By: Dylan Baker
It is no secret that the transition from adolescence into adulthood is stressful. I’m not speaking of filling out college applications, or saying goodbye to your family as you head off to University. What I’m speaking of is the constant uncertainties that flood our minds with doubt and denial. What are my ventures after college? Am I going to meet the right partner and have a family? Will I even be able to support this family by securing a well paying job? For me, this is the true struggle of growing up because the coming of age can’t be slowed down. One must face it head on instead of living in fear of the unknown.
Unfortunately, several years back, my life was consumed by fear. To make matters worse, my coping skills were minimal and my stress was through the roof. All I knew was that I couldn’t handle all the intense emotions I was feeling and they needed to disappear. Yearning for a quick relief, the answer I turned to was drugs and alcohol and at first, it worked like a charm. I made absolutely sure I had constant access to my drug of choice or any kind of alcohol at my disposal to minimize the amount of stress and anxiety I was feeling. In my head, I thought emotions like fear and sadness were negative and that I should never have to feel them in my life if I wanted happiness. However, to my dismay, suppressing my emotions with drugs and alcohol made this problem worse. My family was worried sick about me and I’d never been so disconnected from them in my life. My needs always came first which meant that I was always out of the house trying to relieve my pain. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t put up with anymore. My search for happiness had come to a dead end and my all time low had finally been reached.
Thankfully, I was given a second chance during the summer of my junior year of high school. I left home and was sent to venture to Bend, Oregon in order to take part in a wilderness recovery program that completely changed my life. I learned that using drugs and alcohol were only a symptom of my depression and fear in which I was swimming . Never in my life had I been in so much pain as I was during those three months living in the wilderness. With no suppressants to use, I was forced to come to terms with my future and I chose that summer to stop living in fear and face my life head on.
The most important lesson I learned, however, was that all emotions are valid. Anger, sadness, fear, joy, and everything in between are all valid. The misconception I had picked up prior to this was that there are negative emotions and positive ones. Furthermore, I should only live my life feeling positive emotions if I wanted a fulfilling life. However, it is impossible for one to live in prosper without experiencing the whole spectrum of emotions or else how is one supposed to compare feelings of happiness to sadness, or fear and excitement? In other words, I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Only then was I able to accept life on it’s own terms.
Most importantly, however, is that I’m no longer vengeful of my parents. Instead, I look at what they did for me as an act of love and hope. Suddenly, the future doesn’t seem so scary. In actuality, it feels like quite the contrary as I am excited to see what the future has in store for me. Furthermore, the future should be a mystery, or else when would I feel wonder or curiosity. When I look back on myself a few years ago, I realize how much my perspective on life has changed and how it has made me who I am today.