My Manifesto

I’m Tiana. There’s a lot of things I would like to do in life, but the most important one is to write. I’ll read books — actually devour them. The formula is simple enough, don’t stick to one genre or website, but expose yourself to a wide mixture.

Books, blogs, websites, newspapers, as long as it’s readable I’ll be willing to read it. I’ll practice writing. In fact, I’ll try to type up a draft every day if possible. I may steal from the greats, but at the same time will allow my writing to blossom with each crafted paragraph.

Generating ideas and converting them into a river of words is the hardest part — you’ll have to practice for months on end if you want to produce something remarkable, but it will be worth it because I believe I’ll become a writer.

I’ll write on several different topics, but what especially quivers my spine is writing on mental health. I grew up around mental illness, and it certainly wasn’t fun. But it inspired me to help people. Not to cure them of course, since I don’t have the credentials, but to help lead people on to a path of recovery.

Writing on mental health has helped enable me to break free from some of my negative thinking. I don’t know where I’ll end up or how I’ll finish, but I know the route I want to take. I will continue to write, with the goal of publishing my work on websites, blogs, and eventually newspapers.

I will meet new people and ask them what I can do to advance my craft. I will eventually move out and earn a writing career. I will volunteer at libraries, and publishing offices, dedicating myself to learning more. I will express my thoughts and beliefs, regardless of who attempts to dictate how I should act or what I should write about.

I will not regurgitate information, but breathe out a humble opinion with each flick of my wrist. This is too big for a teenager to not only achieve, but envision. If I had more friends, siblings, and support networks, they would cushion me from potential failures and miseries. It is too massive, unconquerable, indefinable to contemplate doing.But I won’t give up. What I hope is that when I write, a diagram intertwined with my own visions, thoughts, and beliefs will emerge, and I can capture it with each sense.

I’ll visualize myself standing, hearing my voice chatting, tasting salty sweat from hours of exerting myself, and touching whatever is beside me, desperately trying to withhold from electrocuting euphoria. But I can’t promise you I’ll write every day. There will be days when I need to withdraw, at least for a little while. Let’s come together. I am grateful and excited to embark on this mission with you.

Sad and Sick

Apologies for not blogging as much as I used to. The last few weeks have been tough. I’ve been feeling anxious about leaving my home alone, refused to go on an outing with my only friend, and my thigh and calf have been feeling stiff, cracking like someone cemented gravel inside my bone marrow. Worst of all, my health anxiety has worsened, progressing into brutal emotional suffering, as I continue to become more and more uncertain about my health. The only treatment I am taking right now is a dosage of psychiatric medication, which definitely numbs the pain, but it sort of goes into temporary remission, rather than dissipating completely. I can’t even begin to comprehend who I am – a skeleton dragging its bones, anchoring a brain which overworks and fails to deliver at the same time.

My brain pumps out an overflow of one chemical while struggling to squeeze out the right balance of another ingredient. But still, I disagree that my health anxiety or hypochondria or whatever this damned condition is, should prevent me from achieving what I want in my own life. (Though I can’t help but think how much more accomplished I would be if only my brain were programmed a little more differently.) What I would like to do is address and label the components of my health anxiety into concrete, narrative situations, so that if you happen to struggle with some form of it too, you don’t feel so alone and afraid. Unfortunately, being ill with this uncomfortable mental illness has decreased the amount of work I produce, slowing the volume until I often feel too sluggish and agitated to continue. (It took about five days to just think of the idea.)

