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Fun Fact: I have this addictive habit of watching extremely thrilling/horror movies then spending the entire night scaring myself and going to the washroom every hour because my bladder can’t hold all the fear within. Why I torture myself? Beats me. But I convince myself that that is how I face my fears. Hero much? You bet. 2018 was a horror movie. I was at my very worst. Hit rock bottom and was scared of my own self more than anything else in this life. Being your own enemy is one thing but knowing you are your own enemy is something else. The fight between your self and mind is endless. If 2018 was a movie, it would be ‘Bird Box’ for me. That was 2018’s best thriller and horror movie. 2018 was MY bird box. I was blindly stumbling my way through the days for survival, trying to not look directly into the eyes of my monster; my own self-sabotaging being. I just wanted to get to the end of it. But you know what? I love thrill. I am a total thrill freak. So when I say it was the roughest year for me, I also mean it was the most intense, challenging year. Trying to see the silver lining here y’all 😀
Being an extremely anxious person makes me very impatient in everything. I don’t give myself adequate time for anything. Not for healing, not for love, not for my dreams either. I have this clock that keeps tik-toking in my head; always reminding me how I’m running out of time. For what you ask? I have no idea. This is where the Marshmallow test comes in.
The Marshmallow study is a famous social-science test among educators and psychologists because it is something we learn about. The study itself is about delayed gratification done in the 1960’s by a Stanford professor. So the experiment was that a child is taken into a room that has a marshmallow on the table. The experimenter then tells the child that they are leaving the room and that if they wait until the experimenter comes back without eating the marshmallow, then they will get another one. So the choice was simple: one marshmallow right now or two marshmallows later.
The experimenters believed that the study was a measure of future success of the children participants. So the child is then left in the room alone with the marshmallow. Now the hardest part is that there is no distraction. Its just the child staring at the marshmallow. Obviously some kids ate it right way, some hesitated right away before giving in to the temptation and others were patient enough to wait for the other one so they get two. The experimenters followed up on the progress of the children even decades later and found that the children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up successful in every aspect of life. In short, the study proved that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life. Mind-blowing right?(You can google more on the Marshmallow study)
So how does this relate to my 2018?
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a person struggling with anxiety, is to trust the process; believe in the power of delayed gratification. I took up a job that you only see the fruits of your hard work more than six months later and I failed at different writing opportunities I looked forward to among other things. My writing journey has been long with slow baby steps. And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my baby steps. I really do. In fact I do treat myself whenever I achieve one of tiny goals. But then there’s the self-sabotaging anxious self that wants you to see how you’ll never make it to across the river (Y’all should watch ‘Bird Box’ if you haven’t. Oh! and the memes are so lit! 😀 Memes are the best part of anything yo). So 2018 is the year my patience was tested the most. But I keep reminding myself of the greater reward. Of the best to come. Of the two Marshmallows at the end of the day. I keep reminding myself that my baby steps will someday add up to something. I believe it will in shaa Allah but for now, it is an endless war with my mind that wants the easy, shortcut and immediate reward of one Marshmallow. But you know what? I want two Marshmallows. Hell I want a hundred of them. So I’ll wait. I’ll wait to see what’s on the other side of the river. I’ll wait because I have faith that Allah (S.W.) is with me. If I don’t make it to other side, I know I’ll have died trying and that counts. It means a lot.
Don’t get me wrong. 2018 was not entirely a black cloud on my head. I have my family with me and I realize that’s a big blessing every.single.day. alhamdulilah. My anxious self traveled on a plane for the first time in my life (a very panicky story for another day 😀 ) Good things did happen alhamdulilah but above all, it was a challenging year. And I hope I can learn from it.
Hey where are my anxious fellow humans? Let’s wait for the basket full of Marshmallows okay? We got this. I know we can. I know we do 🙂
Better days to come. Ameen.
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