Not fine

I’ve been feeling great lately. I was smiling on the way home from work almost every day, grateful for my life in Nashville, and blown away at getting to keep building community in a city I previously only knew in the context of being a student. Objectively, life is going well. But I haven’t really pressed pause and sat in silence to just be almost at all since I’ve moved back and started working. There were hard moments here and there, but I found distractions to get past them and kept convincing myself everything was fine because, on paper, it is.

Then I found myself crying at Ed Sheeran songs on my drive home from a really fun night with friends. There’s nothing wrong with that by itself- I am a fan of crying and the release it brings, even when I don’t know why the tears came. And I didn’t have a reason for crying that night. One moment I was enjoying the drive and the music (and the fact that I saw a FREAKING SHOOTING STAR a couple hours before), and the next I was struggling to keep my eyes clear so I could finish the drive home. And, as big a fan as I am of Ed Sheeran, and as much as his songs make me feel, it didn’t quite make sense for the tears to come while listening to it that night. So, because at the time I didn’t really see a reason for the tears I just embraced them and thought cool, an unexpected cry. I continued on this ignorance-is-bliss track for the rest of the weekend.

The real moment of realizing maybe I’m not fine came this morning when I was almost smooshed by a semi on the way to work, and I realized there may be some blind spots I haven’t been checking lately (see what I did there? with driving? blind spots? semi that didn’t check his?). I had some extra time on the commute with more traffic than usual, extra time to sit and think with nothing to distract myself with because I was stuck in the car. My pastor said yesterday that it’s usually when we finally let ourselves be bored that we realized where our hearts are and what’s been disappointing us lately. I haven’t really let myself be bored lately. I’ve kept busy with work, errands, social activities, and plenty of Netflix. All of these things are good in moderation. But what I hadn’t realized until today is that I’ve been using those fun and good things as devices to avoid inner reflection and to make myself feel numb these past few weeks.

There have been so many feel-good moments and so many growth spurts in different areas that I just kept repeating in my head ‘everything is good, everything is good,’ until I was convinced that there couldn’t be anything wrong when so many things were going well. Well, that’s just false. I can definitely be fine about some things but not others. I can be simultaneously great and really sad. At the same time overwhelmed with the love of community and also broken by loneliness. Life can be really awesome on paper but not feel so great from the insider perspective. And sometimes there’s really no explanation for not feeling great, which kind of sucks. For many of us our first instinct when someone around us is down is to ask what’s wrong, and based on the answer to that we determine what to say or do to help. And for ourselves, when we know what’s wrong it’s a lot easier to figure out what we need to change or ask for help on than when we have no idea what triggered our sadness or frustration.

I haven’t quite gotten to the root of my not-fine-ness of the past little while, but I’m fine with not being totally fine. This weekend and this morning were a wake-up call for me to be, well, awake in my own life. Making myself numb is so much easier than giving my mind and heart space to cry out that something’s not totally right. Being numb for me lately has looked like countless hours of Netflix, either in the background or while I fall asleep or while I eat breakfast, etc. It’s also looked like eating food that isn’t good for me and that is a lot more volume than I need. It’s looked like scrolling through social media for no reason and letting a ton of time pass by without intentionally doing anything or working toward anything. As much as I want to read, and I may try a little bit a few times a week, I couldn’t get into a book. As much as I wanted to do devotionals, and even signed up for multiple of them that would be sent right to my email to motivate me to read them, I just opened and closed them to get rid of the email notifications and felt no loss at not spending that time in reflection or trying to learn more about God. And that’s the thing- when I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, what’s going to motivate me to get out of this lazy and numb funk? I don’t really know.

I want to say I’m going to start waking up early and reading and running and journaling and getting ahead on work and being a better friend but those declarations won’t fix it. I want to just decide I’m going to eat healthy and stop watching so much TV and have that be the end of it. But it doesn’t always go that way. Sometimes the longer I go without reaching those goals and making those improvements, the more numb I am to it. I start to care less about being healthy and productive and become more satisfied with my current state of blah. And, to be fair, as a friend pointed out to me today, sometimes you do just need those adjustment periods in life. Enough is changing right now, with getting used to my schedule, being responsible for bills and feeding myself, etc. that maybe I can let other areas of life slip for a minute. But it’s really hard to accept that. I want to be able to do everything well at once. Then I can prove that I’m well-adjusted, responsible, resilient, patient, strong, and independent. And I think that’s one of the things I’m disappointed about right now- I’m disappointed that I can’t juggle everything perfectly and without flinching or growing tired. I don’t want to have even one grumpy Monday slip in to an otherwise happy month.

But one grumpy Monday doesn’t mean I’m failing at life or slipping into a pit. Even a grumpy week or month wouldn’t change the fact that I’m here for a reason, working toward something even when I feel like no progress is being made. Tomorrow’s a new day when I might feel better or I might not. All I’m hoping for is to keep this awareness that everything might not be fine. Because that means I’m awake and not totally numb anymore. Hopefully one day at a time I can peel back those layers of seeking comfort and distraction instead of growth and challenge. I know I can gradually form better habits and increase my patience because I know I’m made for greater things than watching TV and eating sugar and mindlessly scrolling through social media on my phone. There’s a place for all of those things but I don’t want them to be in the place of me being awake in my own life. So here’s hoping that I can have more bored moments this week so I can hear what’s going on within instead of trying to convince myself everything’s okay.

 

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