It’s Week 13. I am running on fumes; I can practically smell the smoke coming from my ears as I write this. Actually, I lie: fumes and Dominos.
Before I started school, I was worried about not having time to cook healthy meals to keep myself sane, and filled the freezer choc-a-bloc with homemade ragu, soups and curries. If I didn’t eat well, how was I ever going to excel on a course that had warned me to “MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY BECAUSE YOU WILL BECOME A NIGHTMARE”?
Back when I was working, I would finish at 5.30 on the dot pretty much every day, and I’d fill my empty soul with as much delicious, healthy food as I could cook. It became a bit of an obsession, maybe a little unhealthy even, which is ironic because the whole point was to make myself and my boyfriend, Ed, the healthiest humans alive (I never did a minute of exercise but that’s besides the point). Ed was rightly confused whenever I claimed I didn’t enjoy cooking, and so was I. It stressed me out, and I always just wanted to get to the end of the recipe so I could eat the fucking thing. The energy spurring me on to cook for an hour or more most evenings wasn’t enthusiasm at all, but anxiety – I knew that much. But it wasn’t anxiety about food itself; I love a good takeaway and have rarely felt guilty about treating myself. So what was it? Since the effects of my anxiety were mostly positive, I shrugged it off and continued to stir my muhammara chickpea stew in blissful ignorance.
What is the point of this story? Well, that anxiety has vanished since I started SCA. And just as quickly as it disappeared, its cause became crystal clear.
I have been my happiest self since 20th September, which has given me a new perspective on just how unhappy I was before it. Admitting to yourself that you’ve got your “dream job” very wrong, and then accepting that that isn’t your fault is hard; not knowing what to do next is so much harder. Most of us can’t afford to just quit a job we hate without having a clear plan, so until then we’re completely, hopelessly trapped. That was me for about six months. Or, if we’re counting the period I buried my head in the sand for, about 1.5 years. When aspects of your life feel out of control, it’s natural to seek control elsewhere.
Essentially, my subconscious concluded, “If I direct all my anxiety at healthy cooking, I won’t have any left to direct at the fact that my life is one big cow pat and not at all how I planned and I need to fix it but I don’t know how and if I never figure it out this might just be how it is until I die.”
Brains are weird, aren’t they? Mine was trying to protect me without me even knowing. What a cute little organ.
A few months later, my diet consists of about a third of ready meals, a third of frozen concoctions and a third of home-cooked meals. So really not that bad, but significantly worse than how I started out. And yet, I’ve never felt better. I’ve even managed to avoid the lurgy that has struck down almost everyone around me, touch wood.
Ask yourself: are you a control freak about something and not sure why? If so, it might be worth considering whether it’s compensation for something else you feel powerless about. Especially if you’re one of those tiny-dicked men who likes to rev their engine really loudly – please stop that; it’s not going to change anything.