From The Optimist Who Told You Not To Worry: I’m Freaking The F**k Out

I’m usually the guy that gives his friends advice during tough times, offering perspectives with the glass half full, or the person in the room who laughs in tense situations, laughing at mistakes and dancing in traffic. And the idiot who smiles for no reason.

But surprise surprise, sometimes my philosophies don’t always play out in my experience. This week has been one of those times.

I’ve been feeling off, unable to do any of the work that I need to. The only times where I feel “on” is when I’m having fun, or socializing with friends.

I haven’t been waking up when I intend to, haven’t done an ounce of work that I might rightfully deem as productive, and have spent the past three days pushing back deadlines on my to-do list.

I feel utterly and completely unfocused. Unmotivated. Uncaring.

Given the fact that the work I need to do all revolves around an honors thesis that I’m completing for my university’s program – a field of study and career path-related project I no longer identify with – it makes some sense that I feel as though my f**ks to give are at a minimum.

But I’ve always been able to sit down and do the work, rarely have trouble focusing and completing the tasks I need to, and especially – when it comes to writing papers – find someway to get “into” the project at hand (even if it is obsolete to my newly adjusted aspirations).

So, what the f**k?

It’s to the point where I start making weird noises and flail around because I’m just confused, and my friends laugh at me (probably secretly questioning why they like me). I don’t feel that I can do anything productive, and literally just want to sprint around a track for hours upon hours. I want to play, drink, go out, work on my own projects, do anything except the things that I need to. Senioritis? Not really, it felt more disabling than that.

And then I paused, thought about it, and recognized that this wasn’t a lack of attention or lost ability to discipline myself.

It’s a little something called anxiety.

I feel lost, confused, not in control. And it’s stopping me from sitting down and doing what I need to get done.

What am I anxious about?

I’m writing right now because, well, this might be the first time that I’ve ever recognized that anxiety is what I’m feeling. And although I’m sure I’ve felt it before (looking @ you 13 year old prepubescent Trav) I don’t think I’ve ever felt it this much.

You see, I naturally always try to keep positive and healthy perspectives, revolving around a “bigger” picture, on life, school, work, you name it. I don’t know how many times I’ve preached to others (and myself) that stresses are a part of life, but our stress response is our choice (in summary, stressing out is our choice). That everything in the end is always okay, that there is no reason to freak out or get caught up over success, our futures, our life questions. To enjoy life, keep an easy mind, and remember how accessible positive perspectives are if we are simply willing to adopt them.

And I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to my friends and others about how AMAZING of a time this is in our lives – to be graduating from college, and (for some of us) not have a concrete plan. It’s incredible, and something we should meet with a wide, bright-eyed grin. Optimism is rightfully ours.

But – well, f**k. We’re graduating.

And – well, f**k. I’m anxious.

I’m anxious to leave, I’m anxious to figure things out, I’m anxious that I’m anxious.

I didn’t think I was, I told myself I wasn’t, I told others the millions of reasons why there is no reason to be. But my body, my physiological functions that inevitably influence my emotions, feelings, and ability to succeed at the grind, is inevitably showing signs of high mother-f**king anxiety.

So here I am to write about it. Because f**k, I don’t know, that’s probably good right?

Here are the reasons why graduating is making me feel anxious, or rather, why leaving college is making me feel a little f**ked up:

  • I don’t know what I’m doing afterwards (and even if I did I would still probably be questioning it and freaking the f**k out)
  • I don’t feel in control anymore – the world is a big place – how do we keep writing the pages to a book in which the first 22 chapters were outlined, but now there are just blank pages?
  • I don’t know who I’ll be with – where will I be – what types of people will I meet? Did I just get lucky in my hometown, at UCSB, and abroad finding great people? Will I find a group of friends just as loving and caring and dope and hilarious and understanding of my weird displays in public?
  • I don’t know 110% what I even want – HOW DOES ANYONE, YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF IF YOU THINK YOU ARE 110% (because its not statistically possible, bad joke sorry)
  • I don’t have money and will have to learn financial literacy among other adult things that sound dry, complicated, and never-ending
  • I don’t know
  • I don’t know
  • I don’t know

I think I’m feeling anxious because I don’t know.

I don’t know what is going to happen, I don’t know how it’s going to happen, I don’t know why or what or where or who. I feel out of control in the bad sense. Even though when I picture myself at Henley gate, with my diploma and 20th beer of the day in hand, I see someone (and thousands of others) out of control in the good sense. Anything can happen, anything amazing. Any parent, grandparent, and anyone older than us would tell us this – it’s true.

So, I don’t know why I’m feeling this why. But I am.

The only thing I really do know is that I’m still happy. I am happy, I have been happy.

But, will I be happy?

I think that is the biggest question that has been brewing this f**ked up pot of anxiety and idleness from inside my noggin and stomach these past few days.

Because I am – well, SO HAPPY in Isla Vista. It’s astronomically ridiculous. If you tried to calculate my joy in numbers the whole universe would probably implode – the limit does not exist.

 

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I think it’s been especially difficult for me to focus on school or finishing this thesis because I am afraid that by doing so, I’m wasting the little time I have left here with my best friends, living on the ocean, in a community that never falters to make you feel loved.

I don’t want it to end, because I don’t know what’s after.

I have been so happy my entire life (not constantly smiling, that’s not how life works, but when I think about these 22 years my heart almost explodes).

But now? Now I’m going into the real world? What even makes it “real”? Am I even pronouncing “hors devours” right (I did f**king look up how to spell it, first I wrote hore dervs)? Can you heat up a Costco dinner without taking the plastic off first?

