I was recently interviewed for a podcast that is dedicated to women and is all about our thoughts on life and the different ways we empower and inspire each other. (I will let you know when/where these episodes can be found in the future or you can follow the podcast HERE for updates!) When I was asked to be interviewed, I expected that there would be some great questions since the host, Andrea Chesley, is a very intuitive and creative person.
However, these questions went beyond my expectations and, a week later, I am still contemplating their meaning and my own answers. Today, it's this question in particular that I can't seem to shake:
What does your alternate universe look like and when did those pivotal moments take place?
Yep. That's not a loaded question at all. Are you sure you don't want to know what my herbal tea preference is instead? Okay. Just checking.
I won't be discussing my answer today. (You've got to tune in for that one!) To be honest, I will probably have to listen to the episode to remember what I even said. Interviews are a whole new ball game for me!
What I do want to share are my thoughts on the idea of our alternate universes and how healthy, or unhealthy, it is to choose to explore them.
I mean, have you ever been in the middle of doing something when you suddenly have an overwhelming need to analyze where and how in the hell you have arrived at this very moment in your life? Well, you're not alone.
(This would be a good time to refill that wine glass. We're about to dive in.)
I have had these moments while standing in a crowd of hundreds, and I've had them during the most mundane of daily routines. They have no requirements for our outside surroundings to show up because they are very much the product of our insides—no matter how far we think we have buried them.
Suddenly, the dishes you are rinsing belong to someone else and you are standing in a strange place that you are supposed to call home and you're not even sure if you really know the other people standing in the rooms with or around you—including yourself.
Questions begin to surface: Who am I? Who are they? Do we really belong to each other?
For me, many times these moments have brought on physical feelings that are comparable to panic attacks. Shortness of breath, uncomfortable amounts of weight on the chest, sensitivity to light, feelings of claustrophobia—the list goes on and on.
When we sense that we're losing control (or question if you have ever really had any), it makes sense to take on the symptoms of anxiety. Especially for those of us that have, or still, struggle with it. Because as much as we despise all of those reactions, they are what we know. And we know them oh so well.
They are familiar and familiarity is what we naturally relate to getting back to a state of comfort—even when it causes discomfort. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but haven't you ever hear of the term comfortably miserable? It's the same thing.
Depression and anxiety can make us feel safe in a strange way. And that "safety" is one big, fat, HUGE lie.
So, why do we keep trying to comfort ourselves with it?
When I began to reflect on the question of what my alternate universe would look like, I immediately assumed that it was better than where I was currently. You see, my mind is a natural depressive and I can't really blame it because that's what it knows best. My mind loves to overanalyze and wallow and whine and sulk and all of the other pass-the-tissues sort of things.
But my heart? My heart is OVER it. SO over it. It has also had an ongoing membership at the gym of positivity and self-care AND has been attending regularly! My heart is ready to roundhouse kick my mind's ass—and I am getting better and better of staying out of its way.
Here's what I decided to do: I decided to let my mind have its moment—but only momentarily.
Yes, in my alternate universe I could have made choices that would have landed me in situations that are more financially favored or in a city I desire to explore or with children or with a closet just for shoes or a credit line at Barney's or blah, blah, insert other fancy blah here.
Yes, that all sounds amazing. But, you know what else is pretty effing amazing? MY life. My current reality. The one I am actually living and breathing and not just painting on the romanticized walls of my mind.
It's easy to say that the lives we could have been living would be so much better because we aren't actually living them.
We don't know what kind of problems would have popped up or what roadblocks would have interrupted our fancy imagined lives because those are not as much fun to dwell on. Pity parties do not invite reality in for tea because reality is the ultimate pooper of the pity party. There is absolutely no path in life we can choose that can guarantee exemption from the difficulties that are bound to show up in life.
Sure, there are definitely paths we can choose that are not going to have as many issues as others. But I'm hoping we can chalk those up to common sense for the time being. You know, like the decision to smoke crack or not smoke crack. Let's just assume, for the sake of this blog post, that we all know that choosing not smoke crack is a better general life decision. Crack is wack, hugs not drugs, wine not lines—let's move along.
If you have made some decisions that you regret making, do yourself a favor and don't get so damn down on yourself for them. Listen to that Elsa biotch and let that shit go! We're human. We f*ck up—sometimes royally! But that doesn't mean that our current circumstances aren't worthy. You are in that circumstance and guess what? YOU are worthy so it is too. Love yourself back to a path you are proud to claim. Put in the work, but fuel that tank with grace and humility and love. Love triumphs and it heals—always.
Once I recognized that I was looking at the answer to this question about my coveted alternate universe negatively, I needed to pinpoint why. It was only because negativity felt natural and it was a habit I allowed to continue in my life for much, much too long. Once I was able to step outside of that comfortable misery I caught a good glimpse of what it really looked like. And, let me tell you,.from the outside it didn't look as much like comfort as it did misery.
There is another way we can choose to respond to these moments of that scream who-what-when-where-why-am-I-this-person-figure-it-out-immediately-I-don't-care-if-you-are-in-the-middle-of-target-do-it-now! We can recognize them as brilliant little (or big) moments of clarity.
It is your body and mind's way of being so aware that you are alive and breathing that they demand your attention. ALL of it! It is our way of forcing ourselves to drop all of the acts we learned along the way and have the chance to say this:
"Wow. I'm here. Right now. In this big and beautiful and endless and crazy blue marble with LOTS of questions, seeking LOTS of answers. At this moment, I am uncontrollably and miraculously ALIVE."
When you think about it in that context, it's really kind of beautiful how unpredictable life can be. It means that we have unlimited choices and the freedom to decide where our feet land next and the chance to change the life we are living at any given moment.
Why are we trying to stress ourselves out over this fact? We should be grateful for it!
Maybe if we started to welcome these moments (Dare I even say look forward to them?), we would no longer feel like they were attacking us. Let your mind wander into the land of what could have been without getting lost in the idea of what should have been. Looking back and dwelling on where we think we should be is the biggest lie we can tell ourselves. Because if we were meant to be there, then guess what? We already would be.
Trust your own timing. Don't try to dig up old wrongs that you have already made right. Trust that the people in your life are there for a reason, whether it is a lesson in love or one of loss. Trust that your alternate universe was never meant to manifest, because you had better places to see and learn and love and grow even if it sometimes doesn't feel that way.
Wanna know where that place is? Just look down. It's wherever you're standing. It's wherever YOU are.