Negative is the New Positive: My Road Trip to Happiness
This post is undoubtedly one of the most personal, sappy, and transparent blogs that I have written so far... but also one of the most fun, exciting and gratifying pieces that I have been able to share. Thank you for continuously supporting my journey by reading and keeping me humble in how to share my experiences and education!
"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller
1,054 MILES TO REALIZATION
I did it: I moved halfway across the country to California to attend my dream school. I said my goodbyes to my family and friends, and packed up my kia soul with anything and everything that would fit. Through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and California, I thought about the new life I was going to live. For those of you who don't know, the program was Biological Sciences and Biotechnology. A few months ago when I was accepted, this was so exciting to me and something that I really wanted to do. But as I arrived to my amazing apartment complex, and as I walked around the beautiful campus that UC Irvine is, I felt different.
The best way that I can explain what I felt is that it just did not feel right - and you all know how big I am on the mind-body connection, specifically the mind-gut connection. I realized that although my dream came true and I was exactly where I had always wanted to be, that this was no longer my passion. I love the brain and the body and want to work with people - and unfortunately this profession would not allow me to do that. I had to make a choice and it was not an easy decision. It required an entire week of crying and contemplating in order to come to a conclusion but I finally did: to go back to Colorado. California will always have a piece of my heart - I will miss surfing everyday without question, and honestly I might have stayed if I had the money. But aside from my love for the ocean, I am so grateful that I drove out there and had the opportunity to learn that Biotechnology is not my passion. I will never question or have regret, and I will never ask myself that daunting question, "what if?" because I knew what I felt in my gut and what was right for me.
As I was driving back, I realized how much had been flowing through my mind in order to help me make this unbelievably difficult decision. I realized how many months were spent trying to avoid the inevitable and how long I spent trying to wire myself to be positive and excited to start a career in Biotech. That's when I realized: When did failing or changing your mind become so negative? All around me in society and the media, everything is positive. People are expected to be positive about everything and have a consistent plan about their lives. But honestly, all of my failures and negative experiences have developed into successes and happiness because of the person that I have become. I have learned that it is okay to change your mind.
SUMMER OF SOUL SEARCHING
This was not my first life decision that I've had to make and it was not the first time that I had felt like I failed myself at some point. My own struggles challenge me daily and I wouldn't be where I am today or who I am without failure in my life. Because of the way I view my failures as successes and my negatives as positives, I feel that I reached my goal of being a part of the school of my dreams. UC Irvine and this experience has taught me more about myself than anything I have been through in my life. I was challenged when applying and challenged when learning about what I truly want to study. Without this summer and the first chance in a long time to really work on myself and learn about myself, I would not have grown so much. The last few months, I have gained so much knowledge through research, education, exercise and this blog allowing me to share that information. I have learned how to put my health first and to always be eager to learn. I also know now that my passion is helping others; nutrition, neuroscience, and alternative medicine is what I plan to pursue in my career and I'm so thankful for that realization.
THE BRAIN ON POSITIVES & NEGATIVES
For too long, I let situations rule my life in a negative way. I watched TED talks and listened to podcasts about positivity and focused so much of my energy onto being happy all of the time. It is difficult to view negativity as a positive or a stepping stone in life; but as I reflect on these huge decisions and milestones, it is so clear that failure and life transitions have been without a doubt the most positive part of my life. This left a few questions in my mind. What happens to the brain during a huge decision? What is the difference in our brain when we are thinking about the "positive" or the "negative?" There are numerous research articles on decision-making and rewiring the brain to be positive, but it isn't as simple as making comparisons between two options when trying to make a decision. The conscious and subconscious are in control when we are deciding on a resolution, the mind-gut connection plays a roll, and there are actually different brain cells for positive and negative experiences. So how do we use this knowledge to our advantage?
The brain learns experiences and will ensure that you are protected by avoiding painful occurrences. This is important and the brain cells responsible for negative experiences such as car accidents, breaking a bone, traumatic experiences, etc. will protect us from these situations and help us to grow and learn from them. The important lesson is to not confuse experiences that can have a positive impact on our life that are blessing in disguise with traumatic ones. My adventure with UC Irvine was not a negative encounter, and I do not want my brain to learn this as a weak part of my life. I felt like I was failing myself and those close to me because I was not pursuing this opportunity. But it was because I turned down this opportunity that I can now pursue what is truly important to me.
It is important for me to express that growth is painful and uncomfortable at times. In order to flourish and become who we want to be, this growth process is crucial. I wanted to share what has been detrimental in my life: time. I know I know, you do not want to hear this because that is what everyone has always told us and it does not always make things easier. But time is the best gift because it relates to all aspects of life. My life has been able to blossom because time allowed everything to fall into place. Time has taught me that my experiences have impacted me to fight through my battles, made me appreciative, and allowed me to learn more through my negative situations than any of my positive ones. I truly believe that we never stop growing and we will continue to become better versions of ourselves for the rest of our lives.
I CHALLENGE YOU
All of your personal failures, heartbreaks, and negative situations are your own experiences that are messages meant only for you. I encourage you to reflect on the times of your life that have seemed negative and hard to recover from. Where did it lead you? What was the outcome? Where are you know in life because of these hard times? Instead of trying to be consistently positive, I encourage you to look at your negatives and find all the good that could come out of them. It is so important for our mental health to rewire seemingly unfavorable experiences to be educational and peaceful adventures. Rewire your brain to view negative as positive, rather than living your life in a way that does not serve you. I challenge you to realize that you are human. Recognize that these wild, chaotic moments are important in our personal growth and always take your road trip to happiness - you never know where it may lead you.
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