Since you’ve been gone

I want so much that is not here and I don’t know where to go for it.

It has been over a month since I last posted anything, which is wild as I have been through a lot since then. Well not really. My emotions have been through a rollercoaster. One thing about me? I am going to be stressed out over the tiniest of things.

Let’s start at the beginning.

It was my birthday. Nuff said. What is it about one’s birthday to bring out the sadness and dismay in one’s life to the forefront? I realised some years back that birthday depression is a real thing and I think it’s because of the expectations that birthdays are fun and filled with love and presents, and when you’re not fully basking in goodness the whole day, depression creeps in. That is my theory. I also realised that it is solely my responsibility to make my birthday a good one, so I try to make plans. My birthday fell on a weekday this year so I had the option of doing something the weekend before or the weekend after. I chose to go into town to stay with my friend the weekend before; none of my other friends could make it but I didn’t mind. I spent the weekend with her, we ate, and went to the gallery, and saw a play and it was nice. Then my actual birthday came, and though I had technically celebrated my birthday, I still had the birthday blues. I had the day off and had fantasies of getting my nails done, a deep tissue massage, a facial, all the good relaxation things. Of course I did not actually book anything so it was all fantasy. I get anxious and stressed out over everything, and that includes not relaxing as much as I want (or wasting a day off). Though I didn’t make any spa booking, I had dreams of relaxing fully the whole day in bed, finishing up some of the items in my Netflix watchlist. Of course that was not to be. I had to respond to calls the whole day which yay! people care about me on my birthday but also nay! leave me be. Another thing about me? I hate being on a phone call longer than I want to (I hate being on a phone call period). It just annoys me when I cannot get off the phone, or when the other parties cannot take the hint- I have sighed twenty times and said “well I’m just going to go get ready now” thirty times, so why are you still talking? The trigger for my irrational irritation is that I could see the hours hurtling past which meant my day off would soon be over and I was not relaxed at all. My friends got me breakfast and snacks which was so kind of them. Still I was alone in my prison room so there were no festivities and no birthday vibe. I had miscalculated greatly.

The biggest source of my annoyance and stress came from the most unlikely source. A couple of weeks prior while walking to get food, I came across a food truck in town centre and decided to see what it was about. Turns out it was a vegan food subscription service. I am not vegan (or even vegetarian) but I have been in a food rut lately and also trying to be healthy. I thought this was a good opportunity to try vegan recipes so I signed up for this, and went on to get my beef burrito. I then promptly put this out of my mind and ordered some Nigerian food for the week. The first box arrived and of course I was not ready for this so I put away as much as I could in the fridge. Then I went away for my birthday weekend. Imagine my annoyance when I got a notification saying the next food parcel was due to be delivered in a couple of days. Arrrrghhhhh I’ve not even cooked the first one yet! Even more annoying is that given that I completely forgot about it, the company had gone ahead and chose the meal options for me. Now I started to panic; one it’s vegan food which I doubt I will like; two I live in house with other people and have limited fridge space; three I’m wasting food and money. To crown this, my friend decided to get me HelloFresh food subscription for my birthday. Now I was completely stressed. I have no space! I have not even cooked the food I have. This is all so hectic. The hellofresh delivery was not due until the weekend after my birthday so Again I decided to cook the vegan meals in the first package on my day off aka my birthday to free up space and soothe my fraying nerves.

The appeal of these food subscription services is the ease and convenience…allegedly. It took me thirty minutes to peel and dice the butternut squash, and an eternity to put the whole meal together. It was supposed to be a curry but I must have reduced it too much because it seemed too solid to eat with rice. As I cooked it I knew this was not a meal I was going to enjoy eating. I was only able to cook one meal and I was so bloody irritable by the end of it. It was my birthday and I had wasted it on nonsense. Now it was evening time and I had work in the morning and there goes my day off. I was so sad. It made no sense.

The foul mood persisted into the next day. I’m still working from home which is beginning to seem more like a curse, but that’s a story for another day. I was just so annoyed and sad. Was it really just birthday depression? My irritation boiled over when I was allocated a topic to present at a team meeting the following week. Whew. That pissed me off! I hate for someone to just allocate something to me, like I’m a child or a baby staff. I stewed for days off of this irritation, and did not even respond to the message. I vented to my friends and sister about this mood, and I managed to diagnose myself. I came to the realisation that my irritation may be because I am deeply unhappy with my current life. I have been in my current job and house for over five years now and I am just over it all. After years of complacency I finally want to move on. Another thing about me? I can stay in one spot for ages, and I have a high threshold for boredom, but the minute I choose to move on I am completely done and cannot stand it one second longer. I figured that was the cause of my angst- In my mind I had moved on from this job and this house; so every moment that I was “forced” to remain here is torture to my soul.

