At the beginning of this year, I have shared my journey on self-improvement and mental health but it was only last month where I took it seriously. Sure, I was drowning myself in motivational articles, podcasts, and searching through the self-help section but it can only do so much. Instead of helping me improve myself, the books and the podcasts only gave the illusion of action.

Now, I’m trying to find a way to improve myself without overdoing it or not doing it at all. This month, I would like to focus on having peace of mind, learn something new, and of course SAVE MONEY.

So here are my three goals for this month:

  • Practice mindfulness (meditation)
  • Pick up a new hobby besides binging Netflix
  • SAVE MONEY (because this goal was not met last month)

I’m continuing my therapy since we are on the subject of “mindfulness,” which is a good thing because I’m either quite restless or too still nowadays. I also sent in letters to two organizations which share my advocacy on Mental Health, Safe Sex and HIV awareness. This blog post is written in real time as I try to accomplish my goals so I haven’t heard back from them yet. However, I am thinking of signing up for writing classes as well as art classes.

Meditation is fucking hard

I have Anxiety and it’s more than just worrying. Because this is where worry becomes a sort of monster hellbent on destroying your life. Yes, I actually call it a monster because that’s how I see my anxiety. It’s the monster under my bed as a child who finally risen and strengthened by my layered thoughts of worry and insecurity.

To manage my anxiety, my therapist recommended I practice mindfulness for even just a few minutes each day. Because he explained it would help me reign in on my emotions and be aware of my own irrationality. It will also help me with my insomnia which is a great plus.

But here is a better description of what “Mindfulness” really is:

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

A Photo of a woman meditating in front of a lake by Lipiński Tomasz on Unsplash
Photo by Lipiński Tomasz on Unsplash

Thank God, Google Assistant offers a mindfulness option which helps me practice mindfulness for at least three to five minutes. It’s not that easy, to be honest. There are times I fall asleep in the middle of meditation or cutting it short because I feel fidgety. That was when I finally downloaded the Headspace app to help me keep track of my routine. Because I haven’t been properly meditating for the first two weeks of October since it was first recommended to me.

I even enrolled myself in a free online course on Mindfulness because I wanted to learn more about it.

Of course, it is okay if I forget and I shouldn’t be too hard on myself if I am having a hard time on it. Rather than lashing out then giving up because it frustrated me. So here I am still continuing on this journey. A goal I didn’t get to accomplish this month but something to learn along the way as the year closes.

I am trying out watercolors!

Why I Need to paint

watercolor of Ealeanor and Park
This can be Eleanor and Park sort of…

I always found painting relaxing at the same time a great outlet for my anger issues. For the past couple of months, I have been filled so much anxiety and frustration I end up bottling it up with no outlet for me express. Needless to say, I blew up but not in terms of screaming it was more of tears. I spent a week crying –before I go to work I cry, sometimes I cry in the bathroom or on the commute, and most of the time I cry when I get home.

Most people would think my anger would manifest into something violent (which it has in the past) yet it expresses itself in tears. It’s tears of hopelessness, confusion, and frustration. Not a lot of people understand why I cry especially when it seemed like nothing triggers it. A lot of people would think I’m crazy, however… am I crazy for having emotions?

watercolor self portrait
A prettier watercolor self-portrait of myself.
Watercolor of Jae Yeol from the webcomic "Lookism"
A sad attempt in creating a watercolor version of Jae Yeol from the Webtoon’s webcomic “Lookism”**

You know the ones which feel overwhelming since the only thing you have done to cope with them is bottling it up. It’s very unhealthy because you will never know how your emotions will manifest. Most of the time, we are unaware of this kind of behavior in ourselves it becomes a pattern.

Earlier this year, I had three breakdowns due to pent-up anger and sadness. I have been doing this for most of my life because I learned to invalidate my emotions as selfish, stupid, and “all in my head.” This kind of mindset has made it difficult for me to properly express my emotions in a healthy manner.

Painting lessons and progress

Now, what does this have to do with picking up a new hobby?

There will be days where everything feels too much and people who do not understand how you feel. The only way to cope with them is by accepting it and then releasing all of your feelings in a healthy way. It can be through sports, going to the gym, or even writing. In my case, I took up watercolor painting because it’s both creative and relaxing.

Last year, I discovered my love for abstract art specifically splattering paint onto a canvas. It turned out quite nicely and it became my happy place until I had to move to another city. Where I live cannot accommodate my messy painting style so I’ve struggled to find another creative outlet that would both relax me and stimulate my artistic side.

Watercolor painting of BTS BT21 character: Chimmy the passionate puppy
Here is my attempt in sketching Chimmy, the passionate puppy who is born with passion and tries hard at everything. #passion #trying #yellowhoody #BTS
Watercolor sketch of Tata from BTS BT21 characters
Here is my somewhat okay (hopefully) of Tata from BT Planet, TATA is very curious about everything.#BTPlanet #Supernatural #Transformation #BTS

Then finally, YouTube recommended me something useful which was a video on watercolor basics. After binging a few videos, I bought a watercolor set and painted away. Unlike, my previous painting endeavor where I used acrylics watercolor is teaching me patience and water to paint ratio.

Every weekend, I spend days practicing watercolor. Each page I fill and each painting gives me a sense of accomplishment and light. When I practice watercolor painting I feel a sudden weight lifted from me. Most days, I feel something heavy on my chest keeping me from getting up in the morning and walking out the door. Yet when I sit down and focus on watercoloring I feel free.

I did not dive into online shopping this month!

A Photo of a woman holding a shopping bag by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

My money is okay for now! My family members call me cheap because my frugal practice seems too obsessive. It’s only because I am trying to save money by the end of this year which can support me during the Holidays. This meant I had to dial down on one spending habit of mine which was online shopping.

So far a lot of my money went to buying clothes and skin products online which weren’t cheap. But I am also learning when to spend and when not to spend by asking myself if I really need something or not. At some point, I have to learn how to really budget. Because as much as I want to save money, I also need to understand the need for quality over being cheap.

Right now, I am saving up some money for my birthday, Christmas, and also a better sketchpad good for watercolors.

Why Am I doing all of this?

It’s hard feeling unhappy for the past couple of months but I’m not doing these goals to be happy either. Happiness isn’t a goal, it’s just another emotion that I wish I can feel every now and again if not every day. It’s hard to feel happy when I have been accustomed to anger, sadness, and confusion for most of my life.

Bojack Horseman character
Bojack Horseman in Bojack Horseman Netflix

Then I soon realized after binging “Bojack Horseman” for the third time –I am responsible for my own happiness as well as unhappiness. It seems easy to blame the world and point a finger to why you’re unhappy because we’re all too afraid to take accountability of our actions. Yes, the past is a factor on how you handle things in the present but we are also capable of change.

It’s not easy but it’s a lot better than holding onto the past hoping it will apologize for ruining us.

I don’t know if this “three goals a month” will help me cope but at least it would help me focus and be better. 

*Also my amazing Featured image for this post is by Brigitta Schneiter on Unsplash
**Another one: If you guys have Webtoon app go check out this amazing webcomic titled “Lookism.” The story is about a teenage boy who has two bodies, his original body is not ideally attractive while his second body is insanely attractive. It focuses on how prejudiced we can be on looks and as well as the power of friendship. (It’s a little graphic on the violence and Trigger warning for those who have suffered traumatizing bullying in their lives.)

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