One Day There Will Be Nothing

Content warning: death.

I think about my death a lot. I’d go as far to call it an obsession. One that can consume me sometimes. I know it’s pointless thinking about it so much, because it is inevitable, and all I’m doing is wasting the time I have worrying about something that cannot be avoided. But when I look at everyone around me, I wonder how all of them manage to not let it burden them. Maybe it does. Maybe they’re just good at hiding it, like me.

I wonder how I’m going to die. I worry about how soon. Probably, if I’m lucky, it won’t be for a very long time. Not until I’m old and ready, if that’s possible. But accidents happen. I could be hit by a car tomorrow. I could get cancer in my twenties, have a heart attack in my fifties. I could be murdered. I could join the million people who have died of coronavirus. I don’t know how it will happen, but I know that one day it will, and one day I will become a statistic. I hope that it won’t be painful, or frightening. Or soon.

But the how isn’t really the main source of worry, or even the when. It’s just the fact that after I die, there will be nothing. Much as I wish I did, I don’t believe in an afterlife, and never will. Sometimes I think about what it will feel like to be dead, even though logically I know that it won’t feel like anything. Just like I felt nothing before I was born, I will simply go back into that state of nonexistence. Sometimes I can allow myself to be comforted by that thought: there’s no point being afraid, because it’s not something I’ll actually experience. It won’t be painful, or boring, or frightening. But most of that time it just makes me panic more, because then I begin to think about the fact that one day I won’t feel hurt, or bored, or frightened.

It’s got to the point where I can’t live in the moment entirely anymore. Any time I catch myself having a truly nice moment – one where I’m laughing with the people around me, or having a deep chat, or doing something I love – I’ll suddenly be overwhelmed with panic at the thought that these moments are fleeting, that one day I won’t be capable of having them anymore. I’m constantly wondering, with everything I do: when will I do this for the last time? When is the last time I will see this person? Or go to this place I always go? One way another, everything in my life will come to an end. And while most people seem to be able to, I cannot deal with that.

Maybe I feel like this because I don’t feel fulfilled yet. I’m only twenty one, and I haven’t had enough of life. Maybe it’s because of the years I lost to illness, and the desperate feeling I have now to get things done. To not fall behind. To enjoy everything life has to offer. Maybe I have some undiagnosed mental illness. Or maybe I’m completely normal, and everyone feels like this. If that is the case, I ask you: how do you cope? Today I was ill, because of my chronic illness flaring up. I spend most of the day lying around doing nothing. And even though I’m trying to be more sensible about it, I can’t help feeling panicked. That I’m wasting my finite time on this earth, that I don’t even know how much time I have left and so I should be using every last minute of it. When I’m well enough, I fill every moment I have with things. I don’t let myself rest.

It consumes me. In every book I read, every song I listen to, every hour I spend working, every conversation I have, I feel the finiteness of it. How do I carry the weight of mortality?

Love, Violet

Why Do We Have To Grow Up?

It’s a bit of a running joke with people I know that I was a stunted teenager. While other girls my age were having sex and going to parties and doing make up, I was playing pretend games in my head, and making video stars with kids a few years younger than me. Somehow I just entirely missed that horrible hormonal cesspool of fourteen year olds who are just beginning to find their place in the world.

A story that’s brought up a lot is the time my friend Lily and I decided to play The Hunger Games in the park. Toy bows and arrows and everything. We were fourteen, and we loved it. And it’s funny, that I was so stunted. That I was doing things like that at an age where it was no longer socially acceptable or age appropriate. But somehow I feel wrong laughing along with everyone, like I don’t have the right to. Laughing along would be letting everyone know that this is funny and cringe, but it’s fine because I’ve changed now. But how different am I really to that fourteen year old girl who played The Hunger Games in the park? Honestly, if I could do that again now, if I had the time, the energy, and the childish ability to immerse myself entirely into a story in my head, I would jump at the chance.

I didn’t stop playing pretend games because I gained the ability to reflect on how silly I look. I stopped playing pretend games because I lost the ability to pretend. And I would do anything to get it back. There’s so many stories out there about how children are special. Fantasy stories where only children can hear the bells of Santa’s sleigh, where only children can go to Terabithia, only children can see fairies and trolls and elves. And it’s because we all know that children have an ability that we lost long ago. Growing up is interesting, but as you grow the world gradually loses its magic, bit by bit. You learn that Santa Claus isn’t real. That fairies really are only imaginary. That your toys will never come to life, that you’ll never gain the ability to fly or to speak to animals, that everything you hoped is real, isn’t.

Pretend games become silly because now we’re all painfully aware of how it isn’t real. We can’t be immersed anymore. So people who haven’t quite lost that ability, who are a few steps behind everyone, are silly now. And childish. Yes, childish, because they haven’t yet lost what makes them a child. We should be adults now. We know how the world works.

Only we don’t want to give up the magic. So we turn to other ways to pretend. Books and TV shows that transport us to another world, Video games where the pretending is done for us. Dungeons and Dragons, a pretend game which is (debatably) socially acceptable. We have lost the ability to make the magic, so we rely on other means to access it. Some of us who are more imaginative will write stories, be praised for our imagination. Fanfiction: a way to take a pretend world you love and make it your own. Some of us make music, others make paintings. We try our best to access the creative brains we were born with.

