The last couple of weeks I’ve been stuck in a bit of a slump. I’ve been feeling kind of lost since moving from London at the end of last year, but recently it’s been pulled into sharp focus. I figured it was natural; I’ve uprooted from my home for the past 5 years, I don’t have a job (or any source of income really) and I’ve got basically no friends up here so feeling weird was to be expected. It was a big, scary thing to do, so it seemed normal to feel a bit out of sorts…
It was a dreary afternoon when I realised that actually maybe this wasn’t ok, and that 3 months after moving here I should be feeling at least a little more settled.
I’ve been ill since last week and it came to a head on Wednesday morning. I woke up feeling awful. I was almost unable, and pretty unwilling, to drag my sorry self out of bed and do anything normal like eat or brush my hair. Anyone who knows me will know that I love food with a passion almost surpassing my affection for my boyfriend (well sometimes actually surpassing…) so I knew I had more than just a sniffle at that point. Sinking back into the comfy nest of bed I fell asleep again, only surfacing several hours later. I didn’t open my laptop all day, and ate nothing except a slice of toast until about 11.30pm. I spent the day wallowing in feeling rubbish, and watching old episodes of Modern Family. Some time between naps (I never take naps) I came to the realisation that actually, this was the best day I’d had in a long time. Being ill had taken all the pressure off; instead of feeling like I should be doing lots of things I was just focusing on looking after myself and doing what my body told me it needed. Having spent the past few months trying to get several projects going, job hunting, stressing over how to pay my bills, and generally shutting myself in a room for 90% of the time, it was a relief.
It was a sobering wake up call that I’ve not been following the right path, or rather that I didn’t even know where the path was any more.
Feeling lost and unsure how to move forward isn’t unique to me, I know most people have or will go through periods of doubt and overwhelmed-ness in their lives. I feel like it’s more pertinent for millenials, and the generations below us though. The way people work has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the linear ‘climbing the ladder’ careers that have definite paths and clear next steps. The portfolio career, freelancing, and changing professions are all increasingly common, and this leaves us with almost too many options. Technology means we’re able to access many different channels of information, and also use multiple platforms to share our work and ourselves. This is all great, but sometimes I feel like it’s just too much. In the past month I’ve been torn between using Wattpad to self publish my novel WIP online, getting on YouTube to start the vlog I’ve been wanting to do for years, and writing for several different sites to share my work (I published a blog on HuffPost last week!) That’s just a few of the projects I’ve been thinking about. There comes a time when it all gets too much though. I realised I’ve got caught up in the thinking which means I’m not doing anything much. Torn in several different directions I’ve stood motionless in the middle of a labyrinth which I built all on my own.
Information fatigue has paralysed me.
I follow so many Twitter accounts and bloggers who post useful advice and information about ‘how to hustle your passion project’ ‘the 5 steps to take your blog up a level’ ‘why you’re not getting anything done and how to fix it’ and so on. I could spend a lifetime reading all the articles and still not have seen every one. The thing is, that wouldn’t even be helpful. There comes a point when you have to put down the self-help guides, close the advice websites, and actually move forward in your own journey. I’m all about self-improvement and introspection, but only when it’s actually part of living a good life, not just planning and imagining one ‘someday’. I got a great email this morning from Erin Stutland (seriously check her out she’s fantastic!) about letting go. The part that really made me sit up and think was this:
” You don’t get extra points in life because you constantly spent it peeling back the layers of your life.
You have to remember that the whole point of bettering yourself is so that you can LIVE better.
So wake up and LIVE, as Bob Marley sang.”
It was like Erin turned on a light for me. I’ve been so busy with trying to improve myself that I haven’t actually been doing much to move forward. As well as feeling lost I’m feeling stuck. The best cure for that is to take a minute to just stand still, then you can pick a direction and move. So for now I am going to focus on the thing I love best – writing. This blog has been coming along so well this year, but I feel like I’m on the brink of undoing all that good work. I’m determined to grow The Smile Diary, and make it truly reflect the vision I’ve been cooking up for it recently. This means no more trying to fit into the ‘rules’ that various other bloggers have laid out (no offense, I just feel like I’ve read enough of other’s thoughts and ideas) and no more beating myself up over stats or marketing.
It’s time to forge my own path, and be truly authentic to myself.
Perhaps somewhat contradicting what I’ve just said, I have been greatly inspired by this post from Holly over at A Branch of Holly. She has such a way with words, and her blog gives me inspiration rather than trying to tell me exactly what to do, which I’m finding a lot more helpful. So I am making a vow to do what I’ve been planning and thinking about for several weeks. I am refocusing the blog.
I started writing in April 2013 to help me deal with the emotions I was feeling following my Mum’s death. Along the way The Smile Diary morphed into a collection of my thoughts on various topics, as well as highlighting some inspiring posts from other bloggers, and that’s ok. But I want to go back to the emotions at the core of why I began writing.
To let other (mainly) young adults going through difficult stuff know that they’re not alone.
To share my own experiences, thoughts, ideas, and those of others I am inspired by. To be a place where you can turn when you’re feeling rubbish, and see that there is light on the other side of the tunnel, and a little glimmer of hope even in the most hopeless situations. I don’t claim to have all the answers, or even know all of the questions, but I will try my best to open up discussions about issues I’m passionate about. Things like mental health and well-being, bereavement, self care, quarter life crises, and the occasional post about stationery (because sometimes a pretty pen or post-it can cheer me up just a little bit). I honestly believe that life can be improved when we talk about the tough stuff, share our stories, and look to the next chapter in the book of life.
That’s why I am re-branding ‘The Smile Diary’ to ‘Your Book Begins’.
For years now I’ve loved the Natasha Bedingfield song Unwritten and been totally inspired by the message it holds. “No one else can speak the words on your lips… today is where your book begins”
So today I am starting a new chapter. Let’s see where this book goes – the rest is still unwritten.
Have a lovely weekend!