Being An Adult Is Hard

I’m sure you can all agree with my above statement and if not… then please tell me your secrets so I can be living the good life too! I would love to live one of those picture perfect lives where everything you do and stuff is instagram worthy and make sit look like its all so effortless but, apparently, I’m not graced with that (though from what I’ve read not a lot of people are even of those who make it seem like they are).

So I not only just got diagnosed with Lyme disease recently (something my doctor is pretty sure I’ve actually been struggling with for a while without knowing it – something that is very common) but I have also gotten a job! I am ecstatic at having some income and a reason to leave my house every now and again. However, there is one thing that I am slowly learning that I sorta wish I’d already known and that is that I am just not built for retail.

Now I want to make this very clear: I have the utmost respect for those who actually work retail because it is not an easy job.

Now I want to delve more into why I can’t do retail and why I’m coming to terms with that as being okay and not something I need to force myself into. To start I want to explain the reason why I can’t do retail, which is really quite simple. I can physically do all the things that the job requires of me, that part isn’t the problem, but when it comes to dealing with that many people for 4 to 8 hours a day (depending on the length of my shift) I can’t cope with it. This part of the work is so mentally and emotionally draining that I basically become a bit of a walking zombie by the end of even a 4 hour shift.

Now you might be asking why is that and I’ll happily answer that for you. The simplest answer is that I am introvert and have really bad anxiety on top of that. Let’s break that down and talk about each reason on its own.

We’ll talk first about the introvert part. I have a feeling a lot of you know what an introvert is and why someone who is in this class of personalities might not make such a good retail worker. Being an introvert means that one gains their energy from time spent in a more solitary setting doing something calming rather then gaining energy through shared experiences with groups of friends. It does not mean that I do not like to socialize but that I prefer to do it on my own terms with small numbers of people who I know and feel comfortable around. Though even with those people I consider friends I can still get overwhelmed and I certainly still need time on my own to recharge my battery. Basically the fact that I have to deal with a large number of people who I don’t know every day working in a cafe means that I am very quickly drained of my energy reserves since I am required to be an extrovert at work. That on its own is quite tiring but not enough to be utterly draining.

Now add to the natural introvert nature the anxiety and you start to see why it becomes something that is so overwhelming. I am not currently taking medication for my anxiety (though my therapist has recommended it but my own personal issues with taking lots of meds are sort of getting in the way) and I don’t really have any coping mechanism in place to deal with it either. This means that I spend pretty much my entire work day panicking about things that haven’t happened and generally aren’t really likely to happen. I panic that I’m going to mess up someone’s drink horribly and they’ll be angry or that I’ll take too long and they’ll be upset. Its all these little things that build on each other in such a way that even writing this is making my chest feel tight, making breathing difficult, and giving me jitters and I’m not even at work right now.

It is this combination of things that results in a draining of every ounce of energy that I would prefer to be putting into writing (something that requires a lot of emotion for me to do well). I end my day wanting nothing more then to curl up on my own couch and just lay there. The most I do in the evenings when I work is read or play with my dog because he’s adorable and demanding. It takes me multiple days off in a row to recover even a fraction of that energy and by then I’m back to work again. I realize this is an unsustainable cycle in the long run because it will, inevitably, lead to me not writing anything at all which defeats my life goal of becoming a writer.

This job will eventually eat away at all my free time just as the previous retail job I had did and I’ll wind up miserable again and yet I get myself into this situation again and again. I want to work and make money. I want to be able to go in and do my job every day and still write in the evenings. I want to be a normal(ish) member of society who can do their job without it being detrimental to my mental and physical well being. These are all things I am desperately trying to grasp at while making sure I’m not doing myself the grave disservice of forcing myself into a situation where I have to pick work or my love and desire to write stories that touch people’s souls. It is a struggle and I don’t know how to win because the ‘responsible’ adult in me says to forgo writing for now in favor of having a stable job even if it means I’m exhausted and emotionally drained outside of work because that’s what everyone expects and wants of me. But on the other hand the dream in me says to screw work and go all in for that perfect life I dream about, the one where I can create and make things on a daily basis and not worry about money. These two aspects of my being are so fundamentally different that I don’t know how to reconcile them.

My entire being and soul yearns to be creative and make beautiful things that people can admire and that make them feel something but my mind reminds me to be practical and says I don’t have the skill or resources to make that a viable possibility. I want to reject my current reality in favor of the one I wish to create but the fear of failing and being without the resources to live are a crippling weight that I do not know how to shake off.

