CHARLOTTE JOHNSTON -

RISE OVER RUN

A | LORENZO COLOCADO | PROJECT


“I feel like I am worthless.”

Those were maybe the hardest words I’ve ever had to say aloud, and speaking them sent my fingers into a white-knuckled fist, my heart pounding in my temples. It felt like I was admitting to failure, like I couldn’t handle my life. I felt at once naked and smothered and regretted the implications of my words almost the second they left my mouth, resonating in the counsellor’s office.

I was raised to look at every struggle as an opportunity worth rising above, every challenge a learning experience. This has made me a much more resilient and strong person — I am very fortunate. Sometimes though, as hard as you try, things veer right off the track you expect them to take. It’s kind of like spending hours putting together a puzzle without knowing what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like, and none of the pieces fit together.

My greatest struggle over the last school year has been trying to accept that how I feel isn’t always governed by how I live my life.

I felt left behind, the world turning and turning with seemingly no sense that I had stopped turning with it.

Looking back at the day I started feeling different, I think I kind of understand why clichés exist. I had never felt sadness that permeated my chest so heavily, weighing down on me, making it hard to breathe and more difficult to think simple linear thoughts. I was almost shocked by the intensity and physical presence of my thoughts, which seemed completely unaccountable to anything in my life.

I was often distracted, disconnected, and pensive. I felt less trusting of those I loved and of those who cared about me, and less trusting of myself to do or say the right thing. I fixated on the tiny moments and missteps of my life, apologized for things people hadn’t noticed that I had been thinking about for days, weeks, months. I lacked the energy the world was asking me to exert in regular, everyday tasks.

Every day, the world felt a little less beautiful and a little more isolating.

It was as if I had never realized the energy it took to get out of bed, go to class, and generally be a human being. I would go to sleep each night telling myself that tomorrow I would feel better. I’d wake up in the morning telling myself to make each new day good. The positivity that had previously gotten me through other challenging aspects of my life wasn’t giving me the strength I felt I needed.

I felt worthless, empty, frustrated and disconnected.

I tried to put up as much of a front as I could, but I didn’t feel like I could hide this. I felt out of control. It took a lot of me to I had to admit to myself that I felt the way I did. Most of all though, it’s taken a lot of courage for me to stop apologizing for how I feel. Although I’m still not perfect at it, I’m trying to understand that I can’t control that always — how I feel is not always governed by the ways in which I live my life.

I can’t come close to properly explaining how grateful I am. I thank the world every day for granting me with the gift of living in a world that didn’t leave me alone when I fell down. For people who listen. I am grateful for the ability to talk about how I feel, and for the ability to feel so much. I am grateful for the fact that I am not afraid to be vulnerable.

I don’t feel completely better yet. I still have so many questions — when do I start feeling I am, regardless of how many times I’m told or how many people tell me, important? That I do, in fact, matter? I’m trying to learn to be patient with myself by taking time to appreciate life and the people around me as much as I possibly can, and being honest with others and myself about what I can expect of myself day-to-day.

This is a battle I haven’t quite won, but it’s also one I don’t want to lose. If you are reading this, and you feel only darkness, or like you’ve lost control of how you feel, please know that you matter. Please know that you can always tell others how much you’re hurting, and when you’re ready, people will be ready to listen. Don’t throw the puzzle pieces back into the box just yet. Let people fight your battle with you if you can — there are so many more people willing than you would think. The world’s still turning, it’ll just take some time to start turning with it again.

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