Sometimes, you’re part of the problem

Recently, I’ve been feeling like everyone and everything is completely out of my control – and as a result, I’ve been trying to control everyone and everything.

I’ve had a fairly difficult month, and as a result, I’ve been clutching at straws trying to find something to give me a sense of stability. I’ve been getting frustrated, snappy and irritable when minor inconveniences happen, or people/events don’t follow the very specific trajectory which I planned in my mind.

Of course, it’s normal to feel upset and annoyed when things don’t work out. And it’s okay to be upset and disappointed when plans change or people let you down. However, it gets to a point where you’ve got to question whether you’re just causing problems for yourself by having rigid expectations of how things are meant to go.

It’s finally hit me that I am part of the problem. My expectations, high standards and in-flexibility is ultimately causing me to feel unnecessarily let down, out of control and stressed. So many things have happened in the last month which completely went against the perfect life plan which I had.

In the last three weeks, I’ve lost my grandma, I’ve had to scrap my car, I’ve had my summer job completely messed around, I’ve had my university deadlines changed, and I’ve been insensitive and confusing to those close to me. All of these things have been completely out of my control, and completely out of my “plan” of life. I never expected any of these things to happen, therefore never learned how to fully deal with them.

However, how I am dealing with this massive amount of emotional loss and uncertainty is not necessarily healthy, and I need to take a step back and realize what I am doing to myself and others. There’s a degree of selfishness which is needed in life, however self care and self-absorption are very different things.

I am a very organized person and I like to look into the future and know where and when I am going to be doing something. I am a perfectionist and I don’t like the idea of things going “wrong” or not to plan.

In recent years there has been so much encouragement for women to take charge of their lives, be #organised #onthegrind #bossbitch, and cut out anyone or anything which does not follow our very specific life goals. I firmly believe that you should cut out negative aspects of your life, whether that’s people, your job, your studies or lifestyle habits. However, you can’t eliminate and control everything to ensure that things follow a perfect routine and pattern. You can’t prepare for every loss, every failure and every mis-understanding.

But you can grow from it, you can learn to be more understanding of others and yourself. You can’t control everything, I can’t control everything. I feel like you either have two choices with how to deal with things going wrong. You can let them ruin you, or you can grow from them.

I still think May is the worst month in the year, but maybe I am biased.

One Year Later

A year ago this week, things were not okay. I’ve dreaded this month coming around because it symbolizes a year since one of the most difficult things I’ve ever endured.

However, on reflection, I am so thankful that everything happened the way it did. I’m glad everything crashed and burned because now I have the knowledge that I can quite literally get through anything.

A year on, here is a letter to myself – 365 days ago.

To me – 17th May, last year. You feel like shit. Everything around you feels like its falling apart. You hate living in your university flat, but you also hate being at home. Everything feels too loud and too quiet at the same time.

You hate your degree, but you feel stuck in it. You are searching for something, anything, anyone to make you happier. A relationship which you thought would save you, turned out to be one of the most toxic and damaging parts of your life.

Your relationship with others, your own mind, your body and soul is completely screwed. You hate yourself. You don’t want to – but you resent every part of yourself and you wonder why you don’t feel happy.

You see no other way out, you don’t think its ever going to get better. Why would it? You’ve tried so hard to find external sources of happiness, but nothing is working. You’ve even started taking anti-depressants, because you’ve realised that nothing can make you happy; your only choice is to chemically induce it. Which still doesn’t work. You’ve gained a lot of weight, stress, heartbreak and self hatred.

In a week, everything will come to a head and you will try to escape your own mind. Because you’re the problem – surely, you’re the reason why your life is so shit. You don’t believe that it will ever get better, that you’ll ever feel better or that you’re ever going to be “one of those happy people”.

Your life, recently, has been a turbulent wreckage of highs and lows. Highs which never last and lows which never seem to end.

But darling, it gets better. It got better. It is better. It will continue to be better.

You got through it, you realised that the only way to feel happier was to be happier.

It is quite simple when you think about it. You believe the thoughts which tell you nasty things, yet don’t believe the thoughts which are positive. What if, what if you just listened to the other side? What if you started believing the good thoughts? You actually are a decent person. You are worthy. You are going to be happy.

A year later, you’ve almost finished the first year studying your dream degree. You’re surrounded by amazing friends, who lift you up and support you all the time. You ran a half marathon a week ago??? I don’t even know how you did that to be honest.

You’ve dealt with stress, heartbreak and anxiety in the most rational and effective way. You’re that bitch who meditates and goes to the gym at 7am. You handle stress well. You lift other people up. Most importantly, you lift yourself up.

You went to therapy, you don’t take any anti-depressants and you got through your depression and anxiety. I don’t even remember what depression feels like anymore. It’s been a year. A whole year and you’ve been okay. You’ve been more than okay.

You appreciate the happy times in life, but don’t get sad when they’re over. You go through sad times and know that they will end at some point.

