Dear Friends and Readers,
I had somewhat of an epiphany the other day. It wasn’t anything really earth-shattering, but it was certainly thought-provoking. It had me thinking about it to the point that I’m sitting here telling you about it now.
For years, I’ve dealt with stress and anxiety. The triggers have been many and varied, and many of them, you will no doubt have experience with as well. Things like love and relationships, personal health or that of a loved one, money.
When I was younger, I definitely handled my stress in selfish ways – thinking only of how I felt and what would make me feel better. I would withrdraw from loved ones, in an attempt to protect them from my stress – because, you know it’s contagious.
As I grew older and a little wiser, I learned to go with the flow. I worked hard not to let little things bother me. I had to lower some of my expectations about how I thought I should feel. I think we have a tendency to convince ourselves that we should be happy all the time, so that when we do encounter hardships in our life, we feel like we’ve done something wrong, or that we’re being attacked by others. And, of course, sometimes that’s true, but we shouldn’t always assume that’s the case.
My default reaction was to protect myself. I would isolate myself from others, telling myself that I was protecting them from my foul attitude. But, one of the things I’ve had to learn is that I can’t solve all of my problems on my own. I need community – others with whom I can live life and share life’s ups and downs.
The epiphany I had? I feel like that’s a rather generous term in my case. I realized that although I have, over the years, learned to keep a level head through trying times, that I do indeed still have stress and anxiety in my life. I had told myself so many times that I had conquered stress, that I thought it was essentially gone from my life. Not so. It’s still there, and that’s OK.
Realizing that there is still stress and anxiety in my life is helping to teach me how to better prioritize my life. I’m the kind of person that loves a million different things and feels the constant disappointment at not being able to devote myself fully to each one of them. I’m learning how to say “No” things and how to cut things from my life that I simply cannot devote attention to. It’s hard. I say that “I”m learning” to do these things, because it’s an ongoing process.
For example, my hobbies are many and diverse. There’s simply no way to devote myself to everything that I want to do, so I’ve been working hard to narrow my focus to just a small handful of things. This blog is one of the things that I struggled with knowing what the right thing to do would be. I haven’t written anything for almost a year. Should I just pull the plug on Fellow Bibliomaniacs? I almost did, so many times. Writing on this site isn’t something I ever expect will earn me any additional income, so should I abandon it for other interests that have the potential to make a little extra cash? I had my hand on the plug. I was getting ready to pull. I just couldn’t do it. My thoughts come slowly, so I know I’ll never have a big, successful YouTube channel, but I feel like I still have things to say, and that the written word is probably the best medium for that. So, even if this site never earns me a dime, my desire is simply to share things with you that are meaningful, interesting, or entertaining.
Are you experiencing something similar to what I’ve described here? Please, let me encourage you not to isolate yourself. Reach out to loved ones and be a part of their lives. Serve others in your community or in your church. Surround yourself with people who will love on you and help you when you are hurting.
If you are currently feeling alone, isolated, without support, and you’re dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or other trauma, I’d like to point you to a great resource that I found to be very meaningful. During the month of August, our church did a series on mental health called Peace of Mind. I promise you that it’s easy to digest and very relevent to our daily lives. If you feel led to do so, check it out. It’s not going to magically take away your pain or solve all of the problems you are dealing with, but it will help you reframe your thoughts.
One of the things I’m hoping to accomplish with this site is to build community, which is only possible if we talk to one another. Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. What questions do you have? I am not a licensed counselor, but if I can help to point you to resources like the Peace of Mind series I mentioned, I will gladly do so.