It has only been 10 days since I have finished my counselling skills course and I feel like I am in limbo. I am sat at work nursing a hangover from another night I can’t remember. I am relieved to no longer feel as tense as I had been and happy that my life isn’t split between fulfilling criteria and doing things that are not fulfilling criteria. I am free from stress and I miss my course mates. I am writing this as I scan around anxiously for an unamused customer frustrated at how much I am focusing on this incredibly fractured piece of work instead of their needs.
Funnily enough I get my distraction. I have always believed that once your ideas leave your head, the world listens to you, and delivers. My quiet little pub is situated on the corner of a road, a pub which this scatty middle-aged woman likes to use to cut this corner. She walks through several times a day and has recently become more vocal. She likes to remind everyone “we are Millwall and nobody likes us” while she smiles and waves. Everyone looks at her in shock, laughs it off and labels her as crazy.
It is funny she came in as I have decided I want my first post to be about perspective.
I am guilty of forgetting about perspective too. I consider it important now but in the past I may have been too preoccupied with life or too self-absorbed to even consider it. I think it is necessary to step back sometimes, to reflect on the past and realise what was a problem then and what is a problem now. What was I anxious over, what memory was draining me, and who or what brought me happiness. Try it yourself. Personally I have found that the most antagonising things I have worried about are no longer worries after enough time has passed.
My course made me anxious about everything. I could not enjoy myself without having my brain reminding me what I had to do and how much time I had left to do it. Studying stopped my breathing in my sleep and on one occasion did this several times in one night. It drained me and changed how I dealt with my friends, customers and random people. I was on my way home when I was about to walk past two little girls walking a dog. I felt so panicked over two little girls walking their dogs. Two little girls walking their dog actually made me think “oh shit what are they going to do me?” Obviously nothing happened and we went our separate ways.
I say nothing happened but something did. I realised how much my course was getting to me. I was stressed to the point my brain thought it was reasonable to feel threatened by two little girls walking their dogs. I realised how much pressure I was putting myself under and that I could be kinder to myself. I had to be kinder to myself because it was the only way I would be able to complete my course. I had given myself a lot of deadlines to get all my coursework done a month before it was actually due in. Once I had failed this deadline I panicked and set another for the next week, and then the next week, and then so on. The other day I was asked in an interview about what skills I could bring to the business. I wish I could have explained how I am heavily experienced in procrastination and could waste time on an unprecedented level for their business. With each deadline I failed I increased the amount of pressure I put on myself and I realise that this is not a way you go about achieving a goal. I had to be kinder to myself and I started this through reflection on perspective.
I pressurised myself because counselling is one of the only things I want to do as a career. I did not put nearly as much effort into university and my education as I should have. I pressurised myself because I am ashamed of what I am: an underachiever. It sucks to know how well you could have done. It sucks harder to remember all the times I have excelled when I have put the effort in into things that didn’t really matter. It fucking sucks to remember the praise from my teachers, coaches and parents, and the hope they carried in me, and realise that I have not lived up to their potential. I went through so many things which stopped me from being human. I went through so many traumatic things and I was not ready to cope with them. Nobody taught me how and I didn’t trust anybody to help me. As far as I was concerned there was nobody on earth who could understand me apart from Becky. I have had to hide away and repress so much but even then I feel like these are excuses.
Perspective is important here. I have touched upon on how low I felt but I have come so far. I went from dark conversations in dark university rooms to laughter in so many different locations. When I say different locations I am not about to go on a tangent and say I am blessed to have travelled to so many different countries. I used to stay in my dark room in halls and barely go out unless I had classes or someone planned something and had invited me. It is one thing to be depressed and lonely in a dark room at university compared to being depressed and lonely on a walk through the park. Going outside is the most obvious thing to do but for many people it is a lot of effort and a lot of pain. Being able to go outside freely is a very simple but very significant victory and I am happy to enjoy it. I have underachieved but I have achieved. I have a degree, I am healthy and I am fortunate to have people to talk to. I have friends to do stupid shit with and I have learnt so much. I have gone from playing Runescape to having conversations with girls, to having sex with them! I have gone from spending days lying in bed to training for a marathon. Most importantly I have gone from suicidal thoughts and hopelessness to having the will to live with ambition and drive.
Through looking at what I have been through, and putting the things in my life in perspective, I have been able to recognise what I have achieved. Perspective is one of the cornerstones into how I try to approach the situations I put myself with a positive mindset.
Perspective is important to consider when it is directed at other people. When I look at the scatty woman who uses the pub as a shortcut I thank whatever is out there because she is obviously going through difficulties too. Everybody is. I don’t feel good admitting it but I am so happy to not be her. When I listen to others’ and their problems I do notice how thankful I am that I am not experiencing those problems myself. I also recognise I am lucky I am not experiencing those problems.
Try stepping back and thinking about what you have achieved. It doesn’t matter how small the achievement is, that achievement that has probably led you to future achievements. Think about perspective, how you and others view yourself, and then see how you feel about that.
I have always seen that when many of the artists or creators I enjoy talk about their old work they often mention how much they dislike it. They might explain that they had no idea what they were thinking. When I look back at this I will probably be the same – I always want to get better. I want my writing to get better and I think this is one of the forms I can put real effort into getting better. If I can get people to feel something similar to what I feel when I when I write then I feel like I have been able to improve as a writer.