This is perhaps a weird 'title' & topic to be the choice for ones returning to the world of blogging, something I have long considered, pondered over & desperately wanted to be back doing, but have found a plethora of feelings have prevented it - namely feelings of inadequacy, of not being 'right', of not being authentic to myself or any number of other things & they in part come down to losing me, or at least big parts of me. But sometimes the first step although hard is important, so here we are - back, risking . . . who knows what, regaining a space to just ponder & starting with the question of
Why is it so easy to lose yourself?
This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, how easy it is to lose ourselves, the essence of 'us' the thing that makes us well 'us' & why it happens, how to stop it & the fact that I think it is greatly damaging to our souls, eventually perhaps if we constantly lose ourselves it will get harder to get it back?!
I am blessed to have the most fantastically varied group of people I would truly classify as my true, close friends, the ones who genuinely understand me, care about my heart & who are non-judgemental, who I am free to be myself with - in all many of variations of myself that often crop up. We are at times loud, at times distant (life has a tendency to get in the way), at times in each others pockets, sometimes we debate or have heavy conversations, sometimes we do nothing but drink gin/tea/wine/gin/coffee, sometimes we share baths, or ideas, or play vicious games of cards or boardgames, or help each other tidy, but there is usually chat involved, lately a lot of that chat has been incredibly thought provoking. All bases have been covered; relationships, sex, periods, friends, life, work, mental health, illnesses, studying, hopes, marriage, guys, social media, so on & so forth, & out of this I have definitely been aided in realising that I have been losing bits of me more & more & not just to my demons, my battles & illnesses/disorders, but to a number of other things & it's definitely left me with a bit of a pit feeling in my gut, a strange lethargy in my soul & on the upside a bit of a dogged determination to damn well get it back.
So I thought I'd look at areas I think get in the way or have been for me personally, how I hope to address it & lets see if over time, I remain consistent here & can say "Woo I got my 'me' back"
So where do I think it's easy for me to be influenced & to lose myself?
Social Media - both a blessing & a curse. Let's not deny how much time any person on average spends on some form or other of social media; Twitter, Instagram, blogs, Facebook, Snapchat . . . . the world is your time zapping oyster. I am no different, I hold my hands up there, I spend a lot of time on one form of it or another at any given time; granted from the hours of 8:30am-5:15pm monday-friday, a large percentage of that is in the world of work. When you are dealing with social media in the office that too takes up a chunk of time, but I can't deny it's hard to combine the two - my Linkedin has bare minimum hints of me, actual me, it is all the daily world of the company I work for, I do find that incredibly hard & it's something I have to think about in regards to how much that impacts me. Away from the work side of things I have found that not only does it kill colossal chunks of time from every day, & with it weeks & months, but social media should perhaps be approached tentatively when having a delicate or fragile day.
The reality is that it is not reality, or at least a large chunk of it is not, it is the glossy side, the perfect pictures, the bits the world wants to portray & it does influence you. Let's not deny the seemingly unending perfect figures, tanned skins, incredible wardrobes, flawless complexions, holiday filled lives (& at this time of year perfect loved up couples) that get tossed at you from every angle. Friends will always seems to be having more fun, doing more than you, earning more, loving more, so on & so forth . . . chances are they also have similar down moments & fears & I like to think that despite what they post the numerous stunning people that fill our online world woke up with the same hormone induced minefield of a spot laden chin that I happened to wake up with this morning.
It's not at all bad, I am in no way finger pointing, hell I still love it, but it becomes very very easy to shut the apps, look in the mirror, want to cry & curl up under a duvet with a sign above your head reading "Leave me the fuck alone, I am nothing, inadequate, ugly, fat, flawed, not successful, so behind on this magical mystery tour known as life, please let me sit here & rot in my own inadequate puddle, because I couldn't even get the temperature of my fucking bathwater right, truly for your own good move on & absorb the incredibles that exist, I am a nothing". Boom & there it is without knowing it chances are you have absorbed enough without noticing to find you have lost a bit of yourself to the world of self doubt & comparisons.
Yet we both know, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil you'll probably be back on that wagon, skimming through oodles of photos, updates & stories & don't get me started on the often ghastly world of online dating/dating apps . . . that we shall leave for another post!
So how does one address it?
I think, for a starting point has to be in monitoring why I follow who I follow on Instagram (as an example), being mindful of the amount of time I spend either adding to my account (asking if there is a purpose, a reason, a vibe) or scrolling & liking those of others. Is it an account that in someway shape or form leaves me happy, inspired, pleased, pondering or more - do I actually rate that person in anyway? Are they someone I know for real? Or are they a well known blogger, face, person, company that actually fits with me - the core of me, what I rate or don't rate. Why would I follow Donald Trump for instance when actually I am so against his ethos. So a bit of a cleanse, or a question is a good starting point.
I also think be it Twitter or Snapchat, or whatever, looking at why I use what I use. I know less pictures get posted on my personal Facebook than my Instagram account, I know Snapchat I often use for no real reason but also to stay in touch at times with a friend who is on the other side of the world with mostly weather / tan comparisons & pointless pictures. I also know I love quote collections & inspirations from Instagram & that Pinterest is a big favourite to literally save any number of things I may one day want to cook/try/create etc (let's not deny 90% of us ladies have a secret board for if we ever get to get married).
