Remembering Stoicism for a happy today
It has been quite some time since I’ve drifted from the path of Stoicism. The good news is I’ve put in enough work to not let myself spiral too far down the negativity hole. I just simply forgot to live in the moment.
Plenty of things have happened, both good and bad, over the past year. 2020 was a challenge for many of us. Although, coming off the heels of 2019 (which I dubbed “my year”), I was riding so high that 2020 didn’t break me. I didn’t thrive, but I didn’t fail, I just existed.
2021 has presented a new challenge I have not faced in a long time. Unemployment. I’m not going to lie, it has caused me much stress over the past few weeks, but I’m now thankful for it because this challenge has led me back to my favorite practice – Stoicism.
As an adjunct professor at a university, I don’t have job security. I am hired on a semester to semester basis. Considering I was employed for the entirety of 2020, I just assumed that 2021 would be given. Nope. They have low enrollments, and since I’m a newer employee (2 years), that means I’m lower on the totem pole for receiving available classes.
I’ve been in panic mode, quietly freaking out but remaining cool on the surface. However, if you know me well, the signs were very clear. First and foremost, I haven’t been to the gym or worked out at home since I got the news. My diet is absolutely non-existent. I stress-eat all day. I’ve even had a few donuts. Again, if you know me, that’s a big deal. I despise donuts.
If you don’t know me that well, then you’d have no idea that I’m spiraling, mostly because as I mentioned above, I’ve put in enough work to not spiral how I used to. My mood has been stable, I’ve not argued or lashed out, and I’ve managed to keep my spirits up and laugh and smile as usual. Overall, I feel okay, but the stress has been silently eating away at me.
I filed for unemployment, but that has been a complete nightmare. 3 weeks and still pending. My research has taught me some people end up waiting months. The thought of not being able to pay my bills for months freaked me out even more.
Today, I remembered Stoicism. I watched a few videos on YouTube to remind me of the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus, and a calm washed over me. I was reminded to live in the moment.
The basic principle of Stoicism is to ask yourself what you have control over and what you do not. If you have the power to change something, then there’s no reason to be upset or stressed, but be happy because you can change it. If you do not have the power to change something, then there’s no reason to be upset or stressed, because being so won’t change anything.
I realized I have no control over whether or not I will be hired. I have no control over how long unemployment takes. I have no control over whether or not I will find a job before I fall behind on bills. The only thing I can control is what I do with my time until then.
I have been actively looking for work, and actively claiming unemployment each week. I am thankful because being unemployed hasn’t broken my spirit, and it won’t kill me. I will find a way, but worrying about whether or not I will isn’t going to help anything.
The other positive thing I have going for me is time. Being unemployed gives me time to refocus myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily monotony of life and forget to check in with ourselves. I was able to pinpoint my problem and realize it isn’t that these “bad” things are happening to me. My problem is how I am reacting to them. I am in complete control of how I react to challenging issues.
I also have time to work on my passion. Writing. I love being a writer, and I have been working on my next novel. I finished my debut fiction novel A Rose For Isabel, which I wrote during 2020 and will be releasing it this month. After finishing it, I decided to try a different genre, so I’m taking a stab at writing a murder mystery (pun intended).
I don’t know what genre I want to work in yet, because I haven’t tried them all, and being unemployed has been a gift in that sense. I have the time to find who I am as a writer. There’s always a silver lining.
Today, I will continue to live in the moment. Tomorrow…is tomorrow, and of no concern to me today. =]