The above is a sketch of the bedside lamp I turned on at 3:33am on my 38th birthday in Costa Rica, when I woke up with (maybe) an anxiety attack (probably). If not for the thudding of my heartbeat in my ears, the gentle whirring of the ceiling fan, and the usual symphony of the jungle, I'd be left a little too alone with the deafening swirl of unanswered questions in my head. After slowing my breathing down and pushing my eyeballs back into their sockets, I picked up my phone and promptly googled the spiritual meaning of "333."
Results included: my guardian angel aiding me in taking life one stress-free step at a time; reconnecting with my true purpose; and the holy trinity of Jesus, his father, and their shared ghost. Sufficiently distracted from the "attack" part of "anxiety attack," I placed my phone on my chest and stared at the ceiling.
I was not relieved.
I just finished reading a book I could not--I repeat not--put down. The entire time, I was so sure I knew who really murdered whom, and why. At the same time I snootily prided myself in my smartiness, I also kinda hoped/knew I'd be wrong, because I do love a surprise. Rather, I love the idea of it and am also irritated at my inability to be surprised in real life. The closest I've ever been to being surprised was my 16th birthday party. A friend stealthily planned it and made sure to invite every boy I had ever had a crush on up to that point in my life (they all showed up). Nothing gets by me, though, and when my parents took me to the mall as a ruse before dropping me off to said surprise and asked why I was so dressed up and wearing makeup, I... can't remember how I responded, but I definitely lied so as not to ruin my own surprise for the sake of others.
After frantically journaling about anxiety and my disappointment in what the number 333 might mean, I somehow fell back to sleep, and woke up without the "attack" part of "anxiety attack."
In its place, I was flooded with horror at the possibility that I've wasted the last 20 years of my life. In those exact words. "Oh god, have I wasted the last 20 years of my life?? Do I even really want this job/relationship/country/friendship/body? I think I need to move to a remote corner of the world and start all over!" I cried to myself and my therapist and Hanna, in that exact order.
It's quite sobering to wake up at 38, or at any age for that matter, and realize that in every realm of my life, I've let fear make more decisions for me than I'd have liked: fear of the unknown, of what "the world" might think, of any surprises that might derail whatever version of my life story I've become attached to. We can dive into the details of this awakening over the next 462 issues of this newsletter, but what brought me back from the deep end was the realization that, at worst, given my genes and that 3 out of 4 of my great-grandparents lived to over 100, I still have, like [tries to do math and fails]... a lot of years left to start living my life the way I love books: eager at the promise of a new beginning, giddy (hopeful, even) for major surprises, and the deliciousness of both wanting to devour the entire story in one bite while wanting time to slow down so that it never ends.
PS - I was hesitant to share my feelings of wastoidness re: life, but more than that, I'm also diving deep into what it means to be HONEST with and about all parts of myself. After all, "honesty" was my word for 2022! It struck me in my gut when a friend said that my trip to Costa Rica "looks great from [my Instagram] stories," because if there are two things about me, it's that 1) I do my damnedest to live by Agreement #1 of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is to be impeccable with your word, and 2) I despise that the the essence of social media has become that we all end up lying about how our lives are really going.
On that note, see you in the next issue, where I may or may not reflect on my relationship with these jungle insects!