“It’s amazing how far we’ll go just to maintain some measure of control. The world spins a circle within a circle and we grip so tight it makes our knuckles white. When all we really want to do is let go, lose control, fall, see where we land.”
Welcome to the mind of an anxious over-thinker – always on edge, always racing at the speed of lightning, preparing for the worst, and fighting the fires. You always want to be in control because you are too scared of uncertainty and too afraid of the unknown. At the same time, you’re exhausted and feel drained from all the effort you’re putting in. You just want to let go.
I’m here to tell you that you can find a middle ground. A balance between letting go and staying grounded at the same time. As soon as you’re hit with a road block you usually become a victim of the snowball effect. It feels like you’re a ball of snow rolling down a hill. The list of potential things that can go wrong keeps adding to the mass of the snowball. You start to think it would end up in an avalanche.
Your job here is to pause. Acknowledge the fact that you’re still not at the bottom of the hill. Grab hold of anything that can give you some support, anything that can break your fall. It can be a hobby, your faith, your creativity or your love for sports. Just make sure it’s a positive activity and cling to it like dear life. Grab it and make it the center of the storm. Channel the speed of your mind and the energy you’re spending in overthinking towards that activity. You’ll see that things will start to turn around.
Last year, I had to leave my job due to a health issue. It was affecting my performance, my creativity and in turn my self-esteem. The thought that maybe I’m just not good enough was haunting me. I used to feel like my career has ended. I started going down the road of depression when I realized no, that is not where I want to go.
Here is how I found a pivot in my life while letting go at the same time.
I grabbed hold of writing
I’ve always been writing intermittently but never had the time and courage to do it full time. It was a part of my job but when you’re writing commercially you have far less creative freedom. When I felt myself going downhill, I searched desperately for something that would make me feel good. The answer was starting my own blog. I took this opportunity to assure myself that I was still good at SOMETHING. The negative feedback I had been getting was circumstantial.
I poured my heart out in my initial posts not caring what anyone else would think. That gave me such a kick, a sense of freedom and creative relief. I started to realize that when I wrote from the heart, I was in fact good enough.
I found a support system
When you decide to do something different, it is important that you surround yourself with likeminded people. People who get it, people who don’t weigh you by how many boxes of social expectations you have checked.
I started interacting with all the friends and family members who supported me and encouraged me to start a blog. They even helped me build it from scratch. God knows where I would be without them. Simultaneously, I started blocking out any external and internal negative input; trying to rationalize it instead of getting worked up about it. As the pop culture reference goes, “I didn’t have time for that negativity in my life.”
I started reading again
Usually, all writers are avid readers. It fuels the mind, breaks creative blocks, adds to your knowledge and vocabulary, and above all, it relaxes you.
When I felt like I had exhausted my creative juices and I would never be able to produce good content again, reading two or three books worked like caffeine. Words and ideas started coming to me like a constant flow of electrons.
I was so proud of myself for investing my time in a positive activity. It also gave me a chance to catch up on my reading that was lagging because of my former busy schedule.
I detached from social media
Watching your peers achieve milestones when you’re on a hiatus can be hard. The feeling of “not doing enough” and feeling of ”being left behind” can easily take over when you’re constantly on social media.
Once I started writing, working on my blog and reading, I had far less time to focus on other people’s lives and scrolling through social media. I also made myself realize that what people put on display is just one aspect of their lives. No one’s life is perfect and it’s okay if mine isn’t. There is no point in ticking off milestones if I don’t feel good during the ride or if it’s draining me.
That took so much weight off my shoulders and I felt considerably lighter.
Leaving your usual place of living occasionally is so important! When you spend too much time at one place with the same people, your perspective on life becomes narrower. Meeting new people and getting a different dose of stimuli can break the cycle of negativity in your mind.
Now not all of us have the luxury of traveling to other countries. I went to visit my aunt in a different city for a month. That had an amazing effect on my productivity. I set up my blog from scratch from domain name to layout to three initial blog posts in a month! By leaving I just mean a change of atmosphere – anywhere that doesn’t drive you crazy.
So, here’s how I found my ground while letting go of the clutter at a time when I felt like I was disappearing. My blog isn’t making me any money yet but I’ve never felt more at peace. While I would certainly go back to my career, I am so glad that I found my center. I’m also glad I took some time off to do what I like at my own terms.
I’ll finish this off with an anecdote. One of my professors at university called me to his office once, held one hand up in the air and said, “Your grades, career, money: rubber ball. If it falls, it can bounce back.” Then he held the other hand up and said, “Your health, happiness, peace: crystal ball. If it falls, you’re going to have a hard time putting it back together. You’re smart enough to know what I mean.”
This is a guest post by our friend, Komal Munawar. Her blog is offering alternative perspectives and discussing life lessons as they come.