Five years later…

Sometimes I wish I could peek into my life 5 years from now, to see how things will be.

Five years ago in March of 2016, on the one year anniversary of this blog, I wrote a post in which I wondered what my life would be like in 2021.

What will my life be like 5 years from now, I wonder? Will I be happy and fulfilled? Will I still be alive? Will I have fallen victim to a maniac suicide bomber? Life has this way of being completely unpredictable, tossing you in directions in which you never expected. Whatever happens, I hope to be alive, I hope to be happy, and I hope to always have a reason to laugh.

Well I am pleased to say that I am still alive, to the glory of God, and I have not fallen victim to a suicide bomber (or pandemic or a crazy flat-mate or food poisoning). I am not however, happy and fulfilled. Far from it. I am trying to remember what I was doing in March 2016. I had finished university and National service, and was sat at home, bored as hell, trying to figure out my next step. I would end up applying for a Master’s degree and move to a different continent by myself. In 5 years, I have completed my Master’s Degree, started a job, and finished a professional qualification. Personally, I am in the same comfortable rut that I have been in for over a decade. It makes me a bit sad that I am still waiting for my life to begin, and as I get older I get more nervous that it will never happen. In five years I will still be here waiting for my life to begin. Terrifying.

Sometimes I scare myself by thinking: what if nothing changes? What if I am in this exact same spot, daydreaming about the same things and watching life pass me by? Change is scary, but even scarier is remaining the same.

Sigh. I haven’t the foggiest clue how to move my life forward and make my life more fulfilling. I have to put down my phone and sit with myself for a while. Things haven’t been all bad; there have been moments of laughter and fun, but they are not enough and they have no long lasting effect on my heart-once the moment ends, the feeling disappears as well.

One day I will come back and write about how happy and fulfilled I am. I’m over the whining.

Be still my heart.

Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you
-Psalm 116:7

I woke up early this morning, wracked with anxiety. This anxiety has been a staple for a long time now, coming and going in waves but always there. What am I nervous about? Most of the time there is no substance to my fears; I’ve been through this before so I know it will be fine, and yet I worry. My heart is always racing and I feel uneasy and irritable. It gets in the way of everything. I can’t fully relax because of the niggling feeling that I should be doing something else. And I cannot do any work because I’m tired and need to relax. Of course this makes me even less productive, as I end up spending all that time worrying. So I end up in this weird space where I am beating myself for relaxing because there’s working to be done but then I can’t relax either so I’m just unsettled and mentally running helter skelter. Last year this anxiety was caused by exams and now it’s work and life in general. From experience I know that nothing is that big of a deal, and everything will be alright. Still it is so hard to relax.

As a reasonably intelligent woman, I’ve decided to tackle this head on. What are the scenarios in which I feel the most anxious?

  1. When I have to make a decision and I do not know what the right thing to do is (or when I’m afraid of hurting someone’s feelings). I spent New Year’s Eve 2018 in a state of complete anxiety as I couldn’t decide where to usher in the New Year. I had two options, and though I was happy where I was, I did not want the other person to feel sad that I wasn’t there. Of course this completely consumed the whole day and took over my entire mood and had me so panicky. For some people this may seem like an overreaction and it damn sure is but still. I went out to the mall, looking and feeling like a mess, and I ran into an old friend and could barely muster enough sanity to have a nice conversation. Eventually I met up with my sister and cousin and we watched a film and I slowly relaxed. In the end I stayed where I was for NYE and visited the other place on New Year’s day and the earth continued around its axis.

    This anxiety pops up when I am afraid of hurting someone’s feelings but I also feel this anxiety at work when there are tasks to be completed and I am not sure how to go about them. I feel a sense of responsibility and cannot run to the manager for every query so I try to solve it all by myself. This anxiety also pops up when the manager at work leaves a comment about the work I’ve done and I immediately start to panic about what to do. Most of the time, it turns out to be nothing. They just wanted clarification on a particular issue but by that time I have run myself ragged with worry.

