When I first wrote this post, it was superficial and stupid. “The Amazon Set (and Shoes) I Own in Every Color” should’ve been subtitled “Who The Hell Cares About Your Amazon Purchases, Lane.” I shared it with my husband who said it sounded like I was “trying to be like every other influencer,” and I’m ashamed to say he was right. In a world where we’re inundated with content, it’s nearly impossible to create without emulating even the things we don’t admire.
So here I am at 10:29pm on a Saturday taking a stab at genuine words with images of me peppy/sucking in/fake tanned in a matching two piece set right above. But instead of telling you about how comfortable this set is (I really do love it), I want to write about a topic that isn’t comfortable or pretty: mental and physical health during an anxiety-ridden, chaotic year for all.
I’ve never worn this as a battle scar because I believe every human suffers under a different name or lack thereof, but anxiety has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I shared a room with my older sister and had night terrors regularly; I legitimately feared being kidnapped, saw a man in our doorway more times than I’d like to admit, and woke up screaming every other night. Therapy wasn’t normalized then, and sometimes I pity my younger self for the heavy burden I felt to my Mom – who I didn’t allow to sleep through the night for a solid decade – and my sister, who to this day only half laughs when she tells stories of rooming with me.
Most would never know it (I even had my energy read during a Chakra massage a few weeks ago and the therapist said I had a very “calm, steady energy”), but this constant, lingering anxiety (specifically when I’m alone, or at night) has followed me with a vengeance into adulthood. It’s silly and irrational, and I’ve somehow managed to live most of my adult life without confronting it. 2020 changed that. Side note – this should be a series. 2020 changed _____ ; I know we could all fill this in.
So here’s the truth about these images. Here’s my truth, one I’m sure many of you can relate to.
- My anxiety tripled during the pandemic: the uncertainty, the constant conflicting viewpoints, the eerie feeling that health was merely temporary. Moving from NYC to Atlanta was a complete shock to my system. In New York – as crazy as this may sound – my irrational fears were always quelled by the safety I felt in mass. I walked home alone at midnight because I knew there would be lights on, people out, and the NYC energy has always felt like a friend to me. Atlanta is dark and quiet – I feel unsafe even in the early mornings, in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by all the safeguards of suburbia. Moving has been hard. I miss the city and how even on bad days it was impossible to not feel alive — the streets, the smells, the pace.
- Starting a business has been rewarding, but lonely at times. Doing a subjective service for a living reminds me a lot of my short-lived career in pageants. You can be dedicated, professional, and good at your craft, and you’ll still be ghosted by friends and strangers alike for responding to their “I’d like to work with you, and only you” flattery with a price, no matter how low you are vs. the market. You’ll work 20 hours editing – weekend nights and early mornings – to either have a client cry with gratitude, or to wait for praise you never receive. It’s interesting, and I’m still learning.
- I didn’t try to lose weight for my wedding. I was launching a new business, completely over my head and buried in over-commitments. Stress slimmed me. Forgetting to eat slimmed me. Anxiety slimmed me. I couldn’t disconnect from work until the day before my wedding weekend, and up until then was pulling all-nighters regularly. I lost balance and stopped seeing friends. I’m not proud of that.
- Physically, I don’t feel great. I started feeling pain in my right hand/finger pre:pandemic, and after a few months of formal working from home, I had chronic pain in my right arm 95% of the day. I’ve had X-Rays and EMGs, only to be told it’s posture related. I’m consistently looking for a fix while growing more and more frustrated
Why am I sharing all of this? Because despite all of this, I’m still very happy, hopeful, and aware that life dealt us ALL a hand this past year. I know I owe myself — we owe ourselves — time, grace, and patience to recalibrate, to show up fully again. I feel grateful that there were no empty seats at my family’s holiday table this year, and I know I’ll view my anxiety as a superpower again in the near future. We’ll all view our weakened Achilles’ heels as sturdy backbones someday soon. I believe this.
But while I’m in this chapter – that has simultaneously been filled with intense joy and the highest of highs – here are a few things that have helped me feel more like myself:
-I discovered Cafe of Life in Atlanta when we relocated in July. I had never been to a chiropractor and my first adjustment was a release I can’t explain fully. I see April biweekly, and it’s made such a difference
-I stopped working out to look fit, meaning I haven’t done cardio in a year. Pilates feels like a soul refresh – I love it. I recommend it. For in-person classes, Solidcore is great. At home, I like Amanda Klootz and find it hard not to smile through her classes
-I started prioritizing sleep (see this article) and have tried to set more intentional work/life boundaries. I’ve tried to stop bringing my phone into the bedroom and disconnect whenever possible
-I started doing things for myself again. Getting my hair done, buying cute workout sets like this that force me to be active in whatever capacity, taking the occasional trip to Ovme for a facial or Botox, getting that Chakra massage I mentioned earlier (Heal Thyself Atlanta is wonderful) — little things I neglected during quarantine that make me feel good.
-And finally, I’ve tried to have more grace with myself and others. I’ve been intentional about not overcommitting, and equally as intentional about not holding others to unrealistic commitments
It’s a refreshing reminder that life is not the highs we see on our social feeds — it’s so, so much more than that. It has depth, seasons of struggle, highs, lows, and opportunities for comebacks worth celebrating.
If you filled in this statement mentally earlier, “2020 changed my____” — relationship, self image, weight, confidence, dreams, whatever it was — let’s all rewrite it to say, “Dear self, this year was hard and different. You will get ____ back, and it will be better than ever before.”
Cheers to staying hopeful and human.