Dear Amy

Dear Amy,

I know that life feels complicated sometimes, and I know that you often get anxious about your time and how you spend it. I wanted to tell you that it’s ok to wonder about where your life is headed, and it’s normal to sometimes compare where you are to where your friends are. But I also wanted to gently remind you that, at age 26, your life is far from over. You have a lot of time left to work out where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Please don’t worry so much. You’ll figure it out.

I wanted to let you know that it’s ok to let go of things that don’t feel right anymore. Things and people come into your life at different times, for different periods of time. Some are meant to be with you for your whole life, and others just for a small part of it. I know it sounds like a cliche, but trust your instincts. You’re generally a pretty good judge of what is right for you, and you’re rarely wrong. Don’t be afraid to try new things, meet new people, have new experiences. Do things that terrify you, if for no other reason than to say you’ve done it.

You sometimes doubt your ability to succeed. You have a tendency to try and take on too much at once, and often get too overwhelmed as a result. Slow down a little, and take things one at a time; trust me. You are capable of achieving your goals, but you need to pace yourself or you’re going to get burnt out. Again; you have time. You don’t have to learn everything right this very second, and all things take some time to get right. Set your goals, and allow yourself the appropriate time to achieve them. Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t all go perfectly the first time. And if you feel like you’ve failed? Just remember that piece of advice you were given by one of the smartest people you know, and keep failing until you don’t. But also remember that on the days that you can’t bring yourself to try, you don’t need to feel guilty. Which brings me to my next point.

Take care of yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard, physically or mentally. Recognise when you’re at your limit, and learn to take the time to recuperate before you wear yourself out. You don’t have to be on the go all the time. Stop and read a book, or enjoy a cup or tea, or try to have a nap in the afternoon. Whatever it is, just make sure that you do it. You’ll thank yourself, and so will your body.

Finally, I just wanted to remind you to be kind to yourself. And remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out. You’re doing ok, and I believe in you, and I love you very much.

Sincerely, and with great affection,

Amy.

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Adios, 2018

Here we are. December 31st. The final day of the 365 that made up 2018. I, like many others I’m sure, am feeling a little reflective.

It occurs to me that at the end of every year, I focus on the bad. Even though the last few years haven’t been all bad, the culmination of each of these years has been negative. Though I’ve been fighting many battles, and even winning a few, it seems I’m constantly losing the great big war. So recently I’ve been doing a bit of…well, soul searching if you will. Trying to understand why I am where I am, and what I’m supposed to do. And if there’s one thing that I have discovered about myself in these last couple of weeks, it’s that I’ve been lost for a long time.

It’s difficult to put into words how I’m feeling. I feel like I’ve lost sight of the world around me, and the infinite possibilities that come with being human, with being alive. Imagine being in a room filled with hundreds of doors, and meticulously, systematically locking each of them in turn. That’s kind of where I am. I’ve allowed myself, however unintentionally, to become locked into a tiny space, and in turn locked out the world. Maybe I thought it was safer, maybe I thought I didn’t deserve more, maybe I’m just scared. Whatever the cause, I’ve realised that it’s time to start unlocking those doors again. Look, maybe it’s a hokey metaphor but I can’t think of any other way to put it.

I think setting goals can be an intensely personal thing. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because, as I’ve said before, the obligation to make them negates the possibility of improvement. What I do believe in, is setting achievable goals at any time of the year, so long as those goals are for you and not resulting from outside pressure to conform. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m setting a few personal goals myself. But I’m not going to share them here.

What I will say, is that I feel like I’ve been walking through a foggy mire, stumbling blindly through heaviness and all manner of things determined to hold me back, and drag me down. And I’ve been lost in that fog for the longest time, but now I’m ready to be found.

25.12.18

Please scroll past this post if reading about unhappy things is going to ruin your day. I may not enjoy Christmas, but I don’t wish to put a damper on anyone else’s joy.

With that out of the way; today is Christmas, and it’s 5:02 in the morning. I’m awake, again, because of an unfortunate and cruel twist of fate that brought me into this life as a woman. So of course, because it’s Christmas and because I’m awake, 25/12/18 is off to a bad start. And this time, it’s not just because I’m a common garden variety Grinch.

Christmas has long since become my least favourite time of the year, but this year I’m feeling especially melancholic. It’s a stupid mental health issue, you see. My brain decides that, on a day when so many people are feeling joy and happiness and closeness, it is going to screw around with some chemistry and make me sad. My brain and I are at odds with each other a lot, and today especially, she’s being a rather heinous bitch.

