2015 was a long year. Having said that, I feel like I can hardly remember any of it. I remember being unhappy for a lot of it, stressed for most of it and worrying about what were to be irrelevant things for all of it, but other than that…. Not much.
Objectively, it was quite a big year for me from a milestone standpoint; I completed my A levels, got my first job, started and swiftly left college… and that was all in the space of a few months. The rest of the year was spent in and out of depressive episodes, inundated with stress due to multiple things beyond my control, and plagued with low self-esteem. I know that on social media (particularly Twitter) I come across as a relatively laid-back Cool Chick (occasionally), but I’m actually low-key a walking ball of anxiety with a multitude of other issues under my belt, I just try not to show it… too often, anyway.
The last few months of 2015 consisted primarily of crying, self-loathing, shame, bitterness, anger… the list goes on. When you’ve gone from being in education full time to suddenly just deciding on a whim to take a gap year with no immediate plans it can be quite hard to know where to even start. The thing is, I think I expect too much of myself; I had become so accustomed to revising into the early hours of the morning and spending all of my time with my nose buried in textbooks or trying to stick to art deadlines that I’d forgotten what it feels like to be un-busy. If I’m not working on a hundred things at once, I don’t know how to function. I’m not good at rest, or taking breaks, or being kind to myself. These are all things I’m learning, and all things I’m realising are actually necessary in order for me to live a life in which I don’t want to literally die. I beat myself up every single day that goes by in which I don’t do something productive, but I need to learn that my worth as a person does not depend on my output or productivity. Yes, this last month or so may have been spent doing little to no work, watching a lot of Christmas films and eating a lot of chocolate. But why does that have to be a bad thing?
When you’ve been going 200% for as long as I had been, eventually you’re going to break down. You’re going to need a rest. I know that it doesn’t always appear that I’m stressed or worried or up to my ears in work but honestly the first 6 months of 2015 was exactly that. And it’s taken me another 6 months to realise that actually maybe I need to slow down, breathe, rest, and take a break.
In December I had a sort of epiphany and realised that I am the only person in control of my own happiness. I did some brief research on the law of attraction, and for those of you who don’t know what it is, the basis of it is that if you believe something – truly believe it – and think that good things will happen, then they will happen. I won’t be able to articulate into words exactly how I felt the day that I realised all of this and had my ~epiphany~, because I think it’s something you’ll have to experience yourself, but my entire mindset and attitude has completely changed. Knowing that if I just work my hardest to be a good, kind person, spread happiness and love and think positive, optimistic thoughts, then good things will happen. I know this may not seem to have any relevance to this particular post, but I think that the bottom line is I’ve been working myself too hard and not been at all kind to myself. If I feel like giving myself a bit of a break and a rest is the right thing to do, then it is. Good things will come to me regardless; having time off doesn’t make you a bad person. You have to realise that, ultimately, your happiness is the most important thing, and you are the only constant in your life, so you must nurture and love yourself as you do other people. While obviously if you’re depressed or suffering from any other mental illness just deciding to be happy isn’t necessarily a viable option, to anyone else I really think it can be. It sounds so bloody naff to say ‘just think positive! Everything will be okay!’ but it’s true! Since I started telling myself to be happy and realising the ball is in my court, I genuinely have been happier. If you put into the world what you want to receive from it, you will reap the benefits. Being a good person isn’t difficult, trying to look on the bright side really isn’t difficult, and acknowledging that you deserve to be happy isn’t that difficult. I think it’s all about coming to these realisations, and once you’ve done so you just have to take each day as it comes, live every minute and make conscious decisions to do things that will make you happy.
It’s important to work hard to get where you want to be, of course it is, but at the same time it’s equally as important to put yourself first and REST. Now that I feel like I’m finally making progress mentally and actually recovering from being very mentally unwell for the majority of 2015, the right thing for me is to just chill the fuck out and put myself first. 2016 is going to be a year of healing for me. Yeah, I’m going to do my best to work hard and get where I want to be, hopefully get into uni, but maybe if that doesn’t happen then it just wasn’t meant to be this year. I’m not running out of time any time soon and I would rather take things at the pace they were meant to be taken, and put my wellbeing first. I’m doing so well at the moment, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been; am I hell giving that up for the sake of my education for the second year in a row. I refuse to allow myself to fall back into a dark well with no means to escape it – this year is going to be about me, about my happiness and about treating myself with the kindness and respect that I deserve.