I really hate being told what to do.
I mean, who does? Am I right? But believe me when I tell you, I really hate being told what to do. I’m talking like, if you told me not to touch a hot stove, I would probably touch it anyway and endure the burn simply because you just had to go and tell me not to. I have been this way my entire life and truthfully, my disdain for direction has come back to bite me in the ass at times, i.e., the hot stove situation. But when I look back at the last nearly three decades of my life, I have noticed that my hatred of being told what to do and how to act has ultimately done me much more good than harm. Doing the opposite of what I am told is what I’ve always been best at. It has gotten me through really difficult times in my life and it is one of the main reasons I am now married to the love of my life, have my own practice, my own blog, and a podcast about to launch. I have always gone after what I want with ferocity, letting the doubts and judgements of others serve as fuel to propel me further toward my dreams.
Recently though, I have found myself losing sight of this part of me. Times are so tough – not just for me, but for all of us. COVID-19 has flat-out devastated everyone in one way or another. Most of us went from hugging people on daily basis to fearing for our lives if we get too close to someone. I mean, six months ago – it was considered normal to eat birthday cake after someone else breathed all over it in an attempt to blow out candles. Can you even imagine doing that now? Will we ever be able to do anything like that again?
This quarantine feels unending. As much as I consider myself to be a homebody, I am so tired of being stuck in the house. In fact, I am so sick of all of it – the conspiracy theories, the death tolls, the unanswered questions about the long-term effects of this virus….just everything. These last few weeks in particular, I have found myself feeling powerless, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I am questioning every professional and personal move I make, on top of feeling nervous every time I cough. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for the monster that is COVID-19 to finally catch up with me. Sometimes it feels like it is just a matter of time before it finds me (Hello, anxiety). I feel distraught for those who have died. I feel sick with worry over the continued increase in rates of abuse and suicide among kids and adults. But what can I do about it?
The voices in my head have been so loud – “You can’t do this. You don’t have what it takes. You’re so dumb. Who are you to think you can change the world?” And then one day it hit me: I would never in a million years let someone else talk to me like that. I can guarantee that if someone told me I do not have what it takes to succeed, I’d simply use it as fuel!
Don’t tell me I can’t, because I can.
Don’t tell me I won’t, because I will.
Don’t tell me it’s impossible, because I’ll get it done.
This has been my mantra for as long as I can remember, so why on earth am I now giving into my own thoughts of criticism, hopelessness, and doubt? Why am I giving that voice in my head more credit than it deserves? I cannot let these terrible feelings shatter me now, and neither should you.
- When you feel powerless, do something that makes you feel empowered. Buy yourself some resistance bands and a pair of dumbbells and create your own workout. Go for a bike ride. Create a garden in your backyard. Do something that raises your heartrate and makes you feel strong and alive.
- When you feel devastated as you look at your summer wardrobe, realizing you barely got dressed up all summer because everything has been cancelled, make it a point to go out. Even if you think outdoor dining is terrible. Even if you feel annoyed at having to sit outside and sweat while you eat. Do it anyway. Pick out an outfit. Dress up. Go out to eat, sweat your ass off, sweat your makeup off. Who cares? Do it just to remind yourself that you can.
- When you feel isolated, surround yourself with people in the ways that you can. Don’t cut people off because we cannot see each other in person. Get creative! Plan virtual game nights with friends (via Tabletopia, the House Party app, etc.), plan FaceTime dates, Zoom dates, Zoom happy hours. If you enjoy going to wine/beer tastings with friends, plan a Zoom wine tasting. It’s not the same but it helps immensely with the isolation.
- When you feel like your whole life is out of control and the decisions you once used to make for yourself are no longer yours to make due to the pandemic, remind yourself of the things you do have control over. Remind yourself of the things you can still do. You can speak to people, you can still see people, you can get outside and catch some Vitamin D, you can hold your pets, your kids, and some of your loved ones tight, you can move your body, you can get in your car and go for a drive to the beach to 7pm to watch the sun set. Yes, so much has been taken away, but we have to remember that we still have so much power.
I know I am not the only one who has been feeling really upset and disoriented lately, especially in the wake of COVID. But instead of giving into those feelings, I am working hard to do the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I still find myself needing to make space for the devastation that I feel, but these days I am making every effort to not stay stuck in those feelings. I’m channeling the part of me that uses the obstacles as fuel to create a brighter, and more hopeful future. I am doing a little more each and every day to bring back the part of me that has always done the opposite….
…and I invite you to do the same.