  2. When there is too much to be done and not enough time: Deadlines! Deadlines!! Deadlines!!! One thing about adulthood is that there is always something that needs to be done and it needs to be done now. This is definitely a major source of anxiety for me during the busy periods at work. This is when I have a thousand tasks to do, a twinkling of an eye to do them in, twenty people messaging me asking questions, people I have to coach and keep an eye on, superiors I have to answer to, client relationships I need to manage, and so on. It is impossible for me to relax during this time, especially when I include scenario one (above) and three (below).

  3. When I have not done what needs to be done (or when I feel I have not done enough): I work hard but sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. When I am working I like to have the TV on for company, and sometimes this makes me wonder if I have done enough work or if I’ve just been faffing around. There are also times when I just cannot be arsed; maybe I pushed myself too hard the day before and have now decided to take a leisurely approach. This is all fine and dandy until a manager messages me asking for a catch-up and I start to sweat a little.
    This also happens during exams (especially during exams) because I like to chill and study along to a nice comedy series. Again this makes me wonder if my studying is enough or if I have actually spent all that time chilling and deluding myself that I have studied.
    This is actually the source of my anxiety today. I am working on a client which is not one of my usual ones and it’s a little difficult to make sense of the tasks. The work is going slowly and this makes me super anxious for the daily morning catch-ups with all members of the team. The catch ups are never a big deal and they always go off smoothly but still I feel super uncomfortable if I am not completing and signing off tasks. The truth is I do work hard and manage to complete all assigned tasks; it’s just the anxiety acting up.

  4. When I have to do something: Having something that I have to do at a certain time stresses me out. My brain stalls and all I can think of is this thing that is happening at this time and I cannot relax until it is over. This was the other source of my anxiety today. I had to coordinate a social event for the team and I woke up nervous about it because we had not finalised the agenda. Needless to say, this also went off without a hitch and my worry was all for nought. Work aside, I feel this anxiety even if I have a fun meet-up with friends. Just the knowledge that at a certain time I have to be out of the house to get to a place adds a touch of stress to my day. My days are mundane and monotonous so anything that breaks that- a meeting or presentation or whatever-is bound to cause some anxiety.

  5. When I feel unprepared/disorganised: Now I am no Monica Geller, but I do like to be reasonably organised. Chaos stresses me out. Almost ten years ago now (damn), I was a member of a cultural club at University and the club president decided to put on a red carpet event and charge money for it. We sold tickets and told everyone there was going to be dance, fashion and awards. All through this period, I kept reminding the president that we, in fact, had no certain activities planned out. The night before we were all in a dorm room, some people lazily practicing a dance routine and fashion show. I just knew this event was going to flop because the organisation (or lack of thereof) made my skin crawl. And boy did it flop! First it started an hour late, the dancers pulled out last minute… Everything was so messed up. At the end, the only thing we managed to do was the fashion show, which consisted of four girls walking out on the runway. Oh yeah we also had the awards, which had me backstage, scribbling the winners name on a certificate at the very last minute. I would have been beyond furious if I paid to witness such rubbish. Anyway it seemed like I was the only one who was bothered by this, everyone else kept asking me why I was bothering myself. 

    This is one of the top drivers of stress for me- uncertainty, unpreparedness, and disorganisation. Back in University I took a public speaking course and before any of my presentations I would write my speech and practice multiple times while timing myself. This made me more relaxed and confident because I was prepared. This is the same with exams and work, a portion of anxiety comes from not being prepared and not knowing what to expect. When we are prepared, we fear a little less, because we know our shit, so to say. 

  6. When my phone rings: Ahhhhhhh! There are few things that piss me off as much as this. This is definitely the most irrational source of my irritation. I think this is because the phone just rings out of nowhere, interrupting whatever it is I am doing at the time and that is just annoying. There’s never a time when my phone rings and I’m happy, unless it is a call I am anticipating. It just comes out of the blue and I have to wait for the call to be over so I can get back to what I was doing. Then of course I feel bad for ignoring the call and worry about getting in touch with the caller later. Whew, the anxiety.