It’s never quite the same though. No matter how good you get, you end up agonising over the work you’ve produced, worried that people will laugh at it, or be bored by the story, or cringe secretly because it’s bad. So you make sure to practise and practise, and become good at what you do. It’s great being good at what you do: it just gives you access to more ways to express yourself. But if you don’t have the time or the drive to become good, then you’ll give up, squashed under the watchful eye of others. People can’t paint unless they improve; people can’t sing unless they can sing in tune; people can’t write unless their work is approved by others. As children, we chalked the streets and painted pictures and wrote poems and stories with little thought to other people finding them bad, or finding us sad. We just did it because it was fun, and we enjoyed it. There was no need to impress, because no matter what we produced, there would be an adult around ready to be impressed.

I’m glad for books and video games. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to spend all my time in the real world. But I wish I had the obliviousness and the imagination of my child self, who could spend every waking moment in her own made up world. Who could spend hours alone chatting to my invisible friends (not imaginary. Invisible.). Who could make a delicious meal of mud pie and catkin oatmeal in my Wendy house, who could draw pictures to tell stories, who could effortlessly write poem after poem. Who could play The Hunger Games in the park with her best friend.

Perhaps the end of my childhood is more significant to me than it is to most people, even though I’m sure it’s a big deal for us all. For me, becoming a teenager coincided exactly with becoming bed bound, dropping out of school, and not seeing any of my friends for months and months. While most people at that age are being stripped of their childhood fancies and becoming acquainted with the world how it really is, I was stripped of everything. My life. And when I got a little better, I wanted things to go back to how they were before I was ill, even though I was a teenager now, and everyone else my age had moved on to adult things. Without me. Because I wasn’t there. So really it was a mixture of wanting what I had before, and not knowing how I was supposed to act now, because I’d left for a year and come back to a new world. It became a joke in my class that I didn’t know any innuendos that everyone else somehow knew now. People would come up to me with a new word, educate me. Slowly but surely, I learned what was normal. And eventually, I changed accordingly.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the worlds I left behind. Maybe one day, I’ll learn to return to them.

Love, Violet

Dear Maggie

Content warning: suicide.

Dear Maggie,

You would be sixteen now. My own sixteen was the year things started looking up. I went from being friendless and isolated, to having my first friendship group. To finally feeling like I had somewhere I fitted in. There were lows as well, of course – what sixteen year old would I be without some anguish?

When I look back to being thirteen years old, all I can think of is how little of my life I had lived yet. At thirteen, I was not the same person as at twenty one. I’d never driven a car; never got drunk; never gone away without adult supervision; never kissed anyone. But it’s more than just a checkbox of life experiences. There were things about me I didn’t know; feelings I had never experienced. I didn’t know I was gay. I didn’t know what it felt like to watch the news and the things going on around me, and simultaneously give up on humanity while still wanting to fight for it. I’d never fallen in love. I’d never had my heart broken.

At thirteen, I was a mere prototype of who I am today. But thirteen is all you are.

Dear Maggie,

We never spoke a word to each other directly. We only saw each other from a distance, quietly observed each other’s existence without much thought. It’s strange how one person can have so much impact on your life without ever exchanging a word. I remember the day I found out, three years ago today. I remember sitting at the school piano and playing while I thought of you. I remember walking numbly around the school, trying to keep it together until somebody asked me if I was okay. I remember crumbling, being reassured by the librarian that I wasn’t being stupid, and being hugged by a girl I barely knew. I remember going to my cello lesson, and breaking down again to my teacher. And again when I saw my friends who knew you cry. I remember talking to your best friend, someone who I did and still do love with all my heart, and watching them act stronger than I could despite being five years younger. I remember thinking that this can’t possibly be a world I can live in, where thirteen year olds don’t want to live.

You probably didn’t even know my name, but I’ll remember yours forever.

Dear Maggie,

I don’t believe in an afterlife. My talking to you now isn’t for your benefit at all. Only my own. Maybe to try and soften the idea in my mind that you don’t exist. You existed, and now you don’t. You’ll never get the letters people wrote to you, never see the tears from the people who loved you, never know what happened to all your friends who have had to grow up without you. You’re nothing now.

Whenever I think of you, I think of what could have been. If you’d decided to just keep going that little bit longer, how much your life could have improved. Or even if you’d tried, and somebody got to you in time, and you had the support of everyone who loves you to help you get better. So many people loved you.

But that didn’t happen. And now we’ll never know.

Dear Maggie,

You’ve left your mark on this world. And it will never be the same again.

Love, Violet

 

 

Paying My Past Self A Visit

Quarantine is weird. I feel like we’re all going a little off the rails at the moment, each in our own special way. Maybe I’m a minority here, but I’ve kind of been enjoying myself. For the first time in literal years, I have time. Time to get all those little projects done that I’ve been saying I want to do forever, but never got round to, like my painting by numbers that I started two years ago; and knitting a pair of gloves as a thank you to somebody for all they’ve done for me; and writing. But because everything’s so weird right now, I’ve had even more time to spare, even after doing all of those things. And inevitably, it’s transported me back to my childhood. Back to the time when I had all the time in the world.

