Found Cool Stick

Yesterday, you told me to write a post about how awful the two-party system is in American politics and why it sucks that we’re going to have to choose between Clinton and Trump. Sorry, I’m not going to do that. I’m just tired. I’m going to be honest, these last few weeks have been stressful.

Now, when I say stressful I don’t necessarily mean bad. Just busy with not a lot of “down time” for myself. In the past few weeks my ferret, Bandit, went into the hospital, I had family come to visit, I’ve had big projects on my plate at work, and I was sick with a migraine just to name a few things. It’s been busy and I just feel exhausted. I feel like I haven’t had a break since mid-May.

Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about in this post. What I want to talk about is how I handle stress. It’s taken me a long, long time to figure out how to handle stress and anxiety in a healthy, constructive way and honestly I can sum it up in a very stupid phrase: Found cool stick.

As you know, I have this phrase tattooed on my left wrist because it reminds me to address my stress in a healthy way. What it basically means is celebrate the little things, even when you don’t feel like celebrating.

When I first started working at WSU I was having a hard time adjusting to living away from my family and being independent. I was stressed constantly and lost interest in my hobbies. I just didn’t feel happy. One day I was out walking on campus and found a free art magazine. In the magazine was a silly editorial comic called “Little Victories” or something like that. It had things like “Made a souffle that didn’t collapse” and “Pronounced hor d’oeuvres correctly.” It was obviously supposed to be a joke.

The last panel included a cute drawing of a dog holding a stick and it said “Found cool stick.” For some reason that just really resonated with me. In that moment I thought to myself “Why is that dog so happy? All it found was a stick! Oh, it’s happy because it decided to be happy.”

It was like a light finally came on in my head. I was so stressed because I was letting myself be stressed. Now stress is inevitable and I’m not saying that people who are stressed are just stupid and don’t know how to just not be stressed. What I realized was that I was letting my stress and anxiety run rampant and ruin my life without even putting up the slightest effort. That’s why it was consuming me, because I wasn’t stopping it.

The dog was excited it found a cool stick because it let itself feel happiness and pride for its small accomplishment. That’s how I should live too. I shouldn’t focus so much on what’s stressing me out. I should give myself the chance to feel happiness over little things, even if to some they don’t seem that important. Things like getting up in the morning without hitting snooze or finding matching socks. For some reason I wasn’t giving myself credit for stuff like that because it didn’t seem important. I’ve found that if I start to celebrate all of my victories, even the little ones, I felt better and happier. I was no longer dwelling on what I couldn’t do. I was focusing on what I could do.

I know, I know. I’m adding a whole lot of depth to a two inch editorial cartoon that was just supposed to get a chuckle or two, but it’s art and I’m allowed to interpret it how I want, dangit. It was so helpful in such a low part of my life that I decided to get it permanently on my body. Every day I wake up and see those words and remember life is what you make it. Making a kickass grilled cheese is just as impressive as finishing a big project at work or running a marathon if you let it be.

Sorry for switching topics on you, Dan. Maybe next time I’ll write about American politics.

-EMS

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