December 5th: the retrospection begins. Sounds like a Liam Neeson film or the opening single from an Artic Monkey’s album, right? If you answered yes, then you may be disappointed to find that it’s just me looking back on 2018, and (tentatively) thinking about the year ahead. I’m sorry for your cultural loss.
December 5th might seem a little early to be casting off from 2018, but if we’re honest with ourselves, from here on out most of us are just fiddling with sellotape and pretending to stay awake until the new year, anyway. It’s the beginning of the end - our annual apocalypse, if you will. Our drive and ambition and the hopes and the goals are neatly tucked away in that leftover shortbread tin from last Christmas, ready to be revived come the summoning of NY’s resolutions. In their place, we welcome the acceptance of fatigue, both physically and mentally. We accept that we.are.tired - that we’ve fought the good fight of the year gone by, and now we’re ready for our post-match team talk and restorative physio massage. Bring the whiteboard out - let’s discuss tactics for the next match - but let’s have a big, boozy weekend before we get back into it.
2018, in many ways, has been the best year of my life.
I spent two weeks in Italy, had a cracking summer, pushed forward with work and spent lots of time with my friends and family. I’m learning to communicate better with myself, and to be more honest and vulnerable without worrying that I’m being too sensitive or trying to squash what I truly feel. I did things I was scared to do, but felt positive about afterwards. It’s been a good year.
Jumper - H&M
Jeans - & Other Stories*
Boots - Topshop
Bag - Loewe
Chunky Hoops - Etsy*
Pearl Huggies - Etsy*
But in other ways, it hasn’t. Particularly in the latter half of the year, stagnation has really driven its roots down into my life. There are so many things I want to pursue and create, but I feel overwhelmed by time and money and, of course, fear. Fuck yes I want to host a podcast on sex and music, but shit, I need time, and shit I need to sort my pension out, and shit what about a house and why is everybody buying a house and why am I not even close to buying a house? On the one hand I’m being told ‘hey, don’t worry, when it happens it happens!’, and on the other it’s all ‘you need to plan ahead! Don’t leave your life to chance! Get your shit together!’.
I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself over the past year, but I’m hoping that this limbo - this No Man’s Land which is neither here nor there - is transitory, and that it’s necessary for me to bloom into whatever 2.0 version of me will come into her own next year. And I feel it, a little, with my fingertips. The swelling tendrils, reaching over the 2018/2019 divide; whispers of what’s to come. It’s there, and I’m hopeful, but I’m also kinda tired. I’m not fulfilling the image I’d marked out for myself, and I’m sure you can empathise when I say that that daily disappointment begins to wear you down. Who am I if I’m not the person I thought I’d be? Maybe I am going to end up exactly where I never wanted to: living in the same town I was born in, going to the same restaurants I’ve always gone to, and wishing the same wishes I’ve always wished without encouraging them into reality. Maybe this is it. Maybe I’m a bit stuck. Maybe I’m not who I thought I could be.
And then I kickstart myself. I haven’t spent the whole year dragging my feet behind me; there have been periods where I’ve found my fire and galvanised the engines into max speed. My life is the Maersk Alabama, bitch, and I am the captain now (a lil' Captain Phillips film reference if you needed to Google it)! I can do it. I can push through the fog and get to the other side of where I know I’m meant to be.
But then life and work and love and time happen, and before I can properly register, I’ve sludged back down into the bog of stagnation. And each time I slide back down, the prospect of climbing up becomes more exhausting. Like I need 10% more arm power and maybe a packet of ProPlus, because for fuck’s sake, here I am again.
It all sounds very miserable, right? But I am hopeful. Really hopeful. I’m just tired at the same time too. Left, right and centre there’s noise noise noise, and I find myself longing for a moment of quiet. Of not feeling like I owe anything to anyone. I believe that comprehending your purpose and understanding what encourages the best kind of inner-growth takes time, and I’m not going to edge beyond the crossroads without taking a long, patient look at the map. I can’t determine my direction without appreciating what I need to make it down the road. I need an M.O.T.
What I can say, with confidence, is that 2018 has been a year of self-learning. I used to worry when I wrote about self-care or introspection or anything that warranted more substantial a reflection than ‘these jeans make me feel good and these jeans don’t’, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. That people would see me as a superficial footnote in the blush pink thesis that is Millenials and all they claim to know about themselves.
Our relationships with ourselves (and as an extension of that, our relationship with others) are one of the most profound and abstract experiences that we inhabit, though, and anybody that denounces self-care and self-learning as la-dee-da snowflake nonsense is doing themselves a disservice. They’re only scratching the surface of what’s below, and what’s waiting. They’re not allowing themselves to feel that feeling which is impossibly difficult to articulate, but that anybody who has dedicated some TLC to themselves will understand. It’s a fullness that makes you want to cry. And for me, that’s hopeful. I’m hopeful.
I think 2019 is going to be a really beautiful year. I’ll be turning 25 in February, so there’s the twinkle of a big party and lots of smooching on the horizon. Lots of long evenings spent in the garden once summer starts to ooze through the gaps in the blinds. Lots of laughter and tears and hair-stroking as Keir and I navigate what will be the third or fourth year or our relationship (neither of us knows how long we’ve been together ffs). Lots of love, in every way.
This is the year that I want to give myself more. Not stuff, because - shock horror - I’m finding that stuff does not fulfil me. No, more time, more reading, more quiet, more nature. More writing, because I need that catharsis to keep the machine well-oiled. More trust in myself that I can.fucking.do.it. I can do it. More chances to try things and fail and chalk it up as all part of the experience. Less staring at a screen to feel like I’m achieving, and more pulling back to understand why I feel like I’m not in the first place.
I’m hopeful, gals. As cliched as it is, every 1st of January feels like a clean, fresh sheet to me, and after a little R&R over the December death, I think it’s going to be alright. It’s going to be a good year for all of us. And if not? If we’re back here, at the tail-end of 2019, having the same conversation? Then I will melt 100 family-sized bars of Galaxy into the bathtub and drown myself in it, because that’s the way I want to go anyway. To infinity and beyond, bitch.
Time to save the world
Where in the world is all the time?
So many things I still don't know
So many times I've changed my mind
Guess I was born to make mistakes
But I ain't scared to take the weight
So when I stumble off the path
I know my heart will guide me back
- Erykah Badu, 'Didn’t Cha Know'