‘Plot Twist’ is a nice euphemism for ‘Shit has gone really wrong and I no longer know I’m doing!’
One of my first and most popular posts on the blog was this one about my 2015- how I traveled a lot, did a lot of yoga and other cool things (climbing an active volcano in Bali anyone?) but also how I was knocked completely sideways by not getting in to a Masters I’d applied for and then having a shitty few months job hunting which left me feeling like a complete failure.
So many people shared the post- to be honest, if I’d known just how many people would share it, I probably wouldn’t have written the bloody thing. But I’m glad people could relate or that they found it helpful. A lot of people commented that it was refreshingly honest but to me, it wasn’t such a big deal. Anyone close to me was aware at the time how much I’d been struggling- pretty Instagram pictures notwithstanding- so speaking about a tough time didn’t seem like an issue for me. And it shouldn’t either. Not every day is amazing, no matter how many inspirational quotes you post on Facebook. Everyone goes through rough times.
Life is obviously full of unexpected twists and turns. It takes us places we never expected. An unexpected path in my mind isn’t neccessarily what’s meant by ‘plot twist’. If you could substitute it easily in a sentence with ‘fuck up’ then it’s a plot twist. So I never saw myself in Oman, but I ended up working there for two years = life; My masters application and many more job applications being rejected= plot twist.
In my mind, a real plot twist is the one you didn’t see coming, the one that really derails you and throws you off your game completely.
Plot twists come in different shapes and sizes.
Maybe you’ve just graduated from college and are struggling to find work. Or you’re stuck in a job you really hate or you failed to get a course you applied for. Maybe you’ve been let go from your job or you’ve just come out of a serious relationship you thought would last forever. Perhaps your debt is starting to spiral out of control in a way you didn’t anticipate. Maybe you’ve lost someone and are going through a terrible grief.
Whatever it is, something has happened to make your head spin and you’re casting out for something solid to cling on to. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be looking for A PLAN. Everything will be fine if you can just work out a plan.
Not true of course. Plan or no plan, life will do whatever it wants to do and we just have to take the twists and turns and hope (desperately) that if you just keep hanging on through every difficult day, then one day it’ll all make sense why.
In the meantime, here’s some small tips to get you through the everyday, from someone who’s survived a plot twist or two!
First Realise that Failure is not such a bad thing
Failure is not the terrible thing many of us make it out to be. It can hard yes and horrible but it’s also neccessary. Embrace it because it means you’re one step closer to your actual goal.
It can be hard at times to see the positivity in failure but it’s there. That horrible feeling is the drive you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and improve whatever you need to improve to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I used to make any personal failure into a HUGE DEAL in my head which is ridiculous; I certainly didn’t amplify any personal success in the same way. So now I let a setback be just that; a setback. And then I move on.
Now here’s 5 little tips to keep you going and get you started on your comeback!
1.Take a deep breath
Literally and figuratively of course. This -whatever ‘this’ is for you- is definitely not the end of the world. Everything will be fine, even if you can’t see how right now. Take some #fitfam inspiration and trust the process. When you start questioning yourself and doubting thoughts start driving you crazy, just slow your mind and breathe. It sounds obvious but it helps. Make it through each difficult day, focusing only on getting through that day. Eventually, the days will become less difficult but don’t worry about that. Just get through the day.
Exercise helps. Run it out or punch it out or do some yoga and chill. Whatever activity it may be, find something that works for you. Maybe you need to sweat like crazy and feel the burn or maybe you need to stretch and relax and soothe your body.
When I was hopelessly job seeking, my daily exercise was literally the only good part of my day. Right after I was finished, after a shower and sitting with a fresh cup of coffee, feeling stretched and wonderfully worn out, was the only time I felt settled and calm.
When the rest of your life is in flux, you need the moment of rest that, ironically, comes from wearing yourself out first. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to stress, wearing yourself out with exercise can often help.
Also, the whole healthy body= healthy mind is a scientific fact, not just an Instagram quote!
Feel like shit? Tell your friends and family. Pretending everything’s fine creates greater stress upon yourself, as you try to deal with everything alone. Every single person has been through a tough time in their life.
Also, people may not realise how awful you’re feeling. When I was job hunting last year, some of my friends and family would make (well meaning) jokes about it which I would completely take to heart and end up being upset over.
But they had no idea I was feeling so bad because I kept telling everyone how fine I was.
As soon as I said, ‘Actually, I’m looking for work at the moment but it’s tough going,’ I got nothing but sympathy, kindness and more importantly, some really good advice! I needed some help to try and figure out my next step; the only way to do that was to talk to people wiser than me and put together a plan!
4. If you can’t talk, read.
There are so many books, blogs (hello) and websites out there written by people going through the same thing as you- whatever it may be! I know we all like to think we’re special but in reality, we’re all treading a well worn path.
Try websites like Addictive Daughter for some helpful, down to earth solutions to stress or if you’re struggling with keeping negative thoughts from overwhelming you. If you need some positive motivation, look to people like Pat Divilly. Or try Rachel Brathen’s book Yoga Girl. On the surface she’s a hippy-ish yogi in Aruba living the life but in reality, she’s had huge struggles with depression and alcohol abuse in her past, plus suffered some terrible family tragedies. Rachel is really honest about using yoga to cope with her stress and how life isn’t as pretty as the picture on Instagram makes it look.
I’ve recently become a big fan of Lisa Messenger; this posts featured image is a quote from her book Daring & Disruptive. Lisa writes honestly about success and failure in a way that’s really helpful.
Also, read Bressie’s fantastic book about his mental health struggles, Me and My Mate Jeffrey. Watch this video of him discussing mental health and mental fitness in Ireland (with a fair bit of swearing); it’s clear, truthful and absolutely EVERYONE will be able to relate in someway.
5. Listen to Conor McGregor. And Rocky.
Yes, this is the second time I’m referencing Conor McGregor but really, the mans self belief is incredible and something we should all aspire to.
I’m not one for arrogance but we should all try to have a little more faith in ourselves and our own capabilites. A set back is just that- a set back. It’s not the end of anything.
Watch this amazing video and feel inspired.
And to minimise the risk of future plot twists. .
Just recently, I saw a brilliant Instagram post from Pat Divilly about big life changes. Before making a big change or taking a chance, he says
‘Ask yourself these two questions, and answer on paper really going into detail…. 1. If everything went wrong and I ‘lost everything’ what would that look like? Would there be a way back? Would I be able to reclaim what I have and start again? How bad would it actually be?
and then…. 2. If things went to plan how would my life look? How would I feel? How would life be different? What kind of impact would it have on the people around me and the wider community?’
It’s a pretty simple but effective method. If I’d sat down before applying for my Masters and really thought out every single outcome, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so thrown by what happened. We can’t see every plot twist coming of course but this is an excellent habit to try and develop!