Where I am coming from…
Usually when I am feeling extremely emotional, I tend to begin to blame things outside myself, including the moon, mercury retrograde, the weather, my hormones, or the person who cut me off in traffic. On the other hand, I have been learning lately that triggers such as these are simply a mirror that reflects back something within ourselves to notice.
Triggers are magnifying glasses held up to something that always existed but has entered our awareness. It simply looks or feels bigger.
Unfortunately, I chose to withdrawal from my graduate coursework at the University of Melbourne due to the hoops that international students (specifically US students) are required to jump through that was costing me an overwhelming amount of stress, time, and money. Now, I am trying to figure out other visa avenues in order to stay in my new, beloved city of Melbourne.
The visa process is tedious and confusing. If I think about it long enough, I will get this urge to throw in the towel and go home, but even that thought is not viable. If I went back to the US, it would be the same battle of finding a place to live and a job. It would feel like starting over, when I have created such a beautiful life that I love here. The past week and a half has been jam-packed with applying for jobs, looking at visas, and networking with other Americans who have made the move to Melbourne. I began to feel overwhelmed and tired. I felt defeated. I felt hopeless. I felt disconnected in my relationships. I began pulling away from my support system as a self-sabotage. It was a quick and steep downward spiral.
Luckily, I chose to lean back against the urge to withdrawal from my support system and met up with my boyfriend for dinner and an evening walk around our favorite park in the city. I began talking about my fears and worries in relation to visas and moving back home, etc. Throughout the conversation, I came to the realization that this visa process is really just a trigger or a magnifying glass up to my fear surrounding abandonment.
Throughout my life, I have struggled with abandonment. Specifically, I have made the actions of others, whether it be neglect or physically abandonment, mean something about me. I would be extremely devoted and all-in in my relationships, assumed it was reciprocated, then found myself alone and confused at the end of the day. This confusion led to me creating stories about the result such that it was my fault. I would reflect and see where I went wrong then try to do better next time.
Giving up the story that someone abandoning me has anything to do with me gave me access to moving forward without self-inflicted shame and guilt.
When moving to Melbourne, I was intentional to create a life that was engaging, energizing, and fulfilling. I chose to surround myself with things that brought me joy and vitality. I also chose to put down roots and feel extremely grounded. Now, I feel devoted and all-in, which I guess means it is a great time to feel challenged (and triggered) so that growth may occur. Sorting through visas is the trigger or the magnifying glass that I currently have “held up” to the life I love and want to keep in Melbourne. It is intensifying this fear of losing it all or having to abandon it all. That fear has always existed within me and has been reestablished several times throughout my life, but this current situation is magnifying it as an access to stepping in front of it!
So…what about the Coronavirus…
The other day, I heard a teacher at the primary school say they received an email from a parent that said, “I am going to self-isolate my child until Coronavirus goes away”. PSA: viruses don’t go away. Coronavirus will be a part of human existence for several hundreds of years AT LEAST. It may change or mutate, but it is inevitable that all of us will encounter the virus at some point in our lives. What public health professionals, doctors, and governmental organizations are attempting to do is to slow down the rate at which people are encountering the virus. This buys time for people to build up antibodies, similar to how a vaccination acts.
Disclaimer: I am not attempting to diminish, belittle, or mock the gravity of Coronavirus. I acknowledge that this is a serious illness, and my heart breaks for those impacted by this virus, whether directly or indirectly. The intention of this post is to learn what fear looks like for me in different contexts and how I can acknowledge it in order to move forward more equipped.
So, if I use the analogy of the Coronavirus being a trigger or a magnifying glass, what is it intensifying? The virus has already existed, hygiene has always been critical, and the symptoms are familiar. On a larger scale, maybe it is highlighting the fragility of globalization, the need for more funding in preventative health, etc. On an individual level, maybe it is highlighting our need for more awareness in hygiene. Maybe in self-isolating, one may realize the need to clean their top cupboards. Maybe it is highlighting the lack of trust in political leaders and their agenda.
In the midst of the uncertainty and unknown, I invite you (and myself) to lean in. Lean in to what is possible during this time. Where can you get curious? What is the virus triggering and magnifying within you or the system? Can we channel the hype to create positive change for the future?