Sometimes, the simplest things cultivate the greatest, and most cyclical, internal struggles.
I am a twenty-three year old college graduate. I am completely independent – moved out, and across the country, when I was eighteen years old. I worked two to three jobs all throughout college and graduated with two degrees, a minor, and distinction. I’ve been gainfully employed since the day I graduated, but for over two years I didn’t sleep in a real bed.
Instead, I laid down every night on a $130 futon that had seen its best days when it served as the dorm room sofa during my sophomore year. The trusty black Target futon was flatter than cardboard, had two broken legs, and a conspicuous metal pole that always seemed to drive directly into my lower back around 2:30AM every morning.
Why did I sleep on a futon for over two years? Probably the same reason I had taken my “dry clean only” clothes to the dry cleaners … ever.
I’m a normal person. I lead a normal life with friends, family, a relationship, a successful and meaningful career, but I have anxiety – a lot of anxiety.
I didn’t buy a real bed for more than two years because:
- If I invested in a bed, I would obviously have to live in Dallas for the next few years, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it.
- And what if I moved back to California? Would I take it with me all the way across the country? Or get rid of it? That would definitely be a waste of money.
- Even if I did buy a bed, I sold my SUV last year and there is no way I could fit a bed in my Jetta.
- I might be able to order one online, but could I get it delivered? I saw the episode of Friends where Monica gets a bed delivered, but do they really do that?
- And if I could get it delivered, would I have to be home to sign for it on a weekday? That wouldn’t be possible because I work from 8AM – 5PM everyday.
- Maybe I could sign for it on the weekend, but what if I really did end up moving? How would I transport it? I should just wait until I know where I’m going to move to and for how long before I get a bed. That would avoid the delivery dilemma.
- In fact, Ingrid and I might move in together some day and she already has a bed – a queen bed. So it really would be a waste of money to buy my own bed when eventually I wouldn’t need it anymore.
- Finally, thinking about all the possible outcomes is exhausting. Frankly, it is just easier to sleep on that futon.
That’s how I think. That’s how my brain works. All day. Every day.
But while I’m running through scenarios, trying to plan a solution for every possible outcome, I’m actually just standing still. I’m not doing or deciding anything. And without tangible decisions, how much does a plan really matter?
As every (studious) psychology major knows, exposure therapy is one of the most effective treatments for many anxiety disorders. Basically, that whole “feel the fear and do it anyways” saying is actually quite accurate. So this year I’m making a conscious decision to remind myself – you can’t plan for life.
I missed out on two years of quality sleep because someday, at some point, I might not end up needing a bed of my own.
Well, that’s crazy.
Everyone needs a bed. Not someday, not maybe, but right now.
So a few weeks ago I checked “buy a real bed” and “take my clothes to the dry cleaners” off my 2013 List.
Since that day, I haven’t – not even for a second – regretted a good night’s sleep.