I am starting to think I am a masochist. Before your mind goes too far deep in the gutter… no, not 50 Shades kind of masochism. Mental masochism. The kind where you feel like your brain and thoughts are torturing you to no end and the only way to escape is to sleep or numb them out with Netflix binging.
I’ve always been a bit on the “anxious” side. And by a bit I mean extreme. I’m fairly certain I popped out of the womb with a running to-do list and a feeling of inadequacy that could be tested genetically. In fact, my nickname was/is “Nervous Nelly”. And I wonder why I don’t have a huge social group.
Sarcasm aside, I have been noticing that this mental suffering has really been kicking my ass as of late. Since leaving the field of psychology (the irony is NOT lost on me people) my fear of uncertainty and my irrational mental reactions to it have increased. I wake up with a voice already telling me I’ve done something wrong (like, is it possible to sleep wrong?) and I go to bed at night running through all the things I could’ve done better throughout the day. I fall asleep promising myself I’ll do better tomorrow and then wake up and the cycle continues. Whatever I do and however I do it is not enough and I feel massive amounts of guilt, shame, confusion, inability to commit.
For a long time, I thought anxiety was normal (disclaimer- it is). It became a sort of comfort, a friend I wasn’t really sure I liked but brought me some sense of security. We all have those friends who annoy the shit out of us but we keep them around because they are always down for going on a Friday-night adventure to Yogurtland and Half Price Books (yes, my adventures include frozen yogurt and used books. Party central). If I was anxious then I rationalized that I was thinking about productive things, planning, scheming. Little did I know that it was slowly taking over my mind and infusing it’s brand of “shoulds” into everything I do. Pretty soon I found myself questioning nearly everything I did and felt paralyzed when it came to making any decision. So I’m deciding to stop. Because I am quite literally, driving myself crazy. And, since I want to live a more intentional life I guess that includes a more intentional inner-life.
Do I think it necessary to go through times where you feel more anxious than others? Necessary, no, but part of the human condition (particularly the humans who have a need for people-pleasing and perfection)- yes. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to kick this annoying friend I’ve been carrying around since birth but I know I want to try. Because it is exhausting constantly fighting with yourself and convincing yourself that you brushed your hair right. Right now I’m reading No Mud, No Lotus and When Things Fall Apart and basically they are both telling me that suffering is a part of life and so to stop being stupid and trying to get rid of it by stuffing my face with donuts and binge-watching OITNB until 2am.
But really, people, being human is sometimes hard. That was NOT in any “Course Outlines” on any of my syllabi in school and somehow you have to grow up and get anxious to find out that life isn’t all chasing butterflies and eating peanut butter sandwiches. I wish someone talked more openly with me about uncertainty and fear and gave me practical tools outside AP Calculus to deal with being a human being. So for now, I’m turning to Buddhist books because they seem to get that life is hard but we make it worse. Currently convincing my brain to stop making it worse.