A Year Older

And what a year it’s been.

One year ago, I was depressed. Not clinically. But I was stuck with a profound sadness and self-pity. If I surrounded myself with friends, for brief moments, I would be okay. As soon as I was alone again, the sadness washed over me like a wave. I thought I could I hide it. Keeping secrets is a burden. It took a toll on me. And it didn’t work; people are smarter and more observant than I tend to give them credit for. Friends and family suspected something was wrong.

Nine months ago, I was fired. I hadn’t been doing my job for a long time. Problems were mounting and needed my attention. A few phone calls probably could have fixed some of them, but I was too scared to talk to anyone. I was afraid that if I told the truth–that I simply wasn’t doing anything–they would get mad at me. I didn’t want to get yelled at. So I waited. I wasn’t going to make a choice, so my boss made one for me. If there had been a press release–not that there would be for someone like me–it would have said I was relieved, or let go. An appropriate choice of words. Just like that, one source of anxiety in my life was gone. Only to be replaced by a new one: fear of the unknown.

Six months ago, I was invigorated. After a month of aimless wandering–random job applications, ever changing daily routines–I was as low as I had ever been. I tried “practicing poverty,” where I intentionally made myself uncomfortable–sleeping on the floor, eating only rice and beans, wearing the same clothes every day–to see, as Seneca put it, if this was what I was afraid of. I listened to a podcast where Derek Sivers explained the secret of confidence is to just be confident. Something clicked. I realized I had a say in my situation. I controlled my perspective. This was not misfortune; it was an opportunity.

Three months ago, I contemplated staying in Buenos Aires. I had completed the first leg of my journey in South America. Planning the trip may have been the most rewarding part; the trip itself was almost anticlimactic. Almost. It was still one of the most amazing experiences of my life. But it was the planning that renewed my energy. I could wake up each day with optimism. That’s what I had lost–the feeling that each new day would bring an opportunity for something great. And coincidences had been piling up in my favor. Before I left the U.S., I received a job offer. So I had to go back. Buenos Aires was fun, but I was ready to stop hiding.

Last night, I felt great. Now I’m taking a moment to reflect on the past year. To make sure I continue to apply what I’ve learned.

It’s been quite a year. Thank you for being part of it.

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