  1. Researching symptoms: All too often, I feel uncertain about something going on inside, whether it be a bruise or a pain. And all too often, I misinterpret my symptoms. I believe that a faulty genetic wiring, as well as a misconstrued environmental background isn’t entirely to blame, but that the erroneous health information bombarding our screens and radios on a daily basis must lie rather conspicuously somewhere along the trek back into the origins of my compulsion to research. Don’t believe me? The near ubiquitous amount of diagnostic tools (check your symptoms?) accessible at out fingertips, fueled with a lack of distinction between personalized health information and a misunderstood interpretation of a certain symptom, might have been partially responsible for my obsession to research my symptoms, in the same matter that someone with obsessive compulsive disorder may have a compulsion to check something repeatedly. Like a drug users toxic high, researching and linking any possible disease to my symptoms can ignite a fast, warming sense of relief, almost as though a certified medical professional diagnosed me in person. But at the same time, if the result attracting my attention is grave or fatal, I am engulfed with a troubling panic attack, trembling and struggling to breathe properly.
  2. Confusing a symptom with a life-threatening disease: Yesterday, I woke up and noticed a red, puffy bite on my leg I am warned that it’s a mistake, at least according to a malfunctioning bleeping, somewhere intertwined beneath what I imagine are a near infinite amount of folds, as a predator lurking to devour its vulnerable prey: my soul. It abuses me, promising me that I am worthy of knowing the truth, but then belittles me incessantly with vicious lies and warnings whenever I attempt to find it out on my own. Meanwhile, people coax me into believing that the worst will occur only in very rare, singular cases, but I know that it can’t be true. The mosquito bite indicates a tumor, and now I should understand that my life, like an unfortunate few, was indeed untimely and brutishly short. Here’s the worst part about it: Even when I am unconcerned, it still taunts me from a distance, never truly snapping shut from my subconscious. I mean, I can even sense it’s there in my dreams.
  3. Aversion to germs: This year, I believe I’ve been sick for an unprecedented number of times. I especially hated the time I lay in bed, weakened and exhausted while boiling up with a fever, thinking of how I could have basked in the sunshine and finished work. It lasted less than a week, but feeling as though I couldn’t miss out, didn’t wear off. It’s too much of a risk to become ill, so I stubbornly wash my hands always before I touch something and put it in my mouth.You might be thinking that’s a given, but once you visualize all of the harmful potential viruses and bacteria migrating into your body, you might, like me, begin to question ever leaving the house again. Even when I watch people calmly touch a door handle and then pick up and munch on a burger, I still can sense my hands tremble and your heart thudding, as though I’m the one eating it.
  4. Fear of death: Every one of us realizes that we are born, live for a little while, and then die and return to the earth, back to our unconscious selves. But for some, it’s too much to deal with when you mention death. I scour for empowering quotes about death online, as if I am a terminal patient seeking to exit the world with grace. I listen to powerful music, but still prefer to imagine other people’s lives and deaths rather than taking charge of my own. I know that I need to stop wrecking havoc on my health (how ironic) by preventing those hidden sources of stress from sneakily stalking me, but I can’t. I want to leave and be reborn in a distant time, but then I am grounded with an unsettling fact which is I will be stuck within this calculating, fallible body for eternity.

Life seems dire – this needs to be accomplished today, and yet nothing is truly important or good any more. You are chained to your computer; it’s the only real thing that brightens up your mood ever so slightly. No matter what people tell you, self-help books that you turn from page to page, just picturing never getting what you most wanted almost makes you want to disappear from life itself.

You think the world sucks. You hear stories of children perishing, people harming others with cruel intentions, and then as you stand up from the television, it’s almost as if your field of vision is shaded more dark, and colder. I don’t even watch the news or read it much anymore, because it always seems to be a trigger for lying on my stomach in bed, with the room darkened and the curtains shut tight, with the pillow scarfed around my head as I weep quietly, wanting to give up on the world. I look for a hug, or affectionate words, but if I can find it, I can’t seem to accept it.

Most importantly, I want to endow a legacy, a permanent library of works all titled with my name in pompous signatures, but again, I can’t seem to find it. And I struggle deeply with that. Sometimes you remind yourself that you aren’t demented or insane, it’s just that your imagination confuses itself with logic, but that doesn’t seem to work either. I live for quick, easily-chewable stints of instant gratification.

According to a 2001 study, 5 to 9 percent of the population are hypochondriacs. They fear of suffering from a serious illness, and believe they have one, despite diagnostic evidence signifying the contrary. The study also suggested that the best bet to treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. This treats the hypochondria or health anxiety by teaching the patient to learn that their bodily functions are not a serious medical problem, as well to stop repeatedly looking up health information and excessively seeking reassurance.

