Is your Wedding Day the best day of your life? An exploration...

Lisa Simpson Marriage

I have a lot to say on this subject so I will be breaking it up into multiple parts

Part I

A few years ago, a friend was upset with me when I was not able to attend her wedding. She was so upset that she stopped speaking with me and eventually told me that she had decided to give up on our friendship. She felt that I showed her that our friendship didn’t matter to me when I decided to not attend her wedding, as this was supposed to be “the best day of her life.”

I was surprised to hear that because:

  1. I do not share that same opinion

  2. I didn’t know it would be such a big deal, and

  3. I wasn’t expecting such a drastic response

I didn’t realize that a friendship could be terminated over not attending a wedding, so this got me thinking – is your wedding day really supposed to be the best day of your life? Why do so many people, particularly women, have this belief? And what are my views on it? 

Where I am from, which is probably like most places in the US, having a lavish, over the top wedding has become a show of status and wealth. I feel like people are trying to outdo each other and there is something about it that doesn’t sit well with me.

The number of destination weddings requiring you to travel to fancy far off places, spend a lot of money, and take days off of work for something that isn’t of your choosing just baffles me.

You’re asking me to use my vacation days and extra hard earned money to go to a place that I didn’t choose, and do a bunch of events and activities that I didn’t agree to do, for you? We are all adults now and I choose to do what I want.

None of it feels authentic to me and to be extremely honest, it feels like a meaningless display of pretense. What are people trying to prove? This is a special event for you and your husband-to-be and your close families to celebrate your love for each other, why are you asking people to travel across the world to a place where you don’t even live to do this?

Another element of this that makes me uncomfortable is when you put a lot of pressure on an event to live up to something huge - aka the best day of your life.

I have had multiple experiences in my life where I have big expectations for a certain day or event, and then it just doesn’t measure up and I am left feeling really disappointed.

For me these were things like: graduation, getting into and attending my dream school (Stanford) – this was a huge let down, getting into the sorority I wanted, my first job after college, or having sex, none of these things ended up being that great and they left me feeling low, so I shifted my perspective.

I have realized that things that I don’t make a big deal about, but instead simply enjoy and appreciate the moment, end up being some of my best days.  Like: meeting a new friend, going on a hike with them and then having a lovely glass of wine and conversation. Or a normal day that ends up being amazing because you slept well, wake up feeling good, have a delicious cup of coffee, go on a nice walk and read a good book - I have chosen to enjoy savoring the simple things.

To me, these big events are so done up and seem to be a bigger source of stress and anxiety than enjoyment, and I guess I don’t put that day or even romantic relationships on as huge a pedestal as it seems that most other women do.

In Part II I am going to dive into the history of marriages/wedding ceremonies and explore the feminist perspective on these topics.. Stay tuned!

What Made Maddy Run – Thoughts on Depression & Suicide

What Made Maddy Run - Perfectionism, Suicide & Depression

I recently read the book – What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan. It was incredibly powerful and moved me deeply. I saw so much of myself in Maddy, and because of a few different choices, I am still here, whereas she is sadly not.

What Made Maddy Run is the story of Madison Holleran, an ambitious college athlete at UPenn who committed suicide her freshman year. The book discusses the story of Maddy’s life, and her struggle with depression, which also reveals the mounting pressures young people face to be perfect and constantly achieve, especially in an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.

This is an incredible book for anyone to read, especially those who want to gain a better understanding of mental illness, perfectionism, and how to help people who are struggling.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways I had on depression and suicide from the book (I also had thoughts on perfectionism I wanted to share, but this post go too long, so I will share that in a separate post):

Depression

Throughout the book, it is repeatedly mentioned that people couldn’t understand what had gone wrong, or how Maddy was so unhappy when everything was great in her life — loving parents, happy family, talented, smart, athletic, beautiful, popular. Depression and mental health issues — they don’t have a face! It can happen to and affect anyone, and some of the most depressed people have a seemingly “perfect” life. It is genetic, so trying to make sense of it is futile.

When someone tells you they aren’t doing well or if someone is having a rough day, be kind to them — you really don’t know what anyone is going through.

No one would ever have suspected I was severely depressed. I became an expert at going from crying to slapping on my happy, cheerful face and being vivacious Lili. I would tell my mom how I hated seeing people because I was so tired of faking it and would get annoyed when people would describe me as — Oh Lili is always so sweet and happy — I felt like such a fraud and so alone.

