I’ve evidently reached the point in life where 5 days off feels like a nectar gift from the gods. Being able to just switch off my phone, disconnect from work and suit myself for a time. I needed it. I didn’t realise how much I needed it until I had it.
It sounds odd, but it reminds me of the unbelievably depressing time in my life when I was scraping by on a trickle of freelance work, more or less unemployed. I had too much time in my own company, too much time to work myself into a spiral of anger and sadness.
In an oddly good way, these few days off remind me of that time. But they remind me of what I liked. Sometimes, I liked the time to just be me. To organise my day. To embrace the frightening prospect of too much freedom. It’s odd, insn’t it? Freedom, as a concept. As humans we’re terrified of it. Our jobs, our social obligations, our relationships, they’re all designed to put barriers between us and freedom. We say we want it, some people claim to crave it. But like power, mostly we don’t have the first clue what to do once we have it.
The past couple of weeks have been such huge learning curves. At one point I was so convinced that I was fired, due to all the criticism I was getting at work. In my head, I convinced myself I was rubbish at what I do. I convinced myself that everyone hated me, which only made me hate myself. I couldn’t sleep from the stress.
But, of course, it was all just there – in my head.
The feedback was just feedback.
And when I thought, briefly, that I might lose this job? I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t bear the thought of cutting the education short. I’m not ready to leave. There is still important work to do. Still things to achieve.
I realised all the things about it which made me angry I just had to accept. Because I didn’t want the alternative. I just had to reach a point of calm and focus down on the positives. Rather than chasing the projects I want, to just shine with what I have. Then, hopefully, I might get more.
I realised the strength I had and the way I define myself had to come from me, not from the people around me. I needed to build a sanctuary within myself; my own protection. Where I don’t rate my own worth by my job, or my friends, or what I do. Where it’s just me. Where there’s a home within my own head; a sanctuary that I can retreat to when I need it.
I decided that over these few days I needed to drop the rules I placed on myself. I abandoned the detox for now, I’m eating what I want when I want it. I’m taking things slow and just relaxing, I refuse to get stressed or worried about things which are just trivial. These days are my time, my own space to find some of the things I lost in a sea of fear.
Ironic that I should think about the time when I did become so lost in the black I didn’t know which way to turn. That I should be thankful, in some small way, to re-visit some small part of it. I had too much time to please myself, now I’m thankful for just a small glance of it again. But I know full well that a glance is all I want. That I love the structure and direction my life is taking, and that I should be thankful for it.
When you rely on others to make you happy, you can never truly be. Because people will, inevitably, at some point, disappoint you. It could be a disappointment which lasts an hour, a day, a year, a lifetime. It doesn’t matter. At some stage in life, even those we love most dearly will disappoint us.
So I’ve set about making myself happy. I’ve gone to gym classes. I’ve eaten what I like. I’ve met up with friends. Somehow, I’ve gone about making myself content again. My mind keeps casting back to the past, to people I new when I first came to London, to my memories of why I took such an insane risk in the first place and moved to one of the toughest cities in the world with no job and no place to live.
But to find myself even partially contented now, to find myself with good prospects, friends and a small portion of happiness. To find myself there, even with so far to go, surely that’s worth something.