It’s one thing to have the conversation. It’s another thing to know what to say.
It was raining, and there I was, standing at the corner of a busy intersection. I’d left my umbrella at the office, the way I used to leave cheap umbrellas in bars all over New York City. It wasn’t exactly pouring, but every drop of cold rain was jarring, broke my concentration, and I wasn’t comfortable at any point during my 30 minute walk to work. I knew I’d get to the office with some moisture on my clothes, but I’d be dry in an hour or two.
Then it happened.
In a split second, a big city bus came rattling into view. It cut right through a pothole that was filled with water, and the whole thing erupted like a geyser. There was no time to react, barely enough to blink. I turned right as the water hit me with force. The girl next to me snickered, an understandable reflex, before she corrected herself, and offered me a genuine, “I’m so sorry.” Despite the situation, I was smiling. I’m sure she thought I was deranged, but I couldn’t help laughing at my predicament. It was Monday after all.
I was determined not to let the day win, and yet, despite my best efforts, my day never got going. There was no fog in the air, but there seemed to be a considerable amount in my head. I tried everything to regain my focus. I tried some light meditation. I tried going for a walk. I went to my favorite place for lunch, and yet, none of it helped. I felt useless. The anxiety began to build, and while I was never in full panic mode, I was reminded of so many Mondays past, of how so many of them used to feel like this, with me teetering on the edge of panic, not sure if something would push me over, or if I’d manage to pull myself back from the brink.
I couldn’t get myself back to a place of peace and tranquility. It would be easy to attribute my mood to the miserable weather, or the fact that this particular day of the week never goes how you want it to, but both of those explanations are too easy. You can’t always put your finger on why a day wasn’t good, but what brings me comfort is that days like this are becoming increasingly rare, and for that I’m grateful. You try to put these days out of your mind, not to dwell on them, but a postmortem can be helpful. It can help you to avoid days like this in the future.
I’ve spent some time thinking about it, and here’s the answer I’ve found.
There are so many big changes taking place in and around my life. There are so many things shifting, friends moving, that sort of thing. Underlying it all is this feeling of uncertainty, a sense of unease. I’ve been able to keep this uncertainty at bay, but it always seems to creep back into my psyche, or maybe it never left. Maybe it was waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Maybe it was waiting for the day when I wasn’t feeling my best, the way my anxiety always does.
It’s easy to see why people are drawn to things like book clubs and exercise classes. You’re all working towards a shared goal, but there’s also the feeling of predictability. On your best weeks, you’ll feel strong and in control. On your worst weeks, predictability can help to anchor you. In a world that’s become so strange, predictability offers you a familiar face.
Some weeks can’t be classified as one extreme or the other, but rather, they’re more subtle. Little by little, one thing changes and gives way to another, something doesn’t happen the way you want it to, and the cumulative effect is devastating. You feel the fabric of your strength beginning to unravel as you try to process all of it. You’re trying to get a grip on a surface that’s becoming slippery and unstable.
We have to remember the strength that we possess, the lessons we’ve learned, and that we are never truly alone, even if we sometimes feel that way. There are so many others going through similar growing pains, people you can reach out to, and hopefully they’re close friends. I know that I’m feeling frustrated, and also uncertain about so many of the things that are happening in my life. I feel like I could go so many ways, and I’ve found myself looking for guidance from within. You can always ask others for help, but the fact of the matter is, you’ll always know yourself better than anyone else will.
I considered writing a journal entry, but there was something floating around in my mind that I had to get down on paper, or on-screen. Something has been bothering me, and it’s in these moments that the stars align, and I write down exactly what’s in my heart, what’s in my soul. So much of writing is trying to cut through to your core. You’re trying to tap into how you feel inside, and articulate it in a way that makes it relatable to the reader.
Writing is how I make sense of the mess that’s in my head. Talking about these feelings helps too, and while it doesn’t always help the way that I want it to, it’s better than keeping it in, and not addressing the problems at all. When you talk about these feelings, these changes, and you’re able to express them, that’s the first step towards regaining control.
I know I harp on having those difficult conversations, but it’s also important to know what to say when you get there. When we talk to another human being, so often we’re just saying what’s necessary. We’re conferring a piece of information, or we’re keeping it casual. So much of the time, that’s what the situation calls for or dictates, but we need to remember that there is something deeper in all of us. Maybe it’s the soul, the heart, the mind, or whatever you makes sense for you, but I believe that we’re best served when we dig a little deeper, and when we’re able to express our true self. When you’re expressing what’s inside of you, and you cultivate and strengthen that bond or channel, from inside to outside, you’ll learn more about yourself. You’ll learn what it is that you want in life, and you gain confidence along the way. You may even get a little brave.
When you’re speaking the truth that is in you, you can start to process what you’re going through and move on. When we’re young, we get mired in self doubt. We care too much about what others think to speak openly and honestly, and that’s a problem. We shouldn’t have to wait until we’re older to be honest with ourselves and each other, especially when we could do it right now, in this very moment. Don’t be afraid of how you feel. It might seem terrifying to be so open, but it’ll get easier the more you do it. I feel better already. Thanks for reading.