Happiness Project: Setting boundaries or letting go

This particular commandment is especially difficult because I constantly struggle with it across most, if not all, of my relationships. When I was younger, it manifested itself mainly in romantic situations, but now, not being able to let go has become deeply entrenched in me.

By “letting go,” I don’t mean that I’m a toxic person that will not allow others to leave my side or grow, nor that I have difficulty letting go of toxic relationships (not anymore anyways). But rather, I heavily lack the ability to know when to step back and set boundaries– and my mental bandwidth is strained more each time. For example, I’m sure we all have loved ones that seek us to ask for help or advice. In fact, it’s normal and healthy to ask for advice or mentorship from others we believe have our best interest in mind. Now, we also have been or know people who decide to not take our advice and continue living with the issue. Enter Isabelle, offering countless options on how to improve, always based on my experience, literature, science, or anecdotes. One of two things usually occurs… they:

  1. Come back with the same problems a few weeks or months later or
  2. Don’t listen
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Objective: Happiness

Before I launch into this, I want to share a disclaimer. I am part of that less than 20% to be fortunate enough to work from home. Really, to have a job, and to remain safe while doing it. Because I have this basic and vital security, I am safely able to divert my attention to this project. 

Ahh, 2020. How painfully unforgettable you are… it seems as if everything awful that could have happened did. This endless pandemic from hell is bad enough to blur the rest of the past four, tortuous years on its own. I won’t rant much more on the subject– we all know how it’s been.

As 2020 neared its end, I began to regret the time I wasted. Why didn’t I invest when the market dropped in March? Or why hadn’t I saved more– in fact, where were my savings? These and other questions swirled in my head, making me feel worse each time. I shared my distress with a friend who tried to comfort me:  “It’s okay. It was a difficult and unusual year. You needed to cope and take care of yourself to the best of your ability.” She was right, of course. I had to stop being so hard on myself. It’s not like I could reverse time (not to mention that going back to March 2020 sounds like a complete nightmare).

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I miss you.

my beautiful friend.

In August, I lost a very close childhood friend. And even though I believed writing about her would be impossible, I have finally mustered up the strength to able to explain what grief feels like.

The day I received the news, I was walking around the neighborhood with my mom— as we have habitually been doing this year. My mom was eager to show me a new path she discovered the day before. I turned off my phone and disconnected from any outside communication. And after having explored a short but pleasant trail, we emerged from the densely forested area and I pulled out my phone. A long lost friend had texted me urgently, called, and left a voicemail that I quickly deleted after listening to it. This was bad. I felt it in my gut and instantly knew who it was about.

I called her back and she, as composed as she could ever possibly have been, broke the news. “Terrible news… this morning…She’s gone.”

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How are YOU doing?

Jeez… what a year, amirite? We are resilient as hell. But in this world of high stress, feeling of endless hopelessness, and constant exhaustion, I wanted to share with you a method of coping that is attainable to most people. Because even in this burning world, we can find pockets of beauty and humanity.

My mom’s hands during a hike. Shot with film.

Sometime in March, when the pandemic was in full force in the US and we were required to quarantine, I made a promise to myself – I would be more physically active. There wasn’t much to do and every screen I encountered would induce panic and stress, with its frightening COVID statistics and constant doom and gloom. So, after a few weeks of panic of not knowing if the virus was simply everywhere, I began to build a routine to help me stay sane. I pulled out my FitBit that I had received for Christmas and I set some goals: 10,000 steps per day (pre-pandemic I would walk about 7,000 on a good day), more veggies and fruits, sleep right, and every other day watch some work out videos. My gym was closed, for God knew how long, and at that time all restaurants were closed as well. Eating healthy wasn’t difficult as I was *forced* to eat my moms delicious food (if any of you know my mom, she’s the best cook ever).

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