Before you were ever someone’s daughter, sister, or even cousin. Before you were anyone’s friend. Before you attended school and started to develop yourself. Your identity. Before you became an employee or a work colleague. You were you. And that is why you belong to you. You can be covered in the dirt that surrounds you but that does not make you dirt. Maybe you need to think about who you are. Without anyone around you making you feel like you’re one of them, and you blindly accepting. You were you, first.
You know when nothing else will do, except for sitting in a coffee shop when sunlight creeps back to the Sun herself. And you say fuck it and buy your hipster hot drink – think Chai Latte – and find a corner. Your corner. And open up a book, pages worn. A Crime Thriller, obviously. And just sit. And take in the fact that you’ve been thinking of doing this for so long. And now you’re doing it. And could it be because you are an inherently lazy person? Or your anxiety stops you from following through with your ideas, sometimes? Or it’s just always been typical British dreary weather? But it doesn’t matter anymore. Because you’re doing it. Well done. You’re doing okay.
I’ve rewritten this so many times, which is unusual. Usually my feelings are strong and swayed to one side. Even when I’m confused, I am strongly confused. But now I feel something, and it scarpers from my grasp. I don’t know how to feel about this. This. This emptiness but also heaviness in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of assertiveness, yet also weakness. Sometimes it’s okay to feel in limbo. To feel without support, without an anchor to the ground. Free-floating between clouds of sadness, and anger. Frustration, and renewal. I don’t know what I’m feeling, because I’m feeling everything. Is this the transition that everyone speaks of? The neither here, nor there. The place in between all the places.
It’s so easy to slip up, and feel like you aren’t achieving your dreams. I felt this one too many times. I felt this today. I stared at my bed and suddenly thought of someone. Someone I shared everything with. I felt the tears in my eyes. The stinging of tears. But that’s okay; it only hurts still because it meant something. Because it was so special, that the pain of losing it is equally as harsh. So let me tell you something. If you have ever held something or someone so close, only to have them slip away. If you have dreamed a dream only to have it shatter. If you have ever felt loss of any measure. You are not your loss.
Say it again to yourself, so you believe it. So you know that you have the power to define yourself, and not let your soul be enveloped in sadness. So you know that pain is only a transient passenger in your vehicle and it will go. It’s just hitching a ride with you, but along the way it will steer you in directions that you could not have imagined. Sit back and realise that you may not have full control of your vehicle. But when it has taken you to where you need to go, it will ask to leave. If you internalise your pain, then it is no longer a passenger; it is intertwined in the very fabric of your being. But darling, you deserve so much more than to piggyback this pain for a single moment of your life. You deserve to be free. You deserve to be happy. You deserve peace. You weren’t born on this planet to spend your days healing your wounds.
So, exams happened, which means everything else gets pushed to the side. I really wanted to blog every day and to be honest, I could have. But it’s been tough trying to juggle daily commitments with having time to yourself. I never used to be one of those people who needs time to themselves every day, but now I realise just how necessary it is.
You spend your entire day roaming, talking, meeting, greeting, studying, working, feeling. Yes, even feeling. You’re experiencing emotions every minute, some heavier than others, but all emotions nonetheless. Couple that with the fact that you may be going through an ordeal – be it a loss, a heartbreak, a tough time at work or school. You are a superhero. Every day your body wakes up and decides to live another day of this life. Whether you are ready or not, you are thrust into the ups and downs of the day. And when you reach the end of the day – whether it brought you good or bad – you are tired. Mentally.
We unconsciously process so much of the world when we choose to live through another sunset. You don’t even have to leave your room or house to be exposed to it – the wonder that is social media. As much as I love Instagram, and how many inspiring people I find on there every day, I have been trying to have some time to myself at the end of a full 12 hours or so of studying. I remember a week ago I studied from 9am to 9pm. I closed my notes, and started crying. It was just too much. I pushed myself too far, and hadn’t had time to myself in 5 days at that point. It got to me. And then I realised where I was going wrong – consistency.
Like with every good habit, doing it every day instils it within you. I felt so good having my ‘me time’ at the end of every day, where I was relaxing and meditating. So good that I stopped doing it. One day, two days, then three days passed by. It crossed my mind but I told myself ‘Nah, maybe tomorrow, I’m still coping’. Big mistake. Fast forward to the 5-day mark and there I was in tears. I just collapsed. And I kid you not, at that point I thought to myself: ‘my soul is hurting’. My soul. I grew to be so in tune with my emotions that as soon as I stopped caring for myself properly, I felt it in my soul. That was the day I apologised to myself. For the neglect I had put myself through at the expense of some exams I will not remember in 5 years.
So there’s really one thing I suggest everyone does – breathe. Have time to yourself each day. Enjoy yourself. This is YOUR body. This is YOUR life. Live it well and do good by yourself. I have spent so much of my life caring for others and I have loved all the moments I have been a rock for others. Equally, I have enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when I absolutely ace an exam – ’cause let’s face it, I enjoy studying WAY too much for my own good. But these people, and these commitments, are never a sufficient reason to ignore YOUR own needs. I never write in caps ’cause I think it looks tacky, but today is the day to write some words in caps – to emphasise how important my point is. You will thank yourself for the day you put yourself first. Because that is the day your life truly begins; you will start to feel like you are finding your peace – something that can seldom be found when you don’t get in touch with YOURSELF.
