So, there I was, minding my own business, having a nothing sorta day when suddenly The Inbetweeners came on television, and something really touched me about the fragile nature of the human condition and the delicate relationships withi…. EDIT: Just kidding! I wouldn’t do that to you.
I feel as if I’m in a bit of an inbetween currently- but I don’t mind too much. At least not too much of the time anyway. I’d consider myself a generally outgoing, sociable creature, but I sometimes feel best at home, on my own in my room, drawing on my knees with felt tip or reading the same books I read when I was 13. I had a bit of a freak out last week when I realised the life I am currently leading is essentially that of a day off sick from school, but EVERY DAY, which is, like, so dreamy, but also: YOU CANNOT JUSTIFY TOAST AS A PART OF EVERY MEAL.
Something I have observed though, having given my brain a chance to cool down over the past couple of days, is that some of us don’t feel like we’re accomplishing anything unless we’re totally burning out. There is a sort of satisfication in total exhaustion, like *Oh, my little body is aweary of this great world, how will it survive if I ever take a day off from perfectionism and do a Ferris Bueller?* Take some time, if you need some time! The world will keep spinning, babe. Anxiety is so not the new black, and when hitting a bad spell of it, e v e r y fucking thing can feel like such a life changing decision.
I know I’ve hit a bad place when my mind is whirring through every bad-case scenario ever, all of the consequences of every decision I’ve made, and then, oh, I’m at the front of the queue and I begin to speak but don’t recognise my own voice, so speaking sounds (or as a medical professional might say: FORMING WORDS) becomes really difficult for me- and so commences the bouts of low self-esteem. For someone who has a shitload to say all the time, my stammer (which is infrequent but has persistently been part of my life since I was young) can feel quite devastating at times. In high-pressure scenarios especially (interviews, auditions) if I feel like a separate entity from my body due to a bad week, a lot of self-inflicted doubt, or a particularly condescending individual, finding my voice can be difficult. More often than not I struggle the most when tired or stressed, and then comes the frantic search for a synonym with a different consonant, but never quite being able to say the word you mean, thus sounding so-not-verbose, or whatever the opposite of verbose is (See, synonyms just ain’t my forté)
Anyway, that week has blown over now, and I am feeling much more like myself. I know I am in a much better place because I am out of bed by 8am, have applied for two jobs today and am writing this blog post. Interestingly, furthermore to what I’ve already said about ‘feeling 13 again’ *sigh*- it has not come totally without advantages. There is a fear of returning to the habits of our former selves, especially when we’re constantly striving for self-improvement. However, as long as I don’t return to any negative, self-inflicting natures of my younger years, surely it can only be a good thing to regain some of the aspirational ambition I had 5 years ago?
For example, I used to write a lot more when I was that age, but now I just…er..don’t…have the time? (I have a lot of time.) I mean, yes, I don’t have like, SEVEN unrequited crushes to write lengthy essays on – (these days, I tend to just draw huge, wobbly smiley faces on every page as a reference to my current beau) but I miss that feeling of just creating stuff as a form of release. I filled a scrapbook from the ages of about 12-16, it took me FOUR YEARS but I still filled it right to the end.
Some things are nice without deadlines. The immense sense of accomplishment once finished took me by total surprise, because I had no pre-conceived ideas of what it should look like, I just did it for fun.
Perhaps the best thing about this year ‘off’ has been the ability to have 24 hours totally to myself to read what I want, write what I want, listen to what I want. Truly things that I want to do right at that moment, not on a syllabus, not syllabus-related, not something that might make me look good on my personal statement. Sixth form totally starved me of enjoying learning, although I tried to at the time- but I felt really empty of positivity.
They say old habits die hard, I was (maybe still am) in a harmful cycle of perfectionism, comparison, pessimism. Feeling sorry for yourself is the easy way out of most situations, but self-pity can be so corrosive. This pattern can become so commonplace, but even changing your routine in tiny ways can slowly change your perception, which is a form of self-improvement that is more patient and more rewarding.
Repeating positive affirmations when you wake up could make all the difference, i.e “Take what you need from today”, or “You are totally shit hot, talented, and one of a kind and you must not settle for anything but the best” – whatever, each to their own.
This post totally didn’t turn out as I’d planned, but now I’ve forgotten what I was going to say anyway. I didn’t even realise I wasn’t talking about whatever I’d wanted to say for the last 40 minutes, so maybe the above is more authentic. Whatever. Who even cares? I’m gonna get a beer.
All my love,
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”- Audrey Hepburn