Pain is such a powerful emotion and one that fueled the beginnings of my passion for writing. Like many of us, creativity was something I always had as a child. I always loved to tell stories to my dolls, about my dolls and I could create alternate universes that I would get lost in for hours. I loved to read stories and then once I developed the ability to write I loved to write them, too. It wasn’t until I lost my best friend Corey in high school that I realized what a therapeutic experience writing was for me and I truly can’t comprehend what my grief process would have been like without this incredible outlet. For the past year I feel as if my blog and the stories I have crafted have given you a very uplifting and positive voice, one that I constantly strive for. I have mentioned before but I feel obligated to again, positive people are not happy all the time.
I repeat, I am not happy all the time. In the past few weeks I have been overcome with stress, anxiety and a multitude of confusing feelings. Instead of stifling them I realize that the only thing more powerful than an uplifting and motivational piece is a stone cold honest one. Usually, when I admit my struggles that is what people connect to. It’s almost as if by acknowledging my own pain I give others the right to feel theirs.
Luckily for me, I have learned and have crafted a lifestyle where I am constantly surrounding myself by positivity and agents for change. I surround myself with good people, motivating podcasts, inspirational books, the life-altering practice of yoga and now I am dabbling in meditation as well. In one my favorite podcasts Magic Lessons by the goddess Elizabeth Gilbert, I was single handedly talked out of my negative thought spiral by one quote from her, “The definition of responsibility is the ability to respond. The definition of responsibility is not how many hours you put into the work week but how well as a human being you are able to respond to life.” I sat there with a gaping mouth and I dragged my index finger along my phone screen and played it again. Ms. Gilbert? Are you speaking straight to me? I replayed this quote six times until I wrote it safely in the quote section on my notepad and digested the relevance and the power in the simple statement. I am still digesting it’s power.
I am a worrier. I always have been and I am slowly learning that I don’t always have to be. I am a woman. I am a Gemini. I have ADHD and anxiety. I live life intentionally by the seat of my pants. I quit my job and move to foreign countries with my backpack and a dream. I believe so deeply in that fact that life will work out and the universe will send me in the right direction but that doesn’t stop the amount of time I spend worrying. My mind is moving and thinking at every moment of everyday.When I’m not teaching, I’m grading papers, researching lesson plans, creating materials or working on my business, talking to clients, working on my blog, helping people discover their goals, running challenges, reading personal development books, writing notes, creating goal charts, researching travel destinations, reading blogs, stalking puppies and/or food instagrams, are you tired yet? I haven’t even touched on my social life. The funny part is that my whole life I have chose to do this to myself. Since I know I run a million miles an hour, I think I can do a million things and I genuinely want to do them all. But I also can make myself crazy with stress and anxiety and to be honest the past few weeks, I have been fighting so hard to stay away from the constant pile of worries that are piling up in my brain.
When I moved to Thailand, the ability to just go with the flow became ingrained in me. Thai culture is so relaxed compared to the American world I grew up in. Americans are brought up to believe that the harder you work, the faster you produce, the more productive you are the more successful and therefore happy you are. Obviously this is generalizing in a huge way, but in my experience, that is how I would sum it up. In Thailand I learned to take my time and enjoy my food, if the bus came or the bus didn’t come I was going to have to deal with the consequences and worrying about it did absolutely nothing to help or hurt the situation. Worrying is a chronic bad habit that I believe is one of the hardest to break. I am so blessed that my time living, teaching and traveling abroad in Thailand, Southeast Asia and now Australia have allowed me to channel my worries when they are warranted and forget them when they aren’t. I also am blessed to have met one of the most understanding and supportive guys ever that I can share these feelings with if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something. He usually calms me down instantly or makes me laugh too hard to think about it. Not only do I have my amazing boyfriend but I also have my mom, my Fluro Friday and One Wave Crew and so many old friends who I can openly admit these feelings to without having the pressure to be perfect. When you really think about it, pressure is usually self inflicted and if it isn’t then you are hanging out with the wrong tribe. Don’t find people who let you complain or sulk but we all need people we can count on to unload, decompress and gain clarity from. Make yourself one of them. Give yourself permission to unload even if it’s on a piece of paper or talking out loud to yourself.
It is generally agreed upon that worrying is pointless yet so many of us let it consume so much of our time, energy and ultimately our life. Worrying is not something I have been able to eliminate from my life and I don’t think I ever will but I have learned to be proactive about those feelings. I can’t simply say “don’t think about it” I need to DO something. I need to get my sweat on, go for a walk, listen to a podcast, practice some yoga, write, take a bubble bath, cook, call a friend, bake something or read a good book. Action is the most powerful medicine for worry. I don’t believe this is true for everyone but it has worked wonders for me so I can’t help but share. Writing down WHAT is worrying me and why or verbalizing those feelings out loud allows me to acknowledge them instead of dismissing them and watching them multiply inside of my stifled brain. Running from your feelings is one of the worst things you can do and only exacerbates them but taking ACTION to make yourself feel better is not just your right but also your duty.
If you love yourself fiercely and unconditionally you will treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you would treat anybody else. Focus on how you respond to what is happening in your life NOW instead of what could go wrong in the future. The future will NEVER be exactly how we imagine it. How boring would that be? I have the ability to take huge risks and get outside of my comfort zone so I need to remember that along with that comes an evolving struggle. Growing pains. Getting to know yourself in ways you never thought you would have to or want to. Admitting your shortcomings to the masses is incredibly liberating. Don’t feel weak or ashamed. Don’t feel like no one understands. The sad part is everyone understands, but some are too afraid or proud to admit it. If you are a constant worrier I hope this brings you some hope that you can in fact improve this quality. But I can’t lie and say that you will be able to eliminate it because I still struggle for days and even weeks myself. The struggle doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human. Remember that, pop on a good podcast, whip out your best downward dog and let that shit be.
What is meant for you never passes you by. Respond to life with courage, compassion and a dose of honesty. It’s refreshing for you and everyone that crosses your path. We all feel pain in different degrees and at different stages of our lives. Pain is powerful. Pain is real. Pain is not something we can avoid but we can construct what we do with it. The choice is yours. I choose to use my pain for you and for me. I choose to paint my pain in words like watercolors on a canvas hoping that slowly the colors bleed into something beautiful, meaningful and worth keeping. The pain isn’t worth keeping but the stories are. Remember that next time you start to worry, respond to life with action and transform the pain into passion.