  7. Disillusionment and general unfulfilment: Sometimes the monotony of my life bears down on me and it is all so overwhelming. In times of high stress at work I wonder is this all there is? There has to be more to life than work. I start to fantasise about doing something else and pursuing my dream of being a writer cum television watcher. But the truth is even people who do what they love have a lot of anxiety and then this stresses me out because what then can I do? Unfortunately anxiety is a common feature in adulthood regardless of the occupation. I’m sure even youtubers, instagram influencers, and sugar babies must feel anxiety. At least I have a stable job and a stable income; the anxiety from not having a stable income must be ridiculous. Thankfully I’m not worried about marriage and children otherwise I would not be able to cope.

The day is over and I have faced everything that was causing me to be anxious. As always my anxiety was for nothing. Still I know that I will not be fully rid of this naggling feeling that trails me and bogs down my spirit. It is exhausting.

Ah well. Tomorrow is another day.

On purpose and fear of missing out.

I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or you a grand ambitionIt is okay to wander through life finding interesting things to do until you die.” https://www.instagram.com/p/CEuA5EUhmDG/

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one of the causes of melancholy in today’s youth is the fear of missing out, FOMO if you will.

Thanks in part to social media, the world is much smaller and everyone is your neighbour regardless of where you actually live. Like many things, this has its positives and negatives. The negative is that you have so many people to compare yourself to; so many FOMO inducing moments which you might not have had otherwise. This goes beyond parties and fun holidays but also seeps into more serious existential things; finding fulfillment and purpose. A 21 year old in Texas bought her first house, now a 26 year old in London who saw the pictures on Instagram is feeling insecure and unaccomplished because she is nowhere near being able to do the same. People feel like failures because they haven’t completely “figured out” their lives at 24. Everyone else appears to have it together (just look at their Instagram pages!) and this intensifies the pressure.

The need to find one’s purpose predates the internet age and is not unique to this generation. However the concept of finding one’s purpose is both helped and worsened by social media. On one hand there is whole new range of occupations that were not available twenty or even ten years ago. People can now make careers out of their hobbies and interests, instead of forcing themselves into unsuitable moulds. On the other hand a traditional 9-5 is considered old fashioned and dull, leaving a lot of people feel pressure to be doing something non traditional on the side. Surely you can’t simply work for thirty or so years and then retire. How uninteresting. What a waste of a life. You need to find your purpose!
Now people are running helter skelter trying to determine their true purpose because “if you do what you love it doesn’t feel like work.

This whole thing about finding one’s purpose can be both liberating and stifling. Liberating because you may be lucky to find something that enriches your soul. Stifling because unless you find this “purpose” you may find yourself perpetually unfulfilled, restlessly hopping from one place to the other in search of the elusive purpose.

So when I saw the quote at the beginning of the post, I was immediately drawn to it and inspired to write this post. Of course some people will disagree and say everyone in-fact has a purpose; wandering is a purpose. I myself wonder if I was drawn to the idea of not having a purpose as a cop-out for my laziness and lethargy. I like to write and my computer is littered with unfinished pieces. If I took writing as my purpose would I be more serious with it or would I be driven mad trying to fulfill this purpose? For now writing is something I like to do but I feel no pressure as I don’t necessarily see it as my purpose. Still there are times I feel like there ought to be more to life (see last post) and I wonder if I would feel more fulfilled if I had a purpose I was working towards.

For some, having a life purpose can be very comforting and motivating as it keeps them going. Conversely it can also be comforting to think that there is really no purpose to life, no heights that must be reached, no real boxes that must be ticked. You don’t have to get married and have children if you don’t want to. You don’t have to monetise all your hobbies and interests. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur.

If it makes you happy to live day to day as you are then don’t stress yourself out fearing that you are missing out. And to those who are desperately searching for their purpose, their raison d’etre? I hope you find this and I hope it makes you happy.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself…

From the title, you might be expecting a philosophical babble about conquering fear. Yes but no; this is a recipe for Macaroni and cheese. Hear me out.

I have a love-hate relationship with cooking (emphasis on the hate). It is not even the actual act of cooking, but everything else-putting together a recipe, sourcing the ingredients (so expensive), having to do it multiple times, and worst of  spending all that time and effort only to end up cooking something that is not edible. So I have often abstained from cooking save some intermittent bursts of optimism when I find myself in a cooking frenzy.

