My Dandelion Seed; Self-Discovery Journey.

I hit a roadblock, and it took a toll. Here’s how I faced the struggle; here’s how I faced my dandelion seed.

As much as we strive to mold ourselves into oblivion, life is never a tranquil garden of bright roses. No, because in that garden are countless patches of withering flowers, festered fruits, and floating dandelions that symbolize nothing but silent struggles — bits and pieces of stress and pain that accumulate into our struggles, dispersing into every nook and cranny of the garden. Nevertheless, we reach for each dandelion seed like cats on yarn, ultimately setting ourselves up for the dreaded: failure.

But why do we do it? The real question — why not? If said struggles give life meaning and result in an eventual achievement (or so we believe), then why not latch onto them?

An example of this dandelion seed, my dandelion seed, is the notion that everything must be perfect. My grades? Must be perfect. My portfolio? Must be perfect. Even my writing — as I sit here, typing away yet still scrutinizing every single word — has to be perfect. I’ve been hesitant, thinking, “This article isn’t technical. Will people find value in it?” Because how can I present myself to the world if not the perfect person?

And so, I delete. I erase. I ctrl - z if my content isn’t created to the highest of standards, perfect grammar, not a single detectable error in sight. I stop my projects midway with contempt for the “imperfections.” The done > perfect mindset? Flown straight out the window.

And this ultimately drove me straight into a slump — into a situation where I wasn’t producing content, wasn’t being productive, and wasn’t feeling optimal. The once-bright light of productivity slowly dimmed because each time I’d log in and start something, I wouldn’t get very far before scraping it completely.

Here’s the story of my dandelion seed, and how I faced it head-on.

“In that garden are … floating dandelions that symbolize nothing but silent struggles.”

Part I: The Slump

“This isn’t good enough. I’m not good enough.”

Those thoughts ran through my head 24/7, providing nothing but a level of disappointment and discontentment. Before I knew it, the month had passed by me and I hardly completed anything. My grades were slipping. The goals I had set prior to this month were now abandoned, boxes left unchecked, paths left deserted with bunches of tumbleweed rolling silently in the breeze.

Waking up, attending online school, and going right back to sleep was a daily ritual. Time felt like it was moving too quickly and leaving me behind.

I became vulnerable — fragile. When I’d receive a piece of feedback giving me ways to improve, advice that was only meant to help me, I’d feel downhearted. “So they didn’t like my content? So it wasn’t good enough.”

And this mindset, believing that something I created wasn’t good enough because a singular person didn’t like a certain aspect, made me a people-pleaser. I would do things, not because I wanted to do them, but because I thought other people would approve of them. And this weighed me down, became a chore, as my attentiveness for others’ judgment steadily increased. I lost my authenticity.

“So they didn’t like my content? So it wasn’t good enough.” - A damaging mindset.

For example, I used to write my articles with a certain art style — to make it fun. It was distinct. And a few people told me they liked it, that it looked great. But then someone told me it looked minimal-effort. They didn’t like it. And I completely disregarded the people who appreciated the art because that one person’s thought circulated in my mind like a mantra. They didn’t like it. They didn’t like it.

The comparisons also began.

I’d watch other people, doing so much and making the most of every opportunity they had. I began wondering, why can’t I be like them? Why am I stuck in this ridiculous slump while they’re off, doing great things? Why? Why? Why?

I sunk lower and lower, battling no one but myself, internally. I was fighting with me, wasting time, losing sleep. Nothing felt right anymore. All of this built up, accumulating into stress.

I hit a roadblock, and it took a toll.

The best part about roadblocks, however, is that they are temporary.

Part II: Powering Up

One of two things will always happen: that roadblock will be lifted, or there will be an alternate path that’ll get you to the same destination. You, yourself, can choose to take action; change and delete all that is blocking you from your full potential.

I had to find my detour. Rather than sitting around, waiting for the roadblock to rid itself, I decided to get off my butt. Enough wasting time. My first thought was:

“What can I do to make myself happy?”

Make myself happy — not anyone else. I brainstormed things I love: music, reading, writing.

I created a notion (below) with all my daily tasks, a language & dream journal, a content tracker, and lots more. I document my to-do list and put inspirational quotes to get me going. This went a long way with making me more organized, and therefore more motivated to get up and do things. Shoutout to my friend, Soliana, for inspiring me to create an awesome notion!

My Notion workspace; made to reorganize my thinking, lifestyle, and serve as a safe space.

I also cleaned my room — an asset that I believe is often overlooked. For me, when I’m in a clean and organized environment, I feel more comfortable working. I feel more at peace. My mind is organized with the room, and it feels reassuring to see clean.

I came to terms with the fact that you don’t have to be working all the time. It’s not a crime to take a break, to take time for yourself, and you shouldn’t feel as such. This is something I’m still battling, but I’m working on it. I’m doing it. I’m doing it.

Me writing this article be like ^

Finally, I wrote this article. As I mentioned before, I love writing. It’s always been an amazing outlet for me, and I enjoy exploring new ways to write every day. This article is the first I’ve fully written in over two weeks, and I sure am proud of it. The flow came simply, far more than it ever had.

And, of course, I still have that “Will they like this article? Will they think it’s stupid? Unorganized?” in the back of my mind. It’s that fear of judgment that’s constantly bringing me down. However, I’ve identified the problem. I’ve isolated it, and I can identify it when it happens. I won’t let the mindset bring me down any longer. I’ve taken the first step of my journey, looking that roadblock straight in the face and saying “I’m going right around you” and I’ve never felt more powerful.

Although we do all have our dandelion seeds, bits and pieces of stress and pain that accumulate into our struggles, it’s up to us to swat them right out of our faces and move on. There’s no challenge you can’t overcome, no stream that you can’t cross. As poet Charles Bukowski said,

“Nobody can save you but yourself — and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning — this is it.”

Now, I’ve identified my dandelion seed and can finally grow to overcome it. What’s yours?

A Quick Message

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out my Linkedin! Email me at aliyao2006@gmail.com with further questions or comments — I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget that you’re amazing, strong, and loved.

– Aliya

longevity/vr researcher - tks innovator - students x students editor studentsxstudents.com