Maybe some day I will look back on this time in my life and see the path I’ve taken has lead me to where I want to be… but I fear I’ll look back and realize this was the moment of me giving up all those dreams.

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Why The MIA

So I realize I have been entirely MIA (missing in action) lately and that’s not what I set out to do. I set out for this to be something to prove to myself I could do a thing and I really haven’t. In fact I feel like I have proven the opposite, that I cannot keep the promises I make or do the things I set out to do. Its a failing on my part and one that seems to be systemic of the rest of my life at the moment. I keep making promises to myself and not keeping them for one reason or another. None of these reasons are particularly valid except for one.

I have been suffering from a lot of strange and seemingly separate symptoms. I had written these off due to different things like stress or not sleeping or even just general lack of having reasons to leave my house. I had accepted that it was simply my life to be exhausted nearly constantly, have achy and stiff joints, and a myriad of other problems including brain fog that made it hard to think. I figured I would just have to live the rest of my life function at bellow normal levels and learn to cope and work around that, though so far I really haven’t been able to do that.

I recently started talking to a family friend who said my symptoms matched up with what she’d been going through with Lyme Disease. For those who don’t know that’s a tick born illness caused by a bacteria that invades nearly every part of the body and frequently suppresses the immune system making a lot of the body function bellow acceptable levels along with a host of other problems. While there are some areas of the country that tend to have more Lyme then others its quickly becoming more common everywhere. Colorado has never been a place with a particularly high count (though that is changing now) but my mother’s family is from Massachusetts where it is very common and I’ve spent most of the summers of my life there.

So I figured it was worth going in to talk to this doctor that our family friend had been to and see what she had to say. After taking a urine sample test and going in for a consultation about the problems I’ve been having the doctor wanted a few more tests but is fairly sure that it is Lyme disease. With a diagnosis in hand I can now start on medication that is hopefully going to help my body fight off this and return to some normal way of life. The road to that isn’t the easiest as the way to do it is kill off the bacteria within the body thus causing a die off which results in the body over reacting and often the symptoms can get worse before things start getting better. Also since the bacteria is very good at hiding itself in the body it isn’t a quick and simple process either.

That being said for me even just having some idea and being able to start some treatment is really helpful. It just feels really good to know that what I’m going through as a reason and is valid rather then just me making it up or exaggerating my symptoms. It just feels good to know that a doctor actually thinks something is wrong and isn’t just telling me its stress or me not sleeping or what have you.

I feel like this is all a step in the right direction to getting my life back under my control. Having my life heading in a direction towards not being tired all the time and feeling like I can focus and keep a train of thought is really amazing. I really look forward to figuring this all out and getting my life back.

Why Jobs? Why?

So I’m currently unemployed and looking for work! (Yay?) Anyway, its been a fun roller coaster ride of trying to figure out what I can do that won’t leave me a sniffling anxiety ridden mess at the end of the day. Obviously some things are easier then others and all that (not to mention everyone’s anxiety is different).

For me I’ve found that certain jobs are just way to stress inducing. This includes things like cashiering and receptionist work. I think part of it tends to be the high costumer interaction coupled with the high load of different things I have to do at the same time. Receptionists answer phones, make appointments, sort mail, greet people coming in, and general like a billion other things that require high amounts of social interaction which drains me like nothing else and also makes my anxiety go through the roof. And cashiering is pretty similar to that if at least involving a few less things but often more people.

That being said there are some situations I think I could make it work in but those generally have to do with a company or product I’m highly invested in. Say if I was selling books at the very least I adore books and reading so I feel like I could possibly handle that better. Or maybe things with animals because, again, that’s something I enjoy and can talk to people about without feeling entirely like an idiot in the deep end.

Over the last two days I was supposed to get a call from a job that I was excited for and really hoping to get but I didn’t get that call. Now, whether that was an oversight or what I don’t yet know, but I do know it was a killer blow to my self esteem and an additional stress point. I’m still sorta hoping they’ll call me tomorrow and say the job is mine but we’ll see.

Either way I have some good people around me who mean well but at times aren’t entirely helpful. For one my parents (who I adore and who support me no matter what) have certainly been pushing me to get a job and I understand where they are coming from. But at times this additional exterior stress is only harmful. In the end it makes me feel like even more of a failure when I can’t get a job or manage to deal with the job I did get (it was cashiering and even training made me come home and cry).