And I’m supposed to be an adult.

I’m supposed to be an adult. Shit.

Shit shit shit shit shit. Oh shit I forgot to censor the sh*ts.

The thing is, I know I’ll be okay. It just sucks to feel this way. You understand bae? (See how I’m actually going crazy I tried to turn that into a poem after realizing I rhymed the first two sentences…)

But actually, I know I’ll be okay. Everyone will be okay. Greater than okay. I think I just need to address this anxiety with some sense, because it shouldn’t be there in the first place. When you feel off, you should recognize what’s off, take some time to yourself, and untangle it.

Here we go:

  • I don’t know what I’m doing afterwards (and even if I did I would still probably be questioning it and freaking the f**k out)
    • This is OKAY – this is wonderful, this is great. Not to ignore anxiety with positivity, but to be genuinely excited, because in the future who knows when we’ll have the opportunity to not know what we’re doing in three months. To be able to try just about anything, to move somewhere off of a gut feeling, to take a job that might lead you somewhere incredible. The worst thing that could happen is this: whatever you do doesn’t work out, and then you’re 23 with the world still at your fingertips. Actually, no, the worst thing that could happen is this: to do nothing at all – to let a blank page and a big world leave you immobilized. Jump in, jump in with enthusiasm, ecstasy, unsurmountable energy. This is your life. Someone incredible (my mom) once told me:
      • Life is like a huge puzzle, and it can be overwhelming. But the key is to not become immobilized by how many pieces lay around you, to just pick one up and try it out, see if it fits.

  • I don’t feel in control anymore – the world is a big place – how do we keep writing the pages to a book in which the first 22 chapters were outlined, but now there are just blank pages?
    • What are the best decisions that led to the best moments and expereinces you’ve had in your life? I’ll start listing mine out – building friendships in Davis, choosing to go on a service trip to Nicaragua, deciding to go to UCSB, deciding to study abroad in Sweden, deciding to travel alone in Asia, deciding to live in a house full of new people and a couple of great friends. Theme here? These are decisions where I had a very small idea as to what I was deciding – based off of hunches, off of feelings, more often based on beliefs than actual facts. Sometimes the best decisions we make that lead to the greatest moments in our lives are made in situations where we have no real control, aside from the ability to decide to jump in, start, and try it out. The world is a big place, full of incredible people, incredible places, incredible dreams, cute dogs, brilliant minds. SO JUMP IN! And the best part about writing these chapters in your life without an outline is the fact that there is no outline – those are the best chapters. The ones where you lead your own discovery of the world, of yourself.
  • I don’t know who I’ll be with – where will I be – what types of people will I meet? Did I just get lucky in my hometown, at UCSB, and abroad finding great people? Will I find a group of friends just as loving and caring and dope and hilarious and understanding of my weird displays in public?
    • The world is a beautiful place. I don’t need to digress on this further for myself, because this is something I believe wholeheartedly. Sure, there are bad people, bad things, but there are good people and good things consistently illuminating our world. All of the people I’ve met in my life? Incredible. The things they have achieved, overcame, persevered, contributed, and cultivated? Incredible. The world is incredible, illuminated by so many bright minds and passionate hearts.
      • So come thru,
      • 353ac706c0a862c5e6ebe3ecca7d2cd3_whispering-sloth-its-lit-lit-memes_400-400
  • I don’t know 110% what I even want – HOW DOES ANYONE, YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF IF YOU THINK YOU ARE 110% (because its not statistically possible, bad joke sorry)
    • So you try things out, you develop a sense of what you want and you work towards it, constantly progressing yourself. You know what? No one will ever know what they truly want, because we constantly change our goals – what we want now is probably far different from what we want in 10 years. Why? Because we adjust to shoot higher than before, and tend to diversify our interests as life goes on. The point is, it is not about knowing, you will never know what you will think in the future, it is about trusting yourself, those around you, and the world, and working, living, and playing with a vivacity for life and motivation to do good – to achieve things that matter to you in the present moment, and contribute to the world on a larger scale.
  • I don’t have money and will have to learn financial literacy among other adult things that sound dry, complicated, and never-ending
    • This is life, you learn things and you get better at them and they become natural. Did you know how to write a 25 page paper before being forced to write a 25 page paper? Did you know how to book cheap flights, arrange accommodation, and figure out public transit in other languages before you started traveling? Human beings learn, and they learn really well. Everything can seem overwhelming at first, but we have to remember that we’re pretty f**king awesome, and we should trust ourselves with managing our lives, and enter adulthood with enthused confidence.
  • I don’t know
    • Neither did the billions of other human beings before us, neither did our parents, neither did Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey. Knowing is not the point. Knowing that you’ll be good, that you can flourish, that this world is here to help you and not crush you, that is something you can know and should know.
  • I don’t know
    • But you in 10 years will, and that you will look back at you now, recognize there was no reason to worry, recognize that everything you knew was everything you needed to know, and continue on with life, smiling.
  • I don’t know
    • You do. Because I do. We all do.

I feel better than that one time I thought about doing a juice cleanse and then didn’t.

You see, there is hardly ever good reason to feel anxious, but chances are anxiety will show up when we are faced with any big life change.

Therefore, we should consult the following:

WikiHow to Deal With Anxiety

  1. Acknowledge it
  2. Accept it
  3. Give yourself a break
  4. Address it
  5. F**k it up with some sense

:~)

We good fam, we good.

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