As is addressing the Linkedin situation. To feel more like me, I have to include more of me, be it predominantly used for my day job or not; the reality for me is that my destiny is yet to be fulfilled, my life yet to be completed even vaguely & the career & life paths I go on need to feel like me, this is the office I sit in for now, but I can still have aspects that fit with me - my essence & my soul & bloody hell it takes up enough of my hours in a week that it should feel more like me. This though will be approached slowly.
I think the essence really with social media is that of being mindful - of who & what I value, what I let influence me, and what I in turn also potentially influence others with, in whatever way shape or form, the importance there I think is congruence.
People - well doesn't this feel like a risky minefield to put out there. But bare with me on this, as truth be told we as a society, as a species, are very rarely hermits, people impact us daily, they are involved in our lives from the moment we get up until the moment we go to bed & sometimes they also manage to invade our dreams. Good or bad people have a massive sway on our souls, the energy around us & how we view ourselves, our lives & more.
As I said earlier I am very blessed by having an incredible core group of people I know would be my 'village' if I built one & actually that village I am lucky enough to say would include my family in all their 'bat shit craziness'. It would be one hell of a village, definitely with all bases probably covered but outside of your 'village' there are hundreds of other encounters on a daily basis & they can't half zap at your mojo in one way or another. Be it mentally, with triggers for mental illness, or with regards your self worth & esteem - everyone who has every been made to feel like a human 'flesh light' or commodity for someone getting their rocks off, or discovering you are one of a few that a particular guy might be getting intimate with, or someone not knowing that no means no, will know that feeling, or how disheartening a bad date can be, or a meeting with a friend for a catch up when it's all about them, or feels like wasted money/time/similar, or finding you feel unimportant, dismissed or undervalued, or even that your ideas, hopes, dreams, passions are somehow not good enough - you will find it makes you go to bed heavy, or makes you try to change the 'shape' of you (sometimes literally) to fit with what you think they need you to be, or what is socially acceptable. I have definitely bought items of clothing because I've been influenced by others.
Then there are the times that people around you seem to be ungrateful of things they have that you do not & you'd kill to have them, but they don't seem to get that, or get how lucky they might be, I imagine they think that of others too. At least on some levels I hope they do. Or the 'competitors' that exist, the ones who will always 'one up' someone over literally everything, including illness & tragedy... I for instance mentioned a friend getting her transplant, how thrilled I was & worried & how everything was crossed, how sick she had been, & someone actually replied with "my daughter had a cold at the weekend & my blood pressure is two points higher than normal" ... we all know people like that. Or the people who don't understand personal space & I don't mean physical, but mental too - you know the ones who are on your case all the time. Often in well meaning manners.
How does one deal with people when your village is full & they are negative?
This one I think is harder, but I think boxes, mental boxes. There are some work friends who are genuine friends, who you will share things with, for the rest of them? Leave them at the office at 5:30pm every day & at weekends, their shit is their shit, you may well know what could hit you come the next working day, but outside of that it can be a box & in that time, oh I don't know try to count to ten, a lot.
Try to forgive & accept the people who have what they don't seem to realise or be thankful to having, somewhere maybe they have their own shit, people usually do.
Boundaries - set them, & if not for them for yourself, do you have the energy for that person on that given day? No? Then don't use it. Save it, bolster it & give it to them when you can. It is not your job to be their battery or charging cable, least of all if it is to your detriment.
Love those you love & love them completely, in their flaws, their neediness, their quirks, find those that do that for you too & when you have it put the fucking phone down, be in the moment in their company, be mindful of that time, because it might be the last time one day. Have angry games of Jenga just because, play pooh sticks, create memories or just be silent in presences of those who allow it. Those are the people that will help you to make sure you don't lose you further, but broaden your brain, your opinions, your wisdom.
I guess ask yourself do they suck energy or boost experiences? Be mindful with reality & real people as you would with social media.
Time - this is something I have noticed you get less of as you age. Especially when you add in work hours, suddenly you find you have very little time left to yourself, weekends go past way too fast & you have a house to tidy, laundry to do, people to see, & it all just leaves you will a form of constant exhaustion, too many phone notifications & noises & you find your list of things you wanted to do for yourself has gone ignored. This here is definitely a pretty sure way that you will lose aspects of yourself, because you stop doing the things you love and the things that are important to you. Suddenly chores have overtaken enjoyment - alas once you leave the magic parental cocoon you have to fend for yourself so in less you want to live in a squat you have to attend to these things, bills need paying & groceries buying & before you know it, you previous longings for blogging have gone flying out of the nearest window & it's a year before you sit on the floor with a cup of tea & try once more, time becomes especially elusive at this time of year.
I think the key with time is making it - forcing yourself to make it.
Make lists, create plans, take days for yourself - just yourself, get on a train to a random town with nobody, buy a coffee & doodle, read a good book. Consider what you want, whats important to you, spend time with good people, turn your phone off or at least put flight mode on then nobody can get to you, sit in a field, chill with a baby, shut your eyes, dream, listen to music, do nothing but do the nothing YOU want to do & eventually maybe just maybe things will start to make you remember who you are, the essence of you.
Then there are the obvious things; good books, proper food, health, walks, feeding both your soul physically & mentally & dear god cull - regularly, stuff, clothes, bad negative people, just try to realign things so that you can have a chance to remember who you are.
Well there we are - pen (well fingers) to paper (to keys) & we have broken the seal & considered coming back to this little corner of the world. This time with lists at the ready, plans for consistency & just a hope that this will help aid the resurfacing of myself, for myself.