Springtime Anxiety

March 17, 2024

Spring is in the air, and I couldn’t feel less peppy if I tried. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring. Who doesn’t? The flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, tax season arrives, and everyone is sneezing their faces off. What’s not to love?

My lack of pep has nothing to do with the seasons. I’m just simply tired. The world is awakening; bears are coming out of their caves. And I just want to go back to sleep. I can’t be alone when I say that the last five years have been exhausting. From 2019 to 2024, life has felt like one long triathlon, and most of us got stuck in the water, drowning, pretending to be okay, while the lucky few sped ahead. Then we were shamed for falling behind. 

Don’t even get me started on the world around me. War in Gaza. War in Ukraine. Did I mention Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Columbia, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia? Watching people die in between TikTok ads is surreal. My nervous system wasn’t built for this. Day after day I wake up and try to decide if I’m sick, dying, or having another panic attack. 

In 2019, my family and I packed our bags with eyes full of hope and possibility and headed East. Two-thousand miles (give or take a few hundred) and a car full of cranky children later, we ended up in North Carolina. Fast forward six months and lockdown caused my husband to lose his job and me to begin teaching from home with a six-year-old and one-year-old attached at the hip. 

Nothing seemed to get better from there. Teaching drained me. As someone who gets easily overstimulated, every day felt like a hundred years, and I couldn’t take it. I tried tutoring from home for a while and writing on the side, but I never made any money. Debt kept piling up to where we could never keep up. So, I got a different job, one in tech. Just in time for layoffs by the truckload to begin, and stability to once again be yanked out from under me. I decided I didn’t want to be a “starving artist” and, instead, put all my focus on learning data, feeling emptier and emptier every day I stayed away from my creativity.

Now it is 2024. I am thirty-one years old. And I am stuck. I can’t live this way forever; it’s exhausting. And as much as I’d like to, I can’t change the world. But I can change myself.

Currently, I am reading through a book called The Artist’s Way. It is forcing me to look at all the hidden wounds I didn’t realize I had, especially when it comes to my creativity. There are prompts to make you think about your childhood and to help you intentionally bring back the pieces of yourself you lost somewhere on the way in all your trips around the sun. It hurts. And it helps. 

Inspired by this, the other day I got out my favorite pen and a notebook and asked my anxiety, “Why are you here? Tell me what is wrong. Point out every single issue and fear. Even if it hurts my feelings.” And then I just wrote everything down that came to my head. Things like, “I’m making bad decisions that are going to hurt the people I love,” and “I’m not good enough. I am not worthy of love or money, and, therefore, I am not worthy of life.” Every time I lulled, I would ask Anxiety, “What else?” And each time, I found there were words pouring out of me I didn’t know were there. 

Once my anxiety felt empty of hidden fears, on another page I responded. I wrote a love letter to my anxiety, and thanked it for always having my back. For keeping me alive. After all, that is her function. Then I told Anxiety things like, “I see how hard you try to be loved. How brave you are! Even when you are scared and defeated, you keep going. I see how you keep looking for new careers so you can be happy and let your family flourish. I see you.”

When I say I cried for the next hour, I mean I sobbed! It was ugly and hurt but also felt so good. Your feelings exist for a reason. The positive ones, the negative ones, they all exist to take care of you. If you beat yourself up for their existence, you’ll just add shame to pot. 

Life is hard right now. So many of us are struggling. But I see you trying to be loved. I see your attempts to find safety. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll emerge from this season as a stronger collective, one more kind to ourselves and willing to let our weak parts know that we love them. Maybe we will feel safe in our inability to be happy all the time

 

Brenda Wilson, a former teacher and mother of two, has enriched the literary world with several short stories, engaging blog posts, and unpublished novels. Her passion for writing and reading reflects her deep love for creativity and storytelling. Aspiring to be an editor, Brenda continues to explore the depths of her imagination and help others in their creative journeys.

 

 

Featured image by Lil Artsy.

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