One thing that I have been trying to cook, and that has always seemed a bit intimidating is mac and cheese. I did not even fully realise this until I started writing this post. The first time I tried to make it was during one of my cooking frenzies- I don’t think I had even ever had mac and cheese at that point, but I just wanted to cook it. I dislike Macaroni but I love cheese so I thought I would for sure love cheesy macaroni seeing as everything tastes good drenched in cheese. I don’t remember how it tasted, but I remember thinking it was too cheesy and M&C is not for me. I took it to a potluck the next day and one of my friends ate it all with her hands, probably because it was the only non-spicy option. Anyway seeing her eat it all made me very happy but I didn’t eat it myself. Then I sated my craving with Krafts mac and cheese before I just had enough of the whole thing and did not eat it again.

Fast forward a few years and it’s Thanksgiving. I am staying with a friend and we decide to celebrate it. She makes a roast with all the trimmings and I offer to make mac and cheese. I google an easy recipe, and under the watchful eye of my Master-Iron-Chef friend the mac and cheese comes out edible, nice even.

Few years go by and I am spending Christmas alone with my sister. We get some chicken from Nando’s (hold the tears please) and I decide to make some mac and cheese to go with it. I did not pay attention to the recipe, and my bechamel sauce was lumpy as heck but I closed my eyes and just mixed everything together and threw it in the oven. Needless to say it was completely inedible.

Another couple of years go by, and it’s March 2020. The world has gone to hell in a basket and everyone is stocking up on food and toilet paper. What do I do? Go to the store and get ingredients for Mac and Cheese of course, what else? This time was different; I was going to kill it. A friend had given me what was essentially a cookbook for dummies, and in it I found two recipes-one for mac and cheese, and one for cheese sauce. I read both of them over and over till they imprinted in my brain. For the first time, I was not just following a recipe. I actually understood what needed to be done, and it is easier to understand once it has been broken into its components. It is really quite easy you see;

First the Mac;

-Buy Macaroni
-Boil it according to the packet instructions
-Drain and set aside

Then the Cheese

First is the Roux; Roux is equal parts flour and fat mixed together and is used to thicken sauces. For this you will need flour and butter (which serves as the fat).

Then the Bechamel sauce-This is formed by adding milk to the Roux. The danger with this is that the Sauce will be lumpy and the solution is to use warm milk, add it in slowly and stir until your arms fall off. JUST KEEP STIRRING UNTIL THE LUMPS VANISH!

Then the fun part-the cheese sauce. Add all the cheddar and Parmesan until the sauce is thick and gooey and cheesy.

Then add the macaroni to the cheesy mixture and you have your mac and cheese.

If you need measurements, you would probably be better off reading a proper recipe then.

Some people eat it like that, others like to bake it in the oven- in which case sprinkle the remaining cheese on it first.

That’s it! For years I read recipe after recipe online, terrified to make the mac and cheese. And when my bechamel sauce inevitably became lumpy I gave up in despair. No more. I have mastered the Macaroni and cheese and can only get better from here on.

*Lemony Snicket voice* I wish I could say this story ends on this happy note but alas you know how life goes.

The mac and cheese was delicious and I was overjoyed at my success. The recipe book said to then put it under a grill for 5 minutes. Now now I thought that was a bit weird-surely it takes more than 5 minutes to bake mac and cheese. But I did it all the same. The cheese on the top turned brown pretty quickly which I thought was a good sign-but actually didn’t taste good so I scrapped it off. But the whole things was muy belissimo and I gobbled it down hungrily and licked off every scrap of cheese. I did not eat as much as I would have liked because I wanted to have leftovers for the next day.

Well the next day, I returned from work with joy in my heart and a skip in my step and rushed over to warm my mac and cheese. I sat down to eat,  took one bite and nope! It did not taste good. It was more congealed than cheesy and I was a little disheartened.

Just as I was about to go to sleep, it hit me. The recipe I used said to grill the mac and cheese for 5 minutes, most likely because she and her family of four were going to gobble it all down that evening. What I should have done was bake the Mac and Cheese for about 40 or so minutes rather than just put it under the grill. My cooking IQ is improving! I am so proud.

