another moment of silence.

I looked for what you gave me in the warmth that comes from reading books by my favorite tween fiction author, in being a part of a crowd screaming to the tunes of a popstar I grew up with – watching her perform a several hundred feet away from me, in the adrenaline rush that comes from a hike, in the liberation that comes from unplugging from social-media and making peace with complete and total silence (ignoring the waves of fomo-ridden anxiety until it is no more) and in the welcome in-betweenness of vacations. And yet, the warmth, the rush, and the striving toward balance was nothing compared to the readiness with which I was able to open up to you, and accept all of you.

I remember forcibly discussing loss with you one random evening, and you saying, with exasperation so that I’d drop the topic, that you had never really felt loss. I envy you for that, as nothing has resounds in me so loudly, so painfully, as your absence. It is not just a void. A void is what I feel post break-up with someone or the other who grew into my routine, towards whom I’d feel phantom-urges to text message until it would go away and I’d realize being alone gave me more space towards my priorities anyway. Your absence is realizing that what I’d mistook as “alone” for a year and a half, the “alone” that felt so right, so right I assumed I was destined to be alone forever, was the me that was immersed in your silent, supportive taken-for-granted company. I wish I could stay appreciative of the vividness of those moments with you and the easy acknowledgement of our unlabeled dynamic, without clinging onto them. Then maybe, I’d realize that in many ways, you’re still with me – affection, and consideration that open and that far-reaching can’t really leave, can it?

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the sun rises twice

The first time, I am asleep. I do not see it until I am up, squinting as the light from between the blinds streams into my line of vision.

The second time, it is late evening, and I am getting ready to clock out from work. My phone buzzes once, then twice, then a couple of times. The people I love from the other side of the world are waking up and I am connected to them again; I feel part of their hazy, rushed morning routine.

the to-do list

I made this amazing, color-coded to-do list for what was left of my final semester submissions during spring break, a few days before you went off the grid.

I look at it now, and it feels prehistoric. I’ve struck through a bunch of paper submissions, but so what? It did not change anything.

You came back, and then you left. And it changed the way I look at everything. I lost, and now nothing else will hit me as precisely, and sharply — right at the heart of it all. Everything I thought life was all about struck out, in one fell swoop.

an elegy

I never had to make time for you. Your presence was simultaneous to everything I was, and everything I was doing.

The day we started talking, it was the start of a 1.5478 year 565-day long conversation: an unparalleled streak of willful mockery, giggles, idle rants, pseudo-existential awakenings, morbid, lazy theorizing, pictures of food, gossip, book recommendations substituting for life advice, hope amidst a harsh, tearful reawakening, unconditional love and support. You sent me emoticon flowers the Monday after the Sunday a person whose last name I barely remember broke my heart (or was it my ego?), because everyone needs Monday morning flowers, you said, and they cost nothing. You showed up repeatedly, when I needed to know I was needed, and when I needed to know I was loved (and deserved more than I thought I did) and I would not fall through the cracks. You made me want to show up and be just as discerning yet giving with my time and energy. Your words, your presence and your actions were timeless. I will spend a lifetime catching up to it.

Let’s talk about the anxt

I have been a worrier for as long as I can remember. I have squirmed my way around public speaking, dreaded every minor possibility of failure and adopted the identity of a sad, avoidant girl.

I do not remember when it started, but it was around the time when I realized I had to be a certain way, and accomplish certain things to level up in life. And in the process, realized I hated having to fall flat on my face, watch my world grow pixelated and start over. I simply did not have the social skills to walk it off like a champ. I’d just look less cool walking the same way I always did: slumped, small, not wanting to wake up the neighbors.

So I anticipated challenges before they manifested themselves, saw conflict and displeasure in people’s faces a nanosecond before they articulated it, and whenever I could get away with it, delegated, postponed or avoided any task that involved direct communication.

But that did not, in any way, ease the lump in my throat, or the burn in my stomach every time I was at a decisional crossroad or in front of a human being that was outside my comfort zone. Anxiety was like this orange ghost that zoomed into my life whenever it got the chance, to ensure that I never ever reached my potential.

I never got used to living in anxiety, but weirdly enough, over time, an odd kind of familiarity did set in.

I still fucking hated the anxiety, and was envious of people who did not second guess every element in their lives, but I also had no choice but to get to know anxiety better. After so many one-on-ones, it was inevitable.

And over time, I realized:

  • While too much anxiety caused me to curl up into a ball and not do anything, anxiety did not always intend to hurt. In fact, it made me better. It allowed me to zoom in on the details, double-fact-check and in general, give people accurate rather than half-assed information.
  • I am a very complacent individual, and it took that anxious I-am-going-to-lose-it-the-world-is-going-to-fall-apart rush for me to sometimes, give pressing problems the attention and priority they needed. It would, surprisingly make me sit down, take deep breaths, tell myself that no, I was not going to fuck this up before giving my full, undivided (basically, no social-media in the side) attention to every piece of that puzzle before I miraculously arrived at a solution, did what had to be done and experienced that sweet a-ha moment.
  • That bittersweet anxious sensation would push me to prepare for, research-to-death and conquer every possible caveat that underlay whatever I was freaking out about. Catastrophizing, in a way, prevented the actual catastrophe from happening. Even if shit did hit the fan, since I’d already pictured and dreaded the catastrophe a billion times before, it simply was not as impressive in real life. I could jump right into problem-solving mode.

Recently, a friend asked me how I had learned a random hack that I’d showed her. As I explained to her about the time when I “got anxious” because I had to get something done and couldn’t because I did not know said hack and therefore, had to look it up, I found myself talking about it rather nostalgically and fondly. This AMAZED me but also made me realize that over time, while my world remained pixelated, anxiety, the orange-neighborhood-ghost, had leveled up from enemy to frenemy.

Anxiety and Me

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.