APRIL 2017: TIME
Welcome to month 3 of A+ Life! This month, we’re focusing on a topic that’s both abstract and definite, endless and scarce, healing and harrowing...we’re talking about time.
As I just listed, time is the most contradictory gift we are given. Our perception of this gift is what makes it so; some days, we want more time to do what we want, and others, we can’t wait for time to pass. We’re constantly in this paradox of wanting time to move faster, while also wanting to make it last as long as possible.
The place where I have experienced the most stress with the gift of time has been in dealing with my anxiety disorder. At its root, anxiety is about impatience. When we don’t know what’s coming next, a normal, mentally sound person would wait patiently, perhaps with mild worry, until the result comes. A person with anxiety, on the other hand, is terrified of the unknown. When an anxious person has to wait, they ruminate. They make up scenarios of what the incoming result may be, and stew about it until the notion of what could be is too overwhelming. And the more time we have to wait, the more inconsolable we become. To an anxious person, time can be the most terrifying thing in the world.
I am most impatient in the start of a new romantic relationship. When I meet someone new, I am like any girl, starry-eyed and happy. But since I’ve had a troubled past with relationships and have never had anything last longer than a few months, I become obsessed with timing in new romances. The length of time between texts, how many days we go without seeing each other, how long it takes before we become official...it all means something to me, because I’ve experienced so many failures with love that I believe are borne out of bad timing.
I often project these bad memories onto the state of my new relationships. For example, when I was in high school, I dated a boy I’ve talked about a few times on this blog--Joe (not his real name). Joe had had a crush on a friend of mine--we’ll call her Taylor--for years. But one summer, Taylor told Joe flatly that she was not interested in dating him. Just a few days after this, Joe asked me out. And after a tumultuous two years of on and off talking, some dating, not feeling good enough, and constant anxiety about losing him, I eventually broke up with Joe after learning that he had asked Taylor to prom instead of me. I had fallen for Joe, but to him, I was just a rebound girl.
In more recent times, I began dating someone--we’ll call him Jordan--who had left a long-term relationship a few months before we met. The memories of being Joe’s second-choice-girl made me very suspicious of my new partner; I thought that he was going to be the same as Joe, just keeping me around when he was lonely. These suspicions often sabotaged my feelings, and made me believe Jordan wasn’t truly happy to be with me. But these assumptions weren’t fair to Jordan--he was not Joe, and not anyone else I’ve dated. The fact that I projected these assumptions onto him led to stress for both of us in the relationship. Luckily, we were able to work through my worries--Jordan showed me patience and grace, and even though we aren't dating anymore, that experience was incredibly constructive. When someone else showed me how to focus on the present without influence from my past, I realized how much time I was wasting being upset about the possibility of disappointment.
When I’m anxious in love, I become absolutely insufferable, driving both my peers and myself crazy with worry. I have yet to learn how to truly relax in romance. But in my times of distress, I always come back to the same three pieces of advice: have patience, trust, and be still.
Anxious people are wired to jump to the worst conclusions--I understand that trust is often not a word in their vocabulary (and often, it’s not a word in mine), but breathing exercises and yoga can only take us so far when it comes to solving our ruminating thoughts. I hate to admit it, but the only true way to silence anxiety for a long period of time is to develop the ability to wait peacefully. When we wait worriedly, the time passes, and we waste it, stewing away over something that might not even happen. But when we decide to let it go, be still in our minds, and just breathe, we give ourselves freedom to live. We can actually enjoy the time as it passes.
The relationship between time, trust, and happiness is one that teenagers encounter everyday. Teens are people who are told to prepare for the future in the present by using what they’ve learned in the past. With that mindset, it’s easy to see how teens can become swallowed in their formative years. This month, I want to focus on the abstract parts of time--like anxiety, trust, and patience--but also help teens approach time in a way that allows them to have happy, fun lives. We will talk about time management, practicing calmness, and grow through stillness. It’s going to be a good time! (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!)
I am so excited for this month and can’t wait to show you next week’s video! In the meantime, I was recently featured on my dear friend Dr. Julie Connor’s blog. Click here to read the article!
Have an A+ Day,