Tag Archives: Anxiety

The Never-Ending Cycle of Learning Lessons

This freakin’ brain of mine, friends.

This freakin’ brain.

So, as you (might) know, my birthday was last week. *throws celebratory balloons* As such, it was a lot of eating really good food. Including cake. Like, Oreo Blizzard Cake from Dairy Queen (because my family is awesome). Plus, homemade strawberry pretzel salad (because my family is awesome). And letting me choose the restaurants, so places like Olive Garden (because, hello pasta) and Texas Roadhouse (can I have another basket of rolls, please?) were both consumed. It was a glorious weekend.

You know what didn’t happen?

Running.

Or working out of any capacity.

Monday’s are my weigh-in days. Which, in retrospect, makes me wonder why I picked that day, out of any day of the week, because it’s always after the weekend, which is when I usually fall off my eating plan and don’t work out at all, so it’s probably my “worst” weight of the week (as compared to Fridays, after I’ve worked out all week and ate well). Yet it’s also probably the most accurate, so I’m sticking with it.

Anyway, this morning, I was terrified to weigh myself. In my mind, since I went a little overboard with the birthday shenanigans, obviously I’d gained five, ten pounds back and I was going to lose all motivation I had to keep up this lifestyle I’ve now officially kept up with for a year and suddenly I’ve become the cow I always thought I used to be, before.

Dramatic, right?

Everyone told me to skip weighing, do well this week and then weigh next week. And I wanted to do just that, but I couldn’t. I wanted to be honest with myself.

So I weighed.

And gained 0.08 pounds.

Then, I ran three miles and weighed again, just for shits and grins.

And was right back where I was last week, perfectly maintaining.

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I know.

know.

You gotta love that overactive imagination, right? That over-thinking part of my brain that just so happens to be more powerful than other part of my brain? Yeah, it definitely took over this weekend, being so nervous that a couple days of not eating the best was going to ruin a year’s worth of progress. But I don’t believe that was the main factor, the main influence, for my over-thinking.

It was fear.

You see, the most amazing part about this lifestyle change; about losing 30 pounds of my 40 pound goal; about figuring out eating habits that are healthy yet aren’t restrictive; about incorporating working out as part of a routine (and a main part, at that); the most amazing part about all of this has been the self-love I’ve finally experienced, after so many years searching for it and failing to find it.

Ever since 7th grade and I first slipped into the 180 pound range, I’ve hated myself, physically. And that hatred manifested, through depression, into practically every area of my life.

For years.

Until this past year.

As I’ve discovered my strength, I’ve discovered a pause to look in the mirror when I usually stared at the ground. As I’ve discovered my control, I’ve discovered the excitement to go shopping for a new pair of jeans instead of dreading it. As I’ve discovered a healthy lifestyle, I’ve discovered the joy of releasing endorphins, actually creating the way my body looks, enjoying foods that I make myself and eating a healthy amount, all alongside discovering a love for me, and my body.

It’s an incredible feeling. Addictive, really.

I never want to go back to what I used to feel. I never want to hate myself again.

So when I mess up, I get scared. Because I’ve messed up before. Over and over again, I’ve messed up, which is how I got to 200 pounds in the first place, being labeled as in the “obese” category at the doctor’s office. And though realistically in my mind, I know that a few days of poor eating, or a week of not exercising, isn’t going to kill me. Hell, gaining a pound or two back isn’t failure. If nothing else, I should be confident that I can conquer any obstacle, now that I’ve already done what used to feel like an impossibility, so whatever I gain back, I know I can lose it again.

Yet the fear remains.

And that’s the next thing to conquer.

It’s especially prevalent now, that winter is here. Because I know I’m not going to run as much as I’ll want to. It’ll get cold or the weather will get bad and I’ll have no desire to run at all, let alone leave the warmth of my bed. I’ll want to eat warm, filling food and play video games. Plus, we got Thanksgiving coming up, not to mention Christmas. And all that Halloween candy still to eat. It’s the holiday season, paired with the worst weather to run in, basically setting me up to not lose weight. Or maintain, which is my goal. And potentially gain.

