Cultivating the ultimate life skill…
In 2020, I wanted nothing more than to escape. I had moved back to the US in 2017 with plans to move abroad again within a year or two. And then I was more stuck than ever, it seemed, with the pandemic cutting me off from even little weekend excursions. The was no end in sight and by January 2022 I was having what can only be described as a depressive episode.
For the uninitiated, that doesn’t mean I was feeling a bit sad or grumpy. It means I had reached a level of total numbness. Just being alive took so much energy. I sat on the couch most of the time, exhausted from even doing basic necessary tasks. I felt hopeless.
I’ve written a lot about travel on this site and a lot about my mental health. I’ve also read a good deal of work by other authors on similar subjects. Basically, since returning to America and getting sucked into having debt (yes, I know, some of you have never had a single cent of debt and you think it’s immoral that I do, but when you have no support from your family and need a car to even get a low-paying job, debt can easily happen), I had been feeling like my happiness was on hold.
From one bad apartment to another, from one underpaying job to another, paying the minimum on credit cards-- I felt like America had won. It had me trapped. And now, I would never have the opportunity to even short-term travel again, let alone reach my goal of making a permanent home abroad. Being happy was always going to be out of my grasp.
I’m not going to tell you that I just woke up one morning and “decided to be happy" and my life suddenly changed. I hate toxic positivity that blames and shames people like that because there are some things out of our control. But there are a few things that helped me slowly crawl out of this pit and made 2022 a surprisingly good year.
People are not meant to be lone wolves. Even wolves don’t live like that, it’s a common misconception. Humans do best with a sense of community, but not just anyone will do. You need empathetic individuals who will not make you feel ashamed for struggling and will be practical and encouraging.