it yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just because you feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders, does not mean that people will not help. All you have to do is ask.

To All The Perfectionist-Procrastinators

I am my own worst enemy. I am the worst perfectionist procrastinator you will ever meet.

Are you your own worst enemy? Me too.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 16, 2017.

Hi, my name is Casey (Hi Casey) and I am my own worst enemy. I spend most of my time bullying myself, pressuring myself and trying to make sure I don’t disappoint my worst enemy: me. My parents were never particularly strict with me when it came to my grades or my future, so I guess someone had to take the job. I guess that someone is me. It’s a tiring and difficult job but I just can’t seem to let myself go.

I am my own worst enemy. I am the worst perfectionist procrastinator you will ever meet. I know when I can procrastinate and when I can’t and then I still find a way to work even when I procrastinate off-schedule. It’s a work in progress. Progress that I’ll end up procrastinating. It’s a system I’m working on.

In high school, I was particularly terrible at this system, waiting until two or three in the morning to print out a paper due the same day, approximately six hours later. I would stay up entirely too late for a student who had to wake up at 7 a.m. at the very latest each morning to assure my punctuality. I was still late sometimes. I took a two-hour nap every day after school when I didn’t have to stay after and when I did have to stay after, it was until late because I was a theater kid.

Theater was a fun way of procrastinating. It still is, but it’s not as effective, because, in college, theater doesn’t really take a day off. In high school, there were times when we would go to rehearsal but there would be nothing to do. In college, there really isn’t ever a time when you have nothing to do, both in and outside of theatrical activities.

College is pretty great because you make your own schedule and you have your own time to delegate your priorities. If you have priorities, you are probably very good at organizing them. If you’re like me, however, you probably try to do everything at once and then end up stressing out and only taking a break every few hours to cry. While this isn’t healthy and I know it isn’t healthy, I keep doing it.

My name is Casey and I am my own worst enemy. What kind of person makes it harder for themselves just because they don’t feel like doing the work? I am the slacker in a group for a project that determines your final grade and the group is made up of the one, the only, procrastinating perfectionist, me.

I know that perfection isn’t attainable, but I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear myself say that. Maybe I’m just picky, maybe I just like things to be organized. Then why is my room so messy? It’s not a priority. Why are my priorities so messy? Great question. Anyone else have any questions I won’t be answering anytime soon?

If you’re like me, you will push yourself to the edge and then spend most of your break recuperating, because you had to single-handedly lift yourself back up the ledge. If you’re like me, you will spend hours and hours working on a small task so you don’t have to fry your brain working on a larger task. If you’re like me, you’ll wait until the last minute and then have several breakdowns and gain anxiety from the anxiety you caused yourself.

Why are we like this? I don’t know. I can’t seem to fire myself from this job. I can’t even lay myself off, it’s like I’m feeding off of my own pressure. Maybe I work well under pressure? I think there’s a line between pressure and too much pressure, though. Why can’t I see the line?

My name is Casey and I am my own worst enemy. I know when to recognize improvement and I know when I’ve exceeded my expectations that I’ve done some good work. The only problem is that my expectations are pretty high, even when I swear I’m just trying to do my best. E for Effort, more like Me for Mess.

It’s not just with grades and schooling either, I find myself having to do the absolute most in my workplace, in my extracurricular activities and even my sleep schedule. Why aren’t I sleeping enough? Well because you’re not doing anything in an organized matter? Not good enough.

It’s never good enough and I can’t seem to figure out why. The only person I’m trying to impress is myself. Why am I so impossible? How can I strive to be better than me?

I like to think I have a strong desire for improvement. I feel like you can never stop improving. You’ll never be the best. Even when you’re the best at one thing, you still have other areas to improve in. If you’re with me so far, you’ve probably got a similar mindset. Who are you willing to impress if not yourself?

If you are your own worst enemy, know that you are not alone. You are not dumb, you are not ‘OCD’, you are not sick. You are a human being who wants to improve themselves and while your methods may not be the healthiest, at least you never give up.

