Last week, we took a necessary, albeit brief vacation. We left Saturday evening and got back Wednesday morning, and in those few days, we did a whole lot of nothing. Our destination was the middle of nowhere, Mississippi. My dad’s friend has a vacation home there on a beautiful piece of land, complete with a gorgeous pool and hot tub, main house, lake and lake house, 4-wheelers…you get the picture. It was just Michael, my parents, and me, which made for a quiet, peaceful time. Growing up, my family and I used to go out there every summer; I have so many memories of that place. We relaxed around the pool, ate a lot of amazing food, went antiquing for a day, ate more amazing food, watched TV (because nothing says vacation like a Storage Wars marathon), went fishing, and for good measure, spent some more time in the pool and hot tub.
Alas, Michael had to come back Wednesday for a meeting, and as soon as we headed home, I had a heavy feeling in my chest. I came back to anxiety and sadness that I couldn’t quite shake. At first I wasn’t able to pinpoint it, and then it came to me.
I was dissatisfied. I wanted a longer vacation. We had talked about going to Florida this summer, and instead had opted for this Mississippi trip, due to finances being really, really tight. I was thankful to my parents for inviting us on their trip and their friends for opening up their vacation home to us, but part of me longed for a week-long vacation in a beach house somewhere, with lots of fun activities and restaurants and shopping. I was also disappointed to be coming home to a place where ultimately, I feel anxious and lonely. I don’t know many people and am not involved with a lot right now. I work from home and find that equal parts wonderful, stressful, and isolated. I was upset because money is so tight that not only do we not have the luxury of traveling far, but that even after choosing the cheaper vacation, money still remains tight.
To top it all off, the day after we got back, I developed a painful ear infection. After trying to ward it off with Swimmers Ear and a heating pad, I finally wound up in Urgent Care on Saturday, where I was prescribed three kinds of medicine, two of which made me vomit all day Sunday. It wasn’t until Monday that the pain started to subside and I felt human again.
So, there I was. With all my sad, depressive cards laid out on the table. All weekend, I struggled with feeling sorry for myself. Of course I would get sick from taking a short vacation. Of course I would end up having to pay for a doctor visit and prescriptions when that money could be put to better use elsewhere. Of course nothing ever works out the way I want it to. Of course I would have to be miserable.
I wanted to complain, but every time I found myself doing so, I remembered that Molly spent Saturday at the funeral of a dear friend, whose life was taken quickly and unjustly. My problems seemed small in comparison. I tried to keep things in perspective and remind myself that this time in my life is for a reason. Meager finances are the price we pay so that ultimately, one day in the very near future, my husband will have a PhD and I will have a master’s. And so what if we have to take small vacations? At least we got to take a vacation, and a great one at that, and have wonderful parents who pushed our hands away whenever we tried to pay for anything. I got to unplug from the internet and lounge by a pool for a few days. And yes, I was sick, but it wasn’t anything serious, and it only lasted a short time.
There are huge problems in the world. There are awful things and hurting people. The small things in my life that seem terrible aren’t so bad, and I need to remember that. Plus, there is a lot of good in my life, too. Something I’ve written about before are my issues with tunnel vision, and having trouble focusing on the small joys of the present instead of big things in the future. I think to myself, I can’t wait until we are done with school and really start our lives. The problem with living like that is that you find it totally acceptable to complain through today, and live a crappy existence full of stress and anxiety, because all that matters is the goal you’re working toward, not the here and now. Joy and thankfulness are replaced by worries and anxieties.
While I didn’t know Jessi, I do know she was a girl who lived every day to its fullest. In 22 years, she lived a big, colorful, beautiful life full of love and laughter. She was taken from the world entirely too soon, but she left a legacy bigger than some people who die when they’re 100. She’s still making a difference, even now that she’s gone.
As long as I am human, I will continue to struggle with anxiety and depression. I will continue to struggle with letting every day things get to me and bring me down. But if I can somehow remember that my life is blessed beyond measure, those struggles may subside to less noticeable levels. Complaining and focusing only on the negative is no way to live. If I want to live a big, colorful, beautiful life, I can’t do that. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, I don’t want my life to be made up of a bunch of unfinished business and goals in the distance. I don’t want to waste my time worrying about petty troubles of today. Every day should have its own goal: to enjoy it, to be thankful for the things I have, to focus on the positive, and not let the other things get me down, because they are either part of the process or they don’t matter anyway. That way, even if I never make it to the big goals in the distance, every night when I lay my head down, I will have accomplished the biggest goal of all: to live that day, the day I’ve been given, to its fullest.