Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Eleanor Ross - Senegal


August 29, 2019

I’ve always tried to keep most thoughts out of my head. Seems contradictory, but I have a formula. It’s incredibly precise. If I start thinking about something that makes me uncomfortable, I actively shake the thought out of my head. Be warned, an incredibly intense precision is imperative to moving your head side to side at a vigorous pace to complete this monumental task. If you need some help learning the ins and outs, I can try to teach you. I have to say, I’m a bit of an expert. My skill is easily accessible to me during classes, in the bathroom, at parties, and even on dates. And I’m fully aware that I look insane. But it’s okay. I mean at least I’m not thinking. Right? Right. And I do it unabashedly with a power that only comes from knowing that I have to. It’s my form of literally kicking “inadequate” thoughts out of my mind.

So, yes, I am an active head shaker. I don’t deny it. It’s the part of me that keeps me sane and stops me from having mental seizures every five seconds. And, truth be told, I don’t want to stop shaking; I don’t want to stop forgetting; I don’t want to sit in my emotions; I don’t want to allow my brain to wander; and I do not want to just be. So I don’t. I keep my barriers up– and I’m pretty good at it. But, in the past few days, I’ve noticed something odd. Barely there at first, it kinda was like someone turned a dimmer down on my apprehensions. I was shaking my head less. And writing this post made me realize why– it’s because I’m comfortable in my surroundings. 

I somehow started allowing myself to think, freely.

And it’s not constant, but it shouldn’t be. Somehow I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable? And more than anything, it’s scary. I’m scared. More nervous than scared, but worried nonetheless. So, writing this blog post out and spilling my barely-there-feelings probably is going to make my new friends see me in a new light– probably not an entirely positive one. So sitting at Stanford across from my new friends, I started absentmindedly shaking my head. I almost got up, ready to go and make new friends, to find a group that I could click with again because that’s how I usually work. The moment it gets awkward, it’s better to use physical separation and that meticulous shake of my head to throw what I call “bad vibes” out of my life. But, the people at Global Citizen Year don’t seem like they’re gonna freak out or have a literal seizure (not just a mental one!) if they see me shaking my head or tensing up. 18 years and 11 days prepared me for my GCY experience, but I’m still surprised by the unapologetically honest people here. I always thought it was hard for people to be honest and nice. Somehow the people here succeed at both. 

It usually takes me years to relax into friends and learn to allow myself to feel emotions relating to new people, and that’s not going to change in the three days that I’ve been here. But, my head has stopped shaking as much. My thoughts are sticking in my head more. And, I think, that’s a good start.


Eleanor Ross