For Halloween, the Blurple House has decided to dress up as the emotions from Inside Out. There are five of us and five emotions, so it works out perfectly. There is Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Joy. I happened to be chosen/picked/volunteered to be Joy.
For the past few days, I’ve told several people that I was dressing up as one of the emotions. Every time, they’d say, “Oh, it is so obvious. You’re going to be Joy.” I didn’t understand why, but each time someone guessed correctly, I felt shocked. People think I am joyful? People think I am happy?
I guess it is so shocking to me because I haven’t felt pure joy in a long time. College was a wonderful experience. It was so worth it. I would have never met some of my closest friends, learned so much about myself and the world around me… but it was also incredibly difficult. Life built around papers, studying, and late nights was not a fulfilling or joyful time for me. Certainly, hanging out with friends and exploring the town were ways I survived anxiety and stress…but four years of college changed me.
Freshman year was a year where I experienced joy. I flourished my first time ever away from my home town, Houston. I loved that Austin was just far enough to where I wouldn’t feel tempted to go home every weekend. It forced me to form friendships and step outside of my comfort zone. I spent so many nights hanging out with friends until the crack of dawn, whether we were eating Kerbey pancakes or playing Smash in the Roberts TV room. I didn’t feel homesick. Sure, I missed my family, but the opportunities present in college were exciting. I was so excited to live life.
Then, my sophomore slump began. I had such an awful year living in a different and less appealing dorm, taking extremely hard Spanish classes, and having very little down time. I felt so drained by class and by the commitments I made to the Wesley. I was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. I gorged myself on Amy’s mac and cheese from Kins Market. I drank so much tea in hopes that I would feel a little happier. I became so good at sleeping. I also binge watched so much Netflix. I based my time calculating how many minutes I had left to watch another episode. My attachment to TV show characters became unhealthy, and so I would try to stop watching, but it would never work. I didn’t know I had depression, but I certainly was aware, afraid, and unsure how to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing.
Things got better. My memories of being numb, checking out of life my sophomore year in Kinsolving are vivid, but the memories of my summer after that disastrous year are also vivid. I went back to staying up late, adventuring with Andres and Rowena, and living life. My heart slowly healed from the loneliness, lack of purpose, and pain. Despite working at a difficult job, God healed me through friends and community. I was able to experience joy and who God made me to be: a happy person!
The past two years have been hard. The pressures of doing the right things to be successful and making the right choices to land a job definitely caused extreme anxiety and stress. I was *suppose* to graduate and find a job and have a sense of something, anything! There is still a giant question mark for my future…but here is the cool thing:
I feel joy again.
Praise the Lord I am no longer in college. There is so much relief to come home and not have to study or do homework. Sunday afternoons are actually peaceful! I no longer have that sense of dread to finish all the work before Monday morning. Having the time to play the guitar and read books in the park is so rewarding and wonderful.
I feel like I am *me* again, and people can recognize joy in me. Even though I go to bed between 9-10:30pm every night, I have so much joy to wake up at 6AM and be at Mercy Church to make the soup, wash dishes, and sing songs about a revolution of love. Yes, there are long and hard days that I want to just throw my hands up in the air and say “nope,” but I go back the next morning with a smile on my face, ready to do whatever needs to be done.
I am grateful for the experience I’ve had in the seasons of pain and lonliness. I am reminded of God’s unwavering love and that He knows me, understands me, and has a great plan for me. I am grateful and so relieved to experience this season of joy and of self-discovery.