I bartended the summer before my sophomore year of college. Legal to do in Georgia, as long as you were over eighteen. It turned out to be the perfect job for me, even though I considered myself socially awkward and anxious in most social settings.
Why would bartending appeal to me? Well, I had three feet of granite separating me from everyone else, and the more drinks I served, the funnier and more charming I became to my patrons.
I operated in a safe environment that alleviated my anxiety, and I could practice interacting with people. At the end of the summer, I decided to get a new tattoo. This time of Johnnie Walker’s Striding Man with the company’s tagline: “Keep Walking” below the logo.
As you will see in the gallery below, the advertising campaign was of the Striding Man walking in a straight line, far beyond a variety of earlier obstacles.
The word “stride” means to, “walk with long, decisive steps in a specified direction,” or to, “cross an obstacle with one long step.”
I always took this to mean that action, movement, and incremental forward progress will always create a measure of distance from previous struggles. This is supremely practical advice because everyone can relate to the feeling of being stuck in a situation.
“Caught in a rut” is another familiar phrase that encapsulates how frustrating it is to feel as if you are trapped. I think this harkens back to our evolutionary past. When our ancestors risked exploring new environments because wherever they were living, was no longer sufficient to their long-term survival.
Whether we evolved to move, or we moved and then evolved is beside the point. We feel better when we act, and we feel confident when we act with purpose. My purpose is to live a disciplined life, and share the methods I use to move from living with an affliction, to living well with mental illness.