When I was young I remember always feeling like an alien to this world. I felt like I was just pretending to be human. I was always looking outward to other people's reactions to figure out how I should be feeling.
Should is a dangerous word. I should have this kind of job. I should be making this much money. I should major in this. I should be more focused. I should be more like my sister.
Should will often put me in a comparison mindset. And that is always a lose / lose game.
Anyways, I've always felt like I should feel understood. But I don't. Even as an adult with an understanding wife and an amazingly imaginative kid, I feel like nobody understands me some days.
In part it is because growing up, feeling like an alien, I felt that I shouldn't express my weird point of view. Especially because I was easily hurt when I tried and people still didn't get it.
So I felt like I had to stand back and observe people being people.
But here's the truth.
I can't stand back and watch anymore.
It's not fair to the people who are trying to understand me.
I'm no longer a kid.
I don't need to be so guarded.
I will probably always have a whisper in my head that says, "nobody understands me." That's okay.
What's more important to me is that I open up to the people who have truly earned my trust.
Because I want to understand them better.
Because being loved is nice, but being understood is life defining.
I want to challenge you to reflect on any old armor that doesn't fit in your life anymore.
Is there anyone in your life who has more than earned your trust and you aren't opening up to?
I have a hard time not getting all consumed by my latest hobbies.
For example, I like audiobooks. This makes me think that I should narrate audiobooks. Not only should I narrate audiobooks, I should be produce audiobooks! While I'm at it I should write a book about creating audiobooks so that I can do that audio narration!
I can't just like audiobooks. I have to BE audiobooks. Hobbies can easily consume my identity because I'm always looking for a deeper meaning. So me liking audiobooks MUST mean more. It must be a sign that this is what I truly want to do.
The problem with these rabbit holes is that they usually distract me from what I really wanted to work on. Then I burn out with audiobooks and my original goal of writing a blog post. Which leads me to the good ol' you'll never finish anything pity party.
I think there's a way to use this to our advantage though.
You see, these rabbit holes often come with a great sense of urgency.
Let's bottle that extra energy and use it as a carrot stick.
What I started doing lately is creating a list of all the projects I want to dig into. Say narrate an audiobook. I put it on my master list of super secret projects. Then I let myself know that whenever I finish what I'm currently working on I get to pick from my treasure box of future projects. Moreover, if I get inspiration for an upcoming project, I write some quick notes on my master list (no research allowed). When I finally get to try out a new project, I have a head start...
before the next idea pop us.
If there are any strategies that you find helpful, then please comment below or feel free to shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, I spoke at the BEZZ Nutrition Workshop. Essentially my speech boiled down to: we need to find a plan that works for you - right now - given your circumstances.
What's best for me isn't necessarily going to work for you.
Beyond that, what works for you today may not even work for you in the future.
When I did my Q&A, most of the questions were asking me for permission:
"Can I put cream in my coffee?"
"Can I drink red wine?"
"If I'm fasting, can I fast dinner instead of breakfast?"
The truth is, it depends. I can give you the basic macro and micronutrients you need, but after that, it's about finding what's sustainable for you.
You don't need permission from me (or anyone else) to try something.
Just try it!
Trust your intuition and how you feel along the way.
Being attuned to our bodies is one of our superpowers.
You don't just have permission to find what's best for your health.
You have an obligation to find what's best for your health.
Your quality of life effects the quality of life of everyone around you.
Now go be a scientist.
“Is there anything worse on earth than being yelled at? You’re already wrong. There isn’t.” — Paul F. Tompkins, Laboring Under Delusions
I’ll confess a paranoia — I’m constantly afraid of being yelled at.
This is why my dentist will never see me every 6 months.
The appointment could be booked.
My heart can be pure.
But once the day comes, I’ll cancel the appointment, because I haven’t been flossing.
Heaven forbid the dentist sees my gums bleed — he’ll yell me right out of the chair and then ask me to spit.
The stakes only seem to raise with age.
The older we get, the bigger mistakes we’re capable of.
We get into massive debt.
We drive drunk despite our better judgement (Now I ride a bike).
We give the wrong address when we’re trying to put a hit on someone’s abuela (Shit gets real — fast).
