Searching for something

“I tell myself I am searching for something. But more and more, it feels like I am wandering, waiting for something to happen to me, something that will change everything, something that my whole life has been leading up to.”

― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner: Playscript

Inertia

1. A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
2. A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

One thing about me? I will remain in one position- a flat, a job, a city- for years on end until something forces me to change. I am a creature of habit and routine; I like what I like and it does not take much to keep me content (happy is a stretch). For a while I enjoy the normalcy but then life becomes stale and I become restless. I bear this restlessness with unease, wishing for a change but not actually taking any steps towards this. Change requires too much energy and it is easier to remain in the same spot, until it’s not.

While this has been my comfort zone for years, I now find myself stagnant in the later part of my twenties. Stagnant; like a body of water with no current or flow, my life has become dull, unmoving and unpleasant. Though I (claim to) enjoy my routine, the stagnancy has been eating away at my spirit for a while now. Deep down I am a social person whose social skills/desires have been blunted by years of solitude and inertia.

I moved into a flat-share back in almost five years ago and I have been here ever since. In this time I have seen probably twenty people move in and move out soon after to greener pastures. They have changed jobs, houses, even relationships and cities; and I am still here- in the same doggone flat watching as the house gets dirtier and dirtier with each new batch of tenants. I mostly stay in my room, avoiding the only communal area-the kitchen-as much as I can. I am not free here and my soul is not at rest. I have grown weary of welcoming new tenants- I don’t care to know any new people. I so badly long for a big cozy couch, and the freedom to have a house all to myself (or at the very least to not be with strangers). So why not just move out? That is what normal people would do right? Well I am highly abnormal. What’s the point of paying more money in rent when I could just buy my own place and pay mortgage. So I remain here, stagnant and unhappy.

My Job is another thing- I like it okay, and as I always say-things could be worse. Still everyone in my year group and most of the people in the year above have moved on to new jobs, and I’m still here. My mother recently suggested that I apply for new jobs just for a change, as this is what people typically do. A new job could mean higher pay and more opportunities, but as always the change frightens me and I really cannot be bothered to go through the stress of change. Do I really want to go through the stress of job application only to end up with a job which could be more stressful and less flexible than the one I currently have? A job is a job no? I don’t want to quit my job until I find my passion/raison d’etre and can do that. In addition to the effort, my fear with change is the possibility of regret-what if the grass is not greener on the other side and I start to wish I had stayed where I was?

Change happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Well, I have had enough. I have started looking for a new flat. What was the last straw? I’m tired of the revolving door of people, and there are two mouldy pots in the kitchen that no one is taking responsibility for (it could really only be one person). I have been casually searching for possible options but now I have put on my big girl pants and actually started organising viewings. Yes I will have to pay more each month, but what is the point of money if I cannot use it to make myself happy?

As for my job, I will stay on for a little bit longer. A steady income is nothing to take for granted, especially in these pandemic times. But rather than simply say things could be worse, I need to actively become aware of all my options, both in the corporate sphere and in the creative space. I am reminded of this quote:

Find something to work on, something that makes you excited, something you want to learn.

It’s not just the job that stifles me, it is the fact that I am doing nothing else. There is nothing that feeds my spirit and makes me excited, I am just existing day in day out. I would not be so bored, if I had something to look forward to after work. I met up with some people from work recently and one of my managers spent some time talking about her garden and all her babies-tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, even sunflowers. She is also planning her wedding so there is so much for her to look forward to in addition to work. Whereas I just roll out of bed, start working, and roll back in at night. Stagnant.

The sheer possibility of a change has brightened my day and lifted my spirits. I remember how excited I was when I first moved into this house; the joy of having my own space. I held on to that for five years too long. As stressful as it can be, change is so necessary from time to time. I hope I never forget this.

Outside is open and I am lonely again.

Much has been said about how the lockdown must be a dream for introverts, and I have written about my sheer happiness about not having to leave my house, and not needing an excuse for not having any plans. That has all come to a bittersweet end.

While the world rejoices at the reopening of the great outdoors, I feel the familiar stirring of loneliness and it saddens me. I feel as though I have been enjoying a deep restful sleep and now the alarm has gone off. Already I have been asked by a thousand people what my plans for the bank holiday weekend was, and then asked by a million people what I did over the bank holiday weekend. I have forced to listen to my flatmates as they regaled me with tales of camping, hiking and general merriment. I have had to turn down an invitation to eat out with some of them-my small talk is reserved for the kitchen-and in a panic struggle to come up with a suitable excuse. I have seen my friends post about the fun things they got up to outside. Everyone is banging on about how lovely the weather is, and wanting to know how I will be enjoying it. I have had to revert to my lonely girl phase-smile and say oh I didn’t get up to much, I just chilled. It is depressing.

