Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Berlin, October 2020

Yes, that is the title of a once popular song by Jack Johnson. It’s also one of the status updates I posted on Facebook back when regularly posting random status updates was still considered cool – unless it never was and I was therefore never cool.
Either way, sitting, waiting and wishing is exactly what I was doing at the time of the aforementioned status update. I was sitting in my dorm room in Germany, waiting and wishing for a sign of life from a crush, and telling my Facebook friends about it in a slightly cryptic way, hoping that my crush would see the status and therefore reach out to me. It seemed like a foolproof strategy back then and – in case you were wondering how that turned out – it evidently was.

The reason why I thought of this is because I recently found myself sitting, waiting and wishing again. I sat with that realisation for a moment and then it hit me: I’m a grown-up human now (much more than I was back then anyway) who doesn’t need to sit around like princess Peach (you know, from Super Mario Bros.) waiting for stuff to happen! And so I snapped out of my momentary Jack-Johnson-ness and decided to take initiative myself. Now, I don’t actually remember what the outcome was but hey, at least I took matters into my own hands.

I sometimes have to remind myself that I can’t expect people to read my mind and therefore know exactly what I’m sitting, waiting and wishing for. I also have to actively try to remember that I’m only responsible for communicating my wants and needs, and not for people’s reactions to my telling them. I am, however, often wary of people’s reactions, which makes me try to manage their emotions by holding back the things I’d actually need them to hear. I put my own needs aside in order to prevent them from feeling any type of discomfort and I tiptoe around them, trying to evaluate how much they can take at any given moment, carefully adjusting the dosage of my communications in order to prevent overloading or overwhelming them with my stuff.

You may want to label the behaviour I just described as nothing short of considerate and empathetic, which it is to some extent. The line between thoughtful behaviour and self-effacement is a fine one though and I’ve crossed it many times, making myself small in the process, retreating quietly into my lonely corner. To be fair, my lonely corner hasn’t been quite as lonely since I made it a habit of sharing my feelings both on here and with my close friends, which opened doors to connections I had never even dreamt of finding.
In the context of communicating my wants and needs, it’s important to acknowledge that I can only do as much as try my best to let someone know how I feel, or to show them by example what’s important to me, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll automatically get closer to what I need. Sometimes people just can’t show up for someone else, not because they mean to cause them harm but because their plate is full from all the stuff that’s going on in their lives. They may simply not have the capacity to make room for someone (or they may simply not want to), no matter how well you communicate the things that are important to you.
When that happens, it’s important to evaluate how that makes you feel. Can you live with them not being able to give you what you need and fought hard to (kinda) believe you deserve or does it break your heart again and again? How important is it for you to have your needs met by that particular person? Are you okay with sharing only the amount you know they can handle, out of self-protection?

[Interlude]

2020 was a weird year for me (and all of you, I’m sure!). Given that it’s been ruled by ‘rona for its bigger part, I often found myself not caring as much as I usually would. In fact, I’ve been switching between whatever!, YOLO* and, last but not least, crippling anxiety of course. The first two moods especially made me reach for and grab things I usually wouldn’t even have considered in the past, so in a way the fact that I stopped giving a f*ck about many aspects of my life in a what’s-the-point?! kind of way made my life somewhat better by making me experience new things that I wouldn’t have gone for if it hadn’t been for a pandemic.
I guess you could say that the upside to losing all hope for the foreseeable future is that it can only go uphill from there – when you hit rock bottom, there’s not much else you can lose in terms of life satisfaction.
What I’m trying to say is, if life as you know it gets cancelled – no more bars, no more parties, no more in-person socialising with groups of friends (or friends in general, for that matter), no more concerts and no more festivals (which still breaks my heart every time I think about it) – there’s not much joy left to lose**. And, as a result of that feeling of not having all that much to lose, one slowly starts to climb out of the pit of despair and, after having wallowed in there for a bit, adapt and re-evaluate what can be done, given the circumstances.

For me, this meant putting a considerate amount of effort into my physical fitness. I bought a bicycle and one day, just like that, I started setting out for more or less longer rides by myself, discovering in the process that cycling seems to be the one and only thing that successfully makes me get out of my head. I’ve also finally managed to run 10K this year (three times so far). I’m aware that this doesn’t sound like much (or worse, like bragging?!) but I’ve always believed that there was no way for me to ever reach that goal.
It can’t be denied that one (and a half) lockdown, occasionally working from home and no longer going out like I used to freed up a lot of time and, most importantly, energy to work towards my fitness goals.

Besides training my body, I also got the chance to train my mental and emotional fitness in the sense that 2020 put me through a variety of situations that I’d definitely label as uncomfortable and to be avoided if possible, and that I had successfully avoided before 2020 came along.
For instance, hitting (emotional) rock bottom made me reach for (and actually get!) a job that I’m quite excited to be starting in January next year. This, in turn, has transformed working at my current job into an entirely different experience: I started asking for things and sharing ideas that I previously wouldn’t have dared to mention to any of the decision-makers. Thanks to the nothing matters anyway / YOLO mindset, I was able to experience that I can step up my game at work and still be accepted, despite not being “quiet and therefore pleasant” at all times any longer.

To wrap this up somewhat abruptly, I’ll leave you with a (pre-Covid) acoustic version of the one song that “helped me get through it all”, according to Spotify, which is probably kinda true.

Frère – Shadows

Stay happy and healthy, my friends!

🧡


* YOLO = you only live once

** This applies to the lucky people that haven’t had to suffer any losses due to Covid-19 of course, the seriousness of which I’m by no means trying to deny. The context I’m focusing on here, however, is the psychological one (as usual).

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