Something a little bit different, but here’s some home truths for you…
I really am one for ruminating. And I think that’s can be dangerous. Ignorance really is bliss; I often think things would be much easier if I was stupid. In that case I might not be so inclined to question my existence or anyone else’s. I would never ever take it back, but my degree in Sociology perhaps didn’t help with that.
Before I came away I was probably in the worst mental state I have ever been. A year and a half after graduating I hadn’t really progressed, just a string of jobs and locations I didn’t love and an increasing anxiety about what I would do with my future. I was having more and more depressive lulls and panic attacks. This coupled with distance made maintaining friendships difficult, and my boyfriend at the time who was my closest support was clearing falling out of love with me.
A lot of literature suggests that anxiety can be heredity, and certainly we joke that the females in my maternal family have been worriers for generations. Mum was known for her extensive collection of self help books, but no-one on the outside would know; her infectious personality and warm welcoming smile was instantly loved by everyone she met. She was religious and was a huge believer in a multitude of healing methods, so perhaps it was just an interest in that. Being only 12 years old when we lost her, I never had the chance to directly discuss how she felt, so the rest is just my speculation.
If she was anything like me then the lows or anxieties are mostly easy to hide and are never really enough to cripple; but they are always there, making themselves known when they’re not welcome. Even the most basic activities like riding a bike in Mendoza becomes something to be feared and clouded with a strong belief of inability. It’s the indescribable fear of nothing. I may socially struggle sometimes and especially with finding the motivation for life, but I’ve never found myself bed-bound. For that reason you feel stupid feeling like you might not be coping, especially when you know in many ways you are very fortunate. Life is handed to us unequally at birth, and although I’ve had some back luck, all-in-all I’m healthy, alive, able to financially support myself and with a friends and family network larger than some. I also know I’m not the only one fighting mental battles with myself. My mum used to always say ‘Be kind. Everyone is fighting a difficult battle you know nothing about’. Similarly a favourite quote of mine from the first page of Great Gatsby says: ‘whenever you feel like criticising any one, just remember that all the people in the word haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had’.But sometimes in lessening your issues or helping other people with their battles and maintaining the happiness of others, we neglect to take care of our own.
Feeling good, or being happy is a strange thing. ‘Happiness’ means something different to each person and can be found in all sorts of places or created through different paths. I guess it takes a lifetime to work out what it is that provides you with happiness; and some longer than others. I don’t doubt that I’m the kind of person who will die still not entirely sure what is my passion, what I want to do with my life and what ultimately makes me happy – something I’ve got to learn to accept and be just be happy with!
I didn’t pack up my bags and get on a plane with the intention of ‘finding myself’, ‘new year, new me’ or any other terrible cliche; travelling had been a teenage dream way back before I ever addressed there may be a problem. However I did hope for change, in whatever way that might be. I was pretty lost anyway so it seemed apt to get lost properly.
But what I realised over these couple of months is that those long term cliches are there for a reason. Aren’t we all in a constant state of figuring out who we are, what we enjoy and how we can be the best possible versions of ourselves? Travelling just gives us a platform where we have the space and the time to make some better conclusions without the distractions of everyday life. The nature of travelling allows you to be more open as a person; you see new things and speak to new people from all walks of life. Sometimes you find yourself telling deep life stories with a complete stranger or being told something personal by someone who in that moment is ready and willing to open up.
A new friend we made along the way had briefly mentioned in conversation that they had lost someone close to them. The day after we said our goodbyes they messaged us to say that they had come away with intentions of gaining perspective and learning to no longer bottle their emotions up, and that our brief but valuable friendship had allowed them to cry properly for the first time. I suppose with similar intentions, that message struck a cord with me and I’m so thankful that they were able to find some peace and that we could be a tiny fraction of that positivity.
The thing with travelling is each day is different, and whilst you have some amazing times and see some incredible things, you also have some real lows where things don’t work out and you are exhausted and fed up beyond belief. It’s a challenge for the body and mind, but definitely a positive one.
I’m not really sure why I wrote this, and I didn’t do it all at once; it’s been an accumulation of jottings from good mentalities and bad mentalities. I started writing it on an overnight bus to Buenos Aires: I was reading a book about anxiety and coping methods on my kindle and Amy must have read enough over my shoulder to figure it out. Without saying anything she passed me a piece of paper with a mind map drawn and in the centre it said ‘all the things Lottie is worried about’. I just cried.
I don’t want this to be a negative post, although I’m aware of its content. I’m trying to think and see more positively and writing this all down is one step in doing that and releasing some burdens. Recognition is important for recovery right?
There are no drastic overnight changes in where I am and naturally there was never going to be. I’m absolutely still freaking out about what I’m going to do when I get back, let alone the rest of my life. But I have started to believe that there are things I could do and things I can do. That I might have something to offer the world, even if I’m not sure what that is yet. So the change to positive thinking has begun!
Love, Lottie xx