Catastrophic thinking makes me second-guess almost every decision I make.
Me: I will be a writer.
Catastrophic thinking: What if no one wants to read a word you write?
Me: I will take the kids to the park.
Catastrophic thinking: What if you get mugged?
I could write a novel of the what ifs that run through the mind of a catastrophic thinker during a pandemic (and maybe I will one day!).
Life happens as it happens. When I was younger, I watched the grown ups around me rolling with the punches, as calm as cucumbers. As I got older, I wondered when I was gonna get my shit together, too. Now that I am full on adulting, I am thinking that may have all been an illusion. Maybe no one really feels like they have their shit together.
What if we normalized not having your shit together?
The other day, I took the kids for a socially distant playdate in my friend Anna’s backyard. Anna and I talk openly about our anxiety, our triggers, and all the hard stuff in between. Getting ready to leave the house with our babes is a trigger that we have in common. When I was gathering all the required diapers, sippy cups, masks, hand sanitizer, etc. I sent her a message explaining that I had no idea when we were going to arrive. She said, ‘it’s okay, I get it,’ and I knew that she really did.
When I did show up, socially awkward and frazzled, she asked me what my anxiety level was. It was pretty high. With her, I don’t need to pretend that I have it together when I don’t. With Anna, I am absolutely certain that the one thing I don’t have to worry about is that she’s judging me. It is liberating.
Unfortunately, that level of non-judgement is the exception rather than the norm. This pandemic has been devastating to our collective mental health and I hope that once we can re-enter more communal spaces, judgement is replaced with compassion.
Thank you for reading.
*Disclaimer statement-Not having your shit together: I am using this phrase to describe how I feel in my own anxious moments. I am not implying that those of us who experience anxiety do not have it together.