You’ve let yourself open up to people. Rather than hiding from your vulnerabilities and insecurities, you have made them a part of you. The people who love you, love you because those “embarrassing” bits are part of you.

You don’t sell yourself as a tragic or “a mess”. You are aware of your worthiness.

How did this happen?

You understood that the only opinion of yourself which really matters is your own and those who are closest to you. You know that you are independent, self-sufficient and you give yourself validation rather than expecting it from others.

Good things happen in your life, and bad things happen in your life. But you know that neither one of them are a defining characteristic of who you really are. You are not your experiences, you are your own person.

You’re finally doing okay. It happened, just like you never thought it would.

Control & Stress

Hello! I’ve not written on here for a while; because I’ve been so stressed with life at the moment. However, writing is ironically one of the very few things which helps with my stress.

This post is a long one, but I really think you’ll benefit from reading it, if you would like tips on how to deal with your stress.

For some reason, May has historically been a difficult month for me. I don’t know why, but it seems that everything comes to a head at this point of the year.

I would consider myself as someone who deals quite well with stress; when it’s a small or isolated case. However, the presumption that I deal well with stress often leads me to push everything aside and bury it until it finally explodes. I seem to glide through minor inconveniences, however the reality is that I simply store the tension away until the stack of minor issues has become a major molehill.

In the past, I would let this defeat me until I mentally and physically could not go on anymore. I’ve got a very determined “bounce back” mentality, meaning as soon as I am in a low place, I force myself to get out of it quickly – because I can’t say I am a fan of feeling crap for an extended period of time.

One thing that is a major trigger for an outbreak of stress is lack of control, and over the years I’ve learned that there are some aspects of your life that you can’t control, some that you can control, some that you should control and some that you shouldn’t control.

You can control your lifestyle

How you chose to live your life is entirely up to you. You have full choice over whether you go to university, work 9-5, are unemployed, live in a rented house, a flat.. a shed – the choices you make in your life ultimately lead you to where you are right now.

You have scope to adapt your lifestyle to a way that benefits you. Some aspects of this are easier than others; getting a full 8 hours sleep every night is easier than working your way out of debt or unemployment – but all of which are doable.

In times of stress, look at the parts of your lifestyle which you can feasibly control. Personally, I am very sensitive to lack of sleep, lack of/overdoing exercise and drinking too much alcohol. When you’re in a place of stress and uncertainty, controlling the simple things like sleeping pattern and activity levels is a good way of managing your situation.

You should control who you socialise with.

I don’t mean literally controlling the people (that’s my next point); but you can control your immediate and extended social circles. The last year has taught me that I am very reflective of the people I am closest to. My friends are quite literally the reason that I am who I am,

I bounce off the energy of others, and surrounding myself with the right people has been the best choice I have ever made in my life. Don’t stick around for the people who make you feel uncomfortable, don’t support you, don’t make time for you and aren’t there for you when you need it.

Friendships are based off a mutual liking of each other. You can’t expect the same level of emotional support from every friend; some people are there for the good times, the fun times, the sad times and the drunk times. Having a range of friends with different perspectives and from different social groups is the best way to have a good foundation.

Do not hesitate to reach out to people; good friends won’t judge you. And the good friends who do judge you, will offer you advice and support to get to a better place.

 

You can’t control other people

Stemming off from my last point; you can’t literally control the thought processes and mind of other people. Whilst you can control who you let into your life, you can’t control how they will perceive you and how they will act around you.

Mind control and the ability to control other people’s thoughts is absolutely impossible. Derren Brown is about the closest anyone will ever get to mind control – if you even believe his work is real. Therefore, why do we think that playing games, lying and manipulating will allow us to positively control how they think about us?

We live in an era of hyper connectivity and constant access to our friends location, liked posts, friends list, spotify playlists and whether they’re active online or not. This has given us an unnatural surveillance into their lives and the illusion that we have an element of unprecedented access into their lives.

Ultimately, posting photos on Instagram for a reaction from a certain person, dressing to fit into a social group, timing your text replies, leaving cryptic messages and having expectations on their reaction is all a form of mind control – which we can’t do. We can’t control other people, we can’t dictate how they will or will not support us, and that’s okay. We have our own lives to control.

You should  control your coping mechanisms

Not many people have coping mechanisms; up until a year ago  I didn’t either.

It’s the cultural norm to use alcohol as a way of dealing with problems. Nobody would bat an eyelid if you said “after the day I’ve had, I need a pint.” Yet you can expect questions or funny looks if you say something along the lines of “I’ve had a stressful day, I’m going to go for a run/walk, do some writing, do some yoga.”

We are encouraged to deal with our stress and problems in a counterproductive way. Drinking, taking drugs, getting overly absorbed into work/studies, completely avoiding the issue or becoming catatonic in bed all day are the most common ways of dealing with stress. Yet they never work.

