Hey guys! I wanted to share a mental health experience that’s been on my heart for years and I think others might identify with it! As many of you know, I’m a Maryland born, east coast raised, Texas transplant that put down roots where I never thought I would- Dallas. If you had told my 20 year old self I’d be living here at 26 I would have been flabbergasted.
I love the beach, salty hair, crab dip, boats sailing on the Chesapeake, and rolling green hills that drain into the water. The coast is my home and my favorite place in the world! So yeah, moving to Dallas was a complete change of pace! But for more than just the change of scenery- it was a complete change of culture. And it kind of made (and sometimes still does) me very depressed.
The Dallas Culture
David and I moved here from a short stint in Kansas City in the summer of 2016. Before that, I had spent most of my life in Maryland, about 30 miles south of Washington DC. I was excited for the change! Kansas City was chilly and we didn’t end up loving it. So David got a new job in Dallas and I joined him down there a few weeks later. I remember driving with my best friend from KC to Dallas being so excited to start this new adventure in a new, fun place. What could go wrong right? Turns out my mental health would take a turn for the worst.
As I got more acquainted with my new city over the next few months, I noticed that everything was just flashier here. Cars were nicer, hair was bigger and blonder, and no matter how broke you were, you still spent $12 on a cocktail.
You’d think that since I came from an expensive area (DC ain’t cheap!) that I’d be used to this kind of culture. Nope! Where I’m from and where I started my career, people show their importance and status through their connections to important, powerful people. And the occasional $12 cocktail. I was used to that and it was a culture I understood. The Dallas culture on the other hand, was a whole new ballgame.
Keeping Up with the Jones’
Literally. Jerry Jones and family have a strong presence and influence on the Dallas area. Keeping up with them (and others) is impossible but people sure do try.
When I moved here, I began to feel that I somehow wasn’t enough or maybe wasn’t worthy. I’m not rich, I don’t spend loads of money on my hair, I don’t have a nice car, and my collection of designer handbags isn’t worth thousands. This perception of Dallas is probably skewed based on the people I interact with and the large population of influencers that the area seems to attract. Not everyone has probably experienced this culture that lives here. But other people definitely have. And the experiences I’ve had have made me feel less than and more importantly, unhappy with my self and my blessings. I felt like I had to keep up with every other 20 or 30-something that has all of the nice things that I have on my “someday” list.
How my mental health has been impacted
My “someday” list is just that- for SOMEDAY, not right now. Someday I’ll have a really nice car I absolutely love that doesn’t have my sister-in-law’s Texas Longhorns logo on the back (it was her car before mine… and I didn’t go to University of Texas). Someday I’ll have the beautiful, upgraded home that I see on Instagram and real estate ads. Someday I’ll travel to Europe and take beautiful pictures and make fabulous memories.
But someday all of the sudden became “not soon enough.” And my mental health suffered. I felt inadequate, plain, boring, and like the life I created for myself was mediocre at best. The depression seeped in. I constantly compared myself to everyone else and it was exhausting.
How could one city and it’s culture (or maybe subculture) do this to my mental health? I’m still not sure. And I’m still learning to count my blessings and remember that we never see the low points in others’ lives, only their high points. It’s a constant struggle to remember this and keep myself from playing the comparison game, because that’s what has impacted my mind the most.
Where to go Next
So how do we cope in situations like this? I’m a believer in removing yourself from situations (or people!) that hurt your mental health. But that isn’t always possible. David and I have talked about leaving Dallas in the future but until that happens, I need to learn to cope now.
I’m learning to create small goals for myself that give me something to work towards. These little goals are sometimes things like explore a new part of my city and take some pretty pictures. Or begin planning a trip I’ll take in a year. And start saving for that nice car I want, even if I can’t save much. Something to look forward to does wonders for your mind!
I’ve also openly talked about these struggles with other people. I’m honestly not shy to share how I feel! And most people respond really well to it because they’ve been there. They know what it’s like to feel a little inferior. More importantly, sometimes they can share how they got through it. I will say that it is important to be somewhat selective about who you share these things with it. I don’t talk about my insecurities with people I don’t trust or get bad vibes from. It’s just a no-no. But sometimes talking about how you feel can get you moving in the right direction!
Dallas is growing on me day by day. I’ll always be a coastal gal, but I’m blooming where I’ve been planted! Now its your turn.