An unclose image of a woman's hair blowing in her face

It may feel like you are drowning emotionally right now. Like a surge of assorted feelings has swept you into the depths of unrest. It seems uncertainty has become your new normal, and you just want to come up for air. 

You aren’t alone. I’m next to you treading water, and we can be each other’s life jacket. I’m not saying I have the answers, but perhaps, I can help you breathe again. Maybe, you can help me move forward. Maybe, together we can get to higher ground. We’ll take it one step at a time.

Maybe, together we can get to higher ground. We’ll take it one step at a time.

Truthfully, that’s always been my downfall—not taking things one step at a time. I can’t help but try to tackle five steps at once or look ahead at what’s to come. It’s no wonder “overwhelmed” is usually the first thing that comes to my head when someone asks me to describe myself in three words or less. 

I often think back to the summer my mom put me and my sister in swimming lessons at the university. Even then, I was a young mass of muddled emotion—thrilled by the idea of gaining a new skill, terrified by the unknown, excited to play in the water and anxious about jumping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. 

According to my instructor, the diving board should have been the least of my worries, as I wasn’t even comfortable with putting my face in the water. I still had that to master, not to mention floating, swimming with a flotation device and swimming without one. Nonetheless, there I was drowning from the mere thought of touching the deep side of the pool. I was hindering myself from conquering the steps right in front of me. 

Control was in the shallow waters of the pool. There, if I ever felt unnerved, I could just stand up and all would be well. There was no threat. Despite the many lessons that could be learned there, I wasn’t present. I allowed my mind to wander ahead to the ambiguous waters of the deep end.

I wasn’t present. I allowed my mind to wander ahead to the ambiguous waters of the deep end.

Because, again, I could stand up here. I couldn’t even see the bottom over there. When it eventually came time to jump off that diving board, I realized those lessons I missed in the shallow end were key to helping me tread the deeper waters of the pool. 

Perhaps, my swimming lessons apply to what is happening in our world. Maybe, all we need to do is focus on today and the lessons it has to offer. Instead, we’ve let the worries, anxieties and fears of what’s to come in this era of uncertainty thwart our experiences of the present day. We are missing out on the experiences and moments that are meant to help us breathe again. 

Take it one day at a time. Allow your mind to live in the present. Move through your feelings without guilt. Know that it’s OK to not always be OK.

Take it one day at a time. Allow your mind to live in the present.

For in these moments, you will find the essentials to not only breathe again, but they will also equip you for the journey ahead. 

You can come up for air. You aren’t alone. Together, we will get to higher ground—one tread after the other. 

How are you coping with what’s going on in the world and in your own backyard? How can you deal when feelings of anxiety and overwhelm come?

Image via Justin Wilczynski, Darling Issue No. 24 

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