Last week I wrote about anxiety, or what I like to refer to as ‘the dragon’, because anxiety is intimidating, it can feel threatening in a way that if you give it attention, it’s natural to worry that you’ll risk being burned. Today, I want to write a personal letter to you, my friend, the one who can relate to how I’ve been feeling recently… I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.
To you, my friend, who can relate to this overwhelm…
It’s been awhile since we have seen much from each other. I’m sorry about that. I’ve been all consumed with adjusting to my new reality, or a new “norm” of what life has to be like now that we have to face a new way of living. I’ve been struggling with my sleep, falling asleep, that I’ve started most of my days at noon or later… which makes me sad because I feel often like I don’t get enough done… though I tell myself, daily, that something is better than nothing.
I feel like I’ve just been transplanted into a new world. I spent so many days asking myself, “is this really real?”. How many of us had life goals and plans that were put on hold, and feel robbed of the joy we had imagined in our minds of what those goals and plans would promise this year? Now we have to make new plans, new goals, or adjust our previous ones significantly…
How many of us have had to play the role of our own life coach and be intentional about re-routing our method of thinking from hopelessness, to hopeful? For a time, shortly after the news about us all having to ‘shelter in place’, there was pressure to not be fearful, to have faith, and be strong… I wanted to, I tried really hard to… but I feel like I just crumbled and broke apart into a million pieces and it’s been taking me such a long time to find all the pieces to glue back together and begin to heal. It’s like my private, emotional tears keep the glue from drying and I just feel weak and vulnerable to my own emotions and temptations in coping with this ‘new normal’ I’m getting used to.
I can’t help but feel a little guilty for letting you down. I feel like I’ve disappointed so many people. I had big plans of getting so many of my personal projects accomplished in the past 9 months, since I left a job I loved. I had this vision of what it would mean to trek out on my own, build my own business, become a successful artist – living the dream. While I knew I struggled with ups and downs, I never wanted or intended for the downs and ups to pull me so much in the extreme that when the world pandemic arrived, I would be so confused… stuck in this sticky confusion that has been difficult to step out of and be completely clean from…
Can you relate?
It’s comforting to know I’m not alone, even though I feel the lonely feelings often… but I’m reminded of my friends, everyone who I love, who is walking a similar path. We all have been forced to really, and while it can seem sad that we’re all in this storm and so many are struggling, it’s empowering to know that to a very real-life-degree, we can relate to the overwhelm. The overwhelm sucks, it’s hard, it makes me feel angry, sad, confused, and all the not-so-comfortable feelings.
While this overwhelm can fog up my view of the future, like this painting I created a few months ago, the sun still shines and I feel it’s warmth and comfort. To be honest, it’s the sun that has given me strength to keep trying. The sunshine I feel when I hear your voice, when I see your posts and comments on social media, and when I know that you’re trying your best too, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
The sunshine I feel when I hear that you feel similarly, and that reassures me that bad days happen to us all, I’m not the only one who feels the way I do. And where I feel I’ve come up short, I haven’t completed my long list of goals I had made for myself, and I just feel like there are so many bad days stacking up… I’m not alone, and that is a comforting feeling that gives me hope, and the strength to try again, just one more day.
It’s the honest emotions we’re all feeling that unites us. This solidarity that we’re in this together, that brings that sunshine in through the foggy clouds.
We can survive this. We can survive the overwhelm, you and me. If I promise you to not fall silent for too long when I’m in the thick of it, will you promise me that you will keep speaking out too, even if it just means saying “I’m having a bummer day“?
I hope you do, because I really appreciate knowing that others can relate. We need each other, so thank you for taking it just one day at a time, for all the moments you’ve shared your REAL feelings with me, or someone you feel safe confiding in. Thank you for being strong, in your own way, by showing up to life and doing your best – because the best is all anyone can expect when facing the overwhelm in this ‘new world’ we live in today.
Your friend in life 💚,