How surviving an earthquake changed what I think about work and University
A short introduction for context
This year, even before COVID becoming a global pandemic, started on a back foot. January and February were though with family and personal issues. In March we were in lock-down. Late March, on a Sunday morning, two earthquakes hit Zagreb — 5.6 and 5.0 on only 5km depth. It also started snowing that same morning…(I KNOW — the drama!).
It was approximately at that moment that I completely lost myself.
The way forward
I started the habit of morning journaling approximately 3 months ago. At that time, I was finally a bit more able to actually hear my thoughts instead of only feeling numbness.
I managed to stuck with the habit, and even though I sometimes miss a day, I journal most days of the week. What I’m sitting down to write right now (Thursday) is what I wrote on a Monday morning in my journal.
Each of the three days leading up to Monday, we experienced small aftershocks.
Those three aftershocks were new and special to me. It sounds weird, knowing I’ve experienced them hundreds of times. But for the first time since March 22nd, when the aftershock happenned, I felt nothing. I felt completely calm. No increased heart rate, no anxiety kicking in, not feeling my stomach tightening up.
So I started thinking…
Earthquakes are generally such a big and a scary thing, which definitely cast a big shadow of fear. The only natural thing you could believe is that earthquakes indeed are terrible.
And earthquakes have aftershocks. Hundreds, if not thousands of them, reminding us that they are something to be in constant fear of. Constantly signaling your brain that it still needs to be in survival mode.
However, as time went on, the frequency of the aftershocks decreased. Finally I had a glimpse of time to think to myself without feeling overwhelmed.
And what now seems as a logical conclusion, took me a good 6 months to get to:
Even though everything about earthquakes is uncertain and unpredictable, the only thing I can control is my mindset.
Earthquakes ARE big and scary because in sheer volume they can be catastrophic. BUT what I think of them IS manageable. How I react to them IS manageable. So I started deflating this imaginery balloon of fear, and I now welcome aftershocks in my day.
Then it dawned on me — the same goes for work, and university.
When society scares you as much as nature
I recognized that what troubles me with the concepts of employment and education is not my own anxiety, but one that society stuck to me.
Both education and work are social constructs which are made huge because of the status they hold.
But the status itself is inflated too, as it’s yet another social construct.
We live in a fear-based society — Croatians especially (and most probably the rest of the Balkan nations).
Feeling happy to go to work and not sick to your stomach about going to Uni are not familiar concepts here.
I do think that you can wake up without a cramp in your stomach that you’re starting work.
I do think that you can wake up without an anxiety punch that you’re going to Uni.
It doesn’t have to be hard.
And it isn’t hard, when you realize that you’re fully free to play by your own rules.
That you’re not defined (nor confined) within the society walls.
So, don’t forget (a reminder to self):
Employment and education are just very big balloons which cast an enourmous shadow and induce fear.
Once you realize that it’s actually really achievable and not hard, just like me you’ll be able to pop the balloon and wake up every day calm, and loving what you do (even though it may be doing nothing at the moment!).
Don’t get me wrong — my balloons are still deflating, they are not completely gone. I still wake up anxious and alarmed, but now I recognize that it’s not me and it’s not real. I’m that much closer to the real truth day by day.
Since my young age I’ve recognised that I’m not made for the area I live in. I disagree whole-heartedly with most of beliefs and values the society around me holds. I do not feel like a member of the community like the vast majority of people around me (I do, however, feel more connected to some other countries). And I intend on popping the rest of the balloons in my life which do not reflect my values.
Which balloons do you need to pop?