A Shift In Thought

Back when I started this blog I wrote about how I should start living my life on purpose. Should being the operative word there. Why should I try and live my life that way, hammering out lists of things I should be doing to feel like my life has purpose?

I often think back to a certain time in my life where I was flourishing and progressing. I was doing a lot of things at the time: writing my dissertation, revising for exams, working two jobs, running my successful food blog and keep myself open to everything. When university ended I was suddenly left with a lot more free time. I started to get slightly depressed because I started to put pressure on myself and what I should be doing right at that moment in time, a pattern that followed me when I moved abroad.

Since returning to the UK and dealing with the anxiety issues I had, that train of thought came rushing by again, and I started to wind myself up with searching for a job. However, I felt indifferent and unmotivated. I didn’t want to do anything. I needed to rest my mind and slowly decide what to do next. And you know what? It worked.

Last year I started to think about Belfast and about doing a master’s degree. It was that kind of calling I had when I wanted to move to Canada, to get a degree in Event Management and to start a food blog. The key factor in all those things is I didn’t write it down on a bucket list or plan in advance that I would do them at x age. They all happened when they happened and I never planned the way they would go. I felt that Belfast was my next calling, so I applied to do a master’s at Queen’s University. I was accepted 24 hours later.

After that I dived back in to finding a job for the summer. Nothing seemed to be working out for me, and I felt no desire to work at any of the places I was interviewed at. That was a feeling that I hadn’t had before. Then, sadly, I lost my grandmother and was granted the rest of an inheritance that will allow me to fund my move to Belfast and pay for my master’s. Funny how things work out.

In the early days of my time in Canada I was open, ready and eager. Then I started to think about what I should be doing, where I should be working, who I should be dating and then I stood among the chaos when it all unfolded spectacularly. The fear returned and I lost control. But I wasn’t supposed to have control in the first place. It happened as it happened. I tried to control things and didn’t follow my heart.

With the recent events I have encountered at home, it has struck me that this  was going to happen and that I never needed to worry. I was always going to move to Belfast. I was always going to do a mater’s. Maybe I was so indifferent to work for the first time in my life was because it isn’t supposed to be a focus right now.

All I needed was the space to figure this out:

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

I think that sums it up.

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Anxiety

My anxiety is a horrible thing. It sits there in my head controlling everything. Sometimes I feel like I want to burst I am so full of inspiration and ideas. Other days I cry. I cry a lot. I cry because I wondered what I did to deserve this. I wonder how long it will take to feel like myself again. So I reached out for help.

The NHS is a wonderful thing. But not when it comes to mental health. A huge reason why I left Canada was because I was so beset by setbacks, anxiety and zero self esteem that I knew I was starting to lose it. I came back to seek out help, hoping that the comfort of familiarity would ease my troubles. I attended an appointment with my GP, told him what I had been feeling and he asked me to do a test. I already knew I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I’d figured that out with a few simple Google searches. The tests concluded that I do have GAD and, maybe something I wasn’t as willing to admit – physcological trauma.

That was back in January and I am still waiting on my referral. Settling back in has been a challenge in its’ own way. Friends are all married, engaged and buying houses. Single friends breeze through Tinder like their lives depended on it. Not feeling ready to date (see: physcological trauma) and not already coupled up, I fall somewhere in the middle and that is a lonely place to be. I’ve also found it really difficult to settle back into work. I knew I needed to take a break, but then I start to feel better and take on a temporary role. Then I freak out that I’ll be stuck doing that job for the foreseeable future. Even the thought of two months is panic inducing enough. I did end up calling my doctors after waiting the four week I was told to wait, only to find that they had given incorrect details to the counselling service which meant I never received information for my referral. After a few teary phone calls they promised I would have something by next week. I hope that’s the case.

I am not one to freely admit I need help, so this was a huge thing for me to do. So to be sent away to ‘change my diet and do more exercise’ while I waited for someone to help me was not the result I expected. There is only so many podcasts, books and websites I can use to help. I can’t do this alone, that’s why I reached out for help. Not having regular social interaction has also impacted me massively. I am a social person, and my time spent in Canada was always filled with friends and adventures. Now, being back home, I am lucky if I even get a reply to a text. Lives go on. I don’t in there any more.

It may sound like a whine. Whatever. It’s my struggle. And it IS real.

 

 

The Other Side (NOT a post about death)

Remember the story arc in the second half of Louie season three? You know, he gets approached by CBS to potentially take over The Late Show with David Letterman. Louie ponders over the position and constantly doubts his capabilities to do the job. He seeks assurance from his ex-wife, or so we think, only for her to confront him on his biggest fear: that he isn’t good enough. She reminds him that he’s put twenty years into his comedy career and that it was all leading to this. He is still hesitant (as Louie often is) to really connect to the idea that he might be the right person for the job. He wanted his ex-wife to bail him out. Tell him he has bigger responsibilities as a father and he shouldn’t do it.

I can relate to this.

Well not the father/parent part. But the part about talking yourself out of something because you don’t feel good enough. Once Louie accepts he can do this, that he has as good a chance as anyone, does he really start to throw himself into the idea of it. He starts to work out, hone his material, he takes lessons in hosting a late night show, he starts to live the idea that this could be THE job. This could be it.

And then he doesn’t get the job.

