2020 vision: a reflection of what’s been and a speculation as to what will come

A bathroom selfie from my first week at work, feeling indestructible!

Against all odds, I started a new job in November. It was significant and ultra scary after a year of unemployment, plus it had only been a few months since the final end of my master’s course. I was without direction and honestly lacking a sense of my own identity, with everything having changed so majorly. So it was pretty overwhelming, thinking about the fact I’d miraculously landed my first full-time job after the successful completion of uni. I got my own desk. I got my own laptop. I got my own telephone number on the company directory. It was surreal.

The commutes were great initially (let’s not talk about the train timetable changes in December…). The colleagues in the office were lovely and very patient with me. My family were supportive and encouraging, proud that I was settling in. It was really good.

However, the irony is that around the time I started the job, I stopped practicing all of the amazing self-care routines that I’d spent the summer creating. Yoga, healthy eating, daily workouts, hypnotherapy tapes at night, regular meditation etc. It was like, at the first sight of normality, I regressed into all of the bad habits that I knew had led me to ultimately feeling so low earlier in 2019. I threw myself into work whole-heartedly and did my usual self-destructive thing: juggling as much as humanly possible (finishing a distance-learning course alongside a full time job), working longer hours than I was contracted to (unpaid, might I add) and being silly enough to work straight through lunch breaks (taking no time to stop and do something recreational for myself). I bailed on plans with friends several times and beat myself up about it, constantly. I was drinking a lot of alcohol again and deeming it acceptable because I deserved it, after a hard day at work.

As a result of numerous stressors, predominantly ones designed by yours truly, I felt quite low during my last week at work and had a bit of a spontaneous cry at the office. I was exhausted. I also began to realise that even with numerous drastic changes in my life, for the positive, I was still feeling not so great. I think I’d felt guilty for a few weeks, constantly telling that internal voice to shut-up and stop being sad. I was starting to get my life together, so why was I feeling so bad? Why was it that, even with gratitude leaking out of every pore, it was still possible to feel so horrible and possess such a cripplingly low self-esteem? It turns out that depression and anxiety don’t just disappear overnight. They’re not purely situational diagnoses’ and they sure as heck defy sense. You can have all the components of a perfect existence under your belt and that won’t make a difference, if you have depression and/or anxiety. This is the sad truth yet when acknowledged, it can also be a liberating one. Sometimes resistance is futile and its more empowering to accept that you’re not where you want to be just yet, but you will be some day. That’s enough. Whilst I’d made undeniable progress in my journey to recovery, there was still so much more left to overcome. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s okay! There’s no bloody deadline date! It’s a lifelong commitment to preserve myself and be less of an asshole, where possible. I have to learn and I have to grow, yet to do both I also have to suffer sometimes because life can’t just be rainbows and butterflies. Humans aren’t infallible- they break and they bend and need to go through stressful environments and situations in order to take a stronger form.

Over Christmas, a busy period of time spent catching up with a never-ending conveyor belt of family faces, I realised that I had to commit to change. It was so nice to be able to savour the time with loved ones and it gave me a much needed reality-check in time for the new year. There’s no point putting so much time and effort into self-care if it’s only being done in an opportunistic window. You have to fight to change your lifestyle and to ingrain the practices that keep you grounded into your daily routine, at any cost. You have to appreciate your efforts, whether they bloom into what you wanted or fail, because at least you tried.

So my goal for 2020 is to really push for balance. A career is great but not without down-time and personal commitments. I want to manifest a vision of strong physical and mental health, confidence in my abilities as a writer and singer, an abundance of financial gain (earned through persistence and hard work) as well as an improvement in self-worth. I want to see my friends and truly treasure them, so that they go to bed every night with no doubt that they are loved and cherished. I want to finally accept that I am deserving of respect and that I am entitled to space from people and situations that are toxic.

2020 will also be the year I finally make philanthropy a priority. I want to give time and whatever resources I possess to various causes, local and beyond. It is no secret that our world is riddled with social and environmental concerns that need to be addressed with activism, fundraising and awareness. I want to be part of that fight and I want to be part of some positive change, even if its for only one person.

Those are my intentions. Those are my primary focuses in 2020. Though things are looking and feeling pretty scary, I am determined that things are going to get better.

On a final note, despite all my woes in 2019, I also have to acknowledge that it was a year of many victories, even if I didn’t have the capacity to truly appreciate them at the time. I:

  • Handed in my master’s thesis with minor corrections (literally grammar and punctuation changes were suggested).
  • Started a very candid and open conversation about mental health, which has been extremely challenging in previous years. I received lots and lots of supports from loved ones and strangers, far and wide.
  • Got to spend a lot of quality time with my family for the first time in many, many years.
  • Went to therapy and also overcame my aversion to medication, trying antidepressants at the recommendation of my amazing GP.
  • Started blogging again, making an active effort to post on a weekly basis.
  • Read, and enjoyed, way more books than in previous years.
  • Completed a distance-learning course in Mental Health Awareness.
  • Bagged a guest spot on a website about female worth.
  • Graduated again.
  • Started an enjoyable job that actually has some relation to the degree I did.