I know that, if I set my mind to something, I can achieve it. I know that, if I focus on the unrealistic roots and unfairness of this fear, I can overcome it. I know that, if I learn to embrace forgiveness on the times when I mess up or the weeks that I don’t do very well, this fear will quietly become silent. I know that.

Now, it’s time to learn it.

Cheers.

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My Desire To Be More

One of the coolest things, I’ve found, about your own personality and your own existence as a human is how the process of discovering ourselves and growing into the person we want to be never ceases. There is always the opportunity to better yourself and change aspects you don’t like, heightened the things you do or embrace an entirely new element about yourself.

Recently, I’ve discovered a couple things about me that I’d like to focus on changing. They aren’t necessarily bad things. Recently, I’ve been more akin to noticing them and how they are holding me back from being the woman I really want to be and that’s why my goal is to actively change them, whatever that my look like.

Be More Assertive

This aspect of my personality is something I’ve really struggled with. I’ve always been that introvert with extroverted tendencies. Someone who is more shy than outspoken. Someone who will be quiet over making her voice heard. Someone who cares more about the opinions and desires of others–and making sure those are met–than her own. I wrote a post that discussed this at some length, but it just keeps popping up.

Most of the time, it’s simple stuff, like feigning apathy when I actually know what I want for dinner or hesitating to offer a suggestion when an open call is asked for one. But at the same time, it’s still important. My voice and my opinion are still important. And, quite frankly, it’s also rude to other people, who also value my voice and opinion and want to hear it. Why hold back what I want to say or how I feel because I’m so concerned it might not align with what they want or feel? Why assume that, because I’m so used to swallowing my own desires and needs, that they will do the same and we’ll be stuck at an impasse? Why shy away from honest conversations where the needs, wants, desires and opinions of all parties are heard and discussed, before a conclusion is reached? It doesn’t make a ton of sense.

So I want to express my opinions, my thoughts, my wants, my desires, my needs. If I want to eat at one restaurant and my friend wants to eat at another, nine times out of ten, we’ll end up eating at the restaurant my friend wanted, to be honest. Though I want to be more assertive when it comes to expressing my own voice, that doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to be so assertive that my needs come before everyone else’s. Nor should it. But there needs to be more of a balance, between being selfless and silent, to being selfish and speaking. I want to be a little bit of both. I want to have a voice and make it heard, while still being super flexible–an aspect that I love about having a meeker personality and I don’t want to lose that as I develop an assertive voice. I do want to be a little more selfish when it matters, when I have a strong opinion, yet I also want to continue being empathetic. I want to balance putting others needs first and making sure my own needs are met.

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Be More Confident

This might be something I’ve always struggled with, ever since I can remember. I’ve always had body confidence issues, for sure, but it’s bled into every area of my life where I could possibly have confidence, to the point where I have hardly any at all.

And I kinda should.

Sure, I think being humble is awesome and that’s something I’d like to claim to be, but there’s a difference between being humble and then honestly belittling your own self worth and self image. This whole post might be talking about how I want to improve, but if I’m being really honest with myself, I like who I am and I like who I am becoming.

I need to stop apologizing for everything (something I also talked about on this blog). I was out with my family this past weekend and I realized feeling the need to apologize for every little thing is apparently something we all do. I was surprised at how annoyed I got with hearing utterance after utterance of, “I’m sorry” for things where no apology was necessary. Which I’m sure you find ironic, considering how I confessed to doing the same thing all of the time.

I need to learn to accept compliments and not immediately try to dissuade them and label the compliment as a lie. I need to be confident in my own skin and realize that, even though I’ve made progress in my weight loss goals and still have work I want to do, I shouldn’t be afraid to still flaunt and love the body I have now. I need to be confident in my writing and my stories and my ideas. I need to be confident in my voice.

I am starting to love me for me. I just need to let other people see that.