I really will post more by the way. Given that it’s exam season and also dissertation season, it’s very, very difficult to maintain blogging, because after I have my ‘me time’ after 12 hours of memorising lectures about cellular disease, I am no good to anyone and pretty much binge-watch Parks and Rec for 2 hours while practising lettering – but more on that later!
Also if you are one of the few people who have read this, I really want to know if you practise your own ‘me time’ every day too? If you have, how you have found managing time to yourself alongside work?
Sometimes, I wonder if this blog becomes too much. Too emotionally explicit. Too raw. Too vulnerable. But I’ve never been someone who doesn’t express themselves for who they are, and I’m not going to start now. It shouldn’t be seen as ‘weak’ to express emotions freely. And in fact, I have found that doing so can help to determine what you really want from life.
For instance, are you in two minds about something? A little bit confused, perhaps a little lost? You may be on the brink of a big decision in your life and stuck between more than one option. Maybe it’s a career move, Maybe it’s to do with relationships. Maybe you don’t know whether to tell someone something you have been keeping from them. Over time, I have found something which has shown to work for me, and help me through this confusing process…
I just say what I want, out loud. Whether it’s to myself, or to a close friend, or to the person it concerns, I just say it. Then I listen to my gut feeling. Gut instincts are difficult to spot; so many times they have been masked with other ‘synthetic’ feelings. I call them synthetic because they aren’t my true feelings. Just what I have been made to believe is true. By the family that I grew up around, my friends, the TV I watch, the music I listen to. Literally so many factors can influence our thoughts and make us think ‘Yes, this is how I feel’ when in reality we don’t actually know our true opinion on the matter.
Thus, I remove myself away from these physical situations or these people (as much as I can), before saying what I want to say. I might say: ‘I want to be a dentist’. I would then elaborate if necessary and talk about the things I would be doing as a dentist. I then try and pay attention to the reaction it brings about within me. If it makes me feel uneasy, or I feel guilty, or like I am lying, then these are major alarm bells ringing and telling me that I am not comfortable with what I am saying. And genuinely, when you are saying something and it brings you any degree of discomfort, this is your body’s way of telling you that your words aren’t resonating with who you are inside. And I like to think of this as far from superstition, or paranoia, but simply intuition and awareness of what you really feel deep down.
And surely with time and practice, intuition and self-awareness can be honed and refined and it becomes progressively easier to understand and know whether you think a decision or a ‘truth’ is really true.
I know it’s a slim chance I would get answers, but if anyone stumbles upon this post, I’d be interested to know if you think in a similar way? Do you think that gut instincts mean anything?
It can be so hard to keep positive when you’re surrounded by stresses. The world is fast paced. And busy. And it feels like your to do list is never ending. You tick off one item and the next thing needs doing. With exams, and other commitments it’s been really difficult to not feel overwhelmed. This paired with any personal grief can exacerbate the stress even more and make you feel inexplicably alone. In the last month I’ve realised how important it is to make time for yourself especially in these moments of pain. And that memories can’t be blocked or tossed to one dusty compartment of the mind. They must be allowed to flow in, and then flow out when they are ready.
So can you manage both studying and coping with grief at the same time?
Above is my usual study set up – ignore my sock at the bottom. Believe it or not, this picture was largely unplanned; my study notes and the contents of my pencil case were open and sprawled across my bed. I just finished revising a section of my notes, sat back, and took a breather. It can be so difficult to manage studying, and the study-holic within me would tell me to carry on revising until the information is securely cemented into my brain with no chance of escape. However, going through loss has a funny way of telling your body what its limits are. This has meant accepting that I have done enough for the day and closing my folder of notes to have more time to myself. Maybe I didn’t finish studying everything I need to. Maybe I’m still rusty on some sentences. Maybe I don’t even remember some obscure fact about fruitflies. However, despite its heavy challenges, limiting my study time has been both a necessary and rewarding process – and has given me the time I need to relax a little.
As for the book in the picture, I always keep it nearby; it has been a staple in my healing. Having something to pick up and flick through the pages when my emotions seem too overwhelming – a seemingly regular occurrence nowadays – has been so valuable. I would recommend anyone that is going through the grieving process to look up this book. It’s definitely a way to make sense of pain and loss, and put it into perspective.
Funnily enough, some of my friends told me “throw yourself into work” to cope, however that is what I do on a daily basis – work like crazy. Admittedly it’s a good distraction, but the only thing which has truly helped is taking a step back – allowing me to bestow some much-needed time upon myself, to sift through and deal with grief. This is, of course, a work in progress, and each day I find myself forcing myself to put my notes down when I can tell that it is making me more miserable. Thus giving yourself the time you need to address your emotions, is truly an act of love and self-care. And something which definitely takes precedence over exams.