A Scary Reaction Demands Self-Reflection

Photo by  nikko macaspac  on  Unsplash

An incident occurred last week that confirmed my suspicions:

1. I'm not managing stress well.

2. Stress factors, buried in my subconscious, are now coming to the forefront of my thoughts.

Granted, the incident was disturbing, but most disturbing was my reaction. I acted impulsively, without thinking, which is not my M.O. Afterwards, I was so rattled by my behavior, I knew I needed to stop and self-reflect. Once I did, I had my answers.

The Incident

A co-worker/friend and I sat down to eat lunch at an outside cafe near work. An older man came up and asked me for money. He startled me, so I quickly responded I had no money to give. He left, but returned a few minutes later. He looked at me and called me an extremely derogatory name used to disrespect African Americans. I'm African American and his words were unacceptable, period.

Regardless of the man's words, however, my reaction scared me. I will not repeat the language, but I threatened physical retaliation if the man did not leave immediately. Thankfully, he left and I apologized to my co-worker. He understood and continued our conversation, but I was rattled. Rattled by my behavior.

I've been a city dweller for 15 years. This was not the first time I've handled aggressive folks on the street. I've always used a stern response, but never the threat of violence. I'm a logical, level-headed lady. I analyze situations numerous times before I act. As a risk averse individual, its a method I use to protect myself. In this case, however, I threatened this man without any thought of consequences.

What if he pulled out a weapon?

What if my co-worker had been my boss?

What if a police officer, on patrol, overheard my threat?

My brain replayed my reaction the rest of the day. I'm self aware enough to know over analyzing the situation meant something lied underneath.

Self-reflection Time

Writing forces me to be silent and self-reflect. There had to be a reason for my response. And like a banner being unveiled, the answer was in front of me: Time is moving too fast.

1. My dog is 14.5 years old and not healthy. Watching him age is a sad experience, but its also a reminder that everyone in my life is aging, including myself.

2. I need to change my career trajectory while I still have a choice. My sense of urgency is high. The more days I spend in corporate America, the more I contemplate financial empowerment on my terms.

3. My doctor congratulated me on my soon to be 12 year transplant anniversary. Its made me question if I've done enough with my second chance at life.

4. For months, I've been planning for a catalyst which I hope will set me on the path of financial empowerment. I'm getting antsy about its pending arrival.

The passing of time compels me to reassess my plans and purpose. But, I did not realize how overwhelming my thoughts had become. Unfortunately, when the man crossed my path, overwhelming thoughts manifested into anger.

There is a silver lining to this story. I know what my stressors are so I can focus on managing them and moving forward. If anyone can do it, an over analyzer can. Also, about 10 minutes after I threatened the man, he returned to my table and apologized. He was angry about another situation and took it out on me. Seems we had more in common than meet's the eye.