Be More In the Present

This one might be a little weird, but it ties into my anxiety, which I’ve also talked about. But I want to focus more on living every day as wonderfully as I can. I want to work harder at creating happiness from each moment, instead of constantly waiting for each weekend or the next big event; doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about the future things on my horizon that get me amped, but I want to be more present in my day-to-day life, appreciating the little things. More often than not, I lose myself to anxiety over the future or overthinking the past that I forget how to live in the present. The scary reality is, the present can change so quickly and not always in a positive way. So I want to focus more on just enjoying what I have, where I am, who I am, now, and letting the future happen as it happens.

Focus on the good.

I got a few things I’d like to work own. Like most good things, none of these changes are going to happen overnight–apparent by the fact that I’ve written at least one other blog post that ties into each of these aspects of my identity once before, so obviously this is a topic I’ve considered before or is on my radar. Awareness is a great first step and I’m there.

Now it’s time to do something about it.

It takes little changes, every day, to reshape, build and then strengthen these elements into my true personality and that is a challenge I really want to–and am very excited–to undertake. Have any tips on how to do exactly that? Leave them in the comments below. I’d really appreciate it!

Cheers.


My Life Can Be Told By The Awkward Yeti

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First off, I love The Awkward Yeti web comic. It’s fantastic and never fails to be absolutely relateable to my life.

This picture popped up on my newsfeed the other day and felt particularly apt.

I’ve written about it before, how my overthinking and anxiety causes me to focus on the negative instead of the positive (even though I usually have a glass-is-overflowing kind of mindset); how I’ll come up with the worse possible outcome and immediately assume that’s how the situation is going to end; how my brain will hone in on that one bad thing and completely miss all the good things that are just as important and obvious, yet completely overshadowed.

Obviously, those struggles are captured perfectly in the comic above.

It’s particularly apt because this past week, I’ve had a bit of a weird week. It’s been a mix of having days where I felt completely on top of everything and days where I was as lazy as the definition allows and felt worthless. It was a mix of feeling, oddly, at peace with how lucky I am in my life; how there are so many good aspects and elements within it that makes it hard to complain about anything at all; juxtaposed with feeling those familiar desires to overthink and lose it to stress hinting at the edges of my consciousness, desperate for that microscopic focus and attention that blurs out anything else. It’s been a mix of feeling totally content and utterly scared.

And then I saw that comic.

A needed reminder, if I ever saw one. I have a heart desperate to recognize all the good in life, even when it’s harder to see or there are other, negative distractions waiting to capture my attention. Of course, this will always be a work in progress. I’ll always have days where that picture describes me perfectly. But I want to work on having more days where I’m more like Heart and less like Brain (even though both are very important).

Cheers.

Also, here’s some of my other favorites from The Awkward Yeti. Enjoy. 🙂

 


The Never-Ending Siren of Worst Case Scenarios

I’m a super positive person. That’s just kinda how my boat floats. And yet, I love to complicate that perspective–or part of my personality, rather–by, at the same time, also instinctively assuming the worst case scenario about everything. I touched on this a little bit in a previous post, but today, that realization has just been on my mind. As such, I’m going to write about it some more. Bonus for me for using a blog as an outlet for all my emotional shit, potential negative for you having to hear/reread the same rants, anxieties and fears over and over again.

But, luckily, if you have no desire to listen to me talk about this again, you can close your browser now, no hard feelings and no judgement whatsoever.

Still here? Lovely. Let’s talk about ridiculous minds.

Specifically, my ridiculous mind.

It doesn’t take much for my “worst case scenario” siren to signal in my brain. Today’s most pertinent example comes from where it often does: my love life. A tad bit complicated by yours truly, but in the simplest terms, I’ve found a really amazing man who I’ve fallen pretty damn hard for and cherish a ridiculous amount; to the point where I’m really, really not a fan of the idea of me not being in a–dare I call it–romantic relationship with said man. Because he’s really important to me. He means a lot to me. And I think my life improves wonderfully with him in it.

So, when I don’t hear from him at all today, guess where my lovely little mind goes?

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Um, obviously not.

Having an entire day or an afternoon not talking does not mean that a relationship is suddenly over. It does not mean that someone suddenly hates you or that you made a mistake. Hell, there doesn’t even have to be an explanation for it, at all. So you didn’t talk for a day. So you didn’t see each other for a weekend. So X didn’t happen and Y changed. Those things don’t mean that suddenly, something you care about and cherish so utterly has transformed into something you dread.

