Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Joy of OK-ness (and How You Can Achieve It Too)

We - as the human species - are not always OK.

Some of us are OK most of the time, some of us just some of the time; a few of us are really rarely OK.

For a long time, it seemed as though I fell into this latter category, and I really couldn't understand why. I didn't WANT to be "rarely OK." It's been my life's quest to move up a notch to the "OK some of the time" category. At the risk of jinxing it, and I'm knocking on wood, tugging on my little rabbit's foot and trying not to break any mirrors here … not only do I think I'm OK some of the time, but I've leaped over that rung on the ladder and am barely teetering on "OK most of the time."

I'm now OK most of the time.

Wow. Me. I have so many questions … like how did this happen? What did I do to deserve this good fortune? How long is this going to last? What can I do to make it last? How can I keep from making it slip away? Why can't I stop asking myself questions and just ENJOY BEING OK????

Fine. I'm enjoying it - kind of incredulously - like when you finally take that beach vacation and walk out to the ocean for the first time and smell the fresh air and feel the sand between your toes and hear the waves crashing on the beach … yeah, that's me feeling OK.

So I kind of took an internal inventory to see what I may have done to help my OK meter move from the red to the black, and came up with a few suggestions for those of you out there who are missing out on the joy of OK-ness.

TIPS ON HOW TO BE OK

Stop comparing yourself to everybody.
OMG this is the bane of my existence. I apparently have so little self-confidence that the only way to measure my self-worth is to compare myself to others. So-n-so ran a marathon - why don't I have the discipline to train like her? So-n-so got promoted - am I ever going to get ahead in my job and make any more money? So-n-so has such a great social life - I wish I had more friends! So-n-so is in such an awesome relationship - why am I not in one?

Good piece of advice here - don't judge someone only by what you see on the outside. Maybe there's somebody out there who is thinking I'm badass at something with no clue what a train wreck I can be on the inside. And just because someone does something amazing doesn't mean I want to do the same thing - aka I hate running and have absolutely no desire to run a marathon. A part of me wants to be in a relationship but honestly I'm really, truly doing OK NOT being in one right now. In fact, it's much easier. If I come upon someone someday - organically - that turns into a love connection, then great - but for now I am perfectly content abandoning the search.

Join a group - but only one you really WANT to join. 
I have always struggled to meet people but knew I needed to. I have tried so many means of connecting with people but it always felt so forced. I tried church - but I think I'm too much of a foul-mouthed Christian and didn't really feel like I could be myself. I tried Meetup groups, but I'm just not that comfortable in those settings and even after a couple of tries felt myself forcing myself to go.

Recently I've started bike riding a lot more and just happened upon a 10-week training program with a group here in town. I was excited to challenge myself and nervous to meet new people, but so far it's been really, really fun - in fact, it's the highlight of my week!

Then I decided I really missed playing tennis. I don't know of anyone who plays, so figured why not take lessons again? So once a week I get to meet up with a great group of people, get better at my game and hopefully connect with a tennis partner or two.

Volunteer. 
This is something else that I always thought about doing but could never really find my niche. I wanted to do something that was of interest to me, where I could make a difference and meet some people. So I just finished the process of becoming a community-based Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters and am excited to meet my Little in about a week! I can't tell you how excited I am - the one-on-one is a better fit for me but I will still get to be a part of the BBBS community and meet others through there. So just look around  and find what's out for you - it may take some time, but it's out there.

Stop doing what you think you should be doing and do what feels right. 
I have lived my whole life doing what I thought I should be doing - I guess I credit my upbringing for that and the fact that I'm kind of a rule-follower. It has served me well in some cases but I have always suspected - and have now confirmed - that I don't usually do things the way others do them. I seem to be on my own timeline and apparently have to do things several times before I get them right. As soon as I accepted that I could not use others as a benchmark for life events, I gained a little peace with the fact that I'm just a little "unique" in that respect.

Cultivate your friendships.
I learned this the hard way by letting friendships go by the wayside and taking people for granted. It could have been because I was in a relationship and just "didn't have time." It could have been a distance issue. Most of the time it was because I was in a "not OK" place and didn't want to let anyone know or bring anyone down - or didn't feel like being around people at all. What I know now is the good ones will get you through the shit. The good ones won't roll their eyes when you tell them once again you are not OK. The good ones will stick with you. Luckily I still have a few good ones.

Quit complaining and do something about it. 
It is SO easy to fall into the well of complaints. It's so easy to put on the "poor me" hat - especially when you really feel like you have a reason to. Over the past five or six years, I've had some pretty major shit happen in my life, and I think because of that I've become a rock star at managing crisis. But it's the everyday stuff that I can't seem to deal with sometimes, and it gets me in a rut of whining about it. What I need to do is treat these little things like the big things - I don't mean make mountains out of molehills - but when I'm having a big crisis I go into Full On Tiger Mom Mode and MAKE SHIT HAPPEN. Why can't I do that with the little stuff? I can make more of an effort to get in better shape. I can figure out what to do to make more money in my profession. I can go to the doctor and get some things taken care of that are hindering me living a more active life. I can change my thought process or tactics if my way of doing things isn't working.

Look to the future, but live in the present. 
For a long time, I felt trapped. Trapped in my life. Trapped in my job. Trapped in this city. So I decided that the best way to feel untrapped would be to plan how to escape. Every time I felt trapped I'd just daydream and plan how I was going to get the hell out of here.

But here's the thing. In doing that, I realized I'm living in this future that has yet to be determined and missing out on some really great stuff in my present. Like enjoying the fact that my kid still likes to hang out with me. And how lucky I am to live right by the Rock Island Trail. And how nice it is to have a pretty good work/life balance. And how great it is that my dad is in my life. And how I never get tired of coming home to my little house at the end of the day and doing whatever the hell I want. That's gold, there, people.

Be thankful for what you have. 
Kind of along the same lines as what I said above. Plus I have two great kids who I adore and have a good relationship with. And I have a few really good friends. And I live five minutes from work. And I don't have a car payment. And I'm healthy again. And my dog loves me.

Forgive yourself. 
Hardest one for me. But I think this is truly the key to stepping into the "feeling OK" category. For YEARS and YEARS, I have beat myself up over mistakes made. I can switch from "feeling OK" to "sucking really really bad" in NO time by ruminating over regrets I have about my past. And I'm still working on that. But what I AM doing is when these thoughts come into my head, I'm trying not to entertain them anymore. I'm really trying to just push them out of my mind and move on to something more present and more positive. I know that's not forgiving myself per se, but it's a start. Now what I need to do - someday - is make peace with myself about these mistakes and give myself a break. But I'm not there yet.

What's not on the list - and what I do know to be true in my case - is that part of me becoming OK also very much has to do with a good therapist and the right meds. There, I said it. For all of you out there who do life without those two things, well good for you, but I'm not one of them and I'm tired of pretending I am. I would not be where I am today without therapy and meds - in fact, I am certain I would not be here at all. So if you're in a place where you don't know where to turn, seek professional help. If you don't know where to go to get it, contact me and I'll help you. Seriously. Your mental health is no joke and if it's out of balance, your life can really go to shit. So take care of it.

I'm really celebrating being OK - it's a big, big deal to be here. I don't know how long it's going to last but I know I'm going to do everything in my power to stay on this rung of the ladder, and I hope you all are, too. If you're not, I'm here.

OK?