I feel very alone. I have family events to attend today, but right now the very thought of going anywhere or doing anything, exhausts me. I feel like I need to cry but it’s as though the ability to do so has dried up. Isn’t that just the worst thing, when you need to cry but you can’t?

I realise this is a miserable thing to say on a day like this, but I wish it was tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the rest of the day.

Expectations

Sometimes I find myself so caught up in who I’m “supposed” to be, that I forget who I am. I find myself constantly either battling expectations, or trying to meet them, and end up emotionally exhausted from the effort. I mean, come on; existing is hard enough, without having to try and conform to the version of you that other people think you are.

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure lately, to be the person other people expect. And I don’t mean that I’m actively going out of my way to change who I am for someone else, but rather that I feel the weight of everyone else’s expectations of who I am meant to be.

See, a couple of days ago, I cut off most of my hair. Before the big snip, my hair was somewhere around waist length, and was dyed a dark red. When I said I had booked in to cut it, almost everyone that I told expressed disappointment. “But your hair is so beautiful”, “but you’ve been growing it for so long” and “you’ll regret it” were the things I heard the most. I felt as if I had to constantly explain that I needed a change, that I wanted something lighter for summer, that it’s my goddamn hair and I can do what I want with it.

When I felt the weight of my locks disappear, I felt literally and metaphorically lighter. By the time the hairdresser was finished, and my long red hair had become a jet black bob, I knew that this was the change I had been craving. And the first in a series of changes I plan to make, in an effort to improve and progress.

It’s not just about my hair though. At work, I fight the endless battle against customer expectations that I can’t do my job because of my gender. When I tell people I don’t want kids, I get smug sneers and condescending comments about how I’ll change my mind, because women my age are expected to want families. I’ve been too afraid to admit that I might be a little bit lonely, because I feel like I need to be this strong, confidently single woman who don’t need no…other woman. Because for so long, that’s who I have been, and my brain keeps telling me that to admit that secret aloud is akin to selling out. It’s a heavily ingrained mindset and a hard habit to break.

The truth is, lately I’ve just been overwhelmed. Between an ongoing (and long drawn out) rental dispute and the accompanying anxiety, a weighty frustration at how this year has turned out, a heavy dose of newfound and unfamiliar self loathing, and the absolute wretchedness that is Christmas, I just want everything to stop. I want to run away to a quiet little cabin somewhere and get my bearings. And to shrug off all the expectation, to start fresh. But since I can’t do that, maybe the next best thing is to stand naked and barefoot on the grass under tonight’s bright full moon, and ground myself. Because, let’s be real, everything is better when you’re naked.

I made a change, don’t carry on; I left my locks at the hair salon.

On Fear, and (Lessons From) Dimmu Borgir

Image result for dimmu borgir

Everyone is scared of something. Clowns, spiders, penguins….it takes all kinds, as they say. I have to confess that I am not particularly fond of moths, with their propensity for flying at my face at full speed, and their general creepy demeanour. But the thing that really, truly scares me is mediocrity. The idea that I will spend my life never getting to experience anything beyond mundane, everyday average-ness terrifies the absolute hell out of me.

I know you have all heard this story before. Twenty something working in a boring job just to pay the bills, seemingly the only single person in a world filled with couples, struggling to save for nice things whilst elsewhere, people are buying houses and travelling the world and living their best lives. They’ve literally made movies about my exact predicament, and mostly those movies are shit. Though, in the Hollywood way, most of the protagonists in those stories have some kind of life changing experience and they all live happily ever after, blah blah blah.

Look, it’s entirely possible that I’m being a little dramatic, and largely unrealistic. Am I, perhaps, putting too much faith in the idea that I am ‘on the right path’? Am I overlooking the fact that life itself is messy and unpredictable? Am I spending too much time simply wondering when my life is going to start, instead of realising that it already has, and that I am entirely responsible for my own happiness? The answers to all of these questions is a resounding yes. See, I have this infallible tendency to overthink, and then overreach, whilst simultaneously doubting myself. The result has never been anything less than a spectacular failure, which in turn leads to a rut that I find harder to climb out of each time.

There are so many things that I want to do, to see, to learn. My brain is like a sponge, wanting to soak up as much as I possibly can. I want to curate a life of experiences so that when I die, I can say that the time I had was well spent. Is it morbid to be thinking about my death at the ripe old age of 26? Probably. The thing is, I often find it hard to remember that there is plenty of time and opportunity ahead of me. I need to stop beating myself up about the fact that I am here, when I want to be over there. More importantly, I have to learn to be kinder to myself, which is not an easy thing when the only pet you’ve ever had is the proverbial black dog.

