Surprises are the bane of the Type A existence. Of course, if you add anxiety to the genetic melting pot of the aforementioned perfectionist, unplanned circumstances are perhaps doubly unwelcome.
This Summer, I learned to deal with the unexpected.
This Summer, I learned to deal with pain. I suppose that severe physical pain can be described as excruciating. But the pain that comes from the emotional trauma associated with self-deprecation, depression, and anxiety is gut-wrenching. Although I know my experiences pale in comparison to the severity of countless atrocities that others have to face day in and day out, I cannot downplay the hatred that I lavished on my brain that culminated at the end of May and month of June. In my mind, I had disappointed so many people that I looked up to, I had disappointed myself, and I had ruined my potential at the college that I knew was and is a huge blessing in my life.
To make it worse for my already fed-up brain, I had to shove down and learn to discard the pride that was slashed when I was rejected by not one, but three potential jobs. I had to face being rejected from an incredible traveling and scholarship opportunity simply because I take a moderate dose of an anxiety medication. I did not even receive the small to moderate scholarship that I was all but promised to receive form a separate source.
And then, death. I suppose death is the catalyst for both grief and growth. Here, I am not referring to the death of anything metaphorical. This Summer I faced the death that I knew was coming – that of my family friend who so courageously fought the battle of cancer. And then, I faced the unexpected death. Suicide.
I lost a friend who I had known my whole life to suicide. Granted, I had drifted from her over the past 12 months or so due to unfortunate circumstances, but when a 20-year-old whom you shared clothes with, makeup with, laughs with, and hearts with at one point in your existence takes her life, you have to stop what you are doing and seriously take some time to evaluate and reflect.
I’m not sure where things began to change for me. All I know is that these deaths mutilated my self-loathing. Something within my mind finally accepted that I have to spend each day wisely, and being wise, I decided, did not include tearing my own self apart and succumbing to anxiety and fear. And aside from this, in the midst of this all, I was finally able to join a small group of similar-minded young adults seeking the Lord who encouraged me through the process.
You see, this Summer was unexpected in a lot of horrible ways. But I was also able to reconnect with old friends (as I write this, I am sitting next to a friend from elementary school who goes to RIT in the Roberts science lounge!). I was able to strengthen current ones. I was able to increase in love for my family. I was able to meet a whole community of fellow believers that do nothing but encourage and strengthen each other. I began to let my mind be transformed.
Finally, one day in August I woke up almost crying. However, this time it was not due to the heavy burden of depression, or the fear of guilt, or the nausea of anxiety. This time I woke up in tears due to the realization of the incredible blessing that is the life God gave me.
Suddenly, and yet not so suddenly, the weight of the death and the disappointment and the unexpectedness of this Summer became absolutely beautiful. I looked back at what God had done in my life and those around me in just a few short months and I realized I was not afraid to move forward anymore.
I think I have realized that life is about moving on. It is about accepting each second, reflecting, and being thankful for each moment that we have the opportunity to inhale, exhale, count our pulse, and rest in the confidence and steadiness of the God who made us. Because when you rest in the confidence of an unchanging God, moving on and facing unexpectedness ceases to be the bane of the Type A existence. Rather, it awakens the soul of drive and excitement. Surprises are welcome and even disappointment is beautiful.
How wonderful it is that we can share with others that “Beauty there echoes a speck of our Source.” Without Him, I truly believe, life is nothing. Life is a philosophical journey best lived in the hands of an unchanging and all-knowing God.