I have kept a journal since I was 10 years old--the year my family moved to Brazil from California. I wrote because it felt safe there. I could ramble, be sassy and silly, or ask the many questions that were swirling through my mind. There were many changes going on around me, and writing gave me a space to unleash my voice, when words wouldn’t come out quickly or I couldn’t articulate verbally. I felt safe from being judged, from people giving me a “who-let-this-girl-out-of-the-crazy-house” look, or just from people feeling sorry for me.
The difficult part about moving at the age of 10 is that instead of having the chance to dive deeper into hobbies, routines, and one community---I was adjusting to a new culture, navigating a new reality, sorting through new questions and concerns. Not everyone in your new “home” understands the changes you’re going through, and the people in the place you’ve just left can’t comprehend what your new life is like. It’s a weird disconnect from your past, but also from your current reality. You can be left feeling so alone in what you’re experiencing.
I think we go through those moments constantly through various stages of our lives—as circumstances arise, as we receive unexpected news, as life hands us some brutal cards. We start to believe that nobody understands. It feels like nobody is carrying the same weight of the craziness in our minds or feeling the same ache in our hearts. It feels like you’re the only player in the game, and apparently there’s no rulebook.
But our brains seem to keep processing. We find new things to worry about, new questions we want answers to, new situations that make us feel lost. We seem to create outrageous scenarios in our heads, or remember hurts that we thought we’d handled. We muster up the courage to be brave, and then we fill our minds with doubts and scary stuff. We experience so much joy, and then imagine so much hurt at the loss of it.
Many times, we simply need to tell our brains to chill out.
I don’t think it’s about quieting all the thoughts and voices in our brains. It’s about calming them, sorting through them, weeding out the lies and holding on to the truths. It’s about figuring out what’s worth fighting for and what isn’t. There are things we can’t ignore, and there are places in our minds we should never visit again. It’s about learning to know the difference between them.
I hope that before our brains go into overdrive, we engage in the best method for us to chill it out. Some of us may journal, some of us may bake. Some of us write songs, some might need to go climb a mountain. Whatever it is we do, I hope we find the ways to sort through the thoughts and frustrations, hopes and dreams of our crazy brains. Because they matter--and when we learn to process and sort through them, embrace the truths and weed out the lies--we can start to heal.
We can also start to share about them, encourage others through them, and feel less alone in them. Because not everyone may understand the details of our specific stories, but we've all experienced certain emotions and experiences that connects us as humans--moments of pain, loss, questions, doubts; moments of redemption, triumph, celebration, joy.
So let's remember to tell our brains sometimes that yes, we hear you--but seriously, it’s okay to chill out sometimes.