Last Monday, while walking to my first day at a new job, a guy running on the street stopped to tell me I looked lovely. What a way to start off the week and the first day of a new job. Additionally, I had been feeling unusually anxious that morning, so the comment brightened my mood considerably.
That said, it was a bit of a strange occurrence for me. Generally speaking, talking to strangers in passing isn’t the most common thing in our society. That, and the fact that we live in a twenty-first century world where our eyes are glued to our phones most of the time; we make ourselves inaccessible to each other with our technology. So yes, this was a bit of a strange occurrence for me–but I realized I liked it. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people spontaneously complimented strangers throughout the day?
I liked this random occurrence so much and I thought it was noteworthy. I proceeded to tell my housemates about it when I got home and, being the millennial I most definitely am, also posted a Snapchat about it. However, I thought nothing much else about the occurrence after the fact. I merely saw it as one more noteworthy-than-average event in a string of random events that happen on a day-to-day basis.
Until Wednesday rolled around.
On Wednesday, I was again walking on the same street on the way to work. I, again, ran across the same guy. My walking to work route appeared to be his morning running route. We saw each other and there was recognition. He waved and then stopped me.
Him: “Didn’t I see you the other day?”
Me: “Yes, I think so.”
Him: “Well, you still look beautiful.”
Me: *blushes* “Well, thank you.”
Him: “What’s your name?”
*promptly exchange names and introductory greetings.*
Him: “Britta, do you have a boyfriend?”
Him: “Do you mind if I take you out sometime?”
Me: “Why not?”
And that, my friends, is how I wound up with a date–in the most rom-com way possible, at least according to my housemates.*
— — —
These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of mixed emotions for me. Well, I should be more clear–this last whole year has been a whirlwind of mixed emotions for me. It’s coming up on the one year mark since I left for Thailand and I’m left feeling shocked–at HOW HAS IT BEEN ONE YEAR ALREADY??–and reflective. This year has brought a lot of change; while that change has brought a lot of good to my life, it has also brought a lot of confusion, mostly in regards to how things panned out throughout my time in Thailand.
I am so grateful to be where I am now; I absolutely adore being back in DC. That said, so much in this last year has happened so quickly in such a short amount of time (twelve months really isn’t that long, you know) and I am painfully slow at registering change. Last year at this time, I thought I’d still be in Thailand. I never imagined I’d return home after six months and up and move to Washington, DC. I still sometimes find myself wondering–why did certain situations happen the way they did? What was prompting others in those situations? Why the hell did I make the choices I did? I’m the type of person who strives to understand why things happened and I also crave closure; however, I’m starting to realize that a lot of what did happen in the last year will remain unanswered–at least for the time being. Life is complicated and things happen. I can try to probe into my being and the being of others to understand why they happened but to what avail? Life isn’t always that simple.
These past few weeks my head has been bursting. This past week, in particular, I’ve been consumed by near constant anxiety. I did so much writing while I was couch surfing in Arlington. I was spending a lot of time alone as it was and writing proved to be a great stress reliever while house hunting (damn the housing market is flooded here–especially in the summer). However, the moment I moved into my current place in DC, the writing stopped. It was like all this creative energy I was experiencing while living on the fringes in Arlington–couch surfing with an unbelievably generous college friend, working sporadic part time hours at a coffee shop, frenetically looking for housing–came to an abrupt close when the reality of living in DC came to fruition. In accepting that, after months of wandering, I was allowing myself to settle in somewhere; in understanding that, to survive in this city, I needed to find a full time job AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Now, I do have that full time job–it’s a long term temp position but still a 9-5–which is a lot of change in itself for me, considering I haven’t worked full time since March, back in Thailand, and I haven’t worked in an office setting since my internship at the National Postal Museum. This past week, I’ve been an overthinking anxious mess and the fact that my go to emotional outlet has been clouded by writer’s block has NOT been helping. In many ways, as I settle into DC, I finally have time to think. I’m not worried about housing or finding a full-time job. I have an awesome place to live with good roommates and a (mildly exciting) temp job that pays really well. I’m no longer striving for that life I moved to DC to live because…well, I’m living it. In many ways, I’m comfortably settled in…
…and that leaves plenty of time for me to over analyze, to spend too much time in my head. To top it off, often times I don’t understand my own anxiety and find myself feeling overly confused about my own life, seemingly without reason. When I don’t even understand where my toxic thoughts are coming from, I don’t necessarily know how to write about them. Recently, this has only worsened my writer’s block. This, as you might imagine, adds extra stress to someone like me, who depends on writing as an outlet.
