I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary of SF living.
Yes, it is true–exactly one year ago I accepted a job offer in the city. I spent the first half of January packing up my San Diego condo, planning my trek north and saying my farewells before heading up to the land of hella, bridges, hipsters and startups.
One year later it is time to reflect. I have found a home and bits and pieces of myself I never knew I was missing up here among the old Victorian homes and steep streets. I found excitement in the always-happenings of this city by the bay, thrill in the bright lights and late nights and long work hours and side projects.
But in the midst of the energy, I have also learned something vital (or rather been reminded once again what I already know): my body, mind and soul require more rest than average. More than I often allow.
Two weeks ago I was reminded once more. Two weeks ago was a dark stretch of time.
I will not sugar coat it for you, my friends. Anxiety ignited by a medication, lack of sleep and a overcommitted schedule sent me into a tailspin.
Last week I was not myself. Everywhere I ran the darkness followed. Heaviness pressed on my shoulders. Fire shot down the front of my arms. My heart constantly ached and squeezed and pounded. Night terrors jolted me from restful sleep and spiraling thoughts pulling me from my work or whatever person place or thing was in front of me at the time.
It was horrible.
(I admit even typing this makes me anxious the anxiety will return. These kinds of feelings leave a delayed hangover so to speak.)
I tried many remedies to find peace.
But even after the Rescue Remedy spray, calm tea, meditation sessions and ceaseless prayers and workouts and sleep aids and alcohol and the cutting out caffeine (so sad–bye coffee), I knew I needed rest–more rest, pure rest–in my life. I needed simplicity. I needed to stop striving.
I know I am not alone. I know I am not the only one who experiences this.
It’s ingrained in our culture, in the values we have seemingly adopted as The Way to Happiness and Success. Like it’s a thing. Now, forgive me–I am not trying to cast a hasty generalization. But I beg us to tune in a bit.
Especially in cities, maybe even more so in San Francisco and in our 20-something life stage, I see this: life is a constant hustle.
There is a need for movement, for constant progression–for completing each step with a beautiful checkmark and Instagram post to prove it. No one can be content right where they are. There are comparison and judgment and a need to please not only yourself and accomplish your goals, but those of your parents-friends-bosses-coworkers-significant others as well.
In the striving to live up to expectations I’ve put on myself and fulfill responsibilities to my jobs and to others, I grew weary. I failed to recognize what I had already accomplished this year and how far I had already come. And during this critical time of anxiousness, instead of giving my body rest, I tried to push through and just keep going.
There are seasons to hustle, seasons to dream. But I had forgotten to give myself permission to simply enjoy my season of contentment, of enjoyment and celebration.
So right now, please:
Stop telling me to chase my dreams.
Stop telling me to hustle.
Stop telling me to find my next thing: husband, promotion, house, car, dog, babies, vacation home, retirement plan, oh goodness make it stop.
Stop telling me to strive, to achieve, to be better.
To be my best.
I am already. And for everything else, I’m on my way.
But every time we are told to reach farther, our heels leave the ground. We are once again uprooted, no longer allowed to enjoy the fruits of previous labors, previous striving. There is no rest, no satisfaction, no joy in the constant striving.
There are seasons of transitions and seasons of seeking and seasons of working to get to where we want to be.
But there are also seasons of joy, seasons to sit in the celebration of right where we are at. Of simplicity and the little things. Of stillness. Seasons to bask in the blessings God so generously poured over us.
Seasons to clutch our warm mugs of tea and curl up on Christmas sheets and listen to the rain fall outside. To zip up fuzzy reindeer onesies and drink mimosas over holiday movie marathons. To surprise our loved ones with a visit and sprinkle cookies. To read a book in the glow of Christmas lights and go to bed deliciously early. To inhale deeply each time you pass a Christmas tree because they smell so dang good.
Let us rumble. Let us grapple with thoughts and wrestle with pending changes. Let us set goals, yes, and make bold, brave moves. But let us also enjoy right where we are at and what is all around us.
I’m tired of chasing, of hustling and striving. My body is exhausted, my soul cries out for nourishment and more than a solid eight hours of sleep.
In this Christmas season let us learn to sit–in comfortable silence, in contentment, in joy. Let us learn to bathe in celebration. Let us relish in a holiday of faithfulness and gratitude and stillness in the presence of God and the trust that he will lead us into our new year refreshed and renewed.
Stop chasing. It’s within your reach when the time is right. But if the season is rest or celebration or stillness? Sit. Listen. Enjoy.
Coming up next: ways to soothe anxiety & find rest naturally, compiled from my research, dear friends, and ace medical care team.