It started with me getting out all my old Jacqueline Wilson books out of the loft. Those books took up a huge chunk of my childhood. I started with Candyfloss, the most battered, dog-eared book of them all, because of how many times I used to read it. None of my books look like that anymore, because I only ever have time to read books once now. But in the past, every single book I owned was thoroughly mangled. I’d read in bed every night. I’d read at the dinner table, despite my parents’ protests. I’d read on the toilet. God, I miss reading so much.

Next, I resurfaced the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo when I was 16. Year 12. The last year that I had the time and the willpower to participate in NaNoWriMo and actually finish it. I’ve been slowly uploading that story on to AO3 for the past three years, but I’ll always forget and then leave it for another year. Yesterday, I uploaded the rest of it. Except for the last chapter. I’m going to rewrite that one. Back when I wrote that story for the first time, I got through it and then never looked at it again. I never had time to make edits. Unfortunately, having finally got round to reading it, I’ve realised that it definitely needs editing: not just plot-wise, but there’s a load of grammatical errors which I let slip. This is why we proof-read, people!

It feels so strange, reconnecting with all these little parts of me that have just been locked away. I didn’t deliberately lock them. I’ve just been so busy. Even in the summer holidays, when all my schoolwork is done for the year, I fill it up with outings and meet-ups with friends, which are great and I love them, but it really does mean that I have no time at all just to. Exist. Every little part of my life has become about productivity. If I’m not working, I’m socialising; if I’m not doing either, I’m feeling guilty about getting nothing done, about not moving forward with my goal to achieve my ideal life. I don’t even know what my ideal life is. Just that it needs a ridiculous amount of work to get to it. The only breaks I ever gave myself were when I collapsed with sheer exhaustion, and had no choice but to rest.

I’m glad that I’ve had a chance to realise all of this. I don’t know what I can do about it. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the time that I have. Maybe start some volunteer work back up again, at some point. It feels wrong to just be sitting here safely while people are out there risking their lives for us. I’ve been meaning to go back to the vegetable farm I volunteer at (it’s counted as essential work) but for the past week or two my legs have just been aching non-stop. It’s weird. Usually my pain comes and goes. It isn’t just always there, never leaving. I’m starting to worry that it will never go away.

Anyway, I digress. So I’ve realised that my current life is making me into a shell of my former self. At the moment I have a chance to reconnect with who I used to be, but what about when all of this ends? What about when I have to go back to university, and then get a job? I can’t exactly just nope out of life. I suppose all I can really do is remember what I’m discovering right now. Remember that life isn’t entirely about how productive I can be. That mindset is probably just a result of living in a society that cares about nothing but how much they can get out of their workers. We’re taught to think that our lives revolve around work, that we’ll be rewarded if we spend an inhuman amount of time just working, that we’re following our dreams. But for most people, we never reach those dreams. We just get burnt out, struggling day to day to keep on top of everything, to earn enough to survive.

Even hobbies can’t be left alone. What’s the point in doing something fun, if you’re not making money out of it? Turn it into a side hustle! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make money off something you enjoy, if that’s what you truly want to do. If you can find a job that you love, and it’s something that you do for fun anyway, then great! You win at life. What I’m talking about is that feeling of obligation, that this thing you’re doing is a waste of time if it isn’t moving you forward in life somehow. I’ve been making an effort recently to do things for fun that I’m not very good at. I’m not great at writing, and I’m awful at painting, but I’m going to do them anyway because they’re fun. And sometimes, that’s enough.

I hope everyone’s staying safe and looking after themselves. How are you all finding quarantine? Has anything unexpected come out of it for you?

Love, Violet

A Further 10 Journal Prompt Questions and Answers

Hi everyone, not to be all existential crisis on you (I know that that trend is about 5 years out of date now) but I’m feeling that kind of hollowness that you sometimes get as a side effect of being human, but I don’t have the energy or motivation to write about it. So I thought right now would be the perfect time to distract myself with some questions. Prompts from https://pageflutter.com/52-self-discovery-prompts/

21. True or False: “I know how to stick up for myself.” Explain your answer.

False. This is something I’ll probably never get the hang of, but I’m trying. I second guess myself too easily. As soon as somebody thinks I’ve done something bad, it makes me question myself and think that they might be right, even when it’s blatantly obvious that I’ve done nothing wrong. Or somebody will say something and it will upset me, but I won’t say anything for fear that I’m overreacting. Also I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings; I go to extreme lengths to try not to do that, and probably a lot of the time fail anyway. At least I try?

22. You just moved in to your dream home. Look out the kitchen window. What do you see?

There’s plenty of things I’d love to look out and see. A forest, but not too close because I think living in one could be a little scary. Mountains would be great too. I wouldn’t mind living on mountains, although the journey to reach anything might get a bit much. The Northern Lights are definitely something I’d never get sick of. Or maybe all I need is a garden with children playing in it (preferably my children and not just some random kids I’ve never met before).

23. Your neighbors are having a party. You only know 1 person who is attending. Will you go to the party?

Absolutely not. If it was a friend then maybe, but I lack too many social skills to go to some garden party where everybody is likely middle aged and interact with people for an extended period of time. Not to mention a chronic illness that makes interacting with new people absolutely exhausting.