Yet that’s where my mind goes. The poor man has dealt with this worst case scenario situation multiple times, dealing with plenty of late night crying sessions that could have been avoided if I didn’t panic at every little thing. He’s a keeper just for putting up with that, amongst other things.

Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who gets to deal with that, because it’s not just my love life that I assume the worst. Let’s quick shoot some examples.

Scenario: When one friend I haven’t seen in a while hangs out with another friend and I wasn’t invited.
Brain: They both suddenly hate you, they don’t like you, you fucked up and you’re never going to see each other ever again because you suck.
Reality: Conflicting schedules, friends wanted 1:1 time, they simply forgot…so many potential reasons.

Scenario: Wrote a book and entered it into a contest and I didn’t win.
Brain: Wow, you’re really still trying this writing thing? You realize that not only did you not win this contest, but your books are never going anywhere ever again. You’ll always fail, because exactly what just happened.
Reality: Book wasn’t ready, didn’t click with the other party, subjective tastes, unlucky, book didn’t need the help that was offered, plus a thousand other reasons that don’t entail me being a shitty writer.

Scenario: You want to take a day off work to do this fun thing but you already took a day off work last week to help parents move.
Brain: If you ask off work, they are going to think you’re lazy and you’ll get fired.
Reality: Why are you even stressing out about this? If you have the time available to take off and get it cleared with your boss, then you’re fine.

It’s not just major things, either, that trigger this kind of response, like relationships. It’s the “little” things, too. Like how I got a new tattoo last week and it secreted fluids for four days and I immediately assumed it was infected, when it was just doing what it always does and needs to do: heal. Or when I got my IUD implanted and then my cycle changed, so I skipped my period and I immediately assumed I was pregnant. Or how I ate that Snickers bar last night and when I weigh myself on Monday, I’m obviously going to have gained 10+ pounds.

I know, I’m absolutely ridiculous.

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The two main ways I’ve combated this unnecessary and over-imaginative worst case scenario response have been recognizing that I’m over-thinking or talking these conclusions through (though usually, it’s a combination of both). Realizing that I’m being ridiculous at least makes me aware that my conclusions are convoluted or exaggerated, so maybe I shouldn’t focus on them so much. Talking it out and hearing someone else tell me the same thing is also really helpful. Yet it isn’t enough to make me stop resorting to this response immediately with every given situation.

I’m not sure if there is any sort of “solution” in order to do that.

So thank God for the understanding and patient humans I’m lucky enough to have in my life, who don’t toss me to be curb after I repeat the same fear or concern for the nth time and remind me with only mild (instead of extreme) annoyance why I need to turn my brain off and just breathe. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but it sure makes navigating this experience that is life more enjoyable.

Oh, and chocolate.

Cheers.


A Punch from the Brain, Retaliation from the Heart

If someone has a magical solution to help a person stop overthinking things, I, personally, would love to learn more about said solution.

Because it’s exhausting, friends.

I overthink to the point where I only focus on the negative outcomes. My immediate reaction is to assume the worst, because my mind easily twists and warps things to fit into that equation, where the only solution is the one my overthinking brain creates. Until that worst case scenario is proven false or doesn’t come true, I just assume that’s the reality, the truth of what’s to come. And then once it doesn’t, I feel like a fool, because everything obviously pointed to things being okay or things working out, yet my brain couldn’t help but distort those signs, those facts. I tell myself, See, you didn’t need to worry? Don’t put yourself through that again.

I’m sure you’re not hard-pressed to figure out what happens next.

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I’ve been doing this a lot lately in terms of my evolving friendships and undefinable love life. It can be the simplest things, from not receiving a text for a while to not being called a pet name to putting in all the effort to being left out of a hang out session. I over-analyze, I replay conversations, trying to pick up meanings from inflections and word choice and things left unspoken. I become hyper-focused, always worried that my reality is actually going to become what my brain tells me it will–and it’s never good. And life is good, right now, and who am I to deserve that? How long can it last before I mess it up; then, once doing so, how long will I spend regretting that one confession, that one crying session, that one time where I admitted too much or became too vulnerable and fucked everything up?

