Yes, fine, I skipped a week, just let it go already, gosh, I have a life, guys.
It’s moving season, which is, as I am sure you all know, not in the least stressful, especially when you’re moving into a place/finding the right apartment entirely alone while watching what seems like literally everyone you know move in with their significant others which means they can afford palatial one- or two-bedrooms while you, on your lonesome, are trying to carve out at least another $75/mo in spending that you can divert towards rent so you can live in a halfway decent place.
Anyway, excuses are excuses and here I am, and I’m going to live somewhere and it’s going to be fine. IT WILL BE FINE.
Seriously, though, I’m not worried except for occasionally at 3am, and I don’t think my fear is necessarily valid at a time of night in which my concerns are equally split between finding an apartment and figuring out whether the monster from “Mama” is currently living in my walls.
(Although one might have a lot to do with the other. Get me out of this place.)
What with a variety of potential stressors in my life lately, I have for the last few weeks had occasional periods of feeling “down” or just a little “off.” We all do, right? It’s a normal thing. In fact, I know it’s a normal thing because the other day a friend was telling me that she had gotten herself into a really sad mood and didn’t know what to do about it, and I knew just what she was talking about.
I’ve been thinking about what to do in the face of these. They can be alarming because sometimes they sneak up on you for no reason you can discern. Your job is great, you’re doing fun things with your friends, you feel like your life has purpose and direction, and bam–it’s 3pm on a Wednesday and you feel like you could cry. They’re scary, too, because they continue to come after you’ve gotten something that was The Thing You Wanted To Make Life Better. You still get them after you find stable employment, or you get into that play, or you finally feel like you have someone to have real conversations with. That thing that was supposed to fix you comes and you’re still sometimes wishing you could hide from the world–what’s up with that?
I’ve talked about this before, but I feel like I come to realize it internally more and more as I get older. My learning and growth process (and yours too, I would bet) is more of a spiral than a straight, rising line. I’m going through similar phases as the ones I’ve already been through in my life–phases where I accept my body and don’t, phases where I feel happy being single and feel really lonely, phases where I think I have all the keys to living happily and where I don’t have a clue. But each time I’m in one of these places, the things that I am realizing give me a deeper understanding of how to deal with happiness or sadness or stability or chaos.
For example, in 7th grade I couldn’t wait to be an adult so I could get away with only consuming SlimFast if that’s what I wanted to do in order to look like Posh Spice. In 8th grade I realized that that was a messed-up idea and decided to go out for the volleyball team instead. Now when I feel weird about body issues, I make sure that I’m setting myself up for good health habits and remind myself of all the cool things my body can do, like run over a mile, which middle-school me would never have believed.
So here’s what I’ve known for awhile, but what I’m getting better at doing and really internalizing: Sitting with whatever I’m feeling and just letting it be there.
I texted this to my friend when she was having a tough morning and wishing her life were different:
“I think everyone has moments of unhappiness no matter what it is they have in their lives. Sometimes more than moments. But I think that the thing you have to do is just recognize it. ‘Oh, I’m feeling sad now because I’m a human being.’ And it’s not fun, but if you know it will be there and you know it will pass you can get through it more easily. Think about it like a headache or cramps; not a good time but you know it happens to everyone and that you’ll get through and feel better.”
Just making it okay that you feel a certain way despite having so much, you free up a lot of brain- and emotion-space to move along instead of blowing up into “Something is wrong with me and I’m broken and things will never be okay” mode. Honestly, I think it’s how we’re built, to always want a little something more. Without that drive, think of how many achievements would never have come into being. (Of course, think of all the greed and pain in the world that could have been avoided if powerful people were satisfied with what they had, too. It’s not always a force for good.)
So what I’m saying is, enjoy the beginning of summer. Enjoy the feeling of sun on your skin, the sigh of a lakeside breeze, the taste of cold lemonade after a long day. But if you find yourself feeling low despite the beautiful weather, despite the promise of growth and the laughter of children and the knowledge that you have a Myrtle Beach vacation to look forward to–
Don’t worry about it too much. It’s okay. Sit with it, on your restaurant patio. Know that everyone around you has felt the same way. And wake up tomorrow ready to see what the day has to offer.