I was sat the other day, over-thinking (a normal, everyday activity for me). Enclosed by a deep armchair with a brightly covered throw, typical of our house where nothing matches anything else, with no real coherent direction of design. It reflects me rather well, I thought. Not in a bad way, but in that chaotic way, of tumbling thoughts and half-finished projects.
I was reflecting on the last few months. An update – I have not been so well this year, as I talked about in some previous posts (You can read about Chronic Fatigue/ME here and mental health here). I’ve been to a lot of therapy, had countless extensions at uni, and recently it all came to a head. I decided, once and for all, to just stop pushing it. I handed my notice in at work, finally (finally!) completed my dissertation, and decided to listen to my body and slow down.
I know now that stopping comes with its dangers. Last time, with depression worming its way into all corners of my life, undiagnosed and determined not to set foot in a doctor’s office, I attempted to slow down. That time, there was nothing to fill the gap between pushing myself so hard, and completely stopping. So the thing that did fill the void was that grey endless cloud of depression. It got worse, I spiralled down and down and down. I stayed in bed with the pillows over my head for days. It wasn’t fun. In fact, looking back, it was terrifying.
So, post-therapy, post-meds, and feeling, well, not 100%, but headed in the right direction, I know I have to be aware of ‘just stopping’. I’m planning to do ‘stuff’ and see ‘people’. (I know! People!) But there’s something still nagging at me.
I’m a social chameleon, very private, typical INFP. No-one really gets my real opinion and I find it really, really hard to let people in and share, face to face. Even about inconsequential things. I type onto a faceless screen, no problem. But ask me how I am and you’ll always be met with ‘fine’ ‘good’ or even ‘fine, good’ if you’re lucky. I keep interaction surface-level, changing my personality, to fit in with those around me. I agree with what the group agrees with. I laugh at what the group laughs at. And it’s absolutely exhausting.
Spending so many years just being someone else has left me hollow. And so, I try and stop. And I try and fill my time with things I love, things that interest me, things I want to learn. But all that time, being those other people…it’s left me lost. Empty. I don’t know what I like to do, really. And looking back, I’ve never really known. Each ‘important’ age: choosing GCSE’s, A-Levels, Uni Courses even, It’s only the last year where I’ve chosen something I’ve actually found interesting. Every other time, I went with what people told me I was allowed to do. Bending in the wind of their projected ideas. Every time, that wind blew away the seeds of who I really am.
So I’m feeling lost and a bit brittle. So many projects half-started and abandoned. Maybe it’ll come with time. But at 35 I’m thinking that I should have some sort of idea of what I like to do, at least. Where I want to go. What I believe in. I think the idea is to just muddle along trying lots of things, and staying curious. I’m not expecting a flash of inspiration. But one day, I might just turn round and realise, I have a plan. 🙂