Moving forward

Declan Mckenna Why Do You Feel So Down?
I am a little afraid these days. Afraid of the future, afraid of the past and afraid of today. I find it hard to admit my fears, i don’t want to look vulnerable. I want, I need to perpetuate only strength that I can take on the world and come out the other side as the best possible me. That’s not really how life works, is it? Fear shouldn’t be viewed as a weakness, surely being able to tackle fear head on without worrying about the consequences will only help us be who we need to be? 
I don’t know if what’s going on in my head is anxiety, fear or worry. Are these all the same thing? Is this normal? What even is normal? I have so many questions and no one seems to have any answers for me and it’s so frustrating. Everyone seems to have all of their shit together and heading in the right direction that life is supposed to go in and then there’s me just stuck in the same spot, unable to move. It’s almost like there is this club, the life club and everyone is a member and no one will tell me the secret password to get in which is just really unfair, it’s all bringing back painful memories of PE class. I don’t even think there is such a magical thing as ‘normal’ there can’t be, one persons normal is another persons weird or different or strange. I can break down the root of my fears into three sections the first is as follows;
The Future
I feel like I have no future, that this is it and that there’s no point in even trying for something else, I am afraid of failing before I’ve even started. I’ve never really committed to one future plan, people seem to grow up knowing what they want the end product of their life to look like and they aim everything towards achieving that. I have NO idea. Well at least that’s what I tell myself and every single person that asks me the oh so wonderful question- “So, Emily what is it exactly that you want to do?” Well, in an ideal world I would be a writer. Let’s just look a little closer at that sentence- “I WOULD be a writer”. Am I not already? I am writing now. Maybe the sentence should be “I would be a successful/published writer”. Again I have some confusion over this, I once told someone that I dream of making a living as a writer and they replied
“Stop right there, if you write with the mindset of making money then you’ll never make a good one.”
That one short reply has stuck with me, all 19 words and I think it’s held me back a little from pursuing my dream. This is my fault of course for letting some random guy (that I was typing to on a popular dating App) get to me. Everyone wants a job that makes them happy, writing makes me happy. I’m holding myself back from happiness because I have a serious fear of failure and rejection, I never put myself completely out there, I always keep a part of me hidden. This is my fear for the future, to try.
The Past
My past haunts me. I wouldn’t say I have any regrets, there’s no point you cant change anything. However sometimes I wish I could go back and change a few things. I am a daydreamer and not in the flighty thinking about unicorns and mermaids kind of way but more of a crippling fear, shame spiralling worry about things I cant change but desperately wish i could. I didn’t take university seriously enough, i didn’t grasp the many opportunities that lay before me, I wasted it. When I was in school, I was the worst kind of student, not the kind that went to the shops at lunchtime when they weren’t allowed or did there homework right before class, I was the other kind. I was the Hermionie Granger of school, annoyingly doing extra homework and my hand was permanently in the air, eager to answer every question in what i am sure was an aggravating know-it-all manner. All that changed when I went to university, I was like an animal let loose eagerly and greedily wanting to try everything and uni became something that just got in the way. Assignments where always handed in late, classes missed and lecturers ignored. By third year I began to try and scramble together all the fragments of information that I had picked up from the few classes I actually went to, i somehow passed. Barely. Now I cant do anything, I cant change it, its entirely my fault I cant blame anyone else and I hate it.
The Present
Day to day life fears are a cumulation of all of the above. Everyday is filled with the fear of being reminded of the past and the open ended question of the future. Right now I just feel a little hopeless and I don’t have a clue how to fix it. It’s like I’m just floating by waiting for someone to find me and help me. Life isn’t going to come together right in front of me tied up in a pretty little bow, I need to go out and do it myself but it’s hard. I don’t where to start I guess at the beginning. Ready, set GO! 

Running up that hill

ShakiraWhenever, Wherever

This is a lot harder than I thought it would be, putting down words. I haven’t written anything in such a long time and its affected me in ways I never thought it would, writing has always been a method of escape for me from things happening in my life, stress or anxiety. By stopping this therapy I’ve really impacted on my own mental stability, it’s made me really sad. But I am going to change that right now by starting fresh.

