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In the eye of the storm, when patterns in my life are changing, I find myself putting myself last. It is almost like a form of punishing oneself; feeling so uncomfortable and out of place, that suddenly everything else but self-care fills up my day. During times like those, I focus on the small details, desperately trying to get everything "as it should be", as though trying to avoid any further “damage” from happening. I can become obsessive, losing my sleep as my brain gets foggier the more resistance it performs. I resist the emotions of fear as well as joy by running away from nurturing and listening to my inner wishes and feelings. How did it get this way?

 

It is so easy to focus on what is not perfect; life seems to be full of hard surfaces, numbers, busy schedules, mental notes to do this, and order that. At the same time, we acknowledge how precious life is. How beautiful the morning sun continues to be, even when something unexpected and devastating is happening. And it is hard to balance sometimes – it feels like one should be happy if he has reasons for it, but not too happy, because something could go wrong, or someone else has it a lot harder. Social media is a wonderful way of keeping in touch, especially at this time, but sometimes you find yourself consumed by opinion wars, judgment, and comparison. A human brain can think about anything through countless lenses and countless perspectives. Isn't it, then, impossible to stay on top of everything all the time? 

 

So, I go softer. I remind myself of the ancient philosophies of a life that is not so curated or linear. The real life, or at least the one that is more real to me. The one where the well-being of my brain, body, and heart come before demands. The one where I learn how to let go of the past and come back to the present, cherishing the small things of these autumn days. Where I accept that life was not meant to be perfect, that there is no perfect, other than the standard of perfection we create ourselves. Perfection can be the imperfection in the rich forests where the crooked paths of darkness and light meet, or in clumsy first meetings that turn into flourishing friendships. It can be in the continuous efforts to love ourselves, each other, and the world equally, even in the moments of uncertainty.

 

Even as I’m writing this, I’m focusing a little too much on what I think people would enjoy reading, instead of what I think. I’m almost afraid of speaking the words that I truly believe in because it is scary to be vulnerable and speak honestly about feelings and emotions. I have been afraid of saying anything, in case someone does not agree, or thinks it’s dumb. Yet, I love it when others wear their hearts on their sleeves. I feel seen and accepted when these cold rules of what “deserves” to be talked or written about are broken. So, I write about prioritizing oneself, which means different things to different individuals.

 

What may make life overwhelming is that sometimes there are no words big or vivid enough to describe what one is going through, good or in bad. That is the imperfection of language. However, when it is accepted that sometimes the effort and need to speak up is enough, it can act as a reminder of putting yourself first. And from then on, I’ve found, it becomes more effortless to live life as the real you. And that cannot be anything but good.

Laura Korhonen

Helsinki '23

Laura is from Northern Finland and studies English. Like any other Finn, she loves snowy skies, forests, and freshly baked cinnamon buns. She's passionate about movies, books, and working towards a more sustainable and safe world.
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