I understand that going for a drink with your friends can help you forget about your problem, laying in bed all day can help with the physical symptoms of stress/fatigue, and overworking can help you feel more productive and less guilty – but they are all ways of avoiding the issue, rather than acknowledging what is happening.

I write this, with very good experience, as I’ve had to kick myself and remind myself what my coping mechanisms are. The last month I’ve got myself bogged down with working towards my exams and coursework, avoiding problems and throwing away all my previous coping mechanisms.

For me, the thing that always has and always will help me is writing things down. I use this blog as a way of dealing through my problems – and whilst I could just get a diary and keep things to myself; the element of sharing it with others allows me to feel like I’m having some positive out of my shitshow. Running and weight training also really help me, but I have to make sure I don’t have my phone with me and I fully focus on my exercise. Furthermore, talking to other people is another coping mechanism which really helps, because verbally expressing how I feel allows me to work it through in my head, and come to a conclusion.

You shouldn’t control your food or weight

This is a niche one, but I personally find times of acute stress a big trigger point for trying to control my food and weight. There’s a sense that when the world around me is an absolute nightmare, food and my weight is the one thing that I have full autonomous control over.

The biology and metabolism of the body is very complex, yet once you learn the science of it; it’s very easy to manipulate your food and weight. The measurable effects of over/under eating are very visual – ie, you lose or gain weight. This ends up being a distraction from reality, and a way of avoiding all the other nonsense in your life which isn’t so easily controlled.

However, linking emotions to food and weight is very dangerous, and it becomes a slippery slope. In times of stress; ensure that you’re eating enough good quality food to sustain you – but don’t overdo it either way. Under or over- eating can have a massive impact upon our emotions, and this does not help with stress management

You  can’t control the past or the future

No amount of regret about the past will change what happened. The only thing you can do is learn from your experiences, and ensure that you don’t follow the same patterns which got you into a bad place.

Furthermore, you can’t control your future. You can make choices which will set you up for a positive future – yet you have absolutely no control over the external sources which can go against your perfectly regimented plan.

 

Ultimately, writing this comes from long term and short term experience with stress and control. Stress is our reaction to external sources, and there are things we can do within ourselves to help with this – but acceptance of the situation is sometimes the best way to deal with it. There are so many factors in life which are out of our control, we shouldn’t waste our time trying.

You can’t facetune your way to someone’s heart

Shakespeare wrote sonnets about love, people sacrifice life and limb for their other halves – whereas I’m from the generation who made PicNik collages to celebrate their 2 week anniversary with their year 8 boyfriend.

I never had a boyfriend in high school, and I thought this was some sort of deeply routed defect; I genuinely thought I was the only 16 year old to have never got beyond the fancying stage. Of course, I had no idea that all the relationships around me were absolutely shambolic, lasting on average 2 months.

5 years on, and I’ve still never had a proper long term serious relationship. However, I now know that this is actually more of a blessing than a curse. Through dating, “seeing”, “talking-to” and eventually ending it with people, I have learned a lot about myself and others. (NB; I absolutely hate the “seeing” and “talking-to” stage. When does it end? Why does it exist? Can we not just go back to 1952 and court each other? “We are courting” sounds much more romantic than “yeah we’re talking to each other”. I talk to the postman, does that mean we are dating?)

I could write for hours about the absolute idiots I’ve dated, the people I wish I’d have carried on with, the ghosting, the stress, the trip to Greece (if you know, you know – literally cannot wait for the day I can articulate myself enough to tell this story properly…). However, I will consolidate everything I’ve learned into one key principle: Don’t force anything. You just know when someone is right for you. There are no games, no attention seeking, you don’t have to put on an act to “win” them over.

When you’re with someone who you’re meant to be with, you don’t have to compromise parts of your personality to be around them. You won’t feel insecure about how you look, or whether you’re good enough for them.

Thirst traps, reading & ignoring, catfishing, right swiping, DM sliding and snap streak analyzing are all petty little behaviors developed as our technology develops. I can’t count the number of people who I’ve seen post on Instagram at a specific time to get the attention of someone, time their message replies, edit their photos and play mind games to win the attention of someone – who ultimately doesn’t give a shit about this person.

I know all the above to be true because I’ve been there myself. I would compromise my personality to fit how someone else wanted me to be. I pretended to like and dislike the same things as them, behaved how I thought I should do, and devoted so much of my time and energy into people who weren’t right for me.

Think of your closest friends. The people who you can be your absolute unapologetic self around. The people who you may not have anything in common with; yet you love each other. These friendships aren’t forced, they aren’t created through strategic timing of reading and ignoring messages, or cultivating the perfect selfie to win over attention. These friendships happen because two people are suited for each other, whether one of them likes Techno music and the other likes ABBA.

And that’s how I think your relationships should be. You shouldn’t have to force someone to fit with you. You’ve got to ask yourself, how much behind the scenes work are you putting into making someone else compatible with you? I’m a firm believer that the people who are meant to be in your life and WANT to be in your life, will do so without involving tonnes of pre-planning and groundwork from yourself.

