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Middle Ground

I’ve spent a large majority of my life insanely happy with my circumstances and incredibly blessed. And I’ve spent some portions of my life (still incredibly blessed because it’s hard not to be when you live in a middle class, American family) in deep turmoil—suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and rather severe loneliness.

And then, there are the parts of my life that don’t fit into either of these. The parts that fit somewhere in the middle. The parts where you aren’t necessarily “happy,” but you don’t feel like you have the right to be upset.

You see, people tell you about the amazing things and the terrible things, but they forget to mention that there’s a middle ground and that sometimes it’s the worst part of it all.

When things are really bad, at least you know that it probably won’t get worse. When things are good, you can focus on that. But when things are neither here nor there, you can feel like you’re floating in the midst of uncertainty regarding everything.

That’s what happened to me. I moved the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I was 1100 or so miles from the place that I had called my home for years before.

And at the beginning, things weren’t necessarily bad. I had hope—I was optimistic about meeting friends and getting involved at school and church in this new place.

But then some of the things I was planning on fell through. I had been planning to be in my school’s band, but their band program was one that, after a week and a half at their summer band camp, I was not interested in staying in.

So I found myself without expected social connection, floating in the midst of a vast sea of people, none of whom I knew. And slowly, my optimism faded. I had a few people at school who I could talk to, but no one close enough to be what I could consider a real friend. And I still had my friends back home, and we would text and Skype, but it wasn’t the same, and they were busy, so we didn’t always talk that much.

I found myself drifting through life, with not enough going wrong to be upset but with little keeping me going. Slowly, I fell into a state of worsened anxiety, depression, and loneliness that finally made me feel like I was in that bad place—where I could actually be upset about how things were a little bit.

Eventually, I got out of this (with help from God, friends, family, and some changes in situation), but what I’m going to talk a little about is how I think I got into my personal turmoil in the first place and how it could have been prevented. (Basically, here’s the happy, uplifting part of this post since it’s been about sucky things so far.)

First off, I didn’t keep as good of a connection with the people who I need. I would still text and Skype my friends back home, but not as much. I didn’t pray as much, and I most certainly need God. To me, I need people to keep me out of a rut. I think we all do. If you find yourself in the middle ground between good and bad, keep up with the people who you need—whether that’s friends, family, whoever—they can often help bring you back to the good.

Second, I kind of gave up. When band didn’t work out, I found myself in a really rough spot, and I lost hope and didn’t keep looking for ways to stay connected in this new place. Meeting people, staying involved—this can help people remain sane and happy, too.

Lastly, I didn’t totally acknowledge my situation and chose to ignore it instead. In the back of my mind, I knew things weren’t going well and that I was headed down a not-so- good path, but instead of facing that and trying to handle it, I buried myself in fiction (writing more of a novel than I ever had before and watching at least six hours of Netflix a day on average) and pretended that everything was okay. It’s okay to say it’s not okay, even when things aren’t terrible. That’s how we learn to face our problems and then, with help, deal with them.

To finish this off, I’m going to let you know that if you feel like you’re drifting—that you’re in this middle ground—you have to face up to it, but you most definitely don’t have to do it alone. There are people who will help you, and you can still have hope. As someone who has come out of it on the other side, things do change and get better, and life will go on.

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