I’ve got a new therapist. She’s got white hair (no, not because she’s old). She’s just one of those white, hipster 30-somethings trying—and succeeding—to pull off a silverish-gray dyed head of hair. Her style is ethereal: long, opaque dresses with bohemian jewelry. She wears, like, cool turquoise necklaces she probably bought off Etsy. Stacked silver rings decorate her thin, unpolished fingers.
If my therapist weren’t my therapist, we’d probably be great friends. She’s quirky and cute, and reserved, but firm. Just like me. I told my ex that my therapist reminds me of what I imagine I’d be like if I weren’t fucked up, to which he replied, “Even therapists have therapists, Sheens.” This may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still think I’m way more fucked up than she is. (And if she is fucked up, she hides it pretty damn well.)
I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. For one thing, I went through a breakup a few months ago. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Sheena, stop talking to your ex, you idiot. That’d be a start.
Y’all are right. I’ll stop talking to him, and for the most part, I have. Besides, he lives halfway across the country now, which is more than half the reason we broke up. (And, as it turns out, it’s much easier to get over someone if he can’t come to your place when you beckon him on a particularly lonely weeknight.)
Anyway, I’ve been having trouble sleeping. Not just because of the breakup, but because I’ve been re-assessing a bunch of shit in my life, like my friendships, my anxiety, my future, yada, yada. Lately, life has seemed overwhelming. People are getting married left and right, doing really, really cool shit with their lives (other than getting married), and leaving behind Instagram feeds of which I’m so jealous I had to delete the fucking app off my phone to stay sane.
(Stop scrolling, stay sane.)
Austin, Texas is my home now. All my neighbors have dogs and smoke weed. I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Like, yo. This is my fucking city (and it only took me 27 years to move to!))
A lot of people ask me why I left Manhattan. I left because I had to. I wanted to find a guy and fall in love. I wanted to live in at least three other states before I turned 30. I wanted to be able to walk out of my apartment without the stench of garbage infiltrating my nostrils before I’ve even had the chance to shit or brew a fucking cup of coffee.
And so, I made my way down south: Dallas first, then Austin. Dallas, so I could live with my family for a bit because I love my family, but I’m absolutely awful at showing them just how much I care about them. I’d liken my relationship with them to the way I am with most things I truly care about, like this blog I love dearly but have neglected on-and-off, or my ex-boyfriend, who was often a better boyfriend than I was a girlfriend.
But since it’s always just been me, my sister and my mom, I figured it only made sense to spend some time getting closer to them (like, literally and figuratively). A girl in her 20’s needs her family, especially when it’s all women. I wanted us to be as tight as the Villanueva family in Jane the Virgin, and I’m proud to say we’ve nearly reached that level. Check.
Now, I’m on my own again. No family, no boyfriend, no foster doggie. Yep, I’m single, free and a-n-x-i-o-u-s. I’m anxious about my future because I have no idea what it looks like. I’m sure I’ll be an editor at some hip magazine, like I am now, only with a dog or two and maybe a baby. If I’m really lucky, I’ll find a good guy, and we’ll do better than just “make it work” (ah, the dream).
Still, even though I know all those things will eventually happen on their own time, it all keeps me up at night. I need to know what the whole dang picture looks like. Now.
Which city will I live in in a year? Two years? Will I always be a writer, or will I finally follow my second dream of becoming a singer? What kind of dog will I get? What if my dog gets sick and I can’t afford its healthcare because I’m all alone? Will I always be anxious? And what the fuck will the love of my life look like?
But I can’t know the answers to these questions. I cannot know any of this. No one can. Kory, my therapist, reminds me of this all the time, and she even gave me a nifty trick called “five senses grounding,” where you close your eyes and immerse yourself in all your senses. Doing it is supposed to ground you, keep you in the present and ward off your anxiety attack.
You guys, something happens after your 26th birthday. You’re thrown into a vault where everything you know is flipped upside down on its head, and all the people you know—or thought you knew—either become that boring, engaged person or, like, join the military, or move to some random European country, or become that person that rants about politics or veganism (or some other cultish hobby they’ve just taken up because they don’t know what the fuck to do with themselves since everyone else is getting married) on Facebook. Basically, everyone chooses a side, and you suddenly feel frozen because now you have to choose a side, and if you don’t choose a side, your life is just meaningless and, uh, wrong.
OK. Here’s my side. I’m single. I live in a cute little studio apartment. I’m lonely, but my anxiety and I are becoming good, good friends. (Sighs deeply. Side note: Accept your anxiety. The moment you stop fighting it and start accepting it, you start to feel human again).
My birthday’s coming up. This year, I’ll be 28. Instead of ruminating on the fact that this will be the 28th year of my life I spend a birthday single, I’m trying something different.
-I’m thinking about how I’ll probably get a dog because I know it’ll lick my face when I feel down.
-My friends will all be there, a group of wonderful, wacky people I went out and met all by myself in this city I’ve never lived in before, and they’ll get drunk with me and later tuck me in and make sure I’m sleeping on my side, not my back, with my new dogg-o.
This year will be different. No self-pity. This year, I’ll be sure to count my lucky stars for all the support I have in my life. My mama loves me (hey, not everyone can say that). My friends love me (I love you guys, especially my pen pal in London, and you’re all the reason I’m still alive). My therapist will never admit it, but she definitely wants to be my BFF (and thinks I’m way cooler than I actually am).
Finally, I’ll be celebrating my newfound love for myself, which only seems to grow the older I get. Coupled with this anxiety is an appreciation for how random, but full, my life has been. Because while an anxiety-ridden life isn’t as neat, pretty or put-together as the lives of the people I follow (but don’t really care about) on Insta, an anxiety-ridden life is also almost always filled with adventure. Nope, my life is never boring. Definitely not that. It’s, uh, got its way of keeping me on my toes. (Lol.)
This year, I don’t try to run from myself, or my life, or my anxiety; I take my life for exactly what it is. And when I really think about it…well…my life is pretty sweet.
Hey, Sheena? (And everyone else who doubts themselves). You’re doing just fine.