no pride, no fear

I asked my friend what to write about and he suggested three things, two of which were “no pride, no fear.” Which I really like, so I’m going to run with that.

I don’t think he knew that I have been fearful, but he may have guessed it. Or maybe I told him. I can’t remember. I have also been a bit prideful. At least, I’ve been pretending that I am very sure of myself. Perhaps because I’m trying to act like I am not terrified, when in fact, I am completely terrified.

Completely terrified might be the wrong way to put it. I am totally unsure of my future for the first time in a very long time. For the last four years, I have been establishing myself as someone in recovery, and I have been working towards being a teacher. And now I don’t want to be a teacher.

On my 25th birthday, I wrote up a ten year plan. That was a hilarious idea. In under two months, that plan has completely fallen apart. I was working on my application to grad school today, and one of the essay questions asked me what my long term goals are. For the first time in a very long time, I skipped that question.

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I thought teaching wouldn’t be so traumatic. I thought things would be different. I thought I would be better. I want to get my masters degree in addiction studies and another one in social work, but I don’t really know what I want to be, or where I want to go.

So I think “no pride, no fear,” is a really nice thing to have in my life right now. There are so many unknowns on the horizon, and I want to let go of my expectations. I don’t know what to expect, and I really can’t predict what will happen.

Not knowing what is going to happen is usually when I get very freaked out. That’s usually when I get my anxious monster driving everything I do. So letting go of that prideful, controlling part of me is really important right now. And embracing each moment without fear, without self-doubt, will help me get to the right place.

Controlling the situation usually doesn’t work out very well, and it is very stressful. So, if I let go of that part of me that has to have things a certain way, I think I’ll be okay. Easier said than done, of course. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m reminded again of what my sponsor taught me – “the universe always conspires for your highest good.” I find myself in that critical zone where I can find weaknesses in sayings like that, but I am going to trust it anyway. I’m going to walk with my head held high in the direction of the unknown and I am going to find the goodness in every moment of it, even in the scary moments.

slow down

So, I’ve made the decision that my new project is titled “Slowing Down.” Basically, in a span of the last six weeks, I let go of meditation, daily journals, gratitude lists, happy things, yoga, time with friends (wasn’t great at that to begin with), and a multitude of other things that help keep me grounded in the moment.

Today was day one of “back to happy,” as we are calling it around the house. I’ve thought about what my life looks like when I make self care a priority, and now I am trying to bring that image to life. I find myself asking the question, “where do I start?”

I didn’t begin all of my daily routines on the same exact day. And today I learned that they aren’t all going to magically reappear in my life just because I want them to. It’s going to take some action.

For example, I tend to have social anxiety, and I dislike strangers. I also have body image issues. So, yoga was tough for me to get into. And once I went a few times, my fears and worries and judgments went away. Unfortunately, those fears and worries and judgments are back. I told myself I was going to go to yoga today, but fear kept me away from it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is going to take me more than one day to get “back to happy.” To get back to that place of centeredness I’ve been craving so much. I’ve also decided that I should pick one thing at a time to introduce back into the routine. Putting all of my daily things on a to-do list for one day was just too overwhelming. I cleaned my house for one hour, and that’s as much as I got done today.

The easy one to start with is gratitude. I haven’t been totally out of touch with gratitude, because it’s such a habit to be grateful every time I feel doubtful (which I feel most of the time). So then where do I go from there? I’m thinking I’ll move on to yoga, and I’m hoping that I’ll have more free time in which to practice meditation.

I’d like to introduce meditation back into my free time, because currently my free time consists of watching Netflix and reading. Not terrible. Reading is very valuable and important. However, I could replace some of that Netflix and Nap time with meditation. How do I spend free time in a way that is energizing, and aligns with my values? This is something I have been thinking about a lot and will post about later.

For now I just wanted to voice the fact that my life doesn’t feel back together after one day of trying to get back to my happy place. And I wanted to say that it isn’t going to all come back in one day. I also wanted to put it out there that all of this is perfectly okay, and just because I lost touch with my sense of self doesn’t mean I will never get it back, and it doesn’t mean I have failed.

 

struggle

Life does not have to be a struggle to be worthwhile. I have been repeating this phrase to myself for the last two weeks. If you would have asked me six months ago if this statement were true, I would have enthusiastically said, “absolutely!” and then I would have run off to go accomplish the hundreds of things on my to-do list that day. In the same conversation, I would have told you how little sleep I got and I would have done so with some pride. I would have expected you to impressed by how thin I was stretching myself. Like a rubber band destined to break, I have been snapped awake.

A wise woman once told me to take some time to be blissfully lazy before diving into my next project. That phrase, blissfully lazy, has been ringing in my ears ever since. I have been wrestling with it. What does it mean to be blissfully lazy? How does that look in my life?  Am I being blissfully lazy right now? Is this right? Is this a thing I can schedule and get some outside approval for?

I love having projects. I love learning and growing and figuring things out. I like running around and coordinating with dozens of people to get a project done and accomplish a goal. However, after six weeks of giving every single thought and every free minute to something outside of myself, I have found my boundary. It’s been suggested to me that I have been running. (Not totally sure what I’ve been running from (possibly depression). I’ll let you know when it catches up to me.)

I’ve had a co-dependent relationship with my work. At different points in the last four years, that work has changed, but my dedication to it has remained the same. By “dedication,” I really mean unhealthy obsession.

I ran the 400 meter race in high school, and I am my father’s daughter, so  I can’t help but make a sports metaphor. There’s a part during that race, around the 200 meter mark, where you have to take everything you have given, and give it again. More. Even more. During the first 200 meters, you were giving it your all. Now you have to give it more than you have. More than you had at the beginning of the race. With every step, you have to give even more.

That was always my favorite part of the race. Coaches on the sidelines were screaming and clapping. While intensely focused on my stride and the finish line, I was also totally free. I was in so much pain, but I couldn’t feel it.

Living life that way is exhilarating and anxiety inducing in that way that’s sort of exciting. I have a goal, I can see it, it is clear. I will give everything I have to accomplish that goal. When that goal is to save the world, or save an addict, or save a student, or to never get depressed again, I will never reach the finish line. And my lungs will always hurt, and I will never really be in touch with anything outside of the task at hand.

This is not the way I want to live my life. My new project is slowing down. I am going to do that by making time for the things that force me to slow down. Yoga, meetings, eating dinner at the dinner table, meditation, reading, therapy, tea (I need to drink less coffee but I’m not making any promises) with friends. I think this is my blissfully lazy.

My goal is the same. I love dedicating my life to things bigger than myself. Reaching the goal is not point. The connections with others, the quiet moments in the madness, working with people who are just as dedicated as I am — that is where the real meaning comes in. Life does not have to be a struggle to be worthwhile.