take a stroll inside my brain

warning: this is a long, introspective post that is intended mostly for a) personal therapeutic reasons and b) people who amazingly have an express interest in the drawn-out inner workings of my mind+heart (i.e. my parents). and also for the sake of keeping this blog, which has become a sort of life record, real and representative. so - proceed knowingly or disregard.

yesterday i came across this little anecdote in an awesome talk by elder wirthlin - "some feel as though the world is their oyster; others feel as though they are the oyster itself, plucked form the ocean, cracked open, and robbed of all that is precious to them." i'm overgeneralizing here, and being a little dramatic (oh, i just must), but yes! i relate. eight months ago i felt like i was exuberantly holding the world - my own enchanting, exciting little oyster - in my hot hands; now i feel like i actually am that oyster, but devoid of its charm and gleam, now dull and battered.

i think i am an exceptionally positive and genuinely happy person, but for the sake of being real, i've gotta say -- this stinks and lately, i have at times been quite miserable. even as i write this i cringe, because the core of me fights against that kind of rhetoric at all costs, but today i put my hands in the air and admit - i am having a hard time, and my heart is heavy and weepy.

the other day my roommate told me that in the wee hours of one morning this week, i was sobbing and whimpering in my sleep. in many ways (i'll spare the details here), somehow i've painted myself into a corner that feels excruciatingly grueling, confusing and aching. because (at least for me) meaningful work and being a part of something bigger than myself is such a huge source of self-esteem, this loooong bout of unemployment makes me feel very narrowly for myself, and it is hard to not let that lack of self-assuredness (which i swear used to be one of my strengths!) seep into all aspects of my life. i'm so tired - exhausted of trying to convince employers i am awesome and exhausted of trying to, in turn, convince myself that i am awesome. at times i just feel like i'm in such a dark place - there are a lot of elements (of my personality and the situation) that make this particular trial very true and very intense for me. all this causes me to feel like i am being the worst version of myself, when really - i promise! - i am resilient and passionate and faithful and everlastingly optimistic. and that is frustrating! i feel like i have nothing to offer the world, no skills or value, no direction or purpose... it is all very irrational but also so very real.

i know. major debbie downer.

there have been many times in the past couple of months when i poignantly and forcefully stop myself mid-downward-spiral and demand - NO! i am not seeing things clearly, and this is not who i am, and CUT THE CRAP, my life is awesome. i have moments of intense peace and reassurance, incredibly sweet and perfect tender mercies pop up, people's kindness warms my frozen heart (yes, dramatic, but also illustrative), i find little happy things all around me, i see things in perspective and re-realize how outrageously blessed i am. i get that, and i constantly feel like i shouldn't complain and that i have so much to be happy about and grateful for, and deep in my heart of hearts i am still that annoyingly cheerful and passionate girl, but right now i am consciously deciding to not clobber this significant trial with stubborn positivity, but to own it, and embrace it, and let it consume me in a way that allows me to really triumph over it.

i just love being alive, and i love the whole spectrum of experience and emotion that comes with mortality. i feel like this hardship is making me more completely human, and i love that. i want to have every single mortal experience that is possible and necessary in my life. i don't want to miss out on any. cliche, but said so often because it is actually true: the hardest things in our lives become the most beautiful and valuable. i like hard things. they make me better. my whole life my mom's voice has echoed these three words in my head: hard is good. i believe that with all my heart; that sums up so much of my life philosophy. hard is good. hard is also hard. it's just HARD! but i am authentically grateful for this trial of patience and faith, for these nights spent praying aloud and crying in my car, for this seemingly mammoth battle to keep my head up, for the things i am learning and the way i'm being hollowed out, and the sensations i'm experiencing and the bending of perspective and the roughness of the oyster.

in a lot of ways i feel like i am waiting for my real life to begin. i can identify with this thought from an excellent book i just finished (more on that later): "sometimes i can hear my bones straining under the weight of all of the lives i'm not living." i am learning about making choices and pressing forward. i think i am so afraid of having to turn around in the future that i somehow stand still in the present in fear of making a committed and not perfectly, perfectly right decision. my fear of wasting time has caused me to waste it. because i am overwhelmed with the world being my oyster, i have become the oyster itself. i'm finally reaching a point just now where i think i am coming to understand that i just need to (as i have so many times before, but somehow in a different context) push aside all the pros and cons and the complexity of this pivotal time and just GO. just make some choices and go forward. i need to step out of my sad little corner and onto the wet paint.

this quote has always served as sort of my life mission statement, my mantra: "go confidently in the direction of your dreams. live the life you have imagined" (thoreau). i am a romantic heart that subscribes unabashedly to the lofty philosophy of living your dreams. i am quixotic. i am so determined, even stubborn, about living the adventurous, lush life i have imagined. i do think this is an admirable strength, and it is something i like about myself. and i feel really blessed that in so many ways i have lived this quote, and that has brought me a lot of joy. but lately i am coming to understand the extraordinary and strangely beautiful power of - gasp! - abandoning this ideal.

indeed, there is something great to be said of making some big, heart-wrenching sacrifices, surrendering to things less glimmering, and accepting aspects of life that were not imagined or never existed in a dream. in this sense, maybe there is sometimes great power in giving up. society is endlessly inspired by people who make their dreams come true, but what of people who traverse through big and hard changes and formulate new dreams that are less glamorous but more authentic and, in the end, more gratifying in an unseen and unsensational way? i think my background has led me to dream of a very outwardly exotic and adventurous life, but i'm discovering the astounding virtue of consciously succumbing to things that become strangely extraordinary in their seeming ordinariness.

now i feel like i am writing myself in circles, and i think it's well time to end this stroll inside my brain, but my point is: i will continue going confidently in the direction of my dreams, which includes a life in which my dreams can change and be tempered in a paradoxically beautiful way.

the place i'm in in time and space is truthfully significantly hard. but -- hard is good.


