On learning to be calm.

I remember when my cousin accidentally knocked me in the face while we were playing. It wasn't bad, but I had no chill as a kid, so I took revenge and immediately punched her right in the face. I was probably around 7 years old at that time. Sorry, bud.

For as long as I can remember I've been riddled with worry and anger, and the worrying part kind of got worse as I got older. I know that anxiety is normal, and they were the things that you would expect from any person: I worried about my career, meeting people, making friends, dealing with work and life drama, and finding love. You know, the usual stuff. But the problem was that it felt like it was happening all at once for no reason at all. At the peak of it, I remember not being able to sleep and trying to cope by drinking more alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and watching a lot of Netflix.

At that point, I decided that I needed professional help. I didn't want to do it at first because I didn't want to believe that I had a problem or that there was something wrong with me. But reading about anxiety and depression (especially Hyperbole and a Half) and being able to relate to it has pushed me to seek help.

It was a very long process, and it started out with medication which helped me be more rational when the anxieties started piling up. It felt like I could split up the massive blob of anxiety into its constituents and be able to deal with each one. It's the same feeling that I get when I get new glasses: everything is somehow clearer, and you question how you lived the way you did in the past. However being able to deal with each anxiety was a totally different beast, and this is where therapy came in.

Therapy helped me through my problems with anxiety, loneliness, and confidence, and it's easily the best investment I've ever made for myself. If you can afford it (see this therapy calculator and this blog post for optionsโ€”you can get affordable therapists) I think you should do it and don't give a fuck about the stigma behind it.

There were also hobbies that have indirectly helped me get my calm on:

  • Journaling. I keep a private gratitude journal, and even though I'm not consistent with it (yet!), I find that I don't ever regret doing it. It takes a bit of time, but it's worth it.

  • Moving. The strength and euphoria that I feel right after a gym session have helped me be calmer. You'd think that hearing grunts and banging iron would be the farthest environment that you'd want to put yourself in to be calm, but I found that pushing myself to my limits and being focused on one thing has made me a calmer person.

  • Traveling. Nope, it's not the picturesque views that you see while traveling, but it's all the problems that you encounter while traveling is what I think helped me the most. Locking your keys in the car, not being prepared for the cold weather, not being prepared for the rain, not budgeting enough money, dealing with strong winds, finding a place to do your business, and not knowing where the fuck you are has all helped me be more secure with myself in dealing with shit that comes my way.

Like I said, this has been a long journey and unquestionably not an overnight thing. It's been 3 years, and I'm still learning.

Here's to being calm.

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