I recently read that anxiety disorders affect about 18% of Americans a year, which has become more of a norm that many of us struggle to cope with. At the Darling Long Table hosted at the Pinterest headquarters in San Francisco last week, our discussion centered around the theme of issue 23: “Imagination” and its close connection to the issue of anxiety.
As we stepped into the lobby of the Pinterest headquarters, we were greeted by the beautiful scene Elsie Green created. Handmade paper garland served as a backdrop to the beautiful vintage table settings. Brass and soft pastel linens created the perfect juxtaposition while the delicate flower arrangements and warm lights pulled the scene together. As we settled in over appetizers and libations provided by Winc wine, we all began to open up and share meaningful conversation over a topic that at one time or another, has affected us all.
While dinner was served, Darling’s Founder, Sarah Dubbeldam, led a table conversation with a fresh perspective on what anxiety truly is. She related that anxiety is essentially imagination gone wrong— the opposite of the usual expectation or definition because imagination is a gift, but it can be used for imagining good or bad things. Through the stress of everyday life, it can be easy to let our minds indulge in fearful thoughts— imaginings that may freeze us in our tracks and make us feel emotionally and sometimes physically unwell— this is imagination gone wrong, and the direct symptom is anxiety.
With the table divided into groups of four, we each discussed how dealing with anxiety is never easy, but it is essential to think about our thoughts— where they are coming from and why? How does our imagination run away with us, causing anxiety? Although there may be a variety of triggering factors, we landed on a solution of remembering to be more mindful of where we physically are and how we are feeling. This helps us diffuse the momentary looming feeling of doom anxiety can cause.
Throughout the evening, Sarah also posed other questions around the theme such as: “When you were a child, what imaginary game did you play, or what imaginary friends did you have?” and “ If you could imagine yourself in any other profession right now, what would it be?” Of course, there was much laughter and surprise down the entire table. These questions reminded me of when I was a young child and was able to craft stories with almost any inanimate object in my proximity. As an adult, I channel that ability from my childhood into what I do today. I use my imagination to craft and tell stories through different perspectives and put them onto paper or capture them through photos.
The discussions held at the Darling Long Table were a reminder that our imagination is a gift. We can use this gift in many different aspects of our lives, and it can help us view situations through different perspectives and can help us approach what is possible with a positive point of view. Having the opportunity to meet with other women to connect, laugh, and share a delicious meal while talking about real issues that affect many of us was refreshing and an unforgettable experience.
Check out our fun Pinterest board from the evening here!
Images and article by Valerie Pauley