Grown Up at Eight: A Short Childhood

“I want to move into an apartment because I can make friends there!” I said excitedly as we passed by a large, two-story building.

It was difficult to ignore the smiles and laughter as siblings and friends– kids my age– crowded the sidewalk after school. As an only child, I desperately wished to be like the other children in the neighborhood.

Within two years, that dream came true and it wasn’t what I had expected. Mom and I moved out of our three-bedroom house to a single-bedroom apartment.

I regret what I had said instantly. I miss watching TV on the brown living room carpet and running from there out to the vegetable patch in the front yard. I also miss eating ice-cream with mom under the cool summer breeze. Most importantly, I miss having freedom and a roof over our heads to call our own.

Sacrificing all of that, mom worked long shifts at the salon and resumed the rest of her day helping me with homework. I was too young without anyone else to watch over me, so mom often picked me up from school and brought me to the salon.

It was hard on her, of course, and I am thankful for everything she has done for me. I knew she was a wonderful mom even at that age.

Meanwhile, this was also when I began to hide a lot about myself. Because I was out in public, whatever I said and did became my sole responsibility.

I had to be on my best behavior in front of mom’s clients, who occasionally brought their children over to play. Of course, it also hindered my ability to socialize among my peers.

I never truly fit in. I still don’t.

Because of the environment I was raised in, I’ve lived more than one-third of my life behind a mask. I fear failure and I am afraid to disappoint my mom, who means the world to me. After all, I am her hopes and dreams– the one she has to rely on.

I’ve forgotten how to feel a wide range of emotions and I sometimes don’t know how to think for myself. All of these things are partially why I feel really anxious often– if not daily.

As a woman in her mid-20’s, I share a lot more common with friends ten years older than me. I’ve yet to enter the world and I’m already thinking about settling down and being able to afford a house.

I know these are material things that will allow us to be a little more comfortable, but they are part of a bigger dream. I think I’m starting to figure out what happiness means…

What it’s like to live in the past, present & future all at once

For 25 years I’ve survived many days but none so bittersweet as the one I’m living through right now. I’m currently sitting at a food court at CSULB, where I find myself traveling through pivotal moments in time. 

It was at this very spot where I frequently stopped by as a college student. I remember cramming in as much material as I could process and studying late into the night with my best friend Steph. 

I remember living in the present as opposed to planning for the future, especially as far as career prospects went for that matter. I had never planned to live this long, yet here I was. 

I knew that ideally, I’d want to get my Journalism degree first, but I could never focus on what I wanted to do beyond that. I had just transferred in as a junior and I already wanted to drop out. After a brief discussion with one of my professors, he urged me to do otherwise, so I stayed. 

As my senior year approached, I took a broadcasting course, where I was assigned to read Anderson Cooper’s Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of Wars, Disaster and Survival. Albeit a well-written book, I knew it was just a glimpse into the life of war correspondence. 

A career path that I’ve been considering since then because honestly, that may be where the real news is. Behind-the-scenes footage galore with a fate that lies heavily on the Gods who run today’s pop culture and cable T.V. 

Do I choose between fulfilling my role as an only child or to pursue one of many dangerous career paths? Especially now that I’m beginning to want a family of my own? Is war correspondence my ONLY interest as far as journalism goes?

Yet, here I am at the food court, a little over a year since I had graduated from here, reading Ron Kovic’s Hurricane Street and eyeing Carolyn M. Edy’s The Woman Correspondent, the U.S. Military, and the Press.

I figured I should catch up on some reading before meeting a career counselor now that I’m on campus. I had received these books not too long ago by an acquaintance named Robe. Enclosed in the last book is a letter he wrote that ends with, “Hope to read your work someday.” Hence why today is so bittersweet.

Correction: I no longer have free access to career counceling.

3 Things You Should Know About A Stylish Delight

Up until January, I was just like you. I always judged myself because I thought I wasn’t perfect. For me, that meant being a perfect woman, daughter and the best version of myself.

