This is a slightly late year in review/New Year’s resolutions post. I spent Christmas away from my family for the first time – I was with my partner’s family in Canada – and the jet lag when we got back seemed to be multiplied by the general anxiety I’d felt around the whole trip, resulting in a week of nausea and acute anxiety about being able to sleep at the right times, or enough, or even at all.
In general I am glad to see the back of 2018. It was a stressful year. If 2016 was the arrival of various invitations for appalling future dinner parties, 2018 was the year of the dreaded events happening (or getting ever closer) and being just as bad if not worse than expected. I have barely followed UK news because every time someone mentions ‘Brexit’, I get a feeling somewhere between falling down with fatigue and being so angry I want to explode. I am still waiting for someone to give me a sound argument for why we’re doing it, or why they voted for it, or what they’re hoping to gain from it, but I haven’t seen one. Which is very disappointing. But then, the whole thing is intrinsically disappointing.
2018 for me personally was a year of change and anxiety. I realised early in the year that I’d put on some weight, and for the whole twelve months I seemed to be continually throwing out clothes that no longer fit, and attempting to find new things I liked and felt good in. It is still a work in progress. It’s very saddening that going up a size, for me, feels like such a tangible, fundamental failure. I try to rationalise the feeling but it is buried very deep. I need to try and take some pictures of myself soon that I’m happy to see and have around – I don’t think I have any that fit that description from last year.
I pushed myself quite a lot in 2018, to be happier and overcome various anxieties – driving, travelling, being alone while my partner travelled for a couple of months for work. I found I didn’t mind being alone as much as I expected, but the driving and the travelling didn’t seem to get much easier as time went on. We also moved house later in the year, and flat hunting in London was just as disastrously anxiety-inducing as I’d anticipated.
Of course, the year had many upsides and good moments as well. But I do find myself coming into 2019 wanting nothing more than to find a quieter and calmer place, within myself. I’ve recently read an article on millennial burnout which sums up very neatly how I’m feeling. We are a generation trained to work harder, faster, stronger; and to believe that failings are probably our own fault for not working hard enough. Self-care is an enormous industry ready and waiting to beat you up for not doing enough of it – of course you’re stressed! Haven’t you downloaded these sixteen apps and watched this programme and signed up for this course? The article described even relaxing as a list of tasks to accomplish, a notion which rings much, much too true for me. I used to think I found weekends exhausting because I had a long commute and didn’t get much done during the week, but that hasn’t changed since we moved. The weekends are shattering because I am trying to do so much within them: grocery shopping, yoga, gym, meet a friend for coffee, laundry, cook lunches for the week, have sex, read, catch up on whatever the latest show is on Netflix (no I am not going to watch Birdbox), clean the flat. Rearrange my clothes in the style of Marie Kondo. Shop for a new shower organiser thing as ours is rusting and keeps hitting my partner in the face, and the one I just bought for £11 keeps falling off the wall. Buy stamps, write thank you note to my boyfriend’s parents for our Christmas trip, text my Dad accepting gladly his offer of going on a holiday with them this year without making it sound like I’m only doing it because I’m broke and have an insane pipe dream of buying a flat in the next year or two (with his substantial help anyway). Figure out how to organise the living room and bedroom so there appears to be more space where there is none. Clean the shelves in the fridge door since my partner cleaned the rest of the fridge last week, water the plant, finish the book for work book club; set a date for the next work book club. Buy some matches so that I can light the half dozen candles scattered around the living room; berate myself for not buying matches earlier so that the Christmas candle decoration was never actually lit.
Too much stuff. But if it’s not done then the evenings are more stressful because I remember all the things I didn’t do at the weekend and don’t have the energy to do when I get home from work, or can’t because the shops are shut, or because the washing machine is so loud you really need to be out of the house when it’s on a spin cycle, lest your eardrums perforate. So yes. This year I am not particularly interested in pushing myself to overcome various anxieties. I don’t feel like booking holidays abroad because the cost and stress of hauling myself there doesn’t seem worth it, especially as even when I’m there I’m wondering if I should be taking more photos or am taking too many, and should I put them on facebook or does nobody actually care? I am aware that it sounds as if I’m allowing my world to get a little bit smaller, maybe I’m burying my head in the sand, maybe (certainly) I’m overthinking everything. But I’m so tired of trying to do it all and yet never reaching the end of the to-do list or actually getting to the things that really make me happy (I only just joined the local library, something which I really desperately wanted to do since we moved – in AUGUST. And now I’ve done it, and it’s a small but tangible improvement to my life). All I really want is to have some time when I’m not worried about everything, and not having to drink turmeric tea every day because my stomach is so unsettled, and not have to explain to my therapist every week that I’m tired and nothing seems to be improving.
I want to feel calmer, and more settled, and less guilty. I don’t know how that works as a New Year’s resolution, but it’s the only one I’m making. The hope is that focussing on the small picture will improve the big picture. Wish me luck.
(The article on burnout is here: https://bit.ly/2LWO140)