When my father passed away, I dove into a severe depression, which I’m still struggling to crawl my way out of. My world went spiraling out of control and I had no idea how to stop it. I tried seeing a counselor, I tried anti-depressants. I moved away from my closest friends to be with my mother so that I could help support her. However, I lost my own support system in the process. I would’ve liked to have kept training jiu jitsu. The exercise and the support of teammates would’ve made a world of difference, I’m sure. But I didn’t have a job and jiu jitsu is an expensive lover.
I’ve also been struggling with what to do with my blog. I like being creative and writing can be a good form of therapy. So, for the time-being, that’s what this blog will morph into. My personal therapy session. But rather than bore you with my feelings and what happened to me today, I’m going to share stories my father told me and lessons I learned from him. He was my favorite teacher.
For those of you lucky enough to never have suffered a bout of depression, I’m going to provide you a link to a wonderful blog post about what depression is like. For me personally, some of the things it describes happened in another order, but that’s not really the point. This is quite clever and completely worth the time to check out: Hyperbole and a Half
It’s been a little over a year now since my father passed away. It’s been the toughest year of my life. I had to pack up and leave my life behind, all of my friends, all of my belongings, all at a moment’s notice. I don’t necessarily regret it, I did what I thought I had to do, but I wish (for so many reasons) that I didn’t have to.
My last post was about how I would do things differently if I had a second chance. Knowing what I know now and having gone through what I’ve gone through, and seeing what both of my parents have gone through in the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just want a complete do-over. At some point, I assume everyone has wanted to start over and go through their life again, but this time with the knowledge that they have accumulated so far. Me, I’d like my new starting point to be freshman year of undergrad. At best, assuming there is such thing as heaven and I get to go there, that’s only something you get to do when life is over and maybe that gets to be your version of your personal heaven.
For now, the best I can hope for is that I can pick up the remaining pieces of my heart and my life and build up from here. Learn what I can, adapt, and rebuild. With that in mind, one of my new projects will be to rebuild and revamp my blog. I haven’t quite figured out what I want my blog to focus on. But hopefully you’ll stick with me on my journey and we can figure that out together…
Until then, look for some changes on here: most likely a new title, maybe a new look, definitely some new entries.
If I could do grad school over again, I would:
1) Decide sooner that I wanted to do a dual degree program. It’s taken forever finishing one then starting another and now I’m broke and ready to start a job so that I can get PAID for my time… you know, instead of me paying the university to work me to death.
2) Make better financial decisions. First of all, this means living in grad housing only ONE year, not two! I loved my little apartment in La Aldea, but honestly, it boils down to laziness on my part not trying to find a cheaper place to live after that first year. Second, this means being more careful with my money – buying less clothes, not eating at expensive (and by “expensive” I mean anything more than $6) restaurants, and not caving in to so-called friends who insist on eating at expensive restaurants and have no consideration for your financial situation like texting you constantly when you told her you do not have unlimited texting or making you go snowboarding after you told her you can’t afford the lift or rental costs, etc.
3) Not being active enough. I have a gym that I love and close group of friends that train with me there, but because of school, I’m too sporadic with my training. I have spurts when I go all the time, but then school kicks in and I’m not in the gym again for months. Then things slow down or I catch up and I can start training again, but that’s temporary and I stop again. I think it may come down to bad time management. Which brings me to my fourth point,
4) Better time management. I don’t really think this needs much elaboration. I think anybody that does anything more than sit on the couch all day in front of the TV can understand and relate to this problem.
5) Learning multimedia earlier and more thoroughly. It’s such a pain in the ass to lug around a camera, mic, and tripod, but it sure does add life to your stories. And while Final Cut was an even bigger pain, every time I use it, I learn about a new feature. My latest discovery is the master template. In the menu, choose Sequence > Add Master Template. So cool if you want to add an extra flare to your projects.
6) Learn photography and videography. Learning the software to put your pieces together is important, but if all you have are a bunch of blurry pictures and even worse video, there’s no real project to put together.
7) No regrets. I wish I had done a lot of things differently, but eventually I got around to most of the things I wanted to do and tried my best to correct the things that I messed up. And I’m sure one day I’ll have a job where I can put everything I’ve learned to use and build even more upon that.
Some of the BEST decisions I’ve made:
1) Looking at departments other than my own to take classes in. Some of my favorite classes have resulted from this – Grant Writing, History of India-Pakistan, and Media Coverage of International Crisis (that last one was what made me decide to do the dual degree program with Near Eastern Studies and Journalism).
2) Being social. I went dancing with my friends. We had dinners at each others apartments. We took trips to Mexico, California, and Las Vegas together. Most of the time, we’d just hang out and talk. And now I have lifelong, wonderful friends. Grad school is crazy stressful. I would’ve never survived if I didn’t occasionally play hooky with my buddies, or spent a day doing nothing with the people I feel so close to now.
3) Being active. Not only does this keep you healthy, but it kept my stress levels down and I found a whole new circle of friends that have my back no matter what. Not a lot of people train jiujitsu and just the sheer nature of what we do, you form intimate relationships with your teammates real quick. More than a few very close friends of mine are from this group of fighters and being part of this close-knit community means that even when you visit another gym in another city, you have an instant set of new friends.
When I was an undergrad, I lived at home. I didn’t make that many friends. I don’t remember going to any parties. I certainly didn’t workout much. When I started the grad program, I corrected some of these mistakes but made others. For my next degree (maybe something in the sciences???), I plan on correcting those mistakes. One day, probably after my fifth degree, I’ll get it right…