What a difference a year makes

Happy Lughnasadh!

A year ago, the weather was trying to convince me (and winning) that it was too warm for a beginning of autumn. These days, it is trying to do the same thing. The temperature will climb up next week and my patience will probably dwindle. Some things don’t change.

Alas, my mental and physical well-being was wretched 365 days ago as I sat in the Schiphol Airport, waiting for the connecting flight that would take me to Incheon. I had just taken five two-hour exams in two weeks, my nerves were shot, my anxiety up and my self-confidence down. I was in the middle of a torrent that thrashed me left and right, and I could not see who or where I was.
Looking back… I felt better at Mabon; I was content around Samhain but there was a drop of something that made me anxious so I distracted myself from it; whatever good feelings I had had deteriorated by the time Yule rolled around, and I vowed to change it; by Imbolc, I was still trying to change whatever that was needed in order to feel calm and centered again; around the Spring Equinox, I struggled to balance my need to be alone and the necessity of the human company; and then, shortly after Beltaine, I had a mental and physical breakdown that would last for weeks; I was tentatively – albeit joyfully – celebrating life again on Litha.

The period between the Summer Solstice and Lughnasadh passed very quickly. I saw an opportunity or two to grow, so I took them. For the past two weeks or so, I was busy participating in life, not just watching it unfold in front of me or just thinking about it.

When I am left alone for a long period of time, I tend to shut out the real world and retreat into my “head place” – an existence that only I can inhabit. It can be intense, as evidenced here, but in the end it is isolating and dangerous. It is a bit like an addiction when I am in that zone; I know it is ultimately bad, but I want to justify my decision to stay there for a little bit longer. I don’t want to quit this lovely haze in which my senses are heightened and nothing can hurt me. I was surprised to learn that my mom has a similar problem.
I’ve struggled to find a balance between my desire – and need – to be up in the air and the necessity of living with two feet planted firmly on the ground. I can’t say I’ve found it now but it is a comfort for me to know that I do continue to find small, precious pleasures in the real life, too. The return trip is less painful when there is something to look forward to.
I tried to create this sort of peace and, well, serenity so that I can safely exist in both worlds. It sounds strange even to my ears, but my decision to re-examine my future and setting a different course has done wonders: I am happy, for one, because I feel like I am being myself and not trying to bend myself into a pretzel to become who I think I should be. With that sense of rightness also came self-confidence, excitement for the future and a sense of fierce determination. I no longer dread the future and what might or might not happen. I still worry occasionally but my determination has a twin, and its name is optimism. Optimism of youth? Maybe. Or I just would like to believe that everything will turn out to be fine. But I know now that even if it doesn’t work out the way I visualized it, I am going to be okay. I certainly will have no regrets.

It is a good feeling to know that you can live with yourself.

Oh, and by the way, I am thinking about making my de-facto-vegeterian status official.

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