Cognitive Dissonance

As I unwrapped a Halls cough drop on the first day of school, I noticed the words “inspire envy” written in a small yellow font on the edge of the wrapper.

This phrase spoke to me in ways that almost made me wonder if I was crazy because suddenly cough drops had an effect on my soul rather than just my throat.

I have been restless for as long as I can remember…treading water in a life with so much to it. The light at the end of the tunnel coincided with the end of the summer, which promised new and exciting things; moving away to school and to my own apartment for the first time. The whole time, I was preparing for a step forward; buying bulk paper towels and setting up my own account with Comcast. I was sure that my new independence of picking up my own prescriptions and paying my own water bill would cure my cognitive dissonance. After arriving in the apartment, I cleaned for hours…scrubbing floors and sinks and dusting cobwebs.

Who knew that killing your own spiders in your own apartment could be so liberating?!

For the first week, exploring the new town along with killing my own bugs left me content. I had taken a step forward and I was glad for that. But after the joy of cooking my own dinner and playing my music as loud as I wanted wore off, I noticed that the cognitive dissonance was once again rearing its ugly head inside of me.

Enter the Halls Cough Drop. “Inspire envy.”

It suddenly occurred to me that I wanted to do that. I didn’t/don’t know much at all about what I want, but I knew that I wanted to “inspire envy.”

Cognitive dissonance is a feeling of tension that is caused when one’s actions and lifestyle don’t match what they are thinking or what their soul wants. It’s a terrible feeling, yet it sometimes takes a while to figure out that you, are in fact, feeling it. I didn’t want to continue to try and squirm around in my life in order to try and fit. I wanted to slip easily into who I was.

So in order to rid myself of this weight, I started to look deeper into myself to see what I wanted. It started with knowing that I wanted to “inspire envy.” I’m 21 years old with the world on my doorstep. I’m passionate, I’m excited, I’m energetic. I’ve never thought of myself as a free-spirit, but maybe I am. I’m a go-getter, and I wanted to go-get-em.

I realized this meant that I had to put myself first, and do something for me.

And the first time I tried to do that, I realized it was hard. But now is the time to think of myself. Before I have anything standing in the way later on. I’m not a selfish person; on the contrary actually. I pride myself in being self-less. But maybe I gave so much that I began to actually lose.

Trying to make sense of your internal self if nearly impossible. But I have time, and I’m excited. I have a starting point, and I am in a great place to begin. I’m diving into Psychology by volunteering to operate a 24 hour Crisis Line. I’m diving into fitness by joining the Boxing Club. My favorite place to study is the history library and my favorite relaxation time is listening to the student guitarist every Thursday from 12-1. I like to jog around the quad in the evening and sit in the cool grass afterwards to stretch. I’m in the process of exploring my options for studying abroad during a semester. All of these things are for me.

And I thought that killing my own spiders was liberating!…psh.

A professor from my community college once told me personally, “Don’t live vicariously through anyone.”

And I don’t plan to. I plan to live.


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