I always wondered if I was ever going to get to that point in my life. My face was never pretty enough and the number of clothes I owned kept piling up as well.

Then I realized something— it was all in my head. I was just driving myself crazy with all of these bad thoughts. I just took a long time to finally see it. It was through this journey that A Stylish Delight was born just for you.

In addition to it’s focus on mental health, fashion and beauty, here are three things you should know about this website:

I want to help you survive the same struggles as I did

I want to share personal experiences through short bursts of information so that it’s quick and easy to read wherever you go. I also want to avoid writing those long, 1,200-word articles with titles, titles and more studies.

You know, the ones with long words that no one really uses in real life? Not everyone understands or remembers them and besides, it’s just not my style. I just want you to know that you are not alone in this journey.

Mental health is a gateway to inner beauty

This website is about accepting the beauty of our hearts and minds. You are more beautiful than you’ll ever realize, but in order to get a preview of that, you’ll have to put in work, too. Ugh, I know, right?

Who said that becoming a better version of yourself was going to be easy? In a world where we see almost everything at face value, it’s easy to forget that we are human beings, too. Now all you have to do is accept everything about yourself.

It started off as a nightly journal entry on an iPhone

For the past two years, I would take out my iPhone and jot down all of the thoughts that bothered me. I would think about the things that I said or the way I behaved and try to get to the bottom of it. Although I didn’t want to admit it at first, writing my heart out made me feel so much better.

At that time, I didn’t feel like sharing anything with anyone just yet. I was angry, tired and frustrated by the fact that I was handing all of my power to these thoughts that really didn’t matter.

I also knew that getting professional help would cost a lot more money than I can dream of having right now. So instead of feeling bad for myself, I’m sharing what I’ve learned throughout my journey with you!

Much love from yours truly,

Diane

How To Live With The Voices Inside Your Head

No matter how hard you try to block them out, the voices inside of your head just won’t seem to go away. They strike at you until your head aches, until your chest tightens, until your eyes sting and until you’ve lost almost all of your resolve to live.

You watch as all of your defense mechanisms continue to crumble before you, leaving behind a small instinct to fight back. So you keep fighting until your entire body goes numb and you struggle to do something as simple as breathing.

You stumble across the room to the nearest window just to breathe in some fresh air. You make it right on time before that flash of white light renders you unconscious. A few seconds feels like forever in this mental torture chamber. Just as you get a whiff of the cool air outside, your legs give out as if on cue. You sink to the ground gasping to for breath.

You constantly dream about the day when you’ll never have to hear these voices again, but to LIVE with THEM!? It seems rather impossible.

Sometimes you even consider ending it altogether, but will that really change anything? Will you admit defeat?

You’re tired of hearing the nasty, repetitive things that make you doubtful of whether you’ve got any humanity left. The ones that eat at your conscience and crawl under your skin at night.

You want to share your burden with the people you love, but you can’t. You can’t because you don’t want to share the weight of your world, so you rarely (or never) ask for help. You keep everything to yourself out of the fear that you will be judged.

You wonder if you’ll ever be like the people around you. The ones who look like they’ve got their lives together. How are you going to function in society? How will you blend in with the crowd when you stick out like a sore thumb?

Despite what you’re thinking right now, you’re not alone. Out of the 7.4 billion people on this planet, there is bound to be someone out there who is fighting in the same war. As for your loved ones, they’ll support you regardless of how negatively you view yourself.

Now is the time to be serious. Now is the time that you have to fight and WIN. Stand UP for yourself. If the people you talk to don’t seem to understand what you’re talking about, then educate them. You have all of the resources you need in your head. You are stronger and smarter than you give yourself credit for —or are you going to admit defeat again?

Where do you start? By letting go of everything that you’ve bottled up for all these years. They’re like the knots on your back that need to be softened out after a long massage. Unwind and let go of your regrets, your failures and insecurities. Let go of the things that upset you and think positively.