I want to write about a conversation I had with a close friend of mine a few months ago. Let me set the scene; we where in Cushendall, walking along the sea front and parked ourselves on a bench overlooking the water and cliffs either side. Something you should know about me, I love a good bench, I really appreciate a good view and a comfortable seat. There I was in my element sitting amongst my favourite parts of gods green earth and I found myself thinking about where I am supposed to be in life. Our discussion took some strange turns along the way but it basically revolved around how we as 20 somethings are viewed by our parents, by society and to a certain extent each other. When our parents where our age they were already on step four of the “This is how your life should go” handbook; get a job, get married, get a house and have a baby. Those were the clearly defined steps that their lives were bound to take. Now we live in a generation were there aren’t any steps, we’re kind of making it up as we go, trying to survive as best we can. I feel like I’m constantly trying to reach the top of the hill but I’m doing it without the steps my parents had and it’s so much harder walking up a hill without any steps.

I have a younger brother he’s 5 and I remember freaking out to my mum when he was around 2 1/2 about why he wasn’t speaking yet. I mean he wasn’t mute or anything he would throw out a couple words here and there but the majority of his conversation involved a lot of rather accurate animal noises. Strange I know but to be fair I’ve never met a smarter kid. At the time my mum said to me, with the wisdom only a mother can have, “will you calm down? He’ll get there when he gets there. Everyone’s different.” I feel like this works for me and so many of my friends. We’re all running around, stressing out, looking to others as the destination we should be at right now but it doesn’t work that way.

I might look like I’m falling apart to the outside world but I’m achieving more things within myself than anyone even knows. I’m alright. And you will be too.

To me, From me.

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony

Next month I will be home an entire year, 365 days and it doesn’t feel like I’ve achieved very much in 12 months. I’m still living at home (yippie its just so fun, she says sarcastically), I’m still in a job that isn’t what I want as a career, I’m still a single independent woman (this one I’m not too bothered out tbf, women are from venus men are from mars and all that) and most importantly I still have no clue what I want for myself in life. I am constantly being told that my 20s are supposed to be like this, about “finding myself”, spending time really trying to figure out what I want from life and who I want to be. What an utter pile of shite! The people that say these things are usually in their late 30s still trying to “find themselves” or they’re my age and completely set up in life and feel pity for me and my wayward ways resulting in them spouting complete bullshit that they think will make me feel better when in reality it causes the opposite effect. I can see the look in their eyes, weeping with unwanted sympathy and slight disdain with a curtained veined interest in what I have to say. My seemingly failed existence seems to put a bit of a downer on everyone else’s success. However I have some uplifting and sincere news for everyone, I’m alright, honestly it may seem like I have no future but trust me I do. I just don’t 100% know what it is yet but thats ok with me, so it should be ok with you too.

Another wonderful occurrence that starts to happen in your 20s is, if you’re single get used to all your paired off mates really wanting to set you up with all of their eligible male friends that are just perfect for you but for some reason they never actually went their themselves. I may complain about being single and dying alone but its just a bit, I am your novelty of a friend, that special attraction that can be brought out to make everyone laugh and feel better about themselves, I can poke fun at myself and deliver you some wonderful anecdotes about all my nightmare tinder experiences and about that time I was on a date without realising it but I don’t need you to “fix” me I’m good, really. Besides I don’t think I would know how to deal with being in a relationship, how do you look after a boyfriend? How often to they need to be walked and fed? Men baffle me, they really do. I’m not sure I would even know how to be a girlfriend, Jesus I don’t even know how to be an individual person never mind having to look after someone else.

Something that has  become most apparent this year is that I’ve lost a few friends, people that I thought cared about me but quickly became clear that some people just have their own self interest at heart and no matter how much I think that I’m helping I can’t stop the selfish acts of others and maybe I should be a little selfish myself sometimes. Life is too quick and fleeting to spend most of it trying to fit in with others and allowing for negativity to cloud your life experience. I try my best to surround myself with positivity and good people, in turn I am a happier person and this is all I could wish for.