The lesson still stands and it applies far beyond cooking– sometimes the fear is just in your mind. Look at the task before you, break it down into its components, familiarise yourself with each one, and then tackle them. And if at first you don’t succeed, erase all evidence that you ever tried  dust yourself up and try again.  Despite the leftover mishap, the success of my Mac and Cheese has given me the confidence to cook more. Yesterday I decided I wanted some mashed potatoes and chicken for dinner so I just went and made some. Whereas in the past I would have toyed around with the idea for days trying to summon the energy to make it happen, before eventually getting takeaway from Nando’s. I am actually excited to cook now, to try new (simple) recipes that I can add to my food rota, and to create a food rota. Now is as good a time as any, seeing as we are all stuck inside till thy kingdom come. Thanks Covid!

 

Death must be so beautiful

I am terrified of death. It is so heart-wrenching, so sudden, so final. It comes without warning and leaves in its wake a trail of tears and unfulfilled dreams. Still, this quote from Oscar Wilde’s  book-The Canterville Ghost- makes death sound not so bad, pleasant even.

“Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace.”

If only we could have this while alive.

Hideous puppets

“But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!”
― Oscar WildeThe Picture of Dorian Gray

…a state of perpetual terror

“The trouble is that some children are timorous and some children are reckless, and in order to save the lives of reckless children warnings are calibrated for their safety; the result of which is that the timorous live in a state of perpetual terror. What I needed to be told is, “you know what? Most days, you won’t die. It’s fine.”” 

-The brilliant David Mitchell puts it so eloquently.

Murder on the Jubilee Line

A week ago I witnessed an incident on the London underground; the southbound jubilee line to be precise. Commuting in London can be terrible at the best of times, but everyone will testify that the morning rush hour is especially hellish.  It is packed tighter than a sardine can and the slightest cough-or God forbid-sneeze could take down at least a hundred people.

Still the trips are uneventful-horrendous but uneventful; nothing to write a blogpost about. Until about a week ago when I witnessed the type of theatrics I usually only see on youtube.

Curtain opens.

The tube stops at Canada Water. As usual there is an orderly line of people waiting to get in. A young lady cuts the queue and hops on to the consternation of the woman who was in the line.

Cast
Young lady who hops on the train-Hereafter referred to as BW (Black Woman)
Miffed off woman standing in the line-Hereafter referred to as WW (White Woman)

WW: *soft whiny voice* Excuse me please, there is a queue. You can’t just cut the queue.
Me: *in my mind* Just squeeze yourself in and don’t make a big deal out of this.
BW: Silence.

*Five  Mississippis later*
BW: WHY ARE YOU FOOOKING TALKING TO ME? 
Me: *In my mind* alright sis just leave it alone there’s no need for all this.
BW: DO YOU WANT ME TO RAISE MY VOICE? WHY THE FOOK ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? ARE YOU GOING TO KICK ME OFF OR DO YOU WANT ME TO PUSH YOU OFF? WHO PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF THE LINE? ARE YOU PAID TO MAINTAIN THE QUEUE YOU DUMB BITCH?

Random people on the tube: *whimpering* Hey that’s not necessary.

Me: *Looks around for the exits.* Oh God I hope nothing happens. There is no place to run.

BW: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN’S LIFE THAT SHE IS WORRIED ABOUT A FUCKING TRAIN? WHY IS THIS WOMAN’S LIFE SO DULL THAT SHE’S TALKING TO ME ABOUT A TRAIN?

Me: How long before she mentions White Privilege?

BW: …WITH YOUR FUCKING WHITE PRIVILEGE YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT A TRAIN?
Me: Bingo!
BW: YOU HAVE EVERYTHING AND YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT A TRAIN YOU STUPID ASS BITCH!
WW: Silence. Weak embarrassed smile.
BW: Silence.
Me: God get me to my destination safely.

