I am the one thing in life I can control

Over the past several weeks, I have struggled through sleep. Whether I am at my parents’ home, in a bed similar to my own or if I am sitting on the childhood bed of my uncle; a bed I have spent months of my life sleeping in. I rarely struggle to fall asleep, but, lately, I have a heavy mind.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Hamilton. Towards the end of the first act, there is a song titled: “Wait For It.” Around the internet, this song has become quite popular. Reasonably so, it’s an excellent song. Despite being from a musical, it would be right at home on the Billboard Hot 100.

I won’t summarize the song, but one line has weighed heavy on my mind for the past several days. Leslie Odom Jr. sings, “I am the one thing in life I can control.”

I am the one thing in life I can control.

Those 10 words have been utterly emotionally devastating.

Since January, I’ve felt remarkably out of control. In the past six months I have broken up with my fiancé of seven years, been turned down by five grad schools and two alternative post-grad projects, many of my friendships have utterly degraded, and I defended a thesis I ultimately believe was subpar. In June I went on a cross country road trip, and I’ll be moving to China in October.

My world has completely fallen apart and I’ve been left to rebuild. Technically, I have succeeded. I now have future plans. But they involve abandoning my entire life for something completely unknown.

I am the one thing in life I can control.

Despite all that has happened, that statement is true. I can’t control my family, friends, or circumstances. I can only control myself.

I can’t tell if that’s liberating or devastating.

I’ve often said that every day we get to choose who we are as people. We wake up every morning with the freedom to decide who we are. It is that simple, even if it isn’t that easy. We get to choose kindness or cruelty, compassion or apathy, humility or arrogance. Each step of the way, we get to decide who we are.

I am the one thing in life I can control.

I have been haunted by nightmares these last few weeks, most likely because of anxiety. I am a vivid dreamer—I always have been. When I wake up, I don’t wake up afraid. I wake up concerned for myself—for my state of mind, my body, for my general well-being. I’m a creature that depends heavily on my sleeping schedule. When this schedule is altered or interfered with, I suffer.

On July 2nd, I was plagued with the usual nightmare. Someone was trying to kill me. They harmed someone I was close to. I managed to evade them, at great cost to my well-being. I woke up briefly, but upon going back to sleep, I dreamt a dream related to Game of Thrones but I also played the part of new mother who, as she boarded the ship, realized her infant child had been stillborn and no one told her.

I’m not someone who thinks dreams reveal deep, dark secret parts of us. That said, I can’t help but feel a bit haunted by these redundant, horrifying dreams. I just want to sleep.

I make time for myself. Whenever I can. I read. I write. I try to be gentle with myself. After all,

I am the one thing in life I can control.

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