For the past couple of years I’ve been in a slump, stuck in one place with nothing to strive towards, so I eventually came to the conclusion that if I didn’t do something, I’d keep being miserable. I couldn’t just stay in my safe, counter-productive space forever. There had to be more to life than going to an unfulfilling job every day, and then coming home to waste my entire evenings watching Netflix alone because I was so mentally stunted that didn’t have the motivation to do anything else. I thought I’d escaped the hard part when I left school, but suddenly the fear that my student years were behind me and I was already on my way to 30 and still didn’t know what to do with my life, still single and living with my parents in our back-end town, hit me like a ton of bricks. Would things ever change?
So I branched out of my comfort zone, tried being impulsive and most importantly, really began to find myself. I took an online digital marketing course just because I could, I bought a car so I could get about more, I tried some new foods without hesitation, I travelled alone to a foreign country for the first time to meet a coach load of complete strangers, which for a socially-awkward, anxiety-fuelled person like me is a massive deal. Just a few years back I couldn’t even find the courage to leave a group of friends in my own home to go to bed because I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation and I figured they wouldn’t really care anyway and just find me a nuisance.
But now I already have short breaks to Dublin and Amsterdam to look forward to this year, and most excitingly a trip to Thailand planned, forcing me to leave the familiarity of Europe for what feels like the first time in my life (I have been to Tunisia with my family once, but it’s not the same). I’m seeing my number one dream band, seeing live comedy acts, planning activities I’ve always wanted to do but never had the guts to suggest in case my friends didn’t want to go or thought it was a silly idea. I have my life planner in check, my travel journal at the ready, and a new dose of motivation to boot. I’ve never felt so able to explore and live life by my own standards. I’ve wanted to visit Asia for years, so you know what, I’m damn well doing it already, and hopefully it will spark the inspiration I need to finally start the novel I’ve been desperate to write too.
It’s amazing how much your life can change when you start thinking positively and start to believe in yourself. In fact, practicing positive thinking is my chosen resolution this year. Yes, I complain about going to work, but at least I have something to do every day, I have money coming in, and because of the nature of the job, I can have my holidays whenever I like without restriction. Not everyone has that luxury, and the same goes for all aspects of life, and as soon as you begin to appreciate the things you do have over the things you don’t, life suddenly doesn’t look so grim anymore. Travel in particular has been my haven, the real booster that I needed to convince me what I was doing wasn’t enough. While I was travelling, there was a point when I considered cancelling my flight and not coming back, the only real obstacle being the fact I had to keep my job if I hoped to keep being able to afford to do these kinds of things. I’m big on planning everything down to the last detail, so the thought of spontaneously trying to book a hotel somewhere for the night would have been completely alien before, and yet that thought genuinely crossed my mind. Already, without even realising it, I was growing as a person, taking in more life experience and thinking about what it is that fills me with that kind of unshakable joy.
There is so much out there ready and waiting, and you never know if you’ll love something until you try it. Don’t get me wrong, I know change can be daunting. I once tried caving and cried the entire time, but I also tried some high rope activities and it was one of the most fun things I’ve done. If I hadn’t given it a go, I never would have known. All you need is a little push. If you want something, anything, you can go after it. Just do it without even thinking about it and then it’s harder to back out and change your mind. Embrace the fear and take the leap, whether it’s something significant like jetting off to a foreign country, or something more modest like going out to the local theatre or to a bar where there’ll be other people around. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?
I’ve been afraid of the word “no” for so long, but with every “no” usually comes a “yes” or two as well. There’s no such thing as losing; either you win or you learn. I am still completely clueless about what I’m ultimately striving for and how I can get there, but at least I’m trying; at least I’m doing something to break the deadly monotony of everyday life, and hopefully, along the way I’ll build my confidence more and more and find that happy ending we’re all searching for. Life usually won’t give you anything if you don’t ask for it. The job is a big obstacle because it’s out of your control – you can apply for as many positions as you like and you might not get a new job – but just about everything else is yours for the taking if you’re willing to work for it. Think about what makes you happy and hold onto that. Never compare yourself to anyone else and make sure everything you do is for you, not them. I’d become passive, not letting myself believe that things could change, but they can and I know that while it’s not something that will happen overnight, in time, I will leave this place and find my true calling. And if I can do it, so can you.
As the title of this post suggests, these next 365 days offer up 365 new chances. There is so much negativity going on in the world right now, so let’s all focus on the good instead. If everyone can find one thing they really want to do and do it before these 365 days are up, the world will become a little brighter again. Don’t waste the opportunities you’ve been given. Make the most of this year, even if that simply means aiming to clock so many hours on a video game or trying so many new cocktails. I know I’ll certainly be giving it everything I’ve got. It’s finally my time to break out of my shell and shine. Just watch.