I struggle in staying in the “present.” I’m either wallowing in something in the past, or worrying about the future, rarely enjoying the events that are going on.
I remember having difficulty reading in high school because of my undiagnosed OCD. Just focusing on the words on the page was daunting. I’d read a sentence, and then I’d go back pushing my irrational thoughts aside. I’d exert so much energy into suppressing my thoughts that I’d lose interest in finishing my assignment, and hope I’d wake up early to do it the next day.
People usually say they enjoyed their college years. In hindsight, my college years were fun, but during the time I experienced them, it felt like hell. I worried about my assignments that I procrastinated on, pondered why a particular relationship didn’t work out, and crammed for tests that were the next day. I lacked time management and organization skills, which made me continuously nervous for everything. I wasn’t able to enjoy simple moments like eating in the cafeteria with my friends or talking to a classmate.
As I’ve grown older, I find that thinking and prepping ahead for things that I need to do have kept me relaxed and more focused in the “present.” I’m not worried if I’m going to do well for the test that’s the next day because I’ve studied throughout the week. I’m not peeling my nails about the big paper because I started a few weeks before it was due. Little skills like these have helped my life immensely because by having foresight, I don’t have to worry about little surprises such as the computer breaking down or time constraints.
Despite adding these efficient habits to my lifestyle, staying in the moment is hard because of my OCD. Telling me to get over it is like telling me not to think about the elephant that’s in the room. As much as I try my best not to think about the elephant, I’m thinking about it. Instead of telling me to push my thoughts away, listening to my obsessions and being non-judgmental are the most helpful when bringing me back to the “present.”