I was a rigid kid. I laid out my world in self-made black and white guidelines. I remember the day I decided I’d never put bumper stickers on a car or get any tattoos. I didn’t want to commit to being a walking advertisement for any one thing. Because what if I didn’t endorse it later on?
Today, I’m a tattooed woman with a bunch of bumper stickers on my car. So much for rigidity.
Anyway, I’ve got bumper stickers on the brain because they led to an epiphany for me this week. Have you seen the COEXIST bumper sticker? It’s fairly iconic, comprised of the symbols of a lot of major religions. To me, the meaning is: exist at the same time with those who believe differently than you, maybe even those you dislike.
On Wednesday, I saw the COEXIST bumper sticker just as I was leaving my restaurant. It’s been a trying time at work, and my anxiety has been on the upswing. The more I try to calm it down or pretend it’s not there, the more anxious I become. I was at the beginning of a panic attack when I saw that bumper sticker.
And I felt like the sticker was telling me something different: coexist within YOURSELF.
Now maybe the revelation felt bigger in my head, and maybe I won’t be able to describe it perfectly in a blog, but I’ll try.
We don’t need to wipe out all anxiety to enjoy ourselves. We can be tense and also have happiness. We can be grieving and still have belly laughs. We can be angry and still care for others. There is no need to have just one singular emotion or feeling at one time. They can all exist within us. Just acknowledge them all and make room for the more useful ones.
Reader, rigidity is for the birds. There’s nothing bad or good about emotions…they’re a part of our lives. Attempting to eradicate my anxiety has only made it worse. I’m going to attempt to follow my personal interpretation of the bumper sticker this week, and hope it’s a little less stressful. I leave you with this picture of the deer in the field by my house…just because it calms me down. I’ll see you next Monday. -Em