1/100 days of emotional badassery : In which we embrace frustration
I am writing this from New Caledonia, a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific. Today, the weather is nothing like most people expect it to be when they think about such remote dreamy tropical location. Wet, heavy, stuffy, almost sticky. One of those grey skies that hurt the eyes is pouring rain constantly.
It resonates with the state of my inner weather, and leaves me sweaty and even more uncomfortable than I already am. For three days now, I have been restless, anxious and uneasy, almost itchy to get out of my own skin. In the first two days, I broke into tears twice. It’s difficult for me to imagine a worst state of mind to take on a new challenge like a 100 days project. And yet, here I am...
I am in the middle of one of those seasons where everything feels wrong and harder than it’s “supposed” to be. It’s not that tragedies are happening, but more like all the little things are accumulating frustration and feeding discouragement.
It’s the end of the month, and more specifically a month that was particularly tight money-wise. Payments were late too, which made everything more complicated for us. Being on my period, like for most women, really isn’t a cake walk (who invented that weird saying??), my whole body is aching and my belly cramping. It increases my need to be left alone, not an easy feat when you and your partner both work from home. Speaking of working from home, we experienced both electricity and Internet outages too. I also had just planned my next few months after a couple of months of preparation, when I learned that circonstances out of my control required a complete change a schedule. I had a painful fight with a loved one...
Again, I’ve known some terrible things in my life, I can’t say that those 3 days are some of those times, or that they will leave a real mark in my life. Still, I ended up a few times looking like this in the past 72 hours :
Frustration sometimes makes me think of my adorable tabby cat, Wifi, who at times is meowing repeatedly, without any obvious reason. I basically have two options from there : trying to change her behaviour, or trying to accept it and decide what that means for me.
If you have a cat, you probably know that the option number 1 mainly leads to more and more frustration at best, or to be constantly bullied into feeding them and opening doors at their every whim at worse.
When she starts to meow as if to yell at me, when I know she’s been fed and she’s out of danger, I give her some attention and often pet her. If she’s still unsatisfied, I start talking to her. I don’t reason with her, which would only increase my frustration at the annoying noise. I know she understands my tone but not my words, so I start having fun to alleviate the frustration.
“I know, I know… You’re such a poor little cat that is absolutely starving and no one cares for, nor understands…”
I make up the words she’s lacking. "Mommy, how could you do this to me? Can’t you see I’m about to die??”
I advise for a more efficient performance “Maybe rolling on the floor would have more of an impact, you know. Or putting your paw on your forehead in a more dramatic way. Come on Wifi, you can do better than this!”
I laugh it off, tell her I love her and give her a couple more affectionate pets, and I’m on my way. Even my partner, who often tries instead to reason with her to the point of being seriously pissed off by her lack of cooperation, starts laughing. In no time, everybody gets back to business, feline included, usually calmer.
So right now, you may ask yourself where is my damn point in all this?
Well, after two days feeling bullied by my own frustration, breaking down, and having tried to force myself into ignoring it (not very efficiently), I reminded myself yesterday that I had a choice.
Here I was, scrolling time away on my phone. Finding more reasons to be pissed off. A couple of ads showed up, one that made me resent my current lack of funds. The second one was for underwater earbuds. I listened to myself think “If only I had those, I would go forget a bit about all this by doing laps” and got fed up with myself. That was it, the pity party needed to stop. That's when I remembered one of my favourite questions to deal with many kinds of hardship :
“What would you do if you had chosen or even engineered that shitty situation?”
Not mopping scrolling on my phone, that’s for sure. So I grabbed my phone and called the swimming pool to check if they reopened, they were, but closing in an hour. I had to be quick.
I invited my partner: “I’m tired of this shit. I’m going to swim it off, want to come?” He began to argue about the weather (it was raining and it’s an outdoor pool). I gently but firmly informed him that I invited him out of courtesy and didn’t care wether I would go alone or not, but didn’t have time to argue. We packed our bags and off we went.
During our very first lap, we both knew we didn’t regret for a second coming, kept smiling and stayed until we were asked to leave. Way calmer, we started chatting on our way home.
I shared that I had an idea when journalling this morning. Instead of doing it in November as planned after “preparing” for two months, I decided in the water to start a new 100 days project. I had complained for the past few weeks about how I missed writing, and feeling restless and dispersed about it, I needed a way to make myself do it everyday again. And since my schedule freed me unexpectedly, it was the perfect timing, despite being not “ready”. So here I am.
Since then, I feel calmer. There are still a lot of those frustrating moments, including how I felt the need to procrastinate to the last second writing this, but like during that first lap, I already know I won’t regret this. Instead of trying to shut the cat up, I decided to listen to my frustration and let her lead the way to more creativity by adapting to it, lean into the flow and trust that everything will be okay, even if nothing happened as expected. I am still full of restless and conflicted feelings, but at least I don’t feel the need to react to every little unpleasant thing happening to me anymore. And that little power we have over things out of our control can make a hell of a difference in how we feel...
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