I think one of the biggest problems is that mental illness, and even being sick in general is often stigmatized or looked down upon, and the people living with it are often ostracized from school, work, and society. But still, a thought inside my head, almost like an infinitely looping song which has become unbearably annoying, can’t help but nag, ”but what if it is a serious medical condition?” I hope you understand that I’m working on it. I may make a lousy therapist, but at least I’m looking forward to someday having one.











Last Winter

The night sky illustrates hope. Pastel like black softens the tree tips camped behind my apartment. Clusters of star-dust intersect, mimicking pristine brushstrokes on a canvas. I hold the front door open for my dad, who closes it behind me. My boots squeak, imprinting footprints on freshly fallen snow, as I crunch across the ice-coated parking lot. Me and my dad climb inside our van, and clip on our seat belts while I cross my legs to keep warm. We are going to visit an ill family member.

As if someone dry coughed, the van growls hoarsely. We slip away, whisking past columns of dew sprayed apartments. While my father pauses at a cross light, I glance outside of the frosted window, squinting. Are those distant constellations of fantasia in fact, pot-bellied planets whirling and could those rail-thin asteroids rocketing through space be boarded with extraterrestrial life?

We enter the hospital. In the waiting room behind glass doors, a mother hushes her groggy child. A time-worn man lies back on a chair. I notice the scabs encrusted all over his body. This hospital illuminates societal stigmas such as sickness, grief, and death with unshakable honesty. But it also reminded me of how I was able to soar beyond a loss, a tragedy. Peering above at an eternal beauty reveals what it truly means to live! Me and my dad stand in line. He shifts nervously, but I am calm, humbled by the night sky. No longer do I feel so alone.

My Age of Anxiety and Me

Something inside of me is rapidly metastasizing like a horrific cancer. I imagine the neurotransmitters spliced within my brain are overflowing with a bath of tantalizing chemicals. My hands begin to shake, not softly trembling as if I were startled, but instead mimicking the legs of a convulsing epileptic. It’s difficult to look at the print on the computer screen; could it be that the myopia seething on the insides of my eyeball, has finally progressed from hours of staring scrunchy eyed at the laptop screen to an immature macular degeneration? This can’t be happening. Displaced on the chair cushion, I stand up and walk to my bedroom. My stomach feels herniated and distended, and my forehead is wracked with such pain that I can only label it as something comparable to a screw drilled beneath my skull.

Now that I’ve barely made it there without collapsing and curling on the floor in agony, I glance at the window straight in front of me. Sunlight, thick like a spoon of honey, cascades through the extended curtains, glistening and temporarily blinding me. For an indiscernible reason, my hands are still twitching sporadically when I raise them, and I can’t help but wonder why has my stomach been so disagreeable lately. Too much to deal with even in my own bedroom, as if I were disappointed that as soon as I entered, my brain didn’t leech open from the cuticles of my skin. I turn around, blinking a little, slightly relieved that my panoply of eye nerves are settled. Perhaps going back on the internet will also temporarily resolve my fantasy of freeing from an anxious, mortal body. But the moment I sit down at the kitchen table, it happens again. This time my stomach rumbles, and I expect to rush to the bathroom soon despite being abjectly afraid of becoming ill.

Frustrated, I press the button and type in the password situated on the keys. I frown, desperately trying to not pay attention to my stomach, because apparently the digestive burbles foreshadow a soul-sucking, gastrointestinal illness. Watching funny videos to lighten up and laugh a little has an instant gratification, so I think as I contemplate what to search. But so does a greasy burger as a short-lived, hedonistic indulgence. Next, I begin to toil with rage. I have wasted approximately twelve hours from when I woke up into now, in the evening, researching mind-numbing key phrases like celebrity news and TV show updates which secure just carcasses in the pursuit of my own happiness. What is actually debilitating me? Then I remembered how my psychiatrist mentioned something about me being diagnosed with a distinct health anxiety known as hypochondria at a meeting recently. So, I sat up with an awkward glee, put on my glasses, researched hypochondria with a nimble Google search, and discovered that hypochondria is, according to Wikipedia, the first result, a somatoform disorder, meaning mental distress produces symptoms suggesting one has a physical illness. Relaxing, I suppose.