*Two Mississippis later*
BW: STUPID ASS WHITE PRIVILEGE BITCH WORRIED ABOUT A FUCKING TRAIN
Me: *in my mind* Let it go you psycho!
Random people: Hey stop it…unnecessary…c’mon now
BW: ANYONE WHO TALKS TO ME IS GOING TO (get it? be yelled at? Feel my wrath? Cannot remember exact words)

Voice in the tube: This station is Canary Wharf. Change here for the…
Me: Praise Jeeeessuuuuus! *hops off and sprints away*

Curtains close.

The incident occupied my thoughts for the rest of the day and even now I still think about it from time to time. This may not be a memorable incident to some-just another day in the jungle of civilised society. To some, this may be positively banal: “You call that a incident? Why I once saw  a woman fight five men, bite off a cat’s head and give birth to her own grandchild on the Bakerloo line from Baker Street to Edgeware road.”

This is surely not the worst thing to happen on public transportation, but as a lifelong scaredy cat and avoider of confrontation this shook me up. Prior to this incident I had seen videos of people being verbally attacked on public transportation-usually a racist piece of shit telling someone else to go back to their country. When these videos are posted, people often ask why none of the witnesses did anything:
“Oh look at all of them sitting down and allowing this to go on”
“Even the few people who spoke up are still complicit because they did not do anything to stop it.” blah blah blabity blah.

I have never been one of those people sprouting these lines. I have always known in my heart that if I was to ever be in a situation like that, I would not be able to do anything. I knew even then that I would be one of the cowards who say nothing; one of the people who sit still and wait for the whole thing to pass quickly. Whenever I watched those videos I wondered what I would do if I was the one being attacked. Again I knew-as I have known for years-that I would not have the courage to defend myself. I would most likely stand there humiliated, attempting to mask the awkwardness with a week feeble smile like the WW. Maybe that’s why I could not get this incident out of my mind.

I wonder if I should have said anything, but what help would that have served? Surely a person who can snap at a stranger like that would not hesitate to let me have it. It is unlikely that my objections would have made her stop her attack: “You know what sis? I was going to berate this bitch for another 5 minutes but hearing your feeble voice has made me change my mind.” 

Excuses excuses. I’m not even going to deceive myself by saying I would have intervened if it was a more serious incident.

A friend of mine-much smaller than me- once saw a group of men sexually assaulting a drunk woman and managed to run the men off and get them arrested. My first reaction would probably be to find a safe place to hide and call the police from, or find other people and point them in the direction of the crime. I know if she had been on the tube, she would have said something.

It is a terrible thing to be weak and afraid.

 

Fear of missing out.

I never have any plans for the weekend. Whenever someone asks me what my plans are for the weekend or what I did over the weekend, my answer is the same: nothing much. For as far back as I can remember, I have always enjoyed my solitude. Weekends are for me to stay in and relax completely. I cannot be bothered to leave my room.

Despite this I have a sizable fear of missing out; FOMO as it is called. I always imagine that others are having fun without me, which they most likely are. I so badly want to stay home and do nothing but at the same time, I sometimes feel as though I am wasting away my youth.

I think deep down in my heart, I am a social person. I look back at the child I was and I wonder what happened. Back then I would organise all the children on my street; I formed a club and we would have meetings. One random morning, I decided to throw a party and a few hours later the party was underway for no reason at all. I miss that person. I wonder what happened to her. She is still in here somewhere, I feel her stirring all the time. I seem to have buried her under layers of God knows what and only God knows why.

I have a self to recover, a queen. Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, with her lion-red body, her wings of glass?

I am starting to be bored by my solitude, which occasionally turns into its ugly twin-loneliness. When the weekend approaches, I am a little sad that I have no plans. Yet whenever I do make plans, I am filled with a strange nervousness. Once the plan is actually underway I feel fine, but the hours before I set off are mildly nerve-wracking. I assume it is a watered down version of what an agoraphobic must feel. It is almost as if I am afraid to have a good time. I have become accustomed to the initial nervousness and I know that I just have to get through it and have a good time. Still sometimes I am relieved when plans fall through and I get to do nothing instead.

Once I am done with the outing, I am happy to be back home having fulfilled the need to leave the house and do something. At least now I have an answer if I am asked what I did over the weekend. This one outing usually satiates the desire to go out for a few weeks; I have left the house, that should hold me over a little bit.