24. You just spent all day by yourself. Are you bored?

This is a very appropriate question for the time we’re living in right now. It really depends on the day. Sometimes, when I have the energy, I find countless things to do that interest me: reading books, knitting, cooking, playing music, crafts, painting (by numbers), or even just watching hours and hours of television. But when I’m ill it’s very dull. Not being able to do anything gets old really fast. Today was one of those days, unfortunately.

25. You’ve just met a stranger at a place you frequent. He/she tells you a bit about his/her life. Are you listening intently? Or are you waiting for an opening to talk about yourself? Neither answer is incorrect. Describe how this meeting made you feel.

Again, it really depends on the person. Most of the time I’ll be waiting for an opportunity to exit the conversation gracefully. If I don’t click with someone and the conversation isn’t flowing freely, then I’ll get really anxious. But if the conversation is easy and enjoyable, then it’s a mix of both. I think somebody that you click with makes you want to talk about yourself because you feel like you’re really being listened to and heard, but at the same time they’ll also make you want to listen to what they have to say, because they interest you.

26. You just spent a day at the beach. How do you feel? Energized? Tired? Alternatively, you spent a day in the mountains. How do you feel?

Spending a day anywhere that isn’t my house will definitely leave me being tired. Because. Chronic illness. But something like a beach or the mountains would most likely leave me feeling a fulfilled, satisfied kind of tired. The kind of tired you get when a good day has come to the end, with a little touch of sadness that it couldn’t have lasted for longer.

27. You’re in an elevator and someone you admire walks in. Do you give the person your business card? Why or why not?

No, because I don’t have a business card, and even if I did I very much doubt that anyone I admire will be impressed with me offering them maths tutoring.

28. To show someone you love them, are you likely to use words, actions, or another method?

Actions. This is something I get into trouble with a lot; my friends often worry that I don’t actually like them, because I don’t say it enough. I really try. But I’ve always found it easier to show my love rather than say it. A lot of the time I’ll do things for people without them even knowing that I’ve done it, or what I was specifically aiming to achieve. And that makes it even worse, because they have no way of knowing that I’ve done something for them. I think I have this deep rooted fear that I can’t outwardly show affection towards people, in case they don’t reciprocate those feelings.

29. You’ve just started working at a new job. One of your colleagues is mean/unkind to you. How do you handle the situation?

I’d probably do nothing at all, and just complain about them when I get home from work to anyone who will listen.

30. You walk into a white room filled with white furniture. Does it feel clean or sterile? What does this tell you about the rest of your home. Imagine the room with colorful walls and colorful furniture. How does this change your feelings?

I think it would feel interesting. A little bleak if it was where I was living. But I’ve never seen a completely white room before, so I think there would be some novelty to it. Same with a colourful room. I like it when things are changed up a little. Everything’s so boring usually.

I don’t think I answered these questions very well. But oh well. I’ve been honest, and I’ve tried to put thought into my answers. I hope everyone’s safe and indoors right now. See you all in 12 weeks.

Love, Violet

 

 

The Right Path

I’ve had this feeling building for a few months now, and there’s a growing sense of urgency to it. Despite things being quite alright, and despite being reasonably happy right now, every day I wake up feeling like I’m in the wrong place. I’ve worked so hard to make my bedroom feel like mine, but it just doesn’t anymore. It feels like a room with my things placed in it. And it’s sad, because it’s such a lovely room, but I just don’t fit it anymore.

I keep making plans for my future in my head, and then rewriting them, again and again.  I’m going to move to Brighton and open a café; wait no, I’m actually going to move to Norway and learn Norwegian and live in the mountains; actually scratch that, I’m obviously in the wrong degree path, I’d better go and get myself a degree in music; nope nope nope, I’m in the right degree path – in fact, I’m going to get a PhD in maths. And then I’m back to square one. I want to do all of those things, and none of them at the same time.

I guess in reality, not everyone has a calling. Some people do: some people know from a young age what they’re going to dedicate their lives to, and that’s amazing. Good for them. But equally, a lot of us have no idea what’s right for us. I don’t have a clue what will make me feel happy and fulfilled, or even if I ever will. Perhaps I don’t even need a calling – maybe I just need to find someone to love and build a family with. I hope to God that when I do that, I’ll feel like that was a fulfilling choice. I don’t know what I’ll do if, like every other choice in my life, it doesn’t feel quite right.

Maybe this is all part of the process of “finding myself”. Something which seems to be taking a very long time. And I’m not the most patient. I don’t like very long waits. I still kind of feel like I have no idea who I am. I can list hundreds of things I like to do and see and talk about, and hundreds that I hate. But is that what makes me, me? What if I found someone who likes all the exact same things I do, shares all my opinions, has the same favourite topics of conversation? What then makes us different? Because we definitely wouldn’t be the same. We’d have our own separate mannerisms, we’d both present ourselves to the world in a slightly different way. How do I even present myself? What feeling do people get from interacting with me, that they can’t put into words?

