Let me just start off by saying I am afraid of everything.
I went camping for the first time in the summer and I was terrified.
I went to Sooke on a family vacation and the anxiety was unreal.
I went to Mexico this month and needed my doctor to prescribe me Ativan because all I could envision leading up to the trip was disaster in the form of plane crashes, airport delays and COVID.
At many points leading up to the trip, I considered not going to Mexico at all because it was easier to cancel the trip than worry about the unknown. I actually managed to convince myself that I was a bad mom for taking my daughter to Mexico because there were so many things that could potentially go wrong.
Sounds like a lot of fun—I know.
Right before the trip, not only was I stressing about whether or not I should go but also about my job situation. You see, I’m a therapist but I also do a lot of other things. I have many jobs and all summer long I have been fantasizing about quitting some of these other jobs and just having my therapy practice and a part time gig somewhere.
The week before my trip to Mexico I had three job interviews and another one scheduled for the week I returned. I got on the plane as a hot mess of sleep deprivation and anxiety ,with my fingers permanently wrapped around my phone waiting to hear news that I felt I desperately needed.
I got to Mexico just as the Ativan was wearing off and was surprised to find that I was actually relaxed. It was warm, the hotel was stunning and I had a full week of no work. I spent my days in the pool with my daughter, often contemplating how odd it felt to be relaxed on a weekday.
I realized I loved this feeling, and while I couldn’t spend my days in the pool when I got home, I wanted to capture this feeling somehow and take it home with me.
A few days into the vacation I got the call I had been waiting for but not the news I was expecting.
I didn’t get the job I really wanted.
When I told my mom how upset I was that they had not picked me for the job she responded with, “You already have one hard job, why do you need another?”
I had no answer. Why did I want another hard job?
In my mind, if I wasn’t climbing the ladder to success, then I was failing. I thought that I always needed to be moving in order to feel successful. At the time, my other job felt stagnant and so naturally I felt like I must be a failure.
But I’m not. I wasn’t. I never have been.
After talking to my mom, I spent the day thinking. I was surprised to find that underneath the disappointment, confusion and anger there was some relief that I hadn’t gotten the job. I had pushed myself so hard to do all these interviews, to apply for so many jobs and to show up in so many new spaces and it was great but also draining.
I was trying to be successful but I wasn’t actually happy.
What made me happy was pausing.
While on vacation I barely moved at all. I sat in the pool and even had an opportunity to swim in the Caribbean Sea. I stared at the ocean for hours everyday and it was amazing.
Sure I answered some work emails but you know what ? I was happy. I wasn’t climbing any ladder. I wasn’t stressing about starting a new job. I was just me in the moment and for once in my life, I wasn’t stressing about the future because I was actually living in the present.
Maybe my anxiety wasn’t about my job feeling stagnant. Maybe I was just burnt out and needed a break. Maybe what I needed wasn’t a new job but a vacation and a chance to reflect on the root of my anxieties in the first place.
So here’s my epiphany for you all: be successful at being happy, the rest is just noise.
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living if you’re unhappy. You’re not really living then, are you?
So be happy, do you—whatever that might look like
Me? I’ll be sitting right here. Building my practice, doing my mom thing and planning my next vacation by the sea.
Anxious mom, out.
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