It’s a year since I quit my job and the eve of my 52nd birthday. The past week has been spent mostly dancing around the house singing the joys of another year of life, love and evolution on this third planet from the sun. However, in between the singing, I hear a familiar backdrop – anxiety. Those thoughts that swirl in my head with all the what-ifs and whatnots.
I know my self-help memoir is my signature work to date and the reviews have been incredible, but what if no one hears about it? What if, despite my best efforts, I can’t access a large enough platform to access all the millions of people for whom this book would be a godsend? What if my seed money runs out and I can’t continue to promote it? Then, it goes deeper. I’ve been single for a while because I love myself and I can’t partner up with just any random dude. But what if I never meet my special person? What if I die penniless and alone like the legendary Zora Neale Hurston? (She was married 3x, if you’re wondering.) Worse than all of that, what if I stop dreaming? The moment we give up hope is the beginning of slow death. We quietly become the old cranky neighbor who yelled at us as children. Get off my lawn! Stop playing music! Quiet the children and the dogs! Stop being so happy!
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” It sounds pretty accurate. But when does it become “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” What pushes us over the edge?
According to the NIH, 19.1% of U.S. adults had an anxiety disorder in the past year, 23.4% for females and 14.3% for males. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml If my life is any indication, we all have moments of anxiety, especially if our life is one that includes some uncertainty. Even the most risk-averse among us would have a hard time charting a risk-free path. I imagine attempting to live a life without a hint of danger would be fraught with anxiety. It doesn’t seem like there’s any getting around it. However, it’s alarming that nearly 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will experience an anxiety disorder this year. That’s more than 38 million women, and it doesn’t even take into account all the additional stress 2020’s brought with it: mind-numbing politics, a global pandemic, massive business closings, innumerable illnesses and deaths, constant police brutality, endless conspiracy theories and terrifying hate groups.
2020’s packed a punch. It’s okay if you don’t always feel okay. Some days I’m right there with you. So, what to do when anxiety or sadness or a sense of simply being overwhelmed climbs out from the corners of your mind and takes an unwelcome seat at your table?
• First off, give yourself permission to be “in a mood.” You don’t have to be happy and accommodating to everyone all the time.
• Second, speak kindly to yourself. You are not perfect. Perfection isn’t even a thing. You, however, are REAL. And, that’s something to be proud of. Congratulate yourself on being an amazing real YOU, who has made it so far and has learned so much.
• Third, treat yo’self. I often speak about my self-care toolbox. Now’s the time to bring it out. Whether it’s a cup of tea, a warm bath, a nap, turning off the news and watching a comedy, reading a good book, practicing yoga, pouring a glass of prosecco, journaling or meditating. Find the things that make you feel good and allow you to reset your nervous system. You don’t need to apologize. You deserve that shit.
If every day were easy, we wouldn’t call this life. Perhaps we’d call it Heaven, the Pure Land, or Nirvana. Listen, we’re not there. We’re here. Like any map that you’ve seen that says, “You are HERE.” We never look at those maps unless we’re trying to get to another place. It’s okay to be present with whatever you’re feeling today. There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness in the wellness culture. You’re HERE. That’s OKAY. I love you.
Stay with it. Love yourself. Keep doing the good work. We’re going to be okay.
I wish you all Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance.
P.S. If you are anxious or just need to set aside time for yourself, join me on September 26 for my Black Vegan Life Virtual Retreat (for Women Only). Details at trishahjelroberts.com/black-vegan-life. And, if you haven’t read my self-help memoir, Thinking Outside the Chrysalis: A Black Woman’s Guide to Spreading Her Wings, what are you waiting for? I got my first third-party review TODAY and it’s 5 STARS! Check it out here: https://indiestoday.com/thinking-outside-the-chrysalis/ If you are interested in one of my heroes, Zora Neale Hurston, learn more at zoranealehurston.com