With fall quickly approaching so is the new school year and for the first time in 18 years, it does not concern me. I’m free, no school, no readings, no deadlines, no essays, no exams, all rainbows, and unicorns, right?
Taking a gap year seemed like such a good idea after a challenging year. I was pumped about being able to do what I want, to read what I want, even to blob out in front of Netflix for more than 40 minutes if that’s what my heart desires. And it was great! For about a month. After that I got restless asking myself what is the new thing ahead of me. For sure this is not it, is it? Plunging into the uncertainty that is my life now got me into a spiral of despair, misery, and self-pity. All the doubts about my abilities, my future, about the rightness of my decisions bubbled up from the part of my brain that I usually work very hard to suppress. Add a couple of everyday hiccups and you have a recipe for one overwhelmed Gabi. So… I didn’t have the best month, let’s put it this way.
After a couple of weeks of annoying the crap out of people around me by my constant whining ( yes, whining. And yes, shame on me.), not only was I the day pooper for others, but I successfully made myself sick by my attitude. Because I have not worked so hard the last couple of years to become this pathetic aimless little ball of nerves. Yes, adjusting to my life now has been challenging. The realization that I’m not going back to school hit me pretty hard. Unexpectedly hard. The last couple of months gave me a lot to think about in just about every area of my life. About who I am, who I want to be. In no way do I have things figured out, this stuff takes time, perhaps even the entire lifetime to get to the bottom of this. But even though I might not have figured out exactly who I am just yet, at least I’m very certain about one thing that I’m not. Helpless.
Since being on my own, this is probably the most profound lesson I’ve learned. And it is as much about the small stuff, like always finding a new toothpaste when you squeeze out the last bit of it in the evening, as it is about the big stuff like traveling with the ‘of course, I can find my way around’ attitude. Since I moved out, I’ve been taking more risks, I’ve dreamt bigger, bolder and the horizons of my mind, of what I can do, if only I have enough courage to pursue it has expanded exponentially. And I experienced great, life-changing things because of it. But sometimes I still struggle with venturing outside of my comfort zone, because doing so opens you to an inherent risk of disappointment and heartache. Because things don’t always go your way. And the past month I felt like I’m not in a position to take it.
So I did what every strong and independent adult does when things go awry: I ran to my mommy. Me and my mom, we don’t always see eye to eye. Heck, we usually don’t. Mostly because the majority of our conversation is on either side received with puzzled ‘what the hell is she talking about?’ But even though we have long passed the time when she could offer me an informed opinion/advice on the course of my life, I know that we love each other and that she wants the best for me even though we both know that getting to what that is, is my job. So when I showed up at her door one day she saw nothing but her sad, upset and unhappy daughter. And she did exactly what moms do, she took me in, fed me and through what I perceived to be an insufferable pile of problems on my head (here comes the drama queen) she saw the one thing that mattered: that I was unhappy. And she reminded me that no matter what it is that I’m afraid of, what I do to prevent it is not working. She reminded me that I have nothing to lose by trying because I’m already unhappy. Sometimes it seems that the best solution to what we perceive as complicated problems are surprisingly simple.
It doesn’t mean that I no longer worry, or doubt myself. And, the hell I’m scared, still. Terrified even, but it is also true that for once in my life I have things to be terrified about. For once I care enough to be terrified. And that is not a bad thing. Living with the fear of you caring too much about things that might not go your way, that most likely won’t go your way, can paralyze you. Make you stuck in between wanting to do everything you can but not doing anything, because you don’t have the courage to face the possibility that it might not be enough. But you cannot be safe and courageous at the same time, it just doesn’t work this way. And no matter what it is that you want, if you really want it, you have to give it your all, hope for the best and deal with the disappointment when and if it comes.
This all sounds nice, right? Like out of a random self-help book. But what the heck to do you have to do to get where you want to be? Well, I started with the small stuff that bothered me in my life, those that I can fix in an instant. Like making the place I live more home-ish. I realized that no matter how long I’ll live in this apartment I deserve to feel good in here, that it is an investment in myself and hence worth making. So I bought gazillion pillows, new curtains, made a complete fool out of myself while doing it and there might be a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere between China and the Czech Republic just waiting to be put on my wall. All good. I also decided to take better care of myself to learn to do some bits and bobs just because. Like making an effort to squeeze a 30-minute workout into my day, buying the freaking expensive Halloumi that I really like or take the time to use my favorite lotion (flowery and glittery) when I get out of the shower. It might not seem like much, but it’s these little things through which you take control of your life. And it’s these little things that serve as an everyday reminder that you’re worthy of the big things too. I know I am.