When I’m at the worst of my paranoia, I won’t answer my phone.
No matter who’s calling.
I won’t answer it.
I’m terrified that people are calling just to yell at me. Like all my friends and family conspired to really let me have it.
Even if I had a friendly conversation with someone last week, I’m convinced they hate me now.
There are messages on my Facebook from good friends that I ignore.
I burn some bridges this way.
For example, I used to have a manager for my comedy — But guess who stopped answering his phone? (It was me.)
Medication and therapy have been pretty essential for me.
But also, after making some big mistakes, you start to see the people in your life that won’t judge you.
“Where your ass was at? I take attendance like a classroom” — Drake, Where Ya At
When you shut down, and stop answering the phone, you learn who’s going to keep calling you anyways.
Make note of that.
Keep a list of people whose opinions of you matter in your wallet (I included myself on my list).
It may help to remember — not everyone hates you.
Dear Mr and Mrs. Magallanez,
Your son has been crying a lot in class lately. I believe he may be oversensitive for a boy his age.
In 3rd Grade, my class had to bring home a weekly progress report to be signed off.
This was one of the more embarrassing notes I had to bring home.
As much as I don’t like thinking about it, this memory has always felt like an important clue to when my depression and anxiety started. Or at least, when it got to the point where it was affecting my school life.
There was a lot of chaos in my home. My dad was dealing with PTSD from Vietnam and even though he had an issue with alcohol, he was just proud to never have been drunk at a bar. My mom had a lot of anxiety, which usually manifested itself into her thinking she was sick or worried that I had a hormone imbalance.
My parents would get into ugly shouting matches nearly every day. It got to the point where it seemed like they didn’t even want to argue. They had to. It was part of the routine.
As much as I could, I’d tune my parents out by watching cartoons and eating fruity pebbles in my room. It worked to a point. When the walls starting shaking, I couldn’t really ignore it. So I’d go into the kitchen and try to settle them down. At first I tried to yell at my parents to be quiet.
When that didn’t work, I yelled louder.
“STOP YELLING OR I’LL YELL LOUDER THAN BOTH OF YOU! I’LL DO IT! MY LUNGS ARE YOUNGER THAN YOURS!”
That ended up making them laugh.
And laughing stopped the yelling for the night.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, but from that moment on, I became the clown of the family. I was very slap sticky. You know, slipping on banana peels, pie in the face, Tom and Jerry kind of humor. My cartoon binging was paying off. I mean, to this day they just think I’m accident prone.
But as I got better at taking care of my parents, I got worse at taking care of myself.
I became easily overwhelmed by my emotions. I started getting these frequent panic attacks. I would scream-cry into my shag carpet while trying not to disturb my family. And to be fair to younger me, a shag carpet is reason enough to to scream-cry.
As I got older, my panic attacks became less and less frequent, but spells of depression started to take their place. I became suicidal at 13, but my depression reached its peak in college when I tried to kill myself with percocet.
Spoiler Alert: I Totally Failed.
Since then, I’ve been going to therapy and taking antidepressants on and off.
So now I have an amazing wife, a loving baby girl, and I piss rainbows.
Alright, maybe not.
But objectively, I can say I have a great life. I really do have an amazing wife, and I really do have a loving baby girl, and we’re all safe and physically healthy. But objectively, I’ve always felt like I had a great life. I can’t tell you how much I love my mom and dad. Even in the most chaotic points in my childhood, I was grateful for my life and my family. I felt privileged to be well fed, have a good education, and be physically healthy.
Unfortunately, depression doesn’t care. It doesn’t care how grateful you are for your life. Depression, isn’t like, What? You had breakfast AND brunch this morning? Well, Mr. Fancy, I’ll be on my way then. Your life seems to be going swimmingly.
Depression is terrifying. Last month I felt great, but this week I keep having to fight the urge to ride my bike into traffic.
The worst part is that I’m so embarrassed by all of this.
I feel like I’m bringing a note home to my parents again.
People seem to either not get why I’m depressed or seem to patronize me like I don’t understand what real depression is.
And that makes me feel really lonely.
I promise I’m not trying to one up anybody and their issues.
