24 Apr 2019
Guten Tag, beautiful readers. I’m starting this post in my phone’s notes app at 11:30pm while lying in bed because tragically, this is always when my ideas hit. Or at least it’s when my brain is the most active and full of a bunch of tangled nonsense that I call ideas to make them sound better.
Tonight, I’m thinking about my black thumb. It would be…not inaccurate to say that I can be a negligent plant parent. If it requires any more maintenance than water and sunlight, game over. But even when it’s that simple, my method for keeping a regular watering schedule is either characterized as, “Has the plant turned brown and/or come to resemble my childhood home’s mailbox after a teenager sneezed while driving by and plowed it down? If yes, time to water!” ORRR “Watered it yesterday? Better add another half gallon that the soil cannot absorb before it all goes dripping out of the pot at the bottom!” There is no in-between.
This is problematically similar to my self-care. I am either ~treatin’ myself~ to relaxing cups of tea and reading in bed for way too many hours for several days straight when I am not particularly stressed about anything, ORRR I am pushing pushing pushing myself and deliberately ignoring all of the stressors/fears/worries/doubts until they are fully formed messes that I can no longer overlook. I feel like the term “seeds of doubt” doesn’t do the feeling of your worries and insecurities creeping in justice, because to me it implies that you notice them being planted and can stop them before they take root. In my experience, once a doubt so much as tiptoes into my mind, boom, it’s all the way there, making its lil invasive-species-home in my mental potting soil. It would be more fitting, therefore, to call them…sprouts of doubt.
That’s it. That’s the post. Sorry, I’ll see myself (spr)out.
But actually I won’t, because this is my blog and you made the choice to click on it and you must live with that. Anyway, doubt sprouts. That’s my new name for the bad thoughts that have taken hold of my brain before I’ve even realized it’s happening and suddenly, captain, we’re gonna need a bigger flower pot.
As I described a few weeks ago, since making some job/life changes I have largely felt a lot better. Like, hard to overstate the quality of life improvement. But what does my anxious brain do when everything seems to be going well, move it along folks, nothing to see here? It tries its best to STIR SOME ISH UP. Not to sound too much like a character on an angsty teen drama (no shade — that is my fav tv genre), but when things are good, my instinct is to think about all the ways that they’re about to turn to Ultimate Suckitude any minute. I haven’t even had an especially tragic life that has conditioned me to think this way, so I really believe it has to be the anxiety at work. Or I’m just a miserable pessimist. But seems unlikely that I could be one of those while also counting Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again as my two favorite movies.
So what’s a gal to do when the anxious monster side of her wants to take over and spread its little doubt sprouts to all the members of the brain garden club? Lately, the worries have been of the Directionless Life variety. What if all of these choices that I’ve been feeling so good about in the short-term were actually quite stupid and will do nothing for my future? What if I don’t earn back those life savings I just spent on upcoming travels any time soon? Am I a freeloader whose loved ones resent her for not woman-ing up and doing something more productive with her life by now? Actually most of these questions focus on financial and career insecurity because even though the peers I actually talk to don’t have their ish together in those realms either, social media and societal pressure still have us believing that we need to be further along and that really sucks?????
One solution to these woes is therapy. Check! Been there, doin’ that! Highly recommend! Thankful for my parents’ health insurance that I have for 146 more days but who’s counting!
After that, I’ve found other ways to cope and talk to myself to combat the anxious thoughts and doubt sprouts — and honestly, most of those have come from therapy too. I’m always working on being more present. Meditation and mindfulness have been recommended to me a million times over and I’m still REALLY bad at the practices, but any time I find myself feeling truly happy or good, I try to sit with that feeling. Not to question it or think about when it’ll end. Just to take in every positive, glowy, beautiful part of the moment while I have it.
Now, if I was reading anyone else’s blog where they were telling me about how they try to ~live in the moment~ and ~feel good feelings~ I would be like, okay weird Instagram influencer, good 4 u, I’m still not buying your photo preset pack. So I get it if you’re less than impressed. But will it make you feel better if I tell you how rare and fleeting those purely happy moments are and also how bad I still am at being present in them? No, we’re both just sad now? Aw.
