Wednesday, October 16

Stormy Weather (or Things I've Learnt, But Haven't Quite Managed To Do)


I was born on the day of  a storm, Friday 16th October 1987

Like some sort of terrible superhero, I've always felt like I carry a little bit of that storm around inside me, or that it has least created a certain sense of optimism within me; I'm never more contented than on a grey day, when it's pouring with rain. 

We have always been taught to plan for the rainy days, literally and metaphorically, so that when the storms come we can sit back and take stock of how we got to that point; Then, as the rain begins to pass we are able to carry on with a clearer, sunnier outlook. That is probably the most obvious weather related metaphor ever written, but hopefully you see what I'm saying. I love stormy weather, because it pushes me to reconsider how I look at the brighter days, whilst I learn to deal with the grey days.

I stopped doing my Birthday Resolutions for a couple of years, mostly because they felt a lot more personal and introspective than before. For me, this year has had a few more grey days than I'd care for, but as a result it has encouraged me to think a lot more about how I create my own sunny days. Although in some ways these resolutions are a lot more personal than the last two years, I feel more open to sharing them; mostly because these aren't really goals with aims and objectives, these are the two biggest things I've learnt or discovered this year (and in my 26 years) that I'm continuously learning to do.

(more after the cut)


1. Understanding the importance of friendships, both holding on and letting go.

I touched on this in my Letter to My 15 Year Old Self last year, but I think I've learnt that although the concept of 'friends forever' is incredibly nice, it's not quite as realistic. I found it important (and at times difficult) to recognise when a friendship is no longer functioning. A dysfunctional friendship, doesn't always mean that one person has to be 'the bad guy', it can just mean that the connection you felt in your teens isn't quite there anymore; 'Letting go' can simply mean letting go of how you have interacted with the person previously - recognising what their friendship has meant thus far, and learning to be friends in a different way.

I think the opposite side of that, has been encouraging myself to connect with my friends outside of social media. I think a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that because of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc we know everything about our friends' lives (new jobs, marriages, babies, holidays and what they're having for dinner), without ever having to actually talk to them (or learning the minute details that don't fit in 140 characters). I am currently in my last year of owning a Young Person's Railcard, and I have made it my goal to try to visit as many friends and places as I can, during the year. Obviously, there's no guarantee that they won't have turned into the less than functional friendships mentioned previously, but it certainly won't be for lack of trying.


2. Dealing with the 'what-if's'.

Again, I have mentioned this previously, but I am a huge worrier. At my most worrisome I can have anything from sleepless nights and stress headaches to panic attacks. I can and will worry about every little detail in my life, and if I reach a point where I think I have nothing to worry about, I will over think myself into worrying about my lack of worries.

I was always the sort-of child who'd need time to think things over, my older brother is incredibly pragmatic in the decisions he makes - if we were taken to the corner shop, he would pick up a Shoot! magazine and a packet of crisps and be ready in the time it takes you to get from the door to the counter; I, on the other hand was unrivalled in the length of time I could stare at a magazine rack without even coming close to making a decision. Even then I'd worry - What if I chose something too hastily and was disappointed? What if when I got home I didn't feel like reading the Beano? What if, somehow between the last time I'd bought cheese and onion crisps and now, I no longer liked cheese and onion crisps? - If I could have slept on the choice between fruit gums and wine gums/ Dandy or Beano, I would have slept through my entire childhood.

Obviously, with growing up comes more grown-up responsibilities and challenges knowing that the decisions I make are having a larger impact on my life, and those around me. Despite people who think it is as simple as telling me to 'stop worrying', I believe it is in my nature to worry and I can either let it be a bad thing or a good thing; In trying to stop myself from over thinking, I've become an expert list maker. People like to make fun of my many notebooks and diaries filled with bullet-pointed lists, but the satisfaction I get from what feels like physically removing my thoughts from my head and putting them on paper, is pretty amazing. In terms of dealing with 'what-if's', I'm not sure how successful I have been, but I'm trying to be a little more laid back and realistic about them.


And, just to stop this from being a little too introspective, a couple of things that I'm proud of between this birthday and the last:


  • I learnt to crochet, that's still a big one for me; I learnt a practical skill with my hands, I can make things that serve a clear and definite purpose.
  • I have a postgraduate degree. I also have a lot of student loan debt, the payments for which never fail to terrify me when they go out of my bank account on a monthly basis. Nevertheless, I have a degree in something I truly love, and although not priceless, that feeling is pretty good.
  • Leading on from the previous point, with every year that passes I feel that I have a clearer idea of my career path and life goals; A lot of which is based on trial and error -a combination of the experiences I've had up to this point. I'm starting to think the adage about getting older and wiser might be true.




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