It’s been a while since I’ve felt capable of sitting at my desk and writing something beyond a shopping list or a caption on a tik tok video.
It’s not that I’ve not had anything to think about or write about; more so that I’ve had too much to think about.
The last 3-4 months have been a massive transitionary period, and I feel as though I’m finally coming to a place where I can gather my thoughts and reflect on what I’ve experienced.
I’ve had to adapt to a combination of finishing my undergraduate degree, thinking about my options for the future, the easing of lockdown restrictions, navigating the emotional aftermath of a bad relationship, starting work again and socialising more.
Realistically, I’ve experienced more situational change in the last four months than I experienced in the entirety of 2020 – and I think it’s all been a bit of a shock to the system. To deal with the changes in my life, I’ve opted for the block it out approach, rather than absorbing and processing it.
Something that has become very apparent is that I started to lose the respect and value of my own time. I’d have a free morning on a Tuesday, so I’d scrabble around to make plans and get drunk on the Monday – because I knew I didn’t need to care about anything the following morning. I’d finish a super busy 7 hour shift at work, and feel incapable of saying no to social plans straight after.
Doing felt easier than being. If I was busy doing things, then I didn’t have the ability to sit and process the things going on around me. Allowing myself time to float around and just exist seemed like a waste of opportunity.
After a lot of deliberating and weighing up my options, I accepted my offer to study MSc Mental Health Nursing in September 2021. Aware that the course would be very intense and take up lots of my free time, I mentally blocked out June 2021 – August 2021 as my ‘final time’ to be super social, busy and have no plans. However, all this really did was made me feel like I had a free pass to just treat myself like rubbish. Functioning off a hangover, four hours sleep and caffeine isn’t really the Hot Girl Summer I envisioned.
Additionally, I have given a lot of my time to the wrong people. I would self sabotage by reaching out to people who I know don’t have my best interests at heart. Trying to rekindle or invest time into relationships and friendships which have drained me in the past. I wasted a lot of mental and physical energy on people who see me as nothing more than an unopened message on their phone.
However, it is through experiencing the negative emotions associated with the disrespect for my time, that I started to discover the things that made me feel positive. Having time to myself in the early mornings and evenings is paramount to making me feel good. Early mornings, away from my phone, with a hot cup of coffee, my current book and my journal are very important to me. Exercising early in the morning makes me feel so much better in a physical and mental capacity. Evenings alone are equally as important to me. Whilst I don’t like to spend every evening by myself, I know I need at least three or four nights a week where I can just cook a good meal and get an early night. It might not be the most rock and roll way to live as a 23 year old, but it works for me.
I am an extroverted person, with a weak social battery. I thrive off the buzz and energy of others, and social interaction means a lot to me. But I can quickly burn out and need to spend time alone proportionate to the time I spend shared with others. This means that I’m prioritising the friendships and social plans which I know will light me up, rather than those which feel obligatory or forced. This equally applies to the amount of energy and effort I put into dating or anything with emotional involvement. I’ve got to respect my own capacity and recognise when it isn’t reciprocated.
As I mentioned above, I believe I am coming towards the end of a transitionary period. I feel as though the last few months have thrown me around and toughened me up in many ways. There has been a lot of physical and emotional distress, which initially felt difficult – but forced me to adapt and learn.
This has happened a handful of times in my life, and every few years I go through a bit of a rough patch which brings up changes that need to be made.
I do think a lot of this has been exasperated by confusion with lockdowns and social distancing, as it’s been confusing for me to re-learn how to navigate an un-necessarily busy world.
Above all, therapy has been the greatest asset in helping me cope with the last few months. I feel as though I am able to punctuate each week with a new way of looking at things, working on my self esteem and self respect. Speaking with a therapist has massively improved how I view myself and others.
I’ve learned a lot about my attachment style, emotional regulation and capacity to deal with stressful situations.
I’m a firm believer that everyone should try therapy at least once. I understand that it’s hard to ‘click’ with some therapists, and everyone has their own preferences in how they discuss and deal with difficult thoughts and feelings. But once you’re in a place to accept and address the things that challenge you, therapy can be truly transformative.