The following post was written by Joseph Lai, read more about Joseph here.
The underlying fear behind every decision eats away at my soul. This fear is born small, just a tinge of doubt. Then this monster feeds on false perceptions. I say to myself, “that could happen.” More doubt fills my soul; negativity seeps in. The monster grows. Each time the problem grows larger than it is. I say, “If I don’t get this internship, then I won’t get a job, and I’ll live at home and I’ll be a loser.” All of a sudden, not getting an internship amounts to banishment from society. I’m immobilized by the fear of being a social outcast; the situation is unbearable. I can’t sleep. I get out of bed at 3 am. For several hours, I research companies and internships. Alternatively, I philosophize about what I want in life and from a career. This only temporarily deters the monster. It is still in the room and soon it grows again.
This is what stress sounds like:
In avant cellist Zoe Keating’s “Zinc,” the singular notes dance and float like a leaf falling from a tree. Lingering, twisting, and falling beautifully on the ears. “A cascade of C’s” is how Zoe Keating describes the next part. In my mind, a river grasps the leaf and throws it downstream towards the brink and towards the waterfall. Off it goes, over the edge. C after C, a cascade of water overtakes the leaf. It falls helplessly. In the end, it’s still the beautiful lingering note floating down the river bank.
This image perfectly illustrates stress. We live life free of care until a situation takes hold of us and pushes us towards change or a decision. Right to the edge, we struggle helplessly. At a certain point, there’s only one option and that’s to take the dive. We close our eyes, clench our teeth, and ball our hands into fists. Our gut leaves our stomach and lunges into our throat. But when we accept this fear, we open our eyes and the world is beautiful, exhilarating. Stressful situations are only stressful when you perceive them to be. They can be stressful situations, or routes to freedom. Once we hit the bottom, we realize we are who we were. Change doesn’t come about from one decision but from a series of decisions. A decision is a small divot in the larger picture of our lives. It is blue on black.
I believe of all this, and yet it is still still difficult. I am working on embracing the fall. I want to be comfortable with the anxiety in my life, with the knowledge that I can’t control life. I want to be patient. I want to rest in the knowledge that I did what I could in any given situation. Then, I want to walk away. That is all I can ask for.