I read a quote from Adam Grant the other day re-posted by Kristen Bell on Instagram:
“A common mistake of youth:
Defining impact as the size of audience we reach, instead of the difference we make to each person we reach.
Meaning comes more from mattering to a few than from being known by many.”
This to me has been my biggest struggle in maintaining a social media/online presence. I spent the first little while making huge goals about how many followers I wanted to have, hoping to get enough to maybe even make a living doing this, being an influencer, being asked to write books about what I’d already blogged about, making connections with authors and so forth. (And I’ll be honest, I’d still love that!) But I’ve struggled so much with bouts of depression and anxiety that my consistency leaves a lot to be desired. So rather than continue to write/blog/Instagram for the love of it I convinced myself that I’d never accomplish my goals or make a difference so why bother. And that train of thought kept me going for quite some time. Even though I’ve missed the writing outlet and the little connections I had made through Instagram and Facebook I talked myself out of participating because I wasn’t doing it in a big enough way.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of setting and working towards goals. Those goals I mentioned are still in the back of my mind and something I’d still like to work toward. But in light of recognizing my own limitations and circumstances (vs holding myself up to someone else’s expectations) I’m slowly learning how to set goals that are flexible and more personal. And recognizing when my mind and body are cooperating and when they need a break. My timelines have shifted. I’m much more forgiving. The goal is more often “try” than “triumph”, participation rather than perfection. There is joy to be found in the experience, not just in success and that’s a lesson I’m constantly re-learning. And if the only person I make a difference for is myself, well then, so be it. I’m slowly learning that I’m worth it!
The past year and a half has been an interesting ride. And aside from the past few months there are few things I can point a finger at and name as causes or effects of the minor breakdown I’ve been working through. I’m coming to think it’s just life and that leaves me both comforted and frustrated at the same time.
I’ve battled anxiety and depression on varying levels off and on for years. Sometimes I can pinpoint triggers for the panic attacks or bouts of depression and sometimes they come on unawares. I’ve also struggled with some health issues (some diagnosed but most not) for the bulk of those same years. And it seems as I reach that lovely age of middleness that my coping mechanisms and strategies are losing their efficacy, the triggers are more sensitive and it takes a lot more effort to bounce back. And that compounds the problem (not being able to do what I used to or what I want or think I should contributes to the feeling of failing, that I’ll never measure up and what’s the point anyway…vicious circle!)
I constantly set goals that I don’t reach and strive to push myself harder than I can handle because I’m working with an old mindset (my mindset but now outdated.) The trick is in learning to accept and acknowledge where I am NOW and how I can work within those parameters to set new goals that still equal progress (even if the progress is much slower than I want it to be.) It’s a constant battle that I have to fight every single day…which ironically, often leaves little energy for actually working on said goals. But I’ve noticed that when I can slow down and breathe and focus on the now (over the future or even the goal) I stay on track better and longer leaving more energy for the goals. But like I said, it’s not a habit yet, it’s still an every day struggle.
Some things that help (when I can get out of my head enough to just do them…)
Yoga–I am old and have been inflexible since birth, but I feel great when it’s all over! I absolutely adore Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.
Meditation—So hard, but so helpful even if it’s just for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll zone out while staring at a flame and sometimes I actively try to empty my mind while repeating a mantra. Either way works.
Deep breathing –I might be the shallowest breather known to man. This is a surprisingly constant struggle. I have many, many alarms on my phone set to remind me to do this throughout the day.
Uplifting reading–Things like scriptures, poetry, even some self-help books—reading for fun or learning is a different category!
Water–Drink it and observe/listen to it!
Music–whatever kind feeds your soul. If you’re not sure, listen to a bit of everything and figure it out!
Nature–Sometimes it’s watching through my kitchen window the puppy across the way romp across the grass, sometimes it’s a legit hike or mountain excursion or just a few minutes with my feet in the grass.
Gratitude–The days I take time to sit and reflect and list 3 things I’m grateful for go immensely better than the days I don’t.
Forgiveness–This is a lot harder and less concrete than gratitude, but just as vital-forgive yourself, forgive others, forgive yourself again.
Creating–Wow, this one was eye-opening and huge! I’ve GOT to find a way to be creative every single day. It’s like its own form of medication/meditation. And one of the reasons why I’m writing this right now.
These are just a few. If there’s anyone out there actually reading this, I’d love to hear what helps you stay focused, be successful (whatever that might look like for you), and make progress. What am I missing? What should I try?
I’ve started this post at least a dozen times. And re-written this version at least a dozen more. Basically it’s been a long, rough road to get back to where I am. And in light of everything that’s happening in the world my own issues seem trivial and unimportant. But the fact is, even though they’re not global or newsworthy they’re still trials I have to go through and battle each and every day and there are millions of us going through similar struggles against the backdrop of something bigger than us all. This is not to diminish the things happening around us (that is not at all my intention so please don’t misunderstand) this is simply to acknowledge that I see you and I understand. I know that your anxiety or depression or struggles with your health or weight, your battle with your beliefs, your search for God or goodness or healing or hope, your family issues, your job and money concerns didn’t stop or go away because we suddenly found ourselves dealing with a pandemic or racial injustice or climate change and natural disasters. In fact, if you’re like me, they’ve gotten worse while simultaneously being pushed to the side so we could focus on everything screaming into our faces day in and day out. And rightly so. Our world is in great need of change and healing and we, the people, have proven to ourselves time and again that we don’t value the minority. And when the minority goes ignored for years on end it has no choice but to start screaming. So please get out there and march and vote and let your voice be heard. Let’s make some changes and shake up the establishment. But when you’re done, come back and continue reading.
Welcome back, where were we? Oh yes, you! How are you? No, how are you really? Take a deep breath and answer honestly. Those issues that got pushed aside? Let’s pull them out and shine the spotlight on them for just a moment. It hurts, doesn’t it? It hurts that they are still there. We are powerful enough to enact change in our communities and our world and yet those thorns in our side continues to nag at us and make our daily life a misery. It’s so often easier to ignore them, work around them, push past them in order to do what needs to be done. But I’m slowly learning, that just like those issues that build and finally erupt on a global scale, our own issues behave in much the same way. We can only ignore them for so long before we find that they are screaming in our faces, impossible to ignore. The easiest example to see is a health issue that we power through because we don’t have time to deal with it. Eventually our body takes charge and we often find ourselves flat in bed (or worse) literally unable to go any further until we acknowledge the weakness, nurture it, allow it to heal and then hopefully move on stronger and wiser. The key in this process is the acknowledgement of it…whether we do this on our own or are forced to by the condition itself, nothing changes until the acknowledgement occurs.
So, even though there are history-making things at play all around us we need to take the time to acknowledge what is ours right here, right now. It’s okay to be struggling. It’s okay to have other things to deal with than pandemics and conversations about race. It’s okay to not be able to fully participate in those conversations and debates because we have to have the strength left to deal with what is our particular lot in life. Own it and know that sometimes it will own you. And that’s okay. That’s part of being human. Even if we like to think that everyone else has it better or easier than us, we’ve all got sh** to deal with and that’s the truth.
So, the next few posts will be an acknowledgement of my sh**. No answers or cures, just my paltry experiences and insights in an effort to get myself back to “normal” (whatever the heck that even means these days.) The book reviews will return. I’ll enlighten you as to some of the things I’ve been up to the past year and a half (good grief!) And I’ll get into a routine again because I’ve desperately missed this. But for now, we’re going to explore some vulnerabilities and see what we can do to just get moving again. Join me, won’t you?