This is the story of the time I locked myself in my kitchen with no cell phone, no laptop, and no means of communication with the outside world.
We just arrived in Portugal and moved into our new apartments (but Angela, what about Belgrade? What about London? We haven’t heard from you in… I KNOW GUYS I’M GETTING TO IT). Of course apartments everywhere have little ticks and tricks and quirks that you find and adjust to once you’ve lived in a place for a while. Nowhere is perfect. This place in particular, however, is out to get me.
For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling pretty off. I haven’t been able to concentrate on work, I’ve been avoiding social situations and I’ve felt trapped in my own mind. I’ve been trying to figure out why I was feeling so unlike myself and I don’t have an answer, but I do have a blog. So naturally, I’m writing about it here because the angst-ridden Tumblr of my college years is loooooong gone, thank goodness.
Just about everyone I know or have met has asked me why I decided to apply for Remote Year. I had an amazing life that I loved. I loved Chicago, I loved my friends and family and job. I wasn’t unhappy. Of course the whole “adventure of a lifetime” thing is a huge draw but deep down I just didn’t really like the person I was at that stage in my life. I had a bunch of qualities I wasn’t too proud of and I felt I needed to grow. I wanted to tighten a few loose screws and shake a few demons off my back. I wanted to love myself so that I could give my friends and family someone good and patient and kind – someone they deserved to have around.
Portuguese doors are possessed by some anti-Angela demon devil witchcraft and just trust me when I say it’s true.
My second day in Lisbon I couldn’t get into my apartment for 15 minutes because I didn’t get the nuanced “pull-as-hard-as-you-can-THEN-turn-the-key-then-push” motion perfectly right. I cried. It was only a little embarrassing. Once I had figured out the trick, though, I felt I had conquered my door demons and was feeling confident that I’d be able to get into my apartment no matter what. Then Tuesday happened.
Some days are hard, and (despite what logic may tell you) crossing an ocean doesn’t mean you leave your troubles behind. Troubles do this thing where they catch up to you and in my case, they’ve come back swinging. Two weeks ago I was having the time of my life in London and this week I’m weeping and banging on a door and sob-whispering (to no one in particular) PLEASE DON’T LET ME DIE THIS WAY I’M TOO YOUNG SWEET BABY JESUS SAVE ME. Now, before the door banging/feeling emotions/pleading with God incident I wasn’t having the best day so I guess you could say the ugly crying wasn’t entirely the door’s fault.
I’m at the start of month four, and in a lot of ways I feel like I haven’t made any progress on that whole “becoming a better person” thing.
I still don’t love the person staring back at me every day. I’m still not confident in the way I look, I still care far too much about what other people think of me and I’m still scared as hell that I’m not doing anything of value in this great wide world. Emily, who interviewed me for Remote Year, warned me this would happen when I accepted my spot in the program. Your highs will be unbelievably high and your lows will be almost impossibly low.
So I was in my apartment, freaking out about that thing called LIFE and decided to open up all the windows to let in the cool ocean breeze. They have that here in Lisbon. It’s amazing. I took a break from work (phone and laptop on the desk in the living room) and went into the kitchen. After opening the kitchen window I heard an aggressive slam – the kitchen door had closed. Fine, I’ll just open it. I went to turn the door knob and… it didn’t move. I think ohhhhh you tricky, tricky apartment I know you! Your doors require a little pushing and pulling to be coaxed into opening. I pushed, I pulled, I jumped and kicked and hip-checked and still… nothing. This is about the time I realized that I was home alone, my phone and laptop were in the other room and I had no idea where my roommate was, let alone when she would return.
You know that moment where little shit has been building up and up and up until all of your worldview feels like it’s teetering on the edge of a cliff and then a slight breeze comes and it alllllll comes tumbling down like some sad wave of #feelz and emotion and there’s nothing you can do to stop it?
That was this moment.
It all came to an ugly head as I tried various ways of breaking out of my kitchen in Lisbon. I tried to break into windows. I tried taking the hardware off the door. I tried laying on the ground and just crying for a while and while that definitely probably helped my soul a little bit it did NOT help me escape the kitchen. I thought to myself “at least you’re in the kitchen! There’s FOOD in here.” If I couldn’t have the internet, at least I could have food.
The freakout didn’t really subside until, in defeat, I leaned against the door resigning myself to an evening in the kitchen. The door momentarily shifted under my weight, then pushed back. This is the anti-climactic ending to the story of how I got trapped in my kitchen for 45 minutes – I pushed reeeeeeeeally hard and turned the door knob at the same time and *click*.
So – I’ve been missing for a bit.
Not because I’ve been trapped inside my kitchen, but because I’ve been trapped inside the Allie Brosh comic “Adventures in Depression” and trying not to hate myself too much. Not all days have been like Tuesday, but not all days have been joy and bliss. You can’t have peaks without any valleys and they’re called growing pains for a reason and all that mumbo jumbo you read in self help books and Lifetime Original Movies and I’m just trying to hold on to belief that’s true even though I don’t always feel it. It may be hard as hell, but taking the time to pause and take a good hard look at your life is a good thing – and not everyone has the guts to do it. It’s easy to just turn into a grumpy cat meme and throw up defenses and walls and stuff but I’m not gonna do that anymore because it’s not the type of person I want to be and life’s too short. The only thing I can do is try to be kind to myself and to be patient (and try is the operative word here people, because being nice to yourself is NOT listed as a special skill on my resume because it is NOT EASY).
Everyone has their own #feelz to work through, and right now these are mine. This is the latest page in my diary – I hope someone else has felt the same way otherwise I just bared my soul to the entirety of the internet… whoops. Give yourself a little extra love today, and pass it on while you’re at it.