All that to say, I know it’s easier said than done but it’s the kind of thing where practicing feels worthwhile. I also find comfort for my worries — surpriiiise, surprise! — in reading. I luuuurve giving book recommendations so hit me up if you want em, but honestly, all kinds of books have made me happy or helped me heal and appreciate the good and lovely parts of life more while working through the bad parts. Lately (okay, for the better part of the last year), I’ve been on a huge romance kick which I know is not everyone’s cuppa tea, but if a genre with a literal guaranteed Happily Ever After ending in every book is wrong then GOSH DARN IT I DON’T WANNA BE RIGHT! Romance and other purposefully feel-good fiction make me think of all the sweet, beautiful, totally-idealistic-but-that’s-the-whole-point, joyful moments and it makes me want to keep seeking out those feelings in my own day-to-day.
Pivoting to a different kind of bookish inspiration, you might have heard of this new author called Michelle Obama. I’ve gotten so much from her memoir, Becoming, and recommend it highly. Take, for example, this quote:
“The lesson there was simple: Life is short and not to be wasted. If I died, I didn’t want people remembering me for the stacks of legal briefs I’d written or the corporate trademarks I’d helped defend. I felt certain that I had something more to offer the world. It was time to make a move.”
I have been living for this quote lately. I could write a whole other essay on the ways I’ve started coming to grips with mortality in the last couple of years and how it’s totally f’d me up while also helping me reprioritize, but it would be…a little dark! And we’re not going there today! But Michelle, when she learned this lesson in young adulthood, was seriously on to something.
Life. Is. So. Short. And there is only one for each of us (as far as I believe at this moment). I could choose to stay in the job that’s sorta crushing my soul because it’s stable and safe and, uh, pays money. I could let anxiety and depression control my life without ever making the teensiest effort to do anything about it because damn, is it hard to work up to helping yourself (acknowledging that for many, it’s even harder than it was/is for me and by no means is it all a matter of waking up one day and deciding to get better — another essay/rant I could write!). I could do any number of things that would feel easier on the surface, or provide a more certain path, or make me look more ~successful~ to the outside world.
ORRR I could make moves. Chase the dream that seems super far-fetched, take the trip that I can scarcely afford and hope for the best when I come back to reality, spend time with the people I love while I have them close, recognize the privilege that I have to do literally any of this and let myself enjoy it while also plotting how to extend the privilege to others, stretch Michelle Obama’s words to their absolute limits to justify my id-powered choices, shoutout to Freud!!!!
Whew, okay, had to make it weird before I went borderline-insta-influencer again. Anyway, Michelle obviously went on to offer the world a WHOLE BUNCH more than I could even pretend to be doing with my mid-twenties-crisis-slash-finding-myself-sabbatical… but gimme a minute or two, okay? And as I just alluded to, I know that making the “moves” that I have in the first place has largely been possible due to privileges I’ve done nothing to earn. Namely, I have a family that would keep me from living in squalor and despair should every risky move I make fail and I lose everything else. And since I have that security blanket folded up real small in my back pocket, why not let myself take some chances?
Above all, Michelle’s words make me feel young and full of potential and inspired to do more with my life than what would look good on paper or be easier to tell Real Grown Ups when they ask where you’re working these days. To keep working on shutting down my doubt sprouts and all the voices (mainly in my own head) telling me what I can’t do, and trying to be present for all the good parts. To pursue more of the good parts, for myself and for others.
And maybe, secondhand and probably super distorted through this blog post, her words will find another set of eyes who needs to read them. I hope so. By no means do I think that for everyone this will mean quitting your stable job to pursue your dream one and also become a semi-nomad for a minute. I know people who are living their dreams and changing the world when they go into their 9-5 desk jobs each day or stay home and balance the millions of challenges that come with raising tiny humans, and that makes me SO happy for them. I hope I get that kind of fulfillment someday and that you do, too. I hope wherever you find yourself in this stage of life, you try to plant some I’m Awesome And Capable seeds in between your doubt sprouts. I hope you choose the good-scary thing over the bad-safe one next time the choice arises.
I hope you still read my next blog post after I’ve dragged you on this wild, rambly ride.
Thank you, dearest readers, for sticking with me and making me feel supported in my life choices, good and bad and scary and not. You’re enablers, for the most part, and I luv ya for it.
Until next time,