How I Shook the Funk
The other day, I was in a complete and utter funk. This happens to all of us sometime or another. Lately, while adjusting to a new culture, new (HUGE) city, new routine, it seems to creep on me more frequently than usual.
I started the day with meditation. This is a practice I began incorporating into my day-to-day months ago, but I didn’t keep it up. While I was on vacation, I made a point to try to do it every day as to form the habit so that I could maintain it in my normal routine. It worked.
I’ve practiced every day since returning. The clarity of mind and internal calmness that have resulted are changing the way I approach conflict, bad vibes, moods, and overwhelming issues.
Despite this, on this other day, the moon was full. Harvest moon. This seemed to have caused a turbulent tide in me. It left me feeling frayed, completely off kilter, unbalanced and only able to see the worst in situations. Panic rose in me.
Sometimes I feel silly talking about the moon in this way. But in reality, it’s science. The moon literally changes THE OCEAN tides. Mind blowing how that all works. But if it’s controlling that amount of water to some extent, of course it would have an affect on all of us– what are we but over 50% water?
Staying with this idea, my tide sank low. Really low. I wanted to give up and just crawl into bed and allow myself to be pulled into the depths of oblivion. Horribly depressing thoughts trickled through my brain.
“Allow the thoughts to pass. Just like clouds. Let them pass,” I tried to remind myself over and over. But still, I found myself treading in this stanky tide.
I’ve spent years and years allowing myself to float along in terrible forms of thinking and feeling due in part to the dynamic duo that have resided in me: Depression and Anxiety. I’ve grown fed up of allowing that to rule and to wreck my precious time. It’s not that easy though, when they’ve got you by the throat and you can barely keep your head afloat.
In this moment, I knew having these types of thoughts and feelings weren’t going to come in and sweep away this funk. I knew I needed to take real action if I were going to hope to turn the day around.
First, I reached out to people I trust and who support me here and afar to talk about a big stressor that had been recently introduced into my life. Community is so important. Especially one that you can be vulnerable with. It took five different people to help me see the bright side. I carried their words of encouragement and reminders of the things that I knew but wouldn’t allow myself to truly subscribe to in the moment, like little life vests as I began tredging my way through this tide.
I couldn’t afford (literally and figuratively) to let these tiny things continue to pile up. So I made a list of the things I could control. It was short. And I said aloud, “even though these things are a lot to me right now and I just want them to go away, I’m going to get them done.” Only way they’re going to go away is if I take care of them.
So, I set off to return library books.
Yes, that’s one of the things that I allowed to become a friggin’ tsunami. It’s laughable on the other side. But in this funky tide, navigating public transport at peak time to get to the center of the city, negotiating the late fee that had accrued, figuring out why they don’t answer their phone or emails, how to renew books electronically, all felt extremely overwhelming.
The other items on that list were commitments I made that I no longer felt like upholding. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if I backed out on it. No one was counting on me. In fact, they probably didn’t truly expect me to complete the task or to show up because I’m busy and the destination was so far away for me.
I’ve spent a long time doing that–giving my word, which is what my heart speaks, then allowing my brain to make excuses. I’m so sick of feeling the subtle tide of shame creep in due to my own decisions to not follow through. I’m sick of not showing face with pathetic justifications.
Enough of the excuses, Alaina. Uphold the integrity of your word.
And so I set out on trying to do so. First, I edited an essay by a Fulbright hopeful because I agreed to do it with enthusiasm and compassion. I was her one year ago. She was brave for seeking people out. I wanted to honor that. When I completed this one task, which in reality, a small one for me, I felt my stride grow a bit stronger. I was picking up momentum.
The thoughts and emotions that had become like hurricane waves crashing into my brain calmed enough for me to push through and get ready to go on the journey to the center.
The walk wasn’t that far. The bus wasn’t that crowded. I could actually sit. When I arrived to the library, I explained my situation in a fractured, flustered sort of way. The receptionist behind the counter, stood up and said, “Come with me. Let me help you.”
I could have cried. His compassion and understanding felt like a lifeboat in the middle of this storm I’d been fairing. And what did I do to get it? I just showed up.
He showed me how to renew books online, then called out to his colleague to eliminate the fines, gave me the direct extensions to that library and the library he normally worked at and told me to call him directly if I had anymore issues. Oh sweet kindness.
When I left, I did so with a bit more pep in my step. I felt ready to re- enter the madness of the Transmilenio in order to get to my next appointment: A small group, semi-private Swing Class that was taking place about an hour bus ride in the North of the city.
I set off. Again, the Transmilenio wasn’t that bad. I was able to sit and to read the book I renewed! I even wrote a poem on my way. I had this feeling that the Universe was rewarding me in “little-big” ways for having gone out and tried despite the tides.
About half-way there, I realized I was going to be late. Thoughts trickled back into my brain. “Why even go then? You’re holding up the class. They’re not really expecting you anyway. It wouldn’t matter to them either way.
After gaining momentum, the clarity and calmness that I had been working on through meditation regained their foothold in my dispostion. So I was able to let these thoughts pass.
I showed up and was greeted with open arms and enthusiasm. These people mirrored the dancing style: fun-loving, joyful, inclusive and encouraging. Precisely what I needed that day.
I learned some basic steps, I danced, I sweat, I sand, I laughed. When I finally departed for home and bed, I was feeling a whole new sort of funky.