I usually write on this blog on the very last day of the year. In the past few years I had either saved up some words and published them together, or I just let my mind let out what it needed to on that date. As I was still searching what I really wanted, because I was unsure about everything to do with this website (did I want a blog? a portfolio? what would be its focus? writing, or photography, a mix of both by posting about Lolita fashion, or maybe I could focus on vegan food, post travel adventures, perhaps a mix of all of the above, which is not really a focus at all?) and because I was very busy with many things, I was content to have at least one post a year.
Thinking too much about the what overwhelmed me, so I would put it off, until I had a clear reason, a real story that needed out of my head. Occasionally such a post would show up. And then it would be quiet again, for a while. But the end of year posts started one year and followed every year since, even if the rest of the year was quiet. This year, I’m doing it differently. It’s still the end of the year, so I’m not quite breaking the tradition. (And I’m also not planning on breaking the tradition at all, but I cannot start making promises about more activity because I still don’t have my purpose and nothing that even resembles focus).
I am just going with the flow.
I have been feeling very inspired lately. It’s really weird because at the same time, I have been feeling really lost. But I got a new way of looking at things, which includes my ‘old’ things, my old passions and my old possessions that had gotten somewhat neglected or discarded in the last year(s). Hobbies and things that were always a part of me and that I had thought I might have grown out of.
I feel like I have to try and see what sparks joy. I started focusing on the fact that I should post publicly again, after a bit of a social media hiatus. (I’ve not been using facebook for about a year now, and I don’t intend on going back.) I have been struggling with social media and how to share publicly while still maintaining a good mental health, and it’s probably something I will still struggle with. If I find that I can’t do it, then I will be at peace that it’s time for me to do something else.
I couldn’t sleep, so I started to write.
At night, not in my own bed, without my trusted shark partners, I started drafting something in my head. That’s something I often do, have always done – since I was a child. Just narrating imaginary drafts in my mind to an imaginary audience. Sometimes I actually write it down, when it becomes something more concrete, a story, a letter, a blog… and sometimes it just disappears.
Then I realized, maybe if I am this inspired, I should draft it for real this time. Don’t let it disappear. It feels like the right moment. Like the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter that it’s the middle of the night, it’s practically morning. So here I am, finally writing again.
I say finally writing again as if I’m not writing every day. Actually, I have been writing almost every day since January 2nd this year – the 1st was a day of sleep and being lazy, forgive me – and I’m actually surprised. It’s probably the most consistent I have been in years. But this writing is different. There’s a difference between writing in a journal with a fountain pen, and typing on a keyboard where you know someone might actually read it. I don’t honestly think anybody remembers about my one-post-a-year-blog, but still.
Three years ago I also couldn’t sleep this late, or early in the morning.
I was on the sofa at my best friend’s house. I was angry and sad and I was scared I would wake them up with my crying, so I sniffled as quietly as I could. Not being a person to often cry, I felt weird about it. I also felt oddly calm and loved, for having just been dumped and feeling how not charming that cinematic crying in the rain thing is in reality.
I felt calm and loved because I knew I was safe.
My best friend is my best friend for a reason. We have known each other for over twenty years and we have each other’s backs. When I called her up all tears and rain and desperation, she offered her home without hesitation. As I arrived, she embraced me in the biggest hugs. And as we sat down with a cup of warm tea and I spilled out all my confusion and frustration, she told me “There is never a right time for these things, I know that, but when you called me, I just thought… how can he? The day before December 9th. Doesn’t he know? Doesn’t he care?” And just like that, she showed me that she knew. That she cared. For that, I simply can only be grateful.
Three years later, we’re both at different places in our lives. We are officially in our thirties now. We have to make different decisions than we did before. But I am still grateful for the friendship that makes space for me at a short notice. And I don’t have to explain. She knows. She’s been through it with me before. So we chat over dinner and after dinner follows the best vegan chocolate cake I have ever eaten (this is not an exaggeration, it tasted like ferrerro rocher, heavenly).
After the dessert follows a fresh mint tea and after that one follows another. We are the last to leave the restaurant. And as we bike to the place I don’t call home but where I know there is a bed for me always, we don’t stop chatting. After reaching the destination, we still do not stop for a little while. That is how it is, and how it should be.
When I look back at what my life looked like, I want to remember that even in the tough times, there are people who can make the world a little lighter. It was unfair when my life got completely turned from what I thought it would look like, three years ago. After that period of time, I spent a lot of time and hard work to craft a path for myself. I had a clear vision and I was determined to always put myself first.
It was in that total confusion that my need to prove to myself that I could always rely on myself sparked a big mission.
Maybe it wasn’t born in the healthiest states of minds. However, this belief helped me grow in many ways that I never would have possibly lived if I had settled for a routine life in the Netherlands. That is something I have to be grateful for. Even if it still hurts me sometimes when I remember that I felt so thoroughly betrayed. That the person I thought I knew, didn’t exist, and that I had thought I had things figured out, and now I had to go ahead and figure it all out again.
Life is unfair, sometimes.
It is similarly unfair that after three years of hard work with a company, while I took time, effort and initiative to carve out my path and follow my mission, someone still felt the need to turn the familiar all around. It is so difficult to accept this change because it does not align with my own vision. This is not what I thought my path looked like within this company. I would never throw away all my hard work if it wasn’t my own decision. Alas, I cannot change that now, I have to accept it.
For a long while I copied my personal motto from the statement I identified with: “[I] believe in the right to make mistakes, lose everything, and start again”. I found hope in the idea that even if it feels like you lose everything, you can start again. And I have done a lot of starting again. I can do this, I know I can. I want to do it with purpose. Really do it by myself this time. And very importantly, give my time and energy for myself and for the causes I believe in. Be extra careful not to cross my boundaries. Not for capitalism, and not for a corporation. I have no idea what it looks like yet, but I know it’s coming. It will make sense.
I know, in time, I will look back at this point in my life and say that it helped me grow as a person.
Unfortunately, it does not help that my moments of the biggest change always seem to coincide with a moment where I already feel most lost and disconnected from myself. Maybe that is why the window for the change is so big. Maybe that is why I make mistakes, and lose everything. Who knows. It’s tough sometimes, to force myself to go outside and remember that there is a life out there and that there will be better days, when my mental health is always at its weakest during the darkest days, when October, November and December are the biggest minefields, and when I know what my mind is capable of. Yet, I am determined not to let it win.
I am already grateful for the time I now get to spend with family and friends. In the last month, I have been visiting more times than in the whole previous year put together. I relish in those moments with people who have known me practically my whole life. They are worth so much to me. They are the faces and voices that remind me of the life out there and the better days that will follow dark ones. I’ve lived them before. I can survive them again.
December 9 is a special day, but it’s not necessarily a sad day.
It’s my mum’s birthday, and it’s the day we celebrate both her life and remember her death on that day, because doing the latter on December 31 is not easy to do with our three musketeers. This year I’m feeling lost, but at least I am not in the state that I was three years ago. I’m not okay, but that’s okay. I know that with help, I can get back to an okay that I can live with. That’s enough for now. Thank you to support me at times when I feel lost, and for being there when I find myself again.
[Photos from a delicious dinner date at Burgertrut in Rotterdam, one of my staple vegan friendly places for comforting food and delicious cakes.]