These thoughts and fears and scenarios birth in my brain and then worm their way into my emotions, twisting me into a sour mood where I either don’t want to talk to anyone at all or I become needy, desperate for affirmation and confirmation that these fears are heedless and merely vicious to my own subconscious. Suddenly, my desire to be productive diminishes, and even writing and reading become chores when they should be exciting. If it’s really bad, the emotions will manifest into physical pain, in my chest or my stomach, a throbbing pain in my temple.

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And all the while, the scenarios don’t stop replaying in my head, pointing out exactly what went wrong and how I caused it.

This sucks. It makes me seem like my brain isn’t exactly all there. That I’m emotionally imbalanced or the most needy human. It makes me seem like…a bit much, maybe too much to handle or perhaps not even worth the trouble, even for the good times; for the times when I have my brain under control and I don’t give into every seed of doubt, every change, every fear. How can the good times be worth it, for my family and friends and partner, when they also come with moments of the bad, which occur more often than I like to admit?

I can’t make a case for why, but I like to believe I’m worth it, anyway. Even though it’s not the most enjoyable part of my personality, being an overthinking worrywart is a part of my personality. A part I’d like to lessen, a part I’d like to be more in control of, but it’s a part of me nonetheless. So yeah, I have a lot of anxiety and I overthink way too much. But that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to me. That doesn’t mean that those demons are right and I’m going to ruin every aspect of my life, to my family to my friends to my love life to my writing career.

So thanks to those of you who stick by me, despite of this.

And also? A little note to that overthinking brain of mine?

Yeah, I’m in a point in my life right now where I have a lot less friends than I used to, so the few I’ve held onto, I’m suddenly so paranoid I’m going to lose them for good and my life will become nothing but working and coming home to an empty house; a routine never broken up by coffee dates to catch up, weekly 1-1 sessions, long conversations or tears caused by laughter. I’m at a point where I am falling hard for a man who is scared of commitment, so we might never have the type of relationship I’ve always dreamed about, and he’s become so important to me, I’m so nervous he’s going to disappear from my life and not only will I be alone again, but I’ll also no longer have him as a constant presence, support and light. I don’t want to lose him. I’m at a point where I’ve been struggling to write and I’m scared I’ll never get over that, but I’m also scared of the books I have written never going anywhere, never being loved the way I love them. I’m at a point where I feel like my financial status is dominated by bills and I’ll never catch up and feel ahead or financially comfortable, so of course I’ll either always live paycheck-to-paycheck….or worse.

But you know what, my lovely, over-energized, never-ceasing brain? All of those things could happen, all of those fears could come true, and I will still be okay. 

I could lose every friend I have and see no one. I could get my heart shattered by this man. I could have every book I write get rejected. I could lose my job or live paycheck-to-paycheck forever. One or all of these things could happen and yet I will still make it. You wanna know why?

That’s calling living.

That’s life.

If I didn’t have these fears; if I wasn’t putting myself out there and risking my heart, risking my hopes, risking my dreams; if I wasn’t so attached to people and passions and things; is that the kind of life I want to live? Sheltered, comfortable, safe, complacent, routine?

No, I don’t think so.

Some days, you win. You make the inside of my head a living nightmare. You exhaust my friends when they have to remind me, again, that they aren’t going anywhere. You make my family’s foreheads meet their palms when I repeat the same mantra of, “But what if X? Can’t you see Z?” You give me anxiety, you make me fear, you add unnecessary stress, you steal sleep, you absorb will, you cause pain. And I hate you for it.

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But other days, I win. I take risks. I follow my heart. I create art. I enjoy the little things. I run miles. I laugh with friends. I get overly excited about dogs. I nerd out. I go on adventures. I work. I live as a hopeless romantic. I do whatever I can to break up the monotony and mundane aspects of life.

