Sometimes, the simplest answer can solve the hardest problem.
For a while now, much longer than I had cared to admit before, I haven’t felt like myself. No energy, no drive, no oomph. In my head I still wanted the same things, but viewed my goals from a rather childlike perspective. You know, that ‘when I’m older’, or ‘one day’ mentality. Well, I’m 22 now, and at a time when any day is as good as the next to start working towards my goals. And yet, I’ve been mentally postponing.
The truth is, I’ve always had big dreams. Apparently I just never considered what would happen when the time finally came to act upon them.
While in my head I was working towards my goals by actively thinking about them, physically, I was in my room, doing bugger all most of the time. I’d stopped going out, because I convinced myself that I probably wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. I’d become completely obsessed with a certain amazing TV series (I’ll go into that another time, so I’m free to go full fan girl). I’d stopped leaving the house, because I couldn’t be bothered. I was going to the gym less and eating more which, of course, is always a stellar combination for healthy self-esteem. Perhaps worst of all, my anxiety returned, especially over the last week or so. I would wake up shaking, go most of the day shaking, and go to sleep shaking. I felt afraid of everything. The past, and the fact that it was out of my reach. The future, and the fact that it was coming. The present, and the fact that I wasn’t living it. How my life would never be as awesome as the TV series I was watching. Fear had taken hold in a way that it hadn’t done for a long, long time. It seemed the more I thought about my future, the more scared I was that nothing I did would ever be good enough, or measure up to the amazing feats of the characters and actors I so admired, and, by extension, the less inclined I felt to work towards a future I felt could never measure up.
Hey, I know it sounds crazy, but once fear sets in, it sure shakes things up. It’s how it works up there when I get anxious.
So I built up my comfort zone and shut the world out. And now, I suppose it seems pretty clear that my anxiety was brought on by the thought of leaving that comfort zone. That’s the dangerous thing about comfort zones. You fashion yourself routines to live by – they suit what you like, and keep out anything and anyone who might interrupt. But before you know it, the routines have become fences, and you’re hopelessly trapped inside them.
When you almost have panic attacks at the thought of going to the shops, of getting a job, of pretty much actually doing anything other than sit indoors, it’s time to leave the house.
It’s about making the effort. That’s the key, the secret. Not ‘making the effort’ in the sense of trying to impressing anyone else. It’s not about anyone else, or for anyone else, or what they think about you. It’s making the effort for yourself, telling yourself that you are worth it. Putting on a bit of make up just to pop round the shop, or wearing fresh jeans instead of the leggings and old shirt you’ve worn for two days now. About organising yourself, your life, putting yourself and your happiness first. As corny and as simple as it all may sound, it’s true. It is about making the effort for yourself, because you have to feel good about yourself. You have to like yourself before anyone else can. Give yourself the chance to, so that at the end of each day, you can look in the mirror and like what you see, who you see. You can know that you’ve tried for the day, that you’ve got out of bed, that you dressed in clean clothes, that you went to the shops, that you did something or everything on a list. That you made the effort.
These things may seem mundane to some, but for anyone whose ever had a dealing with mental health, or, I suppose, mental illness, getting out of bed can be the biggest step you take all day.
I suppose its obvious at this point to say that yes, I have had dealings of a mental sort in the past/present/(future, too, most probably, because, let’s face it, treating the mind isn’t always as cut and dry as treating the body). I had depression during my first year of university. I’m sure I’ll go into at some point, but it’s probably a subject best left for another post.
Anywho, after a long time of being too much in my own head and spending most of my days with only myself and Team Free Will for company (shout out to anyone who knows which series I mean now), in the end, it only took a trip to the gym with my friend to clear things up a little better.
I say I don’t like going out because I’m socially awkward, because I’m lazy, because I’d rather be alone and watch my series or write, because I’m anti-social.
But then, I don’t really like myself or how I’m making myself feel at the moment.
So I have to change it. I have to change something.
It felt so good to just talk, about anything and nothing. And to hear a voice other than my own voice in my head. The worries and fears that were shouting in my mind suddenly didn’t seem as loud anymore. In fact, they fell almost silent.
I am an introvert, I do like my own company and I’m not exactly a party animal. But I’ve used being anti-social as an excuse for far too long now, and taking it to the point where I don’t go out and socialise at all. And it’s bull, really. One of the times I was happiest was the first half of the first year of uni (before the Big Issue), because I’d never met so many new people, made so many great friends, talked so often, been in so much company. I had met what seemed like a whole new world of fun, crazy like-minded people, went out with them almost every night. And I loved it.
In fact, in the past few years, two of my happiest points would be meeting new people at university, and going to Florida in 2012, and not just because I love America/want to live there at some point in my life. In those cases, I was meeting new people, and seeing new things, a world away from my comfort zone.
So maybe that’s it. Maybe the trick is to make myself uncomfortable. Meet new people, try new things, even if the idea frightens the nervous me. Give myself a reason to be scared.
I’m going to sign up to that acting class. If there’s one thing that could shake an introvert’s comfort zone, it’s probably that. Besides, I’ve always wanted to give acting a go.
I’m going to try and break out of my comfort zone, do more, see more, find out what else makes me happy. Because I’ve learnt that it can be quite dangerous to have just one thing that makes you happy. Dangerous, because, more often than not, pinning all of your happiness to one thing can lead to obsession, which then becomes more dangerous, still, if this one thing ever leaves, or ends. This one thing or person can be your favourite something, but not your only something. Find more things, so you are never reliant on one. Depend on no other person or thing for your own happiness. That way, if you ever find yourself without it, you’ll know that there are other things that bring you joy, that there’s a whole world of things that can make you happy.
And everyone deserves to be happy.
Wow. I didn’t intend for this to be such a long post, but I guess it all just started coming out. Kudos to anyone who made it through.
On a side note, I watched ‘Her’ for the first time the other night, and loved it, especially for its soundtrack. I just wanted to say that because I was thinking about the song ‘Photograph’ by Arcade Fire while writing this. It’s a beautiful piece of music. That, The Moon Song and Song on the Beach, love love love.