I’ve been thinking a lot about knowledge lately. Specifically, knowing yourself, knowing your capabilities, knowing your weaknesses and knowing that you will always just keep moving on.
I am usually a person with quite a stable core – I mean this in the emotional, mental, spiritual sense. I don’t let things faze me, I can act as a pool of calm for others, I often wonder why others let themselves get so intensely affected by things that are actually minuscule.
But I see now that since 2016 my core has had cracks; they started small but have fissured, blossomed if you may and shaped my core into a different image.
I don’t like that image. It has been shaped by the continual shitshow that the last two years have been. The funny thing is that actually, on the whole, 2017 was a pretty good year for me.
I mean, on paper:
I graduated university with First Class Honours.
I had possibly the best dissertation project anyone has ever had.
My cats moved to Scotland, so I could see a lot more of them.
My friends and I went to London, went to the Harry Potter Studios, saw GREEN DAY, and only a week later also saw BLINK 182 in Aberdeen. My 12-year-old self was very happy.
I was accepted to the Network and had a blast learning about TV and making new friends.
I moved to Edinburgh, this city I’ve been dreaming of for years.
I found a new flat, one that I am able to decorate and shape into exactly what I want it to be. I mean, we’re even allowed to put nails in the walls.
My first freelance article got published.
That sounds like a great year. Unfortunately it’s not the year I remember most commonly.
In my brain, my year looked like this:
I was depressed and thinking of dropping out of uni until my Honours project was changed.
I moved away from a town that I tolerated/hated for four years, and now strangely miss from time to time.
I stayed at my mum’s flat for 5 months, trying to find a job and a flat, and flailed miserably at both fronts.
I decided to try my hand at freelancing without a clue how this whole business goes down.
The health of my cat, Bigfish, declined more and more as the year went by.
I pulled back from everyone in my life, wrapped myself in this tiny little shell, and drowned out the noise with stupid amounts of consumption (TV, not food – though really, the food was also a bit of a problem).
And I left 2017 feeling heavy. Weighed down by the amount of things I was putting off, the amount of worries in my brain, the lack of amount in my bank account, and the lack of knowledge I had for the future.
There was no drive pulling me in a certain direction, and I was just standing at the crossroads looking silly. I saw people moving past me, moving in their destined directions, but I remained motionless.
January continued in this strain, except pending grief was added to the mix. Bigfish was standing on her last legs, and her arthritis made those legs rather wobbly at times. I remembered how long it took to get over the first of my cats, Akulina, dying, and feared that pain and feared the lack of productivity resulting from that pain. Back in 2016 I had a whole summer to put my feelings to rest and rejoin normality, but now I had absolutely no time, because I was still catching up on things that I’d neglected before.
Simultaneously however, in the last days of 2017 another process started up. I filmed three and uploaded two videos within that last week of December, and had a schedule for when the next would air. That schedule failed, but even the existence of that schedule was more than what we had before.
It’s like there was this tiny spark in my brain that said:
Look, maybe just give it a try?
Maybe just do a little and see how it fares?
What if you do this?
Over the course of January that spark has wavered, stood on the edge of dying out and wavered again but it’s still there.
I submitted to a writing competition, the Mogford Food and Drink Writing Competition. Look it up, it’s a good deal. It was a rushed, last-minute entry but again, the existence of my entry was more than what we had before.
For the first time in about eight months, I felt the physical urge to exercise again. Not just doing a few sit-ups on my bedroom floor, but actually packing my bag, going to the gym, sweating profusely in front of strangers, coming home, peeling off those clothes, stepping into the shower and feeling the gradual pull of my expanding muscles. I have yet to step foot into a gym, but – you might’ve guessed – that drive is more than what we had before.
I also completely and legitimately tried to submit a script to another competition. However, the due date ended up being the day after my cat’s passing, and that was a recipe for disaster. I do feel a twinge of sadness that I was not able to submit, and that I will not be in the running for an excellent award, but it has simply motivated me to keep developing this script and find another place for it.
Finally, on the 31st of January 2018, Bigfish (formally known as Cassiopeia) passed away.
I won’t delve into this experience because parts of it are private, but I recovered from it much faster than I would have expected. Maybe it was because it had been a long time coming (the vets had already signed her off in 2016 but Bigfish was having none of that), or maybe because this time I was prepared, or maybe because I had already pre-grieved significantly in the final months of 2017 but when I think of Bigfish now, I feel peace.
Previously, Death had felt like an all-powerful, violent and cruel force, swooping in at a point when life was finally peaceful again only to rip one of my oldest friends from my side, destroying their body in the process and wreaking havoc with our entire family.
Now, I was still sad to see the arrival of Death, but we greeted him on different terms and were able to wait until Bigfish told us to pick up the phone and make the call. It may sound weird to those without pets, but I firmly believe that Bigfish lived for as long as she wanted to live, wrung every last droplet out of her existence with us, and signalled us when it was time to go. As such, the whole thing was covered in a layer of acceptance and peace.
Now it’s February, and life still hasn’t magically fixed itself, but I feel the beginnings of a difference. I’m motivated to get organized, to finish buying stuff for my flat, to gain a semblance of control. Without bringing out the entire list, when I talk to my boyfriend about all the things I consider wrong with my life, he always says he wouldn’t know where to start if he was in my shoes. I haven’t known where to start for many months now.
But somehow, slowly I can feel myself starting.
It’s like I was lying dormant for many moons, taking in the world around me but never participating, and now I’ve taken my first step out the door.
Currently it is Thursday, the 8th of February, 9.20 am.
Before I wrote this I was watching Daniel J. Layton’s ‘Aspects of Introspection’. Towards the end he mentions quarter-life crises, and how, after turning 28, he finally felt a semblance of control over his life. Now, even when shit really, monumentally hit the fan, he was able to say “I can do this” and move on.
Upon hearing that I could practically hear the proverbial switch being flipped in my brain. I essentially realised that Hey, I’m still here! Through all the shit, all the pain, all the failures, all the missed opportunities, all the sluggishness, all the wrong turns...I’m still here.
Now it’s 9.28 on a Thursday morning and I’ve written an entire blog post. Well, almost.
That’s a start.