Evaluating my rose colored glasses

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking
I want to be happier, I want to be happier

“Happier” by Marshmello

I’m a nostalgic person, and I’m okay with that, but living in the past isn’t healthy, nor is it necessarily accurate to reality. I recently remembered that some of these glowing moments weren’t as perfect as I recall them to be.

As a disclosure, this piece was written in February 2021 essentially as a means for me to journal and process, hence my abundant use of the pronoun “I.” However, you’re welcome to read and reflect on nostalgia and depression with me. The theme of gratitude interwoven as well.

Two years ago (three at the time of publishing), I stayed in Nairobi. Those five weeks were truly full of happiness, more than any other time period in at least the past two years if not longer. After all, it’s like Mayonde sings: “They can’t do it like we do it in the 254.”

Though this time was truly uplifting, I was still in a time of great transition — hence why I traveled there in the first place — and was highly anxious about my lack of a job or housing when I moved back to the United States. In fact, I didn’t know if I’d have a place to live in the U.S. till the moment I landed at the airport and received a message from my current landlady.

God always provides, but in the meanwhile, I do get anxious. My friend Kairo reminded me numerous times while I was living with the 509 Crew of God’s presence.

Nairobi was objectively a shining time period. Many factors contributed to this, besides simply being in East Africa. As I wrote in 2019, “Just give me sunshine, hugs, good friends, some music to dance to, and a side of chips (fries), and I’ll be fine. Life doesn’t have to be that complicated.”

The abundance of all those life-giving things in one place is sure to create an environment where I’ll thrive. I also went into that time of transition with the intentions to be free, something I seem to have forgotten upon returning to the United States, where I’ve resumed my overbooked lifestyle and tendencies to be tense.

Like Poppleton the pig said, “[I am] not relaxed!” I’d love to be relaxed, free, more full of life.

(And yes, I’m taking action steps to better my mental health, like therapy. I’ve faced some pretty rough depression over the course of six or seven years and have generalized anxiety as well but would really love to get out of this pit. I tell my clients that there’s hope and help, and my insurance finally cleared, so now it’s time for me to take care of myself and practice what I preach!)

Woman lies on the beach, grinning behind a mini sand castle with a seagull feather topping the work of art. She is wearing a pink hoodie with cat ears and square magenta sunglasses.
Mini sandcastle and awesome pink sunglasses from a local Black-owned business, summer 2021. PC: KSB

Rose colored glasses show my nostalgia for the “better days,” though in reality they were full of trials as well.

If I’m being objective, it’s easy to identify this. When I lived in Denver, one of the other “golden places” in my mind — which honestly likely has a lot to do with both the abundance of sunshine there as in Nairobi — I delighted in the kids but experienced multiple traumas, some protracted.

I adore Denver, miss it, think it’s the best U.S. city, still half want to live there (though I know I’m in a different season now, which seems necessary for my career), but I also have mixed feelings and certain fears due to some of my experiences there.

Why do I bring this up? Recently I noticed my tendency to live in a dream world since that offers a better alternative to my present life, where I’m struggling. And I realized I sometimes wear rose colored glasses. I’m glad I think fondly upon much of my life but do want to grow more grounded, creating healthy patterns and new memories since my life isn’t over yet.

A view of the seaport in Mystic, CT. The sky is clear, and the sun is setting.
Mystic, CT. November 2021. PC: KSB

Thanks for reading along. If you’ve faced mental health struggles yourself, what are some coping mechanisms that have been helpful but that you’re growing out of? What do you appreciate about your current moment, while fully acknowledging the suffering you’re experiencing?