When I get stressed travelling, I have this mantra that I repeat to myself:
Passport, wallet, keys, cellphone. Everything else you can buy.
It doesn’t mean that losing/forgetting something else might not be expensive, or a giant pain to fix. The point is, that only the loss of some things is a genuine crisis. I can’t pretend that I have a handle on everything, but those 4 things I can probably keep track of.
When things are uncertain, I try to anchor myself around things that I know.
Which is hard when things disappear, and for me April has been a month of that. My bike was stolen, from a locked room in a locked building. And not only did I lose my bike, I also lost my feeling of safety at home. My boyfriend and I broke up, and he hates me now. He always said that whatever happened, we were too reasonable to be acrimonious about it. This was always my worst-case scenario. Sometimes it sucks to be right. And two more things, one of which seemed the most important thing ever until the second thing went, and now seems trivial. And the second, which has left me devastated.
I can’t talk about what the two things are, but in some ways it doesn’t matter. The point is – three out of four of these things were anchors for me. My home is safe. My boyfriend was like my closest friend, and had been a close friend for years. And losing anchors, leave me adrift and lost and confused. The world is huge, and I would like something certain to cling to, and right now I feel – I got nothing.
Of course I don’t. I have great friends, geographically disparate (which, weirdly makes me feel even less anchored – go here, that’s where A is, but B is in this place, which is not a bad option either). I have money. I have places I could live. But perhaps this is it – I have options, and no certainty. And that makes me nervous.
Out for dinner with two friends. One of whom gives the best hugs. They make me feel so safe. He says, “everything is going to be OK”. My other friend looks at me like she thinks I’m a little crazy and says, “I don’t know why you are afraid. I have never seen you in a situation that you couldn’t handle”.
I’d like to make her certainty, my certainty. That whatever happens, I’ll figure it out. Because that’s also how I make my other friend right – I’ll figure it out, and then everything will be OK.
And I realize that, uncertainty is hard, and stressful, but with it comes possibility. And anchors are hard to lose, but without them, you’re very free.
4 replies on “Losing Anchors”
Hi Cate, thanks for this post. This is exactly how I feel from time to time after I left my home country two years ago.
P.S. I saw you presenting at ONCWIC 2011, but I doubt that you remember me. I’ve been reading your blog since then
Thanks! Glad to know it’s not just me 🙂 I think I remember you! Was pretty nervous though and I’m never that clear on what happens after when I’m that stressed about something! Will you be at ONCWIC again this year?
Sorry to hear things are rough right now, but sounds like you have as much perspective as anyone can hope to have on situations like that. It’s very true, you will handle all this, I have the same certainty as your friend. *hug
Thanks Rachelle! Sorry I didn’t get to see you when I was in O-town 🙁