A handful of days ago, I was sitting in a small clinic in my neighborhood waiting for a TB test. I was dutifully wearing my mask, and I was hyperventilating. The young woman assigned to give me my test was casually making small talk with me, waiting for me to calm down. She was being so patient.
“Why don’t you take your mask off for a second?” She asked.
“No, no, no,” I replied through tears. “I don’t feel comfortable with that. I don’t want to risk spreading anything. Or getting anything.”
She continued to wait. She asked why I needed a TB test (I’m a teacher who works in school–we’re virtual now, though I don’t know how the heck I’m going to go into a school with this mask issue). I told her I was an elementary education graduate student at a DC university. “Oh, I’d like to go there to get a master’s in public health!”
Her small talk really did help. I was eventually calm enough for her to take the test, and I was out the door in a matter of minutes, now with a snot-filled, soggy mask (do you know how gross it is to cry in a mask? If you haven’t had the joy of experiencing it, it’s gross). Yet, I felt embarrassed and shameful. Despite the patience the young woman showed me, I don’t consider it my finest moment that she had to wait for my body to calm down before she could administer a simple medical test due to my mask issues in the midst of this global pandemic.
When I was a baby, I hated pacifiers. My parents say that the moment they put one in my mouth, I’d spit it across the room. My mom claims I could make those pacifiers fly far. Olympic gold medal far (or maybe my head is getting a bit big in considering my supposed infant capabilities). My parents gave up trying with the pacifier eventually. There was no way I was keeping one in my mouth.
I’ve been thinking about infant-Britta’s dislike of pacifiers a lot lately. It’s a useful comparison to the present. Why? Because upon donning a mask in these pandemic days, I usually find myself angrily desiring to tear it off my face and scream out my disgust as I fling it across the room in a way that is only socially acceptable in young children throwing temper tantrums. To put it bluntly, I hate masks. I don’t say that in a playful, “this is a mildly uncomfortable hatred but I’ll take one for the team” kind of way. Nope. This is full blown, anger fueled hatred. I despise masks. I loathe masks. In the days of COVID-19, I want to f-ing burn all the masks. Even the cute homemade ones. #sorrynotsorry cute homemade mask makers. I don’t discriminate in my hatred.
I’ve been trying to grapple with this anger in the past few weeks, because I know enough about psychology to know that anger is usually a mask–no pun intended–for deep pain. I’m not a licensed psychologist, mind you, so please don’t take my armchair psychology as gold. I am, however, a teacher, and I do think that gives me some brownie points in Basic Understanding of the Human Psyche 101.
So yes, I hate masks. And I’m angry about masks. And last weekend, as I donned my required mask before heading into the grocery store, my anger abruptly dissolved into full blown anxiety as I started hyperventilating…
In the western world, it takes guts to live in the moment (a certain level of financial security, too, I would argue, though that conversation is for another time).
We live in a society that is built around the future. A society of five-year plans and 401Ks and the putting away of funds for the arrival of unborn children who are many moons away from conception.
To an extent, I believe that’s all well and good. Taking responsibility for one’s own life does require planning. Yet, there is such a thing as planning to such an extreme that it becomes debilitating. Anxiety is rooted in unnecessary and unhealthy worrying about the future, and we live in a society where anxiety is running rampant.
Mindfulness is all the rage right now. Some might say it’s a passing fad, and perhaps it is. That said, I do believe in the concept of mindfulness. I’m in a good place right now, and I attribute that to mindfulness. I’ve been working to relentlessly follow my intuition, to do what feels right for me regardless of what others might think of it (if I want to lay on my bed for three hours and do nothing, and I have the time to lay on my bed for three hours and do nothing, I’m going to do it); I do yoga everyday, and I only commit to people and activities if I genuinely want to and/or believe it is in my best interest.
Subbing is going well for me. I’ve had a couple streaks where I haven’t gotten work, which admittedly have been stressful, but for the most part, I’m going into schools every Tuesday through Friday. I’ve been mostly switching off between two different schools, and I’m developing good relationships with staff and students at both. They are conveniently located close enough to my house that I can easily walk to one of them, and I hop on a nearby bus line to get to the other. I occasionally go to other schools, but I’ve been enjoying the consistency of switching off between the two schools I frequent. When I first started subbing, I was really worried that going to different schools everyday would be unnecessarily stressful; while I do love switching things up in theory, I function best in consistent environments. Building relationships with these two schools, then, has been so perfect. I still get to enjoy switching things up regularly, but I’m doing so in two settings that I’ve grown comfortable in. On days that I don’t get subbing, I remind myself that I always have VIPKID to fall back on. I still do VIPKID on Monday mornings, and I tutor a third grader in reading Monday afternoons. Continue reading “Present Moments: Late Fall 2017”
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.
