You Need to Calm Down

There’s a lot to fear in this world of ours. COVID-19 being the latest. But there’s one unified piece of message that you should be listening to from doctors and the CDC and it’s also what Taylor Swift had the foresight to say before I could say it:

You need to calm down.              

And you know, wash your hands. But Taylor Swift hasn’t sung about that yet.

Now, I know it’s scary. Especially because it’s spreading so fast and there’s no working vaccine. But we all need to, as humanity, agree that fear isn’t helping anything. A little fear is okay. That’s enough to get you to wash your hands for the full 20 seconds. But this all-encompassing, buying hand sanitizer until it’s gone, fear is just stirring the pot.

And believe me, I know what you’re thinking: But you’re Bailey Dailey! You’re supposed to look on the bright side of everything! or Stay in your lane, blogger.

And I get that. But if you’re reading this, then a small part of you wants to escape from the scary outside world of ours and you can definitely do that, if only you take a deep breath and calm down.

It’s only natural to worry about loved ones and our global citizens during this trying time. But working yourself up will only compromise your immune system.

So, if you can’t do it for me, then do it for T Swift.

Love,

Bailey

 

Where You Feel

Did you ever notice…

…that you feel sadness in your throat? That feeling when you’re about to cry?

That you feel anger in your chest? That your lungs constrict and it’s hard to breathe?

That you feel fear in your gut? That you get nauseous with every moment closer?

And that you feel happiness, well, everywhere?

I’ve noticed that. And I can’t help but feel that our bodies aren’t getting the credit they deserve.

So, remember your body and all that it can do for you every day and every night. Not just in what you feel but your other senses too. You usually only appreciate things when they’re gone, but you should appreciate your body always – especially when it allows you to cry, get angry, feel afraid, and enjoy happiness.

Love,

Bailey

Afraid of the Dark

Faeries are a rich, mythical part of many cultures (especially Ireland). These omnipotent yet playful beings were blamed for just about everything (from miscarriages to spoiled milk). But despite being powerful, there was one way to have sway over a fairy — you must know it’s real name. You must invoke it, like a spell.

But this is not really an old nor mythical concept, is it? The idea that giving something its proper name makes it so much easier to manage. Less scarier. More mundane.

Now, I’m not saying that if a bear was coming toward you, and you were able to identify it as a sun bear that it would make it a less scary situation. But I am saying that there is something to knowing your fear’s name. Because it becomes less frightening when it is known.

Which is why so many people are afraid of the dark. It represents everything that is unknown. And to which our mind applies our darkest fears — monsters under the bed, loss of sight, relying on our hearing when we have headphones on.

I’m here to tell you that it’s totally okay to be afraid of the dark.

What’s not okay is not facing it anyway, despite your fear. It’s not okay to look at the dark and turn on the lights, to avoid it.

Facing your fear, any fear, is almost the only way to overcome it. Doing a little of what scares you each day and you can get past it, so start small and you’ll find that you can conquer big fears this way.

Now, lights out.

!!!

Is it possible to be too excited? I mean, what would that even look like? Someone jumping up and down? Someone crying tears of joy? Someone clutching their heart and invoking their savior? Doesn’t that simply look like extreme happiness?

Of course, you don’t really see anything extreme in our society. We’re pretty polarizing in our words: we say “awesome,” “insane,” and “horrific” to describe one weekend. But not in our actions. We downplay, diminish, and downsize what we’re really doing. “Oh yeah. I went skydiving this weekend for a bachelor party. We had a great time. Met Heidi Klum on the way back home. It was cool, I guess.”

IT WAS COOL, I GUESS? NO! IF THERE WAS ANY TIME TO USE “AWESOME” IT WOULD PROBABLY BE NOW. 

What is that reaction? Why do we have such a culture of apathy? Why is it cool to be as nonchalant as possible? Is it because we think excitement is dorky? Do we think people will like us better if we don’t reveal our true emotions?

Because I don’t follow that logic. In fact, my favorite people in the world are exploding with passion and excitement. My favorite people in the world are bursting at the seams. They talk for hours about their favorite subjects; their eyes light up when you talk to them; they shiver with excitement when you ask them how their day went.

So, why would we hide that part of ourselves if it feels so good to be excited?

I think somewhere along the way we realized that if we didn’t reveal our emotions, we could prove to other people that we weren’t vulnerable. And that’s somewhat attractive to us. In a world where we are repeatedly faced with the possibility of apocalypse and destruction, it’s simply exhausting to be scared all the time. Actually, it’s tiring to be anything at all. It’s easier to become desensitized when we all have to be Chicken Little everyday. So, we drained ourselves and then we replaced all of our feelings with emojis because they were easily digestible. Then we started to type “LOL” when we’re not even laughing. So, to express an emotion that we actually feel is incredibly rare.

