Last Thursday, Valerie and I packed up our little Honda and, with the dog curled up at my feet beneath the passenger seat, ventured north.
Several hours and three ferry rides later, we arrived at our new home on our new island. Four friends were waiting for us in the road, holding a painted banner that read: “WELCOME HOME E&V!” With huge grins and full hearts, we drove under their banner and turned into our long driveway up to the cabin.
Not only is this the first time either of us has owned a home, it also marks the beginning of a new life–one that I hope will be centered around things like friendship, community, nature, freedom, and rootedness.
It’s funny. Writing this down, it all sounds so dreamy. It was/is very dreamy! But despite what was happening on the outside, my brain was awhirl with invasive thoughts all weekend: Am I putting my clothes away on the right shelves? Did I just accidentally offend that new acquaintance when I said that awkward thing? Is that vicious-sounding barking getting closer?
Moving is stressful and a certain amount of anxiety is to be expected. But I know that for me, anxiety is largely physiological. It’s related to low GABA, gut inflammation, autoimmunity…stuff like that. Stuff I’m working on. Anyway, I’m not looking for medical tips here. I wanted to fill you in on a major change in my life, and on something else that’s been getting more clear with each passing day:
It’s possible to do something you’ve been working toward, something that fills your heart with joy, and to still feel partially (or very) uneasy. Uneasiness and conflicting emotions don’t necessarily mean you’re on the wrong path. It’s possible feel multiple things at once: to feel overjoyed and terrified, loved and misunderstood, certain and wary.
As multipotentialites, we need to learn to be comfortable with nuance and complexity in our professional identities. But this is also a good practice in our emotional lives. We have to know that it’s okay to experience multiple—and sometimes contradictory—emotions at once.
We’re told to listen to our intuition, and that is good advice. But sometimes it’s unclear which voice is your intuition, which voice is resistance, which voice is something else entirely.
Sometimes you just need to move forward, try your best to ground yourself in the physical reality around you, and talk about how you’re feeling with a compassionate friend or community.
We’ve been here a few days now and the intrusive thoughts are subsiding. The ocean helps, and the all-day painting/dance parties are pretty cool too. I’m sure my unpleasant thoughts will be back. But as I write this, I’m feeling pretty happy. Or at least feeling more comfortable with the fact that I’m not 100% happy…or 100% anything.
Was there ever a time you had mixed emotions or experienced anxiety while doing something objectively (and subjectively) AWESOME?