There are two parts to this. The first part is the answer that I usually give and makes me sound like a total new age hippie. The second part is the reasoning behind dog now versus dog later. I usually omit the second part because sometimes it leads to a lot of follow-up questions.
Here we go.
I try to make my personal happiness a priority everyday. What happiness is and what success is, is up to ourselves to define. It is in this mindset that happiness becomes something you have the power to control. When I discovered this inner superpower I realized that there is never a perfect time and dropping everything and pursuing the one thing that would make you happy. If not now, when?
I also recognize the need to take things (life) at my own pace. I want to be able to plan my next steps without pressure and the influence of what everyone else around me is doing. Lol, remember the time I thought investment banking might totally be my thing? I just need the time to just slow down and find my grounding. I mean, I have been on my own and on the go for more than a year now.
I am incredibly grateful that I have the financial privilege to be able to take a year off and live at home.
I also want to address the concerns that you might have about a new graduate getting a dog. For more than a year and a half I have researched and prepared for this dog extremely thoroughly. I’m pretty sure that’s longer than some people prepare for babies. So do I know exactly what I am getting into? Yes. This was not at all a spur of the moment decision in the midst of a pre-graduation crisis.
According to what I understand about youth culture, “young adults” are supposed to enjoy going out, staying after work for drinks, and travel a lot for work or for pleasure. I am a homebody, introvert type who would rather hang out with a dog than go out to anywhere crowded with strangers 😀 . Additionally, I have the support of my parents who are willing to dog-sit for free, if the need should arise.
So, don’t worry guys. I got this, I got this.
I am known to be the one who is “cool as a cucumber” in a crisis situation. However, on the inside, it’s a very different situation. It is normal for everyone to have some level of anxiety when it comes to times of stress (like deadlines, exams, or waiting for a text from someone you like), but it is not normal to be in a constant state of anxiety when there is nothing to be anxious about.
It is difficult to explain because mental illness doesn’t manifest the same way in every person. I can only speak on behalf of my own experiences.
Anxiety didn’t just hit me one day. It’s something for me that built up like a quiet storm over a very long time. My “normal” baseline for anxiety kept getting higher and higher until I was suffering from debilitating anxiety. Only after I had reached this point did I tell someone. I called my best friend on an August night. I told her I couldn’t sleep, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and like my heart was pounding so hard the movement was keeping me awake. She told me I needed to get back into therapy as soon as I got back to school.
Every moment of everyday felt like the day before an exam I hadn’t prepared for.
There are many things I do to help cope with living with an anxiety disorder. I have been very lucky to have had access to both a psychiatrist and psychologist. I have my own special cocktail of prescribed medications. I also have friends and family who have been supportive. I am (usually) diligent about getting exercise. I avoid caffeine and keep alcohol to a minimum.
However, the anxiety is always there. On good days, I forget about it. On most days, I can feel it lurking beneath the surface.
All the tools, people, and things I have help me get to a normal baseline. When suddenly my brain decides THE WORLD IS ENDING OMG there’s only one thing that truly helps – hanging out with a dog. If there was a drug, a meditation, something, that could reliably help you get back on your feet, you would get it right?