Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver
- constantly checking off items on my to-do list but never moving forward
- feeling like I had much more to offer the world than I was outputting
- had a hard time taking action for fear of failing, looking dumb, being laughed at, or being revealed as a fraud
- couldn’t silence the inner critic in my head telling me “you’re not ____ enough.” Not smart enough, not ready enough, not thin enough, etc.
- believed I would be happy when ____ happened… When I had more money, another degree, more time, better clothes, new friends, a different job
- lived on autopilot and always came up against an invisible wall
This blog tracks how I overcome all of that.
If you feel stuck or overwhelmed or dissatisfied or lacking, I know exactly what you’re feeling. I’ve been there. For about two decades, I lived there. Working too hard, buying too much, being too busy, eating too poorly, sleeping too little, always thinking happiness was just around the corner, and feeling like I wasn’t enough.
But I don’t do any of that anymore. It is a choice, and it’s a choice anyone can make.
My name is Mallory. Some time in my early teens, I let my inner critic or my ego take the wheel and start calling the shots. I became a thoughtless, achievement-oriented robot, moving through my days checking off the things I thought I was supposed to be doing and anesthetizing my pain through various means like shopping and binge-watching TV.
I experienced three major episodes of serious depression between the ages of 15 and 26, with a sort of low-grade sadness at all times in between. The third time around, my therapist told me she was honestly amazed I hadn’t committed suicide because she didn’t think it was possible for a person in as much pain as I was in to get up and go to work every day.
Now, however, I live differently. I feel differently, even about sadness. I feel all kinds of things, all the time, often at the same time. And I recognize that it’s all normal and fine. I still experience sadness, anger, anxiety, boredom, pain, fear, shame, and jealousy. But I also experience way more gratitude, self-compassion, mindfulness, simplicity, patience, awareness, clarity, and focus than I used to. I live consciously and deliberately. A big difference between now and then is when I experience difficult emotions and hear the voice of my inner critic, I am able to hold those feelings for a time in a healthy way, see them and their patterns for what they are, and release them without letting them define me. As a result, I am able to spend a much greater proportion of my days in joy, peace, love, and courage.
My background and my goals: I have a BA in English. After college, I taught high school English for a few years. I was afraid apply to grad school. Once I realized enough was enough, I went for my MA in English. Now, I’m 32 and in the dissertation phase of a PhD in English in North Carolina. I live in a little house on a quiet street with my partner and twelve-year-old rescue dog. I have good friends, near and far, and although graduate school is incredibly challenging both intellectually and emotionally, sometimes I still feel like I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I’m here doing the thing I always wanted to do.
I don’t know what’s in store for me after this degree. I don’t know if I will try to be a professor or work in higher education using my background as a life coach and writing coach or something totally different. For a while, I thought I had chosen the academic route because I derived self-worth from external approval and for me, external approval was always granted because of my performance in school. When I detached from that mode of validation, I realized that I have other callings–one, in particular, that’s always been there but that got buried over the years: writing. This blog was one tiny leap in beginning to share writing with the world.
I also love coaching. During the past decade of teaching, my favorite moments have been connecting with students who are feeling stuck by their limiting beliefs, helping them to move past those beliefs and take charge of their lives. Research and literature have been important to me, but they always felt secondary to teaching, which, for me, means building relationships and helping others find their light.
Learning to listen to my intuition and trust myself has enabled me to recognize that empowering others to create the life of their dreams is an important part of my identity. That takes many forms in my every day, but for the time being, it happens mostly in my roles as a teacher and a coach. I think we all have a lot of power, but we hold ourselves back. Doing the work to complete a PhD while teaching and coaching (and working two other part-time jobs!) gets overwhelming sometimes, but with the support of loved ones and lots of self-compassion and rest, I am wholeheartedly moving through the process.
I started this blog in November 2016 to document what I think about and do–what has helped me emerge from the fog of my previous life and live in the present moment. I don’t have all the answers–in fact, I mostly just have questions–but I do know what has worked for me so far at varying points along the way.
Publishing a blog can be agonizing for a recovering perfectionist like me because I’ve made public old versions of myself trying to work out challenging realizations and feelings that later versions of me may view as quite simple. But I don’t go back and edit those entries in case it helps readers wrestle with some of their own truths and because I’m now in a place where I like to look back and see my progress and immortalize all the imperfections. I hope you’ll come by once in a while as I find my way–it’s a daily practice, and one I feel privileged to have.
On this blog, you’ll mostly find entries about:
- Emotional wellness (mindfulness, self-compassion, self-care, intentional living, personal growth)
- Social wellness (practicing selfless empathy, learning how to say both yes and no, developing true intimacy with others)
- Intellectual or career wellness (progress over perfection, procrastination strategies, work vs. self-worth, process-based small goals)
- Spiritual wellness (meditation, visualizations, affirmations, values)
- Financial wellness (value-based spending, a healthy view of money, planning)
- Physical wellness (ways to move your body and how to nourish it)
- Environmental wellness (minimalism in your space)
I was an avid blogger in high school (anyone remember Diary-X or LiveJournal?), but today’s blogging world is very different. My goals for this blog are to relate, to learn, to share, to grow, to overcome, and to inspire. If you like what you read, please subscribe or share with a friend, and join me as I embrace my imperfections and run as joyfully as possible into the unknowable future.