The height of the pandemic left a lot of stores, restaurants, and recreational places closed. The hustle of New York City had come to a screeching halt leaving its residents scrambling on what to do next. Just like the rest of the world, we were forced to work and live in our houses on a 24/7/365 basis, and we were clueless for how long any of it would last. Making the best of the uncertainty, my wife and I decided to fill our weekends with as much as outdoor time as we could. Living and working in our four walls was more than enough during the week so the weekends needed to be broken up with fresh air and getting out of the house in the safest way we could find. It became a weekend ritual to walk the property of our local cemetery. It was kind of morbid looking back on it, but I was grateful to be in the sun and grass and trees at the time getting my mind off the present moment and developing a deep appreciation for nature that I’ve never had before.
The cemetery itself stands on acres of land that stretches throughout the neighborhood. You could walk through it and be on a completely opposite end of the neighborhood by the time you finished. It was great exercise but also amazing views of Manhattan in certain areas as well. When Covid felt bleak and my life as I once knew it felt as if it wouldn’t return being there and seeing that view provided a lot of comfort. The city skyline felt like something to shoot for, to look forward to and it was a much-needed reminder of sanity when everything felt rightfully insane.
This past September started my return to my so-called “normal life”. I went on vacation for the first time in five years in September. We flew to Disney World for our delayed honeymoon and stayed for a week’s time. Upon our return, I was asked back to work on a hybrid schedule. All this is way more overwhelming than I expected it to be. I dreamt of this day and yet I was so nervous to return to the hustle of the city life. The fear of the unknown was overwhelming to embrace. Who was safe? Who wasn’t? Will I get sick? A million questions flooded my mind. I began to feel guilty about questioning all of it. I was getting what I wanted for so long, what I had prayed for yet I was so paralyzed by the fear of the obvious unknown in front of me. I had this whole vision in my head of my triumphant return to New York City where I would rejoin my beautiful city and relish in everything that I missed so much. When my expectations weren’t met it sucked, and I was devastated and left drowning in a whole new pool of anxiety and all the symptoms that came with it. It was a hard lesson to learn in managing my expectations. We plan and God laughs, or at least my God does. Returning to Manhattan and all the of the life that came with it wasn’t how I imagined it to be yet I’m still doing it even if I feel like a baby deer learning to walk most days.
I’ve hesistated to write a lot about my feelings as of late. I don’t want to appear self-deprecating but I also don’t want people to feel like they’re alone in their struggles. We are all rejoining a world full of uncertainities and question marks. We’re being told that the pandemic is “over” and now we’re meant to go about our business like the world still isn’t sporting a giant band-aid over itself. It’s scary, overwhelming, but it’s something we’re all collectively facing so it feels almost remiss not to speak my mind on how what I’m going through. I want to end this piece with it does get better, it has gotten better. Every day presents a new change and my anxiety is never permanent. It’s a state of flow that I’m now hyperaware of which is both helpful and a little jarring. Life is weird but it’s just a matter of getting through one moment at a time.
My intention was to blog daily during the month of September and for 14 days I was successful. However, the preparation of the trip and the trip itself became consuming and I found myself more present in real life than I had been for awhile. Post trip, I found myself barreling Into the Unknown of my return to the office, getting Penny settled into a daycare situation, and the entire month of October being filled with activities. I still have a lot I want to post outside of the confines of a series and in the upcoming weeks and days I’m going to do my best to post that.
Thus far, I haven’t been successful in posting within the timeline of a series. However, I did feel growth throughout this series. I was able to post work 14 out of the 30 days in September, I was receiving more frequent feedback from WordPress due to the consistency of posting, and I had some family members reach out to say they were following along. I embarked on this as a way to get out of my head and prepare myself for November for National Novel Month. Being able to get out of my head was a great success as I did my best to stick to the schedule and write within the ideas I came up with. There’s still some kinks to work out for consistency in my writing but I’m proud of the ability to practice in a live way and learn in real time with all of you.
Thank you for following along and reading as I work out a writing schedule and most importantly share myself with all of you. I hope to continue to chronicle my journey and hopefully share something that can help somebody else.
My first experience with social media began on MySpace in 2003. I was able to keep up with my friends, display my favorite colors and style at the time on my homepage, rate all of my friends and shove the besties into a top 8 and follow all the celebrities and musicians I loved at that age. It was a very similiar set up to the social media’s we all have now. Everyone was connected and was able to post anything that crossed their minds all in the click of a button. MySpace felt very innocent compared to the present day version of social media content we know today. Social Media is no longer just about connection with others; it’s a source of income, a lot of people’s news sources, and a place where opinions are rampant and often portrayed as fact.
