It's pretty clear that I have a lot of work ahead of me after years of devastation from cancer, but lately, I'm taking a new approach.
A little while ago, my wife, Kori, and I went away with a group of friends for a weekend of catching up and spending quality time together. Up until then, it had been years since I'd coexisted with others for more than a few hours, as I'd committed full-time to healing at home while on medical leave.
Fortunately, my health had seemed to have reached a place where I could venture out more. There were adjustments here and there, but everyone had been extremely supportive and for the most part, things had gone smoothly.
Then, later, towards the end of the trip, we had approached clean up time: dishes, packing, putting everything away — all that good stuff. Everyone was chipping in and doing their part. Everyone, that is, except for me. I'd suddenly found myself overwhelmed by all the stimulation. It was way more traffic and activity than I was used to compared to living at home by myself. Back at the apartment, my structured routines provided a sense of calm and orderliness. I knew where everything went and on what schedule.
None-the-less, it felt uncomfortable just standing around. And sure, cancer fighters are generally given more slack, but at the same time, when you take more on in the world, it feels like you should start contributing accordingly.
With every minute that went by, I felt extremely uncomfortable, like all eyes were on me. Finally, I saw my move! The trash bag was full and needed to be taken out. But as I grabbed it, I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing with it. Or if I'm being honest, maybe it was just cold outside and I didn't feel like exploring. Maybe, after years of being catered to by loved ones while in survival mode, and not needing to think as much for myself, I thought I could just walk away, using the cancer card as protection. And that's what I did.
As time went by, this incident never sat well with me. Kori, noticed too, although she loves me and would never put me down. Instead, we discussed why it happened and how to improve. It inspired me to write "Finding My Edge Again" and the first morning we arrived back in NYC, I changed up my morning routines. I began waking up early and venturing out to coffee shops to be around more people, write and figure out my life. After being blessed with almost a year of clear scans, I'm trying to find my bearings again.
It's pretty clear that I am rusty and have a lot of work ahead of me. I need to regain my trust of the world. I need to get back out there, reach out to more people, take on new challenges and push my comfort zone. But here's the thing: instead of being so hard on myself because I'm unfamiliar with certain areas that I feel like adult men in their 30s should just know — instead of feeling embarrassed, frustrated and angry at myself. Instead of pointing fingers, like how cancer took away years of my life, my career, major life opportunities, and crucial moments of self-development.
Instead of all that — I'm taking a different approach, reminding myself that I just haven't figured these things out yet.
"Yet" makes all the difference.