About a week after I landed in Sacramento from New York I was walking near a creek in yet another city I used to live in. I was dehydrated, anxious, and in the middle of another panic attack (because New York does that to me.) I saw this woman sitting there on the ledge, smiling into the sun with a little boy by her side and asked her if I could have some of her water. I sat on the ground in front of them and drank away as she asked me about myself. Somehow I started telling her my whole life story: everything I was going through, my age (23 at the time), where I had been, and where I was coming from. What I was not doing with my life, who I was not becoming, why I was confused, and why I was not enough.
She looked so happy before I came around asking for her water, so I should have felt ridiculous for ranting. She then told me her story and the hardships she spoke of didn’t match her face or how happy she looked. We talked for about an hour and it was then that I realized how bad our perceptions are of each other and of ourselves. My story definitely does not match my appearance and that in itself is a blessing, but it also causes a high volume of separatism among us and we all end up feeling misunderstood.
“You have to stop being so hard on yourself.” Is a phrase I often heard whenever I met a stranger. Journeying on my own teaches me things that having friends never did: how to finally see myself and grow it. Strangers begin serving as reflections of my own life, my own journey and I see who I am in them and in their words and stories. It was as if the universe was strategically placing these people into my life to send me messages and encouragement as I needed it.
I hadn’t realized how much of a constant attack I put myself under, how much stress I caused myself without reason. I had to catch myself, take it easy and change the lens in which I viewed my world. I’m living a very privileged existence; life should not be as serious as I was making it. I was wanting all of the wrong things.
I instead opted for a peaceful life. Something I could have in every single moment if I chose it. I didn’t want to be so stressed out anymore, doing work I didn’t believe in, being with people that drained me. Seeking peace can feel selfish, and it’s never clear where decisions will lead or what experiences I’ll be sacrificing. I had to get over the fear of missing out on what someone told me my 20’s were supposed to be and come to terms that I value things that are different from most of my peers.
Staying honest with myself and learning to trust my own heart is another journey within a journey within a journey. Do men go through this shit?