The one thing about having a national lockdown imposed upon us is that it took away the pressure of socialising and the fear of missing out, Everyone was at home, so I was not abnormal in that sense. It was no longer weird that I didn’t leave my house the whole weekend, and I no longer had to be ashamed at how empty my life was.

Still, in spite of myself I am pleased that outside is open. I know some people must have suffered greatly with having to be cooped indoors all the time, and oh how happy they must be. I wish I shared the sentiment, personally.

I foresee a resurgence of all the loneliness posts, now that outside is open again. I already bought myself a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and I plan on rereading that. Watch out for the sad girl posts.

You might roll your eyes and ask: why don’t you just go out and make friends? For this I have to refer to one of my favourite quotes from Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City:

“The lonelier a person gets, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired.”

C’est la vie, unfortunately.

For the sake of it.

I have nothing to write, but I have not written in a long time so I will write this just for the sake of it.

Back in February I wrote a post for Lent, in which I once again outlined what I will try to give up during lent. Of course I didn’t read three books, but I did manage to stay away from sugar and junk for the duration (it’s a different story since Easter…blame it on my friends) so I will accept the little victories. To my disappointment I did not write at all (shocking -_-) and barely managed to reduce my screen-time which in turn affected my sleep and general wellbeing. At a point I felt quite down and unhappy (more and more recently).

However, I came down to stay with my friends for my birthday and they insisted I stay. This was against my natural instinct to soak up the little social interaction and run back to my (dis)comfort zone. I thought to myself-what are you running back to? Just stay here with your friends and enjoy the company and laughter and arguments. For my birthday my friend spent the day cooking for me, and I have been eating well ever since. I got presents and it was nice to be made a fuss over. I have also been eaten more junk than I have in recent months (even ice cream!), but I am happy and have not yet broken out so maybe unhappiness and loneliness was the real cause of acne.

It feels good to have real time in person conversations with people I like. To laugh and make people laugh, and see the laughing faces in real life- not just emojis. I am now reading a book, and will try to write more. We spend the working day bitching about work and fantasizing about winning the lottery. We spend ages debating what to watch on telly, only to stay on our phones anyway. We tease each other and bounce back quickly.

It’s the weekend and I am looking forward to lazing around and watching TV with my girls. On Monday outside opens again so maybe we’ll go out. Months and months of isolation have frozen my heart, and I am slowly thawing out. When I return home it will be hard to be alone again.

Goodnight.

I desire nothing more than a deep restful sleep.

Writing aside, the one thing I always want to do is sleep. I crave the feeling of burrowing deep into a thick blanket on a rainy day, with nothing to do but relax. Yet, just like writing, I hardly indulge myself with a good night’s rest. Even on weekends and holidays I am up as early as possible to tackle the day’s tasks of staring at my phone for hours straight, then taking a break to stare at my television for the rest of the day. I find it difficult to do the more productive things like writing, reading, pondering my life’s existence; all I do is stare at a screen.

Thankfully, everyone in the world is going through the same thing. The netizens have come up with a term for this: Revenge Bedtime Procrastination ‘bàofùxìng áoyè’ as the Chinese refer to it. This term describes how people who do not have much control over their lives and schedules during the day refuse to go to sleep so as to gain some sense of control and freedom at night. I definitely understand this. I have a poster in my room which boldly shouts “Stop waiting for Friday!” which is really easier said than done. I work all day and all week, and when I get off work I just want to do whatever. The problem is that I am sacrificing sleep for temporary pleasure, and it is getting harder to ignore the negative effects. I deleted Instagram for Lent, and before I did I would spend hours, way past my bed time, mindlessly scrolling through pointless posts on the explore page. Did I really need to go down the rabbit hole of what celebrity is sleeping with who? Did I care about the pointless e-fight between people I don’t know? Animal videos, tik-toks, every damn thing. I would lay in bed with my eyes burning and yet I could not tear my eyes away and go to sleep. The effect of this is that I was often tired and forgetful. I never truly felt rested, and would wake up tired. I would chastise myself for wasting all that time that I could have spent sleeping, but yet when nighttime came I would do it all over again. I deleted Instagram but quickly replaced it with YouTube, watching tens of videos each day, wildly swinging from broody hens to notable dictators to my favourite crime videos.

