As the gut-wrenching “THLUMP” of my third iPhone falling out of my back-pocket and into the toilet reverberated throughout my flat, I realised, something’s got to give.
Somewhere between contemplating the bill and launching into an internal monologue of self -loathing, several uninvited realisations began to rear their ugly little heads…
1) This was iPhone número tres that had met it’s toilety demise in the past 18 months, 2) I had managed a grand-total of 3 out of a 30 day yoga challenge 3) my blog was STILL not re-launched and finally, 4) maybe I haven’t actually got this whole adulting thing worked out WHATSOEVER.
So what do you do, when adult life slaps you in the face à la water-damaged iPhone and you realise it’s time to make some big life changes? If you’re anything like me, then nida, nada, nothing.
I pretty much ticked off every chapter of the “How To Be a Basic Bitch Bible” instead.
If you’re unfamiliar with this form of 20-something-Millennial self-torture, it basically looks something like this; complete 7 Buzzfeed quizzes on ‘What Type of Dog Are You?’ before stalking fitness bloggers on Instagram and consider actually starting #BBG. Then, half-finish a self-help book but OMG I SHOULD REALLY UPDATE MY LINKEDIN or maybe I will just stay here in a blanket burrito instead. Meanwhile, the Get Your Shit Together to-do list remains pristine and incomplete.
I think things officially came to a head at 2pm on a Monday afternoon where I lost 45 minutes to Googling myself. Yep, even worse than when I Googled my now ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend and stalked her LinkedIn without realising that she would get a notification (the shame still haunts me now), but this time, I was Googling MYSELF.
I came across an article written in my local newspaper 3 years ago when I won the Company Magazine New Blogger award; which, when you live in a tiny country village with a population of 5,000, is actually front page news thank you very much. (It makes a pleasant change from cows being air-lifted out of ditches, anyway, right?!)
On the one hand, I felt incredibly uncomfortable reading the meanderings of a girl who seems so diametrically opposed to who I am now. A girl who was so lost, disconnected and straight-up unconscious; spiritually, and in the practical sense that I did, um, actually pass out from vodka red bulls on the regular.
But then on the other, I felt paralysed, as though I was never going to get back on the wagon with my writing career. Fair enough, taking a break from blogging but why quit it all together? Why didn’t I pitch about all the cool vegan restaurants we found in Pai?! Or at least about bathing with baby elephants ffs???
I felt completely swamped by all of the things that I wasn’t doing. Suddenly, all of the options for post-HK life spread out before me as though my life was a water-colour painting that someone had just violent knocked a glass of water over. All of the potential pathways of my life swirled and blurred in countless different directions, all amounting to a multi-coloured mess that felt so inexorably out of my control.
What I realised is that despite moving to the other side of the world and the half finished self-help books, maybe I haven’t actually changed that much. Because despite how aspirational my online presence may have eluded, old Lydia used to pull this kind of crap,too. She filled her time with distractions rather than working on her inner-self. She set goals and didn’t follow through and spent too much time dreaming up her perfect life rather than living it.
I realised that, somehow, I had been slipping back into my old habits, all of which led back to a state of sofa-shaped stagnation.
When you make a series of big-life changes, whether it’s moving countries, quitting your job or ending a relationship, you kind of expect this dream-life thing to happen instantaneously. But it doesn’t happen like that. I thought that by travelling, ending a four-year relationship, and moving to Hong Kong, that I could re-invent myself entirely.
And believe me, I tried. Any trace of old Lydia was thousands of miles away and boxed up in my bedroom. My external situation is the flip-side of my old life, so why was I still fumbling around with the ground-work of my identity?
It was as though I had been unlearning everything that I had worked so hard to understand over the past year; and it unnerved be how quickly all of this could come undone. Because the truth is, no one is so malleable that they can just re-mould themselves that easily. Old habits are hard to break, and they remain tangible even if we don’t want them to.
I kept dreaming about being in the passenger seat of my car, paralysed as the steering wheel spun out of control and the engine let out its hydroclauric judder to a crash. But I ignored this dream, even though my consciousness was clearly trying to tell me something. You see, you can change all the external factors you like, but if you aren’t listening to your inner-voice, then it will never be you in the driver’s seat of your own life.
What I’m trying to tell you is that it’s okay to be a work in progress. If you had a dream of debuting your first novel by 24 and it hasn’t happened yet, or if you want to be a yogi but still can’t touch your toes, and if you’re not living your dream-life, IT’S OKAY. It’s okay because you’re trying, and that’s all that we can do.
But if you’ve stopped trying, then know this; nobody is going to press the accelerator pedal other than you. No-one can drive you to self-love because it’s not a destination we can just reach. It’s only something we can practise, every day, even if we don’t get it right.
The thing is, our daily lives are filled with so much noise, from student loans to property ladders to interning for free and not retiring until we’re 70, being a Millenial isn’t a walk in the park. I’m not saying anything ground breaking here, we all know this stuff. But if we don’t take some time to filter out the noise, well, then you end up like me pondering my water-colour painting metaphor… Or even worse, on Buzzfeed.
We need to praise ourselves. We need to give ourselves more credit. We need to slow the hell down, because life should be about the journey and not the end destination, anyway. If you didn’t do that productive-thing you were supposed to do today, it’s okay. Do it tomorrow. Life isn’t speeding up, despite how much you might feel as though it is.
We have to remember that it never is too late to get started. I read about a woman who started ice-skating at 40 just because she god-damn well wanted to. It might sound so simple, but I thought she was so brave.
I thought this because at 14, I felt too old to learn guitar, and at 15, that it was pointless to take drama because everyone else would already be so much better than me anyway. Even now at 22, I look at other people and feel that the race is already miles ahead of me so I can’t even bring myself to start running. And it’s crazy, because it’s complete bullshit.
But bringing it back to that metaphor, nobody is a work of art at 22, or 24, or probably even 30. We’re all just in
this together and trying to make it work. We are still so young. It’s okay to be a work in progress. It’s okay to just be.
I’m setting myself a challenge to do something crazy and brave once a week. So far
belly dance is number one on my list. What are you going to do?