Its a rainy morning here in Shawinigan, Quebec. I’ve always found it very peculiar why people feel this need to complain about the weather. What’s the point? It just does what it does. Meteorological events are a thing of nature. Sometimes they are phenomena of pure awe and beauty like that of striking rainbow cascading above a farmer’s field. And sometimes the weather can be violent and unforgiving bringing devastation to a community. Tropical storms, blizzards, heat waves, bitter cold, etc. Anywhere you go in this world there are challenges to be found.
Every year we have an expectation from season to season. We mock-up a hope or desire for what the weather should be like, seeking to benefit ourselves in the long-term. I get it. Who wouldn’t want perfect weather that’s just, I don’t know, easy? We’re in constant pursuit to find the more suitable. Our conquest for acceptance, love, and happiness is always at our side as we push onward. We all want what’s best for us. But, the reality is that, much like the weather, the path to obtaining these is always unpredictable and laced with uncertainty.
Experts have been saying for years that human beings are directly responsible for the erratic weather patterns the planet exhibits. Others argue that global warming is big fat hairy myth and this simply a case of manifest destiny. Whatever you believe one point remains a constant I find: there’s no controlling the outcome nor the response.
Exhibit A: Let’s say you start putting in extra hours at work. You’ve been pushing really hard for that promotion and desperately seeking your boss’s approval. You’ve rubbed a lot elbows. The extra money and better hours would be a godsend for you and your family. Finally, the day comes when you muster up enough courage to march into your boss’s office and lay yourself on the line. But, then something happens. Your boss tells you that he appreciates your efforts and hard work, but he’s not willing to give you that promotion because of A, B, and C. How could this have happened? You thought for certain that this was a sure thing. You were a shoe-in! Now what? You leave his office sullen and forlorn.
I worry about outcomes… a lot. I find myself skipping out on social events and interactions with people just because I mentally can not handle it. Often times I get fixated on negative scenarios that I’ve created in my mind. This usually pushes me to the point of just avoiding the social piece of my life entirely. I’m weighing out the possibilities around the given circumstances based on what has happened to me in the past. Fortunately, my condition is not clinical. I’m not stuck in my house 24/7 with this perpetual fear of just turning the doorknob. No, it’s not that bad. I’m not like Karen’s mom from the TV series Shameless. But, I feel for those people who do suffer like that. THAT is an anxiety that is unwavering and all powerful. However, I will deliberately avoid social interaction if it means my comfort zone could be jeopardized and keeping my sanity in check. I’ve thought long and hard about this. Perhaps I fear the reception of others. Perhaps I fear the response.
Exhibit B: A new hobby shop has opened up in my home town. Every Friday the store hosts a game night where people are invited to stop in, grab a drink or something to eat, mingle and play games of all sorts. I love playing games with people. I really enjoy Magic the Gathering and I’m usually pretty open to trying new things. I once got in contact with the guy who runs the shop via Facebook when it first opened. I told him I’d be in on one of my days off. Well, the store’s been open for two months now and I still haven’t made it. Once I start thinking about going over there and checking the place out I freeze. The thought of meeting new people and going outside of my comfort zone is too much. To top it off, I worry that the owner will comment on my not showing up when I said I would. I start to doubt my French language abilities. I fear I’ll be judged for not speaking well enough and that the person I’m interacting with won’t be patient with me. I take my shoes off, hang my coat up, and back downstairs I go.
When it rains it pours, right? Anxiety makes everything bigger; more elaborate; more hopeless. It makes all that is good and positive seem utterly insurmountable. It makes change seem pointless and kills confidence. Anxiety is a lot like the weather. It comes and goes in various forms. Some days the skies are clear and all is calm. I savor those moments of serenity. But other days the winds are raging and the storm is brutal. In times like these I’m desperately trying anything to navigate through it and there’s no beacon signaling the end of my efforts. I often make mistakes because the logical part of my brain has hung a sign on its front door that reads “Out To Lunch” and I’m in fight or flight mode. I’ve no choice but to endure.
Managing our anxiety can be so difficult. It poses numerous challenges in day-to-day routines. It’s easy to look at yourself and feel ashamed as if there’s something terribly wrong with you. It’s easy to think that others share the same opinion. I’ve done it and I’ll probably do it again. So quick we are to sabotage and judge ourselves. We are all good people. We’ve just been blessed with a sensitive temperament. We feel over responsible and a whole lot of guilt when things go awry. We’re afraid to make mistakes because of the fear of being judged that will further solidify our crippled confidence. We are scared of being rejected because we’ve been pushed away before. These things may seem totally irrational to those not effected by anxiety and depression. But, to us, these feelings are very real.
Winters up here in the north are long and rough. The region starts getting colder with the onset of fall and you know that snow and ice are on the horizon. The weather doesn’t start to let up until March. I’ve got nothing against the winter, honestly. I find it charming and magical. I have many good memories as a child playing in the snow with my siblings; runny noses and frozen appendages that I cared less about. As an adult my point of view has changed. I’ve adapted to winter and I can nip those childhood woes right in the bud now. I’ve accepted my winter for what it is. Its arduous and isolating. There are many days where you just don’t go outside because the fear of being mauled by a polar bear who’s been sorting through your garbage is very real. You get pounded with blizzards and chilled to the core from icy winds. I’ve accepted this though. Its home.
So why not do the same with my anxiety? Through all the tribulations and denial of its existence couldn’t I just look at it through the lens of acceptance? Could I not just acknowledge that it’s a part of me; a part of who I am? There’s a reason why most people don’t just move away from the east coast after getting slammed with a hurricane. Could it be that they’ve accepted this chaotic place as home because there’s a much bigger picture involved? Is it possible that they’ve learned to endure and adapt to this type of weather because their survival depended on it?
I like to think so.