I recently saw a video about the importance of getting adequate sleep and how detrimental less than 7.5 hours of restful sleep is to our health. Of course I already knew this, but still I spent the time watching it on YouTube after getting a good 5 hours of sleep. The interesting thing was the roles phones, laptops et al play in our raggedy sleep schedules. The blue light emitted from the screens increase cortisol which makes it difficult for us to go to sleep. Again I know this and I always promise myself that I will put away from my electronics an hour before bedtime and I almost never do.

Not to keep banging on about loneliness, but this is yet another way loneliness shows up in my life. Years of living alone with no one to have a regular conversation with has made me deeply addicted to my phone. Most days, the only voices I hear are from my phone or telly. Tragic. If I had regular human contact with people I actually care to talk to, I reckon I would be less dependent on my phone. A couple of weeks back I kept my telly off the whole weekend and read a book instead. At first I was racing through the book so I could turn on the TV and faff around, but as time went on I decided to not watch tv until I was done with the book. I thought to myself “The TV and the shows in it are not going anywhere! Just take a break and relax.” It was actually weird to see how dependent I am, like a child with no self control. I did take some YouTube breaks to reward myself for reaching milestone pages, but still it felt good to do something else with my time (and my eyes were thankful for that).

I am not going to end this with another nonsensical declaration about how I will throw my phones away and sleep more, because I probably won’t. I will try though, because it will be sad when this pandemic is over and we are all back to commuting and I realise I did not take advantage of my time at home by sleeping enough. On Sunday, after spending the whole of Saturday on YouTube, I woke up early as usual, quickly perused YT and forced myself to go back to sleep for a few more hours. It felt good.

The takeaway is this; binging on YouTube is as terrible as my sugar binges. The videos and shows will still be there, and I need to pace myself. Sleep tight!

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.

Waiting for something to happen.

Deep down, all the while, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she kept casting desperate glances over the solitary waster of her life, seeking some white sail in the distant mists of the horizon. She had no idea by what wind it would reach her, toward what shore it would bear her, or what kind of craft it would be – tiny boat or towering vessel, laden with heartbreaks or filled to the gunwhales with rapture. But every morning when she awoke she hoped that today would be the day; she listened for every sound, gave sudden starts, was surprised when nothing happened; and then, sadder with each succeeding sunset, she longed for tomorrow.”

-Excerpt from the book Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

2020 Recap.

I’ve been writing on this blog for over five years now, and I hardly go back to review things I wrote in the past. Sometimes I do go through an old post and I am either quite impressed by my insight and eloquence, or cringing at the childish nonsense and lack of editing.

To round off this great year, I have gone through all the posts from this year and highlighted a few of my favourites.

Hello Twenty Twenty: This was the first post of the year, and what a year that has been. In the post I was full of optimism: “2020 feels different” “I feel good going into 2020 and I am determined to make this year count.” I wanted to do a lot with this year and my vision statement was to engage my life mindfullydiscover my purpose, and travel. I do not feel that I ticked off any of those boxes. In this post I also outlined a few things I wanted to do in order to achieve my vision; let’s go through them shall we?

By the end of the year, I want to be in a much more fulfilling space in my life, I want to have a full rich life that I am proud of. I don’t want to be bored. I want to meet people who will change my life for the better. I am definitely not in a more fulfilling space in my life, in fact this was possibly the least fulfilling year, or to rephrase, the year in which I felt the most restless and unfulfilled. I was so stressed out and anxious at work and I realised my current lifestyle is not sustainable. I really need to get off my butt and start doing things that enrich my spirit.

I need to stop being so lazy and restless. I want to actually take the time to figure out what drives me, rather than simply going where the wind blows. Ha. Ha. Ha. I’m still so restless and still so lazy and still so undriven. I faintly think writing is what my purpose is but I am too lazy to fully pursue this.

I want to finish a piece of writing (at least a draft), rather than leaving a bunch of scanty stories and poems. I’m disappointed in myself that I was not able to achieve this and there are really no excuses. I spent all my time either working or recovering from work. I watched so much films, shows, YouTube clips that my eyes were twitching from all the screen-time. I barely read any books and did not complete any writing. I hope 2021 will be better but I have to do better.

I want to develop and maintain fulfilling relationships. I developed zero relationships this year, but I will say that the lockdown made me communicate more with my friends and family. I could have reached out more often to more friends but as always there was nothing to say.

I want to commit to a hobby rather than spend all my time either working or watching television. I want to travel at least four times (to four different places). Ha. Ha. Ha.

