I am the queen of bottling. I have like, 423 water bottles. I have bottles of hair products and perfume on every surface in my bedroom. I have bottles of insulin in my fridge. And, this goes without saying, I have bottles of wine stashed away in my kitchen for
the tougher every night s.
But what I’m really the master of, is bottling my stress. I’m a total over sharer when it comes to talking about arbitrary bullshit because it’s social and stimulating. But dealing with real problems is an entirely different story. In our culture of constant comparison, self-consciousness, and vulnerability, the details that are easy to share about our lives are often very surface level. It’s easy to talk about the things that make us laugh and feel good like nail polish colors and kristen wiig’s SNL characters. It’s not easy being brutally honest enough with ourselves and others to actually discover solutions. I personally tend to just talk and talk and talk until I’m too tired to take a real stab at solving my problems.
What I bottle is the big stuff. The ugly anxiety that I’m not quite armed and ready to handle the pressures of everyday life. Or of coping with the fear of getting hurt, or taking risks that could allow me to grow. It’s as if by simply avoiding it or pretending these stressors aren’t there, they’ll eventually buzz off. It’s exactly the way I was I was told to treat boys in 3rd grade when they were flicking boogers at me in class. In fact, I still do that to boys. Well, that or I flick the boogers right back at them.
I just read this article, where a career-lost 25-year-old gal reacts to her mom telling her “she has no passions.” Polly reacts quite strongly towards this, pointing her finger at the mom. Saying that people in their twenties are so over protected by their parents when meanwhile, Manhattan-obsessed 20 somethings insist on living paycheck to paycheck. This dynamic confuses the hell out of us, makes us lazy, and distracts us from finding our own path because we feel tied to our parents’ support, and therefore their opinions of our choices. It’s like Shark Tank. Investing for15% of the company means the owners can do what they want, but only if Mr. Wonderful is happy. So…the owner isn’t really doing what they want. I thought the article was very sobering. I love my parents more than anything in this world, and the fact that anyone would blame our relationship for my tendencies to be a scaredy cat about continuing to grow up got me all fired up. But then I realized, it’s no one’s fault, it’s just about how the relationship is managed.
A lot of the issues that people have in their twenties are incredibly challenging, but simply for the reason that we have had so few real challenges under our belts. Challenges are uncomfortable, and unfamiliar, and don’t feel good to us because they are foreign. Like the article states, we have no fucking clue what it means to work hard for something. We’re so afraid of ourselves and our reality, so we hide behind our phones looking for superficial, crowdsourced love on Instagram instead of fighting for something we want. This means we’re rarely learning anything about falling on our faces and getting back up. (Unless of course we’re Instagraming and walking and wipe out.) Challenges are too easily avoided. For example, I love reading, but I haven’t read a book in a year. Why? Because it’s challenging. You know what’s not challenging? Mindlessly admiring fake people’s fake lives on Pinterest and hoping that “someday this could all be mine.”
What I’m realizing is that finding success and happiness just doesn’t work like that. Nothing even a little bit works like that.
We are all scared shitless of failing or not meeting expectations, of disappointing our “investors”, but a lot of that is manifested in the fact that we come from families that have held our hands so tightly, that we barely know how to fly when the air gets bumpy. We’re way too used to bail outs and back up plans. We’ve never been put in situations we couldn’t get out of with a simple text off to a trusty advisor back in the homeland. I am more guilty of this than I’d like to admit.
Also, it doesn’t help that because we live cozy lives filled with mom snuggles when we’re home, the drastic contrast between our parents’ world and our day-to-day reality can be a little tough to digest. We forget that our parents have had a 25+ year head start on us and that they deserve to live comfortably now. We’re but mere little spring chickens, posting dramatic things on Facebook about how ironic and poor we are, while blogging about every feeling we have (ha, me!). We love to deep dive on our feelings and we love to discuss the bone crushing anxiety that the process of self-discovery can create. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to everybody else, including our parents, and we forget to just focus on ourselves and figure things out on our own terms and time. This is where the stress bottling comes from.
What I’ve come to realize is that most of us manage our lives like I manage my blood sugar…I give it a few check-ins a day, and a few adjustments here and there. It’s never pleasant to see numbers I don’t like, and it’s a pain in the ass to be fussing over corrections. But the worst thing I can do, is go a whole day without checking at all. It’s lethal, actually, but sometimes it’s easier to just not deal with it. Out of sight, out of mind. The fact of the matter is, if it’s high, I can fix it. If it’s low, I can fix it. Making adjustments to be in a healthier place is never impossible, however untrue that may feel sometimes.
My mom made a great point the other day, “You are never trapped”, she told me when I was babbling on about my never ending “Am I doing this right?” crisis. It’s so hard not to feel trapped some days. We feel suffocated by our credit card bills, jobs, where we live, student loans, and often our relationships/friends. She sort of nailed this one (go mom!). Just like a high blood sugar…you guys, we really can fix the stuff that bugs us and is dragging us down.
At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is just keep talking about it with each other. Not complaining, not whining, but sharing goals and aspirations. We should be supporting each other and stoking challenging conversations that help us all get through this totally moody growth spurt. Bottling everything up just makes it all feel a little scarier, and certainly more ominous.
Also hey, if we don’t ask the questions, we’ll never get the answers.