Wake me up when October ends
October hit and suddenly, my mind decided that it would be cool to turn into Facebook’s memories feature. Each day I would think, “this is roughly the day two years ago that I looked into the mirror with shock, refusing to believe what I saw”. “This is the day two years ago that I felt anger that this really was happening to me for the third time.” “This was around the time two years ago that I felt pain in my heart because I realized that I had been betrayed by my body once again.” And so on.
Then it went into waking up to mornings of picturing the very trauma that I lost myself to two years ago. I already lived through it once, so surely, I didn’t deserve to experience it another time?!
BUT this isn’t a sad story or a pity party. Over the past two years I had grown to trust my circumstances and that had brought with it a comforting sense of peace that let me take everything in my stride.
I started this blog on December 1st, 2017 when I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that I was not happy with who I had become and never wanted to be in that position ever again. I was so privileged to grow up in an environment where my mother taught me to always leave the house feeling confident, and my father taught me that I had limitless potential. I had always loved myself, and I loved loving others. How did I get to a position where I hated me, my favorite person?!
I went on a rapid mission to transform myself into a Sunena that I couldn’t help but to fall in love with every morning. I visited over 30 cities, toured my production in 3 continents, and met countless new people that I consider to be angels in my life. I had effectively forced myself to turn the worst thing in my life into the best.
I felt a novel kind of strength. I was refreshed and felt that I had tackled my illness. I felt that that was the most valuable lesson I could possibly give myself, that if I could defeat an illness with so much strength, then I could look back and always think that I could do anything. Of course it is a lesson that I still hold close to my heart. However, there was an issue lying in the fact that I had attached my strength and energy to a specific circumstance.
The entirety of 2018 was magical in several ways. I had recreated what “Sunena” was and I was invincible in my mind. That is what I needed for that year, but I also needed to take out the time to properly process trauma. I had refused to look back, and so when the Facebook memories series in my mind started to send me notifications, I had a lot of cleaning up to do.
Too far forward?
Enter the concept: “toxic positivity”. Essentially, it is the concept that staying positive and exclusively positive is the way to live life. There is only a focus on positivity, and a rejection of any negative experiences or emotions.
This sounds perfect in theory but as the human mind functions, avoiding undesired emotions actually spirals into magnifying them. Denying negative emotions tells your mind that you don’t need to give them attention, and while you trap yourself in the cycle of side-lining these difficult emotions, they become bigger the longer they remain unprocessed. Ultimately, this approach is unsustainable because the human mind simply cannot program itself to exclusively and genuinely experience happiness.
On the flip side, accepting negative feelings and processing them in the moment supports your body and mind in decreasing their intensity. It’s the same theory as getting things off of your chest by sharing them with a loved one. There’s that saying that a problem shared is a problem halved. But in this case the difference is that your relationship of sharing is now between your body and mind.
I started to change my approach of categorizing emotions as either positive or negative. Beginning to think of emotions as guidance works much more productively and provides a solution to any inclination towards toxic positivity.
For example, if you’re sad about an issue in a relationship, it shows you that it is that much more meaningful to work through. If you’re anxious about a presentation, it tells you how much you care about the work you are doing and how it is perceived. Using emotions as guidance creates a healthier relationship within our own selves, but also with the people around us. By allowing ourselves to embrace all emotions, our mind can then clue us to seek comfort from others when we are sad or seek forgiveness when feeling guilt.
Now, on the last day of my last fall semester at Berkeley I can proudly say that I have conquered my fear of fall semesters! In my first year I struggled with navigating such a new setting. In my second year I felt like I had lost myself. In my third year, I went to the extreme of moving to London for a semester to avoid another Fall semester in Berkeley. In my final semester, I relived trauma, I struggled with explaining it to new friends, and I battled with new embellishments of my condition. But in my final semester I was honest through it all in reaching out to professors and friends, I worked hard to maintain a balance of academics, dance and health, and I let myself fall in love.
It took me two to tango. One year to set myself completely free and separate myself from negative experiences, and another to ground me back and help me achieve and address my appropriate balance.
Great going! So proud of you!❤