In my years – it already sounds sappy. I apologize in advance for the sap, but in my years I’ve picked up on a few patterns, made a few clever observations, and built a few philosophies which could change the world if people listened. It sounds arrogant, but it’s true. But one of my most-prized realizations, for lack of better term, is that everything’s okay.
There are a lot of psychotherapy and self-help books out there. A lot of people try and tell you how to live life correctly. Truthfully, I think we’re all looking for that. We want to know that we’re taking the right step towards some notion of success. Nearly everyone has a prescription they want to dispense to you and more often sell to you. All these prescriptions give your mind something to chew on and to feel safe pursuing, so you don’t have to feel confused and panicked.
You’re probably saying “I never feel panicked.” Panic manifests itself in different levels of intensity. On the extreme end of the spectrum, you have full-blown panic which can be accompanied by some kind of paranoid psychosis. People in panic are hard to rationalize with and you often just have to let them cool down.
On the other end of the spectrum is mild panic which shows up as a kind of nervous, ubiquitous agitation. We’re not relaxed, not really engaged with reality. We’re looking for something. We’re good as long as we have something to take our mind off the panic, like a prescription.
The prescriptions come in many different forms. Ultimately, they replace the pervasive confusion with a false self. They manufacture identities for us. They strengthen our self-concept and make us feel like we’re winning the contest. They promise that if we follow their treatment, we’ll succeed in becoming healthy or rich of famous or liked or psychologically balanced, or whatever. But they always promise that we’ll reach some goal that has been assumed to be important.
Is it important to be healthy or famous or successful? It’s not obvious to me why that’s so important. It makes sense, from an evolutionary standpoint why we should be programmed to want those things: they ensure the propagation of our genetic material, and so, if our ancestors possessed these needs, they would have passed them onto us and out-competed their lazier, less ambitious neighbors. But that certainly doesn’t mean it makes any real, absolute sense to continue wanting these things. What does it really matter, in the big picture?
It’s in my most profound moments that I realize everything is already okay. It’s not that it’ll be okay when we pass the next milestone, finding the perfect job or the perfect friends or partners. We don’t even have to get rid of the pervasive confusion and panic we feel. Because it’s okay.
I don’t always know that it’s okay, and struggling to believe it’s okay has always struck me as absurd, for if things were truly okay, they would need no struggling with. The moments of clarity seem to come almost by their own, without my planning and coordination. They seem to come when I’m completely honest with myself and with others about how I think and feel. They come when I’m honest about my fears and honest about my pain and hurt. I don’t always know that being honest will work out. I usually just go for it, kind of like jumping off a cliff into a pool of water (which I’ve done once, and it was scary, and hilarious).
The funny thing about okay-ness is that whenever I feel it, all I want to do is give it away to others. I want them to know that everything is okay as well and that there’s no reason to panic. The best way to do this, I’ve found, is with body language. A soft voice, a soft touch, and a gentle but confident stare while you smile and tell someone that’s everything’s okay. It helps affirm okay-ness in yourself, too.