Ezinne Ukoha a few months ago, I wrote an article called “On Going Gray and Fading Away”. You probably don’t remember it. In fact, for me, the only thing about it that is particularly memorable is the outpouring of love I received from women who got it. Women who understood. Some were just approaching that time of life, and some had walked through it before me. A few criticized my lack of depth, saying I was too focused on physical appearance. But the women who got it understood that it had nothing to do with beauty, and everything to do with mourning the loss of youth and the possibilities that come with being young; new, if you will.
The profound sense of loss that comes with the knowledge that many of those possibilities are no longer possible.
Knowing that the person you thought you would become required time, and certain milestones that took years to achieve, and you simply don’t have that kind of time left.
And I want you to know that this? This you wrote tonight? I GET THIS. And I want you to know that when I wrote that other article, you were the very first person to respond. Here is what you said:
So, I can speak about this because I literally turned gray in my late thirties. I am ALL gray.
It was and still is devastating. I tried to wear my hair that way but I couldn’t do it. I felt and looked nothing like…
I want you to know what that meant to me. I had been reading your stuff since I got to Medium, and your voice is so important and so strong. You teach me things all the time, and I am so grateful for that. But THIS? This response you wrote for me? It absolutely altered my perspective on my OWN life. It gave me hope, and before that, I was drowning.
And I appreciated it even more because I know you are so busy. You touch so many with your writing, and I know a significant amount of effort must go into just responding to responses on your pieces, because you take care to ensure your readers see that you see them, too. That is a lot harder than it sounds.
But I’m going to propose something to you. I hope you take it the way it’s intended, which is not to tell you how to change how you’re feeling right now, but just to tell you something that has worked for me in the past.
Almost every time I’m about to talk about an action that has had a profound affect on my peace of mind, it begins with,
My friend Bill says,
My friend Bill says the more we are focused on our circumstances, regrets, unrealized dreams, basically OURSELVES, the worse we feel. And it spirals downward. The more I obsess about my life, the more all of my shortcomings are magnified to me. The more hopeless I become. I isolate (oh, great, more ME WITH ME time), and I just fall deeper and deeper into a pit of despair.
The cure is to stop thinking about myself, and to do that, I have to actively be thinking about others. I sort of suck at this, so I’ve come up with a Medium routine that helps to get me above water.
When I get really down, I stop trying to write original articles. Completely. Instead, I focus on original articles other people write, exclusively. I read them (these are usually pieces I have some insight into — I have walked through what the writer is walking through. I have been where they’re headed. I have words of hope for them. I want to ease their burden and I am uniquely qualified to do that because of all the bullshit I’ve been through). I tend to stay away from big controversy stuff during this time, because my goal is not to prove idiots wrong, but to uplift those souls trying to stay afloat.
I try to do for other women (and men sometimes) what you did for me in August, because I know how much it meant to me that you took the time to share part of your soul with me that day. I know that I can do that for others.
In trying to build women up, I am built up too. My focus is off of the shitty stuff I have going on out here…that stuff doesn’t go away, but the magnitude of it shifts.
Anyway, I thought maybe it would help you feel better, too. I hope you take this post as I intended it. I hate that you’re so discouraged right now. But I know that your life has been full of experiences that can help other women feeling hopeless now about impossible things that you have already overcome.
I wish you light (but not THE light. Don’t look into THAT).