anxiety

This Is My Party, I’ll Cry If I Want To

I like to sit and sleep in weird positions making my limbs go numb and weak or even lead to painful sensations. When I sleep it’s mostly on my stomach with both hands underneath my full body’s weight because that’s when I feel safe. If I lay flat on my back my chest could get split opened in the middle and cold, stiff air would keep me awake forever.

I often clench my fists inside the pockets. It happens on tram stops when I’m on a ‘no smoking cigarettes for a few days’ break not knowing what to do with my hands.

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Zoning out is a special talent that requires years of practice and comes in different forms. I pick at my skin, not in a self harm enjoying the pain way, but as a obsessive compulsive urge that is sometimes easier, sometimes harder, sometimes impossible to repress. During the summer me and my skin both go crazy, we don’t like the sun. But avoiding it completely is not a solution, even though a dermatologist once told me I may be allergic to sunlight. I don’t think that is the case, but it made me laugh because my brother often states that I’m actually a pretty well adjusted vampire.

I zone out for different reasons. Like when I used to stop in the middle of whatever I was doing to closely observe my thumb’s finger print lines with the help of my laptop’s lightning. The OCD part of the brain is upset with the uneven texture of the skin, wishing it was completely smooth, no dents. I had to google the word ‘dent’ after I wrote it down because it looked suspicious even though it sounded right in my mind. The aesthetic part is impressed with body’s appealing (im)perfections.

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I don’t bite my nails because it damages the teeth but I don’t let them grow, either. When under bigger amounts of stress I grind my teeth while sleeping. It damages them, but it’s out of my control so I guess it’s alright. Waking up with the clenched jaw requires a special morning exercise routine. It happens every time when I dream of loosing all of my teeth in an accident or by a weird experiment, waking up scared, but relieved because getting a new set of teeth would be both psychological and financial drag. They say it’s one of the most common dreams, or nightmares if you like.

On one too many mornings I tend to convince myself coffee is a better choice than herbal tea and sometimes regret it later.

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I can’t keep the same gum in my mouth for more than 30 minutes because it makes me nervous. A high school chemistry teacher told us gum chewing destroys the jaw. She always had a really bad breath.

I choose passive aggression over direct conflict and that is one of my greatest flaws. In attempt to change that, my goal is to start as many fights as I can.

I often express my affection with physical aggression which can cause misconception.On the other hand, I tend to express my politeness with gentle physical contact or affection which can also lead to wrong conclusions.

Imposter syndrome is a stubborn part time roommate turned full time friend.

Almost every paragraph and sentence starting with the word ‘I’ is a telltale sign. Occasional self obsession is necessary, but killing the ego is a long term goal. That is my manifesto.

 

Ilustrations by Elliana Esquivell

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Satisfaction

Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!

It’s exciting to daydream about future plans, but it can get a bit too exciting when all of a sudden it seems like it may actually come true. I want to do that… one day! If I had a penny for every time I said it, I would be moderately wealthy by now. Daydreaming in general is my safe place, it can be completely devoted to details like someone’s shoes and socks combination, or it can lead to making up hilarious scenarios in my head. The leading roles sometimes belong to people I know like friends and family, sometimes it’s random strangers or even completely invented personalities.

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It’s all about the Fear

I do feel like there was a certain change in my mindset, though. I no longer follow the familiar routine:

I’m not ready yet, I’ll do that after I’m done with this thing, and then I have to finish that other thing, and then I’ll go for what I have always wanted.

Solving the step by step puzzle becomes exhausting and in the end I’ll lose the primary goal from my focus and that’s that, until the next time when I start it all over again. What lies beneath it all is the fear that derives from two sources – the natural fear of failure and more complex and contradictory – the fear of success. Overthinking is the mother of all failures, it is even bigger than actual failure because it stops you from trying in the first place and that is when you feel unhappy. Overthinking is the opposite of the best Instagram filters – it brings out only the flaws and worst case scenarios, creating scary endings in our minds before we have even reached the beginning. It takes a lot of time to learn how to wrestle with the ‘overthink’ demon and finally pin him to the ground. We all have this image of our ideal self in mind, it can be more or less realistic depending on our ability to be an objective observer,  but the more you stray away from that image, the bigger the frustration.

