April 13, 2020
At 16 years old, my daughter is a bundle of contradictions. She’s loud on the phone with her friends at midnight, and so quiet at three in the afternoon I forget she’s in the house. She can giggle one minute, rage the next.
Half the time, she wants me as far away as possible. But I forget that the other half of the time, she probably would welcome me banging down her door and dragging her off of her screens.
Well, lesson learned. I’ve been eating breakfast and lunch by myself, but today I happened to make a lunch for both of us, and so we sat down at the table together. “Can I show you something I wrote in my bullet journal?” she said, and was off to her room to get it even as I was nodding yes.
As much as I like to write, my daughter likes to make art. That painting up above is the way she spent Sunday. It’s also in her bullet journal, which is a leather-bound book with blank pages that she fills with her artwork, inspirational quotes, and when she’s in school, a colorful homework schedule. Come to my house when this thing is all over and we’ll show you the whole thing. It’s spectacular, and I’m only a little bit biased.
So when she laid the journal out in front of me today, I was expecting to be impressed. But I was also touched, and inspired by her wisdom. With her permission, I’m posting below a picture of the entry, and the text she accompanied it with on Instagram. I also did a short interview with her, which follows this.
Me: Why did you decide to do this?
Daughter: I think that social media has been all consuming lately because we can’t see our friends in real life. I’ve been feeling down lately and I felt like I’ve been totally consumed with social media, so I wanted to find a way to combat that, because it’s been kind of messing with my self image. I was up really late and I started to think how I wanted to feel better about myself. I looked up a quote about self-confidence and I saw it and I was inspired. I took out my bullet journal and started writing in different colors. I wrote down the quotes, and decided to make a list of what I was proud of myself for. I wanted it to be colorful and fun. And once I wrote it I realized how good I felt and I was thinking I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way about what’s been going on lately or felt not their best about so much exposure to social media. So I took a picture of it and wrote a paragraph on my note page, and posted it on my [Instagram] story at four in the morning, and went to bed. And throughout the day, I’ve been getting texts from my friends like, “I love you,” and people who just liked my idea and are going to try it. It’s been really good to get good feedback.
What were some of things that were driving you crazy?
On Instagram and Snapchat, people are always smiling. On TikTok, they’ll post cute videos of their family and stuff. If I didn’t feel like I was in the same situation at the time, or I wasn’t as productive and happy as they were through this quarantine, it would beat me down a little bit because I wanted to be having a fun time and stuff but that wasn’t what was happening.
Like, what were some of the things you remember?
People were having themed dinners and stuff . People are working out and posting ab routines. I guess hanging out with their families. And if I wasn’t as happy at the time, or if I didn’t really want to leave my room at the time, then I just kind of felt like I wasn’t doing enough or , it just kind of got me upset.
All right… do you wish that we were doing more?
I don’t know.
Are we falling short as a family?
Do you want more themed dinners?
But they are posting ab routines and working out. Meanwhile, why aren’t you working out?
Well, I started.
But why weren’t you working out? There was a good reason.
I was sick?
Yeah. You were sick. Weren’t you sick?
Yeah. But it was still making me feel unproductive. Even if I was sick I felt kind of helpless. I couldn’t move that much.
So it seems like people are posting like, how they are having this wonderful quarantine.
No. Some people are posting how they are upset or bored. It wasn’t just the happy ones. It was just overall. I was getting drained from all of it. I needed something to break that. I feel like, when you’re on your own for so long, you’re in your mind, thinking all the time. Sometimes you can be hard on yourself. This kind of helped. By writing things like, I’m doing the best with what I’ve got and understanding like criticizing myself isn’t going to help myself get anywhere.
Are there things we could or should be doing to pull yourself out of your room more?
[Leaves the room, then a few minutes later, returns.]
Another reason I did this was I thought it was a good way to put out a message about mental health. I wanted to say, it’s okay to not be okay.