- Art by Simon Birch (check out more of it here)
- 9:25 A.M.
- Mood: preemptively mentally exhausted.
How do you live your life when anxiety plans things for you?
Simply put, you don’t. Not to the fullest extent, at least.
You’re always pulled in different directions, as anxiety says you should be everywhere at once. You’re never able to live in the present, as anxiety reminds you that you have this big event coming up at some point in the future, so you should already be worrying about that instead. Even worse, you have this ever-present guilt because anxiety makes you worry that where and how you spend your time is WRONG.
This is something that I’ve come to struggle with a LOT. Up until the past couple of years, I’d always been on everyone else’s time and did what everyone else was doing. You can probably tell just from that description that I had a pretty mundane, more extrospective (that is a real word, believe it or not) life. I had little to no control over what happened with or to me because that was always someone else’s call. That honestly became a comfort zone for me, as I literally held no responsibility. So, imagine the absolute fucking shock I got when I started driving, got a new job, and was razzle-dazzled into my very first relationship. I got whisked away to a state of Independence with a one-way ticket to “Make-Your-Own-Damn-Decisions” town REAL quick.
I wasn’t actually as pumped about suddenly gaining this independence as another young adult may think I would be. That’s not to say that I wasn’t happy that I’d found my relationship, could get around by myself, and could make my own money. However, since I had no one else to give me instructions on how to run my life, I was lost as hell. I felt like a deer caught in headlights, to a degree. With more responsibility, I had to start learning how to adequately balance out my time. Let me tell you right now, that shit’s no where near as easy as you’d think.
Since I’d gone from being at home all the time, to virtually never being home, I faced quite a bit of backlash. My family would take jabs at my predisposition to guilt by making me feel like I was using my newfound freedom to abandon them. Solely because of this, I started to actually feel like the most awful human in the universe. The intrusive thoughts of “What if I don’t care enough about them?” and “What if I truly am making it seem like I’m trading them for my boyfriend?” flooded my head, and I could never be anywhere without feeling like I was neglecting something or someone else.
I say that like I don’t still feel that way. It’s a miserable way to live, to be honest. Things that previously felt like privileges have started to feel like obligations. It feels like if I don’t meet the needs I believe that everyone else has for where I should be, I’ll get a lot of shit for it and look like a horrible person. I feel that this situation is ironic, too, because this is a time where I should be living for myself, yet my life still revolves around others like it did before. It’s become easy to be overwhelmed, anxious, sad, and hopeless in thinking that my life feels dictated by my guilt and what others may think of what I do or how I act.
But, I refuse to give my life away before I’ve even gotten the chance to own it.
So, I’ve decided to lay down some boundaries to help me feel better about how I spend my time. I want to share them with you, just in case you’re leveling with me right now in this misery (I’m so sorry if you are. It’s fucking debilitating, isn’t it?).
Here are five things that I vow to put into practice to take my life back from the guilt that swallowed it:
- Assign entitlement and importance to my time: My family and friends have gone beyond the universe and back to help me become who I am today, and I’m eternally grateful. But, as much as their life can’t stop for mine, mine can’t stop for their’s, either. I can always make time to help them as much as I can, and I want to because they deserve it. But, my time is much too important to throw it away by martyring absolutely all of it to meet everyone else’s needs. The right to my time is solely mine, and how I divide it is my choice. By placing more importance on my time, I show that my choosing to spend time with whoever truly means that I care to be with that person, not that I can be guilt-tripped into it. It helps others to value my time more, as well.
- Remember that others do not know my situation, and therefore cannot accurately suggest what I should do with my time: It’s totally normal and sometimes helpful to ask for advice when overwhelmed. Everything I’m going through in my life right now is brand new to me, so I take any opportunity I can to ask someone with more life experience how they’d handle certain situations. But, I have to take into account that they’ll give suggestions and advice based on their personal experiences and what they feel would be best for me, not necessarily what would actually be best for me. This is not to say that others can’t give great and considerate advice, and that I know more than everyone else. But, my life and the things that I deal with are uniquely my own, and no one else can handle them better than I can. I should be free to make my own triumphs, and create my own downfalls, as long as I learn from them.
- Become comfortable with being uncomfortable sometimes: Because this is a new stage of my life, I’m not going to be used to everything. So, naturally, I’ll run into some discomfort while learning how to adapt. This isn’t a bad thing, though, and I have to learn that I don’t have to try to avoid it. It’s just going to happen. As I go against the grain of others’ expectations and make decisions based on my own logic and what I want, it’s going to be horribly unsettling for a whiiilee. But with time, I’ll at least become better able to handle being unsettled, and I’ll be damn satisfied with myself because of it.
- Become more certain within myself: I have to give myself some credit sometimes. I can make some pretty responsible choices. Though I do still need more practice with making practical ones more often (as I guess most young people do), I don’t necessarily make the wrong choices now. My choices may seem inconvenient or irrational at times (they definitely can be), but this doesn’t equate to doing things the wrong way. Chin up, girl. Life is too short and unpredictable to be so doubtful in yourself all the time.
- Pace myself: I don’t have to have things all together right now. With how young I still am, I definitely won’t have everything together. But, instead of trying to run around, doing things exactly as others feel they should be done, I should try slowing the fuck down and doing things my way. I’ll take things one step at a time, and be able to relax in knowing that the things I need to accomplish will indeed get taken care of at a time that’s right for only me. And that’s all that matters. Haste makes waste, after all.
Most importantly, I have to remember that this is MY life. There’s no reason to feel guilty in knowing that I own it, and that I’m doing the very best I can right now to keep things balanced.
After all, that’s what everyone else is doing, right? Lol, jk, that’s what I’m doing now.