But how could this hypochondria of mine unleash a concoction of cramping, restless hands, and declining vision practically synonymous with an antibiotic resistant bug? And how could I be satisfied with the error-producing body I had? I was caught and tangled, out of breath. The internet, no matter how tightly clustered with constellations of information, isn’t likely to solve this predicament. Right at this time, I press the button off, fold the laptop, stand up, and plop on the couch behind the kitchen table in the living room, gently gesturing and clasping a book in my hand. My fingers smooth its hardcover, yellow cover and open the jacket page. The author has a nonchalant smile attached to a pasty face.

I wonder if he was actually in a pleasant mood, or masked his anxious disposition with charismatic grace. As I read, although I have already read this book multiple times, I mellow out and begin to recall his ample caricatures of a variety mental conditions with each flip of the page. And when I discover his journalism positions, and momentary success in writing, hurtling past his traumatizing and severe episodes of anxiety as a child, I feel gratified and inspired. Perhaps this is a harbinger enlightening me of my own possible achievements in the future? A little probe further, and I am notified more in-depth of his apparent nervous stomach, blurred vision, and lack of stillness all due to his debilitating anxiety. I place the book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind back on the table as gingerly as I reached it, and stand up and walk with a little bounce in my step to my bedroom, while my parents remain with their attention devoured to the television.

As I enter the room once more, I glance outside the window. The sunlight is less bright, but still warm and welcoming. Then something unexplainable happened: I started twirling and spinning, despite reeling from digestive distress, nervous hands, and poor vision. At that moment, the author, Scott Stossel, gave me the strength to feel free. If it was possible he was able to convert or somaticize his mental conditions into real, physical symptoms, then must I too possess the ability? And yet, if he was able to accept his unfortunate makeup, and conduct tangible successes in his life, then why not I? I stop and pause, peering through the window. There’s a bend of road and a grassy hill. Curious, I think of investigating. But I am then conflicted by the barricades of separation anxiety, and I recall that he once was, and still struggles with it to a degree to this day too. But I am beginning to construct something special. And that’s a good sign, since my stomach feels a little better too,





15 Inspiring Ways to Change the World and Yourself


”Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” - William James

It seems as though every time I watch the news, I am focused on an onslaught of negativity. Disasters of all kinds flash like fireworks across the TV screen. I’m not saying we should ignore tragedies as though they don’t even exist. Rather, my point is that we make an effort to not allow all of the negativity to influence our inner optimism. There is so much we can do to make the world and ourselves better, more exciting, promising, just fun. But sometimes we’re not even sure where to start. But there is so much you can do. And it might start with something as simple as reading an article.

1. Treat yourself with respect.

Has someone ever told you, ”treat others the same way you treat yourself?” This assumes that you treat yourself with respect. Of course, not everyone treats themselves with respect. Why? Coming from someone who used to belittle myself regularly, it was because I believed I didn’t deserve it. But I was wrong. We all deserve love and respect. After I learned that, I rapidly evolved into a more energized person. If you want to change people’s lives, it’s probably a good idea to change your own life. You deserve it. Believe me.

2. Be polite.

Although you might not notice it, other people actually appreciate you more when you don’t use a swear word in every sentence. They also appreciate it when you hold the door for them rather than slamming it in their face and when you warmly reply to their good morning. No, I’m not presuming you’re a hormonal flushed teenager. Rather, people of every walk of life can forget the timeless gift of politeness. Being polite can transform someone’s day, week, month, and even life itself. Imagine how you may have perked someone a little more by calmly asserting your point rather than snarling at them with an insult. It’s healthy, wholesome, and free. You don’t need to ace every social convention, just show a little care for someone’s well-being by simply caring enough to be a little more courteous to someone’s needs.