Your relationships and friendships are not created in the same way that Simon Cowell scientifically syncronizes the perfect boyband (RIP One Direction). People who are meant to be together will want to be together.

Ultimately, 90% of this comes from understanding yourself and liking yourself. Having a firm sense of who you are, and not compromising your quirks and individuality for the sake of being able to take cute couples pictures with some really fit 6″3 rugby lad. It’s easy to hide bits of yourself for a while, to pretend you’re the cool girl/boy and turn yourself into a caricature of what you think your partner wants, but neither of you will be happy in the long run.

Be yourself, all of yourself. Know yourself, and the people who want to be with you – will be with you, without you having to force it, or break your back for an Instagram mirror selfie.

This blog post was somewhat inspired by 3 days straight of reading Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton; which I encourage absolutely everyone to read. I already have 3 people lined up to read my copy…

Why does it feel like the only option?

At 5pm today, I decided to get a three shot latte. At 11:55pm today, the caffeine decided to stay in my system and now I can’t sleep. I regret the £3 coffee, and tomorrow I will regret a 6am alarm clock. But I’ve been laid in bed trying to sleep, and there something I keep thinking about. 

The topic of this blog post is a lot more sensitive than what I usually write about. If you’re particularly vulnerable to talk about suicide, depression or anxiety – maybe don’t read.

I write this from a very healthy and stable mental health space. In the last 9 months I’ve probably been in the best mental health space I’ve been, give or take a few crap days. I’ve had a lot of time to work on myself and reach such a good and accepting place in my mind.

The things I talk about in this post no longer affect my life, however the experiences are still somewhat difficult to talk about. But I’m a firm believer that revealing difficult stories like this is key to lowering the stigma and lack of education surrounding mental health. It’s hard to talk about, but it’s harder if nobody talks about it.

Whilst trying to fall asleep, I found myself thinking about something which has been on my mind a lot recently, and without sounding abrupt – I can’t stop thinking about why people chose to end their own lives.

I think it’s because of the high profile death of Mike Thalassitis, and the media/tabloid coverage of “why would someone like Mike take his own life?” A man with plenty of opportunities, a seemingly perfect life and an abundance of friends and family around him.

When I saw the first news story about his death, it hit me more than I would have expected – not just because he was a ridiculously attractive celebrity – but because I understand what it’s like to feel as though suicide is the only option.

I’m not at all claiming to understand his personal circumstances, but I understand what it feels like to think that death is the only way to fix things.

It’s not a conscious decision. It’s not something that can be swayed by counting how many friends you have, or thinking about how bright your future could be. Your mind is in bits, and like an incorrectly calculated maths question, you work out that taking your own life is the only plausible solution to your problems.

I write this, as someone who attempted to take their own life a year ago. Whilst it’s not a lighthearted topic to read, write, or even think about; it’s something real, and it’s happened to me. 

I can’t write on behalf of everyone who has made the attempt to end their lives – I can only write on behalf of myself and the stories I have heard from others.

By sharing this, I want to be able to potentially offer an insight into the decisions of someone when they’re at this incredibly low point. There are so many lost lives, who tragically can’t express their reasonings. 

They will never have a chance to explain to loved ones why and how they hit such a painful point in their lives. I think by surviving what I went through, it’s important that I can shed some light on how or why death seems like the only way out.

For me, it wasn’t a case of wanting to die. I am terrified of needles, pass out in a blood tests and cry over fictional deaths in films. For me, it was a case of wanting to put an end to everything that I was feeling.

When you’re in the depths of the worst depression and anxiety, it’s an insufferable experience. Every single negative thought is exasperated by the relentless speed of anxiety. 

My brain felt like a broken washing machine on the fastest cycle, spinning around none stop with worries, fears, stress, nerves, faster and faster and faster and faster and faster.

All I wanted to do was make it stop. 

This wasn’t just one bad day, or a bad few hours. This was months and months of listening to the same clatter and wreckage running through my mind, infiltrating every thought and every moment of my life.

I constantly tried to think of the other positive things I had in my life: good friends, good education, money, loving family, good sense of humour. 

On a sunny day, I’d make an effort to appreciate the heat and good weather. I’d turn my phone on airplane mode and go for a walk, trying to be in the moment.

I read self help books, took anti-depressants and followed all the motions of a healthy life.

I’d laugh with friends, attend classes at the gym and turn up for placement everyday.

Yet the heaviness and sound of self critical thoughts took over everything.

I couldn’t focus for a single minute without having to fight off a swarm of criticism, irrational abuse and anger from my own mind. 

The sheer weight and pressure caused by depression is indescribable. 

It’s relentless and seemingly never ending. I tried to live a normal life, whilst pushing it aside and trying to pretend it wasn’t there – which made things worse.

