Tuesday, August 19, 2014

on when reality and cliches don't match up

I keep envisioning those people with perfectly straight, white teeth and shimmering, immaculate hair smiling and saying "I just love being pushed out of my comfort zone." And I keep envisioning myself sucker punching them square in their perfectly straight, white teeth.

Moving across the country has been nothing short of an internal bloodbath on my feelings and, many times, my outlook on life. This likely comes as a shock to most that know me, because it was an incredible shock to myself. Leaving Michigan I didn't have any of the feelings I was supposed to have. I didn't cry enough when I hugged my mom goodbye because I was shoving every sad feeling I had into the bottom of my chest. When I crossed every state line I didn't get a wave of excitement. I felt like no matter how high I had the AC on, and how cold it made me, there was not enough air in the car and there was some pair of hands were surely reaching up to strangle me and I shivered while cold sweat ran from the top of my nape down between my shoulder blades. I thought about the end of my life and how it was feeling. But, of course, this wasn't the end of my life, it was just another panic attack. I reached up and felt my pulse throbbing far too quickly and far too hard through the skin in my neck and wished for it to go away through shallow breathing and trembling lips.
If you are lucky enough to be a person that is not ridden with anxiety then I hope you perhaps reread that and try to imagine what it's like.

I've had several of those since I left home, and in-between them are long stretches where my throat feels too swollen to talk and my mind is so blank yet unbelievably crowded that I don't have anything to speak about anyway. My jaws clench so hard that sometimes I swear my molars are cracking together when I check my phone and someone from home has texted "How are you?" or "What's it like?" or "How's Arizona?" And usually I can hold back the swollen tears but sometimes one seeps out, and sometimes one thousands follow it, and sometimes none.

I have glimpses where I know I need to get it together, and in those glimpses I feel like I have a life. I applied for a job and had a spot-on interview, which made me smile as I walked to my car, and as I was sitting across the table from the manager discussing fine dining service/stigmas/cliches I felt like myself. For the larger part of an hour I didn't have a weight on my chest or puffy eyes and things were okay. It was short-lived, but I held onto that memory of that feeling for the rest of the night, and it felt like a big deal to me. It is not, however, a big deal to others, and I felt foolish for thinking it would be.

I had orientation with roughly 200+ people that were in some range of the same situation as myself. There is one other girl in the Literature program and from 9:00 to 12:00 I felt like I had a friend. I was forced to sit at a table with 8 other people who identify their hobby as 'running', and though I forced myself to be a part of the rapid conversations it was hard to drink my water out of a plastic cup because my hands were shaking with a fierce so bright that I had to stop trying. Three different times I had to ask someone to repeat what they had said because all I could hear was my own blood pumping through my ears.

No one likes being pushed outside of their comfort zone. If you're enjoying it, then you aren't outside of your comfort zone. There is the cliche of "the best things happen when you're outside of your comfort zone" but I don't fully believe that. Perhaps the best things happen when you find a new comfort zone, after you are out of being outside of your comfort zone. And perhaps sometimes the best things don't happen. Both of those outcomes are very real and very possible every single time. People tend to forget that. Mainly because people only like to remember the good things.

I was texting Sammy while sitting in my car outside of World Market (I know, I was surprised Flagstaff had one as well) and as I clenched my phone in both hands I tried describing to her what I was going through and it's probably the furthest I've gotten with anyone on the topic. At one point in the conversation she said "Have you talked to your mom? I assume Julie always knows how to make you (or anyone) feel better." Then I cried because I missed my mom, and she does know how to make me feel better. And, as Sammy, had included, make anyone feel better.

One time (more than one time) I thought my life was in shambles because I was experiencing a heart-wrenching breakup, and all she kept saying were things like "It just takes time," and "Fake it until you make it," and "Time heals all wounds". When I called her out through my tears for her abundance of cliches she responded with "Well, they are cliches for a reason. Because they're true."
And I always thought there was some validity in that. Props, mom.