We mark the years that pass. We celebrate the birthdays, the anniversaries, the good times. Mourn the deaths. We mark the passage of time.
I have been flying solo for a year now. A whole whopping great big year. Gone in the blink of an eye. Stuffed so full of shifts, challenges and adventures I catch myself questioning whether it all actually happened. To me. Was it was really me doing and feeling it all?
All on my own.
I have learnt about myself, about pushing myself far beyond those narrow boundaries I set myself. I have pushed. From the mundane things most people do without the blink of an eye to those which have had people exclaiming to me ‘I couldn’t do that on my own’. Lived by myself for the first time in my life, gone to MeetUps full of people I don’t know. Gone to the theatre, gigs, the cinema, festivals. Volunteered for events involving that scary species known as the general public. Travelled on my own. Got on a damn plane with no one to hold my hand.
See that’s the funny thing about being on your own. There is no longer someone there to hide behind, to challenge those monsters under the bed for you. To make phone calls, to talk to at events so you don’t have to find the courage to talk to people you don’t know. No one to reinforce – albeit with the best intentions – the very small world you have trapped yourself in. So you have to push more.
Because it is all down to you.
I have put myself out in this world which scares me so much time and time again. Made friends, made mistakes. People say I have changed, gained in so much confidence.
And I have. In some ways. On some days.
In other ways, on other days, I am still that person who sits on the stairs. For all I have done, for all I feel I have achieved, I can still be stopped by anxiety so visceral everything hurts, everything freezes. I freeze. My depression can still leave me feeling so empty and alone. There are still times when all I can do is curl up under my covers and hide. Feeling like I don’t belong, like people simply pretend to like me. Not feeling good enough, strong enough, never enough.
This year has hurt. Really hurt. It has been hard and challenging. Sometimes in ways I didn’t expect. And I am still trapped.
Yet those boundaries have shifted.
This year has held moments of joy. Of pride and belief in myself. Of strength I never realised I had. I am not the same as I was. And I need to cling onto this when my mental health is kicking me down.
I need to remember I can kick back.