With all that being said, I still have accounts. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; all for a variety of different reasons but the main reason is for connection. As you age, you tend to be apart from loved ones or just people you generally want to keep up with. Everyone gets their own lives and gets busy so I find social media useful to be able to keep in contact with family, friends, and people in my community I wish to as well. I also like to use it as a form of self-expression through photographs, statuses, etc. It’s my way of leaving my mark on the world and being able to let others know how I am and what I’m up to. However, my relationship with social media isn’t completely benign.
Obviously, it is at the discretion of the user to filter the intake of information that they see on social media. It is our responsibility to fact check our sources, mute the crazy, and unfollow the nonsense. However, I think some of this should also be placed on the creators. The idea that anyone can get an account and usually post or advertise whatever they want with little to no consequence is concerning. We live in a world where people want information and products at the click of a button and their main resource is social media. I think the people and companies utilizing this popular outlet should be held accountable. Our world is left vulnerable by this ability and it allows too many people to buy into falsehoods and harmful rheortic that can be hurtful to a lot of people in our world.
My relationship with social media stands as a love-hate relationship. Most of the time I’m grateful for the ability of connection. A lot of the time I’m frustrated with the misinformation and the little no accountability for it. I think if accontability played a bigger role on these platforms, we can all continue to maintain connection while benefitting from the removal misinformation and hateful comments.
The last professional wrestling show I went to in-person was April 2019, it was a WWE Event at Madison Square Garden with my younger brother. We had a blast at the Monday Night Raw after Wrestlemania. It’s a coveted show to WWE fans because that’s usually an eventful night for their fans. Today was supposed to be my long awaited reunion with the wrestling world. Today I was supposed to head to New Jersey for my first All Elite Wrestling event and my first time watching wrestling live in over two years. Unfortunately, due to protcols in the arena, I needed to consider mine and my wife’s first and ultimately decide not to go.
While we are without a doubt healing from the Pandemic, we are still actively in one. Our world has not been eradicated from Covid-19, so when venues don’t offer any sort of Covid protocols, it makes me question my attendance there. This isn’t a dig at protocols or what’s right or wrong. I don’t like to publicly shame anyone for how they carry themselves. This is merely a reminder for myself that this new normal is very real and choices like these will continuously be presented.
Did I want to go tonight? Absolutely. I’ve been waiting for this day for over a year but knowing that I’m going to be getting on a plane in less than a week’s time for our honeymoon left me unable to go through with my plans tonight. I was given the choice to potentially jeopardize our honeymoon and attend or to stay safe in an environment that will allow me and my wife to travel on a vacation together for the first time in 5 years. This decision was not easy to make but a necessary one nonethless. Our world will be full of stops and pauses to think, is this safe? Am I putting myself and my family at a risk? It’s the reality of our new world and a very eye-opening idea for me to take on. It makes me sad that is how it needs to be but I am willing to do whatever it takes for myself and my family’s benefit. We all will at some point have to resume our daily lives but it doesn’t come without a known risk. I just hope we can all do our best to continue to help ourselves and others along the way.
I found the Dare Book in 2019 when I saw excerpts from chapters on a high school friend’s Instagram page. The pages I saw were detailed ways to get passed your anxiety and different ways to do it. I was instantly curious after seeing his page and purchased the book to get the full experience of what was written. Within a few chapters of reading the book, I became very intrigued by what was written. My anxiety had begun to peak during planning my wedding and then just stayed at a level 11 after getting fired from a job I was at for four years and having to look for another job while planning my wedding. I needed something to take the edge off of my anxiety and the book became the perfect way to do that without having to partake in therapy at the time. I wrote a full review about the book, I’ll link it here.
The book was just the start of my DARE journey. The book later was accompanied by an app where I was granted access after paying a yearly fee of $59.99 to a full library of different audios to help soothe my anxiety in real time. The author of DARE, Barry McDonagh narrated all the audios and used his soothing voice to assist the users in calming down, help them remember that they are not alone, and explain all the different types of anxieties that people go through to further educate you about each kind. In my case, hearing Barry explain the types of anxieties almost verbatim to what I was experiencing was cathartic. I have always been labeled a hypochondraic so having someone explain how common it was to be feeling what I was feeling felt amazing. It was proof that I wasn’t crazy and could continue to work the steps of DARE and eventually find a stable mental place.
The app resources began to expand over time as more people began to use it. Eventually, Daily Dares were incorporated which spoke about different parts of mental health and how to help combined with a daily guided visualization to help assist in calming your nerves throughout the day. I used these a lot at the height of Covid in NYC. I was very disregulated and having this resource to utilize daily was helpful in attempting to maintain a baseline level of anxiety. The evening winddown was added in months and new master classes around mental health. The app membership also offers monthly calls with licensed therapists where you can ask questions about how to use the resources but also general questions as well.
I think the price of the app is well worth the cost because it provides multiple resources within the apps but also access to group calls with therapists at your discretion. I would personally recommend this app for people who suffer from anxiety. It has aided mine and allowed me to realize that the more resistance you give anxiety, the worst it gets. Let it go and let it flow!