15/100 — Just checking in

Work has been a lot these past few days. I’ve been on my own in the office, still teaching myself the job while doing it. It’s challenging and different and I look forward to going to work most mornings, but it leaves little room for anything else. I can’t wait for warmer weather, when it’s okay to sit outside with a notebook and an overpriced juice, making use of the full lunch hour.

Spring time always makes me want to hold hands with someone, so on a whim I downloaded Tinder. Apps like Bumble and Tinder are great for window shopping people. You learn so much about others by how they choose to present themselves, and so much about yourself by figuring out your deal breakers. Sometimes I imagine an entire relationship up to moving in together, before I get scared and swipe left.

Because if I’m honest, the thought of trying out relationships seems like a lot right now. Earlier today I came across Grace McCleen’s brilliant Selling the Self on Boundless. This paragraph in particular reminded me of my 2-month stint on eHarmony some years back:

I began to think it was fortunate I only taught part-time because online dating takes time; if you are going to do it properly it is almost a second job. The amount of admin meant that two or three hours could pass in Starbucks before I raised my head, realising my neck had been in a vice of muscle and my eyes weeping from staring at the screen so long.

I’ve been told once that finding the right person makes everything easy. I look forward to that happening to me some day, but I know that the amount of work before that easy bit depends purely on your luck. It might happen after 2 weeks, or 6 years. I know the amount of admin: finding the right first words; the anxiety of managing more than two matches at once (apparently I am incredibly old-fashioned and feel like an immoral two-timing beast when I meet more than one person within a week); the disappointment when you seem to be chatting to a completely different person than the profile you swiped right on; and so on. Plus, there are the people where it seems easy, but after a few weeks it turns out it isn’t. Those are the ones I really want to avoid.

Maybe I should just focus on finding a flat; that’s a full-time job too.

Hello, my Thirties – on to new adventures

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of my thirties. A brand new decade lies ahead.

Of course, marking a ‘new beginning’ on the first of January or a birthday is an arbitrary thing; I’m not much different today than I was yesterday, or a week ago. But the great thing about leading our own lives is that every moment we choose, be it a new year, week or morning, can be a new beginning, if we decide to see it that way.

I’ve been waiting for this birthday for a while. My twenties were … rough. A lot happened, including many good things, but overall I’m glad to take that decade and file it under ‘Memories’. I’m a very different person from who I was ten years ago, and I fully intend to take everything I’ve learned and do something with it.

One thing I mean in particular is my creative life. My early twenties in particular were largely defined by health problems and life events, and all my previous passions – writing, drawing, photography, design – all took a backseat. In the very far back. Different vehicle almost.

Over time, I have been able to slowly reintroduce these things into my life, but as it goes when you get to a certain age, impostor syndrome kicks in. Rather than doing things for fun, now there is a pressure to be good at those things, and when you haven’t worked on anything in years, it’s hard to just pick them back up again. Social media doesn’t help: if I share my stuff online it’ll give me great accountability, a reason to keep going with it. At the same time it makes me vulnerable to comparison and criticism. Which wins out?

When I wrote last week’s reading roundup, I was a little shocked by how rusty my writing felt. This blog is already a year old (my poor neglected child), and while I wrote and published more than in a long time in 2018, I know this can be improved.

My plan for 2019, as a start of the next chapter in my life, is to create more. This goes especially for writing, but my other interests as well. I still love books and want to read more, and more deeply, than I have in recent years. As awful as it sounds, I miss thinking. I miss engaging with what I consume and create. Writing papers on books used to be one of my favourite things to do, and there are already so many things, works and genres that I would love to explore more deeply, that might even make halfway interesting reading for whoever lands on this blog.

But at the same time, I miss play. It annoys me to think that I’m too old for something, that it’s unacceptable to be new to something at my age, and to be bad at it. Nobody is too old for anything (except maybe professional ballet, that’s not happening for me in this life). The world is an exciting place with many opportunities, so let’s keep trying new things!

My current new thing? Youtube.

2019 will be a year of changes for me (more on that soon), and I’ve long wanted to explore visual storytelling. What better reason to try my hand at vlogging? My video editing is … not great, but the fact that I can see that gives me hope for improvement, and so I want to push on. These are vulnerable times, exciting times, and if not now, then when?

On beginnings and endings

Hello. I’ve been meaning to write.

Literally. But then work happened, and a nice but too short romance happened, and somewhere in there I’ve been meaning to write, but had no idea what. I still don’t, but here I am anyway.

It’s hit me recently how much advice there is around at the moment. Wherever I look – Youtube, bookshelves, blogs, podcasts – everybody seems to be far down the road of some journey and ready to share their learnings. (I swear one of the Youtube channels I follow is a 19-year old sharing productivity tips. Gen Z, I’m in awe of you, but you make me feel afraid.) As someone who wants to ‘create content’ (urgh) to share in public, I wonder what I have to offer.

Is there any space left to say I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing?

I turn 30 in a few months and I have been using that number to both remind myself that I’m getting too old for some shit, but also as a reminder of all the things I still haven’t achieved. Sometimes that feels like motivation (I don’t own my furniture at nearly 30 – gotta get on that); more often I use it to beat myself over the head with how far ‘behind’ I am (my friends are getting engaged and I’m still single!) and despair.

I’m having a day off work today and so far I’ve spent it cleaning, dripping tears into my Zalando returns, and feeling exhausted. I’m tired of writing about how hard everything is, but I’m also tired of pretending it isn’t.

There’s a major life shift coming up for me. There has to be. This decade is one that needs a lid on it. I want to say, ‘Here rest my twenties. Those were the difficult years, and I’m grateful for what they taught me, but good riddance.’ and turn around and look at what’s next.

If there’s one thing I love more than anything else, it’s the buzz of a new beginning. Whether that’s the New Year, my birthday, the 6-month mark, or September for the new school year, or any day I pick at random. This is not it. This is the end of a decade and I cannot wait for it to be over now.

It turns out I’m happiest when I’m a) talking about books and b) making things, so I will endeavour to do both, even in a rough way. Done is better than perfect. If you want to watch me embrace this concept, have a look at my 100 Day Project on Instagram where I try to teach myself both hand lettering and thinking positively.

Here’s to keeping moving.