I want to have another great birthday celebration. My birthday was in the first week of lockdown so I spent it alone. However I woke up early and went to the shop where I got myself some flowers, ice cream and brownie mix. I enjoyed calls and messages from friends and family, baked the brownies, and then dressed up and settled down to a fun virtual party with my friends, eating my brownie and ice cream. I was alone in my room but I was not lonely; I felt the love and I was happy.

Addict: I wrote this post in January about loneliness has become a staple in my life; simultaneously a burden and a craving. Loneliness is terrible but the longer it stays the more it attaches itself to the personality that it is difficult to be rid of it. I particularly love this quote from Olivia Laing: Loneliness grows around them like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired.

For the love of God: In this post, I revaluated my feelings about religion and God. It is amazing how fickle opinions are, and how opinions are really dependent on life experiences. A stressful 2019, and the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, made me realise the importance of a belief system and having something to fall back on. Being an adult is hard, and for a lot of people religion, as well as the concept of God, can provide much needed comfort, similar to a child with a security blanket.

The year of realising things: By now 2020 is the year in which everyone has realised something-good or bad. My personal realisations revolve around the relationship between my eating habits and skin issues, and the impact loneliness has on all these. I also realised that I have an addiction to sugar, diary is bad, fibre is good, and nothing really matters.

Two sides of the same coin: I am highlighting this mainly because this issue had been on my mind for the longest time and it was a relief to finally put it down in words.

Who Killed Malcolm X?: This Netflix documentary led me down my usual rabbit hole of articles and YouTube videos as I attempted to devour everything about Malcolm X.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to: My birthday has always been a source of angst and anxiety for me. I spend all year stewing in my loneliness, mostly happily, but my birthday is the one day where I want to be celebrated. I started writing the post to whine about how I have never had any good birthdays, but in writing it I realised that I have actually been quite fortunate and that people in my life have done their best to make me happy on my birthday. It is just easier to remember the bad birthdays. In summary; it is nobody’s responsibility to make my birthday a happy one. I need to make the plans and make my own dreams come true.

I love all women….even the ones that I hate: In this I laid down my frustrations and anger at the treatment of women as sexual objects with no autonomy.

Illusion that youth is happy: This quote from W. Somerset Maugham spoke deeply to me. A lot of young people are under the erroneous impression that our teens and twenties should be full of wild raucous fun and Gatsby-esque parties, which then puts so much pressure on us to be having fun all the time. The quote is simple and direct- it is an illusion that youth is happy.

All my baking posts: If there was one thing that I did in 2020, it was bake. I discovered my love and ability for baking and that made me so happy during the early days of lockdown till weight gain and cystic acne put an end to that. The feeling of satisfaction I felt as I removed my creations from the oven is incomparable. In 2021 I should redirect this energy into healthy cooking that feeds my body and skin.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself: In which I conquer my fear of making Mac and Cheese.

A Countervailing Theory: In a year in which I barely left my house, I was happy to be able to go see some art at the Barbican.

Self care: This aspirational post on self care; aspirational because some of these are things I do, and things I should do more of but don’t.

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.” I saw this quote on Instagram and it lingered in my mind until I wrote this post on my phone while relaxing after an invigorating spa session in Wales. I was at peace when I wrote this and that’s what I feel whenever I come across this post.

Take me back: Take me back to my childhood when I was carefree and happy. Random childhood memories regularly pop into my mind and I find myself drowning in nostalgia, especially as I live away from my family and have not seen any of them in person in a year.

This is the last day of the infamous 2020, a year which started out as everyone’s year, until Kobe Bryant died and nothing was the same again. For 2021 (which some have pointed out sounds like twenty twenty won), I just want to be alive and well, and I want the same for my family and friends.

No one will come and save you.

No one will come and save you. No one will come riding on a white horse and take all your worries away. You have to save yourself, little by little, day by day. Build yourself a home. Take care of your body. Find something to work on. Something that makes you excited, something you want to learn. Get yourself some books and learn them by heart. Get to know the author, where he grew up, what books he read himself. Take yourself out for dinner. Dress up for no one but you and simply feel nice. it’s a lovely feeling, to feel pretty. You don’t need anyone to confirm it.

I get so god damn lonely and sad and filled with regrets some days, but I’m learning to breathe deep through it and keep walking. I’m learning to make things nice for myself. Slowly building myself a home with things I like. Colors that calm me down, a plan to follow when things get dark, a few people I try to treat right. I don’t sometimes, but it’s my intent to do so. I’m learning. I’m learning to make things nice for myself. I’m learning to save myself. I’m trying, as I always will.”
―― Charlotte Eriksson, Everything Changed When I Forgave Myself: growing up is a wonderful thing to do