Dear diary, I have so much to tell you... So much has happened since the last time I just sat down and started writing down what I feel. There are so many stories I haven't really shared with you. But why? Why haven't I written anything personal this year on my blog? I don't really have one straight up answer to that question. Only somewhere along the way, I started noticing how much I had distanced myself from my blog. However, there is one biggest factor that played a big part. And that's this: My life felt like a mess. And in that mess, I lost myself.
"In short, kairos means 'the right or opportune moment'. And if there is one thing I am certain of, it's that no moment in my life felt like the right one."
There, I finally said it. I honestly feel like I have lost myself this year.
I didn't realize it at first, or at least I tried my best to ignore it as much as possible. I kept teling myself that everything was still the same, that nothing has changed and I had everything under control. I was desperately trying to stay in the old swing of things, my old balance. It was all a big, big lie. With all the things that happened, it was just impossible for me to stay the same. Even when I stopped thinking about these past experiences, their imprint on my mind would not go away. I carried them around like they were tatted onto my skin. Slowly they were molding me into somebody else, despite the fact I was still holding on to the old picture of me. Of course, there were always those certain moments that made me walk down memory lane and relive everything that happened. Nevertheless, I still thought that everything would go back to normal if I would just keep going. 'Just keep moving forward, do not give up,' was something I would always say to myself. In a way, this was the case indeed. If we see time as a chronological matter (chronos, χρόνος), time was passing by. Days, weeks and even months. However, the Ancient Greek also used a second form of time called kairos (καιρός). Kairos isn't linear, like chronos is. It's not measurable like chronos is. Kairos is described as a period or season, a moment of indeterminate amount of time in which an event of significance happens. In short, kairos means 'the right or opportune moment'. And if there is one thing I am certain of, it's that no moment in my life felt like the right one.
I know what you're thinking. 'C'mon, Lilia's life a mess? Oh please, she probably overreacting. She seems so organized and in control of her life, that can't be true.'
In a way, you are right. My life isn't a complete mess. I had some amazing things happen to me this year and I definitely feel fortunate. I pursued my passion for Philosophy, I managed to keep my Research Master in Law grade a 8/10 (and cum laude as well!), I was nominated for the VEED Award and I got into a George Washington Law School for an exchange program next semester. I'm not saying these things aren't great. However, this was only part of my life. The other part was constantly swifting, changing into a different direction and I just couldn't keep up. Somewhere in the mess of all the (un)fortunate events that happened to me this year, I lost myself. And this made me feel like I did not have the right kairos in my life. Something was off. I was off.
Before I am going to talk about that further, it's necessary to dive into a bit of prejudice people can have about me. I usually don't talk about this topic, but it's important to speak up about it once and for all. Of course, being judged by others comes with the job I chose. It's not like I didn't expect people to have opinions about me. It's also not like I have never encountered others judging me before either. I have always been one of those people that could never fit into the crowd. In a way, I did not even want to fit in. I just did not understand the 'point' of being like others. This caused some people to have quite some harsh opinions about me. However, the things some people would say about me on internet was on another level. I'm not going to discuss what they are. What you actually think of me, positive or negative, is not the point. That's up to you, and I respect that. But the amount of things people openly have to say about you, is something you can never be prepared for. It is not natural for a human being to be exposed to so many opinions on a daily basis. In everyday life, people tend to keep their judgements to themselves. On the internet, people feel less of a barrier to voice their thoughts and feelings (it's called the online inhibition effect), and end up saying things they would never have said in real life. Although I am rather confident about myself, and I don't let other people tell me what to do, there are always those days when a couple of shocking words can really put you down. Because sometimes, it's just too much. People don't realize how powerful these words are, and that is scary as hell. Words aren't just words. They are acts, that actually have a physical impact on you (this is called the Speech Act theory of John Austin). That's why words can influence our behavior and the way we think about ourselves so much. But in the end, the best thing to do is to ignore that sort of negativity as much as possible. I block a person that writes hateful things and I stopped reading what people had to say about me online for ages now. Not because I don't think we should have freedom of speech, but because I believe we should protect ourselves from the harm of hate speech.
"People still had this old picture of me that didn't add up to the new one. This caused me to feel like there were two persona: Lily, or Lily Like, and me, just Lilia."
In addition to this, there's also another aspect I struggled with: people think that they know me. Through the content that I put out on the internet, and the opinions that are formed based on that content, people start creating a certain picture of me. I have to fit in a specific box that matches with their views, otherwise things don't add up. This 'box-thinking' became extremely clear for me this year, when so much has changed in my personal life. My life was changing and so was I. However, people still had this old picture of me that didn't add up to the new one. This caused me to feel like there were two persona: Lily, or Lily Like, and me, just Lilia. In the beginning, I found accepting this very difficult. I tried to show more of myself, of 'Lilia'. However, I've noticed that people started saying things like 'oh that's so not you' or 'you've changed so much, I liked the older you'. I just wanted to answer that I of course has changed since my first Youtube days, but that I also started to show more facets of my paradoxical personality. But for most people, that was just too much effort to deal with. They wanted to keep me safe and sound in their boxes and that's it. I guess that's the price you pay when your business is actually you as a persona or brand. I am only able (and willing) to show a certain part of me. However, people think that's everything that's to me. Trust me, that's not the case. My inner waters run deeper than I am ever able to express to anyone but myself.
