I spent the holidays justifiably distraught. My dad is battling cancer, and my mom went into the hospital unexpectedly with â��heart problemsâ�� that landed her an Iron Man heart, which sounds a lot cooler than â��pacemaker.â�� My boyfriend and I broke up and the stakes at work have never been so high. It felt like a war on every front and it was easy to rattle off the bullet points of poor timing and stress-inducing circumstances that kept me hidden under the covers (literally) for a solid 72 hours. I found myself on repeat and amidst the repetition, spiraling into a downward nosedive. It was like I had been injected with a lethal self-doubt serum with symptoms of crippling insecurity and unwarranted fear.
Normally I, along with Leonardo DiCaprio, am â��Queen of the Worldâ�� (Well, "King" in his case and obviously self-proclaimed). I thrive in competitive environments, suffer from an unoriginal-to-my-generation need to excel and do so â��perfectly.â�� My lifeâ��s recent circumstances, however, created a bonafide paralysis, an inability to do, well, anything. I curled up on the couch, refused to call people back, took a professional hiatus, ate too many Nutter Butters (I know, who can have to many? But a box and a half is certainly pushing the envelope even for this peanut butter cookie lover). For a week I spent my holiday break curled up, depressed and certainly worried about things that mattered â�� the health of my family members and my professional integrity as well as the ability to accomplish the ambitious goals for 2012.
But then, I also spent an obscene amount of time worrying about obnoxiously trifle things, like calculating the calories of one and a half (okay more like two) boxes of peanut butter cookies. I changed my Facebook picture, deleted my “in a relationship” status, questioned my hair color, my hair length, wondered if the skinny jeans I just bought would still fit me after a week of endless eating and revisited endless conversations with my now ex-boyfriend to accumulate “blame” ammunition. That’s when it dawned on me that my narcissism in that moment was being masked as my vulnerability and insecurity of my life’s tragic circumstances. If I were being honest with myself, I am of the 1% in the world with the free time, roof over my head, food in my fridge and clean running water who can literally afford to sit on a couch for a week and contemplate all of those not-so-ideal situations.
In fact, I’ll never forget the most humbling professional experience of my life. I was flown to Cambodia to work with an all-girls school and upon my arrival expected to discuss “redefining beauty” and body image issues. I realized, though, that my American “problems” were not relevant to an entire school of girls in survival mode. Not only did these girls not obsess over body image, they didn’t even own mirrors in the first place. They certainly didn’t have the free time to sit around and contemplate the things they wish they could change about their life because they were too busy living it. This is not to invalidate my life’s challenges, to compare circumstances or say I’d ever trade my problems; it’s just good to get some perspective on life now and again.
Needless to say, I remember thinking I simply had too much time on my hands, that any life under a magnifying glass reveals its imperfections and cracks. The reality is that we all have them and we can either hit the pause button, reach for the victim label and self-induce an insecurity panic attack or we can choose to live by focusing on the good and creating a life centered around others instead of ourselves. While other cultures certainly have their challenges, I think here in the U.S., it’s easy to wallow in self-doubt because we can afford to. So my challenge to you, to myself, is to stare the dragons of your life in the face, battle them if you must, but then move on and keep living your life. Life is simply too short, or rather, too long to let your ego win and convince you to drown in a pool of self-pity. You deserve more than that, and our world deserves that from all of us.Images courtesy of Luxurylaunches.com, Letsgetcookin.wordpress.com