But each time I tried to think of one of the positive aspects of my life, the cycle of depression and anxiety in the broken washing machine spun faster and faster and louder and louder and clattered around, hitting everything and invading all my rational thinking.

All that I could hear, all that I could focus on and think about was the sound of everything I feared. I was a shit friend, a shit student, I was shit at relationships, shit at everything. Everything was bad, in-comprehensively bad. All I wanted to do was make it stop.

I couldn’t wait for the metaphorical cycle on a broken washing machine to finish, I feared it would never stop. 

It got louder and louder and louder, and the thoughts infiltrated my vision – I’d be driving my car and unsure if I was even on the correct side of the road, as my mind was rattling over the intense and irrational fears I had. 

All I wanted to do was make it stop instantly. Put an end to the constant noise in my head. I no longer had the energy or the focus to spend time meditating, reading self help books or talking to a counsellor. Everything was so loud that I couldn’t even focus on cleaning my teeth. I wanted it all to stop.

And I tried to make it stop. And I thought I’d successfully made it stop. And I thought I’d actually done it. I thought I was actually going to die. 

And right there, in a state where myself and doctors truly thought I was going to die, I realised what I’d done. I realised that none of the thoughts were true. 

I survived, and everyday I am grateful. And I want to stress that there’s nothing anyone could have done. I had support from every single direction in my life. I was too consumed in my mental illness to think rationally. 

The only way I got better was through learning and accepting myself, and taking things slowly.

I’m not saying everyone experiences the same thing as me, and this is a ridiculously sensitive and lengthy topic to consolidate into one blogpost – people have written entire books on the thoughts that lead someone to suicide. But it’s not as rare as people think. It’s a long term solution to temporary problems.

———————-

If you have, or are experiencing anything that I’ve written about in this post – just know that it does get better. And I mean better, not perfect. The thoughts don’t go away forever, there’s no such thing as a life of only positive thinking. You will learn to dismiss and live alongside the negative thoughts, and they won’t consume you. The cycle spins slower, and sometimes stops spinning all together.

The human mind is a complex and messy thing, but you’re not broken or defective. You’ve got your own unique mind, and in time it will grow to be something you can embrace and live alongside.

Anxiety, depression, and any other mental illnesses are just parasites which thrive when they’re fed. 

You’re going to be okay. I promise 

Only a Human – Don’t be Hard on Yourself

One of my favorite albums in recent years is Staying at Tamara’s by George Ezra. I know that’s not a very edgy choice, as tracks such as Shotgun and Paradise are probably played on the radio 5 times every single day.

I listened to this album a lot during very difficult times in my life. I wouldn’t say any of the lyrics are particularly profound or life-changing – however, that may be the reason I like the album so much. Pretty Shining People is a track which I listened to a lot during spring, and I identified quite a lot with the opening verse of change.

Only a Human is a song which I’m playing a lot at the minute and serves as the inspiration for this blog post. I’m no music journalist, so this isn’t a critical reception of George Ezra’s music. This post is centered around putting too much pressure on ourselves and ultimately cracking.

The last week has been quite difficult for me. In true Heather fashion, I’ve racked up quite an extensive list of things to ruminate over, get worked up about and put pressure on myself. Yet I’ve forced myself to push past it and keep going – because I “should be”.

I’m someone who deals with difficult situations quite well in the initial stages. Yet I don’t take time to process my feelings, and ultimately spend a lot of time overthinking and eventually crack under the pressure.

Although I can be quite a sensitive and emotional person, I am paradoxically quite thick skinned and I very rarely cry. However, today I had the first proper cry of 2019.

At the moment there is a lot of rhetoric focused on being self-disciplined, always “on the grind”, working hard every day and having your life figured out. Whilst I am a firm believer that self-discipline is an important part of life, it’s also not necessary in every aspect of living.

I take a lot of inspiration from others, and I’m always striving to be a better version of me – yet this can come with its downsides. I have put pressure on myself to excel in almost every aspect of my life; whether that’s in terms of university, mental health, social life, money management, eating, fitness etc.

Rather than having a relaxed and consistent approach towards these different areas, I have a “110% effort” mentality, which can be draining and exhausting; leading me to burn out and feel like a failure for having to throw the towel in. I’m not a machine, and I just need to relax with some things and let myself be human.

Ironically, I know that functioning at 80% effort and having consistency is much more effective than running at 110% effort and burning out instantly.

Stress and anxiety have manifest itself into all areas of my life, and I recently deleted Instagram and Snapchat for a few days, as I felt like I needed to remove the added and unnecessary pressure from the two apps (I’ll do another post later about how I feel about Instagram and snapchat).

There are a couple other problems I’ve recently encountered, and I think I need to take a few days to just recharge and allow myself to feel a bit crap. It’s so easy for me to forget to take care of myself and to recognize that I have had such a stressful past, that I can’t always be as perfect and on-point as everyone else appears to be.