Okay, sorry for this little detour. The truth is: this year has been a very hard year for me. It felt like all the foundations I've built the past years all came crashing down at me at once. Things I've wanted to achieve so badly, didn't spark any interest in me at all. They gave me that awkward feeling you sometimes get when you are in a situation you have to be in, yet if it was up to you, you would have bought the first train ticket available to the furthest city you know. Certain people I thought would always be on my side no matter what, now feel like friendly acquaintances. It's like you are eating your favorite meal from when you were a kid, but it doesn't taste the same. You remember how much you loved the flavour of the meal when you were younger, but when you actually taste it now, it's not as good as your memories. Beliefs I held for true back then, now seem like inside jokes. It feels like you are looking through pictures from one of those embarrassing stages you had when you were a teen and you are like 'I honestly can't believe that I thought that looked cute lol'.
"The reason why I lost myself was not due to these changes. It was due to the fact that I thought these changes were bad."
The reason why I lost myself was not due to these changes. It was due to the fact that I thought changing is bad. The foundations of my life didn't collapse randomly. They collapsed, because I knew that I discovered that they were not true for me anymore and I had to think of something better. Taking up philosophy courses this year, letting go of my previous dream of becoming a lawyer, accepting my changed relationships with people and most of all, discovering what truly makes me happy; these things made me realize how much my mind has changed and that I just couldn't go on and pretend to be the same person I was before all this. I wanted so badly to still fit in the box I and others made for myself, that I stopped reflecting about what would give me joy.
I feel like society is so focused on plans. What do you want to achieve in 5 years? What is your ultimate life goal? Anyone expects you to answer these questions in 0.3 seconds. And although I am a firm believer of making plans, I do believe that we should never forget that plans will only bring us so far. You can't forsee in which direction we need to go or where Dao will takes us in the end (for more information about Dao or 'the path of life', check out this blogpost). We will just never know. That's why you can make a life plan, but you can't plan out your life. So I am not saying that making plans is not good, I am just saying that reflecting why you want to achieve these plans is even better. It's like creating a bigger picture: If you know what you are living for, it does not matter if you don't stick to your initial plans.
Plans can become dangerous if you stop reflecting. Chasing after goals just for the sake of achieving them, is kind of what happened to me. I was so determined to succeed in the goals that I made for myself, that I completely forgot to actually ask myself if these actualized plans would even make me happy. I lost myself in this mess called life, because I was searching for eternal stability to achieve these goals I had instead of eternal happiness. I was trying to fixate life, thoughts, beliefs and people. I didn't understand that my path of life may crossed theirs in the past, but that later on, I had to move on towards a different destination. Only by reflecting on my actual goals, dreams and plans, did I discover what I truly wanted with my life. I am now still in law school, but I switched to a completely different 'major' (it works a bit different in our LL.M., but this is the easiest way to explain it). Instead of criminal law, I am now fully focused on law of philosophy. I also made the decision that after I am done with studying (which is still like 3 years or something, due to the fact I want to do a double degree master as well), I will continue with my blog, Youtube and Supplied by Lily fulltime. I honestly feel so happy and fortunate every time I am able to create content and inspire you with it. The biggest change however, is that I am leaving Groningen behind and I am actually moving to Washington D.C. in less than 2 months. Although I was grateful for being able to go there, I felt more anxious than happy for this big change at first. I was so afraid that my life would change for the worse and I would regret it. However, now I feel like leaving Groningen and this change of scenery is actually the thing that I need to develop myself even further.
"Although 'change is good' is one of those things you will hear multiple times in your life, probably from all kinds of different people, the question is if you have sincerely given it some thought."
If there is any moral to this story, it is that I want you that know that you should embrace change. I know, I know, cliché af. But just think about it. Although 'change is good' is one of those things you will hear multiple times in your life, probably from all kinds of different people, the question that remains is if you have sincerely given it some thought. To me personally, I didn't embrace change at all. The changed me conflicted with my initial plans and the way I initially tried to find balance in my life. Real change didn't seem good to me. Now I realize that I was wrong. Change is inevitable, and that's a good thing. Without these changes, I would never have achieved so much, I would never have learned so much, and I would definitely never be in the same place I am today. And although I wish that some of these changes may happened differently, more gracefully, I survived it all in the end. And it made me a stronger person than ever before.
So here I am, 2500, very personal words later. Hopefully there is something you learned from this or there something about this that's relatable. If you are in the same position as me (you are noticing that you have changed, yet you don't want to commit to the consequences yet, because it feels scary), I especially hope this was helpful to you. I know a lot of people read my blog, but that doesn't stop me from sharing personal experiences. Honestly I can't even visualize a space filled with hundred people, let alone thousands. Nonetheless, if there's even one person I could help with this, I feel like my task is completed.
My blog will always feel like my personal place on the world wide web: my online diary that for some reason you are actually reading right now. Maybe you have been following my journey for a while now. Maybe you just arrived. Or maybe you are just a tad nosey and this title made you curious (sorry, didn't mean to make it sound clickbaity in that case). In any case: in some form or shape, you are part of my life now. And I want to thank you for that. Thank you for being part of my story and taking some of the precious time in your life to read this. I could not have done this without you.
Writing will always be my ultimate passion. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to become a writer (no Disney princess or house mom, no I wanted to write down stories). I love making Youtube videos, I love creating visual content, but there's nothing more fullfilling to me than being able to express myself in words and making others feel those words too. Language is so powerful, magical and mysterious. Everyone uses it, however nobody really knows how it evolves. That's what I love about it. However, I want to be honest with you guys. This time, I find it so scary to write and publish this blogpost. It's not like I haven't opened up to you before, but this time it feels different. Everything does. I do. And that's a good thing. It's time to finally end this chapter now, and start writing the beginning of a new one: the D.C. Diaries.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSTANT LOVE, SUPPORT & WHAT ELSE. YOU ARE AMAZING. I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR HAVING YOU IN MY LIFE. I LOVE YOU.