It is not that easy to move on. In my mind I was already done with this job- every time future plans were referenced all I thought was “I’m not going to be here.” In my mind I was going to get the first job I interviewed for, which of course also stressed me out worrying over whether it would be a good fit and whether I would be going from frying pan to fire. Do I wait until I get a new job before looking for a new place, or do I just decide where I want to live and search for jobs there? I was stressed. Now I know that I worry too much for no reason at all. Every time I worry it ends up being for nought. Still, I worry.

At the start of the month I had to go into the office for a team meeting; rather than being annoyed I was actually looking forward to it. I had just got my hair done so I was feeling myself. I went in twice that week, and enjoyed it. It was good to talk to people and laugh. This brought me to another realisation. Could it be that I, the queen of the introverted introverts, was actually getting sick of working from home? I looked back at the other times I had gone into the office since the pandemic, and it was always a nice time. The bulk of my intensely negative feelings about work started during the pandemic, which also coincided with increased responsibility at work (which is definitely another stress factor). Could it be that despite my constant profession of how much I love working from home, being at home 24/7 was akin to being in solitary confinement which was ruining my mind and spirit? I shudder to think so.

My already fragile mood took a nosedive yesterday when I got an email with my work allocation for the next few months. We were to work from the client site twice a week and one day in the office. See that ruined my mood immediately. Now this was a client that was just assigned to me with no prior discussion. I hate when they do that. Hate it. What’s the point of being in a senior role if I can be randomly assigned clients with no forewarning. Then I found out that a delivery I had been waiting for all day was returned because my flatmate did not recognise the name and told the delivery people that the owner of the package no longer lived at the property. I just could not.

As I laid awake from 2am-5am staring at my phone (terrible habit!), I decided to change my perspective about things. Sure, it’s annoying to have to start going back into the office regularly; having to get up early-ish and get dressed, but perhaps that’s what I need now? I have lived without structure for 2 years, surely that’s enough. Rather than seethe over this, why not look on the bright side? I might enjoy working with a big team again, rather than by myself in my room. I still have two days a week to work from home- it’s the best of both worlds. Like magic, my irritation lifted and I started to feel positive about the whole thing. The positivity must have dried the dark rainy cloud hanging over my head because the rest of my day went better than the day before. First off I went outside to stick a note to the door, asking the delivery driver to call my phone number; within five minutes both packages I was expecting from two different delivery companies arrived and I did not have to stress about this the rest of the day. Work went okay, and now I’m writing this post that I have been meaning to for weeks. Some times all it takes it a mindset shift.

The HelloFresh delivery arrived and of course I panicked a bit. I was on my way to get my hair done so I threw everything in the fridge…or so I thought. Turns out what I thought was the ice pack was actually a pouch for the protein and I did not realise until the following afternoon. Yikes. I threw everything in the freezer (note the coping mechanism?) When it came time to cook, I panicked again- defrosted everything and then put some back in the freezer. It was a mess. Long story short, the meals were delicious, and by the grace of God I did not suffer from any meat related poisoning. I could only cook two of the vegan meals (the second was a fajita that I thoroughly enjoyed because I love tortillas) but I saved the ingredients I could and threw away anything that had gone off. There ends the debacle of the food delivery crisis. I’m glad that’s over with, and I’m sure most people would not have been anywhere as dramatic as I was over nothing.

I cannot end this without mentioning Easter weekend. Everyone is excited about the four day Easter weekend right? So was I. I was going to chill and be productive- clean my room, declutter, apply for jobs, write and explore outside. I did none of these things. I started out bingeing on Netflix as usual, but as the days loomed ahead I got tired of watching tv and just turned it off. Wow. That is not me at all. Rather than enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing, I was so bored by the endless days. The days stretched into each other and I lowkey longed for work to resume. How pathetic.

It is official; I have become a prisoner of my room. I’ll end this with a quote from Sylvia Plath:

“Go out and do something. It isn’t your room that’s a prison, it’s yourself.”

Sad girl.

I was in a bad mood yesterday. Sunday evenings are always a bit depressing, as I try to savour the last few minutes of the weekend while utterly dreading the looming Monday. Yesterday was especially bad as I was in all of my feelings and missing home. Home is a continent away; I am in a different continent from every single member of my family. It has been over a year since I saw them last; two years for some; and before then it was over a year since I had seen them and so on. This is the price one pays for working abroad. Years away from home has made me independent and self sufficient, but also incredibly lonely and dammit sometimes I just want to be at home. I’ve been away from home for ages; first hours away at boarding school, then a continent away at University, a brief return home before jetting off again to another continent for another degree and now career. I have missed so many family functions; weddings, births, funerals, general drama.