Additionally, this strict/discipline has to lead me to start thinking very negatively on myself. Rather than recognizing the positives, I’ve developed a very critical method of thinking, which can be very overwhelming and hard to push away. This is probably because I’ve not done any meditating for a while, which is something I’m going to get straight back in to.

Take time out, take a few days off and recognize that your well-meaning behaviors can ultimately be quite destructive.

Key pointers that I’ve realized (and will probably forget about in 5 weeks)

  • Working just below maximum effort is more effective than pushing yourself too far
  • Meditating and having non-judgemental thoughts is the key to being more content and happier with yourself
  • Your inner critic is a bully, which gets worse the more you engage with it
  • I have had a past of mental health problems; which aren’t going to go away. I need to accept that and work with them rather than pretending they aren’t there
  • I’m a human, with limits to my capabilities
  • Nobody else is judging me as hard as I am judging me
  • Deleting Instagram/Snapchat made me scroll through cat videos on Facebook quite a lot
  • It’s good to cry and talk things through
  • Everything and everyone cracks under pressure

How and why I followed my gut instinct

I started this blog back in June 2018, about 9 months ago now.

The reason for creating the blog was so that I could express myself in a way which explained why I had had a “breakdown” and rather than writing a huge Facebook status, a blog seemed appropriate.

June 2018 was the start of a massive shift in my life. I was daunting and terrifying, yet here I am 9 months later and I am so thankful that I made the changes I made.

This blog post will be focused on following your gut instinct and taking a change in life

Following your gut instinct can be hard. It’s hard to tell what is your gut instinct, what is anxiety, what is rational and what is irrational. The way I would define it is that your gut instinct is the thing with the drive. Your gut instinct is the place where your passions lie, and your real desire and motivations are. When you know something is wrong, you know it.

I spent a lot of time researching the law of attraction. At first, I thought it was all hippy concepts, yet I’ve attracted absolutely everything in my life that I have right now. I made the terrifying and scary choices which put me on the path that’s right for me.

Comparing where I am right now to where I was last year is unbelievable. I am more or less living the exact life that I desperately wished I could have had last year.

Last year I felt extremely trapped in a lifestyle and mindset which didn’t fit with my aspirations or motivations in life. I knew that I was studying a degree which wasn’t right for me. I forced myself to blend in with everyone around me, and I felt completely lost in my identity or what I stood for.

I had my entire life mapped out for me, the career I needed to go into and the life I was “supposed to live”. I was somewhat torn between feeling like I had to fit the norms of a student life ie sleeping until midday, drinking myself into a week-long headache and forming questionable relationships.

Furthermore, I had no desire or passion to do any of the university work. Once I’d realized that I wasn’t right for the degree I was studying, it was impossible to sit in front of a laptop screen and bosh out a 3000-word essay – on concepts and theories which I was entirely clueless towards.

My gut feeling was that I wanted to be studying something that I was passionate about. I’m a creative person, I love being around people and I love learning about different aspects of life. Yet I’d put myself down a clinical and demanding route. Studying Nursing was something which tapped into my love for people, yet stripped me of any creativity and put me in a very negative environment.

I was kidding myself by studying something which I didn’t want to learn about, aiming for a career which I wouldn’t fit into, and living a lifestyle which neglected my basic needs.

I felt like my University experience was dull and anything but inspiring. Everything seemed greyscale and bleak.

Making the change, dropping out of university and changing to study the course I’ve wanted to do since age 16 was a mixture of terrifying and liberating.

I can remember sitting in a hotel room at 4am in Germany, endlessly scrolling through the different degrees that I could study. It felt like mental torture because I knew that I was trapped in the nursing route. I would have given anything to have reversed the clocks back 4 years and changed all of my decisions. Yet that’s not possible.

The only possible thing for me was to take action and to put myself first.

I could have so easily struggled through 3 years of undergraduate nursing, and compromised all my dreams and aspirations. I could have continued to wish I could do things, yet never actually do them. It would have been easy because I was so used to ignoring my gut feeling, and doing what I thought I should be doing.

I sit here now, having just received two really good grades on my first assessments. I’m excited about my future and the freedom that it has. I am really happy with my life, the people in it and the things I am able to do. I absolutely love my university and all the opportunities it has given me.

I used to feel like I had to go out multiple times a week, just to make me feel like I had something interesting going on in my life. I hated my own company and I felt so confused and lost around others. I now don’t care either way about nights out. I can enjoy them and have a really good time, yet I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I don’t go. I really enjoy my own company, and I bounce off the energy of others too. It’s sometimes a little bit strange to see how content I am in comparison to last year.

Last year I didn’t even have the motivation to walk to the shops – now I can easily run 24km every week. Last year I was desperate for a relationship, whereas now I’m very confident and happy being single. There are so many things that have changed for the better, and 90% of them have been through mindset and changes that I’ve actively made.

I feel like I’m finally able to be myself and express myself in a way I enjoy. Mental health nursing felt like the thing I “should” be doing. Yet distancing myself from the mental health world has been the best thing that I’ve ever done for my own mental health.

