Sure, there have been a couple of close calls with deep breaths needed, tears rolling down my cheek and coffee runs to calm down, but as far as an actual meltdown? You know, the hyper ventilating type that has me looking for the nearest exit sign.. My tally is currently 0.
However my perfect score was almost ruined this week... Almost.
And yet it wasn’t because someone offended me. It wasn’t because I missed home. It wasn’t because I woke up too late for a pitstop at Starbucks. It wasn’t even because I can’t drink as much Diet Coke as I used to, and when I do I have to sneak it in under my desk like I’m smuggling McDonalds/Kale Leaves (for my LA friends) into a movie.
No, my almost meltdown had almost nothing to do with people, places or phenylalanine.
It began at 5:35pm on Tuesday as I sat at my desk, getting ready to drive to creative, which would go late into the night.
(That’s right people, one month in and I still haven’t hit anyone. Where’s my medal?! Oh, that just means I get to keep my license? Fair enough. Carry on…)
I stared at my beloved/hated to-do list that went on for 3.5 pages. There were only two boxes ticked. Ever tried to prioritize your tasks into urgency, only to look back and see you’ve highlighted all of them? Good. So you know how I felt.
Four weeks into a new job, a new department, with new expenses, in a new city, and a whole new set of skills/everything to learn. That’ll cause some anxiety if you think about it for longer than four seconds!
I stared at my computer and debated taking it with me, which would mean I could do work late into the night, but it would mean cancelling my planned sleepover. The decision weighed heavy, making it clear that it had less to do with the state of my computer and more to do with the state of my heart.
After a while, I imagined the narrator of my life (Liam Neeson, duh) probing, “What’s your decision Elyse?” (What? You don’t have a life narrator? Weird..)
I decided to leave my computer at work, after all, the work would still be there in the morning. I was going to creative, and I was going to enjoy my sleepover. I moved to LA to build the church, yes, but I also moved to build a life.
Becoming a work-a-holic was not going to help me achieve either of those things (oh, snap).
How liberating, right?! Wrong.
Sandi Thom described my desired feelings, “...oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair…” Too bad I prefer pop music, and also, flower crowns make my head itchy. My honest feelings? Overwhelmed.
I went to creative to try to forget about work. I smiled and sang and even jumped in time, but my heart couldn’t shake the heaviness of my growing anxiety.
At the end of creative I was speaking to a group of friends, thinking my pokerface was solid. Apparently it wasn't. Noticing my weirdness, a friend of mine pulled me aside and said, “spill.” For the next half hour I shared my feelings, honestly and openly, holding nothing back, including my pastoral filter and Christian vocabulary. Now that was liberating.
My friend listened without judgment, smiled, and hugged me. “You are the girl for the job,” they said. “You’re doing great,” they reassured. “It’s going to be ok,” they promised. “Now go a drink a glass of wine,” they advised. And that’s exactly what I needed to hear (ok, so I didn’t need the last one, but it was a fun way to end).
Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone is to just be. Be there. Be present. Be a listening ear. Be a friend. Be an embrace. Be a smile. Just be. (Tweet that)
I walked away from that conversation light and optimistic. I forgot about what needed to be done at the office. I didn’t worry that I would drop the ball. I went and enjoyed my sleepover. I ate avocado on toast. I watched Full House. It was simple, and it was just what I needed.
In our moments of anxiety we don’t need a dramatic display of recognition or a loud shout of admiration. Sometimes all we need is a whisper of hope. (tweet that)
Today, just be for someone. A smile. An encouraging text. A surprise gift on someone’s desk. A hug. A sleepover. A real conversation. It’s not hard. It’s actually quite simple. And actually? It’s the best.
And to my friend reading this, the one who’s feeling a little overwhelmed. Don't quit. You are the person for this job. You’re doing great. It’s going to be ok. Get a cup of coffee/soda/wine/tea (but don’t mix). Take a deep breath.
You got this.