I feel like shit today.

My heart was pounding, pounding, pounding at my chest and I could feel sweat dripping down my back. My face was flushed despite the peppermint oil I’d been slathering on the back of my neck, and it was taking everything in me to focus on the work in front of me when all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball under my desk and hide from everything. Yesterday after an unfortunate series of events, I was forced to make a decision that I’ve been consciously avoiding for weeks, really months now. Because by mid-afternoon yesterday, I knew the time had come to have a conversation that I really didn’t want to have, because I also knew it was very likely going to take away the biggest reason I’ve been smiling so wide this year.

I woke up today after barely sleeping last night and surreptitiously wiped away the evidence of how I’d soothed myself to sleep with tears. I looked a mess: puffy, dead eyes trying to process that okay, things probably went as well as to be expected, but expectations fucking suck. I ambled about the apartment, staying distracted and busy and keeping my focus out of the previous 9 hours, trying not to feed into the raging desire to call out of work and crawl under my comforter in sweatpants, hiding from everything until everything stopped hurting. Instead, I put on my big girl pants and pulled it together enough to get to the office; now I’m hiding in a conference room choking back tears that have been on the edge of my eyes since last night. Or, if I’m being honest, tears that have been on my mind for the past eight weeks.

Through yoga and meditation, we’re taught to look at life in the present. The past can’t be changed; the future can’t be predicted. All that matters is the present moment. So worrying about the big meeting tomorrow, reliving the crippling anxiety from a moment in college where you did something stupid, even anticipating a reaction to a conversation you’ve been avoiding: all of those things don’t matter. Worrying about the future shouldn’t matter. Nothing but the present moment should matter and even that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But today, everything matters. The past five months, the past eight weeks and the past 24 hours all matter; the next 24 hours, the next week, the next two months and the next eight months really matter. I’m stuck in this limbo where I can’t get my head out of the past and I can’t get my mind out of the future, and it’s taking everything in me not to completely lose myself in this tangled mess that I’m calling the present.

So I feel like shit today. And I’m going to keep feeling like shit because I don’t know how to fix my life when the two things I want more than anything are mutually exclusive. I don’t know how to make a decision when both paths will make me supremely happy and then extremely depressed. I can’t live in the past and I can’t see the future and I can’t handle the present because my mind is bouncing between the planes like a pendulum, swinging up, down, highs, lows. I feel like shit today and I’m probably going to feel like shit for a while. I don’t know why I felt the need to share all this, because it didn’t make me feel better to get it out of my head. But maybe it’s just enough to acknowledge that today is a shitty fucking goddamn day and that’s the best I can do for right now.

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Paths

If your path is more difficult, it means your calling is higher.

Maybe I’m spending too much time on Instagram lately, and like 90 percent of the people I follow are yogis so we’re all about mantras and good energy, but I seem to be finding a lot of inspirational quotes there lately. The one above posted late last night, as I scrolled through my feed while waiting patiently for all the essential oils treating the poison ivy on my torso (oh yeah IT SPREAD) to dry, and it made me stop for a minute. The person who wrote it talks about her faith a lot, and while I don’t necessarily share the same world view, there is something about that statement, especially when you’ve had a week like I have, that makes you think.

I fucked up this week. There’s really no better way to say it. After all of the great things that have been happening personally and professionally lately, this week threw me a real curveball. From one perspective, I’m not entirely surprised – it’s a new moon today – but from the others, I hate that I can work so hard and juggle so many pieces in the air, and do it well, only to have a gust of wind come by and cause everything to drop in a panic. Mistakes are learning experiences, and to some extent I know they have to happen for growth, but it does suck to be in the same position I was in this time last year, feeling once again like I’m making the same mistakes, if a little different as well. After a few meetings with my bosses yesterday things are making more sense, pieces are coming together, but I kept waiting to find myself in a ball under my desk, fist in my mouth to keep from screaming, entire body rigid to keep from crying. And yet, I managed to finish the day on a stronger note than I’d started, and instead of taking on my usual coping technique of “a large bottle of red wine alone in my apartment,” I took a walk after work to call my anchor G, made it back to my apartment before the sun went down, and spent an hour doing yoga, letting the stretching and balancing reset my whole perspective.

There were times in my life where things would happen and immediately everything looked bleak, like a black night, no moon, nothing ahead but darkness, searching feebly for a ray of light to hold onto. There were times that the darkness was a twilight, where I fought to find the light without realizing I was letting it fade slowly and on purpose, despite insistent screaming for it to come back. Around this time last year I ran around telling everyone who would listen that I could see the light, I found it, I took it, it’s mine; but it was a flashlight, artificial, I thought I was taking charge of it but I was anxious for the day that the battery would run out. This is what I’m used to in my life, reacting to situations by falling into the darkness accidentally on purpose, and working hard but not at all to pull myself out. And now something happened this week, which was similar to something that happened last month, which was similar to something that happened last year, and I spent all yesterday waiting to enter the slow descent into the dark tunnel, the kind where you don’t realize how deep you’re in until no one can see you to guide you back out.

Sometimes it feels like I make a lot of mistakes, all in the name of growth. The paths I’ve chosen for myself, living in NYC, working in the field that I do, the terrible decisions that I make fueled by vodka and an instinct for self-destruction, are difficult paths to walk. Yesterday I acknowledged that the darkness that has tortured and comforted me since my teens wanted to take over, wanted to let me wallow in What Ifs and Why Mes. Instead, though, this time I acknowledged that it was there, and I stared back at it. I let it scream, and call for me, and I didn’t answer; I continued on with my day, letting that voice fade into the background by the time I made it to my mat at the end of the night. What would normally put me into a tunnel of depression instead made me feel stronger, and guiding my practice with my favorite mantra of I will do well contributed to my waking up this morning with a smile on my face, knowing the past can’t change, so all we can do is move forward.

There are paths that we’re given and paths that we choose, and each of them converge into a wild ride of life. Maybe the paths that I’ve chosen are the difficult ones, or maybe the ones I’ve been given are driving me to something more. Whether it’s divinely decreed or written in the stars or whatever else you believe in, I think that the quote above makes sense for everyone. Instead of crying that our paths are harder than everyone else’s, or wallowing in the belief that things will always be exactly as they are right now, we should all make a point to remember that there’s a light somewhere in every tunnel. Let the mistakes that can tear us down instead fuel us further, higher, better, more. Remember that we all have a higher purpose than stewing in the misery of a moment, and we’re all capable of watching the tunnel from afar instead of charging into it like it has the answers. The quote at the beginning of this post inspired me to make sure that I’m carving my path, and letting the rocky mistakes along the way call me to the best version of myself.