Additionally, I wouldn’t want to reverse the clocks back 4 years and change all of my choices. I’m glad that I’ve had all the ups and downs over the past because it’s helped me to get to this really peaceful and stable level.

The real stickler for the changes in my life is that on paper – I’m worse off. I’ve got more student debt, less money at my disposal, no guaranteed employment post-graduation and history of about 4 years milling around not knowing what to do with myself. I’ve experienced horrible mental health, damaging relationships and serious fears about my future.

Yet I am grateful for it all. At 21 years old, I’ve experienced more challenges and obstacles than most people 5 years older than me. I’ve essentially fast-tracked all the stress and decision making, meaning that I’ve got it all out of the way.

I would much rather be in the position that I am now, which is true to myself and inline with who I am. Verses following what I think I should be doing, who I should be associating myself with and how I feel I’ve been pushed. I firmly believe that there’s the right path for everyone, and you know when you’re on it.

Sometimes the best thing is to expose yourself to the things that scare you. Hit rock bottom and show yourself just how easily you can pick yourself back up again.

 

P.s

This post wasn’t to slate Nursing, the university I studied at, or anyone who has been remotely involved in my life during the rough patch. I have so much respect to student nurses, and it’s the right path for a lot of people! Like I said, there’s the right path for everyone, and it’s different for everyone.

Compete with yourself

When asked whether I am a competitive person – I automatically say no. But I am wrong; here’s why:

I frankly don’t care for measuring my success and ability against someone else. This was clearly reflected in my effort and grades in PE – shoutout to me for getting my highest grade of a 5C in PE in year nine. A real sportswoman in the making.

I never cared for getting better grades than other people, being more attractive or funnier.

However, I was competitive. Very competitive – and I still am. I am competitive with myself.

I want to be better than my own past achievements. I want to see progress in my own successes – not against someone else.

Every single person has completely different variables which make up their lives. Even identical twins have factors in their lives which will slightly differ from the other.

This means that being competitive with other people isn’t always productive. You can only measure yourself against someone else, based on the slightly similar metrics you both share. Yet you may not be able to compete with their training, genetics, tutoring, wealth, upbringing or mindset; as these factors are completely unique.

Whilst competitiveness against others can be a healthy way to motivate yourself, push your boundaries and set goals – it’s not always an accurate measure of your own success

I feel the best when I compare myself now to myself a few months ago. What problems have I overcome? How have I improved, where have I changed?

I personally find this a much more productive measurement; as a comparison against others is often unfairly biased against ourselves.

We very rarely compare ourselves to someone who is worse than us – why would we? It’s in our human nature to spot the things that we lack, or we perceive ourselves to be lacking in, and source out individuals who are better than us.

We compare ourselves against people who are faster, smarter, richer, more attractive, funnier. We very rarely stop and recognise how far we have come within ourselves.

One way of being competitive with yourself is to look at where you were exactly this day one year ago, two years ago and five years ago. Social media makes this easy, as we can track a timeline of what things we were tweeting, posting and sharing.

However keeping a diary or a journal is a great way to see how your problems change over time, and how much success you’ve made in overcoming these issues.

Compete with yourself

Sincerely, a tall girl

This post is going to be quite different from what I usually write about, but it’s a topic I’m equally as passionate about.

Something that I will never have control over in my life is my height (unless I decide to chop my feet off). I never had a growth spurt, I’ve always just been a bit above average in the height department.

I write this, and I’m only 5″11 – I say only, as I know that there are millions of girls over six foot, who make me look pint-sized. Therefore, some people probably don’t even think I’m tall, and maybe this post is meaningless.

With great height comes minor responsibilities, like helping the elderly get their pasta off the top shelf at Tesco. But great height also comes with a bundle of other comments, remarks, struggles and frustrations that are seemingly harmless but can be fairly annoying over time.

You can never buy clothes in your size

By measurements, I’m a UK  size 8 or 10. Therefore, I should be able to confidently buy clothes in either an 8 or 10 and know that they will fit me – just like any other size 8/10 female.

However, sleeves usually finish 4 inches above my wrists. Trouser legs have taught my ankles how to survive any climate, and bodysuits/leotards fit as though they were designed to never fasten.

I know many shops now have tall departments, Topshop and ASOS are some of my favourites – however many retailers are yet to acknowledge anyone above 5″8.

The worst is Pretty Little Thing. It probably makes sense that a shop with “little” in the title makes me feel like I’m trying on a 12 year old’s tshirt.

Clumsiness

This could just be me, but I don’t think I ever grew into my limbs. I will knock everything over, trip over stairs and hit my knees on the underside of any table.

How to stand in photos

Do I squat down? Do I stand at the back like the boys in the school leavers photo? Do I sit on the floor? (I often do), or do I just tell everyone else to stand on their tiptoes? Is my head going to be cropped out?

