Once upon a time, I had this extremely busy semester. And it almost killed me. Stuff happened. Some terrible stuff.
Aka, last Thursday I found myself sitting in my car, which wouldn't start, trying to do homework on my phone, which wouldn't work, and trying not to panic about my computer, which is broken, or hyperventilate about my wallet, which was lost. "Pure Satan. Like, Comcast Evil."
And I called Erin and she told me to be calm. And that worked, which surprised me. That was a whole week ago, and I have discovered since then that my computer is worse than I thought and I have to buy a new one. And my car isn't fixed yet, so this week has been fun like that. But I don't feel like hyperventilating. Which is a big deal, which you know if you have been reading this blog....
This lack of panic has me wondering some things about myself. It is only one of the many stark contrasts I have noticed between this semester and that last time I was in school full time. These drastic changes are one reason I am really glad I moved away for a whole school year. Now I am back, and I think that huge gap is the only reason I really noticed how different I am. I have been trying to figure out which changes are good and which are not so good, but also why I am different. What changed me?
I have some proposals for this specific and odd "Not panicking" thing.
1. I am way too exhausted. My energy, previously absorbed in being worried and falling off of emotional cliffs no matter how hard I tried not to, seems to have been diverted, in large part, to getting things done that I wasn't getting done before. I am way more productive, and I sleep about half as much, and maybe I am just too tired to panic. Somebody told me once that happiness is, in large part, being too busy to be unhappy. I think I believe that.
2. Maybe I grew up a little bit? Maybe I figured out some bigger things, and I can handle problems more effectively now? I know I have a better idea of what I believe and why I believe it than I did before, but does that influence panic attacks directly? I don't know about this one exactly. I'd like to think this is the reason, but I suspect it's a little bit this and a lottle bit exhaustion.
3. I quit drinking diet coke and started exercising. Could this reduce erratic emotions? I am healthier. That has emotional impact, right? Maybe it is the physical impact and a little bit of the immense battle of self-discipline I had to win in order to overcome what was beginning to be a severe and prohibitive addiction. Maybe self-discipline is the important factor.
Maybe it's this. One of the differences between now me and 2011 me is that I feel differently about miracles. I had a lot of miracles in my life before, and a lot of people willing to help me, but I didn't ever feel like those things came naturally. Even though I was grateful, those things made me uncomfortable. I think I had an odd definition of self-reliance. I think I thought that meant that you never should have to rely on other people. But that isn't true. If that was true, what do we have families and friends and loving relationships for? We aren't supposed to do everything by ourselves. We are supposed to work hard and take help and give help as much as we can, and I feel better about my ability to accept with gratitude and to give. I feel more confident not that miracles will come, but that I can work hard and make things happen with the help of people who care about me, and that is a miracle.
Six people have jumped my car battery in the last two weeks, because sometimes I really need to use my car and I haven't had a chance to put in a new battery yet. Last week my car wouldn't start and I was stranded at Walmart, about to be late for a group project that was kind of a big deal. So I texted my friend Adam from the group to tell him I would be late. Surprise! He just happened to be at Walmart at the time and came and got me. And then Shane took me back and started my car the next day, and Katie offered to take me to buy a battery anytime. My friends are miracles.
And my broken computer? Mark transferred stuff from my hard drive onto his computer so I could take a computer back to school with me and do my homework until I could get mine fixed, and Ben interrupted bedtime to hash out my computer problems with me and find a solution. And now I know that I can't fix my computer because I would have to buy a new motherboard. I just have to buy a new one. But you know when that happened to occur? Two weeks before Black Friday. Miracle? I think so.
And my job! I was worried I wouldn't get enough hours, and then I got a promotion, and a raise, and another promotion within a month. And I got to handpick my schedule for next semester and choose as many hours as I wanted. MIRACLE!
Things are working out even when I don't have the time or energy to pour into excessive anxiety. What a gift! We all know that this hasn't been completely consistent. Sometimes, like a month ago, I have stress attacks, and I slammed some doors and swore a little bit, and I burst out crying in the middle of a room filled with fifteen people because of one innocent comment, and mom sat down and had a talk with me about my emotional health. That all happened in one day. But even since then I feel like I've made good strides in being calm. I have learned to ask for blessings instead of slamming doors and swearing. Progress, right?
Of course right.