Morrocan Musings Or How To Not Be A Completely Self Centered Young Person
As a 22 year old only child with a rather large amount of anxiety, I have spent (more than) my fair share of time feeling sorry for myself and/or beating myself up. Why don’t I have a “real, adult” job? How do I motivate myself to try harder? Why do I feel sad and lonely and lost? These are a few of the panic thoughts I have while trying to fall asleep at night (or during one of my many mid-day naps).
Somehow, between the anxious thoughts and half-baked plans for the future, I have found time and money to travel. I’m currently writing from a shaky bus driving through the mountains of Morocco (who knew Morocco has mountains?!). Here, it is easy to be positive—I have no real responsibilities besides remembering not to drink the tap water and capturing mental pictures of all the amazing sights to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be able to travel. Here I am making grand, sweeping plans to be a better human: practice French every day, volunteer instead of nap in my free time, wake up early to exercise, etc. Here it all seems easy and practical.
Realistically, though, I know that if I let myself I’ll just go back to my normal, anxiety ridden life after a week of being home. This leads me to attempt to make a list of pragmatic and gradual ways to remain grateful and positive upon my return to regular life in the states.
1) Go outside. It’s easy to be anxious and lonely when you spend several hours at a desk only to go home and Netflix for the rest of the night. Going outside gives you (even just a small bit of) exercise and reminds you that there is more than just the world in your head. Do the squirrels worry about if they are living up to their full potential? No. They just live and scurry and eat nuts.
2) Do at least one thing a day for someone else. This seems like a given. One might think “I do stuff for others all day! I do favors for my boss and clean up after my roommate constantly!” But doing one purposeful thing for someone else that will not affect you in any way (like getting brownie points from your boss or living in a cleaner apartment) takes forethought and planning. It means that during that time planning you don’t think about yourself, which is something that I do an alarming amount without realizing it. All that thinking about yourself is what leads to the anxiety, self-pity, and self-bashing. Plus, we all know that making others happy makes us feel better. There is no down side here.
3) Stop hate stalking/reading. I don’t know if this is a universal thing but sometimes I’ll look up something like #Meninism and read things that I KNOW will make me angry and/or sad. This hate reading (or stalking of ex’s, or the like) creates a vicious circle of anger--sadness --anxiety –apathy--anger. It’s a form of wallowing that allows for both self-pity and self-righteousness. Rather than hate reading (and the time spent dealing with the range of emotions that follows, generally ending in an anxiety nap) you could read a book, bake some cookies, work on #1 or #2 from this list, etc. Limiting (hopefully eliminating) hate reading not only curbs self-pity/righteousness but it also adds time to the day! Who needs to think about all those #meninists that think equality is being allowed to punch women in the face when you could be eating freshly baked cookies?!
This is a short list. I could do with some more solutions. Please, leave ideas and tips in the comments and we can all work together to be less anxious, self-indulgent creatures. I’m definitely in the market for an accountabili-buddy (someone who helps make me feel accountable)!
Also: Google Morocco. If you have the chance, go visit. It changes you for the better. I promise.
Nikki Hurley-Contributing writer for ifiknew