Relationships and Dating

Where do I start? When you’re tall and you’re single, it’s a weird world.

I don’t really have a problem with the height of the opposite sex, however, it often feels like my height has to be a big disclaimer. By the way, my height may offend your ego! 

Extra points if you’re told not to wear heels on the first date, followed by a monkey emoji (hint, don’t go on a date with someone who says that… or uses a monkey emoji)

Or, if the guy is taller than you, chances are he only dates girls who are 5″3 – sorry, it’s a cruel world.

Shoes

Following on from the above – Heels!!!

I own 1 pair of actual heels, which I only wear in situations where my trainers would be a sin.

I have a pair of heeled boots which I used to love, but that was when I had barely any friends and didn’t realise that I was actually 6″2 in them – I started to realise I was seeing a lot of scalps.

Aside from being about 6 inches taller than everyone when I’m wearing heels, there’s also the coordination issues of trying to move extra elongated limbs around; without losing balance and doing a bambi. (see; clumsiness).

Eating a lot

Again, this could definitely just be me. But it makes sense that someone who is 5″11 will need to eat more food than someone who is 9 inches shorter.

However, diet culture and unhealthy rhetoric surrounding women and food have often made me feel guilty for a big appetite.

Despite being someone who is very active and eats healthily, it can sometimes feel embarrassing to hear my stomach grumble after eating a massive meal 90 minutes ago.

Uncalled for comments on your body

This is a vague heading, as nobody really calls for comments on their body. However, being tall means that you’re subject to certain body related small talk – usually with middle-aged people who haven’t seen you in years.

“You’re so tall!” – shit, really? I wondered why the door frames were so low!

“You should be a model!” – let’s be honest, as kind as your comment is, I’m awkward in posture and have absolutely no features that warrant modelling – unless it’s for a company selling ladders.

“You’re not fat, you’re just big boned/broad!” – this is something I heard almost weekly when I was younger. The irony is, telling someone that they’re big boned makes them feel worse than telling them that they’re fat. You diet away fat; you can’t diet your bone structure!

You are your own type of beauty

I thought I’d end on a positive note. Despite the drawbacks of being a mini BFG, there are many things to be grateful for.

We can get places faster, short people really appreciate our presence in supermarkets, and you can stand anywhere in a gig with a perfect view. Also, I’m pretty sure we have a higher alcohol tolerance than others.

You can control many things in your life, but your height is something that only your parents could dictate – and they’ve already done that for you.

Learning to love yourself isn’t easy, regardless of the length of your limbs. But accepting who and what you are is the first step.

 

The Timeline of Your Lifetime – Getting Your Sh*t Together

Two weeks ago I turned 21.

I feel as though most people would agree that age 21 is the official age of “being an adult”. Some may argue that turning 18 is the start of being an adult; and in legal terms, it is.

However, there seems to be a greater looming pressure and a universal assumption that a 21-year-old should have their life together, in some way or another.

Having your life together is a term which I hear a lot. Ironically, I have had many people say to me that I appear to have my life together, yet I often worry that I am the opposite.

I’m currently in a situation where I feel very out of sync with my life timeline. It’s the norm that by age 21, you should either be finishing or finished your education – with a career plan and some degree of maturity about you.

Yet I’m 21, in my first (or second) year of university, having changed my career goals drastically last year – I’m 2 or 3 years behind my peers academically.

On paper, this doesn’t really seem like a problem. There are many people who start university later and so many people who don’t even finish their A-levels.

The reason I feel so strongly about being 2-3 years behind, is that I am someone who strives for growth. I like to progress forward in many aspects of my life, and the knowledge that I have receded in my education makes feel uncomfortable.

The way I’d describe it is like learning to swim without arm bands, and then being told that you’re going to have to put the arm bands back on, and learn how to swim without them again.

It just feels like I’m being stunted, and it’s a difficult trap to get myself out of, as this then makes me feel as though I shouldn’t bother getting through the next 2 years.

However, I think the problem is the comparison to the way things “should” be. I don’t know the official statistics for how many 21-year-olds there are in England, but I can assume there’s a lot of us. There will be people like me, who are a few years behind academically.

There will be people who have worked full time for 6 years, there will be people who have been in and out of prison for the last few years. Then there are the people who followed the education system through nicely and are now figuring out what do postgraduate.

The similarity between the majority of people under the age of 25 is that we don’t have it all figured out. There’s nobody out there who has completely got their life together at this age.

There are people who are financially better off than you, there are 21-year-olds with the emotional intelligence of someone twice their age, there are people who have better grades than you, bought their own house, or have 5 years industry experience under their belt. Everyone is on a completely independent, unique timeline, and there’s not a 365-day interval on how often you should reach certain checkpoints.

The thing I have to remind myself is that a step backwards is not always a bad thing. This is extra time to set good habits in, learn more about myself and how I react to stressors, learn my strengths and pick up skills to move me forward.

There’s no rush to grow up (besides, all the adults wish they were young again)