So, I had a bit of a rough start to the year. But, I’m not going to get into the details about that because it didn’t just involve me alone and I’m not comfortable- ethically and personally- with going into the specifics of it.
But, I am going to write about how lousy I felt until about a month ago and how I managed to turn that around because I know that everyone has times in their life where it’s easier to lay in bed for two days than do anything productive. I know that a great deal of my readers tend to enjoy when I write more personal, advice-driven content on here than what I produce in my contributing works so this mildly self-indulgent post should do relatively well with the three people who read my pieces.
Anyway, like I said, I had a rough start to 2018. 2017 came off the back of a very happy, successful 2016 and lived up to the high bar it had set. I can honestly say it was one of the happiest, euphoric and contented years of my life thus far. I thrived academically, in progressing my career and in maintaining and developing my relationships with current and new people in my life. I don’t remember a time that I felt happier than from my birthday in March until the end of December, and if you were around me I’d like to think it radiated majestically. All up, I was deliriously happy with how everything was falling into place.
At the beginning of 2018, things became a little shitty and confusing and culminated in a big ball of ‘yeah-nah-this-is-super-shit-someone-hand-me-the-Rupi-Kaur-and-the-700-Maccas-hash-browns-I-ordered.’ Loosely translated, I was sad and didn’t give a damn about logical thinking and paying attention to the constructive thoughts that would make me feel better. I just wanted to be sad and sorry for myself. And that’s ok.
I’d never felt a lot of what I was feeling before but I knew I needed to be by myself, yet manage to look together on the outside. It’s the way I am- put together by face and, possibly, internally screaming (primarily at work when dealing with an exceptionally frustrating customer) or, in the case of the last few months, internally feeling a little empty and insecure. I don’t resent, regret or feel bitter towards anything that lead me to this position and I need this to be clear. While at the time of whatever pain or despondency you are feeling, I believe you should never regret the actions that may have lead you to that position because for a period in your life it was often something that made you either incredibly happy or gave a meaning to the person you are.
If you’re going through a rough time, whether it’s a break up, the death of a loved one, struggling with your studies or just simply struggling to feel like yourself in a world of constant competition, maybe this can help. Please note, I am by no means a self-help coach, expert or holistic wellness guru and I am certainly not aiming this article at people who have extreme cases of sadness and insecurity in their lives. I’m just a girl who went through something and likes to offer unsolicited advice to strangers on the internet in the hope that it might offer some help to someone. Here’s what I did to feel like myself again.
- I listened to sad music…
Yes sweetie, I am a massive cliché. There’s nothing more destructive than listening to sad music when you’re feeling down. There’s also nothing more therapeutic, in my opinion, than completely melting into a playlist of songs you can either relate to or that make you dissect every lyric in the song. Some personal favourites for you to add to your Spotify cue:
Rosalyn- Bon Iver
2. True Love Waits- Radiohead
3. The Wonder of You- Ronnie Hilton (not technically a sad song but does give some good melancholy vibes)
4. One More Love Song- Mac DeMarco
5. Smile Like You Mean It- The Killers
6. Do Me A Favour- Arctic Monkeys (a particularly upbeat sad song)
7. Piledriver Waltz- Alex Turner (Submarine soundtrack version ONLY)
8. Mon Dieu- Edith Piaf (a foreign sad song to keep you cultured)
9. Pray You Catch Me- Beyoncé (again, I’ve never been cheated on but, far out, you can HEAR the pain from Jay doing the dirty. The air is filthy, my friends.)
10. Writer in The Dark- Lorde (illuminated my soul because I’m a writer and felt like Lorde was SPEAKING TO ME)
- …and read sad poetry…
I had never in my life been into poetry besides the times in English class when I had no choice but to analyse it for an essay. I had never engaged with the idea of reading poetry for fun or spending money on buying books of poetry that can be ‘finished’ in an hour. I’d like to think I am a Born-again Poetry Enthusiast. Poetry can speak to you in a way you had no idea you needed. Poems can come out of the pages can seep into your soul until a simple sentence consumes you for an entire day. It is magical. These three did me much good.