If we were having coffee, we might meet at one of the plethora of little cafes within twenty minutes walking distance of my house in both directions. Perhaps, if we felt a little extravagant, we might be settled in for a nice, long brunch complete with not just coffee, but maybe a mimosa or two. Brunch is huge on the East Coast, at least compared to the Midwest, and DCers mean business when they do brunch. In addition to multiple brunch spots nearby, there are so many things to do see and do in my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods. I can’t wait to explore more and find the best places for eating, drinking, and entertainment. Today is my day off, so I’m taking it slow but also want to give myself some time to explore more. When I was walking to the grocery store today, I stumbled upon two farmers markets within a few blocks of each other. I was super psyched about that and bought some local peaches from the one nearest to my house!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my third housemate moved in earlier this week and she’s been great so far. Last night, we hit happy hour together at a nearby restaurant and it was great to talk to her and get to know her more. Overall, the dynamic of our house is shaping up to be really awesome and I think it will only improve when fourth Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–In Which I Settle In”
If we were having coffee, we’d be talking about house hunting.
I’m staying with my college friend right now, but her lease is up at the end of July–so I need to find a place by the first of August. I’ve been scouring the internet looking for housing opportunities and I’ve been feeling a lot of stress.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I thought I had one. A place to live in DC. I met with the roommates and we seemed to get along well, I liked the location, but the application ended up falling through. I took it real hard and had a bit of a rough day on Tuesday, as a result. Towards the end of the day, I realized–there are so many other housing options in DC. So many people looking for roommates. So many rooms opening up. I had gotten it in my head that this house was the only one…but it’s not. I feel so rushed because there are only a couple weeks left of July now, but a lot can happen in a couple weeks. I’m certain I’ll find a place. Plus, this house was the very first one I toured–it honestly seemed too good to be true in getting into the first place I toured…and I guess it was. Something else will come along in time.
Once upon a time in a far away land (also known as my college town on the Minnesota prairie), I sat in a psychiatrists office–anxious, nervous, and really, really scared. For the past few months, my life had been turned upside down. Since January, I had been experiencing severe anxiety that often times bordered on depression on a daily basis. It was now late March and there seemed to be no end in sight. My mind was going to dark places that I had never experienced before and I was terrified. My life had never before been clouded with so much darkness and I had no idea how to cope.
Furthermore, I had no idea why this was happening. At this time, I was in the middle of my third year of college and I knew that, in a year and half, I’d be graduating. I was, admittedly, quite nervous about my unknown, post-college future. I had also come out of an extremely unhealthy relationship a few months prior. That said, I couldn’t understand how my previous relationship or my nerves about the future landed me in such a dark place, questioning my very existence daily, hourly, everysingle minute of every single day.
So, there I found myself in the psychiatrists office. Looking for help. Looking for answers. I had been in counseling at my university all semester and though it was helping, I wanted something more. I had tried anti-anxiety medication and within a day of taking the first pill, I became so severely depressed that my mind and body felt numb to the world. I could barely function and I was terrified. I went off the medication as quickly as I started it; I needed something more and medication wasn’t my answer.
These last few weeks have been…strange. Strange in a way that I haven’t really been able to put into words. I was very aware of feeling off, but I didn’t really know how to describe it to anyone–let alone, myself–so I didn’t. I wasn’t ignoring the feeling, per se. I was more confused than anything. Being in a new town, in a new job, in a completely different country–it is all so much, and processing everything has been really hard. Unable to describe my own feelings but yearning to write, I turned to fiction to soothe my nerves…yet, I was still on edge…because although nothing was seriously wrong, I still didn’t know how to describe all these feelings going on inside of me.
But…I think I can now. After a much needed weekend to myself (seriously, I’ve done next to nothing, and it’s been amazing), I feel like I have the space to distance myself from these emotions and really consider them.
Let me explain:
Being in Chiang Mai during my October TESOL course was easily one of the highest emotional periods of my life. The amount of joy and happiness I experienced during October 2015–for such a consecutive period of time–was simply unheard of for me before that. It’s not that I was unhappy before my TESOL course. It’s not that life was terrible before TESOL. In fact, it was the exact opposite. My last year of college was an amazing period of personal growth. My last semester of college, specifically, was easily my best semester of college. A period of my life that I will always cherish. This past summer, working as an espresso bar barista at a gas station, of all places, was also an incredible experience for me. I pushed myself in new ways by working in the food service industry, and I can safely say that some of my coworkers fundamentally shaped me into the person I am today (and that is looking back to three months ago). I loved my job as a barista and will always cherish the, albeit temporary, home I Continue reading “This is a Post Where I Make Important Realizations About Myself. That is All.”
Just last night, new friends of mine were commenting on my maturity for a twenty-two year old and I just said in reply, “Well, I grew up a lot in college.”
And I did. I did grow up a lot in college. I found my confidence and my independence and my strength and college and I am so thankful for that.
But today? Today I am feeling vulnerable.
Today, I am sitting my new apartment in my new town in Thailand. It’s the weekend after my first week of teaching English and I have no plans but to explore my city and get to know the Continue reading “Culture Shock–In Words”
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week has been soooo busy. In a good way. But I’m exhausted and I haven’t even left the country yet!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I saw Passenger in concert this Tuesday with my friend Nicole. We went to dinner beforehand and arrived at the concert fashionably late (for the opener at least). The concert was amazing (aside from the obnoxious and very clearly intoxicated superfan right next to us who was constantly getting in our way). Mike Rosenberg, who is Passenger is so down to earth. Not only was he fabulous live (he sounded exactly like, if not better, than the recording), but he was really quite funny and engaging, also. Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–My Brush With Fame, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, and Other Stories”