I’m Not Okay
By Lauren Ash
I’m not okay.
Lately, I’ve been forced to face or examine some of life’s most pressing challenges: a parent with a life-threatening disease; the intensification of my persistent struggle with forgiving someone who has asked for my forgiveness, but who remains too difficult for me to love (my excuse for unforgiveness); and my own darkness pressed up against the Light. In all these circumstances, I am presented with choices. To go with the flow or to resist. I’ve found that in telling Life “no” or “later,” she continues to move on while laughing or rolling her eyes at me.
At age 27, I’m at that juncture where I feel it is quite easy to remain the same person, for better or for worse. The alternative is to grow rapidly into someone else, someone better, intensifying the beautiful, helpful qualifies about myself and what I offer the world, and weakening that which I no longer need to carry and that which is not useful for anyone, especially not myself. As I approach my return of Saturn, I reflect on the past year. How I’ve come to know myself – my patterns, my desires, my abilities – more than ever before. Thanks to mirrors, including my therapist, and close friends and family, who do the hard, yet appreciated work of reflecting me back to me. And thanks to Life, quite simply, as well as myself for the numerous moments when I’ve made those difficult, sometimes brave choices to opt for the road less traveled.
So, this is why I’m not okay. I’m uncomfortable. In transition. And for the first time in my life I’m okay with not being okay. I’m uncertain, at times, of what’s around the corner. But here’s the thing: I know when I choose to turn that corner only beauty awaits. It’s my own progress, growth, greatness that I’m afraid of. My stubbornness to be comfortable with how things have always been and to hide in the shadows of the comfortable struggle or complacency. We all go through this. And here’s what I’ve learned during this period which too shall pass:
Take deep breaths. The world will be okay if you hide out for a little bit. Step back. Say no. Say hell no. We all need to breathe, so if you’re going through it be honest about it and take some time to yourself. This might be a day, a week, or a month. Honor your need to recharge and reflect.
Be honest with yourself–and with those who care for you. “How are you” should be greeted with an honest answer. Not with everyone, because not everyone needs to be invited into your personal life. But your close friends and family who care for you should know, so they can support you, listen to you, and encourage you. Avoid the temptation to feel as if you are a burden on their time or energy–you aren’t.
Know that small leaps are still leaps. Whenever we test the unknown in faith — in small or large ways — trusting that we will grow from the experience, we do indeed grow. I’ve personally experienced how all of my needs are met when I take risks to love, forgive, and release something that doesn’t serve me, if I simply move with authenticity, trust the process, and avoid holding back in fear. In the past year, I’ve witnessed the power of faith to manifest all that I desire for my life. As you begin to do this, as well, know that faith is met with challenges to encourage you to believe in what you’re after even more.
Overall, practice self-love. Don’t internalize your struggles or pains. Your struggles and pains and challenges are not you. Be kind to yourself during challenging times of transition and trust that you will rise above.
Lauren Ash is a wellness curator, yoga instructor and writer. Primarily, she is the Founder and Creative Director of Black Girl In Om, a community and an online publication that promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color and encourages self-care and self-love for communities of color. She has contributed to Afropunk and Greenroom Magazine. Currently based in Chicago, she is most passionate about building community with creatives of color, cultivating wellness with women of color, and manifesting the visions she has for her life and supporting the visions of those she is blessed to be surrounded by.
Photo Credit: Oriana Koren