If you are your own worst enemy, join us. Tell us your name, your problem and we will welcome you. You will achieve improvement and greatness. You will see a better you. Know that you must accept the you found in the mirror first. Accept the mess on your floor, the frizz in your hair and the clutter in your backpack.

Know that you will improve anything that you put your mind to. Remember that you deserve a break, though and remember to take that break. Remember to embrace relaxation and don’t forget this work ethic. Work often but reward more often. You can be your own worst enemy as long as you are your own best friend too.

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You Are Your Own Galaxy

Your future isn’t a ticking time bomb.

The only person who can define your success is you.

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 3, 2017.

Time isn’t real. Okay, let me rephrase. Time, regarding how long it should take to complete a task, doesn’t really exist. We learn from a young age that certain tasks take a certain maximum amount of time, but this just isn’t correct. Writing a paragraph may take some people five minutes, while it may take other people ten. It depends on the person, the topic and the paragraph. Writing a paper may take an hour, or several. It depends. Just like menial tasks don’t have time limits, your success doesn’t either. Your path, your possibilities and your future successes are infinite; you are your own clock, you are your own galaxy.

Your future isn’t a ticking time bomb. It isn’t going to explode in a year, ten years or twenty. Anything is possible at any age, any time, any day and any year. Do not ever let anyone else define a time-period for your success. Your success is infinite and will never expire. Your productivity, your passion and your inability to complete certain tasks do not limit future you. You are your own galaxy, you abide by your own rules, your own system of time and your own governing.

Some people know exactly how they want to spend the rest of their lives the minute they accept their high school diploma. Some people don’t. Some people won’t find out for several years. Some people never find out. All of these things are OK and perfectly acceptable. Some people have one major, some people have two, some people have five. Some people have none. Still acceptable. Some people finish college in two years, some finish in five, some finish in ten. Some never attend college. All of these people are human. You do not become less of a person because you don’t have your life situated a certain way.

Your success will never abide by a time limit, no matter how many parents, teachers or people on the internet tell you that you’re not in the right place. Know that you are in your own place and what’s right or wrong can only be decided by one person: you.

Just because other people surrounding you have completed something faster or slower than you does not mean they are wrong. It simply means they are abiding by their own time, their own potential and their own possibilities. It does not make that person any less intelligent, any less potent or any less successful.

No matter how many people try to commandeer your future and your success, that little piece of paper does not define your worth. You are not measured in grade point averages. You will never be measured in grade point averages.

If college isn’t your setting, no worries. Your advancement in the business world does not define your success. The only person in the entire world who can define your worth, your success and your intelligence is you. Moving at your own pace? Fantastic. Moving faster? Awesome. Taking a break from moving? Treat yourself. Not moving at all? Perfectly acceptable.

People are destined to have different paths in life. If we were all heading down the same path, life would be pretty boring. We aren’t all meant to be doctors or lawyers or business executives. We’re also not meant to not be doctors, lawyers or business executives, either. There is a huge need for every occupation out there. Anything is possible. Your potential will never expire.

Age is just a number. You can go back to school, you can get a new job, you can start again, funds permitting. Life does not slow down for anyone.

When you or someone you know is not completing a task according to whoever’s allotted time expectancy, do not shame or be ashamed. Allotted time isn’t real. Our successes are not measured in seconds, minutes or hours. Our successes are not limited by a clock. Our successes are infinite, our futures are infinite, our potential, infinite.

You are your own amazing galaxy. You are vast and beautiful and it’s OK if you haven’t discovered everything out there yet. You may never discover everything out there and that’s OK, too. You are wonderful and curious and you will find your way. Your success cannot be measured by other galaxies, because you are your own galaxy. You have different methods practiced in order to obtain different outcomes. Your possibilities are endless. You are a gracious and ground-breaking galaxy and your success will be abundant.

Do not give up and recoil because you are not meeting someone else’s requirements. You are on your own path to success and will not be swayed by other’s attempts at discouragement. Know that you are a worldly wonder and you will find your way, no matter which direction you head in.

You are your own galaxy. Shine like the star you want to be.

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