But my advice is to feel as much as possible, especially excitement. I can understand why people are afraid to be vulnerable and I can understand why it is easy to gloss over emotions, but I can’t understand why people would choose to live a quieter life because of it.

Anger is a Splinter

When you think about emotions, what comes to mind? What does happy look like? Is it a group of friends laughing together? What does sadness look like? Is it raindrops running down a window? What does fear look like? Is it a dark room with a single door?

And what about anger? Is it more than the color red?

For me, anger is not an emotion in the traditional sense. It is a reflex in much the same way that someone may tap your knee, and it will respond with a kick. In simpler terms, you may notice that anger is first out of you when something bad happens, instead of an emotion like sadness, because you haven’t had time to rationalize or process your feelings yet. Once you have taken the time to think it through, you turn to another emotion to cater to your expressive needs.

On the other hand, sadness, happiness, and even fear are not reactive. They are the product of something, but only after you’ve had time to ruminate. Anger is somewhat pure in that it is not tainted by thought, and actually, it is so strong because it’s devoid of thought entirely.

But of course, anger is problematic as a result of its nature. You may find yourself lashing out because of not being able to form what it is that you want to convey, and so anger beats you literally and metaphorically to the punch.

This is why anger is like a splinter.

Splinters. You will notice when you get one…or at least you think it’s a splinter. It could be just a little bump of unusual pain in the middle of your hand. You don’t really know because you can’t see anything. All you know is that you are hurting and the sharp sting of the tweezers is not making it any better.

It’s the same thing with anger. You don’t really notice that anything has happened until you are crying and honking uncontrollably at the car that cut you off. You don’t really think that you are upset until you are eating your feelings and swaddling yourself into a snuggie. You don’t really know what’s come over you, but you would love to start a fight club right after your book club. Anger is also a generalized, unreachable pain.

Now the trick is to head off your anger. You have to identify the exact issue you are angry at, the exact position of the splinter. Because your pain and frustration radiates and poisons everything else if you don’t. It creates layers and layers and layers until you are shouting at a shadow when you should really be telling a loved one “I’m sorry.”

Simply remember that anger is a symptom like pain, and that it is does not represent the emotion that you are actually feeling. Rather, anger is a substitute, a filler, and until you can identify what you should be really feeling (frustration, grief, jealousy, confusion), you need to root around with your tweezers until you can find the right spot. Ask yourself: Okay, I know the barista getting my order wrong is not what I’m actually cheesed off about, but what is making me so upset? It may be momentarily painful for you, but it will save everyone around you their own anger.

And even more like splinters, remember that anger is pretty much unavoidable. It would be great if it never happened again, but since that is unlikely, it’s simply best if you kept a pair of emergency tweezers nearby. And of course, ask for help when you need it.

What We Know about Fear

Another year, another shark week.

Yes, I’m tuned and glued to another week of bad shark bite reenactments and worse theme music. And of course, there are great whites leaping to catch seals, blood in the water, and survivor stories.

And it’s actually the latter that I enjoy the most. The tale invariably unfolds: someone is surfing, fishing, or kayaking at an inopportune time of the day: early morning or dusk. They are minding their own business when they feel like they’ve been hit by a freight train. They see blood, and sometimes nothing else, as they try to fight off the thrashing or they lose consciousness. Then, they lose an arm. They lose a leg. They lose a hand. And in fact, one guy lost his foot. The kicker? (I’m sorry. That was a bad pun that no one deserved). The shark didn’t even eat his foot. The intact appendage washed back up on shore a few days later.

So, the experiences may change. The trauma, the details, even the shark itself may change. But do you know what almost every single survivor of a shark attack says after the event?

“I can’t wait to get back in the water.”

Which is absolutely, totally crazy. I mean, I’ve heard of getting back on the horse, but c’mon. That’s a horse. It has teeth, not razor blades. What are these people thinking?

Well, they’re probably thinking that their worst fear of the ocean, almost losing their life, has been realized. After that, there really isn’t much to be afraid of anymore. So, why not head back in? In fact, there may be a certain comfort in the idea of lightning not (hopefully) striking twice. Once you’re struck, maybe that’s enough.

Now, this pretty much confirms what we understand about fear. Really, people aren’t afraid of spiders, sharks, or stuff. We’re really frightened of the unknown, what we can’t predict. So, when shark attacks happen, this fear sort of dissipates for these people because they’ve already stared it in the face and come out on the other side. They know, and so, they aren’t afraid.

