Don’t Panic! You’re Not Alone

Do you remember when your GCSE’s were the most important exams of your life? What about the time when you were picked on in class to answer a question – wasn’t that the most heart-jolting, scary thing? Or, maybe it was your first kiss? After all, mastering how to not turn your mouth into a high-velocity washing machine was very important, too.

So many things happen in our childhood that makes us engage with these emotions, and all of them are totally significant and admittedly scary, but, what you find as you get older is that these emotions – although poignant at the time – are mere morsels compared to the monster buffet you get dished up as an adult.

Ah, adulthood. No, you may not have 20/20 vision anymore because you never listened to your family about the importance of eating your carrots, but, my God, your hindsight certainly doesn’t need bifocals to correct what you now realise. Because what you now see is that when you’re a child you have it easy. What is it the kids used to say? Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Or in my case, easy peasy pumpkin pie (Typical. Even as a child, I’d deviate from the norm) All you had to worry about was school. 8.45am-3.15pm, 5 days a week, and a bit of homework. And, to make things even more easy-peasy, you had your own personal carpool (yay, for parents!) you never had to buy groceries (again, yay – parents!) you never had to cook, clean, pay bills, or work a job you hated to pay them. Nope. You just had to sit in a warm classroom, surrounded by your best friends, learning cool stuff every day and live the rest of your life outside of that, and if that meant doing a bit of boring math homework or learning how to spell 10 words every week, then so be it.

Okay, so from my recollection, my childhood wasn’t particularly rosy, despite the ease of things. Therefore, I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t whine about these things. What I’m saying is that even though being young had its downsides (not being independent, mostly) being an adult is a whole new ball-game, and sometimes, it’s really shite.

Being an adult is like having someone unexpectedly whip a rug from underneath your feet. You’re rendered just as unsteady as you would’ve been 10 years ago, but for some reason, other people think you should know how to defy gravity now you’re all grown up (stop singing Wicked, I can hear you). The truth is though, you can’t. How often do you still look for the adult in the room and realise that you’re the oldest person there? Now, THAT’S a scary moment! Sure, there are some things you can tackle with your eyes closed, tipped upside down and hung from a set of monkey bars, but other things, the things that are outside of your control, how do you go about fixing those?

Today, after several days (weeks, months…okay, years) of patience, I realised that – despite all that I know – all I’ve achieved thanks to these “important” moments, is that I’m that same child inside, and I don’t know what to do to solve my current situation. I can’t magic food up on the table without earning money, I can’t earn money without a job and I can’t get a job if no one will hire me. But also, now I know who I am and what I want from life, there’s no way I’m accepting any old rubbish job. I’m not risking losing my head again for dull days or non-stop nuttiness. I deserve better than that. And yet, no matter what age I am, I can’t mentally cope or figure out how to solve this catch 22 circumstance. Especially now I’m not a blank canvas like I was when I was younger. My once pure mindset has been coloured in by a culmination of life events, people, experiences, loss, achievements, love, hatred etc. And I’m expected to deal with the repercussions of those, too. So I’m meant to know who I am, be where I want to be, and have everything I’ve worked hard for. However, all I have to show for it is that a load of hard work, effort, time and patience, has got me no further than if I’d done nothing at all. In fact, it’s worse than doing nothing. Because at least when you do nothing, you expect nothing back. But when you actually do something, you – selfishly, maybe – expect it to come to some kind of fruition. Not end up feeling like you’re forever trapped in a real-life version of Groundhog Day, perpetually stepping in that doozy of a puddle.

As a rule, I like to be the pillar of positivity, an ambassador for empowerment and backbone for self-belief, but today, I’m going to tell you something very different:

Work hard, have goals, enjoy life and reap its rewards, but remember – the outcomes of such dedication are not all within your control. Sometimes, you will fail. Sometimes, something will happen (or not happen) the way it was meant to. Know that, despite your honesty and integrity, not everyone will believe your good intentions. Sure, things will come up rosy sometimes, and damn right you should be happy about that – you deserve it! But also, things can suck donkey shlong, too.

Now, the reason I’m telling you this is because I think we all forget to appreciate that people feel a broad spectrum of emotions, and for some reason, as an adult, that vulnerable side of ourselves is something we feel we should shut down. People don’t like it when we’re sad or frustrated. In fact, they tend to get rather pissy about it. They either want to keep their miserable lives as PC as possible, so there’s no room for an opinion, or they play that super-fun game, ‘Put Yourself in Their Shoes’. And unfortunately, that’s not some awesome Freaky-Friday type show presented by Jimmy Fallon where you can literally swap skins with someone else for a bit. It’s actually where someone tells you that you’re not allowed to be unhappy about whatever it is because there’s someone else out there who is in a worse predicament than you. So, ultimately, you shut yourself off from saying anything – ever. Because unless what you’re currently going through is understood on a surface level (like a bad breakup, loss of a pet, fired from a job, been burgled etc.) you will not be allowed to have a pity-party, or at least, if you do, it won’t be permitted a very long timespan. I mean, you’re an adult now, you should know how to deal with life’s curveballs by now…right?

Just know, I’m sticking my most offensive fingers up at that notion. Sure, I can deal with it, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. In fact, I’m pretty f**ked off with it. The fact that I have to deal with yet another thing that has impacted negatively on my life (and it’s through no fault of my own) seriously angers me. No, it’s not like my life is awful, granted. But it’s mediocre. It’s boring. It’s not where I want, or should, be. And I think that we as adults should be entitled to feel this way. That we should be able to express it without fear of being shunned or having someone play the comparison game, or say they wish they had what you had. After all, you’re not complaining about the good stuff, you’re complaining about the average, or absent, stuff that should be different. And the fact that you can’t solve it, man…no amount of adulting prepares you for that.

Life, albeit as beautiful as a bed of roses, still carries its thorns. And although they do not all cut deep, their scratches still hurt.

So, if you know someone who is suffering from the effects of stress, listen to them and let them know you’re there to help. There’s nothing too big or too small when it comes to offering support, so don’t be afraid you’ll get it wrong – you won’t. (However, try to avoid telling them that it’s all about eating better, meditating and playing the harp, or you’re liable to get a pointy shoe thrown in your face.)

And lastly, remind them that it’s okay to cry about that. They’re allowed to be angry about that.

You’re allowed to need someone else to help with that.

#stressawarenessmonth

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