**written prior to moving to Dublin / Manchester going back into lockdown – sorry about that.
“Please don’t cry in Chapati Cafe.” I said.
“What do you mean?! I’m fine.”
“Not you, I was trying to catch myself before I sobbed into my paneer.”
This, my friends is just one of several occurrences where I have questioned my sanity this week.
Restrictions are slowly lifting, we can choose to voluntarily wait in queues 2 miles long for an overpriced cappuccino if we really want to. We can see friends from a 2m distance (this is approximately 6 tubes of Pringles long for reference), we can also – as depicted in my opening breakdown, continue to support local food businesses by ordering their food to takeaway whilst furiously blinking back tears (the latter not an obligation).
Normality is beginning to resume, but there are still days; as there always will be, where my internal compass doesn’t know which direction to point me in. My vulnerability scale spikes off the charts, I seek the validation of my peers and yet forget to exercise my own opinion. “Is it normal to…..” is the phrase most frequently typed into my Google search bar.
But my anxieties and insecurities are in no way unique, they flow through each and every one of us, and surface for breath whenever we give it a tickle of encouragement. Our brain will challenge us at any sign of weakness, because to choose to be happy is so much more difficult than to fall into the big sad, which conveniently appears just as safe and cosy as our own slumber.
I often fear that I am someone who people would dislike, because often there are days where I truly dislike myself, and I ache at the knowledge that this is a common trepidation for many. We’ve been conditioned to believe that to congratulate ourselves is too self-indulgent, but to berate ourselves is perfectly normal, acceptable.
This post in itself, is self-indulgent, and I grimace with every “I” that I type. But understand that when I say “I”, what I really mean is “we”, because the masses will be no stranger to these feelings, and what I hope to do here, is to let you know that while our boats might be different, we’re all in this storm together.
We will all slog through days where we chastise ourselves for not be funny enough, slim enough, pretty enough. It’s exhausting and at times painful. But rather than expecting ourselves to always be everything, how about some days, we just allow ourselves to be, enough?*
*This seems so radically obvious that I am pretty certain this is me projecting words I have seen elsewhere, so apologies for the plagiarism. But the sentiment still stands.
I know life can be loud sometimes, unbearably so. The eye-rolling screams of success you endure with every swipe upwards as you journey through the latest happiness reels of your nearest, dearest and people you couldn’t even care less about. They seem to say; “We’re doing THIS…look how well we’ve done…but what are YOU doing?”
And this is not to discount or say that we should not celebrate our successes in front of our virtual audience, but just know that it’s fine that sometimes your biggest achievement of the week might just be remembering to brush your teeth every day or not having to block time in your diary to scream into a pillow. They might not achieve the same level of likes as the countless “so we did a thing”, “I said yes!” Or “when two became three” posts which litter your IG feed – (the last example being a new-baby announcement – not a couple’s transition into polyamory – just so we’re clear). But that’s cool, because until Black Mirror’s “Nosedive” episode comes into fruition, social media still holds no currency.
These feelings, I hope for us all are ephemeral, and whilst I am no stranger to being unable to talk myself out of the destructive core beliefs which tell us we are not doing enough, I am here to tell you that it’s totally cool if sometimes your life feels at a standstill, if some week’s you’re just rolling out of bed and showing up. No one is going to notice this week if you didn’t lose the 2 pounds you said you would, if you only did 3 workouts instead of 4, and had a KitKat for breakfast one morning (it was a Wednesday, and I still don’t regret it).
You don’t have to be 100% all the time, 50% or even 20% if you can’t muster it. Know that life is often sad and dull, but there are chunks of chocolate in the biscuit – and sometimes even just giving yourself the freedom to be is one of them.