“Every day may not be good but there is good in every day.”
“You are enough.”
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Lots of people have mantras. I’ve always kid of rolled my eyes at people who have mantras, particularly when those mantras are very popular in the retail industry.
Of course, many people would argue that I do live by a mantra. After all, my first tattoo was a single word that could be interpreted as a lifelong mantra.
There’s a different meaning for that tattoo, believe me.
But the truth is, people who say I live by mantras are right. It’s just…I don’t wear those mantras on my sleeve. Or my thigh. And often, I’m not even aware of them myself. Case in point: 2016.
Now look, a few weeks ago, I defended 2016. I told people it wasn’t so bad and that we were just letting the election and other political tensions overshadow everything else.
2016 heard me and made me regret defending it. In ways I never expected.
So, going into 2017, I’ve realized that I set myself up for my stressful end to the year, and not just with my mouth. This year, without ever truly thinking it, my mantra has been “prepare for the worst.”
In 2016, I prepared for the worst when I…
- took a giant bag of motion sickness medicine (that I didn’t end up needing) and other drugs on my spring break cruise.
- kept emailing and emailing and emailing and calling and calling and calling my grad school advisor until he finally answered because I was afraid he’d set me up for failure (he did, but a quick call to the Dean took care of it).
- wrote out an official last will and testament, had it notarized, and left it with an uninterested yet terribly reliable party before embarking on my solo trip to Ghana and Dubai (I’m obviously alive).
- started not just looking but actually interviewing for jobs outside of education within a week of the new school year (necessity of this tbd).
- stayed at home on election night instead of joining a watch party (although…I was preparing for the worst and the slightly not-so-awful there, so…).
I even reinforced it year-round with this photo as my lock screen:
At first, this may just look like a classic dog-mom pic, but there’s more to that story. Exactly a year ago, I woke up on December 27th and looked at the super-cute photo of my dogs I had taken the night before.
On December 26th, 2015, a tornado rushed through my locale, sucking all of the air out of my street as I checked on the neighbor kids a mere 30 minutes before it touched down a few miles West of me in Sunnyvale and Garland. We were lucky in Mesquite. We didn’t even have wind damage.
However, before I got the phone call from my neighbors stranded at work and worried about their kiddos, I’d already been sitting in my bathtub, hunkered down with my dogs. In fact, the moment the siren went off, I’d grabbed all three of them, dumped them in the bathtub, gone back for their leashes and then leashed them to the exposed bathtub pipe (thanks, Twister).
Finally, I grabbed a couple of quilts, my laptop, my phone, my folder of important documents, and Oatmeal. I was prepared to lose the entire house, except hopefully my newly remodeled bathroom with full-length concrete board behind that subway tile and Tiffany-blue paint.
But like I said, we were lucky. I was thankful.
I also didn’t trust it. I left my dogs’ leashes attached to the pipe all night. I left my bag of necessities there. I even left the laptop, though I slept with my phone.
When I finally work up, I made this adorable yet pseudo-neurotic photo my lock screen and read about all of the people who didn’t manage to dodge the tornado. I called around, donated supplies, volunteered to walk displaced pups, and made sure to stay out of relief workers’ way. But in the back of my mind that day, my wheels were turning, reminding myself that if that tornado had touched down just a few miles east, all my precautions would have been necessary.
That’s how I lived 2016. Constantly on my toes, waiting for something to go wrong, and expecting the worst.
But here’s the thing: when you prepare for the worst, sometimes it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In 2016, my self-fulfilling prophecy became a GIANT snowball that picked me up in late August and has been slowly crushing me into it as it continued its descent.
Not anymore. Starting today, I’ve changed my lock screen to something new. Something better. Something like a…uh…positive force to remind me that even when it feels as if all the good in the world has been sucked out, there is still “hope, happiness, and the desire to survive.”