The old adage “time heals all wounds” is one of the most annoying concepts when you’re going through a hard time. Like, what do you mean there’s nothing I can do about this pain I’m feeling? I just have to sit here and wait and eventually this will suck less? “Getting over” something is essentially a combination of acceptance and the passage of time (there are exceptions, of course). Time is going to pass regardless, so there’s not much you need to do on that front. Acceptance, on the other hand, is something I’ve recently started to put into practice and it’s sort of….life-changing.
It’s sounds so silly to say, but I legitimately have never accepted my circumstances as is, in any area of life. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am a problem-solver, and sometimes that isn’t a good thing. I hit my lowest point of the year at the end of May and I felt myself slipping into a depressive state. I called my therapist to move up our appointment for that week and then proceeded to cry in desperation to her for an hour. I was feeling so down in the dumps. A mere nine days later, I went back to her and we were both surprised to see how severely my outlook had changed in a little over a week. What caused the shift, she asked?
I had no idea. At first, I was like, I don’t know, this is just how it is sometimes. Sometimes I have great weeks, sometimes I have shit weeks. I’m not really in control of how I’m feeling. Which isn’t a real or right answer, by the way, and which is why I pay her to analyze what I’m saying. I started to tell her about the things I had done since we met last. Among the mundane, three pretty big things happened in those nine days.
DATING IS NOT FOR ME, RIGHT NOW
First, I deleted all of my dating apps. I talk a lot about dating and being single here on the blog because it’s a huge part of my self-discovery this year. I realized that right now is not the best time for me to be going on dates. I am not in a place where I can handle additional rejection or disappointment in a healthy way. I am also not having that much fun, so it’s serving me in zero ways. On three separate occasions in those nine days, I was overcome with loneliness and was SO close to re-downloading the apps. In fact, this past weekend, I re-downloaded and then re-deleted Tinder TWICE. Now that’s it’s summertime and there are endless things to do in the city, I’m feeling lonelier than ever because a). all of my friends are coupled up and b). it’s hard to make new friends in a new city. But the fact is, I’m lonely, and swiping away on Tinder isn’t making me less lonely. I thought about last week’s post and recognized that I was “problem-solving.” Instead of sitting and recognizing that I’m feeling lonely right now or feeling sad that I’m not in a relationship, I was trying to avoid those feelings with a “solution” that I KNOW doesn’t work for me. Insert the Einstein quote about insanity here.
I’m not ashamed to say that I was on the husband hunt earlier this year. I really want to meet my future partner, and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the level of priority I’m making dating RIGHT NOW. At this exact moment in time, I have more important things to focus my energy on. Does that mean I won’t date for the rest of the year? Who the hell knows. Does that mean I’ll miss the opportunity to meet my perfect match if I stop dating for a few weeks or months? NO. Side-note: this episode of The Lively Show is some GOOD SHIT. This played a huge role in shifting my thought pattern around dating and searching for “the one.”
I CAN LOVE MY BODY, RIGHT NOW
The second big thing that happened: bathing suit shopping. I went shopping for some new summer clothes because I’ve gained weight since last summer. For the very first time in my entire life, I just did not give a shit when I had to grab a large shirt instead of a small or when I needed a size 10 pant instead of a size 6. This. Was Huge. Once upon a time, I was a size four, and I remember absolutely HATING myself when I had to grab a size 6 from the pile of jeans at Banana Republic. I used to only grab pants that were MY size, refusing to go up a size regardless of if the jeans ran small or were a weird cut. Then I would get mad when it was tight or uncomfortable, and instead of grabbing another size, I would leave the store upset and swear off eating for the rest of the day.
This was my reality for a very long time, so when I thought about grabbing a new swimsuit off the rack now that I’m a bit heavier, I was wary. When I looked at myself in the mirror, the first thing I thought was, “Wow, this looks so cute on me!” It wasn’t a manufactured thought either, that was genuinely my initial reaction, and that has never, ever been the case for me regardless of my size.
This isn’t to say that I’ll never feel insecure again about my body. That’s of course not the case. My eating disorder and I go way back, and I can’t shut it up with one successful round of shopping. Here’s the thing with bodies. They change ALL the time. I have gained and lost weight my entire life. Right now, my body is the size that it is, and that’s fine. I have clothes that are cute AF that I feel confident wearing. I have no doubt that my weight will go down this year. I have no doubt that sometime in the next ten years, my weight will go up again. This is the nature of my body and regardless of its size, it can do incredible things like run, lift, and get me all around the city on my bike.
I DON’T NEED TO FIND THE DREAM JOB, RIGHT NOW
The last big shift in thinking relates to the quarter-life crisis of career swaps. Last week, I lost out on what I thought was my dream job and it sucked. It helped me realize that I was putting all my eggs in one basket, but in reality, there are so many things I could do with my career. I could change my mind 500 times about the direction I’d like to move in and there would STILL be plenty of options. One of my favorite college professors gave this advice during our last class: in no reality will you be unemployed until you are 80 years old. My current period of unemployment is temporary. If I take a job and I hate it, I can quit. Because I made this big, huge gesture of moving to a new city to find a career I really love, I was putting so much pressure on finding THE job. It’s not that serious! I’m twenty-six. I’m starting over. I can do literally anything I want to make money. It doesn’t have to be impressive and it doesn’t have to be permanent. And the possibilities are endless.
When I was telling all of this to my therapist, she’s the one who figured out that acceptance was the common theme. In my head, I was like, I don’t know, I just deleted all my dating apps, bought new clothes, and got back on the job search horse. But through her lens, I chose to accept that I will still find my partner in perfect timing if I take a break from dating right now. I chose to accept the body I’m living in right now by getting new clothes that fit me and that I’m comfortable wearing. I chose to accept that I don’t need to find THE perfect match for a job right now. It is unrealistic to think that the current state of my dating life, body weight or job hunt will be the same for the next 80 years. Everything is in flux all the time. I can’t fix everything right now but that doesn’t mean that things won’t change.
Acceptance is a weird thing because you can’t tell someone to “just accept it.” It’s like telling someone who is depressed to “snap out of it.” It’s not that easy, it’s not something you can do on demand. It’s really hard, and it’s a choice you have to keep making. And if you need to take a day to be angry, be lonely, be annoyed, then give yourself permission to not be in the accepting mood. This whole idea is about cutting yourself some slack, and that includes letting yourself be in a mood if you want to be in a mood.
“There is no substitution for time,” “accept the things you cannot change,” yada, yada, yada. I’m very much a doubting Thomas for most things in life. I don’t take people’s word for it. I like to play with fire so I can teach myself how to not get burned next time. If you’ve had trouble with acceptance in the past, I can only tell you that it’s not something I consciously decided. I did decide to listen to my emotions over my ego, and maybe that helped me carve a path for acceptance to enter my life for the first time. I can’t tell you how to accept your struggles, but I can tell you that when you get there, it is a kind of peace and freedom that is new to me. And it is well worth the wait.