Pillow Thoughts- Courtney Peppernell
2. The Chaos of Longing- K Y Robinson
3. The Sun and Her Flowers- Rupi Kaur (don’t you dare roll your eyes- there is a reason why this book is so popular)
- …and then I cried, a lot (well, I cried while doing items One and Two, also)…
I cried from 12 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning straight through. I cried in my university lectures. I cried in the staffroom at work and my manager didn’t know how to broach it. I cried at the local park and I cried in the nightclub. I didn’t stop crying until the end of June at a pub on the phone to one of my best friends. Obviously, it wasn’t a constant blubbering mess, but it was the sudden creeping thoughts that evoked the tears that would ruin me. Crying is good, crying is encouraged. No matter what is happening or happened to make you feel a little down and out, I can assure you, crying is always a good thing and if you need a cry just do it. Unless you have freshly had your make up done because then you should be feeling A) unstoppable, and B) who wants to ruin that??
(You can probably work out from the sad songs, poetry and crying what happened to make me feel this way because I’m so f*cking cliché but I’m not about to put it articulately in writing).
- …and then, I channelled all my energy into what I’m passionate about.
Aerobic Gymnastics was my first and one true love, even if I do neglect it from time to time. I decided to return to competing alongside coaching for season 2018 so that I had something to focus on and devote myself to. I don’t care how terrible my routine will be or how low I will score, it was about finding an outlet that allowed me to focus on something. Whether that was through coaching my athletes or training myself, I had something to put my energy into when I wasn’t studying or working and that’s exactly what you need. Your passion might be exercising, writing, practicing a new skill or completely devoting yourself to studying. Find it and let it consume you- it is one of the most constructive ways to feel better.
- …and then I joined the gym…
Similarly, I needed to get fitter in order to really get back into Aerobics. Going to the gym makes you feel GREAT! You do not need to be an Olympic athlete to join a gym and make yourself feel (and look) like a better version of who you currently are. Take your own pace, craft your own motivation and make yourself comfortable with the person you are. You do not need to be Michelle Bridges to join a gym. You can be an average Joe who eats Zambrero for lunch every day and binge drinks on the weekend (I’m doing Dry July, it’s ok everyone).
- …and listened to happy music…
What is it that they say? ‘From sad music must come happy music?’ Something like that, I’m sure. These are the tracks you listen to when cleaning the house, on the train home and when you feel like everything is FINALLY going YOUR way again. They’re the reclaimed tracks and their fan-bloody-tastic. Mine included:
Running Up That Hill- Kate Bush (purely so I can scream out the lyric ‘THERE IS THUNDER IN OUR HEARTSSSSSSSS’ every time it plays)
2. September- Earth, Wind and Fire
3. I’m Your Man- Wham!
4. Mr Brightside- The Killers (a no-brainer, really. This song holds so many happy memories for me personally, especially of my senior year, and I am sure it does for many more people)
5. Give Me a Try- The Wombats
6. It’s Nice to Be Alive- Ball Park Music
7. Dog Days Are Over- Florence + The Machine
8. Don’t Look Back into The Sun- The Libertines
9. She’s a Riot- The Jungle Giants
10. Anything by ABBA
- …and, finally, accepted what I cannot change. And, LOVED MYSELF AND MYSELF ALONE.
This is really, bloody, god-damn hard. I hated accepting everything and made that blatantly obvious to everyone in my life. You are in the depths of your unhappiness and dejection with your situation that acceptance is so far removed from your life. I don’t know how long it takes for you to accept a curveball life throws at you as this is completely dependent on what has happened to you and you as a person. For me, it was longer than I’d imagined and longer than I had told people. My weapon is self-deprecation to mask that I’m ok when I’m really not that accepting of everything. But, you will wake up one day and be completely content and accepting of your situation, I PROMISE you. Then, I decided to fully focus on myself and the passions in my life that make me feel whole and happy: aerobics, writing and my upcoming euro trip/semester study abroad. It is the final and hardest part of feeling like YOU again. But it will come and you will meet.
You don’t realise while you’re going through something that the aftershocks will end. You will be alright again. You won’t be the same as before. And that, more than anything, is your greatest power.
It’s the best part of it all.