“You care a lot about what people think. That’s a problem.”

She’s back and she’s got a therapist! (who is to be credited for the title of this post)

I have officially lived two full weeks in California. And I still don’t know what to blog about.

That’s not entirely true, actually. I have a lot that I want to write about but no idea where to start. Coming to California has already changed my worldview. Our drive showed me more of America than I had ever seen before. Brief visits to LA have exposed me to unbelivably true wealth and devastatingly real poverty. Fires, the coronavirus, and unfamiliar surroundings have heightened my anxiety to levels I’ve never experienced. And I have been humbled in every step it took to get to this state – both the state of California, and the California state of mind.

I would not trade any of it for anything in the world. But if you circle back to the first sentece, this adventure has pushed me to seek out (online) therapy.

In the last two weeks there have been countless times that Zach has driven somewhere (mostly beautiful, very safe places) that made me so anxious we had to turn around and go home. But I didn’t come face-to-face with my anxiety until our last trip outside of – what we’ve decided is – “our beach.” But this time I wasn’t anxious because of the fires, or because people weren’t social distancing, or because we decided to drive to Hollywood on our second day in California after doing literally zero research.

We were at a nature preserve. Accompanied by friendly strangers and their small hairless dogs, I couldn’t breathe. My heart raced. I heard every sound, every breeze and rustling bush was amplified.

I was a child alone in the middle of the night, surrounded in the dark by mythical monsters I conjured myself.

But, just like each nightmarish ghoul that has held my hand through sleep, the dangers were never real. But that didn’t matter.

I wasn’t just anxious; I was afraid.

And this finally forced me to realize that I can’t live in fear of the unknown. And I can’t keep worrying about things I can’t change. These are things I have always understood, I just never pushed myself close enough to the edge to see the changes I’ve desperately needed to make.

Nowhere is magic. (And I have a post coming soon about that specifically.) But the recent change of scenery has changed my perspective and has seriously helped me to refocus. Because Buffalo drained me; it robbed me of a youthful exuberance that I should have been embracing. And I robbed myself of the perseverance to embrace it anyway.

Now I feel like I can be creative again. I’m driven to be disciplined.

And I’m still afraid.

I’m afraid to become isolated, to fall stagnant, to get lazy, to become dependent on the people around me. But for the first time ever, I feel empowered to do something about it.

I don’t have to fall victim to the traps I set in my own mind.

Let me just –

I don’t have to fall victim to the traps I set in my own mind.

Now that I am fortunate enough to have the power to control my circumstances, I don’t need to let my circumstances control me. So here’s to taking control of my life and my brain (and hopefully to getting moderately tan before my next trip home).

Because today was hard.

Tomorrow will be better.

With love and an ever-dwindling sense of anxiety,

Jacklyn

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