I don’t know. I honestly. Do not know. I’ve always felt so jealous of people who seem to just slot into something. Like gymnasts, and other athletes. They always seem so tightly knit. Or brownies, back in primary school. Even just people who have a real university to go to, and not just a website. I think one of the hardest things about leaving school for me was losing that feeling of being part of a community. Being around people I know and talk to, working on things together, just hanging around in the same building five days a week. It’s a feeling I’ve never been able to replicate since leaving. I have other things that I’m part of, like volunteering at the community farm, and my orchestra. But it’s just not the same. I feel like I’ve lost something irreplaceable.

Maybe this is all just because I have so much work to do. I’m turning to escapism to try and avoid thinking about everything building up. I’m hoping to go on a few little weekends away with friends this summer, and the thing I’m most looking forward to is waking up, and not being in the same place that I am every morning. It will make me feel like I’m not so stagnant, unable to move from the place I’m currently stuck in.

Anyway. Sorry for the confused ramble. I’m just a bit frustrated.

Love, Violet

Finding Me

Content warning: death.

I had a good long stare into the mirror this evening. At my own reflection, and everything around me. At the floor, which looked exactly like the real floor. At the ceiling. At all the little bits and bobs. I feel more like myself again.

My sense of self is very hard to capture, and even harder to hold on to. I think I know myself well, and then I’m thrown into a new situation, and realise how little control I have over everything. I can’t stop my feelings, or my responses to scary situations. It’s so hard to pinpoint my own behaviour, and decide what, at my core, makes me me. It feels like I’m on a constant quest, to know who I am. And I’m so easily distracted.

These past few years, it’s finally felt like I am finding myself. Putting little pieces of my personality together like a puzzle. I realised that I adore nature. That I’m interested in the history and the science of the world. That music is the art form that evokes the most emotion in me. I can just get lost in it. I enjoy books, because they’re a little piece of another life that I get to live, just for a few hours, before I get back to living my own. I could spend months dreaming the most mundane dreams, because they’re something that only I’ll ever get to experience.

I can’t get enough of life. There’s too much on offer, and I want to see it all. The fact that I never will is both heartbreaking and wonderful. Heartbreaking because I’m missing out on so many things. I want to learn to dance, although I probably never will. I want to read every book and speak every language in existence, even though at the moment I can barely speak one. But it’s also wonderful because I know that I’m never going to run out of new things. I’ll have to pick out the most important ones to me, but no matter how good I get at cello, there’ll always be another piece out there for me to learn. No matter how many books I read, there’ll always be a new one to capture my interest. I love how much there is to do, and as a result I end up piling on too much at once and exhausting myself. It’s exhilarating.

But I’m also obsessed with death. Specifically, my own. I try not to think about it too much, but every time my mind wanders to the topic, I just spend a little too long thinking about how everything surrounding me will cease to exist, for me at least. I won’t think thoughts, and I won’t feel anything. I will no longer exist. It terrifies me. Sometimes I just get waves of that feeling at a moment where I catch myself feeling too free: when I’m laughing with friends or feeling the cold of the air outside, my brain likes to give me a little reminder that one day I will no longer feel this. Coming to terms with my own death is something that I don’t think I’ll ever learn to do.

I could get caught up in the hopelessness of life: everything I’m doing now is really for nothing, because it’s all just to pass the time before I’m dead. How can anything I do mean anything, when that’s what’s waiting for me at the end of it all? But in some ways, I find some freedom in that. It’s kind of how I find my spirituality. There is no point at all to what I’m doing, and yet somehow I’m here, and somehow I’m creating a point to it. If I didn’t have my own reason for my own existence, then why not just die right now? Well. It’s because I don’t want to.

I think this is why I take school so seriously. Some people who think similar thoughts to me might argue that I’m wasting my time with it, when according to my own logic everything is pointless anyway. I should just spend my time doing things that I find fun, because surely that’s what life must be for, if nothing else. But learning things is so interesting. I might be hating exams and studying right now, but at the end of it I’ll know so many new things. Taking an extra A Level in music is something that I regularly wish I hadn’t done, because it’s so much work. But then I remember that I did it because I love music, and I want to know more about how it works. And now I know a whole lot more. That knowledge isn’t just going to leave me once I’ve taken the exam and got my final grade.

Same with maths. I’ve decided that the only route for me is postgrad, because I did not take this degree to get an office job, repeating the same mundane tasks over and over. I didn’t take it to go into finance. I couldn’t give two shits about finance. I want to delve deep into maths. I want to understand it fully. I want to do research, and make discoveries. I love it.

I think life needs a good mix of things that you take very seriously, and things that you don’t take seriously at all. I take school seriously, and I want good grades. But I can’t be good at many things, because that will take too much time. And I don’t want to limit myself to things that I’m good at, because that’s not enough. I want to do things mediocrely, or even badly, too. I want to paint things even though I know nothing about art, and write stories and blog posts even though I haven’t really learned how to do it well. I want to dance, even if I look like the biggest idiot in the world. I want to collect unnecessary things, like goblets, and old coins, and instruments, and four leaved clovers. Just because I like to look at them.

Basically, there’s a lot of things that I want to do. Right now I can’t do a huge amount, because I have exams coming up. So I’m limited to the things that I should be studying and practising for. But then those exams will be over, and I’ll have learnt new things, and gained new skills. And I’ll have time again to focus on the rest of the world.

