Tag Archives: relaxing

Anxiety is just the boy who never called you back.


Tonight, I feel like I can breathe again.

Years, it’s taken. Years have gone by with my blood racing through my veins, heart pumping fast, stomach muscles clenching.

Anxiety will do that to you. It suffocates all the good in the days – the warm slice of pizza, the smell of hot pavement in the rain, the cool breeze hitting your toes on a hot May afternoon – until all you can feel are the deadlines, the extra calories, the next item on your to-do list, the email you forgot to send.

It wrecks you. It strangles you. It demolishes the joy, and you resent things. People. Stories. Phone calls. Anything that keeps you from tackling your next task, pushing that anxiety down for a split second. Relaxing in the warm sun on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t happen. There is no time to relax. There is no time to feel the cool breeze on your toes.

There are only the minutes ticking away, the ones you’re wasting sitting here, and the ones you could have spent building a better life.

That’s what it comes down to, then. A better life could have been built if only you never settled for a second long enough to eat your dinner at the kitchen table, and lay beneath the covers a beat longer, and let the hot water soothe your neck in the shower. You could have saved more money, gotten a raise, purchased a house. In all the time it took you to read a chapter of your book, every week for months, you could have done so much more. Are you ashamed?

That’s what it feels like. That’s how I felt. For years.

Today, I stepped out of my shower, toweled off, and thought about my calm heart. I rubbed my toes into the bath rug, feeling the soft fabric on my feet, and breathed deeply. Because it’s taken me a month to wring all that negativity out of me, but it’s gone.

I hope you know that we cannot be everything to everyone at all times. We are human, fallible creatures, emotional beings with needs to love and care for others. There may never be time again in my day to tense up at all the bad things, the mistakes, the could-haves, the would-haves, the should-haves. There will be tomorrow, and you should get excited for it, because tomorrow is ripe with energy + possibility. Tomorrow is the day you start letting go. Tomorrow is the beginning of an unchained rhythm in your tightly woven mind. It is the unraveling of irrational thoughts. It is the start of something good, something that makes you want to rub your toes into the carpet just because it feels good.

Tomorrow, you will relearn all the simple pleasures your day surrounds you with, because they are waiting for you, and anxiety won’t ever care about you like that.

Anxiety is just the boy who never called you back. Until, of course, he needed you at three in the morning. It’s just that nobody tells you this: you don’t have to answer your phone. Let it ring.

I sometimes wish my body operated like an iPod.

Last semester, my creative writing professor asked us to go around the room and tell one thing we were good at.

The boy next to me said he made killer sausage and pepper sandwiches. We probably should have gotten married right then.

But seriously.

One girl said she was an expert relaxer.

And while the fifteen of us laughed and smiled and thought, “Isn’t that nice?” at the time, I know now that its something I am not.

I do not know how to take fifteen minutes or even fifteen seconds to breathe in and out. To make sure my body’s caught up with my racing mind.

The girl probably doesn’t know how invaluable that is, to be able to let go of all the worry and stress and move-move-move habits and just pause.

I sometimes wish my body operated like an iPod. I could pause at the calm moments and skip past the sticky situations. Repeat the ones I want to return to. And if I wanted to be a little spontaneous, maybe run around in the middle of a thunderstorm, I could set the preset controls to shuffle the songs.

My iPod won’t turn on anymore. Maybe that’s a sign from God that I’m driving myself into a ditch. That I forgot to recharge the battery and shouldn’t have let it sit in the glove compartment for half of the last semester collecting dust and scratches. Oops.

There was a time when relaxing was almost second nature to me. I knew how to compartmentalize my life into sections: working, running, school, collecting rays of sun by the pool. It was relaxing but structured.

Now, I’ve hit this snag where I want to do so much that I want to do and what I really need is to focus on one thing for more than 3.2 seconds.

I’ve been smacked in the face with at least three reasons why I should restructure my life and start tackling what I want. So I’m going to dive headfirst here and make up a list of things I want to cross off before graduation in 11 months. Before the Real World sticks its big hands out of its pockets and grabs hold of me and tries to smother me with the realities that come with college graduation: more bills to pay, loans to pay back, jobs to find, meals to cook, laundry to do.

(Don’t worry. I do know about paying bills and cooking and doing laundry. But there will be more of it, I am sure.)

I’m adding a tab for this list of mine and calling it 11 Months, 11 Items.

We trust a blindfolded 5-year-old with a Louisville slugger not to knock someone out; so why don't we trust a 21-year-old walking barefoot outside?

My roommates yell at me if I go outside without shoes on. There’s always a reason. Someone had a house party last night and smashed beer bottles now litter the front lawn. There’s rocks and twigs and ice and — yeah, I know.

my cousin running along the shore, into the waves

The world is full of patches of black ice. We can’t see them, but then we’re spinning and we wonder how we could’ve been so oblivious in the first place. Because we cannot know what’s in front of us. Only that right now, we’re passionate about this one thing.

It’s not that I want to step on a shard of glass. Nobody does. But I want to be trusted. I want to walk barefoot.

Simple enough, right?

We trust five-year-olds to spin around blindfolded and not knock into the piñata or smack someone in the head with the Louisville slugger. So why can’t we trust a 21-year-old to walk into the street without shoes on?

A large part of me worries I won’t fit into the world. Because I would rather spend my Easter Sunday in a room with no air conditioning for 13 hours, coming home at 10 p.m. with dirty black feet and tired eyes. Because I would rather skip winter altogether and sit in an Adirondack chair, reading a novel with the ocean foam kissing my toes.

“Some days I want to live alone on the beach with a pad of paper and a pen,” I wrote three years ago. “I’d find the perfect spot, right where high tide hits. Not too far from the water so I could still hear it. And I’d write forever. There’s a lifetime of things to talk about.”

I went on.

“But then I have days like today when I just want 3 kids, maybe 4, and that chaotic life where I’m driving all over creation. Something where I wouldn’t have any time to think about what’s going on in my life, just that it’s happening,” I wrote. “I think that’s what would keep me happy.”

I won’t fit in. I’ll run in circles, undecided between wanting it all and none of it. I lose my roommates’ trust and I’ll accidentally step into the street without looking both ways. I can’t help but wondering if my transparency has worked in my favor.

No one should make you question yourself. No one should make you worry that you don’t have it figured it. Because nobody else does.

We’re all stepping into oncoming traffic, just in different ways. The black ice sneaks up on even the most cautious driver. There are an infinite number of moving pieces in the puzzle of the world, and we think we know the outline and where the one piece goes, so we try to shove it in. But it’s wrong. All wrong.

And so I’ll walk through the cool grass in the summer heat without shoes on. I’ll let the pavement blacken and callous the soles of my feet. Let the sun kiss the back of my neck. And time will wind down. Nothing bad will happen.

Trust yourself. Trust to know what you love and what you want and trust that nobody in this world ever really knows who they are or where they’re headed. All they really know, right now, is that they want to be where they are. That’s all we can know, isn’t it?