I must acknowledge the irony of how this post follows one that muses on how to harness your happy. But I have lost steam, burned the candle at both ends, and found myself in a stretch of days where my eyes could barely stay open. I am anxious about my upcoming scan, about the impending dark days of winter, and about how it is so easy to veer wildly off track.
But that anxiety, an old friend, has also been a main driving force behind this space. So here I am.
I wish I could isolate the conditions that usher in a slump, thus dragging me down towards a hibernation of despair. Perhaps by identifying the forecast I could attempt to escape it, or at least brace myself for it. I have written about inspiration and creativity, the myth of motivation, and how to evade your own excuses. But it would be misleading to claim that I live and breathe these ideals without fail.
Yes, I believe my own bullshit, completely, but not every day is a day where I can embody it all. The aspiration towards a cured life remains just that: a goal. And sometimes that place floats farther and farther out of reach – even when I can confidently say that I am in the happiest place I’ve ever seen in my 31 years (I am).
But that place still has peaks and valleys –
all of which are temporary and unavoidable.
The desire to write comes to me sporadically. Often, I will get a burst of words so furiously inspiring that my fingers can hardly keep up. Other times the drought feels unending. The same goes for the trigger finger on my camera shutters – sometimes it’s unendingly twitchy, other times I can’t be bothered.
And most days I feel totally at peace with my cancer status, confident that my next scan will be just fine. Other days I am engulfed in the fear that I may find out my days are unflinchingly numbered, that this disease will kill me, and that there’s nothing I can do about it. Also, there are many moments where I can’t help but think – fuck menopause.
A cloak of “meh” settles over me, my brain turns to mush, and my body bears the brunt of neglect. Where does this paralyzation come from? Too much drag-you-down food, not enough brisk walking, or lack of sleep, or too much travel… or is it the changing seasons?
It could also be influenced by the current state of politics in our divided nation, which increases my anxiety on a daily basis. I won’t delve into that mess here – merely acknowledging that the hate and ugliness that continues to be unearthed makes my heart hurt.
What also makes my heart (and my head) hurt is trying to figure out and fight these inevitable slumps – in feeling like there is something wrong with me because my “mojo” has become utterly elusive.
But beating myself up for not being productive, creative, happy, and successful, 100% of the time (all on my own terms, of course), is a counterproductive avenue to explore. So, I try to be kinder to myself, knowing that relief only comes through the acceptance that these low times are impossible to ward off.
There’s the innate pressure, as someone who has gone through many personal crises, to appear as if I have my shit together – physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. When any of those things seem “off” a red flag goes up. People worry. But red flags can also be hidden in the seemingly symptom-less everyday. The slumps that I may feel, but don’t outwardly show.
This is all starting to feel very doom and gloom, but my point is this:
Sometimes there is no joy, no desire to get shit done,
and no strength against sadness to be found.
And that is okay.
Not everything needs to be tied up in a neat bow of positivity,
especially not the things that absolutely suck.
Let’s acknowledge the suck, the fear, and the pain.
Because if I have learned anything about cycles in life, it’s that the high parts are only reached when we fully feel the lowest ones. But that doesn’t mean we have to suffer through them.
I seek solace in these low times, and my search has evolved over the years. Relief is not found through positive mantras, self-inflicted punishment/guilt, or manufactured motivation that leads to subpar productivity. These approaches end in results that feel forced, or that exacerbate the “low”-ness of it all.
Comfort, relief, and solace is found by doing whatever feels natural, and whatever my heart is gravitating towards:
Turning off my phone and my computer, detaching from the internet entirely.
Going outside, wandering throughout nature, soaking it all in.
Immersing myself in music and art that feeds my soul.
Consuming nourishing food that revitalizes my body.
Cutting out what doesn’t.
Silence, meditation, and deep thinking.
Self care, on all levels:
Doing whatever I need to do to heal what ails,
acknowledging that it may appear selfish to others. It’s not.
These are not always easy or joyful tactics. I am devastatingly human, after all. I have a heart that feels emotions to the fullest degree, for better or for worse, and I have a conscious that guilt sticks to viciously. I sit into worries with a stamina like no other. I have an addictive personality and a wildly untamable attention span.
Slumps are tough, and my instinct has always been to claw my way out of them, rather than to settle in and brace for the storm with stillness.
But this approach to seeking solace, centered on quiet and care-filled introspection, has served me well. The bad times seem to linger less when I combat them with love instead of pressure or anger, or by attempting to drown them in distractions.
So, that’s where I am. Seeking solace in the slumps that erupt and disrupt my life. Accepting it all. And nurturing the negative and difficult aspects of my personality so that they can morph into things that ultimately serve me positively.
The reigns of my happiness are still firmly in hand, but I don’t feel the need to flex that power ALL. THE. TIME. Happiness can be exhausting, after all.
And yes, I am still working to crush those 50 goals in 100 days.
More on that soon, I promise.