A year ago, all of this would have seemed like a dream. For instance, the fact that I spent the Thursday before Memorial Day in a car crossing state lines with my friends and boyfriend, for a weekend of relaxation? Impossible. You may not know this about me, but much of my anxiety is related to sleeping in new places. So vacations, sleepovers, and weekend trips are things I've come to avoid. But when Kelsey and Sam suggested we take a trip to Philadelphia to visit the infamous La Colombe and just have fun for a weekend, I couldn't turn it down. So I spent the last few months since we booked the trip practicing, preparing, meditating, doing yoga and trying to get myself to a good mental place before we left.
And when the worst case scenario happened, I survived. I started to have an anxiety attack, late at night when it was time for bed, and I worked through it alone. And then we worked through it together. Things weren’t always perfect on this trip. We got on each other’s nerves, we made mistakes, but most importantly, we learned and grew in spite of it. My friendships and relationships with these people are stronger as a result. I’m glad I nearly had an anxiety attack. Because I'm, no-- we're, freaking better for it.
On the second day we met up with friends from home, serendipitously in the city the same weekend as us. As we sat there in a strange place talking about the life we'd been living miles away from home, I thought about how nothing new is impossible if you have the right people by your side. Any place can feel like home with them. And it suddenly dawned on me how two of our friends made the seemingly impossible decision to pick up and move to the other side of the country. It’s because they had each other. In that moment I realized that I could do the same, with these people. Because I already had. I took a huge step this weekend. I chose to say "fuck you" to my anxiety and do something I wanted to do anyway. That's no small feat, and a lot of the credit should probably go to me, for being strong enough to do it. But a sizable portion of that credit should be given to my friends, for creating an environment in which I felt safe enough to take chances my anxiety ordinarily wouldn't let me take.
I’ve been thinking a lot about family lately. Who matters, and more specifically why they matter. It's different for everyone, but I think some people cling to the archaic, dictionary definition of family in the hopes of keeping the status quo. But that doesn’t always work. If people are meant to, they will drift away regardless of whether or not you dig your heels in and demand they stay. Family is however you define it. For me, it is a hybrid. It’s the people I live with, sure, but it’s also the people I want to live with. It’s my best friend, her boyfriend, my boyfriend. It’s my boyfriend’s family. It’s my mentors, my therapist, my teachers, the people who inspire me and help me to live my best life. It’s the people who care, basically.
On this trip, I think I saw a flash of the future. I saw a version of us that I suspect could be the real us. A group of genuinely happy people, full of life and love to give. Talented people who are going places. I knew that about us before, but I saw it more clearly in the bright Philadelphia sunlight.
For me, this meant letting things go. I’m always connected. To technology, to the world, to my worries and anxiety, to this clear cut version of myself I have in my head. I reply to emails within a few hours of when I receive them (if not minutes). I'm practical. I don't like concerts. I can't go on trips because I have anxiety. But this weekend, I simply didn’t do that. I quit cold turkey. I checked my email maybe once a day, but never replied. I watched the anxieties and worries passing through my head, but didn't buy in or subscribe to any of them. I was as impractical and silly as I am physically capable of being. I went to a concert that I actually loved, discovered why people love concerts, and realized that I would see that artist a million more times live. And I learned something that’s kind of life changing. Nothing matters as much as I think it does in the moment. Like, maybe the long weekend vibes got to me, but I just felt like nothing was all that pressing. I wasn't really missing anything by being off the grid. The grid could wait. I could take time to myself, because people don’t actually email me as much as I think they do. At 9:30 am on a Friday, I laid in my bed in Philadelphia listening to Phil Collins’ Drum Duet and writing, having left all my stress back home.
You can watch my weekly vlog from this week right here. It's one of my favorites. I can tell this will be a vlog I watch when times are tough, to remind me that it will be okay, or at least... it's always sunny in #frelidalphia.