Life update #2: perspective with a side of Xanax
Before we jump in, something I need to get off my chest: after my first doozy of a blog post, I feel obligated to announce that I am truly 100%, honest-to-goodness fine.
First off, thanks to all of the wonderful, caring people who expressed their love and support for my jumbled post-grad neuroses after I shared my post. And to the few people who appeared genuinely concerned for my health and directly called me, or privately messaged me, or reached out beyond social media comment threads — thanks to you especially.
But also (she says, laughing nervously), that was meant to be an exercise in the fine art of Internet venting, and I totally didn’t mean to legitimately worry you. Which I feel like I did, so super whoops. You are all beautiful tropical fish and you should feel free to breathe easy: I’m okay.
Now, am I nostalgic, exhausted, and overwhelmed? Hell yeah, I am. But that’s not always a bad thing — nuance is absolutely key, something I learned in the context of college, but in the rush of the moment it’s hard to see it. You need to take a few steps back; in my prolonged case, you need to take a month or so (I am a Leo, fyi, and the stars have thusly dictated that it is in my nature to be an emotional, melodramatic mess at all times of great import).
At Stanford, nostalgia meant homesickness; it also meant calling home more often and developing a healthy relationship with my parents (!! insanity). Exhaustion meant sometimes falling asleep in my 9 AM classes; it also meant that last night’s party with some of my best friends was a helluva good time, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for all of the early Thursday morning lectures in the world. Feeling overwhelmed meant finally admitting to myself I had an anxiety problem; it also meant that I didn’t (and still don’t) like to produce subpar work, an instinct that I’d say has been pretty useful so far.
I learned about perspective without meaning to; I had to, to stay, like, sane. It might sound like hokey self-help garble, but it’s incredibly useful. When I’m stuck in the dark, it’s finding the little victories— the ones that aren’t a piece of paper with my name on it, wrapped in fanfare and worth a quarter of a million dollars; the ones that you instead slowly incorporate into your daily living and grow exponentially in significance over time — that remind me that the sun comes out eventually. I’m kinda just… metamorphosing right now, please hold.
Here’s a fun little win: I’m reading again. In the last couple of years or so, I’d forgotten how to read without deadlines. It turns out that I love it, something that my nine-year-old self (who literally earned medals for reading so much) (the secret was that I read during recess for all of the fourth grade) (I was not a hip child) is rolling her eyes at me for. Because, like, duh.
Another: I’ve invested in a new planner and a new notebook because letting myself organize and jot down my thoughts — even if it’s less than a page —brings me a sense of peace and satisfaction that I have yet to find elsewhere. I am not quite Liz Lemon (yet — James Marsden, wya), but with my weekends free to actually write and sort and plan, I’ve found my happy place somewhere inside the soft grey-lined pages of my new Moleskine.
And okay, maybe these revelations are obvious to everyone but me, but isn’t adulthood supposed to be, like, one big journey of self-discovery? Or is that just something that straight, skinny white women push in their New York Times bestselling memoirs? This whole process of healing and self-acceptance is encoded with privilege, after all, which I have to recognize. I can only hope that this pseudo-lost period helps me become a better person.
Anyway. For now, I digress.
For those yet to be impressed, here’s a comparatively major victory: I had a small panic attack in the office two weeks ago (the job hunt is not a joke) (also, the attack itself is not the victory, I’m getting to it). This hasn’t happened in about two years, but some new developments since then include the fact that 1) I got it under control fairly quickly, and 2) I immediately called a freaking therapist to set up an appointment — Ale two years ago would have never been able to do this. Ale two years ago would have been ashamed and scared and felt like mental health treatment was jumping the freaking gun, and the only reason I saw a psychiatrist back then in the first place is because having daily breakdowns was directly interfering with my work. Also, my friends made me do it (thank you, my loves, for caring so deeply for my wellbeing that you coerced me into making healthy choices).
Talk about a personal journey — I have never felt as emotionally mature as I have these past few weeks (haaa). Now, I’m taking some lovely little happy pills that smother down my neuroses and effectively control my emotions so I can operate normally on the day-to-day. There is no way to write this so that it doesn’t sound sarcastic, but I promise I am being wholly genuine when I say: yay for baseline functionality! And take that, Elizabeth Gilbert.
I guess all of this is to say that I am coping. From some angles, I’m doing not so hot; from others, I’m freaking thriving (okay, ha ha, so maybe not really, not yet. But I’m getting there, which is what matters).
“Getting there” entails a few changes to this neat blogging system. From now on, I’m planning to hone in more directly on these posts and make them less personal — not necessarily less introspective, but shifting the framing from “life updates” (although I’ll occasionally do check-ins) to something more akin to short cultural essays and commentary. Sort of like, “things that I have noticed going on, either in my own experiences or in the greater universe, and thoughts I have on those things.”
I am still workshopping the title, but you get the idea.
For now, I leave you all with this perfect .gif that effectively captures my current state of being. Here’s hoping it brings you much joy this fine #LEOSZN: