The only thing we know for sure is that things will always change. Nothing is permanent. And when we find ourselves in the middle of trauma, in the middle of crisis, even when you’ve hit rock bottom and you have no idea how on earth you’ll ever find the courage to climb back up, you are still okay. You are okay.
Rachel Brathen, Yoga Girl
I had a rough year.
That doesn’t mean it was all bad of course; there were many amazing things. I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Australia. I began practising yoga and after years of intermittent exercising, finally built up a proper fitness habit where I felt consistently healthy and fit. I even had visible abs for a small while early in the year (far too difficult to maintain but I’ll live off those few months forever!) I read good books, drank good wine, cooked good food for myself, for family and for friends. I danced and drank and ran on beaches and stayed in five star hotels and ate street food and did yoga and laughed. I saw my brother for the first time in four years, made new friends and reconnected with old ones while traveling.
I also struggled to keep my eating habits in check, suffered from panic attacks and had a huge personal knock when first my application to do a Masters was rejected and I then spent three months fruitlessly job hunting. All the yoga and holidays in the world can’t fix that horrible feeling that you’re not good enough; that all your family and friends are judging you (they weren’t obviously but such is the way the mind works), that the skills, qualifications and attributes you thought you had built up actually don’t even merit a response email from potential employers.
And that’s it; both sides of the coin. A year or a life is never good or bad, light or dark- it’s both. Most people saw only the good, on my facebook and instagram, while those closest to me saw the reality; being teary, snappy, angry, impatient. Although I have a good fitness habit and generally find exercise the best method to release stress, when I’m seriously anxious I often go too far in the other direction and over-exercise to the point where I work myself into an exhausted, even more anxious frenzy. I once managed to have a panic attack on my yoga mat, in childs pose, for Gods sake!
The anxiety is of course, mostly self-generated. Suffering rejection upon rejection, I projected my feelings of inadequacy onto everyone else. Because I had thought that at this point in my life, I’d be somewhere in particular, I didn’t take the time to realise where I actually am. I was genuinely bewildered when travelling in Asia people would comment, ‘You’ve done so much!’ .
I guess I was still stuck on this ‘plan’ I had come up with at some stage and because I wasn’t there, I wasn’t giving myself credit for where I actually was.
Some of the beautiful places I was this year but somehow I was still caught up feeling angry and anxious about where I wasn’t!
So the last few months, I’ve been mostly working on trying to give myself a break and also be grateful for what I do have and what I have achieved. This isn’t something you just figure out one day and suddenly it’s all good and you’re constantly high-fiving yourself for being so awesome. Some days I’m confident and give myself credit and other days, I can’t quite manage it.
Most of the time, I’m now quite accepting of where I am, realising this is my reality right now, so I better make the most of it. But I still have moments (eh, or perhaps slightly longer) of crushing self-doubt where I get anxious and touchy. This unfortunately often leads to me getting snappy or teary with a family member or friend over some perceived slight. The reality is, I make judegements of myself and then imagine others are doing the same.
The hard moments of this year are just as important to remember as the good times, the happy, sun drenched photos you see on my Instragram. But it’s important to only keep them in mind, not focus on them and hold onto that horrible tightness in your chest and the heavy cloud over your mind. This year, I really tried hard to work on being more mindful and grateful. I’ve definitely improved in terms of gratitude but I’m still working on the mindfulness part (FYI, the adult colouring book hasn’t helped much!). This year, I also want to work more on leaving the past in the past and not being so anxious.
None of this ‘New Year, new me’ crap. It’s ‘New Year, same me,’ but new adventures. Home again in Ireland to catch up with family and friends, plan and repack for my next adventure, I’m going to Colombia for six months to teach English. I’ve never been to South America, my Spanish is non-existent and this is nowhere near where I thought I’d be at this moment in my life.
But it’s where I am so it’s what I’m grateful for. Here’s to many more adventures and fuck ups, and tears and laughter and wine shared with family and friends along the way.
And this is now my life motto. . .