Being OK with Not Being OK

While the warmth of the sun on my face as I enjoy an afternoon walk in the park to take in the glorious colors of the turning leaves, makes autumn bearable (just barely), the shortening days, longer nights and chilly mornings that point to the long winter to come definitely dampens my spirit. Seasons change whether we want them to or not. Just as the sun rises and sets and the moon waxes and wanes, so do the highs and lows of living. The cycles in life are consistent.

A few weeks ago, I participated in an interview with Diana Patton in her Rise Advocates Your Voice Matters series where we discussed anxiety. I shared how anxiety has been a struggle in my life and ways I’ve coped with it. I have come along way to overcome and be OK with anxiety. But there are still days and weeks where I wake up with a feeling of dread waving over my body. My chest feels tight and I just want to pull the covers over my head. My inner voice, mocks me and tries to make me feel fraudulent. Who am I to share my story with others? How can I inspire anyone, when I still fall back into my old ways so easily? These words quieted my voice last weekend, and I didn’t write a blog post. It’s not like anyone would miss my post, but they did.

And so, I admit, lately, I haven’t felt as much like myself as I would like to. I’ve allowed my mind to wander unchecked and visit “worse-case” scenarios and wallow in them. I know what will make me feel better – getting out of bed instead of snoozing, meditating, exercise, eating healthy foods, journaling… I resolve to do these things. Yet instead of doing them, when my alarms rings, I instinctively push snooze and pull the covers up around my neck and lie in the darkness. Unable to actually fall back to sleep, I grab my phone and start doom scrolling. The alarm beeps nine minutes later and I press it again and tell myself “tomorrow is another day” as I continue the scroll. I check my email and delete the 23 emails asking me to contribute political campaigns and causes. I switch to see what’s happening in my social media feeds and scroll past the latest COVID-19 numbers. I click on the comments even though I know I shouldn’t. The same guys as always calls it fake news, while others claim the numbers are coming from nursing homes and people are dying from other causes (but happen to have COVID-19 as well).

I’ll hear my daughter getting ready for school and check the time. Some where in between the “snoozes” I turned the alarm off completely. I check the time. I need to start work in 15 minutes. I need to get out of bed, but instead I take my turn in Words with Friends and play the Puzzle of the Day in WordScapes. I glance once more at the time and finally force myself to get out of bed, brush my teeth, pull my hair back in a pony tail, and shrug a sweatshirt on over my pajamas. I log into my computer (that I recently moved to the living room) and my work day begins. The motivation to not get fired is high. I’ve been working from home since March. At first I didn’t mind being a remote worker. I am an introvert. Working at home meant fewer interruptions and more quiet time to think and focus. My productivity increased. I chat with co-workers and we have Zoom meetings throughout the day. But I ‘ve found as the weeks have turned into months (and now potentially years) that I miss the connections. I miss the walks to the gas station to get coffee and hear about the funny story that happened dropping a child off at daycare. I miss passing someone in the hall and smiling as they turn back around to get the print out the forgot on the way back from the bathroom. I miss taking a break and walking over to a co-worker’s cubicle to see how they are doing. I miss the chatter over the cubicle walls. I miss office life. I am struggling to figure out how to make those connections again.

I am tired. I know it is OK to not be OK. Admitting to myself that I am not OK is hard. What does it even mean to be OK? I want to give myself permission to not be OK. I’m not sure how to do that. I feel as if I don’t have the luxury of not being OK. I want the election to be over. I want COVID-19 to disappear. I want equity and social justice for all. I want people’s hearts to be filled with love and empathy. I want to be an agent of change. It all seems overwhelming and I feel frozen. I am aware of what I can control and what I can’t. However, some days focusing on what I can control seems to take too much effort and shutting off the noise of what I can’t control feels impossible.

What I do know is that I am doing the best I can in the moment I’m in. I can give myself to permission to love myself for that. In doing that I know I am OK. Maybe I won’t jump out of bed early tomorrow to meditate and journal and maybe I won’t the next day or the next either. That’s OK. I know the next few weeks and months may be bleak, but I will get through them. My focus is on finding my motivation, making connections and keeping hope alive.

What do you do to help you stay hopeful and motivated? I’m looking for new strategies. Please share!