Baggage. We've all got it. And not the pretty matching sets that celebrities use; I'm talking about the heavy, mismatched, torn, big-ass mothers that you use when you're moving and otherwise hide in the least used closet in your home.
Mine? The literal baggage I use sits in my room in front of the fuse box in the lefthand corner. Three big suitcases -- two blue, one green -- that sit and, most recently, taunt me. Less than three months in my reprieve.
Because although I've been technically doing something that essentially "betters" me and my future through attaining my Master's, doing it in a foreign country has been exactly that -- a reprieve. I have been living the fantasy life. It's filled my head from the ripe age of 12 when I first read Philippa Gregory and dreamt of England. And it was the dream that fed me for eight years until I studied abroad and then another three before I moved here for the 15 month program. But that 15 months is almost up. And my baggage knows it.
And I'm afraid.
I'm afraid the mental baggage I so frequently confront and repress is going to catch up with me the moment my international life ends, the moment I'm back in the "real world." Yes, I'm vocal about it online. I apologize if I've plagued your newsfeeds. And yes, I think mental health needs to be a conversation between everyone of all backgrounds and ages and genders. This doesn't negate the fact that the conversation and its inspiration are scary.
Lately, I've been avoiding writing another article for We Are Alive because it has become my baggage. I'm applying for jobs, I'm trying to meet people (read: men), and I feel haunted by the fact that I have tried to be an advocate for mental health for the last year. Isn't that sad? Because I've been taught -- we've all been taught -- that to be sick, to be ill in any capacity, means that you are not entitled to the same amount of happiness or success as a "normal" (read: healthy) person. Our lives are somehow lesser. And that, quite honestly, is so royally f*cked up. (I did not come up with this thought, guys, but it's Claire Wineman's in "Make Your Life Beautiful." Look it up.)
Defy your baggage. Even if you don't have mental illness, let the past go. It does not own you. Reclaim it as your own and know that you own it.
I challenge you to join me this week in owning our baggage. I'll check back in at the end of it and let you know how it goes. You obviously do not need to tell me. Do it for yourself. Keep it personal, keep it real.
And in the meantime, here's some motivation for you: