During Academic Decathlon, I felt perpetually stressed. Any time I got into a complaining or worrying mode, some teammates would joke and say, “Ariel…you’re happy when you’re unhappy!” Darn those boys – in a way, they were right.
I always think about this story when I find myself in a rut.
Some weeks are better than others, and this past week was unfortunately a bad one. On the surface, it should have been a great time: it included a lovely message from a lovely friend, opportunities to network with awesome lawyers, coffee outings with my dad, chances to journal, a fun intern lunch, and generally a lot of good things happening all over the place.
So why, despite the abundance of happiness, was I feeling sad?
I think honesty is key, and if I’m being honest with myself (and with you), then the answer is clear. I was afraid.
What am I afraid of, you ask? Well, here’s small a list to start.
I’m afraid of…
- Gaining weight
- Losing friends
- Feeling depressed
- Bad grades
- Setting a bad example
Let me explain some of these more in-depth.
- I’m afraid of change – for better or worse – because it’s unfamiliar. For example, feeling upset isn’t fun, but I’m also used to it.
- Failing scares me, but so does succeeding. Failing means others are better than I am, but succeeding sets the expectation that I am good at something. (What a shocker!)
- Gaining weight from bingeing, and bingeing because I’m eating, and eating because I’m sad, and being sad because I failed, and failing because of a bad grade…everything runs together.
I just get scared sometimes. While the fact remains that I am very lucky to have so many great things in my life, a small part of me feels like I don’t deserve it at all.
I’m pretty sure that’s why last week, I stopped doing INSANITY, Zumba, or any exercise. It’s why I decided to not only eat things I didn’t want, but to eat A LOT of it. (Seriously, I’ve had so much ice cream and sweets in one week that it’s a little bit ridiculous.)
I was scared that I was too happy, that the good in my life wouldn’t last – and I was scared about what that would mean for the future. What if I lost weight, but gained it back during the semester? What if I started a fun friendship, but ruined it by dating? What if I shared these thoughts with my friends, but they thought I was a drama queen?
What if, what if, what if…?
So what if I gained weight again? I could lose it again. So what if I dated a guy and we broke up? It just wasn’t meant to be. So what if my friends thought I was dramatic? I’d find out which friends truly loved me.
I’ve got a lot of random, contradictory, sometimes senseless fears. I’m afraid of a lot of things people might find silly – myself included! That doesn’t make those fears any less real, or less important. It does make them manageable though, if we’re willing to recognize them.
When I feel this way, I get introspective. Here’s a quote I found while attempting to sort my thoughts.
Turn on the faucet. Wash yourself with the emotion. It won’t hurt you. It will only help. If you let the fear inside, if you pull it on like a familiar shirt, then you can say to yourself, “All right, it’s just fear, I don’t have to let it control me. I see it for what it is”.
– From Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom
A week went by, and I spent it dawdling in fear. I think I would prefer to spend this week more productively – maybe biking at the YMCA, cooking with my mom, or cleaning my room (I’ve been saying that ever since I came home for the summer).
Regardless, I have a lot more fun when I do things I enjoy, and I look a lot prettier when I’m not crying all the time. I’m going to make a conscious effort to embrace the daily blessings in my life, rather than being afraid of them. Accept the good, and cherish it; times will be tough enough, without us being so tough on ourselves! I deserve the good things that come my way, and so do you.
Now it’s your turn: what are you afraid of? Better yet, what are you going to do to fight those fears?
As always, it’s a daily battle. But I’m right here with you!