The thing that scares me above all else, is the notion of existing without actually living. It is a kind of underlying, insidious fear that permeates every little aspect of my life. But, in the same way I overcame my fear of spiders a few years ago, I know I can overcome this too. I just need to take things one day at a time, go slowly, and remember what Dimmu Borgir taught me;

“The keys are in your hands. Realise you are your own sole creator of your own master plan.”

Angry, Bitter Thoughts at 1am

I think I’m going insane. There’s a restless energy within me; insatiable, and infuriating in its endlessness. I want to run ten kilometers. Or beat a punching bag to death. Or fling myself out of a plane. Anything to release this toxic build up of emotion. I feel like I’m about to explode out of my skin, and I can’t make my brain stop. I just want it to stop.

I’ve been having nightmares. And during the day, I’m plagued by negative thoughts, and bad feelings I just can’t shake. All I want to do is shut my brain off, go to sleep, and wake up as someone else.

I’m suffocating.

On Being Positivity Adjacent, and Being Ok With It.

I am not what you would call an overly positive person. My brain is simply not wired that way. Part of this has to do with having a mental illness (depression, represent!), and part of it is because, on a fundamental level, it just isn’t who I am. I err on the side of pessimism, and I tend to find it a greater struggle, and much more of an effort to be positive and cheerful and optimistic about things.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately. A very good friend of mine has recently begun to immerse herself fully in a journey of self discovery, and she’s doing all the better because of it. I talk to her, and feel inspired to be better, to try harder, to push myself out of my comfort zone and throw myself into the deep end of human interaction and brand new experiences. And then the inner voice that lends itself to my decision making, reminds me that I don’t like people, and I feel uncomfortable in social situations, and that I am much happier just living my little hermit life. Then, for reasons beyond my understanding, I feel guilty about it. Why is it so hard for me to put myself out there? Why do I loathe the idea so much? Is there something wrong with me?

I’ve been asking myself these kinds of questions a lot in recent weeks, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there seems to be an influx of people lately, urging me to try dating sites, and to get out there and meet potential partners. And every time, I laugh it off, and tell them that I am happier on my own. Which brings a myriad of questions and doubts from the people trying to set me up. After all, it’s a truth universally acknowledged, that everyone else knows more about how you should live your life than you, the one actually living it. At least, they think they do. I’ve spent most of my life single, and the idea of dating is largely unappealing to me. But the major argument against this, is that I don’t know unless I try, and that I could be missing out on something great because I ‘cut myself off’ from any possibility of romance.

Secondly, I’ve been spending a lot more time on my own than normal, in my house, locked away. All the friends I made here are working in a job I no longer have, and I don’t know anyone else here. I’m still unfamiliar with this town, despite being here nearly five months, and my days off are mostly spent inside, or adventuring to other towns by myself. Again, the very idea of meeting new people is daunting. And, by the way, how do you even do that? I mean seriously, do people just approach others to strike up a conversation and end up with a friend?

I went to a networking event the other night, and the girl hosting it talked about finding your passion and rolling with it. Which sounds great in theory, but I don’t know that I’m passionate enough about anything to want to make it my job. All the women there seemed content to chat and plan and interact. And this is where I differ from the above mentioned friend. I think she took a lot more from the night than me, because she’s willing to be open to new experiences and to try new things. And I felt bad because I was acutely uncomfortable in this room full of strangers, and then I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough, and that I had failed in some way. Why couldn’t I talk? Why did conversation make my throat tight, and my heart race? Why did I feel a little relieved when the headache that had plagued me all day intensified to the point where I couldn’t stay?

What I’ve come to realise, amidst all these self doubts and existential questions, is that whilst I may not be as socially outgoing as my friend, I do have an inherent curiosity, and thirst to learn more about…well, everything. I too am open to experience, and discovery, and knowledge. Just not with other people. And there is nothing wrong with that, and certainly nothing wrong with me. The fact that positivity doesn’t come naturally to me, is not necessarily a flaw. It is nothing more or less than a quirk of my nature, a part of my genetic makeup, if you will. It is me, and I’m good with the person I am.

I know what I want to do with my life. I want to adventure places, see the world, be inspired and create, in any way I can. But career wise? I got nothing. Romance? I’d prefer not to. People? Thanks, but I’ll pass. And whatever I may do, it isn’t likely to be with rose colored glasses and a positivity hat. But with pragmatism as my super power, I’ll do just fine.