My family also suffered a terrible loss this year, sort of my first real experience with grief in my adult life. Death is a strange thing, I’d never really consciously gone through the stages of grief before. Of course my family have been through some truly terrible losses but I have always been that little but too young to fully understand what was happening. However with this one everything was different, my emotions where well and truly up the left, I didn’t cry for two days then when I did everything just exploded one night and it was awful but strangely liberating and at the same time I was so unbelievably sad. A weight of heavy denial had been sitting on my chest and this sudden outburst of emotion lifted it. Of course I’m still sad, I try not to think about it too much because that bundle of sadness and grief is still there and it doesn’t take much for it to be opened up again but it gets better. I’m still trying to get over the guilt though, that I wasn’t there, that I didn’t get to say goodbye and a strange feeling that I don’t deserve to feel like this, as in I shouldn’t be this sad. It took me some time but Ive realised that only I know how I feel and most importantly I’m allowed to feel whatever way I want and that’s ok.

I have a message to myself this year, onwards and upwards my friend. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing, don’t let anyone tell you don’t look good in dungarees, eat that extra slice of pizza and spend that 20 quid on the perfect matte lipstick, fuck everyone else. You do you.

Do you?

Billie Marten- “La Lune”

I just don’t know.

I don’t know who I am supposed to be.

I don’t know who I want to be.

I don’t know who I need to be.

I wish I was eight years old again,

Playing, running, carefree, praying

to stay awake until the sun goes down.

Hoping for the sun to fall asleep before I do.

Now I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t tired.

Always working, not towards a future but to survive.

What’s the point?

Life is meant to be lived,

is it not?

I just don’t know,

will I ever?

Does anyone?

Or are we all wondering aimlessly along a wayward path,

hoping to stumble across some sort of meaning.

Who knows?

Do you?

Fear, death and religion.

Album- Foy Vance “The Wild Swan”

Fear is something everyone has experienced, a fear; of heights, of the water, of commitment or the crippling fear of failing miserably in life and being a major disappoint to your parents and everyone you know. I can say with confidence that I am all too familiar with at least two of the above, I have abseiled down a building (with my ass crack visible from start to finish) and I swam in the great barrier reef so you can try your best to figure out the two that are fears of my own. Success is something else everyone has felt, some more than others, whether its the big promotion in work, a first in that hard earned degree, finding that special SO (significant other) or coming third in the egg and spoon race on sports day circa 1999.

I have always had the same fear since I was very young, I have always had a fear of death. Actually maybe fear is the wrong word it’s more accurately an obsession with a substantial mistrust of the whole thing. Ever since my family suffered a terrible loss when I was around three years old I have always had this insatiable curiosity with death. I should really stress that it was a healthy obsession, I mean I wasn’t like the creepy kids from The Shinning and The Sixth Sense. It wasn’t like I was running up to my parents whispering, “Mummy I see dead people,” followed with shouts from my mother, “Honey, she’s gone off on one again, call Dr Bourke.” I have an incredibly curious mind, death is just one topic that occupies it from time to time.

I think the main issue I have with death is that it is so final, you die and thats it you’re gone. Forever. I mean the world has been built on the suggestions of others concerning the afterlife, the meaning of our existence and the purpose that we as individuals have on Earth. But no one actually knows for sure. This then brings up another issue for me, religion and faith. I hate not knowing things, I need definitive proof, this is why I struggle with religion. It’s not that I don’t want to believe or that I judge those with faith if anything I envy them. I would love to believe in something so absolutely and to work solely on blind faith but I can’t. Im incapable of it. Ironically something my religion teacher said to me has always stuck. She said, to her A-level class, “I have always feared that God is like Santa Clause for adults and at some point you’ll just be told that he doesn’t exist.”

These days my biggest fear is failure, I’m afraid that I will not amount to anything. I am a graduate, with a degree that I have no use for and no job prospects at all. I need experience but no one wants to give me it I send out about 50 emails every week for advice, which are mostly ignored and the one or two people that get back to me make it very clear that they can not and will not help me. I’m not asking for a job, all I want is to get a cup of coffee and have a conversation about what I should be doing. No one will help. I am afraid of failure but I am also afraid that I’ve already failed, that this is it, this is me for the rest of my life and its so fucking depressing. I obviously realise that this is a ridiculous way to think, I mean I am 23 years old. I still have my whole life ahead of me. Maybe it’s ok that everything hasn’t worked out for me just yet because when it finally does I will be so grateful for everything. A friend once told me “You have to shovel through the shit to find the gold.” So this is what I have set myself to do for the time being, shovel through all the crap and hope that I strike gold.

