Six signs of stress: weight gain, unhealthy skin, caffeine addiction, bleeding gums, heartburn, body aches. I have all six.
My weight is the highest in years. My skin is suffering from terrible, ongoing acne. My energy is gone and my sleep patterns a mess. My exercise routine is non-existent. My mood is terrible. And my life has become a series of never ending to do lists.
Over the past five months of living and working in Northern Ireland, I have developed or exacerbated all six symptoms associated with stress. I don’t know if it is my new and difficult job, or my dark and dirty house, or my loneliness and homesickness, or my ongoing heartbreak, or more than likely, a combination of them all. But as the weeks go by, I feel more and more anxious. It is the kind of stress that makes me want the day to be over, the week to be finished, the month to be behind me. The kind of stress that makes me forget to be aware and to appreciate the wonder that is my life.
I believe that sometimes the universe gives you a sign. Sometime it is a flash of insight. Sometimes it is a beautiful, heartwarming moment. Sometimes it is a 20 pound weight gain, a face full of acne, a minor drinking problem and anxiety that is bordering on a social disorder. And sometimes, if you are really lucky, right when you need it most, someone tells you it’s ok to quit. Someone tells you there is more to life than rushing around and that taking the long way can be a beautiful thing. Someone tells you to stop planning and start living. Someone simply shows you the way.
So today I say to backpacking in Italy alone. Yes to no job, no permanent address, no roommates, no to do list. Yes to sunshine, spinach, saltwater and Dolce Far Neinte – the sweetness of doing nothing.
It’s never to late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. – Eric Roth