3. Argue your point rationally.

I’ve spent countless times arguing over minute matters with people. The arguing eventually escalated and exploded into shouting and belittling, and what did I learn? Nothing. When it was finally over, I felt disgraced and downtrodden with regret. Imagine if we went way back to the beginning. What if I argued my points within reason and rationale rather than giving into my temptation to argue irrationally? It can be tempting to believe that you were deliberately wronged, that you need violence to prove how you’re so much closer to the truth, and how igniting drama is the obvious course of action. But time and time again, simply taking some deep breaths, stepping back, contemplating, and evaluating the problem logically and rationally has helped people prevent innumerable  violent arguments and conflicts. Again, you can’t always argue completely within reason. After all, you’re human not an emotionless robot. But something as simple as taking a critical thinking course and maintaining a questioning attitude can maximize the positivity in your relationships.

4. Donate to a charity.

Some of us think we need to be billionaire philanthropists  in order to donate to charities. Charities, some say, requires too much money and effort to get involved with. But charities can be highly beneficial for many aspects of your life. Just helping some one’s life by giving a little of who you are can shape your purpose in life and deliver great inner satisfaction. I used to think that donating to charity wasn’t worth it, but some time ago when I donated a few dollars to a Salvation Army kettle, I instantly felt as though I were a part of something great. I couldn’t say what, just that the experience was rejuvenating. So take a minute to donate to a trusted charity and embrace the benefits for not only the people you’re helping but your mind and body.

5. Volunteer somewhere.

Similar to the previous one, some people believe volunteering requires too many time, resources, and effort to contribute to. Do you think volunteering is all work, and no play? I know I used to. Volunteering to me seemed like something bored people with nothing to do would do with their time. But volunteering is enriched with benefits almost anyone can choose from. Volunteering can help you learn interesting new skills which may be useful in the future, meet new people and potential friends, find a hobby to devote to and replace any defunct ones, all while giving back to your community. Not too shabby, eh?

6. Find a passion and connect with similar people.

I’m sure you have felt mind-numbingly bored before. Perhaps you entered the living room, glanced at the computer and a neat pile of books on the coffee table, but couldn’t motivate yourself to even move. You’ve might have thought you’re perpetually trapped in a cycle of repetition and routine. But, once you found something as easily overlooked as a passion or hobby, did you notice how your mood brightened slightly, your life purpose was letter by letter a little more engraved, the humanity you thought you were missing kicked a little, ”see, you are worth something?” I’m sure you have. Finding something to dive into, and like-minded to anchor and support you when times get tough, can alleviate stress and promote harmony for your well-being and theirs too. My passion is writing, so I found the community of blogging. Of course, not all of it is going to be clean and easy, but if you look a little in your community or online, you can usually find it.

7. Become an active listener.

In a world where people want to talk and talk, how many of us are willing to actually willing to listen? I’ve had numerous conversations with people where sometimes they didn’t pay attention, or interrupted, and in succession I did too. Quite a few of us overlook the power of active listening. Active listening can demonstrate how much we care for somebody. It can strengthen relationships, as well as help someone with whatever they need help understanding. This in turn increases the likelihood that they’ll be willing to help another person and so on. Some basic hallmarks include paying attention carefully, not interrupting, summarizing what someone said but not copying word for word, and asking questions to get to the heart of important information. Look it up, and you’ll find loads of resources.

8. Give a hug.

When you’re feeling scared or alone, try giving a hug. Hugging can increase bonds, relieve stress, and just make us feel better at the price of nothing. No, don’t go up to somebody random on the street and hug them. Rather, hug someone close like a family member or friend at the right moment. Offer your child a big, warm hug when they’re crying instead of putting them down. Offer your friend one when they ask for support. Offer your loved one one if they start feeling upset. Hugs aren’t going to cure your problems, but they are a gentle way to alleviate and calm yourself and other people down when times are tough.

