Wait for the Click

Let the record show I fully understand the purpose of this series: shedding light on travelers, traveling and the big, bad unknown. I admit, I may not be the most seasoned traveler of the world. I don’t take weekend trips to mountain ranges, kayak in my spare time or snap dope photos in exotic locations for my Instagram, but I will tell you my 2016 was a journey all on its own – the traveling was just done inside my mind.

The year began with the weight of others expectations on me. I graduated at the top of my major and from then on I just. Could. Not. Get. Out. Of. Bed. I didn’t apply for jobs I knew I was capable of and spent a lot of my time in bed or on Tumblr. I ate McDonald’s and Braum’s 24/7 and would range between crying consistently or feeling nothing at all. 

I knew everyone was worried. I knew I was, generally, screwing up my life ­– or at least the anticipations I had for it – through my seemingly compulsory stagnancy. I knew people who didn’t understand me well wondered why I was working at a restaurant and living with my parents. But it was just so, so incredibly difficult to motivate myself. Depression is a raging bitch and also one of the most bizarre feelings in the world – you look around at your life, the people in it, and even if you know you have plenty of things to live for and love, your mind just keeps telling you’re otherwise. 

“You are not worth it,” was my mantra for two years: it kept time with my steps, and it was often the rhythm I formed my life around. And let me tell you, it’s an incredibly difficult rhythm to break.

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I remember reading a Tumblr post that would get me through my darker days. It was written by a woman who felt like she was trudging through life. She suffered through this dull, lifeless, hazy experience for over 10 years until finding the right combination of circumstances, medication and life choices and suddenly everything clicked for her again – she started noticing the little things: how green the trees were, how precious her neighbor’s dog was, how great the weather felt. Little stuff like that. She told us to hold out – to wait for the click. She promised it was coming. And in 2016, mine did.

I don’t know how it happened or when it happened. I think I just started realizing – painstakingly slowly, I might add – that I was worth more than my mind was telling me. I, like the girl whose post often helped me get out of bed in the morning, found the right combination of circumstances, medication and life choices: my friends moved away, forcing me to self-reflect in all my alone time while remaining close with them. I began dating a person who fully understood the perks of positive thinking. I found the right medication that made me feel (almost) fully human again. I quit my job and started working in my field of choice. I clicked, and it was absolutely beautiful.

Of course, there are still days where I lean back in my office chair and wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life. Still moments where I look in the mirror and dislike what I see. Still snippets of my day that are pure anxiety: about the future, my life choices, everything and nothing all at once. But the difference now is that I can take a moment, self-correct and continue on. And I can’t tell you how good that feels after two years with a debilitating inability to breathe

Let me try and tie this back into the theme of this series so as not to completely botch this up for my best friend Casey: Traveling does not always mean half-packed suitcases, not showering for four days, super cool aesthetic photos and jumping from hostel to hostel. Sometimes traveling is simply moving forward in your own life, in quiet, subtle ways. Sometimes it’s just looking in the mirror and thinking “I look nice today.” It’s just realizing you’re actually, really, incredibly worth it. 

So for those looking for an uplifting sign, a Tumblr post, a letter written in the sky, whatever…To the people who are trudging through life waiting for something, anything:

I promise you, the click is coming. Just wait for it.

EssaysMary Allen