Yet I wonder what others are up to, what fun things are they doing?

The worst case of FOMO comes on my birthday. Even if I do nothing and stay in the whole year, I like to create beautiful memories on my birthday. I spent weeks-months even trying to figure out what to do on my birthday. Oh how I panicked that I would end up staying in bed all day. 4am on my birthday I was still up trying to figure out the plans,  it did not help that it was on a weekday and everyone was at work. I did eventually manage to have an okay time by myself but it could have been much better.

I know deep down the social child I was is still there. I love planning things; I love creating an itinerary of events and things to do. It is rare that I go through with them but still the process is exciting.

In my dream life, I am out of the house regularly-not clubbing-but just being enriched by the world and all the beauty life has to offer.

I am over being alone.

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

I need to leave my room more often. This is really the long and short of it all. Nothing interesting is going to happen in my room. I need to remind myself constantly to just get out and see what outside has to offer. I literally stay in all weekend, only leaving to stock up on food and then I worry I am missing out on life.

I have resolved to do something interesting every weekend, at least one day of the weekend. I made a similar resolution last year-I was determined to leave my room at least once a day. I even wrote down a list of places to go but then couldn’t be arsed to go to some of them alone.

Life is meant to be lived and so far, I am failing miserably at that. I do not want to be bereft of memories. I want to look back at my life and marvel at how rich it was.

 

Both quotes are from Sylvia Plath, who seems to have a quote for every mood I’m in.

Sylvia Plath

My first interaction with famed writer and poet Sylvia Plath was through a tribute twitter account (itssylviaplath). I knew about Plath, of course, but I was not in any way familiar with her work or her life.

Over time, I have read her novel The Bell Jar, read her poems, learned a lot more about her tragically short life, including her relationship with Ted Hughes, and I have come to appreciate her art.

I love coming across quotes that resonate with me, quotes that express so clearly my feelings and that enunciate the thoughts that swirl around my head. It is for this reason that I love Rumi and Langston Hughes. Sylvia Plath is the third member of this trinity.

Sylvia was depressed for most of her life, and she attempted suicide a few times before she finally succeeded in 1963 at the age of 30. A lot of her quotes are gotten from The Bell Jar, and they are not necessarily happy and joyful, but rather introspective, questioning and sometimes dark. I am not depressed, but I connect with some of her quotes, and I think that a lot of people, particularly young people trying to make sense of life, would as well.

Here are some of my favourite Sylvia Plath quotes.

Biggest fear.

What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.

Ideal life

At any rate, I admit that I am not strong enough, or rich enough, or independent enough, to live up in actuality to my ideal standards.

I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.

I am gone quite mad with the knowledge of the overwhelming number of things I can never know, places I can never go, people I can never be.

 

On self

I am myself. That is not enough.

I have a self to recover, a queen. Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, with her lion-red body, her wings of glass?

So many people shut up tight inside themselves like boxes would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.

It’s a hell of a responsibility to be yourself. It’s much easier to be somebody else or nobody at all.

Loneliness.

Loneliness is like a disease of the blood,

dispersed throughout the body

so that one cannot locate the matrix,

the spot of contagion.

Living in the present.

The hardest thing is to live richly in the present without letting it be tainted out of fear for the future or regret for the past.

Who am I? What do I want?

I am very tired, very banal, very confused. I do not know who I am tonight.

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

Something in me wants more. I can’t rest.

One of those nights when I wonder if I am alive, or have been ever.

It is awful to want to go away and to want to go nowhere

I do not know who I am, where I am going – and I am the one who has to decide the answers to these hideous questions.

I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.

On companionship

How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this.

I need someone real, who will be right for me now, here, and soon. Until then I’m lost. I think I am mad at times.

Laziness

Do I love laziness more than I love the feeling of accomplishing work? I take the path of least resistance and curl up with a book.

Finally,

The most terrifying realization is that so many millions in the world would like to be in my place.

Why is crying so pleasurable? I feel clean, absolutely purged after it. As if I had a grief to get over with, some deep sorrow.

 

Do you have a favourite Plath quote that is not here? A favourite quotable writer/poet? Share!