In 2012-2013, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) as well as anxiety. For me it was really hard to get out of bed and I had little to no motivation to do anything. I would also get severe anxiety about being in groups of people.
This impacted my school work, social life, and relationships. I did not make it to classes, because I wasn’t able to get out of bed or because my anxiety was so bad. I avoided going out with friends and some of my closest friendships eventually broke down.
It got to the point where things got bad enough that I came home from university in February of 2013. It was really hard and at times, I was not happy about being back home.
Social media made it very difficult to be happy with where I was and what I was doing. I did not feel successful by any standards.
Here I was living at home with my parents, not being able to get out of bed and not having the ability to be at university. I would constantly be comparing myself and what I was not doing with the highlight reels of everyone on Facebook.
Eventually I broke down and couldn’t do it anymore. I deleted my Facebook account and haven’t looked back. However, there is now other social media that I am actively a part of and the danger of comparing myself to others still exists.
The difference between me when I first came home, and now, is my mindset about success.
It isn’t perfect and some days are better than others but I when I am on social media I try my hardest to remember what I have learned about success.
Here is the thing about success, it is a tricky thing to define, because it will mean different things for different people.
How do you define success? How would you describe a successful person (my age: 26)?
If I were to look at the lives of my peers, success by those standards would mean some if not all of the following would be true:
– Having my own house!
– Having a car
– Being married or in a serious relationship
– Having kids
– Have a career or at least on my way to a career
When it comes to success being defined in a dictionary, three different websites (dictionary.com, Oxford, and Merriam & Webster), define success: as the attainment of fame, wealth or social status.
So for me:
– (I live with my parents)
– (I borrow my parent’s cars)
– (I have never been in a relationship)
– (I am nowhere near ready to have any kids)
– (I have not finished my degree, let alone have a career)
With these things being true I would not be considered successful in regards to the definition nor by the comparison to the lives of those around me.
However these websites do go on to define success as the favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavours; in other words the accomplishment of one’s goals.
The years since I was diagnosed have not been easy but I have learned that I can no longer have success be defined by others standards, whether they be the world’s, society’s, or by the lives our peers are living.
In all honesty, this is very hard for me to do. More often than not I find myself comparing my life and where I am at with those around me. I still have Snapchat and Instagram, but I have gotten better at separating my own thoughts of success with the “highlight reels” of others.
Now my successes are defined by me and include but are not limited to:
– Getting out of bed
– Brushing my teeth
– Putting real people clothes on- so not what I slept in!
– Eating something for breakfast
– Getting out of the house at least once in the day
– Making it to bed** (** not giving in to my suicidal thoughts)
– Waking up
– Time spent with my family, friends, and my youth
– Being present in my day and not counting the amount of great days I have had because that leads me to feel like I am counting down until the bad days come. In other words…count each day as a gift
– Keep my anxiety in check
– Walk outside on my own and meet new people
– Getting through a full day/week of work and not feeling down and out. Actually enjoying the experience and looking forward to being busy.
Some days, all of these things happen for me, and I feel successful, other days, only one thing happens, and I try my hardest to celebrate that success regardless of how the other things went or didn’t go.
It isn’t easy but rewarding and celebrating myself pushes me to accomplish as many of these as I can.
As I have made a list of some of my successes, I encourage you to write down some of your own successes – no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. If they are a success for you, that is all that matters.
And if you feel comfortable, I encourage you to share them with someone so that when you accomplish them, you have someone to share that excitement with. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing them, that is okay too. I just want you to be aware of all the great things that you are capable of doing and celebrating them and in turn celebrating yourself.
With your successes, no matter how small, they are important, they are worth fighting for and worth celebrating.
For me it is with great trepidation and fear, that I allow myself to interact on social media.
I know that not every day will feel like a success but everyday I choose to live is a day of success in its own right. Every day that I accomplish something for my own well being is a day of success. I now define my own success and I encourage you to define your own.
Noramy Gonzalia Diaz is the youth leader at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener. She was born in Colombia and lived in the USA for several years. Having grown up in different cultures has allowed Noramy to follow her passion of helping others in different contexts. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, baking, playing board games and learning from her youth.