So awhile back I stumbled onto this quote, “Find your anchor. Protect your anchor,” from my favorite celebrity, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (I’m not even kidding, he’s the gift we didn’t deserve). It stuck with me and resonated with me because, as an anxious girl with her head in the clouds, I often need a grounding force. I need something to bring me back to earth, to pull on the string of the kite that is my soul.
The truth is, I’ve spent basically my entire life wanting a person to be my anchor. Because I’m an extrovert (and multiple other personality descriptors), I need relationships–not just romantic, but platonic and familial. I feed off of other people’s energies and tend to wholeheartedly and enthusiastically jump into new relationships, each time hoping that this person will be my anchor. See, that’s the problem–because I am so relationship-oriented, I want a person to rein me in; I want a person to be my kite-flyer.
But here’s the thing: every time a person tries to be my anchor, I fight it. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t want relationships where I feel stifled and unable to be my true self–a little wild, more than a little messy, with big dreams and a hunger to change the world. At the core, that’s who I am; whenever someone tries to take up the mantle of my anchor, I immediately start hacking away at the rope binding us together. I want, always, to be free to express myself in creative and artistic ways. I want to feel everything the world has to offer for me–hope, misery, joy, awe, understanding, heartbreak, the whole nine yards. I want to be truly alive; something that is often unachievable when a person steps in to pull me back to reality. Even though I desperately want someone to be my anchor, it will never happen. That is a relationship I won’t get to experience because I won’t let myself, and honestly I’m not sure that I should let myself.
Though it wouldn’t be right for me not to admit that my family is somewhat my anchor, and I very often resent them for that. They are often quite superior to the force of gravity, and the weight of their expectations feels like a burden more often than not. I know that they just want what is best for me; the problem is that it gets warped into something more malicious whenever their definition of best differs with mine. This, more than anything, is why I can’t let people be my anchor–I can’t reconcile my need to please with my need to be true to myself. For all intents and purposes, the two are mutually exclusive when applied to my life. It is too much work to inevitably disappoint, or so my brain says. Yay anxiety.
There’s also the tiny fact that people leave. Relationships are messy–while that appeals to a large part of me, there’s a smaller, quieter spot that hates it. I am an extrovert who gets attached very easily to people who may not reciprocate that attachment. I can usually ignore this fact because I’ve never been good at weighing risks vs rewards and am abysmal at statistics; I’m always willing to risk getting my heart broken if it means I could possibly meet and connect with someone who will completely change my life. That could just be the poet in me though, always willing to risk my own happiness for a story to tell. However, the rational side of me (my left brain, for my fellow Bo Burnham fans) wants me to just stop giving people the power to hurt me because they very often take advantage of that power. I took a quick instagram break while I was writing this (because who needs to focus, right?) and saw something that left me feeling like an elephant stomped on my heart, and that small, quiet voice in my head is whispering, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself? Find a new anchor; stop assigning the duty to a temporary fix.” And for once, I think I’m going to listen to that voice.
I’m trying to find my anchor. I doubt it will ever be athletic training because it’s too jarring–I am often slapped back to reality by an injury, and the constant emotional whiplash of allowing that to be what grounds me cannot be good for my mental health. It could possibly be teaching, but A) I have no experience yet, and B) there’s a slippery slope between letting teaching be my anchor and letting students be my anchor. It can’t be something too transient; it can’t be art or writing because they are the clouds my head is often stuck in. It could be God, but I have a lot of work ahead of me to make my faith strong enough to sustain me. I could be my own anchor, though I’m not sure what that would entail or even if I could ever internalize the things I need in an anchor. It’s an interesting thought, though.
Despite not really having an anchor currently, I love the idea of protecting it once I have it. I love the idea that your anchor is something fragile that needs you as much as you need it; there’s a commentary on strength somewhere in there that I can’t quite articulate but am excited to explore. I love the idea of your anchor being a tree that you need to care for in order for it to grow and thrive. Like the flower pictured, anchors need to be cultivated, though they’re stronger than they look. These feelings are multiplied exponentially when I consider being my own anchor. Self-care has always been a struggle of mine, but it sounds easier when I think of it in this way, the kind of way that implies I’m taking care of someone else–something I’ve always thrived at. I may become my own anchor just to find out.
Things that I’ve incorrectly labeled as my anchor: boys, my family, literally every friend I have ever made, my dog, the University of Tulsa, athletic training, my anger (and every other emotion on the spectrum, if we’re being honest), science, God, literature, the idea that one day things will be better (true, but more of a mantra than an anchor).
Things that I’ve never considered labeling as my anchor: myself.
I think I know which list I want to choose from now.