9. Adopt a motivating personal philosophy or life purpose.

This one really excites me. I still struggle to an extent with purposelessness. Not sure where I’m going, or where to begin. Eventually though, I think I might have finally discovered my calling: to write things like essays and articles intended to help people. This has given me a little bit more motivation to continue to push through despite when everything else seems hopeless or bleak. What’s something that you have read, watched, or absorbed that really inspired you or caused a want for change in your life? How can you incorporate it into your daily life? For me, it’s the power of writing good stuff. I could add it into  my daily life by blogging or writing for a student magazine.

10. Exhibit a positive attitude.

A few days ago, I wrote a quote by called Walt Whitman. It goes like this, ”Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” How much does that apply to you? The world isn’t perfect. Let’s all accept that. But you can, to a degree, perfect your perception of life, through positive thinking. Speaking from my experience, positive thinking has made me feel more youthful, energized, healthy, and of course happy. All by changing my thinking. People notice you more when you are positive. They care more, and are more likely to want to help you. There is enough negativity  in the world that we must deal with everyday. Spread the love with a little more positivity.

11. Believe in yourself.

Not too long ago, I thought I was a horrible person. I believed with conviction that I was headed for a downward spiral. But with a little push to change my perception of myself, like a recovering ill person, I gradually regained myself back. When I realized that I deserved to be thought of as a good person, I began to be more willing to help people with their own lives. Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself. Your mind is an incredibly powerful machine, and with it, you can go to space or bury yourself underground. Don’t allow anybody, even yourself, to degrade your potential, because it’s all you have.  Believe you can do awesome things, and people will have more faith in you. You’ll have more faith in them, and the world will just be a little better.

12. Strive to educate yourself and others.

Believe me, there is enough misinformation being spread on a daily basis. Browse the internet, and you’ll find countless websites claiming to have factual resources. But often, it’s the exact opposite. Turn on the TV, and you’ll notice how the news and certain TV shows tries to encourage you to believe hidden biases which are actually often exaggerated and not logical.  That’s why it’s important to master education. Education can help reveal the truth about things you’ve always wanted to know about. And don’t just strive to educate yourself, aim to educate others about what you’ve actually learned. I firmly believe education is one of the most powerful tools there is.

13. Daydream more often.

It’s a common held belief that daydreaming wastes time, is unproductive, and a weakness of character. It’s actually a healthy way to let your thoughts flow, exercise your imagination, and give life to potential new ideas and dreams, future successes and landmarks. When I daydream, I feel exuberant and more at peace with myself. If you want to get to know yourself and ultimately help other people, you need to sit and contemplate the many possibilities in life. For example, there was a time I daydreamed, when walking outside, and I thought of how could I help people. My idea was volunteering. The next time you have some free time, don’t turn use the electronics or start something just yet. Reflect, and allow yourself to think. What do you notice about your thoughts? What ideas do you have, and how can you put them into use?

14. Express yourself through art.

For some of us, art is the perfect escape. It can provide limitless pleasure, and satisfaction. The only limit is how much effort you’re willing to put it in. Another reason to create art is that it will likely live on for generations to come even after you pass. It also an amazing expression of you thought, or simply you. What art do you like? I personally like writing. You don’t even have to be particularly creative, just willing to experiment with new ideas. Art can send messages to people in ways that simply communicating just can’t. Find some type of art which you would enjoy and try it. Learn as much as you can about it, and if you don’t like one, move on to another.

15. Decide more critically and carefully.

Most of us have been impulsive at some point of time. I certainly have. But what if you made a habit, of taking a step back, thinking  it through carefully and then deciding? Many bad events which affected many people negatively have been the product of impulsive, not well thought out decisions. The next time you are about to make an important decision, step back, and go slowly and cautiously. Deciding with caution and critical thinking can help you make much better decisions, which in turn can help more people. Ultimately though, the most important person you can help is you.






You Can Handle It

You may not know this, but I have health anxiety. Everyday, I struggle with the concept of illness and death. Despite reassurance from loved ones and my doctor, I am still prone to researching my symptoms on any site that catches my attention, panicking, and becoming even more stressed, angry, and upset. But, I will be okay. I can handle whatever happens with a big grin on my face.