The older one gets the more you start to wonder what it is one’s life is for. I’m so over my job; I always say things could be worse because they truly could. As far as jobs go, mine is fine; I have enough independence and flexibility, and the pay is alright. But still, I am not settled and my spirit is not happy. Sometimes I’m fine, and sometimes I am so depressed by the thought that I have to log in to work every single week with only two days off a week, and I have to do this for decades! I get so much anxiety thinking about work. Most of the anxiety is in my head though, and I always try to tell myself it’s not a big deal, you don’t even have to leave your bed. I guess it’s just the fact that the day is not mine, and I can be called on at anytime. It’s tough. I can’t do this for much longer but then I am the one who has to make the decision on what to do next. Even if I get a new job, what’s the assurance that it won’t be the same or worse? Even being self employed has its cons. But wow this job does not feed my spirit at all. I need to be doing something more creative perhaps, but you know what they say about the grass on the other side. Then add to this the fact that I live with a revolving door of strangers that I can never get truly comfortable with, in a space that is not fully mine and you can see how over it all I am.

Today like yesterday
Tomorrow like today;
The drip, drip, drip,
Of monotony
Is wearing my life awa
y
(Langston Hughes)

Yesterday was hard. All of these feelings flooded in and overwhelmed me. All at once I was hit with the strong nauseating feeling of dissatisfaction; I am terribly dissatisfied with my life. I don’t have any friends or family near me. I just want to go home and sit on the couch watching poorly made television with my family, and eating dinner someone else made. I want to see my nieces and nephews grow up in real life, rather than through pictures. It is not natural to be alone. We are not built this way, regardless of how much I have come to crave solitude. I was not happy yesterday.

I feel much better now, and I felt better before going to sleep. I was deep in my self pity when a group call came in from all of my family. Now I absolutely despise people calling me, and the ringing of my phone is enough to drive me into a rage (or something not quite as dramatic). So even though I was missing home, I was not in the mood to speak to anyone so I ignored the call. But they called back again and again and eventually I picked up. It’s rare to have a call with all members of my immediate family, and what are the odds that it came in just as I was feeling so low. Though the call was raggedy with people’s connections coming in and out, it lifted my spirits tremendously to talk to my family. I just want to go home-not a physical place, but home as in the warm embrace of my loved ones.

What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don’t know and I’m afraid.

Happiness is NEXT to Offensiveness

Happy girls are the prettiest girls– Audrey Hepburn

What comes to mind when you see this quote? To me, I interpret it as a kind way of telling people to dwell more on our inner happiness than our outer attractiveness. I read this as saying that happiness radiates from within and brightens our exterior. I do not see it as a slur to mentally ill people. But apparently some people do.

Clothing retailer NEXT recently found itself in lukewarm water because of its line of shirts that have Ms. Hepburn’s quote printed on them. The offended people claim the shirts could put pressure on those dealing with mental health issues.  A feminist group and mental health charity were tagged.

This is so ridiculous. Why would a shirt with such a simple message put pressure on those with mental issues? Do we now get rid of anything that we cannot relate to? Should we get rid of cartoons, minions, smiley face emojis and anything that could put pressure on people to be happy? Does the fact that there are unhappy people mean that the message is offensive? Is there a message that perfectly captures everyone?

One of the offended said “It suggests to me that for girls being pretty is worth more than being happy.” And it all makes sense now. This is a simple case of misinterpretation. If the shirts had the quote: “Pretty girls are the happiest”, then the outrage would be somewhat justified. But the quote does the opposite, it suggests that for girls, being happy is worth more than being pretty.

I was disappointed to read that NEXT decided to pull the line of shirts. Has no one got a backbone anymore?

Happy people are the most beautiful. I fully agree. I have never seen a person who smiling or laughing heartily that did not look wonderful.

What do you think? Is the message offensive? Was NEXT right to pull the line of shirts?

“I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.” Audrey Hepburn

 

Try a little tenderness

One thing I have realised from observing human interactions is our gross lack of empathy.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines empathy as:

The feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions. The ability to share someone else’s feelings.

We are unwillingly to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and to see life the way they do. I believe this unwillingness to empathise is responsible for a lot of the meanness in the world, including most forms of discrimination. If we could imagine ourselves as the people we are so mean to, would we be so forthcoming with our insults? If we realised that we could easily be/have been in the position that some people are in, would we be comfortable enough to humiliate them and rip them to shreds?

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