Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coming Clean & Finding Joy

This post has been weeks in the making. I've written draft after draft after draft, trying to find the words to adequately express what I want to say. Nothing has been quite right, though. This is a hard post to write, mostly because I'm embarrassed and nervous to let this part of my life become common knowledge. I hope this does my feelings justice, because I'm posting it no matter what this time. So, here goes nothing.

I've been lying to all of you. Don't worry- I'm not a murderer or anything; nor am I running a meth lab out of my apartment*. But I've definitely been misleading pretty much everyone about the state of my life.

 I've been faking happiness for a while. I'm in my second year, and I'm still struggling with the transition to college. I, like essentially every other human being, am finding adulthood much harder than expected. Especially since moving to Utah and attending a university that seems to be full of extremely happy people, I've felt a need to constantly put on a happy face and "suck it up", for lack of a better term. I've felt like there's something wrong with me for feeling sad, which just compounded my sadness.

People ask me how school is going, if I'm "loving it", etc, and I felt absolutely obligated to gush about how great it is, how much I love my major, all the fun things I'm doing, how great BYU is in general. I felt like that was how I had to respond, because it seemed like that was what was expected of me. But that's not how I felt. Up until a couple weeks ago, I was so down on myself. I was feeling the way I'm sure a lot of other people felt- I went from being one of the better students in my high school class to very, very average here at BYU. Classic "Little Fish in a Big Pond" syndrome. I was aware that others felt this way- but it didn't change the fact that I still felt absolutely worthless. I couldn't pass a test.  I left the Testing Center completely devastated after each and every one. I got to the point where I was completely and totally unmotivated. I couldn't convince myself to even try anymore. With the exception of my parents and a couple close friends, no one knew. I felt like I couldn't admit that I hated school. Everyone loved BYU. It seems like everyone I've talked to has admitted to being stressed and finding school hard, but they're somehow dealing with it and still "love it". I hated that I couldn't figure out how to feel the same way. So I faked it, because I didn't want people to know that there was something wrong with me. I didn't want people to think less of me for not loving BYU. And then I got tired of having to fake it.
I got tired of the constant cycle of sadness.
I got tired of hating myself for my "failures".
I got tired of not being happy.

So I decided to be happy. And it wasn't an easy choice. Not in the slightest. It's still difficult. But it's so, so worth it.

So how do I do it?

First and foremost, I have to credit my Heavenly Father. There is no way I could make this change in my life were it not for Him. The first thing I did was learn to pray, all the time. I've always been pretty good about saying prayers before bed, but recently, I feel like all I've done is pray. I'm starting to understand what it means to have a prayer in your heart. When I'm feeling down on myself, I try to force myself to pray for peace and an ability to overcome the moment. And the effect is incredible. I wouldn't be able to do this without him. No way, no how.

Other than Heavenly aid, there are a few things that have helped me.

  • Gratitude. The best way for me to get out of the downward spiral is to try to remember the things I'm grateful for. I recently made a list of everything I'm grateful for that I look at when I'm feeling really down. 
  • Laughter. I do just about everything I can to make myself laugh on a daily basis. Whether that's spending some time with my roommates, who are always able to crack me up, no matter how upset I am, or watching a stupid YouTube video. Laughter really does help. 
  • Sleep. Sleeping your life away is never a good idea, but exhausting yourself is awful, too. It's so, so much easier to feel good and optimistic when you're well rested and fully functioning.**
  • Service. Serving others makes it really easy to forget about your own problems. 

It definitely hasn't been easy, and it's not going to be a fast, easy fix. But I'm going to get better. And just knowing that makes me happy. 

So yes, I'm coming clean. I'm  not super happy. I don't 100%  love BYU***. But I'm working on it, and I know I'm going to be okay. 

*Things could always be worse. Another tactic for reminding yourself of the things to be grateful for. 
**I'm a total hypocrite because It's currently 2:43 am and I need to be up at 8 for work tomorrow morning. Talk about irresponsible.
***I know some of you are probably really worried that I don't absolutely love BYU all the time. I'm still a true blue Cougar. I'm not transferring to the U any time soon- or EVER. I know I'm in the right place, but it is still really difficult sometimes. 


  1. Jenna! First off, nice to see you at the Andy Grammer concert : ) also, this is a very true post. Also, I miss you and the Bookstore. Also, this was so nice to read because I can go back over my college career and remember exactly when I realized and felt basically all these feelings. Also, one thing I've learned since being here is to simply disregard what people think and what the norm is. Don't follow it, don't fight against it. Just ignore it. And focus on developing your own talents, regardless of how they compare to other people's. It's definitely hard to do at BYU because there are so many talented, beautiful, smart people. Many of whom are trying to fake it and therefore we all think everyone is perfect (very generally speaking). Deep down everyone will struggle at some point though, it's just life. I would also suggest the book "No One Can Take Your Place" by Sheri Dew. Changed my life, the last chapter talks about how literally, no one can take your place. You are unique and God has a plan for you and only you. Maybe that includes struggling at school but being awesome at something else. It doesn't matter as long as you embrace the plan and do all the things you mentioned...gratitude, prayer, service, etc. You are beautiful and will be awesome, no doubt. : ) love ya Jenna!

  2. Hi! You don't know me, a friend sent me a link to your blog. But I just read your post and I'd just like to say it was really helpful. I'm having a really hard time here in the bubble for some of the same reasons and some different ones, but I really appreciate your honesty. It was so nice to hear from someone else that, just because you're having a hard time, or things aren't like you really imagined, you can still make the best of the situation, especially when you have the help of Heavenly Father. I'm trying to have this same mentality, that you've just explained. It's hard, and some days are better than others, but it's going to get better. We can do hard things! Anyways, thanks for your post. It was great (:

  3. Love you Jenna! Call me sometime soon! <3 Brooke