“At the end of it, she was still singing.”-1984, George Orwell
You know those moments when you wake up from a nap, and you have absolutely no idea where you are? For a second you feel as though you’re having a vision, the room is a blur, and your mind is completely, absolutely blank. As scary as that feeling can be, sometimes I wish I could live in that moment. Like a newborn baby, your mind is completely blank–no thoughts except for when you’re going to get your next breath. You’ve just stepped out of a dream world, and you’re in this weird in-between space where real life is some far off stretch of thought that seems intangible.
So you’re lying there, and all of a sudden it hits you: like those giant tidal wave dreams I have, where one wave comes, and you’re bobbing up for air, and as soon as you try to breathe in, you suck in salt water from the next giant wave that is crushing you back to the ocean floor. And you try to sit up, but then an even bigger wave is roaring past you, twisting your body in ways that it would never otherwise move, pressing you against the sand, leaking into every pore of your skin. The reason I went to sleep in the first place was to avoid the life that is hurdling towards me as I open my eyes and the desk across the room comes back into focus. But even the dream world wouldn’t let me off the hook–gulping in the sea, the pressure of the incoming waves threatened to pummel me into oblivion.
So I took a nap today. And the tidal waves came. And I had that moment of pure bliss when I woke up, realizing I was free from the ocean but not completely understanding that I was a live, functioning human being who had a to-do list that was lingering on a Post-It note inside a bulging Lilly Pulitzer planner. I’m not exactly sure why I have these dreams, but my psychologist mom has said something about anxiety and feeling like you can’t handle everything that life is throwing at you. Well, that’s probably true. Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed with life (insert: school, extracurriculars, thoughts, my ever-racing mind…) that I just feel like I’m going to explode. I get hyper-focused on this world that exists primarily to maintain my GPA and stack my resume, and I forget about things like the green grass peaking out from the melting snow and the sound that the birds make as they emerge from their winter-perch on the highest branches. Anyways, so I had one of those freak out moments today where I felt like I was not worthy as a human being because I couldn’t focus on my assignments (how do we get these crazy thoughts into our heads, anyways??) so I literally stopped, took a step away from the world, and forced myself to sleep. And then the waves happened, reminding me I couldn’t avoid life forever.
But something else happened. Something that reminded me just how far I’ve come in my journey to accept myself and appreciate my life. After I came to and blinked my eyes a couple times, slowly passing from the dream world, to the blissful in-between, to reality, I started singing. Literally. Something in me just upwelled and I felt like humming a little tune. For some reason, everything I had been worried about before just slipped away and felt like another life ago. Who cares if I make an agreement mistake on my French composition if I can still breathe and walk and tell my parents that I love them? Seriously, life has so much more to offer than red pen marks on a 12 point font, Times New Roman-filled page. So after I sang my little song, I laughed. To myself. For no one to hear but me. And for once, that was enough.
It was enough to know that I was happy with myself, with my life at the moment. Sure, I may sometimes feel lonely, but I’ll always have Me, and Me at the moment was singing. Pretty good company, no?
So if you’re feeling like you just can’t, like the world is crashing down, like the waves are sucking you under, close your eyes (nap or not) and realize that your life is so much more than this. Spontaneously bursting out into song is a stretch, I admit, but even just cracking a smile can make you feel that much better. Prioritize your happiness, and everything else will fall into place.