Like that waiter down the street from my place once said, “We have no problems, only solutions.” There you go! Create a few short-term goals that are realistic, practical, achievable, and keep on going. Life is too short to fall under the influence of your inner demons. Live life and let go!

Why Confidence Is Your Best Look

Regardless of who you are, what you wear or what you do for a living, you want to make the best impression on other people. So far, you’ve bought all of the wardrobe essentials, accessories and beauty products, but you’re still missing something. Something deep down within your heart that only you can identify with—self-confidence.

Confidence ultimately depends on how you choose to embrace everything about yourself.

That means accepting your individuality, your greatest strengths, weaknesses, the life choices you’ve made up until today, the ones you’ll make tomorrow and the way in which you choose to lead other people (within reason). You can also find confidence in the way you wear your mismatched socks and in the moments when you laugh and learn from your own mistakes. Unfortunately, the essence of it can be forgotten the very second you try to become someone else.

Yes, the immortalized lifestyles that you see on social media is rather tempting, but there’s a catch. You can have all of the luxury-brand clothing, own pairs of the finest jewelry, be a well-seasoned traveler, have a six-figure bank account, a degree from a reputable university and all of the latest cars, but none of it will be worth much without confidence in yourself.

Material wealth is fleeting, confidence is forever.

But the material aspect sounds great, you say! It sure does, there’s no denying that. You have to realize that material wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness, good health, meaningful, long-lasting relationships or the experiences that you need to become the best version of yourself. With confidence, however, you’ll know what makes you tick. It’s the one ingredient you’ve been looking for all along.

Why Being Authentic Will Change Your Life For The Better

At the very beginning of every day, you follow the same routine you’ve stuck to for years. You get out of bed, scroll through the notifications on your phone, freshen up, glance over your wardrobe and if you’re lucky, grab something to eat before heading out the door.

Behind all of your daily rituals and the time, money and effort you’ve put into your appearance, there is someone out there that you want to impress. You’re willing to do anything, even if it means living a lie and losing sight of your true, authentic self in the shadows of the dark.

You wonder, how will I become myself again? Well, like many other great things in life, it takes time. It’s also a lot like taking care of a plant—you observe the small details, cut out the parts that have dried out, nourish it, set it out in the sun and watch it grow. These steps can be pretty straight-forward with levels of difficulty that vary on a case-by-case basis.

The course of your life can change anytime, which means that you’ll have to adapt to your new environment as soon as possible. Loving yourself, coming to terms with what you like, what you dislike and how you behave in different scenarios are fool-proof ways of finding your identity.

Even if you aren’t aware of it, being your true self provides people with a glimpse into your soul, your perception of the world, what motivates you to think, feel and behave a certain way. It’s also what drives you to reach certain goals that you want to achieve in life. The list goes on.

You can’t create a list in a day and expect all of your answers to come rushing in. Personal growth is something to experience over months and years, but it’s totally worth it once you take a step closer toward fulfilling your purpose in this world.

Stop trying to maintain an image that doesn’t resonate with who you are. So what if you’ve spent your money just to look and live like your favorite celebrity or role model? That’s their life, not yours.

The same idea applies to this persona that was either created by you or someone else. So here you are in another social setting, doing what’s expected of you by others, participating in a conversation that don’t even interest to you, laughing to almost all of the jokes you hear, smiling when you’re unsure of what to say and acting until it’s all over just to play it safe.

You continue this cycle for as long as you can get away with it, but can’t because everything seems to be falling out-of-place. As soon as all of these pressures begin to add up, you start to wonder why you even put up with it. You become unsatisfied with where you are in life because let’s face it, your personal growth has come to a halt.

Contrary to what you might think, people are going to catch up the very second your character appears out-of-place—you can’t fool everyone forever.

So challenge yourself and find your own style, which surely, will be beautiful in it’s own way. In the meantime, make it a goal to for personal growth and to appreciate the smaller details in life because eventually, you’ll find your place in this world.