In the end, this could be a really extreme positive message about facing your fears. But you don’t have to go swimming at dawn to feel like you’ve conquered your fright. You simply need to stop letting your past affect your future, except for offering helpful hints once in awhile.

So really, what it probably means is that you shouldn’t swim at dawn after you’ve had a shark attack. But then again, you shouldn’t be afraid of swimming at any other time of day, either.

The Three Words I Am Most Afraid Of

There are a lot of phobias out there. Spiders, sharks, even mustard. (Yes, mustard.) And sure, there is a lot to be afraid of in this world. But mostly, humans are afraid of the collective “unknown.” They’re afraid of not knowing what is going to happen when they hold that spider, jump into the ocean, or er…make a burger.

And so, what am I afraid of? Well, three little words. I bet you are trying out all the most obvious calculations right now: I love you, You are fired, You’re wearing that?

But it isn’t any of those. It’s “could have been.”

I think most of our lives are spent battling the “could have beens.” Our entire existence consists of ordering the dessert we want and then seeing some other frosty cake pass by our table, making our mouths water. And sometimes, “could have been” is not getting dessert at all. It’s bypassing the sweets so that you can make sacrifices for your entree, so to speak.

You have to understand that “could have been” carries with it the most pungent sense of loss. It is the epitome of the “unknown,” and thus, manifests as the most frightening. When you are off being something else, there is always the allure of what “could have been,” but there is no way to see what it is without abandoning your pursuits completely.

As a writer, “could have been” is especially painful. You write a story or a poem, and you abandon it in an old notebook. You have a brilliant idea for a short story, but you forget to write it down. You send out your writing into the world as one thing when there are about fifty other plot lines that you could have delved into. I guess that’s why there are so many sequels of movies and books that could have simply ended where they did (I’m looking at you, Game of Thrones television show. )

The difficult part about life, though, is that there aren’t any sequels. Despite appearances, there really are no second chances. Life is like a tree with so many branches. Each branch represents an opportunity, and when you travel down the length of one limb, the other branches are suddenly out of your reach.

So, what is a person to do with his or her “could have beens”? Make them into something. Even if you can’t do what you have set out to accomplish in the first place, do something. It will take the emphasis off what “could have been” and give you back all of the wonderful things that you are.

What Do We Watch on Tuesday?

If you were a kid in the 90s,  your parents would order a pizza for dinner every Friday night. I don’t know why this was an unspoken rule of weekly take-out, but if it was Friday, you knew that you were going to eat cheesy goodness while watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch, in that order.

Little did you know that your parents were also giving you a taste of adult living at a very young age, while simultaneously setting you up for heart disease. What was a fun way to spend the end of the week suddenly became a rut that you were trudging in by the time you were nearing puberty. Your mouth would start watering on Thursday night in anticipation of the next day: pizza day.

And so it was born: your ambition to work for/treat yourself with the weekend. (To be fair, 5 days of schooling also contributed to this, but hey, positive reinforcement doesn’t help it, either.)

And it is now that I invoke this sort of, blogger’s license, and say that you should break the routine you live in whenever possible (and at the same time, I freely admit that this is a struggle for me as well. I, too, looked forward to pizza at one time.)

But like pizza, routines are unhealthy. (I know, sad truth.)

Now, I’m not going to tell you that life exists outside of your comfort zone. Because you already know that. Yes, if I tell you what you should be doing, it doesn’t change the fact that you aren’t doing it. You’re scared and that’s obvious. We all are, and that’s why we adopt routines in the first place. That’s not a crime, it’s a fact.

No, I want to tell you it is possible to break your routine. It is possible to start something new. It is possible to stop asking, “What’s on television on Tuesday?” Not because you already know, but because you have broken the habit of doing the same thing every Tuesday. Just start small. Watch your normal shows on a Wednesday night instead of a Tuesday. I know, I know, that’s really starting small. But when you convince yourself that change isn’t life-altering, and that it won’t kill you, then you can move up. Try a new restaurant. Read an author you’ve never read.

Then, when you’re comfortable in your new uncomfortableness, keep going. And you’ll realize that the life you were living before wasn’t really living at all.

Routines can be good because they help us to remember what we need to remember in our lives: the car keys, this huge project, that night out with your friends. This is because nothing ever changes. But routines aren’t memorable for the long-term, as days merge into one another as one gray blur. That’s why we need a break from routines from time to time, to feel new things and try new things. To live the life we want to live instead of the life we feel we must.

So, we’ll do it together. We’ll both make small changes in our life so that they add up to something big. Because life is simply that: small moments that add up over the years.

(But don’t worry. This blog will always remain routine without being ordinary.)