It’s crazy that every single step of the process to “take off” is met with tension and force. Every.Single.Step. You see, when I purchased our one-way tickets to Mexico I thought that would be it. I had conquered my fears. Seriously. I bought our tickets, booked the AirBNB in the first two locations and felt like I had finally accomplished the goal. I knew that I’d have to do things to prepare to leave but I didn’t realize just how much each task would awaken even more anxiety.
Here I am today with 2.5 weeks left to go and I feel it all in my gut…the nerves, butterflies or whatever you’ve chosen to call yours. I have a ton to do; figure out what to do with my car, get travel insurance with a great medical plan, write a letter authorizing a family member to get my son and take him back to the U.S. if something were to happen to me (talk about anxiety inducing). There’s a ton more but I won’t bore you with it.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever face big dreams without anxiety and I wonder why I am graced with this life challenge. Then I remember, in some situations anyone would have anxiety. Something like changing your whole life to travel the world without a home base is proooooobably one of those things. It’s good to remember that because then I don’t feel like such an anomaly. I don’t feel like I’m the only one plagued with this extra accessory that goes with me everywhere. But to be met with it at every step? It’s so, so exhausting.
If anxiety is with me that much I probably should give it a name…like Henry. I’ve always disliked that name. It’s like an ongoing joke I have that the finest dudes are named Henry, Charles and Edward. No…I probably should give it a name I like. Anastasia…Kylie…Caden (these are all names I thought of naming my child, by the way). Here’s why I think I should give it a name I like. So many times we, as people, try to force away the things we don’t like and, honestly, that makes them bigger and more dominant in our lives. This is exactly the opposite of what we’re aiming for. Yet we create this cycle of wishing it away, it comes back bigger and so on and so forth. What if we choose to embrace it?
Ten years ago I was going through a really hard time in my life. My whole world had caved in; this situation affected every area of my life and I felt so isolated and alone. While dealing with this I’d have days where I’d be so incredibly sad and mad and I’d sit in those feelings. I’d really feel them. I can’t say those days were outwardly productive but internally they were. People would call me and ask how I was and I’d be honest. Then they’d get fed up and a few times I got the response, “Why can’t you just be happy?”, “Why can’t you just move on.”, “Try your best to get over it”.
Here’s what I know now. I was doing my best to get over it. I was doing what I needed to do to move on. Had I not sat and felt those feelings and acknowledged them, ten years later (today) I’d still be mad and sad and have a ton of pent up anger and still want retaliation but I don’t. I’m completely at peace with that scenario and anyone associated with it. I see, though, that the same people who were telling me to “be happy” still struggle with things that happened to them decades ago and I truly believe it’s because they pushed down the “bad” emotions; they didn’t truly feel and deal and it’s still there creeping up.
So….all that to say, I think I should embrace my anxiety. Instead of seeing it as an unwanted companion I can see her as a desired companion. I’m not trying to give any illusions that this will be easy but I think it’s worth a try. (Honestly, as I sit here typing, my butterflies have reduced in number…wonder if it’s because of the shift of the perspective.) With that, I’m naming my anxiety Mlinzi which means protector in Swahili. Mlinzi is like a helicoptor parent, and they mean well but they can be crippling. I’ve got to set the boundaries. I can’t live under her overbearing ways anymore so I will figure out how to alter this dynamic beginning today. I’m kind of excited about this and I’ve never been able to say I’m excited about my relationship with anxiety before. Hmm…
Mlinzi and I have some things to do now. I’m going to get at least two items checked off my list today. Maybe you can think about how you can shift your perspective and/or dynamic with anxiety too. I’d love to know how you decide to do it.