We all have to struggle with something. You can be a little kid or old as the setting sun, but you’ll have problems. That’s a given. I used to envy certain people, believing their lives were perfect. Now I realized I was a tad bit deluded to believe someone simply for their age could be perfect. In other words, I used to envy old people because I felt certain my odds of living a long life weren’t good due to some disease.

You might think the world, and all of it’s problems, challenges, and issues are too massive, and you’re like an ant lost on a mountain. I’ve had more panic attacks that I can count, and I was left breathless, and distraught. But I made it. I’ve started eating healthier, exercising more, finding hobbies, and interacting with people. I’m still very far away, but little steps are still moving in the right direction.

Many of us have had beliefs preventing us from doing lots of things. My belief was I was going to get a terminal disease soon and then no one would remember my legacy and so on. But, I can handle the belief. I can question it, try not to get lost in the information predicting my so-called fate, but most of all, whatever happens, happens. And I’ll be okay.

I can handle whatever will happen, maybe not today, but as mentioned I’ve already started on my way. And if I can’t, that will be okay too. I’ll learn. We all are afraid of something, but maybe we’re afraid because we don’t know what to do in case it happens. We can learn how to prepare for things, including how to challenge our beliefs. And you’re already close just by trying to be as strong as you can.

You can handle whatever happens, if you choose to.

You can be strong as you like, if needed.

You no longer have to be afraid, just prepared.











Lost in the Ocean of Information

I’m desperately trying to stay to afloat while being tossed around by a gargantuan wave. I dive down and hold my breath for as long as I can just before another icy, massive wave crashes on to my face. I cock my head up for a second, just enough to notice the sky’s ominously black hue, and distant thunderbolts flashing and crackling. It looks like I’m losing. ”I don’t know why I even came out in the first place”, I think hazily and barely conscious. This isn’t an ocean of water, rather an ocean of information that I’m floundering in.

I used to take huge pride in the compliments people gave me, especially when it came to my intelligence. I’m not sure what I exactly did to be complemented, just that I felt entitled to whatever people compliment me. Many people have called me gifted and intelligent. I grew comfortable with the names, and thought of myself as that. Someone even called me brilliant. As I began to notice compliments more, so did I believe that I deserved to be called them. Not just it was a nice thing to do, but people were supposed to croon over how great I was.

Something hidden within me began to trust myself more. Now, I started to believe I was more intelligent than my parents, family, teachers, friends,  basically everyone. If I thought something bad was going to happen, I had to be right because I simply knew more than everyone else. ‘‘Well, they’re not right, but I am, because I know I’m right and they’re not”,  that’s one of the patterns of my thought that lead to a vicious cycle. I trusted myself so much that I caused more anxiety, and that anxiety caused me to trust myself even more and so on.

Then eventually I learned how fallible I was. Once I was convinced  that I had a fatal disease and my doctor flat-out proved it with a test that I was okay. Once I belittled someone else’s grammar, but later learned that I was the one committing the error. Once I just knew I would win first place in a writing contest, but months past and nothing came back. I’ve regret how I’ve felt, but I’m beginning to learn something useful: I was lost in navigating the ocean of information.

The ocean of information can be things like the internet or TV, what people tell you, your thinking, or basically anywhere you gather knowledge. It’s so easy to be caught up in misinformation that you may start to believe some of its true. In my case, it was okay to appreciate compliments but I became lost and was unable to tell apart niceness from truth. Worried about something? Be careful not to get lost in the information that alerted you about the problem. Researching something? Research with caution and care. It’s our job to discover what information is valuable and what isn’t.

It can be aggravating to start to believe something only to find out it was wrong. But it can also be a powerful learning tool to question the world more and learn actual knowledge. If I didn’t ever get lost, I would never make a mistake, and mistakes are useful for progress. What I want you to do is learn how to navigate all the information you come across carefully. Learning how to critically think is one good start. I was lost in the ocean of information, but now I’m starting to ride the waves.