I've always thought of myself as being fiercely independent - someone who likes time with others, but can totally do my own thing and be thrilled with it. I mean, I've always lived alone (minus college and living with my parents, obviously), I've traveled to Africa and China without knowing anyone else, I hate working out/doing yoga/running with other people, etc. so I absolutely MUST be an independent person.
However, I've learned this past year that when I am alone, it's when anxiety really gets the best of me. I've struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember - it's mostly overthinking things, but to such an extreme that I always thought was completely normal. Someone not responding to a text or phone call becomes spun into the worst case scenario, where I'm running through every single possible scenario of why this person clearly does not like me, and this spirals until I do hear back from them (which I always do). I've learned how to combat it to an extent - using facts and realism helps ("Really, Allison? You did absolutely nothing and this person hates you? Does that sound probable?"), but it doesn't make the thoughts go away.
Being in a relationship and dealing with anxiety has been really difficult too - it's where you struggle with wondering even though someone has never given me any reason not to trust, not to believe that he's faithful to me - but what if? What if situation xyz occurs and that is thrown? What if he's out and meets someone prettier or with better skin or skinnier or funnier than me? It's ridiculous, but it's so debilitating at the same time that it's hard to escape from that thought pattern. It makes it very difficult to date, and to just let go, especially when you have a past history of boyfriends who cheat or make you feel awful about yourself (not that I was perfect either).
I feel like, especially with the presence of social media where we're just inundated with smiling faces, nights out where everyone looks phenomenal, couples holding hands and laughing - we start to think that maybe there's something wrong with us when we're: fighting with our family or significant other, when we wake up and look like shit, when we're wearing yoga pants for days because we didn't do laundry and have nothing left, etc.
There isn't a lot of honesty from people talking about their emotional problems - we shove them away and act like everything is fine. I do it too - I wrote a whole post on my birthday and all the phenomenal aspects of it, but I also didn't write that I got way too drunk and threw up in my parking lot after getting home, or that I was upset because some of my friends literally didn't speak to me that night because they were preoccupied. We keep those struggles and those aspects to ourselves, because it's easier to make it seem like life is really good.
I've also realized that unless I talk about what's going on - to my best friends, to my parents, to the person I'm in a relationship with when that's the situation - they never go away. The anxiety builds and builds, and becomes all consuming where I do isolate myself, but not in a way that's healthy.
Last night I was out with a friend, and he told me that I need to stop relying on other people to make me happy - I need to find that happiness within myself. It's true - I'm so affected by the actions of others and it throws me off for so long, where I spend time just beating the shit out of myself (figuratively) for being so overemotional. We are ALL emotional though - whether you express it outwardly or not - and we are all entitled to be upset, to be happy, to be angry, etc. So I will be working on owning my emotions, on feeling things, and on working my New Year's resolution to be a little less hard on myself - while working on that balance of healthy independence.
All images via Pinterest.
How do you deal with negativity - whether people, feelings, or situations?
What are your favorite things to do on your own?
Currently - taking a short break from reading Eating Animals, and listening to NPR.