No matter how hard you hit, no matter how many punches you throw, I’ll come back swinging just as hard. It may take hours, days, weeks, before I retaliate. Before my positivity can make a comeback and prove more powerful than my anxiety. But know this, anxiety. Know this, my overthinking, over-analytic, obsessive, cynical, hopeless mind.

I will never stop fighting.

And I will conquer you.

Cheers.


Running Anxiety

I’m not sure how long you could actually label me a runner, but I’ve had runner’s anxiety for as long as I could remember.

It’s a really stupid feeling where you’re worried about what everyone else thinks concerning your own running style.

For the longest time, this anxiety was so intense, I would actually avoid running at all costs. I couldn’t run at the gym because it was always so crowded, everyone could see me, everyone else running would most likely lap me and inevitably everyone at the gym wouldn’t be focused on their own workouts or striving to achieve their own goals; no, obviously they’d be too focused on watching me and judging me. Running outside was off the table, too, because even though it’s less crowded, you never know when you’ll pass another runner and then you spend the rest of your run worrying about their impression of you.

Stupid, right?

Yet that fear was so real. For a very long time. So I wouldn’t run. And because running was my favorite form of exercise, this meant I just wouldn’t do any physical activity at all. I was too concerned with what everyone else thought. About my running form and whether I was doing it properly or not. About my physical appearance and how I was “too big” to run, how you can see my thighs jiggle or my arm flab shake, how my face gets really red, my breathing labored and my entire body just becomes a sweat bucket. About my running speed and how when I claim to be running, I’m actually jogging or fast walking at a really quick pace (which translates to running at a really slow one). On average, it takes me between 14-15 minutes to run a mile. Not very fast.

For years, I let all these concerns of fleeting judgments and the opinions of strangers stop me from achieving weight loss and strength building goals surrounding my own body that I had for just as many years as I did the anxiety, if not even longer.

But then last November, my heart was a little confused and a lotta hurt by this guy who ghosted on me. I’d cried too many tears, yet a mix of emotions was still raging inside of me and I just wanted to be rid of them, and crying wasn’t doing the trick. I had no idea how to release them. So I went for a run.

And for the rest of that day, felt amazing.

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Not all of us can be this cute when running. Or smile and run at the same time. 

Granted, my heart still hurt and my body was sore as hell, but I experienced something I hadn’t in years, the main reason I love running in the first place: that natural, endorphin-driven high you get after running, i.e., the runner’s high. I didn’t realize how much I missed that feeling. So I kept running, for five weeks straight, before winter’s cold kinda ruined my groove. And though I haven’t had a streak that long since, I have been running more consistently since November, even if more consistently is only one or two runs a week.

It’s July.

If you read last week’s post, you’ll see there has been some progress made in my self-love journey thanks to that change. Progress that could have been made years ago, if I could have ignored my anxiety and pushed forward anyway. Because honestly? That anxiety was really pointless. Nine times out of ten, any other runners aren’t thinking about you at all when they pass you on the trail. If they do, the thought or judgment is fleeting, at best. At worst, it might be a comment like, “I saw this slow runner on the path today” they bring up to their family at dinner, but hopefully, it’s followed by a positive spin like, “but I was really impressed that I saw them on that trail. It’s obvious they were trying.”

Because here’s the thing, friends. So what if I’m a really slow runner? So what if my body jiggles when I run? So what if I don’t pump my arms enough or my strides are short instead of long? The only point is: I’m running. I am trying. Sure, a 15-minute mile isn’t exactly impressive generally, but for me personally, all I care about is that I completed that mile. And then ran another (and if I’m feeling really motivated, even a third mile in one run). It’s about completion, not speed.

The most ironic thing is, any time I see a runner, whether while I’m running, too, or just out on the street while I’m driving by, I’ve never once judged them. Usually, my reactions spanned from being super impressed, being super jealous or feeling guilt that I wasn’t out there running, too. Quite frankly, the larger the person, the more impressed I was, because I understood how difficult that was for them, yet they were doing it anyway. Who knows how many times I’ve motivated a stranger to push a little harder or impressed someone because I was out there running? Not to mention the number of waves, smiles or thumbs up I’ve gotten from other people during running. Or how amazing I feel afterwards. It’s gotten to the point that, when I didn’t run at all last week, my mood actually blackened and depression kinda took a hold of me again. That’s how important running has become to me.