Suicide

This is something I haven’t opened up about before, but if this can help anyone, even just a single person, it is worth it to me.

I had a really tough time when I was about 25 years old. I would wake up with nothing that made me want to get out of bed. I hated my work and what my life had turned into. The climax of all of this was when I would show up at the office and couldn’t stop crying. Just crying and crying and no matter how much I tried to stop I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I would run outside and pretend like I was going to get a coffee and just stand in an alleyway and cry.

That was when the thought struck me – if this is what my life is going to be, I don’t want it.

I didn’t want this life. I was miserable and tired of being so deeply unhappy. I didn’t see a way out and thought I could no longer continue. It was a scary thought, but in an effort to be honest, I just wanted the suffering to end.

I called my mom and she connected me with a suicide hotline and I spoke to them. It was terrifying but it was the first step I took in getting help. They instructed me to go talk to HR and figure out a solution whether that be medical leave or intensive therapy. That is when I started seeing a therapist twice a week. I considered inpatient treatment – which I wish I would have done – but at the moment I was terrified of people finding out about it and thought it sounded too extreme.

I want to emphasize the point here that I didn’t look at it as killing myself, I saw it as ending the suffering because I didn’t see another way out. At this point I had been struggling with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for over ten years and didn’t know how or if I ever would get better. I also hated my job but didn’t know what I wanted to do instead, I felt completely trapped.

I think  this is a helpful thing to note because people just look at suicide as killing yourself and that wasn’t at all how I saw it when I was in the midst of my darkest thoughts. I felt like I was already trapped in the hell of my daily life, and it seemed like it would provide a release.

In reading Maddy’s story I can see how she was miserable and unhappy and couldn’t see a way out. I relate to how she felt so utterly trapped and was suffering deeply that she just wanted it to end. When you are in such a dark place it is very difficult to think clearly or see other options, you feel extremely stuck and exhausted. You also don’t see time clearly, a week can feel like eternity, and you need help IMMEDIATELY. When my mom would tell me to just finish out the week at work, it felt like a mountain I couldn’t climb and it would infuriate me because I felt like she didn’t understand the gravity of my pain, you need help and for things to change right away because you are already at your wits end.

If you’re struggling with any of this get help now. Call the suicide hotline or talk to HR right away. Things truly can change today and there is a way out that doesn’t involve suicide or hurting yourself. That is what I wish I could tell Maddy if she was here today — that things can get better and she can get better. To take a break from school and get the help she needs right away so she can find her way out of that hell and start creating a life that makes her happy.

Favorite 2018 Articles

TOLG Favorite 2018 Articles

I wrote up my list of 2018 favorites but as you might have noticed, I did not include my favorite articles in that list. The truth is that I had too many to choose only one or two! I knew I would have to dedicate a full post to the subject so I could share the variety of great articles that I read this past year.

As you will see in the list I like to read different topics from a few different sources. My favorite outlet would be The New Yorker though because in my opinion they have the most interesting well-written articles. Plus my brother has a subscription that he always lets me use :)

So without further ado, here they are in no particular order. Hope you find something interesting to read this weekend!

Profiles:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out – The New Yorker

Riz Ahmed Acts His Way Out of Every Cultural Pigeonhole – The New York Times Magazine

Nicole Holofcener’s Human Comedies – The New Yorker

Donald Glover Can’t Save You – The New Yorker

Feminism:

Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story (and Country) Is This? – Literary Hub

Rebecca Solnit: Protest and Persist: Why Giving Up Hope is Not an Option – The Guardian

Lena Dunham on Her Decision to Have a Hysterectomy at Age 31 – Vogue

Social/Political Issues:

When Deportation is a Death Sentence – The New Yorker

The Birth of a New American Aristocracy – The Atlantic

Why Are the Poor Blamed and Shamed for their Deaths? By Barbara Ehrenreich – The Guardian

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, In Her Own Words — JACOBIN

‘Our Minds Can Be Hijacked’: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia — The Guardian

Spirituality & Health:

When Anorexics Grow Up — The New York Times 

Mama Medicine: How Deciding I Was Enough Transformed My Life — Well + Good

Why Perfectionism Is On The Rise and How To Overcome It — Goop