What’s This Feeling?


Inhale, exhale.

Inhale, exhale.

I kept repeating this to myself as I laid in the dark of my room, confused and concerned because I “couldn’t feel myself breathing.”

My hands felt numb and cold.

Everything from the neck down didn’t belong to me anymore.

I wasn’t myself.

The shaking increased. I could breathe, but it felt useless at this point.

I stumbled up to turn on my light and called my best friend in a panic.

A panic.

You see, I’m familiar with panic attacks. The rapid heart rate and the gasping and choking for air. The feeling of spiraling out of control and the dizziness accompanied by it.

So there’s no way this could be a panic attack, right?

I needed to get out. To run away. I needed to sit down. I needed to sleep.

My hands shook as I tried to peel an orange and gulp the water in front of me.

My frozen fingers stumbled across the keyboard of my phone as I called my mom, convinced of my imminent death by some unknown and undiscovered illness I’d contracted within the hour that would surely kill me if I didn’t receive medical attention.

Inhale, exhale.

Inhale, exhale.

I pressed my naked back against the cold tile of my shower and let the hot water run its course over my body, drenching me in a mild moment of relief followed by a kind of tired I’ve never felt before.

I let myself feel. For the first time in a while. And I think that’s what caught me.

I feel things on a daily basis. Joy, happiness, gratitude. Love, excitement, contentment.

But when it comes to those things I don’t want to feel–rejection, uncertainty, failure, I f**king lose my mind.

HOW?! I screamed at myself. HOW DID YOU GET HERE?! the perfectionist shouts.

Why have you spent so much time napping? Why haven’t you applied for more internships? Why haven’t you done this, this, this, and that?

And then suddenly it’s a full on war raging between my rationale and between what I know to be true.

Rationale says: “All of these negative things are a result of something you messed up along the way.” My hypercritical mind accuses myself of messing up somewhere and creating a weird domino-effect of negativity.

And here I am, sitting in a coffee shop in St. Charles clinging to what I know to be true:

I am human.

I am not perfect.

I am not the external pressure applied to me.

I am the quiet moments before bed when I like to read and meditate.

I am the whole-hearted belly laughs around a table with my closest friends.

I am the loud moments of gratitude which burst from my soul.

I am as much the storm as I am the calm before it.

I am the match and the flame, the smoke, and the ash.

I am a collection. A hodgepodge. Eclectic accessories and a mosaic of creativity mixed with emotion.

Balance and unbalance.

I am the inhale and the exhale.


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