  1. char - you're doing awesome. I have been thinking about you a lot and how you're doing. It's perfectly okay to break down and admit you're struggling - sometimes it's exactly what you need to pick yourself back up and plow through life. At least, that's how I view it. Sometimes it gives me greater perspective too. Love you!

  2. Boy oh man oh boyhowdy, you can WRITE!
    I feel for you and with you my cherished baby and I think I get a glimpse of how the real Father feels as he watches us struggle and knows deep down that all will be well with one of his choicest daughters.

  3. char; do they have segway tours of san fran? I think that would be an awesome job. they do it here in dc and it is definitely a backup plan for me. you would be an awesome tourguide.

  4. chare,
    i love your honesty and i love that i can know what is going on in your head even from singapore!

    i love how happy you look in that picture with your hands to the sky...even when times are rough you have a great perspective and outlook which i admire SO much.

    let's talk voice to voice soon!

  5. Man, oh man we are lucky to have a daughter who can express herself so explicitly and magnificently! This is such a perfect demonstration of your will to succeed no matter how hard it gets and to continue to progress no matter what. Remember that Karl Bloch could paint such magnificent faces full of pain and anguish as well as joy and exhilaration because he had experienced those emotions himself. He knew how it felt from inside. So it will be with this experience. You'll be able to use what things yo learn from being in the depths for a lifetime.

    I love you more than you will ever know until you have a daughter exactly like you!

  6. oh charity! I'm so glad you shared this. You are such an inspiration to me in ways i won't even try to express! or maybe you could just read my mind, try to make sense of it, and then write my feelings down for me because you have a seriously POWERFUL gift. I love that your mom said that "You'll be able to use what things you learn from being in the depths for a lifetime." So true but even now I can't imagine a better, more solid, appropriately quixotic, outstanding person than you already are!

  7. right now i want nothing but to take you to a fancy dinner in san francisco- doesn't that sound great :) your mom is SO right!

  8. You have no idea who I am but I read your blog regularly. I think I stumbled across it from your sister Shawni's blog which I stumbled across somehow along the lines of blog reading somewhere. I have been so grateful that I found both of your blogs. I learn and grow from them regularly. Even though I have never met you I feel like I know you because almost everything you write I feel like you pulled it exactly out of my head and put it on paper. The difference is your attitude is leaps and bounds better than mine is. I strive to have your positive outlook and zest for life. Your words in this post moved me. Even though it talked of the pain and despair you feel, in a way it soothed my soul because I now know once again that I am not alone in what I'm feeling. Thank you for your words. Thank you for allowing your blog to be found by others. Good luck in moving forward and continuing to be so amazing.

  9. I found your blog through your sister Shawni. You are an incredibly gifted writer. Wow! Have you ever heard of the Meyers-Briggs personality types? When I discovered those, I felt like I understood myself and my needs and my drives so much better. I couldn't believe that someone describing my personality type seemed to know me so well. My husband too was amazed. Anyway, if you haven't ever read about those, I highly recommend reading up about Meyers-Briggs personality types on Google or Wikipedia or checking out the book "Please Understand Me". My guess is you might be one of the Idealists called an ENFP or a Champion (the Keirsey type...a psychologist who came up with his own personality type descriptions based on Meyers-Briggs). There are books out there that help you understand career choices that fit best with personality types. I know a random stranger making a recommendation might seem weird, but I really hope for brighter days to come your way soon.

  10. Charity,

    I just had lunch with Lisa. It lasted over two hours! Know why? Because I was blabbing to her about all my problems. She told me to read your last blog post, so I just did, and man oh man. It's like we're living the exact same life in two different cities!

    I don't know why people work this way, but for some reason we find comfort when we know others are going through or have dealt with the same problems we are faced with. So, I don't know if I can bring any consolation to you by telling you I'm in the same boat (haven't had a paycheck in 15 months, still looking for a job, still nobody hiring even though I KNOW I can do it and that they'd love me, feeling more discouraged than ever before, feeling like I have no skills or passions anymore because of all this, etc.), but you have definitely helped me feel comforted. I think because I know you can do it, which in turn helps me feel like I can as well.

    We can do hard things! Oh how beautiful the struggle is. It sucks, but if we keep the right perspective, our character and faith will grow stronger, and that is what's most important.

    I love you! Sorry for the novel. I want to come visit!

  11. You are a fabulous writer, and a fantastic friend. Your positivity and introspection has helped me to think through many things in my own life. Just today I told someone that "hard is good!" I know that the right situation is just around the corner and that you'll appreciate it all the more with the wait. xoxo

  12. Well, that is one heck of an awesome photo, so pretty much it took over whatever else I was going to say about your writing.

    I WHOLE HEARTEDLY support Eli's idea of Segway tour guide. Or any tour guide. I would totally pay to have you give me a tour of my own house even.

    We love you and want you to come up here ASAP. Or maybe we need to come see you.

  13. Ok, not going to lie, still slowly working through this post, but I have been meaning to tell you that I honestly feel so blessed to know you and be friends with such a social hub! Ok, even if you weren't a social hub I would still feel blessed. While it may or may not be the main reason why you felt the need to come to SF, I know that one reason was to be a friend and example to me and the many others in the ward that are blessed from your friendship and CHARITY. Loves ya!

    P.S. Lets hit up Andalu soon, and I think you should consider being a tour guide on the side...that's secretly my dream job, but I just don't have the personality for it like you do :)

  14. Beautiful post...thanks for sharing! I feel like this right now in my life :)


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