Well, as you’ve probably gathered by now, I’ve finally found some words (blog posts don’t just materialize out of thin air, you know). In the process, I’ve come to a conclusion or two. Mainly, that I’m a pro at ruminating about the past and worrying about the future–but I am the worst at living in the moment…and what is life without living in the moment?
Okay, admittedly these are facts about myself that I already knew–something I really discovered about myself within the last year. In the past couple days, though, I’ve taken my understanding about these already known facts a step further.
I do yoga daily and view it as precious time to turn inward and find peace. During yoga, I actively work to stay in the present; those moments tend to be the most stress-free and peaceful in my day. Recently, I’ve realized how, while that time during yoga is necessary for me, it shouldn’t be the only time I actively work to live in the present. If I leave yoga and only continue to fall into the spiral of ruminating and worrying (which is what I usually do), I’m not going to get anywhere productive. Living in the present shouldn’t begin and end during yoga. It should be something I actively work towards throughout my day, regardless of where I am and what I’m doing. Worrying and ruminating are sometimes inevitable, but there are tools to lessen the emotional toll those feelings can and do take take.
This becomes my new goal for the time being–that is, to actively exist in the present as often as possible. I’m living in the city I want to live in. I’m leading the life I left Thailand to pursue. Why can’t I enjoy it? I must try my best to find enjoyment. Why else did I make the drastic life choice to leave Thailand after six months instead of a year, if not for personal improvement?
With this in mind, I return to random street compliment guy who is now date guy. The significance of a random guy on the street asking me out on a date is twofold for me–first of all, in a twenty-first century, Tinder-dominated world, it gives me hope for the future of offline dating…meeting people organically is still possible; more importantly, for the purposes of this blog post, as a socially anxious young woman who struggles to live in the moment, I was majorly impressed that someone had the courage and confidence to go up to a stranger on a whim, compliment them, and ask them out two days later when they saw them again.
Damn, I’m attracted to that.
Talk about living in the present!
Here’s to leaving the past in the past, the future wide open, and the present the most pressing matter at hand.
*At time of publication (Monday September 19, 2016 at 7:05 am EST) date has not happened yet.
9 Replies to “To Live in the Present”
Love this post, Britta! I’m glad you’re settling into the new routine and have time to sit down and process the past crazy year. It’s amazing how, in the light of more pressing things, you can put off processing life developments. When I spent a month traveling, I was so busy and occupied that I wasn’t able to process and mourn leaving L’Abri for several months afterward. Living in the present is so important–I stopped journaling a few months ago because it kept me from doing just that. I know I’ll go back to it eventually (I always do), but I’m really enjoying living each day.
Congrats on the temp job, hope it turns into something longer term! And I hope you have fun on the date–so excited for you!
Thanks so much, Amelia! I’ve definitely been doing a lot of processing–I just need to make sure I don’t let that processing turn to over analyzing. There’s a very fine line for me, and it’s all too easy to fall from the healthy processing to the unhealthy ruminating.
Here’s to living in the present! It will definitely be a challenge for me at times, but I know it will be worth it. 🙂
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Love this as well Britta. You mention that you’re impressed with his confidence in asking you out but you should also be impressed with your own ability to just say yes! Well done.
Thanks so much, Desley. I suppose you’re right–I didn’t even think about it that way. The date ended up not amounting too much, but I’m still glad I took the opportunity when it arose.
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Oh I’m intrigued to know more about the date! Posting about it or not? X
I might get around to writing about it, because there are a lot of things about his behavior that really bothered me but in a nutshell, he was way too invested in me for a first date and it was a major turnoff. Oh Desley, he was just plain infactuated with me and he barely knew me! Not about that dating life.
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Oh that sounds a bit much. And kinda icky. I hear ya!
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I was just ruminating on the AWESOMENESS of strangers interacting in passing… It’s something that makes me feel more connected to my community and surroundings, and it’s always mood-lifter. I aspire to do it more!
I agree! As an introvert with social anxiety, interacting with strangers in passing is not second nature to me AT ALL. However, I think it’s worth getting more into the habit of, regardless. I do believe the world would be a better place if more more spontaneous talk with strangers happened.