Zombie-Mode

How fitting as Halloween approaches…T-minus 2 days until All Hallows Eve!

Alas, zombie-mode isn’t reflective of Halloween. Zombie-mode is the headspace I’ve been in for over 2 months.

Zombie-mode is waking up still tired, after a full 7 hours of sleep, spending the entire day watching the clock tick by, praying for work to be over, waiting to crawl back into bed before you ever left it. Zombie-mode is your body breaching a place where you’re holding onto fat cells, or anything, just to survive, because you’re so starved and can’t remember the last time you had a proper meal. When you’ve been so utterly busy you’ve traded in workouts to get more sleep, and the lack of exercise drains your energy even further.

I’ve been living in zombie-mode since mid-summer, when the Autumn work season picked up quickly (and is now just slowing down). We’re well into Q4 and I had been looking forward to the Winter slump, but with the changing environment at work, I don’t foresee catching a break any time soon.

Stress lulls in waves. It arrives unexpectedly, because you were under the impression you could handle it; after all, you were prepared for everything you were going through. Do your best to keep your full-time job, planning a bachelorette because you’re a bridesmaid in your best friend’s wedding, in the midst of apartment hunting and preparing to move, on top of the layers of complexity of your family drama and other events in your life. Stress feels like the calm before the storm, but the storm never hits because you’re living it everyday, the atmosphere simultaneously unrelenting, but also, oddly fine.

I remember what zombie-mode felt like in school, extremely sleep deprived and worn out by exams, essays, and social activities – it’s obvious, everyone is just as stressed as you are, it’s the talk of the entirety of your 4-year degree. What’s strange about adult stress is, you almost don’t realize you’re stressed until you find yourself crying on your lunch break, crying as you leave your office, or as soon as you hit your mattress at night.

Crying doesn’t take away from the fact that you can still handle it. And if crying is how you get through it, I’ll be the first to admit, there’s a lot worse things than crying. If you’re crying, you’re in pretty good shape.

Stress as an adult feels predictable, yet, mysterious at the same time. It’s like having full confidence in yourself, but still being nervous. You know you’ll make it out of whatever situation alive, but at what cost? To sacrifice routine, sleep, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits? How far will your body take you until you finally keel over or reach a psychotic break?

Maybe we shouldn’t keep pushing ourselves to find out.

The past few months have been insanely stressful with work, with life, with what balance? The last two weeks have especially worn me out. As we endure tough times, we discover important things about ourselves and our world. I believe that this recent onset of stress reminded me how important it is to pay attention to our bodies, the home of our souls. If we strive for health and longevity, we must stay in tune with our bodies, treat them nicely, take the best care of them.

The older I get, the more I understand this type of attention is active and detailed; we must be aware of ourselves everyday. Have we eaten? Are we drinking water? Did we get sufficient sleep last night? These things that seem so trivial, are actually the difference between life and unhealthy inconsistencies that could turn into poor habits. There is a certain amount of work involved in caring for our mental, emotional, and physical health. The older we get, the longer our bodies take to bounce back and the more time we need to decompress.

I plan to take Halloween off work (and the remainder of the week) to unwind and unplug. I need some time to re-coop; I’m sure the boss will understand. It’s beyond necessary. I’ve been living in zombie-mode far too long. Dia de los Muertos is almost here and I’m ready to re-join the living, to be re-awakened from my life as the un-dead.

How Do You Know?

A few years ago, one of my close friends from college texted me late at night. We were catching up and then she randomly asked me “how do you know when you’re in love?”

Naturally, I was caught off guard. First, late-night catching up sessions aren’t usually geared toward philosophical topics. Second, I was recently single (which was most likely the result of lacking any knowledge on love lol). Third, because I didn’t really know how to answer the question.

I took pause. I thought, do I really know what love is? I concluded that I didn’t, in fact, know what love was. I was young, naive, and what quasi-relationships I’d been through could hardly count as experience. However, I knew a feeling…something I would most closely relate to what I thought love felt like. Love feels like joyful sacrifice.

Love is opening the door for her wherever we go. Love is holding the grocery bags, carry-on luggage, and bear spray so she doesn’t have to. Love is driving around for hours, with a destination in mind or just get away, to cruise side by side – what matters is being together. Love is calling her up because you have happy or sad news, it’s about sharing all aspects of your life with her.

Love is being able to say what’s on your mind without reservation or fear of judgement. Love is sharing secrets and trusting they’ll be kept. Love is asking questions and discovering different perspectives; most times, it is realizing beliefs, values, and core principles align.

Love is an action, not a passive reaction. Love is compromise; love is forgiveness. Love is feeling safety in chaos. Love is effort, love is challenging, love is difficult to comprehend; but, all the while, love is the feeling you have when being with her makes you happy, when you yearn her presence, when being with one another feels so easy.

That feeling, that’s what I think love is. Love is often described as the relationship between two lovers, which may be the first thing to come to mind, but that type of love isn’t alone. Love is so much more than your feeling toward a significant other. There is parental love, sibling love, friendly love, love for passions, for all beings, for the universe.

I told my friend the only truth I knew about love: love probably feels different for everyone and knowing when you’re in love can only be judged by you. Maybe your love is taking him on an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii. Maybe it’s packing him lunches and making homemade dinners every night. Maybe your love is watching curling during the Winter Olympics, even when you think it’s the most boring sport on the planet, but he loves cheering on team USA.

How do you know when you’re in love?

You don’t do these things because you’re told. You don’t do them because you have to. You do whatever it is because there’s a feeling deep within that encourages you to do them, almost like a reflex. You do these things because you want to, for the sake of someone else’s happiness – you act out of love.

I’m not sure what my friend’s love feels like. I didn’t ask because I know love is too complex to describe. We can try to explain what we think love is, but love may not be able to be illustrated with words, maybe it’s something we can only feel.

Earlier this year that very friend reached out again. This time she asked, “Will you be my bridesmaid?”

I think it’s safe to say she found her own definition of love. (I said yes, btw.)