Looking back at all the anxiety I felt–which was very real, but not very logical–I could almost laugh, but I mostly just shake my head and wish I’d conquered my own mind a little bit sooner and didn’t wait until running was my last resort and only option to release some pent up emotions. I can’t lie and say there aren’t times when I’m passed by a really fit runner or I’m just having an off-day, that anxiety doesn’t creep up again and whisper in my ear.

I’m pretty jazzed that I’m now able to tell it to shut up and keep on running.

Cheers.


Frankly, I Have No Idea What to Title This Post

There’s a line from Twenty One Pilot’s “Migraine” that says, “Sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind.”

I really love that line.

I also wish they gave advice on how to do just that.

I’m an over-thinker. A worrywart, as my companions and parents growing up dubbed me. I’ve always been this way. I know I’m not alone in this, but sometimes, that knowledge doesn’t help me deal with my incessant need to look at every angle of a situation–and often situations that haven’t happened yet, but are possible–and then fixate on the worst possible one, causing anxiety, stress and depression to set in as I then obsess over this outcome. Which, nine times out of ten, doesn’t even come true.

But let’s not keep this simple. Let’s include the heart into this, add another layer of complexity.

I’m a big believer of following your heart. It’s why mine is so scarred. I’m not afraid to chase what it wants without abandon. Some believe that’s foolish. Yet that’s not something I’m going to change. I’m sure it comes to no surprise that often, the heart and the mind conflict, even to the point where the mind overrules the heart and makes it confused on what it even wants, which makes it even harder to come to a decision about what to do in X situation.

Hold on, though. Still not complicated enough. Then add in the need to please others and the reliance on your fellow’s good opinion and approval.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Welcome into the mind of Nicole.

‘Tis a confusing place.

Of course, I have a specific conundrum in mind: my love life. It’s complicated and confusing and conflicting, which I think is the most difficult thing to deal with. At any given moment, my mind will tell me to do one thing and my heart will agree. The next, my mind and heart splits. Another second passes and my heart has completely changed its tune, but now my head is questioning. And then you add in the opinions of everyone else I value–and don’t forgot the overthinking mind that doesn’t fail to look into every possible solution into every possible scenario, and frankly?

I’m just at a loss.

Here’s the situation (you might have gathered inklings about it from this postthis post or this post. Sorry my complicated love life has taken over this blog. But this blog is my outlet and I’ve never been confused like this before. Ergo, a lot of emotionally-charged posts).

Entered into a FWB relationship which actually felt and was treated like more of an actual relationship, just in secret. Not surprising that, on my end, feelings developed and complications arose. I “left” and then came back, twice, before finally deciding to leave the “benefits” side of a relationship and trade it for a “just friends” side, so I could move on emotionally and find someone who’d be capable and willing to meet both my needs and my wants. It’s been…hard, but I’m getting there. What’s been the hardest, however, is being plagued with one question:

What if? 

Because while I left because I needed more stability, more commitment and more certainty, I’ve been lost in this realm of uncertainty ever since. Because though the “relationship” is officially “over,” there are some small seeds of hope that it could still actually blossom into something real. So we could, potentially, still have a chance at having a relationship. Or I could say no, if that question was ever asked. Or it could never be asked and I could find someone else. Or I could find no one. There are so many different ways this could pan out and there are plenty of What Ifs to accompany each route.

What if we date and everything is as amazing as I always thought it would be? What if it’s everything I ever wanted? What if we completely fall on our faces and the relationship crumbles? What if everyone thinks I’m an idiot for giving him another chance? What if everyone hates him? What if I miss out on the guy “meant for me” because I gave him another chance? What if he is the one meant for me and I gave him up too early because it took a little work beforehand? What if I end up alone forever (but kill it as your ultimate dog lady)? 

Yeah, sometimes, my mind sucks.

