I’m sure you’ve had someone tell you this a time or two. Or you’ve been the one telling someone else. Is living in the moment easy for you? It is, then this post may only help you understand those of us who can’t. If living in the moment is a struggle for you, you are not alone my friend. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do in life.
Glennon Doyle summarized it perfectly in this explanation in Untamed:
It’s just that living with anxiety — living alarmed — makes it impossible to enter the moment, to land inside my body and be there. I cannot be in the moment because I am too afraid of what the next moment will bring. I have to be ready.
Those two words explain so much about my life without going into great detail. I live alarmed and on edge every single day. I have to be ready. I have to be prepared. I have to know what is coming next so I can be ready for it.
I have to be observant and watchful.
I have to be inconspicuous and calm.
I have to divert the crisis that is about to happen.
I cannot live in the moment and enjoy it because I have to be ready for the next moment that is almost surely going to be some sort of disaster.
Anxiety tells me that something bad is always going to happen next and that I need to be prepared to control it. I need to be prepared to take action. Anxiety leaves me living in constant vigilance of what is coming next.
Not just next in the next second. Next in the next minute. In the next hour. In the next day. In the next month. In the next year. In the next five years. In the next eternity. Whatever is next, I have to be ready.
Spontaneous fun? No, that is not acceptable. I can’t be prepared for it.
Just chilling and hanging out. Mmm maybe but I’m still going to be considering what is coming next once I stop chilling. Also, this must be planned. It cannot be spontaneous.
Why does everything just want to be spontaneous and live in the moment when there is surely something that will go wrong?!
Because they are wired differently.
It doesn’t mean we are bad people because we can’t live as free as they can. I know we have times that life seems easy and spontaneity is possible and living in the moment is possible. We can all get there occasionally. But when we can’t, we are in a constant state of panic.
Some people call us high-strung. They are wrong. We are sensitive people who just want to make sure everyone we love with be alright. And that everything is put away where it goes and done exactly as we think it should be. That’s how we stay safe.
Living in the moment sounds delightful and terrifying at the same time. If you live or are around one of us who carries anxiety with us, give us a little grace as we navigate spontaneity and working to live in the moment. We are working through more than you can see on the outside. We are struggling and happy at the same time, most of the time.
Living in the moment will work for us sometimes and not others. It is nothing against you, it is merely how we are wired. We are working through it. We are struggling. We are overcoming. Take our hand and help us through it without condemnation or some smartass comment. That doesn’t help.
We want to live in the moment, but we also want to hide from the moment so we can prepare for the next one.