There are many lessons I have learnt over the years; some, the hard way.
To name a few; you can’t brush curly hair, you can never cook the right amount of pasta, and you must always wear appropriate footwear on city breaks. The last one doesn’t seem that important, but it really is. Because you won’t always have the feet of a teenager, support your body.
But the main lesson I have learnt, was actually quite recent.
I have been struggling a bit recently; feeling very stuck, and quite lost. I’m someone who likes to know where I’m going at all times. The type of person who, if I’m not happy with something, then I try something new. There is not a door that I will not knock on if I think there’s a possibility it could open. I have this need to keep going, and sometimes it’s borderline obsessive.
This mindset is physically and mentally exhausting, and I find it very hard to switch off. It’s like looking up and seeing this glistening diamond; and no matter how high I climb, and how hard I push myself, it’s always just out of reach.
Why couldn’t I find what I needed to make me happy?
Its then that I realised the only person who can make me happy, is me.
One day, it occurred to me that my previous mindset was counterproductive. I was tired of being negative and feeling sorry for myself, and I gave myself a strong pep talk. For some strange reason, it’s human nature to be hard on yourself, and this day was no exception.
I sat on my bed and I asked myself; if you had a magic wand right now, what would make you happy? If money, time and resources were not an issue, what would make you happy?
The answer that came back to me surprised me.
A nice cup of tea, a sweet treat and my favourite film.
I could have used my imagination and conjured up a dream trip to Hawaii or husky sledding in Norway, and all I wanted was some peace and quiet, and a treat. That’s how simple my needs were.
Now I’m not naive, I know that we all have problems that are very real; and I’m not being flippant here by suggesting that a cup of PG tips’ finest is going to make it magically disappear. But we get so caught up in the external things that we think will make us happy. And this can greatly alter our view of reality.
If I get that promotion, I’ll be set. Or, if I can buy that house, I’ll have made it. If I can just afford this brand-new car, my problems will be solved. Or, if I could just meet a nice man, I will be happy.
So, what does this all mean? What’s the lesson here?
Well, here is what I have learnt.
You don’t need a hero, you are the hero
Or Heroine. Just saying.
I, along with millions of others, loved fairy-tales when I was growing up.
Watching our princess struggle, and just as she has lost all hope, a handsome man comes into to her life and saves her. For a long time, this narrative seemed to be the only way.
So, imagine my disappointment when I grew up and starting having mental health problems, and the love of my life did not magically appear to love me for who I am.
What do you mean that someone doesn’t just magically appear? Isn’t that how this works?!
No, it isn’t.
I have many amazing people in my life who I know I can call on, but when it’s the middle of the night and I’m having a panic attack, I need to self soothe. I need to tell myself that everything is going to be okay. And I have to tell myself to not be afraid and that I’ve got this. That it’s safe for me to go back to sleep, and that nothing bad will happen.
I give myself pep talks with the same gusto as when I’m giving myself a hard time, and I hope you do too. Remind yourself that you are strong and brave and that you can get through anything.
Count on yourself, the way you count on everyone else.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions
All day your brain is trying to catch your attention, but you keep busy. As long as you keep busy you can distract your brain long enough so you don’t have to think about what you don’t want to.
Your brain is tapping you on the shoulder and hopping from one foot to the other impatiently, waiting for that one moment that you will engage.
But you don’t.
However, the second you stop moving, your brain catches up with you. It wants to have, the talk.
Take control. Ask yourself the questions you are dreading. It’s okay to challenge yourself and call yourself out sometimes. Dig deep. Ask yourself that one question that could unlock your happiness, your growth, or your chosen path. Whatever it is, you can handle it.
Which leads me to my next lesson.
Don’t be afraid of the answer
Honesty sometimes is painful, but necessary. You found the courage to ask the question, don’t be afraid of the answer.
A lot of the time we go to others to seek opinions and answers. But we often want another opinion when we don’t get the answer we want to hear.
Some questions are easy.
Do I want dessert? Yes. The answer is always yes.
Others are a lot harder.
Am I scared to love again? Do I need help? Am I the person standing in my own way? Will I always feel like this?
A relationship will not solve your problems
Dating when you’re not whole, when you’re not steady in yourself, is dangerous for both you and the other person involved. Hoping that finding a new love will solve all your problems is like putting a plaster on a gunshot wound.
I know the allure; that intoxicating feeling of meeting someone new who makes you feel like the most important person in the world. Who can’t believe how beautiful you are, how smart you are, how fun you are. It’s the feeling you’ve been craving.
The problem is though, if that person then leaves, they take that feeling with them and you start to doubt yourself all over again.
Don’t be afraid to give yourself all the love you need to heal. Take the time, there’s no shame in it. Because you deserve all the love this world has to offer and more.
But most importantly, you deserve to love yourself. You deserve to see your own beauty, inside and out. Also don’t be scared to check yourself out naked and tell yourself that your body is beautiful. Give yourself a cheeky wink in the mirror too!
The right people will always be drawn to you, no matter what. So why not spend a little bit of time on you? Everyone else can wait.
Happiness is not a destination. It’s not a video game, where every mission completed unlocks another level. You’ve reached level number five, here’s five units of happiness. No.
Life is complicated, and messy, and there are plenty of things to scare and worry us. Spend time discovering the little things that make you happy, and listen to yourself. Trust yourself. Because you’re wiser than you know.