Love, Violet

Something’s Off

Hey everyone! We’re more than halfway through January now. I hope the year’s been going well for you so far. Mine has consisted almost entirely of me sitting at a desk and reading textbooks. I’m horribly behind on my uni work and trying desperately to catch up. And all that aside, things have been… weird.

It’s difficult to explain, but it feels like a part of me has been left behind in 2019. I made so much progress that year, in terms of my mental health and my perception of myself. I really, genuinely started to like myself, and I still do. I think that I’m an interesting person, with interesting thoughts and a unique perception of the world. But I’ve started letting other people’s perceptions of me matter more again.

It’s a difficult thing, feeling self-assured. Last year, I was moving closer and closer towards it. I started doing things because I enjoy them and not to make other people like me more. I started enjoying time alone with myself, and my thoughts. I learned to go through life without scrutiny. Even little things, like making tweets again that weren’t intended to be seen. They were just little inside jokes with myself. And to some extent I’m still doing all of that. I would never do anything now simply to impress someone else, because I have enough self worth now to want people to like me for me. But. I’m still scared that people won’t like me for me. That fear is coming back, that once somebody gets to know me well enough, even if they liked me at first, they’ll realise that I’m actually not a good person. Not somebody they want to be around.

I’ve started getting random anxiety attacks. Not full-blown, hyperventilating panic attacks. But little waves of nausea, where I have to stop what I’m doing and close my eyes for a while, put my head down and just breathe. It’s partly because of the social fear. Probably also because I have a lot of work and it’s stressing me out. I don’t really know what to do about them, honestly.

As I’m writing this, I’m realising that I don’t actually have a huge amount to say about this. It’s just what’s been on my mind at the moment. I’m actually doing fine: in general, I’m feeling good about life. I’m exhausted, and spending all of my waking hours working, but if it gets me a good grade at the end of this year, it’s worth it. I just don’t want to feel anxious. There’s nothing to be anxious about. I’m doing the thing that I used to do where I overanalyse my every interaction with someone, and somehow twist it into confirmation that they find me annoying and don’t want to talk to me.

At least I can deal with this in a healthier way than I used to. I’m not going to reach out and beg for validation from people to make me feel better about myself. I know that it will only make things worse, and mean that I’m actually annoying people. I’m not not going to reach out, I just won’t play that game where I self deprecate to fish for compliments. It’s an extremely bad thing to do. I won’t turn on myself: I’m not going to be horrible to myself for this, because I don’t hate myself. I want the best for me, and so I’m going to look after myself as well as I’m able. I’m going to try to battle my illogical thoughts with reason. Remind myself that most people in my life actually do like me very much, and as for those that don’t – that’s okay. Not everyone has to like me in order for me to like myself.

Anyway. I know I’m talking about myself here, but this applies to anyone else with the same worries as me. Look after yourself. Try to be your own best friend: you’re the only person guaranteed to be with you forever, so you might as well enjoy your company. Remember that your brain can be mean sometimes, and that when it tells you that everybody hates you, it is Not. True. Even if some people do – they’re really not the people you should be worrying about.

Love, Violet

10 More Journal Prompt Questions and Answers

It’s another one of those nights, so I thought I’d continue on from one of my earlier posts and answer some more journal prompts. My original post is here, and the journal prompts are from here: https://pageflutter.com/52-self-discovery-prompts/

11. What do you enjoy most about your favourite hobby? How can you incorporate that into other parts of your life?

I suppose my favourite hobby is music. The thing I enjoy the most about it is mastering a new little thing that I’ve spent a long time working on: a new song, or a scale, or a difficult chord. But at the same time I enjoy the mindlessness of it. I like to get to that point where I don’t even have to think about what I’m playing anymore, because it’s all muscle memory. In terms of incorporating that into other parts of my life, I guess I just need to feel good about little bits of progress that I’ve made. I need to remember that what feels easy to me now was once difficult, and what is now difficult will one day be easy.

12. Describe a day in your life that was especially enjoyable. What made the day so good? 

On the first of December, my sisters, Elina, and I met up with one of our very close friends. We wanted to have our own special Christmas together. We went to Winter Wonderland, went on a rollercoaster, ate pizza and chips, and then headed back home. At home, we made a great big Christmas dinner together and decorated the house, and then watched a Christmas movie (Klaus – which is an excellent movie by the way). I think what made it so good was a mixture of really great company, and also the feeling of taking something into our own hands: we subverted tradition a little bit by celebrating Christmas on the very first day of December. And it was a day that was totally ours. We could do whatever we wanted.

13. When you think about your future, what do you fear the most?

Death. It’s always going to be death. I feel like I’m never going to experience enough of life to be ready for it. The thought of not existing, not having thoughts or feelings or memories or senses, just complete nothingness… terrifies me. Time feels like it’s ticking away too fast, and every milestone I hit is just a reminder that what I’m working towards in the end is nothing.

14. When you think about your future, what do you hope for the most? 

I just hope that I’m happy. I want to keep the friends I have and meet new ones along the way. I want to find a partner who I love and will happily spend the rest of my life with. I want kids who I’ll raise well and who will be happy too. I want to put out good into the world, and for my existence to be a positive thing.

15. Describe a time you mistreated someone. How do you feel about your behaviour, and what would you say to the person now?

