Seventy One

An excerpt from my journalling this morning, I’ve been thinking about it all day:

Mornings can be hard. Today was one of those. I woke up in a funk, feeling that same dread of living in a reality that didn’t reconcile to what I thought/ expected/ feel I should be living in at twenty seven. My Saturday night was spent in, having wine and cheese with a close friend. But some of my flatmates went out and I wondered if I should have joined them afterwards, and if by not doing that I wasn’t living my best life.

I know that these expectations or “shoulds” are arbitrary and no indication of what a “good life” looks like. I know that I very much could have joined them afterwards but I didn’t want to. I know all of this, but I still feel like I’m missing something.

It’s that fear that I’m going to get to my 40s and look back and feel like I’ve wasted my 20s. Just like me now, looking back and feeling like I’ve wasted my late teens and early twenties.

But everything that I’m doing now is everything I want and if it isn’t then I should change that. I just need to be honest about what it is that I truly want and separate that from what I feel is expected of a twenty seven year-old.

The hard part is reconciling the versions of myself – the past me to the present me to the future me. The past me doesn’t feel like the present me and I’m scared that the future me will be different again, and result in more disjointed feelings in identity and life.

Perhaps the only way that that can be avoided is if we were static, unchanging beings. But that’s not reality. People are always changing. I’m changing. I’m not who I was when I was younger, and I’m glad for that.

So maybe the reconciliation of the versions of me doesn’t come from being the same, but in making peace with the fact that I was a different person back then, so of course I will feel estranged from that girl, but to also be kinder to myself. I was learning then, as I am now. I was on a journey to where I am today and all those decisions that I regret now has in some way lead me to here.

The same goes for the future. It may be that I’ll look back and wish I had done more, but all the future mes need to respect the past mes and the decisions she made, that that was what she wanted at the time.

I’m dynamic, always changing, shifting. I will ever be static so there are bound to be differences in the way I interpret situations, experiences, in the ways I make decisions. And that’s okay.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between

We talk about this a lot in English Lit, to look at past texts with kindness because we know things now, that they didn’t back then. It’s not fair to judge their actions in the past using our current knowledge. And maybe that applies with me too.

Past me doesn’t know what the present me knows now, so how would she have made decisions that align with what I now know? I need to be kinder to her. She was just doing her best, just as I am now.

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Twenty Six

It’s Thursday and the weekend is tomorrow. Once again I feel that dread of not having plans that make me feel like I’m making the most of my twenties. I feel like I should be doing more, having more fun, experiencing more things. Where does this pressure come from? The urgency and weight of expectations that I heave on my weekends actually detracts from my ability to enjoy them. In thinking that my weekend isn’t up to standard, I create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Who even sets these standards anyway? I do stuff. Sometimes I go out, sometimes I stay in, why is one better than the other?

Maybe I’m more affected by social media than I thought. Maybe I’ve internalised what a good weekend should look like through what is shown on Instagram and Facebook. But no one ever posts about a quiet night in snuggled up on the couch, watching a movie and eating takeaways with friends. No one ever posts about just spending time with yourself, reading in bed with a cup of tea.

We are so obsessed with being seen as doing something that we forget to just be. This is so cliché (and I kind of hate that I’m saying this but also secretly love it as well) but – we are human beings, not human doings. We should celebrate what it means to just be. We can’t always be doing stuff because that is fucking exhausting. We (I) need to learn to become more comfortable in sitting in the quiet times and just being – either with other people or alone. I think there are many of us who are scared to be by ourselves. But maybe for those of us who are scared, it’s more important to practice this?

I think we all need to practice the art of being to some extent – some more than others. I definitely do. The trouble is, I don’t know what being looks like. I only know what doing looks like. Being is this vague intangible concept – what does it mean to just be?