I am not making any new years resolutions.
Well actually in a loose way I suppose I am (but there are no deadlines or guilt-trips): to cultivate contentment.
I’m done with tough and unrealistic expectations (mostly put upon by myself) of who or where I should be, of what counts as being ‘successful‘, and of feeling guilty for not seeming to be fulfilling them. Because actually I’m doing pretty great, and yeah I’m going to take a moment to celebrate what I have achieved so far as I so often overlook this (and I bet some of you do to!):
I make half my income from freelance Social Media Management. Yay! This gives me freedom in how I spend half of my week and keeps things interesting. I occasionally feel a sense of achievement when telling someone what I do and they seem impressed – still working on not feeling like a fraud though (another symptom of that dammed perfectionism).
I have a homely flat with my partner, and feel like it’s truly ‘ours’. Even though we’re just renting, we are able to feel more at home here and we don’t have to sublet a second room out to my mum for her work ,which takes a lot of stress and guilt from taking money from her off the table.
I have lovely friends! They’re mostly all over the place (literally, spread out over many countries) and always seem to be leaving, but these are keepers and distance doesn’t weaken the friendship, it just kind of pauses it until we’re reunited and laughing again. And the ones I have close to me are so incredibly supportive. Another conscious decision this year is to make sure I plan quality time with each friend and arrange group activities as much as possible – it really is hard to be down when around friends!
I think some songs I wrote last year are really good, and I’m so excited to share them with the world! My songs are like diary entries – they help me process my emotions and find beauty and art even in suffering. I hope to work with musical friends I admire this year to bring them to life. My aim with my music and the interviews I plan to do with the musicians I work with, is to add a perspective on the discussion of depression and mental health – to help people realise that it is just as common as physical ill-health, and needs to be prevented and treated in the same way; with gentle care, diligence and perseverance.
I have changed my outlook on life.
Before, it was ‘I should have more clients by now’, ‘I should have made an album and toured Europe and be on my way to being “successful”by now’ (it also really doesn’t help that the term ‘successful’ is undefined and fluid in my head, mostly based on perceived successes of peers), ‘I should be exercising more and taking the time to cook ‘healthier’ meals from scratch’, ‘I should be going to more events and socialising and networking more’.
But now, after a long low period and much internal processing, I am pleased to say I now think more like: ‘I have a few good clients and I can’t wait to find more and see what paths they lead me down’, ‘I am happy with my music and excited to collaborate and share it – whatever scale, even if it’s just local to Brighton is fine with me, as long as I’m doing it’, ‘I am already content doing regular yoga at home and look forward to supplementing it with dance/zumba/whatever classes when possible, and I’m also excited to take on physical challenges, like hikes, with friends. I am also looking forward to broadening my cooking skills and creating a folder of new recipes I’d like to try – maybe I’ll even create my own recipe ebook of my favourites to share with others.’ and ‘I know that I enjoy time with my friends, but that constant networking and socialising can be draining for me, therefore I won’t agree to go to events unless I truly want to – this will also eliminate guilt of cancelling last minute.’
This sounds more like the ‘old’ me – the me before I left home and had to rebuild my confidence and sense of self from scratch, the optimistic and ever-hopeful me, whose enthusiasm always somehow got me where I wanted to be.
And now it is ‘me’ again.
It’s taken me a year or two, but I am now starting to feel content with my life – I have been enjoying the little things each day, instead of feeling paralysed at the thought that somehow I could be enjoying life more – if I was just like this or had done that. I have also gotten over the shock and sense of injustice that one must cultivate ones happiness and good mental health – I can’t just breeze through life and expect not to be knocked down or faced with hardships and bounce straight back. I must put fail-safes in place, do things every day to keep a positive outlook, and sometimes just recognise and allow a negative emotion to be…and then let it pass without feeling self-pity.
I welcome 2017 with open arms – because now I truly understand that only I am in control of my own happiness…and that’s actually a good thing!
I hope you too have a happy and contended year,