That's right. WEAR SUNSCREEN.
"DANCE, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room."
This song came out when I was in 8th grade and since I am having a slight third-life crisis I have been looking back and asking myself if I have lived my life the way I have wanted to. Quite deep thoughts for someone who should be looking forward to this new chapter. But honestly, things have not been great lately. Prior to last week I had been cycling again. I was completely down on myself and was feeling dead inside and worthless. I knew it wasn't true, but my mind was telling me otherwise. I was feeling very awkward and paranoid about how people were viewing me. I was actually bad enough that I was scared to leave my house. It was a serious mental struggle for me to leave for work in the mornings. I am pretty sure that if I didn't have such a rigid routine in the morning, I would not have made it to work at all.
I am not going to lie, work has been hard. I am bored. I find what I do right now boring. It really is soul crushing. Mostly, I feel like this postdoc was nothing but fail and I was pretty much hung out to dry and was left to navigate things on my own. I think this is what triggered the cycling. I was (and still am) worried about how I was viewed. The thing is, I work hard, but the job is not rewarding. My contract ends in 4.5 months and I am really looking forward to a clean slate. And by clean slate, I mean I want to completely 180 my career. I have been looking at a second postdoc that has absolutely nothing to do with what I have done before. That actually gives me hope that I can love what I do again. I NEED different. Anyway, enough of that tangent. Back to my feelings about my self-worth.
This past weekend I went to my friend Audrey's bachelorette party in wine country. Last week I was feeling pretty anxious about it. I was excited, but was extremely worried about meeting new people and how they would view me. Not only that, I was worried how I would take to being around strangers. I have a tendency to isolate and I constantly feel out of place. I also get panicked when people start talking loudly and I will shut down. It doesn't always happen, but my mood had been so whacked out that I was genuinely worried. The other thing is, is that I don't drink anymore, so I was even more worried that they would think I was lame and a downer.
Turns out it was all in my head. No. One. Cared. They actually understood and the funny thing is my mood shifted towards the positive. It is weird when I come out my episodes - it usually happens suddenly. It literally is bipolar. Everyone was accepting of me. No one questioned why I would come to wine country if I couldn't drink, no one cared about my appearance, and no thought I was weird (at least I hope not). There were a couple of time over the weekend that I did get over-anxious - I did go to bed early on Friday night because I was getting overwhelmed, but other than that my mood got increasingly better. ESPECIALLY when we went dancing. I always love dancing sober, drunk, or whatever is in between. There is something about it that is cathartic to me and really lets me feel "whole". Cheesy, I know, but it is the damn truth. In fact, Audrey's friend Kelly totally made my night when she mentioned that is was really awesome that I don't even have to be drinking to go out there and have good time. Seriously, sometimes it is those little comments that get me through episodes. People don't realize how much those little pieces fill the weird/crazy/broken puzzle that is me. So Kelly, if you are reading this, thank you. That comment turned my attitude around. In that moment, I stopped caring so much and I actually felt like "me," whatever that "me" is. For the first time in a long time, I like who I am. I am not saying that it is all rainbows and unicorns, but I actually like the person I have become. I can be "me" even with this disease. This was a long time coming, but I no longer like to think of myself as two different people - that there is the the real Lani and the crazy Lani. People accept the manic/depressed/normal Lani as one person, so why shouldn't I do the same? I am not saying this weekend was what changed the process, but it was the final push. Who knew that two days away could do that? Who knew meeting a bunch of new people could help me find acceptance without them even knowing?
I don't know where this disease will take me in life, but I have definitely learned how to combat it. Something about accepting my flaws and all makes it easier and I am going to continue dancing. So I will leave you with this:
"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way."