I sit on my couch today feeling particularly calm. A feeling that I rarely experience, as sad as that may sound. The past month has been a lot of things, but mostly it has been one word - busy. I hesitate to say busy at both work and home because let’s be real, work life has become most of life the past few weeks. Busy, I suppose, in a fun way, at least most of the time. Of course with a forever underlying tone of stress (of course) but still, overall, enjoyable. But beyond work, I feel like my mind, my emotions, my heart, have been busy. Scattered, with its ups and downs, its convictions and doubts, its highs and lows. And with the whirlwind of feelings, I feel that unpleasant sense of worry creep in.
I have been worrying a lot. Worrying about my performance at work. Worrying about my body image. Worrying about my friendships. Worrying about money. Even the small stuff, like worrying about how to keep the damn condo clean. Sweating out the small things, the large things, and all the things in between. Constant concern - it eats at me and I do my best to hide it, but slowly it builds. The old version of me would probably, eventually succumb to the stress and it would lead to tears, or maybe a misguided fight with Andrew, or a binge on sweets followed by overwhelming regret. But instead, today - calm. Why is it different today?
I’m not sure if it’s a consequence of age or merely that my mind is tired of fighting those awful cyclical battles, but I think I key change is that recently I have learned to become vocal. I vocalize when I am feeling stressed. I try to actively identify what triggers my apprehensive thoughts. It manifests as a text to Andrew, or to a friend, or a phone call to the parents. Sometimes, it is just a matter of saying it out loud, even when you’re in a room all by yourself. But I think that verbalizing where I mentally freeze-frames the moment - I feel that I have taken a snapshot of my feelings, and I am able to analyze it as an outsider, even if only for a split second. I become aware that I’m digging myself deeper into somewhere I don’t want to be. So I stop. And in that moment, I prevent myself from snowballing. Because if I don’t, the thoughts become more irrational. It changes from understandable concerns into inconsolable worries. And that is a bigger hole to climb out of.
I am by no means a mental health expert. I am just a twenty seven year old resident trying to figure out how to live life fully. But I think today, this is worth writing out, to anyone who might feel like they teeter on the edge of mental health every now and then. Be vocal, if not to others, at least to yourself. Your mind is powerful. I am not saying we need to become analytical robots, controlling all of our feelings at all moments. Not at all - I want to feel passion, the good and the bad. The ride of ups and downs is a beautiful one. But I want to be aware at the same time. And as a result, I feel balanced.
So thank you - for reading, for supporting me, for letting me figure out my voice in this crazy world. If you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them 🖤
Photos are from a quick breakfast date earlier this month, at a beautiful space called Spinning J in Humboldt Park. I love Chicago’s diversity and all the fun gems hidden around the city - no one neighborhood is the same and spending a morning to explore is always one of my favorite things to do here. Spinning J spoke to me in all the perfect cozy ways - from the gorgeous dessert case filled with its tea cakes and pies, to the pastel patterned wallpaper and green vinyl booths. And the food - holy crap the food. We shared a slice of matcha almond tea cake with the crackliest sugar glaze on top. I had a breakfast sandwich with egg that yielded the most perfect cheese pull. Andrew had a ginormous strata, griddled on one side to order, that tasted like fall in the savoriest way possible. Its coziness was the perfect match to the cold rain outside, and I will definitely be back for more goodness.
Happy Sunday, friends. Stay warm.