There are just so many elements in play: my emotions, my feelings, logic, the opinions of others…all of which conflict and fight each other on a daily basis, which isn’t exactly comforting.

You got the feelings I have for the guy that everyone I care about tells me “didn’t treat me right” and constantly reminds me that I can “do better and deserve better,” yet part of me still wants to try because he does mean so much to me and I know he could treat me exactly the way I “deserve.” But then that raises logical questions, like, why hasn’t he already? What made him take so long to chose me; which, in turn, brings up some questions regarding trust. Yet he’s also made me happier than any man before him. Doesn’t that count for something?

Then I look at all the relationships I’ve ever known. All of them have had some sort of conflict, at one point or another. To varying degrees of complexity and difficulty. Some started great and got rough in the middle, only to become stronger. Some started out difficult and took work, but made it in the end. And very few have been really solid throughout it all, hardly a hiccup in sight. And sometimes, when people tell me that I can “do better,” I want to point out that every relationship is different and maybe this one is just experiencing the rough patches at the beginning. I want to ask not to be so quick to judge, even though I know everyone is just looking out for me and wants me to be happy. And I haven’t been happy, recently. So I understand that. It just adds another level of complexity.

And then you get all of those corny quotes telling you to never pick a guy who made you question or made you guess or made you walk away. Then there’s the small excitement of meeting someone new, wondering who is out there for me and the excitement of flirting and getting to know someone; battle that against the comfort of already knowing someone and admitting there are some challenges there, but there is also certain happiness, as well. Then there’s the fear of never finding anyone else juxtaposed with the fear that I already found them, but I’m just giving them up because it takes work and everyone else tells me I should and they are proud of me for finally letting go of something less than what I deserve. But is that really what want?

Yeah, I’d love to just kill my mind for an hour now, thanks.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to two things: choice and risk.

Everything is uncertain. I have no idea if said dude will ever want to try an actual relationship with me. I honestly have no idea if I’m willing to try, if he wants to–my heart and hope scream yes at the same time my mind, my doubts and my fears shout no. I have no idea how I’d meet anyone else or what I’d say if I did. I have no idea about any of this and all this worrying and thinking I’ve done in the past week isn’t really helping.

Regardless of whatever happens, the choice is mine. And though I do recognize that I really rely (a bit too much) on the approval of others, I have to trust that those closest to me will support whatever decision I make. And I need to let myself make that decision, without basing it off the opinions of others.

Even though I’ve been searching for the right answer, through talking and blogging and praying, I think I’ve come to the realization that there isn’t one. There is no right answer. That’s why it’s a risk.

I can’t know that my choices are going to be the best ones. I have no idea how they are going to affect my future or if they are going to hurt me or make me happy. There is no guarantee that whatever choice I make is going to be the right or the wrong one. Because that’s what risk is. It’s making a choice and sticking with it even though you don’t know the end. It’s trying to decipher the feelings in your gut and learning to follow them. It’s talking with those involved and learning to trust them. It’s finding a balance between hope and logic.

At the end of the day, it’s weighing everything I’ve been describing and more, and then finally making a choice, trusting yourself to make the right one. It’s accepting the aftermath and forgiving yourself when you make the wrong one. It’s having the courage to change your choice, if that happens. Or the courage to stay, depending. Or even trusting yourself enough to believe that you made the right choice and believing that everything is good, even when it feels too good to be true.

That realization doesn’t make figuring out my love life any easier. I know that I definitely don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m trying my best to follow my heart wherever it guides me (even if that journey is a bit confusing, at times). I’m doing the best I can and I’ll take a small comfort in that. Because all I can do is try and follow my heart, trusting it to guide me true. Even it it leads to failure and ruin, at least I gave it my all.

Hopefully, when I look back at all of my choices, no matter how many were “right” and “wrong,” I’ll be able to take comfort and avoid regret, knowing that I did the best I could navigating this quest called life; amidst every wrong turn, pleasant surprise, lucky break, difficult choice, second chance, mistake, celebration and achievement, I tried and followed my heart.

Can we really ask ourselves to do more than that?

Cheers.