Others are friends who, again, mean well and want to help me. They keep suggesting a receptionist job at an optometrists that they have an in with and look at me weirdly when I decline but apply for other things. I know they mean well and just want to help me, to make things easier for me in getting a job, but its one that I know I couldn’t do for long before it would wear me down to a bare thread and leave me with no energy or motivation. I’m just not good at getting up every day and going in to a job that requires me to talk constantly to costumers while inputting information and keeping track of a million other tiny things. The very idea of it makes my hands shake and fills my stomach with dread. It makes my chest hurt and my brain whirl with too many thoughts of all the things that could go wrong.

It all comes back to anxiety and how it influences my day to day living. It creeps up when I least expect or want it, consuming my thoughts and making me second guess everything. Its frequently the reason I cannot leave my house some days or why I break down crying over seemingly inconsequential things. Its a constant force in the back of my brain that drains my energy and makes me view everything as a matter of utmost importance… and thus even the tiniest failure become overwhelming matters in which I’ve obviously ruined everything and thus I’m a horrible person and unlovable.

There are times when I know this comes between me and not only healthy living for me but all my healthy relationships. There are times when I wish that I could transfer the way I feel to other people in my life so they could understand for just a day or even just an hour but I’d never really wish this on anyone else. Still, I find it nearly impossible to fully explain why some things are okay and others are not okay. There just aren’t the right words to explain exactly what I go through on a daily basis and certainly not when I’m having a larger anxiety attack. Of course its probably also that everyone who deals with this goes through things differently and experiences things differently. No one can really say what another feels and that’s something I try to keep in mind every day of my life.

Again I’ve gone a lot deeper into this then I really meant to. I’d honestly just meant to post a light lighthearted thing about how annoy and terrible the job market can be and it devolved into me talking about anxiety and trying to make others understand it. I think I’m done for the night though because now I’m second guessing posting this which isn’t helpful or good. So now I’m going to post this before I can stop myself and just get it out there.

Weekend Camping

This last weekend my roommates, boyfriend, and I all got out of the house and decided to go camping in the Rockies! It was almost a perfect weekend for it. We did have a little rain and it was still pretty damn cold at night. However, it was still a great time and we had a lot of fun!

It was honestly really great just to get out and be in the wilderness again because sometimes you just need to take a break from everything else. It was only about a 48 hour period but it was still 48 hours with no phones, no internet, and no need to talk to anyone outside our group. It was a great time and I wanted to share some pictures with you all!

Really it was a great time and I am hoping we’ll get to go again soon! We all want to go back down to the Sand Dunes here in Colorado for a bit so we can sled down them. I’d also love to take them all camping in San Rafael Swell like I used to do as a kid. And of course we have the wonderful Rockies here in our backyard for quick weekend trips!

We wound up seeing a lot of hummingbirds flitting and diving about but not a lot of other creatures. I will admit though that my boyfriend had a run in with a black bear! He was out on his own hiking around the area not far from the camp and came upon the black bear. Thankfully he’s a big guy and knows what to do when he runs into a bear so he scared the black bear off.

Honestly its always great to get back to nature and makes me feel really good. I just feel more freed of worry and relaxed when I get a chance to go out and just be. I guess I live in a pretty good state to do that!

Anxiety Storm

Lately my anxiety has been really bad. Its been bad enough that its taking a serious toll on my energy and my mood. I feel so much stress over finding a job, doing my writing, and making it all balance out. Its so many things at once that I often feel like there is no way out of it all and that just makes it ten times worse. When I feel like I can’t see a way out of everything and that everything I do or touch is only going to have a negative outcome it becomes such a bigger problem then it really should be.

Its interesting how anxiety morphs like that. It can start from something so small like an offhand comment by someone or being late in responding to a call but it builds and builds on itself until its such a big dark storm of fear and panic that you feel like there can’t possibly be an escape. It becomes a prison of my own design and creation. And its a prison that I often can’t find my own way out of.

I’ve talked to others about it before and I get a lot of advice to just force myself to do the things that make me anxious or just deal with it because everyone gets a little anxious about things, right? But that’s not what this is. I’m not just a little nervous about a job interview or a phone call. I’m irrationally fearful of it and my brain explains every step of how its going to go wrong and how that’s going to lead me down a path where I wind up alone with nothing. Its a paralyzing fear that makes me short of breath, sweaty, and blanks out my brain.

I sometimes wish I could impose those feelings on the people I talk to for just a moment so they understand what I go through over and over again in a single day. If I could just show them then maybe they’d fully understand and not say the things that make matters worse. I am well aware that my anxiety is not rational but I can’t just step out of it and or flip a switch and make it stop. Its a long process that drains my energy because I fight it every day and often I lose to it. Lately I think I’ve lost to it a lot more then I’ve won against it and that’s a bit disheartening. I’m hoping its just a phase I’m going through and that in the long run it’ll turn around for me again but I suppose the only thing I can do for now is wait and see… and keep telling those I talk to what its like until they understand.

