Sunday 29 March 2020

To Growing, Even In The Shade

It may only be three months in, but I’m not sure if 2020 is going to be my year. Rewind to three months ago, and I had the optimism of many people on New Year’s Eve. A new year, a new decade even…there was so much ahead of us all.

Fast forward back to the present and reality is a little different than we expected. I’d be highly doubtful if in the countdown of 3…2…1 Happy New Year! anyone was predicting that we’d be in an international pandemic and locked in our homes by March. No horoscope app or fortune cookie could predict this current dystopian reality.

However, this blog post isn’t me delving into all those facts we already know from our endless refreshing of the BBC News homepage. I want to talk about finding the positives in the negatives. Whether it’s that door that opens when another closes, or that light at the end of the tunnel.  Or any other tired clich├ęs that makes us feel better about what is frankly a bit of a shit time.

Personally, I’ve always been a glass-half-empty sort of person. I’ve spoken about it before and I’ve tried to have a more positive mental attitude. But it’s something I find hard and have to consciously do. I’m anxious and a worrier - if there’s something to overthink, then it’s likely I’ve been mulling it over wide awake at 3am on a Wednesday morning.

I started this year in a job I was happy with, slowly saving up to get a house and adapting to my new life at home in Hertfordshire. Then – and not for the first time - the rug was suddenly pulled from underneath me. I was left without a job, at home and back to square one…again.

All of this is pretty stressful for the average year. So sprinkle on top of that a touch of global pandemic, a lot of economic uncertainty and a nationwide lockdown - and you get a cherry on top of an already less than fabulous year.

But it’s not quite time to get your bottles of wine and streamers out for a big old pity party for me just yet (via FaceTime, of course). Because, the one thing to gain from this global meltdown is the things I can be thankful for. I have a loving support network of friends and family and the luxury to wait for a job I really want without facing any form of eviction or debt.

Having all this time to myself is giving me time to reflect on everything. After being unfortunate in your career, it’s easy to turn around and tear yourself down and forget what achievements you’ve made. Even in the things that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped.

A few years ago I was in a job I hated, I felt underappreciated and a bit useless. It was when I was in that job that I started my Instagram, it was a positive outlet where I could see rewarding results from my creativity. I realise now it wasn’t through any fault of my own that I felt useless in that job, but more down to the toxic managers and company. I can see all of this in hindsight, but at that time I couldn’t see that at all. It took me to get through the other side to see how well I worked through that situation and how I created something positive from all that negativity.

The same counts for now. My last job might not have worked out, but I learnt from it. And like right now, I may not be able to leave my house, but I’m spending time reading and being creative again. Something I haven’t given myself the luxury of doing in a while. Plus, my hand washing skills are now at a surgeon level of professionalism.

So right now I'm back at home and in a less than ideal situation than I thought I’d be in three months ago. I still have the days I feel down and at a loss for everything, and that is allowed. Mental health isn’t linear, and neither is the track of your life. It’s easy to be critical, but the best thing to do is to be kind to yourself.  It may be the case that some people have it much harder than you, and some may be more privileged – but that doesn’t mean the way that you feel is any less valid.

As cheesy as it sounds, we are all still growing, even in the shade. Times might be pretty difficult right now but a lot of that is out of our hands. So focus on the now and focus on what you can control. It makes everything that little bit more manageable and helps you realise that you probably are doing better than you think you are.

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