Being comfortably uncomfortable

I will start this piece by saying that everything will be fine. If it is not fine right now, trust that it will be.

04 August 2020 | Columns

Elizabeth Joseph

Inasmuch as this year has probably been the most draining and challenging, it has definitely made several people, including myself, think of life in a completely different light.

Additionally, the last few weeks have been the most thought provoking for me, for one because I started asking myself real questions that demanded equally real answers.

Going through so much at a young age can make or break your character and I am certain that during the first half of this year, most of us have been exposed to situations that we normally would never have been exposed to.

I recently spent two weeks at home because I started to suffer from severe anxiety. For the people who know me, you’d know that I’m an overthinker and a serial perfectionist. That being said, I struggled to compartmentalise my thoughts and emotions and would find myself crouched on the office bathroom floor crying uncontrollably.

Coming from a strong Coloured background made it no easier because I could not talk about my struggles without having certain derogatory labels attached to me. I spent the last few months just coming to terms with the fact that I am in this situation to begin with.

I didn’t know where all the angst and constant questioning came from until I sat with myself and made a mental list of everything that could possibly be stressing me out. I watched videos, listened to podcasts and spoke to people. I had to actively acknowledge and validate my emotions because there seemed to be no light in the tunnel I thought I had dug myself into.

I understood that everything that made me crumble was nothing more than anthills. Being a pessimist was the hardest part for me, because whenever I would tell myself to breathe, I would in that same breath try to force myself out of there and that’s where everything falls to pieces.

Every single emotion I buried so deep within myself came back all in one go. How could a 22-year-old journalist on a wavering path to self-actualisation possibly handle that much?

On top of that I had to make some really really important decisions that would benefit my career as well as my personal life tremendously. It all seemed too much, too soon and with absolutely no experience that would help me successfully navigate my way out of this.

During my time at home I came across Candace van Dell’s ‘The Truth Room’ sessions on YouTube. She touched on everything from self-trust to validation of the emotions. One specific piece about how to validate yourself with finesse is where there was a complete mental 180 for me.

I realised that the most awakening thing one can do for oneself is to be kind to yourself. That statement holds no value if you don’t know yourself. You’d think that being the closest person to yourself would mean that you know yourself better than anyone else. If that is so, why do we rely on the validation of outsiders so religiously?

Why then do I live with anxiety and other traumas without speaking about it simply because I don’t want to be seen in a certain way? Why do thousands of people go through this dark place in silence and all alone?

These are three of the many questions that would often plague my mind and I came to one simple conclusion: Elizabeth, be kinder to yourself. Give yourself credit.

My advice is not prescribed and perfect in any way, shape or form but it works for me. The medication is null and void if the root causes are not thoroughly addressed.

Going back to Van Dell’s piece on validation, what stood out the most for me was her explaining how you can do this without thinking about it too much, which we’ve established I’m a pro at.

“The moment you feel something, instead of being dismissive about it, address it. Ask yourself why you’re feeling like that and support it. Say, it’s okay that you’re feeling like that. You have all the right to be feeling like this,” Van Dell says.

She further says that we are not humans having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. This resonated with me more so as I would often have out-of-body experiences while having an anxiety attack so this seemed more accurate than any other reasoning.

In conclusion I want to encourage you today to treat yourself with the same love and regard as you would your loved ones. Surround yourself with real ones, who will constantly help affirm you and speak nothing but love and light into your life and above all else and accept that it is okay to be a little comfortably uncomfortable at times. Finally, be good to yourself and others.

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