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Never Complain, Never Explain

The best way of living a calm, fulfilled life comes from not comparing your own status, abilities and achievements with others. Sounds simple, but we all know it’s not always THAT simple, right? I suppose it was easier to achieve in the pre-Internet era, but when it comes to emotions and ambition, people weren’t that different 20, 30 years ago after all. Just the other day I had an interesting discussion with a friend that made me think about the absurdity of the social media persona most of us have created. It doesn’t mean we are all ‘selling’ that filtered image with a goal to become a brand and attract audience, but even the intimate moments serve as a representation of something we are trying to emphasize. What we seek with it, to be more precise, what our online persona looks for is approval. Approval of our life choices, looks, boyfriends, girlfriends, jobs, careers and lifestyles. The next step, if possible, is causing admiration and, although we are reluctant to admit it, jealousy. Just for a day, or maybe only for a couple of magical moments that are captured and enhanced through the lenses of our super smart phones, we are the winners. Yes. Look at me, I love life and it loves me back.

Don’t Follow Leaders

I don’t know what I think about it now, it used to annoy me much more before, I guess I’ve learned to deal with it. Also, I follow the imaginary line that gives me a ‘warning’ when someone crosses is it. My closest friends never cross that line of overly exposing themselves while begging for approval and I am very grateful for that. It makes me feel at peace and destroys the anxiety from its roots.

During our conversations we got to the conclusion how real satisfaction is achieved. I call it a ‘modern-day ultimate satisfaction‘. The recipe? I get goosebumps only writing about it, yet it’s so banal. When something (or someone)  special happens to you, you don’t immediately share it with the rest of the world. Maybe later,  but here’s a crazy idea,  maybe never.  You jealously keep that information for yourself and cherish the intimacy, there are no Facebook check-ins, photo albums  Instagram posts, screenshots,  etc.  Whether it’s just a shiny detail that made your day or grand life achievement that’s going to make a bigger impact,  don’t spill the beans just yet.  There is something so appealing in a dose of mystery, compare it to a sexy outfit that can be revealing, but it’s not really showing too much. This feel good experience can’t be overshadowed by any amount of attention. When it comes to making plans, I heard smart people conclude that the more you talk about your goals and dreams,  it is less likely they will come true.  So, once again,  be careful.

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Hey, what’s up? How about no.

In the street, at Uni, work, supermarket…

Random acquaintance or a colleague, definitely not a friend: Hey, what’s up, how’s going? Tell me what’s new? How are things?

Those are the basics, choose additional follow-up by specific preferences: How’s your boyfriend, when are you getting married? * the person laughs hysterically because of their impeccable sense of spontaneous humour* What about your sister/brother? And your parents, what did you say they do for a living? (I never mentioned that.)

At that very moment I am grabbing a gun from a special emergency compartment in my bag, clutching the weapon with my sweaty, but determined hand and BAM!, the person hits the ground. I’ve just killed them. It all went smoothly because I have been rehearsing this in my mind for about 15 years. Scenarios may vary in details, sometimes it’s a hand grenade, or I simply set myself on fire to avoid the stupid conversation, the common goal is always the same: I want to get away, please gods save me from this annoying hell of words exchange.

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Of course, I understand those are just formal expressions, ice breakers, conversation starters (or enders in my case). We use them because we are stuck up, unimaginative, overly attentive and are used to forming superficial relations with each other. I’ve been through many awkward silences and weather discussions in order to keep a dead conversation going, but I am proud to say that I have never directed that kind of interest aggressively into my ‘opponent’s’ face. The only acceptable version is the informal greeting that goes like this:

Random person: Hello, how are you?

Me: Hey, oh greeeat! (dying inside but smiling)

         And you?

Random person: Pretty good.

And that is it, the end, fin, it will not be continued.

A while ago I never remembered to add the additional ‘and you?’ into my answer, I would simply answer about how I’m feeling, I didn’t know that is an unwritten rule until I heard my younger sister using it many years ago in a grocery store, so I added it into my conversational repertoire.

Many years later, I turned out to be a pretty good talker, I can turn awkward silences into witty, but yet not too funny jokes, just enough to keep a drained conversation breathing.The best thing in life is that close friends, family or lovers don’t use the What’s up, how’s life? type of questions that often, when they do, it has a funny or sarcastic undertone. On the other hand, the classic How are you? gets a new, honest dimension as soon as you start talking to someone you like and feel totally comfortable with.

I wish I were braver in cases like, for example, when a nosy neighbour parks her ass right next to mine in public transport and starts questioning me about every living member of my family. At the same time, she will expect a great amount of interest from my part towards her affairs and family, so as soon she realizes I am not going to ask her anything remotely connected to her exciting daily life events, she’ll start talking about it nonetheless.

Look, I really don’t care!

That simple 5 word sentence could get me out of any conversation and label me forever as a quirky lunatic at best, or  a hearthless bitch in a worse case scenario, but oh what a small price that would be in exchange for a lifetime of peace and cozyness.