As you already know, the last few months have been tough for me, an experience I've written about previously. But I began this year with total faith that things would be better.
Going through this process, I've learned something; often, the injuries sustained in the line of fire are not the most fatal. When you're dealing with a crisis or traumatic event, your system defaults into auto pilot. You try to deal and manage the situation the best way you can in that moment. It is in the quiet still, post-battle that the extent of our wounds become known to us.
Limping away with my own injuries, I've realised that my new attitude for 2014, while useful, is not enough to heal me. It is not enough to satisfy me.
The pursuit of happiness has always been an important goal for me - the happiness of yourself and the happiness of others. My own happiness has been put on the back burner for quite sometime, through nobody's fault but my own. I don't mean the unsustainable, overwhelming joy of a really good event; I mean the day-to-day contentment that allows us to carry on our lives with peace and ease.
It might seem obvious, but I spent a lot of 2013 being unhappy and not only did it take me a long time to admit this, it's taken me even longer to afford myself the luxury of asking "Why are you unhappy? And what is going to make you happy?"
I think that too frequently, too many of us deny ourselves happiness. It's not a deliberate act, but rather it is dictated by circumstance and practicality. But if my time in this life has taught me one thing (so far), it is that happiness and a joy for life is precious and fragile and needs to be given due care.
So, it is with this steadfast belief that I reached a juncture in my life and decided to beat through the bushes to create my own path instead of settling for the road laid in front of me. I never have been fond of easy options.
As a result, my life is changing dramatically. I'm taking a career break from work; against all the odds of my age and job prospects. I'm lucky and grateful that I have employment when so many of my peers are fighting for this right. But working in the media has left me cold and dissatisfied - something which I never thought would happen to me and especially at this age. I've made the most of incredible opportunities I've been afforded, devoted myself to my career and achieved more than the punk I was at 16 would've thought possible in just seven years. But I need a break. I need distance, to see if media and journalism is where my heart really lies Is this the career that will bring me happiness and allow me to create a positive change in this world? I don't know the answer to that question. All I know is that at the moment, it isn't working for me and I would rather manage the consequences of taking a step back rather than crawl up the ladder of the rat race. I know that there is more to life than this.
With my imminent free time, there are so many things I feel passionate about that I want to pursue. Top of the list is a thrilling project I'm working on with my beloved ReachOut.com. To explain the ins and outs will require a more detailed post than this (which will come) but in a nutshell, it's a national media campaign to raise awareness of mental health and generate donations to this amazing organisation. It's ethos, mandate and participants are the stuff mental health advocates dreams are made of (or at least mine). It will be a labour of love over the coming months but it is a labour I anticipate with glee.
I'm also picking back up my non-journalistic writing (novels, short stories and poems) that I have done for so long, it is impossible to separate it from my identity. But during my over-achieving pace, it has been neglected - an absence I have felt sorely. Naturally, I shall be sharing such efforts as you and I, dear reader, make this journey together.
There are many other things -refreshing my French, spending time with old friends and travelling- that I have put on the back burner for too long that I will be indulging in. It is always scary to make a change. As I've often said to friends, in my unladylike manner, "Acknowledging your crap and actually changing your crap are two very different things." But, to quote the boyfriend, "Life is what happens outside of your comfort zone."
I'm scared and excited and carefree and young. I'm imperfect, as this process will be. But you know what? I've never felt more like myself or more alive. My words would never be adequate enough to make my point succinctly, so I leave you with these words from one of my favourite writers:
"For what it's worth, it's never too late or in my case, too early, to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit to this thing. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you feel things you've never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald