A New Moon

Despite it having been one of those perfect fall days in New York, bright and crisp and full of promise, I spent most of today in a strange mood. It was as if I had a bad dream and woke up in the middle of it, a pit in my stomach, not quite of dread but of unease. I felt off kilter. Off center. As I walked to work, I wished I could skip out on my responsibilities, spend a day completely unaccounted for and read or people watch in the park. But a long to-do list awaited me and I knew playing hooky wasn’t an option. The feeling of imbalance persisted throughout the day—until I thought that maybe these feelings of “offness” were not imbalance but symptomatic of a larger shift away from my tendency of overthinking toward a certain kind of compartmentalization. The part of me that will always wish for a bit of magic in the world can’t help but notice that this all comes with tonight’s new moon.

It’s Scorpio season, my own season, and traditionally this new moon is a time to set goals, start again, reexamine what works and what doesn’t. I’ve said before I’m neither a devoutly spiritual person, nor someone that takes astrology at face value— but I like the way certain moments can encourage examination and spur growth . And for me at least, I’ve already done all the examining I need to up to this new moon—now is just time to accept the shift I felt earlier, rather than resist.

I’ve always taken pride in being an introspective person, in being someone that doesn’t shy away from exploring my emotions, even when they are painful. But lately a handful of stressors, from work to my personal life, have felt heavier than ever and under that weight I’ve had to reexamine how I process my emotions, how I manage sources of stress, and, really, how I go through my day to day.

I’ve lived under the mistaken notion that if I can trace back what’s bothering me to its initial root, to the seed of it buried deep within my brain, it won’t bother me any longer. I conflated the practice of introspection with the idea of release, with the idea that I was searching for something—some answer—within myself. And when I couldn’t find it, couldn’t locate the magical nugget of information that would free me from the binds of anxiety, I would try and dig deeper, falling into the caverns of my own brain. But there isn’t always an answer, and there is rarely the kind of answer that will offer immediate relief. So, I’m trying to recognize when introspection becomes unproductive, when it saps energy from me instead of imbibing me with clarity, and then not thinking on the source any longer.

This weekend, when my friend and I were walking to meet up with others, she said to me, “I love being in my 20s. Everything feels so crazy because things are moving so quickly and every year is full of these big changes.” As a historically change-averse person, I deeply admired that she loved our current whirlwind years. And it’s true—things are moving so quickly, whether we want them to or not. There’s no need for me to rush anything along, or add any extra pressure when there is already enough.

So I want to live a little more slowly, take things as they come, and put things away when they begin to take up too much space in my brain. I’m not sure I’ll ever be someone that doesn’t think about their own emotions a lot—it’s my natural inclination—but I’m no longer going to give time or room in my brain to those things that aren’t worth either. And this isn’t just about blocking out, or putting thoughts in boxes—it’s about letting the right things in, and giving more room in my mind for other thoughts and people and things. It’s about freeing up space to breathe after all this time feeling under pressure. And, it’s about giving myself permission to be a little selfish, to chase my ambitions, and to just live day by day on my own terms—whatever that looks like.