We've all heard inspirational quotes referring to instances of struggle leading to a happy ending, right? Today, I've been spending a lot of time with Florence + The Machine's "Shake it Out" and the particular line "It's always darkest before the dawn." This song comes back to me again and again, whether it be by way of shuffle or the afore-mentioned line creeping into my mind.
At the end of last week, I started feeling dragged down, lethargic, and emotionally quiet. I chalked it up to being over-stimulated by social happenings, but then Sunday morning I woke up with the head cold to end all head colds. By Monday morning, I was a walking, certifiable mess. I could barely stay upright for fear of the congestion knocking me back over. All I could stomach was Campbell's chicken noodle soup. That night, I stood under my shower's waterfall, shaking in exhaustion.
Here's a fun fact about me: I'm terribly temperature sensitive. Hot water will send me screeching to the hills, and I am forever skittish around cold pool water even on the warmest of days. However, I know it's beneficial to steam out congestion if you can when you're sick, so I stepped into my shower and cranked that sucker up pretty damn high.
I cried because I was uncomfortable, I cried because I was tired, I cried because I felt silly for staying home from work, I cried because my friend Maddy was kind enough to agree to bring over "get better" supplies, I cried because I forgot to bring my face wash into the bathtub.
As I was wrapping myself up in my towel, sniffling through tears, I realized I most definitely could breathe more easily. I was red as a tomato from the heat of the water, but I also no longer felt like my head was going to pop from the pressure inside.
So then I cried some more.
Society conditions us to avoid being vulnerable. We're taught from an early age to never give up, to push through pain, to always be on top. But there will come days when a head cold knocks you off your feet and you have to be honest with yourself and choose to stay home from work. It's probably best for your coworkers, too, but you feel like you somehow let them down, even when you do your best to complete your work remotely. You'll toss and turn all night and have strange dreams that feel too close to reality, but they slip through your fingers as you fumble to turn off your alarm in the afternoon sunlight. You'll open can of worm conversations because you're trying your best to understand situations you'll never grasp. You'll feel ashamed that you napped for three hours in the middle of the day, even though it helped you feel monumentally better.
And in the end - you might learn that there is strength in stepping into a hot shower on purpose because you know that it will help, no matter how much it hurts at the time.