I think we can all relate to those times where we are doubtful that we will ever succeed. That this isn’t an opportunity for us, that it was meant for someone else. We feel like an imposter the whole time. We think we’ll get found out. I feel like that right now. I’m finally sitting down and deciding what I want to do with my life right now. It is a constant battle. Do I feel like everything I’ve worked at has led me to anywhere? Not really. Being an anxious person and a questioner by nature. I throw myself into the idea of one thing and hoping I get given a chance. I think of every possible outcome, good and bad, that could arise and prepare myself for the worst. Always the worst. I’m drawn to people who tell stories of when they had to overcome something, work their way through something, to come out the other side and feel validated.

I’m still waiting for that other side.

When Louie doesn’t get the job he is relieved. He knew he could do it. He knew he had what it takes and he isn’t broken by it. He was ready to let that whole idea go. He let go and felt free again. He saw that there wasn’t THE definitive job and his life would go on and other good things will come to him in time. This was his other side.

I recently applied for several jobs that I am so sure that I would be great at. I see the potential in them and the potential in me that would finally help me to get on track with a cohesive path in my life. But it isn’t up to me. I do my end of it. I submit the requirements needed. I go to the recruitment weekends. I network, get stuck in with tasks, project confidence and capability in the interview and show an engagement in the company and what we can offer each other.

I fantasise about the person I could be. The life I could have. I start to think that THIS is the THE job.  That this is the only path and no other will come to me. This is the only opportunity. Others are successful and I am still waiting. I gave it everything.

This could be my other side.

 

 

 

Old Passion: Blogging

In the search to find out the things that could help me discover my passion, I turned to something I used to be passionate about: blogging.

I used to run a pretty successful food blog. The thing is that I hated being labelled a ‘food blogger’. The blog felt like so much more than that. It felt like an extension of my creative side. A side I had only just discovered. I worked really hard on that blog. I felt like that was my real job. I did all the design, photography, writing, editing and social media for it. I was out interviewing local businesses and invoicing magazines who requested my photography. I worked on it during the days and went to my bar job at night. By the time I was getting ready to leave for Canada I was working with high profile brands such as John Lewis, Tesco, Marks & Spencer to name a few.

And then I stopped.

I thought that if I put in as much work as I did at home as I did in Canada, the blog would be as popular. But that wasn’t how it worked out. Canada ain’t cheap. Rents are crippling if you want to live anywhere remotely connected. Life there in general is expensive. Even deodorant. So I had to get a 9-5. I had a new life to pay for and new friends to spend time with. Something had to give.

There were times where I wanted to pack it all in and head off with my camera and laptop. I missed that creative connection I had to something. I tried and failed to think of ideas that I could work on. As series of pretty harsh setbacks halted that altogether. But lost in a confusing haze of anxiety and listlessness, I never once asked myself ‘is this who I really am?’ Why did I give up what I enjoyed to do something just to make money and survive. Why didn’t I manage my time better to be able to do both? These are questions I now know the answer to: I can do it. I just have to want it badly enough.

This blog won’t be like the other one. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it successful. What I did learn is that I enjoyed many aspects of being creative; meeting like-minded people who inspire me, discovering new things and taking pictures. I wish I wrote on their more instead of letting the pictures doing the talking. So this blog is the counterpart to that.

This is just the beginning.

Day 3

Project What Next?

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My hotel room the night before I left for Canada. Everything was awaiting me, or so I thought.

Hands up who knows what they want to do with their lives? Anyone? Because I sure don’t. And I need some help figuring it out.

I remember a few years ago ITV2 had a programme about celebrities following their passions. Girls Aloud was the feature of that series. The band had been interviewed in a magazine about participating in the show and it mentioned Nadine wouldn’t be on it, as she was already following her passion: singing. ‘Wow’ I thought ‘I wish I was so passionate about something that I could stick two fingers up to the ITV bosses!’

My problem is I like a lot of things. Things interest me. I’m good at lots of things, but I don’t think I’m particularly great at anything, and I certainly don’t know what I am passionate about. But I often like to give things a try, or let my imagination do the hard work for me.

Some examples:

I lived in Canada because I thought it would change my life. But it was an experience I would describe as ‘70% fun and 30% crying the shower’. Some days it was 100% crying in the shower. I love to cook and be creative in the kitchen, so why don’t I move to Paris and study at Le Cordon Bleu like Rachel Khoo? Or like that American journalist whose book I read? Sweat it out in the kitchens of Paris. Oui! I love to watch good quality television, so I tried to be a TV reviewer for a friend’s blog. I did one review post and I hated it. MAYBE I hated it because I really love to watch comedy. Maybe I should be a stand-up comedian and be team-mates with John Richardson on 8 out of 10 cats does Countdown. We’d be such a good team! You see what I’m getting at here?

But what did I take away from that ‘life changing’ Canadian experience? Simple – I literally have no idea what to do with my life, and that no amount of Tim Bits and pountine was going to help me figure that out.  But I did come back rather broke and with an anxiety disorder. So at least I’m good at  some things: being anxious and not looking after my finances.

I always admired those people who knew what they wanted to do from a young age. They had a focus and a determination that dictated all the choices they made in life, the people they met and the places they went, ultimately leading them down their chosen path. Sometimes those people strayed from the path and sought out other avenues and stuck to those. Maybe those people stayed on that path for their entire lives. Whatever it was that drove them to their paths, it was something.

They all had passion. Just like Nadine.