trash to treasure

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To say that the past few years have been challenging would be an understatement.

As someone who relies heavily on a routine and human interaction to balance my emotional wellbeing, having the world shut down was a very difficult time to readjust. My social anxiety skyrocketed, and my creative drive plummeted. I was back in my safe space, under the covers in bed, shielded away from the outside world. A very dangerous place for me to be.

Trying to keep a routine in the midst of a pandemic was difficult. I lost access to my personal trainer, and I tried doing FaceTime workouts with my cousin, but as the weeks stretched on, it became more difficult to find the motivation to keep that up. We went on family walks, a new thing that people seemed to be trying in a pandemic world. But even then, there's only so many loops around the same neighborhood path before that too starts to feel monotonous.

Envy settled in the pit of my stomach as I watched my writer friends write tens of thousands of words, as they blossomed during the lockdown. While all I could manage to do was get up and go to work. I never watched Tiger King and didn't even hit my reading goal. I didn't feel like I fit in with everyone I saw on social media, who seemed to be doing a lot better than I was.

Without writing to fill the creative void inside of me, I was itching for something to do. A pandemic safe hobby that was more than just logging hours on Animal Crossing and backlogging old Disney movies on Disney+. And that's when I acquired an old, industrial shelf that I wanted to use as storage.

Staring at this silver, metal shelf, I knew it had potential for a $10 investment. But in it's current state, it didn't fit with my floral pink bedroom and bright white furniture. So with some online browsing on Amazon, I bought some rose gold spray paint and marble contact paper. And in an afternoon, I transformed this shelf into one that still sits in my kitchen today.

That little furniture flip scratched the creative itch that I hadn't quite been able to scratch since my writing well had dried up. And that was a start of a new journey.

My next project was a little more ambitious. An old, red box that had been used to store race cars that I wanted to use to store board games. This one required sanding, repainting, and drilling new holes for a new handle. There were a lot of mistakes made, a lot of corrective actions taken, but I came out with a bright, white box and a functioning rose gold handle that collectively fit all of my board games. And I sent a picture to my wood working grandfather with pride.

It would be WORD of me to say that I haven't had furniture flip fails over the past two years. A glass cabinet comes to mind, one of my biggest and heaviest disasters, as I hadn't quite learned to seal the paint yet. So when moving apartments, all of the paint chipped off and some of the wood pieces fell apart due to poor gluing, leaving me feeling a bit defeated. But it wasn't the end of my adventure, only a learning curve. And I bought some paint sealer and kept marching forward.

I've spent a great deal of my life monetizing my hobbies, creating pressure to perform.  And I'm learning to take time to fully enjoy furniture flipping. To allow myself to make mistakes, to take my time on projects and fully invest in them, as the only timeline is mine. I can't wait to finish the dresser I've been working on, and I'm sure my dad can't wait either to finally get it out of his garage. But I've learned to give myself grace and not to rush the project through the end.

I've grown exponentially as a person over the past few years, as I expect to continue to in years to come. But I think my emotional wellbeing has been the biggest growth of them all. Learning to set boundaries, to take time for myself, and to prioritize my mental health above all. While the pandemic has been difficult in so many ways, and continues to present future challenges, it brought about a forced change within me, as I had to start intentionally carving out that time and space, create a routine out of what felt like a monotonous end of days.

Mental health is a lot like the Tower of Terror at Disney. Just when you think you've got a grip on what works, the floor drops out from under you, and you're scrambling back to the top. I'm content with where I am now, but one thing I've learned through the pandemic, is that anything can change. But I'm confident in my emotional wellbeing that I can persevere, even if that means starting back with an industrial shelf and a bottle of spray paint.

This story was written in conjunction with Maybelline for their #BraveTogether campaign, in support of mental health awareness month. I'm super excited to be working with them, to speak openly about mental health, and to share my experiences with you all. Please join the #BraveTogether contest and in suppor tof #MentalHealthAwareness, as every voice and every experience matters. And we want to hear yours. This month, for every story submitted under the #BraveTogether Weekly Writeathon, Wattpad and Maybelline will donate $1, up to a total of $40,000 to four leading mental health focused organizations that provide direct support. For more info and how to join, visit http://wattpad.com/maybelline.

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