There are a lot of times that I’ve mistreated people. One time stands out to me, not because I feel like it was the worst I’ve ever treated somebody, but because I never apologised. When I was sixteen I found out that a boy I was friendly with had a crush on me, and wanted to ask me out. It terrified me, because not only had this kind of thing never happened to me before nor had I expected it to, but I was deeply in the closet. I wasn’t out to anyone at all, and I was scared that it would all come out because of this. So I ghosted him. I ignored his perfectly nice messages, and when I saw him in person I acted like he wasn’t there. Looking back now it seems ridiculous – I could have just kindly told him that I didn’t feel the same way, without bringing my sexuality into it at all. I could have stayed friends with him. But I panicked, and I did the wrong thing. Now I can’t find him on social media, so I’ll never have the chance to say that I’m sorry.

16. Write about a missed opportunity you wish you had taken. What could you do differently next time?

Sometimes I wish that I hadn’t dropped out of university. Logically, I know that it was probably the best thing for me: it tired me out, I didn’t talk to anyone, and I was so miserable there that I ended up breaking down crying on the ground in a train station. Now I’m getting good grades and I have friends who I would never have met if I hadn’t dropped out. But there’s a piece of me that aches when I see friends going out and having a ‘normal’ experience. That could have been me. If I wasn’t so ill. If I’d tried harder to get the help I needed before it all became too much. It’s not an irreversible mistake. I am planning on going back to mainstream university for my master’s degree. Part of me worries that the same thing will happen again, and I’ll have to drop out a second time. But I’m going to do everything I can to avoid that: these past few years have been a chance for me to develop my independence and my coping mechanisms, as well as my independent work skills. I’m going to do all I can to have a good time this time around.

17. What do you look for in a close friend? Do you have those characteristics?

I look for friends who genuinely appreciate my company and actively want to spend time with me. People who will make the effort to reach out, and assure me without me having to ask that I am wanted. Unfortunately, I don’t think I consistently have those characteristics myself. I do genuinely appreciate peoples’ company, and I do want to spend time with them. But when it comes to making the effort to reach out, I worry that I don’t do it enough, that I’m neglecting someone and making them feel like I don’t care. Another issue I have is with communication: I’m terrible at showing people in words that I care about them and want them around. I try to make up for that in actions. I’ll make someone a thoughtful gift or plan an outing that I know they’ll love, or something like that. But sometimes I don’t think it makes up for it.

18. Describe a time a friend went out of their way to help you.

One of my friends who I can always count on to help me through difficult times is Sapphire. I remember one time she was sleeping over at my house, and I received some bad news while she was there. I tried my best to hide the fact that I was upset, but she saw through it. She didn’t make me talk about it, but she and Marta stayed up late with me that night being ridiculous and taking ugly selfies. Around the same time, she noticed that I was posting sad things on social media and so she gave me a little cuddly toy dragon, so that I had something there with me physically when she couldn’t be.

19. Are you a spiritual person? Describe your beliefs and/or doubts. How do those beliefs affect how you live your life? 

I do not believe in God in the slightest. Or anything supernatural. Or superstition. But I still find spirituality kind of important. I think when you’re thrown into a world as random and meaningless as this one, it’s no wonder that religion becomes a thing. People need something to believe in. They need an answer to the unknown. It kind of kills me to not know things; I’m such a nosy person. But I just have to accept that there are many things out there that I’ll never know. In terms of spirituality, I like to believe in things, even if I know I’m just kidding myself. I like to think that things happen for a reason, to find connections between events in my life. I like it when I have a dream and then it comes true, because I can believe that I predicted it. Even though there’s the logical explanation that my subconscious mind picked up cues from real life and threw them into my dream world. I like to collect clovers because they’re lucky, and goblets because they have a story. It just makes things a little bit more fun.

20. Discuss how the people in your life make you feel. How do you perceive yourself after spending time with them? How will that affect how you spend time with them in the future?

I think I’ve been antagonising people a bit too much lately, and so a lot of people have made me feel not that great. But there’s also a lot of good feelings too. I’ve been getting along with my family a lot better lately. I feel like my mum is such a good, selfless person, and that I’ve only just realised recently how much she’s done for me without asking for anything at all in return. I’ve also recently noticed how much my dad loves me. Which sounds utterly stupid, because of course he does. But it’s not something I think about much. In general, my friends make me feel good. I finally have a group of people who actually genuinely seem to want me around, and that’s a feeling I’ll never get enough of. They’re also so much fun to be around, because they’re all so different, and I always end up doing different things depending on who I’m with. I go on crazy adventures with Hera and Poppy that aren’t actually crazy at all, but feel like they are: ice skating and walks and trips to the beach. With Sapphire I play video games (Minecraft is a good game and I’m not ashamed to admit it) and walk our dogs and spend an entire day pretending to be a Sim. With Selene and Eve I write stories and go to book conventions and talk about fiction and bake. With my sisters and Elina I bicker and get on everyone’s nerves and binge watch countless TV shows, and pretty much do everything I do on my own, but with them. There are many more that I could talk about, but right now I’m finally starting to feel like I might drop off to sleep.

This has been entertaining. These questions are fun, because they give me an opportunity to reflect on lots of things, but in a much more controlled and directed way than usual. I look forward to doing the next lot.