I mean, that’s pretty damn impressive for somebody who had effectively given up on life and spent around 6 months physically unable to leave the house. If that’s what I managed whilst fully incapacitated, I can only wonder how much potentials this year holds!

I hope that I will look back at this post in the future and feel some gratification, in knowing that I acted on all of this. I also hope that you, dear reader, will be doing all that you can to manifest a brighter 2020 for yourself and your world💜🌍

Musings on 2019

What I have learned in 2019:

  • You should definitely never drink more than four coffees before 3pm. Especially if you have IBS and your heart sometimes goes into anxiety overdrive.
  • Things are always changing so don’t get too attached or deflated when things seem good/bad. Trust in change.
  • It’s important to take care of yourself. If you don’t, your body will burn-out spectacularly in the same way a car running on the dregs of fuel will eventually stall to a stop in the middle of a busy main road. You will find yourself, mentally and physically, ceasing to function and life will come to a complete and utter standstill.
  • Reaching burnout is an inevitability when you are bad at valuing yourself. It’s a failure to care of yourself the way you’d take care of others, an abandonment of self-care, an offence that could be likened to neglect or self-harm. You can’t change that it’s happened but you can look at it as a sign and choose to learn from it. You can resist burnout all you want but, in the end, bad habits will take you there. So you should embrace it, trusting that you can learn from the experience and seek help to prevent things crashing quite so badly in the future.
  • You will meet people that you are intrinsically incompatible with and they will test you. This provocation will likely evoke ugly emotions like anger, which will consume you (if you don’t find a way to manage it). It’s important to remember that you’re not contracted to get on with everyone- you can be civil with people, you can create boundaries and often, you can even make the choice to create space by removing the toxicity of another person’s energy from your life. As upsetting as it might be, to severe a tie that once was valuable, people grow into themselves and in the process, grow apart from their friends. It’s life.
  • You can probably do a lot more than you give yourself credit for and if the best way to improve your prospects of getting what you want involves watching the Rocky training montages every morning, meditating and crying every few days, so be it. Everytime you find yourself in doubt, make a mental note of all that you’ve achieved (in spite of doubt). Change the language you use about yourself and put yourself out there, kid.
  • We often carry the guilt of letting others down. This was, and remains, the primary source of my upset. Panic attacks, moments of crippling self-doubt and spontaneous crying fits affect not just me but everyone around me, against my best wishes. As I let down my friends and my family and my commitments, floundering on the really tough days, I feel this niggle of anger at myself for having let my loved ones down time and time again. In actuality, the anger should be channelled into something a little more helpful, like motivation. I have let myself down, fundamentally. Even at crisis points, I am expending my energy more on others and their expectations of myself than I am on my obligation to be my own carer. If I am content extinguishing my own flame, how am I going to help others keep theirs burning?
  • You should be less afraid of showing people how you feel. Honesty is a very rare thing and a moment of gratitude or acknowledgement goes a long way. People are usually receptive, stunned into silence and/or overwhelmed with gratitude because it’s genuinely refreshing to reach out with something positive to offer.
  • Your younger relatives look up to you so try and see in yourself all of the amazing, albeit unreal, attributes they do.
  • Be more vulnerable. Sometimes you just have to succumb to having a bad time and cry it out, because it takes far more energy to conceal all that and pretend it isn’t the case. Nobody feels happy all the time and they shouldn’t feel guilty for that. Recently, I’ve had a few occasions where stress has led to me crying my eyes out on the bus journey home. At one point, I’d have felt more panicked by some sort of unspoken obligation to hide my face from others. Now I just savour the moment give myself the opportunity to fully feel anger or sadness, you have to work through rather than around! Vulnerability feeds a lot of things including creativity and growth. If you are struggling, the likelihood is that you’re on the verge of some sort of affirming life transition. Changes aren’t easy so navigate with caution and be kind to yourself. Whatever it is you’re feeling, it’s valid and there’s space for it in this world. Nobody should make you think that this isn’t the case.

I got really lucky with some good eggs who mean more to me than words can ever describe. My parents, my sisters and my entire family have generally pooled in with nothing but love, support and (much-needed) humour in the midst of disasters. In particular, my beautiful friends Alise, Beth, Regina, Serena and Rebecca have been the actual lifeline through most of the rollercoaster events in the last year. My wonderful boyfriend has survived the trials and tribulations of having a mentally unstable girlfriend (somehow) and has made me feel more safe, loved and secure than I can remember ever feeling in my life. Thank you all for being there throughout everything, for offering your patience and your time and your concerns. I really hit the jackpot with finding you gems amongst all the rubbish and I can’t wait for us to tear 2020 a new one because this year has, quite frankly, sucked (whilst simultaneously being quite the learning curve).

Have a fantastic NYE, readers. Lets get ready to manifest some goals and good vibes in 2020.