I promise I’m not trying to play the victim.
I promise that I’m not ungrateful for my life.
I know I have a great life.
I’m just depressed.
And a little sensitive.
I have an unusual lull in my schedule today and I want to use it to reflect and share some of the lessons I’ve learned this past year.
1.) It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
When my dad passed, I had trouble grieving. I didn’t even know how to do it. I felt like a robot when I asked my therapist, “How do people grieve? What should I be feeling right now?”
Although death and grief is inevitable. Grief talk doesn’t feel that kosher. Especially in our instagram-curated world.
People want you to bounce back right away and work through the pain. And although, I agree, motion and momentum is important to recover from loss. Stillness is under-appreciated. Which leads me to the next lesson.
2.) Silence Is Healing
Silence is healing - even if you don’t understand why. This is hard for me because I want answers. I want studies, reports, and data supporting why something works. But when you’re hurting, the means aren’t as important as the results. You may not like to take aspirin, but if you have a crushing headache, just take the freaking aspirin already!
Once I finished a couple books on how to grieve (Again, because I’m a robot that’s just learning how to feel), nothing made me feel better than taking some time for myself to just breathe. Not meditate per-say. Just headphone free silence.
I don’t give my faith away easily, but I have a faith in silence.
3.) Self-Help Is An Oxymoron
I have a bigger self-help library than anyone I know. I consume the stuff like hippos and ping pong balls. But what if self-help isn’t that helpful? What if it just makes you feel bad for not doing more? What if it makes you feel like “how to be a person” is a secret?
That’s how it made me feel. I overloaded my plate with this nutrition free advice and felt worse for it.
Here’s the thing: If you need help, then that means you need to connect with someone outside yourself. If you can just help your self, then you don’t need help!
If you don’t know who to ask for help, then ask the person you trust the most to help you find the right person.
4.) You Lose Loved Ones More Than Once
Anytime I have a random memory of my dad, I then remember that he passed away, and I feel like I have to lose him all over again.
On the flip side, it gives me a chance to be grateful for our memories together.
5.) It Doesn’t Matter What I Think
I’ve been in and out of therapy for the past 10 years. At some point, I’d always close off from my therapist and start thinking I knew more than they did. Then I’d get mad about how stupid they are. After that I’d ghost on them, have a meltdown 6 months later, and start the process over again.
I seriously stopped seeing one therapist because he wouldn’t laugh at my jokes. Actually, I still feel justified about that one.
Amanda finally called me out on my pattern. She hit her breaking point when I came home with 10 books on how to meditate saying I was quitting therapy again.
“You’ve never really given medication or therapy a real shot. What’s the longest you’ve lasted on medication or therapy? 3 Months?”
She was right. It was another lesson in, “it doesn’t matter what I think about the means,” I just needed to trust the process. I still think 99.9% of my therapy sessions are a waste. But it doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters is that I’m all in.
And so now I focus on that .1% that isn’t a waste. Because there’s always one phrase that will stick out from a session. And all I have to do is respect the value of that one phrase (or one word) I needed to hear.
That’s how I learned, “silence is healing — even if I don’t understand why.”
6.) Don’t Train Your Kids
I was terrified that Maya, my 3 year old, wouldn’t be potty trained in time for preschool. And I was getting upset when she wouldn’t use the potty. It felt like a personal attack. Eventually I bought 3 toddler potties. One for each room. And she still wouldn’t use them!
Then I talked to her pediatrician who asked,
“Does she have dry diapers when she wakes up?”
“Oh, she doesn’t have enough bladder control to be potty trained, yet. “
So here I was, getting red in the face at my daughter, for not doing something she wasn’t even physically capable of doing. I might as well have been yelling at her to flap her wings and fly.
Kids don’t grow up on our timelines. Say Maya wasn’t ready for preschool, then maybe I could have taken her to a daycare for a little while. My job isn’t to train my daughter, my job is to give her the right environment to grow in.
7.) Never Give Unsolicited Advice — Especially To Parents
Maybe something I'll figure out next year… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Johnny Magz is a public speaker, health coach, INFJ, recovering perfectionist, and proud dad. He loves to share stories about health, self development, and comedy.