All of This is Yours

i am in bangkok now, participating in a convention of speech & debate across five international schools. it is beautiful here. humid & dreaming, stray dogs in the streets, something in the air ringing with a kind of brightness i'm not quite sure how to name. on the plane ride here i was anxious & shivering, scratching at my arms, ears sharp, ringing. these past few weeks have been the worst ones i've had for months; i feel myself slipping backwards, some territory dark & throat-deep & so hopeless.

& yet.

(& yet, & yet, & yet.)

there are... glimmers, too. as i become more anxious, my calm façade slips further. panic shines through the cracks. & i'm learning that is not such a bad thing.

a thought that crossed my mind today, one that i have been pondering, mulling over, letting simmer: people are trying so hard for me. it is easy to forget, but i am trying to allow them in. to let them see me when i am not at my best. to not force my hands to still when they yearn to shake. to let my sadness scream itself to the sky. to inconvenience others with all of my messy panic... &, more importantly, to let myself stay when they show me the kindness i've convinced myself i do not deserve.

i am trying to be selfish. i am trying to find room for my anxiety in all of its shades, its iterations that are perhaps unfamiliar but no less true. i am trying to look at this world with every ounce of beauty & sorrow, to allow my panic to wash over it all instead of keeping it locked tight inside. i am trying to remind myself: this universe belongs as much to me as it does to the stars & the trees & the skies. when people say i am here for you, when they say i want you to feel better, when they say please tell me if you need anything, i am trying to believe them.

to be clear, it does not make me any less anxious. this week has still been a horrible one, tinged with red & bitter entwined in my collarbones. i am exhausted & sad & terrified. i am always floating in another definition of panic.

& yet, on the bus ride to the airport i opened my inbox & realised that, over the past week, i have received over one hundred emails from blog readers who reached out to make sure i was doing okay. & as we received our boarding passes in the airport, my speech coach pulled my aside & said i made sure to get you a window seat, i know you get anxious otherwise. & on the plane ride, as i scratched at my arms until they were red & stinging, a girl on the debate team who i barely know put her hand on my knee & whispered, over & over, we're almost there, we're almost there, we're almost there. & when a truck horn blasted in my ear on my way to our host family's house, three friends were diving into my bag for anxiety medication before the panic could remember to set in. & when i accidentally stepped on a crack in our host family's tiled floor & felt my ocd rear its horrendous head, their labrador retriever bumbled up to me & butted her head against my leg until i had no choice but to forget my anxiety & pet her instead.

the thought is: they are trying so hard for me. & then: i do not deserve this kindness. & then, soft & hesitant: i will accept it anyway.

i'm not sure i will ever have the right words, but i think perhaps they go something like this:

we are vast. we contain multitudes. we will find room for all of our achings. & if there is no room? then we will push, & fight, & stretch, & proudly & anxiously & truly make room for ourselves.

scrawled on my arm throughout this convention, a reminder that many have noticed but none have commented on: this universe belongs as much to me as it does to the stars & the trees & the skies.

here. let me push open this door for you. step into the room. it's yours, too. all of this is yours.




p.s. if you found light in this essay, you can support my work on patreon.

p.s.s. thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have taken the time out of your day to email & comment & send messages & check in over this past week. i am very deeply not okay, but i am managing. it means so much that you are thinking of me. i love you more than words could express.