Garden Your Way Out of Stress

So I haven’t been posting at all lately and mostly that’s because my stress level has gone through the roof. When I’m feeling that stressed out its really hard for me to do anything much less write down my thoughts. Though someone pointed out that maybe I should write more to get my stress out (thank you therapist!). So now I’m considering doing that but for today I found a bit of a better way to get my stress out.

I’ve never been great with plants though I really wish I was. My mother has orchids that bloom every year and each year they seem to produce more and bigger flowers. For the life of me I don’t know how she does it though she claims its just regular watering and orchid food. I’ll be trying her theory but I’m not so sure its going to work. I’ll certainly keep you all updated on how well it goes.

Being that I live in an actual house now and not an apartment I have a yard. In fact I have a very nice front and back yard here in Boulder with grass (lots of dandelions) and even some really beautiful flower beds (that had quite a few weeds). I’ve been putting off weeding because I wasn’t really sure what was weeds and what wasn’t weeds. On top of that it felt like this insurmountable task just given how many weeds there were and how mixed in to everything else they were. It was insanely daunting to the point that I was almost tempted to just take everything out and start over but that was way to expensive and wasteful to do.

Either way my dad and roommate took me out into the garden today and showed me what to do. They showed me what was weed and what wasn’t, answered my questions when I had them, and helped me clean things out. I slowly found that it was actually really helpful in getting stress out. I just imagined the weeds as my problems and ruthlessly pulled them out which really made me feel much better! It, of course, didn’t fix any of my problems but it gave me a chance to work out some of that anxious tension and stressed out energy that makes things even harder to figure out.

Hopefully now that I have some of that gone I can focus on getting things done, getting some real rest, and also moving forward in a positive light in my life. I’ve got some ideas of ways to spend my time while I get a job (and it really is just a job for money and not a job for the love of the work) that should help me feel less stressed out every day. The pressure to get a job really has been a driving factor in my feeling constantly exhausted and overwhelmed. I want a job, I want to be making money, but I’m terrified of getting stuck into some job that I hate with no way out. I’m terrified of finding a job that leaves me emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted at the end of the day to the point that I can’t write and express myself. Even writing this I can feel it writhing up again and threatening to choke me into taking whatever job I can get to make the money I need and just say fuck it to my life goal of writing a novel. But that’s not the way to react to this because it would just be going backwards and, like a shark, I refuse to do that.

Either way if you have some stress in your life to get out I suggest you find a patch of garden and start pulling weeds.

Yeah… I’ve Got Nothing

So I’ve spent most of today trying to figure out what to post about today…. and, like the title says, I’ve got nothing. I’ve wracked my brain over and over again but I keep coming back to a big old blank page. To me blank pages are a little daunting and most certainly intimidating so I think I’ll talk about that.

One of my biggest challenges in writing is honestly just getting started. Those first few words that I put down on an otherwise blank page seem impossibly difficult to pick out from all the words in the English language. I feel like they carry so much weight and thus must be the perfect words to start a new story or a new whatever its going to be. I feel like everything that I think of to put down just isn’t good enough. Even starting this I wasn’t sure about what words to use and kept second (third, and even forth) guessing myself.

I feel like I frequently forget that I can go back and change the start if I don’t think its up to grabbing people’s attention. Just because I’ve put words down doesn’t mean they have to stay there in that particular order forever. This is a medium that can be changed and altered at any time when inspiration or thought hits home and provides you with exactly the words you think are best. And of course your opinion on what exactly is best can change as well. One day you might think you have hit on the very best idea out there and the next day you go back and wonder what the hell you could possibly have been thinking the day before.

Frankly I find a page with words on it much preferable to a completely blank page. Once I’ve gotten started and have something down its easier to continue from there and keep going. I feel like the words somehow get together and birth more words in my brain but its that first spark of black on a white page that is so very hard to come by. In the end, however, every great novel has (at one pointed) been born from a blank page. The words needed the space to move, breath, expand, and become the great work of words it was meant to be. And even then it only does that after you’ve gone back a time or two and allowed yourself to edit the words on what had at one point been nothing more then a blank page.

So maybe I shouldn’t fear the blank page but embrace it as a chance to create something new that, in the end, may or may not be all that great. But without that first creation on a blank page I’ll never find all the words to write a novel worth reading.