Love, Violet

Another Year of Growth

Warning: mental illness related content

I have a tendency to start each year with a reckless amount of optimism. This year will be the best year of my life. No? Next year then, surely. No again? Maybe the year after that? Still no? Right. But this one has been different. This year has begun with what I think to be a healthy amount of realism: I’ve had feelings of sadness at what’s still wrong in my life, happiness at what I’ve achieved, and fear. Fear of the unknown. Because that is what this year, and every year, is.

Let’s start with the bad points, because it’s always nice to get those over with first. Over the course of 2018 and 2019 my mental health hit an all time low. I thought 2017 was bad, but it was NOTHING compared with this. Self harm, suicidal thoughts, the whole lot. You can actually see it through my blog posts and my twitter, as they go from cheery and light to absolutely miserable. I had friendship issues; relationship issues; family issues. I hated myself.

But I got through it.

By the end of 2019 I can honestly say that I was no longer depressed. I still struggle with my self image a little: my awkwardness is just a part of me that isn’t going to go away. And I worry much more than the average person (I think) about whether or not I’m a good person. One little thing goes wrong and immediately I catastrophise, and think that I’m truly irredeemable. I still have social anxiety. I’m starting to think that I have more generalised anxiety as well: sometimes I just have waves of sickness and dizziness because I’ve just started feeling anxious for absolutely no reason at all. But all that aside, I’m feeling happier than I have in years. About myself and about life. The fact that I still have issues is not something that’s making me feel hopeless, because throughout your life you are always going to have problems. New ones will replace the old. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth working on improving them, and enjoying life more.

I’ve discovered more about myself. I’ve discovered that I have a taste in music, even if it is limited to a couple of artists and a load of classical music. I’ve discovered a new love for my degree that I’ve always had, but haven’t really had time to think about with everything else going on. I’ve discovered that being outside is the best feeling in the world, and that looking at the sky never gets old, because every single day it’s different. I’ve discovered that people, myself included, are even more complicated than I could ever imagine, and that friendships are both the most difficult and the most rewarding things in the world. I’ve remembered my love of collections: my room currently contains 22 goblets, which in my opinion is not enough goblets. I also have coins from all around the world, too many to fit in my book. I’ve realised that finding a four leaved clover is a mixture of luck, but also choice: the only reason I’ve found so many is because I’m constantly looking.

I could probably go on forever. There are so many things that I learn each year, and it astounds me. How am I fitting all this information into my brain? How can I possibly die one day, when there are books left to be read, skills left to be learned, food left to be tasted, and millions upon millions of things out there to experience? What I suppose I’m trying to say, is that 2019 was the year that I learned that I love life. I can’t get enough of it.

I’ve also discovered things I don’t like. Although I’m pretty much friends with the same people as before (with the addition of some lovely new people), and I feel just as close to most of them, my relationships with them have felt a bit more strained. Not outwardly: just within myself. I’m finding it harder to like people, because I’ve become better at noticing personality flaws. This extends to myself as well: I’m noticing my flawed behaviour a lot more, and I don’t like it. Because it means that I have to admit that I’m wrong and try to change, and nobody likes admitting they’re wrong. I’m trying to treat myself and my friends in the same way. I’m trying to recognise that just because somebody has annoying habits and problematic behaviours, it doesn’t mean that I should just go off them completely. Like I said before, people are complicated. I know that I’m capable of change, and therefore so is everyone else. Even though I don’t like feeling this way, I think that overall it’s a good thing: I’m learning to love people for who they really are, instead of just my idealised perception of who they are.

I’m going to talk about my achievements in 2019, because I really am proud of myself for them. One of my resolutions for this year was to get through my first year of uni. And I did it! Moving on to my second year has made me feel a whole lot better about things, because I feel less like I’m being left behind. It took me two years to complete the first year, but plenty of my friends are at the same stage right now, because they took gap years. So I’m not being left behind. I’m moving on with things. I also passed my driving test, which was the biggest relief in the world. Not because I really want to drive or anything – it’s just one less thing to worry about. Despite having a hilariously eccentric driving instructor who would spend half the time telling me ghost stories and the other half ranting about the government and just the human race in general, I hated lessons. They stressed me out, because I knew I was working towards an exam at the end. I spent the day before my test freaking out and feeling like I was about to pass away on the spot. It was so bad that my driving instructor recommended me a herbal remedy for stress. I did end up trying it – no idea if it helped, but I passed. I got my Grade 4 in Classical guitar, and Grade 7 in cello. Cello was an immense struggle. Unless you’re a complete musical genius, it’s very hard to make a string instrument sound any better than a dying cat. But I did it. I mean, I still sound pretty similar to a dying cat. But less so, every day.

The start of the 2020 was weird for me. It didn’t help that we missed the actual start because the TV countdown was delayed by one minute on our computer. But what really made me weird was how normal everything felt. I don’t feel a huge shift from last year to this year. Nothing’s really changed. I suppose that’s the case every year, but this time I feel hyper aware of it. I still have all my problems from last year to deal with, and the same drive to get through it all. Nothing’s really changed. But I guess that’s a good thing. Because 2019 was the year I discovered how to learn. And 2020 is the first year of many that I will continue.

Love, Violet