Today is hard.
I went to bed with visions of a building burning. I woke up to news of a shooting. I checked Twitter halfway through my morning to news of another shooting. The weight I’ve already felt on my shoulders – a combination of exhaustion, pre-vacation-week stress, and PMS – got heavier.
Today is surreal.
I’ve felt disconnected all week, but today, that feeling is at its height. I wouldn’t say I’m struggling… far from it. I’m just existing – which, normally, would hardly be cause for analyzing, but after such a steady stream of excitement and elation, it’s hard to simply be.
But that’s exactly it, isn’t it? There is this warped perception that we need to be something all the time: be joyous at your blessings, be angered by our broken world, be excited for future plans, be focused at work, be something.
What happens when you feel like you’ve been everything lately, and you need a break? What are you supposed to be when you’re overwhelmed by the everyday activities of life and you need to take a breather and simply exist?
I’ve thought about this a lot lately, because it’s something I’ve always wrangled with. I tend to be on one end or the other of the emotional spectrum, and it’s difficult for me to find a middle ground and simply trod along through life for a while. Lately, I’ve been on the high end of that emotional spectrum; I’ve spent particular time focusing on being happy for the blessings in my life – my job, my friends, my family, my relationship, my cat. This has, admittedly, brought me an overwhelming sense of contentment and it’s definitely a way I want to continue living my life.
But sometimes, other factors make it difficult to solely focus on the good. Sometimes, there are things that demand our attention that aren’t necessarily happy things: funerals, work deadlines, finances, world events. And while I’m trying to avoid going entirely to the “dark side” (for lack of a better phrase), these things do weigh on me, and after a steady stream of sunshine and rainbows, even being temporarily downcast is a little bit harder to handle than I would have expected.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that I should simply be present.
I certainly have things to look forward to. To name a few: the boy and I are heading on vacation next week and I’ll get to see parts of the country I’ve never explored before, and I go see my best friend the week after that. But I learned earlier this month that it’s not necessarily good to jump over the tougher stuff just because life’s promising you happy moments. Sometimes, you need to process that hard thing before moving on, or else you’ll never be able to truly enjoy the goodness awaiting.
So that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m processing. I’m focusing on what’s happening, on how I feel about it, and what I can do about it.
The London fire (and everything that’s happened in the UK lately) makes my heart feel helpless. The shooting in Virginia churns my stomach at the thought of our political divisiveness and hostility. The shooting in San Francisco just feels too close to home.
Work is stressful because I have a lot to do before vacation. I’m tired from lack of sleep and I’m still dealing with the sadness of the past weekend.
I shouldn’t look at admitting these things like complaints. I should look at them like part of the process. That’s how I feel. Now that I’ve acknowledged it, I’ll process it, and then I’ll move on, with a smile on my face, and probably a coffee in hand, and enjoy the weeks ahead.
I have faith in the blessings in my life, and in what’s to come, and I can lean on that to make all these hard things easier. But that doesn’t mean that’s all I have to do.
Sometimes, it’s okay to just be present.
It’s okay to just be.