What do you want to do when you’re older?

Album- Troye Sivan “Blue Neighbourhood (Deluxe)”

I have been home for about six months now and I have been a graduate for nearly two years. I make coffee five days a week to pay the bills, it is not a career I want to have for the rest of my life although I have only respect and bear no judgement on those who do. For me, I want to be a writer, someone once told me to stop saying that I “want” to be one and to start saying that I am. This is true in ways, I write almost everyday; poetry, blog posts, plays and short stories. I want this to be my life, however the same person also told me that if I want to write as a means of making money I should give up now and stop trying. I don’t agree with this view, for some reason I was being judged for wanting to earn a living as a writer, somehow this made me less of a creative and it was an unrealistic ambition to have. What’s wrong with that? I went to university and studied literature and film making, two of my greatest loves. Why should I not dream of doing this as a career? Is it not everyone’s dream to go to work doing something they love everyday?

Unfortunately this is proving very difficult to achieve. I have said before that I do not know what I want to do in life however this is not exactly true. I do want to be a writer but I feel like this is a stupid answer to give when people ask. At least twice a week my parents and I have the same conversation:-

Dad: “So, what is it exactly that you want to do?”

Me: “I told you before I’m not sure.”

Dad: “Well, you’re going to have to figure it out.”

Me: “Yes, I know.”

Mum: “You didn’t go to university and put yourself in debt for nothing.”

Me: “Yes, I know.”

Mum: “Why don’t you be a teacher?”

Me: “I told you, I don’t want to be a teacher and even if I did I would have to go away to university again which means more debt. I would also have to move away somewhere else because there aren’t many places in teaching degrees here.”

Mum: “I think you should, theres good money in it.”

Me: “Yes, but again I would probably have to move away because there aren’t many teaching jobs here.”

Dad: “Okay then what else are you going to do?”

Me: “I want to be a writer.”

Dad: “Write what?”

Me: *Silence*

Dad: “How’re you going to make money from that?”

Me: *Silence*

Mum: “Well, you’re going to have to sit down and have a serious think about your future.”

This is a recurring conversation and popular topic in my house. My parents love me, I know this and they only want the best for me, I also know this. They believe that i’m not thinking about my future and that I don’t know what I want for my life but they’re wrong. I think about this constantly, it is the only thing on my mind most days. The problem is, how am I supposed to have any answers for them when I don’t have any answers for myself? I honestly have no clue. I know that I want to write,I don’t know how to make a living out of it just yet, so I’ll keep writing. This is not an answer that my parents want to hear, I know this for a fact.

Who knows what’s going to happen in the next few months or even years? All I know is that I am done with having the same mundane conversation over and over, I am done with feeling stressed because I can’t see into the future. I am through with feeling guilty and pathetic because I want to earn money doing something that I love. So I’m just going to write and make coffee maybe something good will come form it. I hope.

25th January 2014

I recently found an old journal of mine and I had two poems in them I have no idea what was going on in my life when I wrote them but they show me a little insight into how I used to be and how much I have changed in myself.  The first of the two follows:-

Untitled #1

Living in this world can sometimes be difficult,

It can sometimes be easy,

But it will always be interchangeable.
The persons that populate the Earth need to and 

Always will need to be treated with delicacy.

Whether it is a horrible individual or an innocent child,

Everyone deserves to be treated with care.
Life can be hard.

Life can be sad.

Life can be lonely.

Life can seem unbearable.

Life can seem unnecessary.
But

Life can also be hopeful.

Life can be joyful.

Life IS necessary.

If only we choose to embrace it.
We can dwell in self pity

Or

We can pave our own path towards

Our future.

We can not rely on others to do it for us.
This decision lies within us in the depths of ourselves.