Recently my life has turned upside down. Over the summer I have had little to no routine, having spent no more than five days at a time at home and doing nothing. I’ve been away, I’ve been working, I’ve been catching up with friends and making new ones. I have made sure to have enjoyed this summer. And I am so happy that I have been able to enjoy it. This is the first summer that I have actually loved. Last summer I was counting calories and miles. This summer I was counting memories.
Before the summer, I dreaded the idea of straying from my routine and mindfulness and self-care focused lifestyle. Quickly that fear faded. The first time I realised that you could live a life outside of the world of structure and routine was in Spain. My dad and I went for a short weekend and thus had to explore everything in such a short amount of time. There was no routine, only memories and amazing food and lots of beer and Aperol. Those few days were the bridge for me. They connected me to the stage where I am now – there were the first steppingstones in this new version of me. Someone who enjoys different days because that exhibits excitement and spontaneity, even if they include lower step counts or whatever I used to worry about.
This summer I have rarely had a day without drinking. Most of this time this was just a couple drinks with my family at home or at the local. Other times were nights out or cocktails in town. And I have loved this new part of me that wants to do this and not care about the “extra calories”. Some days, the anxiety and guilt has been harder to deal with, but nonetheless I have pushed through every day. What’s important to remember that just getting through the day is an achievement. This is something I have learnt very recently. On top of this, each day I am achieving something new – something which last year was unthinkable. Think about how your past self would be so proud of where you are right now, even if you don’t think you have progressed that much, look back at where you were a year or two ago. What’s changed?
There’s been some lows this summer for sure. I was threatened with a relapse and realised that my way of “recovering” wasn’t really working. For a few days I was weakened and brought down by this and the idea of relapsing was alluring to me, for control, as I realised that control was slipping from my fingers as I relived the summer in my head and all I had done, and allowed the ED thoughts seep back in, judging me for the workouts I had missed and the night I have spent in town and all the meals out. I was anxious about the blissful summer ending too, and going back to uni was of course a huge anxiety-giver. But I journaled it out and soon overcame those thoughts and got back to where I was with the help of others. That’s important to remember too – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also don’t shut out those who are trying to help. Listen to them when they come to you with worries about what you’re going through. These people know you so well and can usually see habits that you’re doing that you can’t see or won’t see (in denial).
These lower days show the normality of quotidian life. Without lows there wouldn’t be highs. The stars can’t shine without darkness. There’s no rainbow without rain. It relates back to the ancient Greek philosophy of Aristotle: the golden median. This is what is known as the “desirable middle between two extremes.” Life floats between these two extremes (of highs and lows) and will oftentimes come back to this middle point. This is what we should seek in life, not a life full of highs because then there’d be nothing to compare it to so would there be any highs at all? It relates to the Delphic maxim of nothing in excess, which I remember studying in my Latin class at school in Horace literature. Life has a funny way of coming back to the middle and this is the desired optimum in life.
This comes to my main point in this blog post. Life is all about balance. I thought I knew what that meant, but only at the end of this summer I truly get it. August and September have been super busy. The whole summer has, but these two in particular. My workout routine has been pretty non-existent and my self-care prioritisation has not been great. However, that’s how the past version of me would have looked back and judged this summer. Instead, I now see that these things were just a low cost to what I have gained. Memories, friends, even a boyfriend. I have sacrificed, I guess, exercise for pure fun. With this, I have learnt that I can have a week doing nothing and still not really crave a workout. I thought I’d be scared of this, but I don’t think I am. I workout when I want to and that’s enough.
This week is the first week I am back on my own at university, after spending over a week with my boyfriend going out and also spending a few days away on holiday. With him, I have learnt this wonderful lesson that I don’t have to rush my day to get everything done in the first couple hours. I don’t need to jump out of bed as soon as I wake up. I don’t even need to leave the house. I have learnt that spending time with someone you love – friends, family, your partner – is 1000% more important and energy-giving than endorphins from routine and exercise.
It is amazing to see this change in mindset. This is something which I have been manifesting and dreaming of for years. With this mindset I believe I am finally ready for university. I do think that I should have waited to begin my degree and taken a gap year last year. But then I think back and tell myself that none of this would have probably happened. Another point to take from this, never have regrets. It is pointless to wonder where you would be right now if you had chosen a different path. I agree that it is intriguing and fun to think about, but a lot of the time when I find myself doing this, I go down this rabbit hole of “what-ifs”. What’s important to remember that where you are right now is where you are meant to be. You have followed this path to right now. The universe has showed you that this is the correct direction, even if there has been lots of obstacles along the way. It’ll get better, I promise. This is where you are meant to be.
Along with that comes comparison. Everyone is following their own paths. Where you are right now may be very different to where your peers are. That’s ok. We all have our own lives and paths to follow and destinies to reach. This is often hard to keep in mind but it is vital if we want to progress in our own journey. Focus on what you’re doing and no one’s life. I promise it’ll change your way of thinking. Switch out the envy and jealousy, and the wishing for someone else’s life. You also don’t know everything about their life. Where that person is right now, that stage that you’re envying, might have taken them so long to get to, with so much pain and with lots of costs. People also don’t show everything that’s going on in their life. what they show on social media, for example, is a rose-tinted version of the truth of their life.
A huge thing that I have learnt over the last few months is that I am nineteen. I am young. The money I spend now I will earn back. I can never get back the memories that I didn’t make, or the events and nights out I missed. I don’t want to be in my elderly years thinking I wish I had done more when I was younger. So I am going to make the most of this year. I know who I am now so this will be easier. Like the summer, I am going to make every day count and say yes to new things and social events.
Balance is important here too. It is important to recognise when you need a reset day and day on your own. That’s not a crime. It shows we are human. It is very difficult to start to recognise this before it gets too much, and a breakdown comes along due to being so burnt out or having a super low social battery. Try to program your mind to recognising this happening before it actually does. I have had an intense month of socialising, being with family and friends, and now I am back at uni which means more socialising. I am excited for this, but I know that I need at least a couple hours a day, sometimes the whole day, before I go out in the evening with my mates and enjoy that. It is all about balance.
Also, I have learnt that you can reset at any point, any day of the week, any time of the day. Just because you wake up in a slump doesn’t mean the day has to stay like that. I am not saying that you must be productive every day – no, some days a day in bed getting little done is important for a recharge and now I even enjoy these much-needed rest days. What I mean is that if you are getting really worked up about “how bad” your morning has been, you can pick yourself back up at a random 2pm and get that laundry done or slow workout done or whatever it is you’re mad at yourself for not doing. But you don’t have to. Stopping telling yourself that you “should” do something. You get to do something. You have the chance, the ability, the time. If you’re saying that you should workout, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Retrain your brain.
Take each day a day at a time, and don’t be so hard on yourself if a day didn’t go the way you wanted it to. There’s always tomorrow, and the day after and day after that. We have all the time in the world, but at the same time live in the present. It’s a complicated world and society we live in. Focus on yourself and warrant your own needs. Prioritise yourself and anything is possible. We cannot love someone else until we learn to love ourselves. And that, my friends, is on self-growth.
Pepetoe love ❤