Some people survive and talk about it. Some people survive and go silent. Some people survive and create. Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that – without judgement. So the next time you look at someone’s life covetously, remember: you may not want to endure what they are enduring right now, at this moment, whilst they sit so quietly before you looking like a calm ocean on a sunny day. Remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are. Whilst somewhere the water is calm, in another place in the very same ocean, there is a colossal storm.
This year has been simultaneously remarkable and harrowing. I always refer to my life as a rollercoaster because that’s how it’s often felt with the ups and downs and the loopty-loops. It still really does. And now as I sit here halfway through 2017, I’m quite thunderstruck just absorbing the fact that half of this year has already passed. Time is slipping through my fingertips at a rather alarming rate. Some days, it’s unsettling. Others, I’m grateful for it. Life is a balance, isn’t it?
I recently made a surprise trip stateside to see my family. Namely, I went back to see my grandparents who’ve not been in good health lately, as I’ve previously mentioned. When I was initially planning to go, I wanted to write about my week when I returned to London because I thought it’d be cathartic in some way. I’ve been back a week now, and my opinion has changed slightly. Part of me wants to spill every little detail about my week and commit it to ink, but the other part of me wants to keep it close, to myself and those closest to me. As a writer, the latter bit stresses me out a little. I’ve been relatively open about massive issues I’ve faced in my life, especially recently, and I do genuinely find catharsis when I put my feelings into writing. But my week in Cleveland was special, emotional and one I’ll forever hold dear. Because it feels cruel to write a blog and mention something as dramatic as a surprise trip 4,000 miles away and not say a peep about it, I will say this:
My week home was heart-warming, exhausting, happy, sad and very, very fulfilling. My grandparents and aunt were so incredibly surprised and thrilled to see me and spend time with me, and that’s all I ever wanted from the trip: to make them happy and aware that I was willing to drop everything in a heartbeat to be there for them. And I was. I was there. And I will be again if and when they want or need me to be.
It was not a holiday. It was not time off. I woke up every morning at 5am because that was 10am UK time and I worked a full day. Every day that week. Then by 1pm, the UK workday was over so I’d get ready for the afternoon and spend it with family. In the evenings, I’d squeeze in a few hours to see friends. I’d fall into bed every night absolutely shattered, mostly running on adrenaline, which seems to be my only fuel source this year. I rolled back into London on a Sunday morning and rocked right back to work that Monday. It was very hard, but I don’t regret doing it. It was the right time for me to show up, and I’m so, so glad I did. However, I have no idea how I’ll ever top that kind of gift! Think I set the bar too high for myself…
I still don’t know what’s next in this long saga of continuous chaos. Some days I’m optimistic and strong and cheery, other days I’m a moody, grumpy lump on a log for no discernible reason. Some days I’ll talk my friends’ ears off about what’s bugging me or what I’m excited for, and other times I force them into an awkward exchange with lots of one-word answers and uncomfortable silences. I don’t know how people are meant to handle the things I’ve been going through this year, and I don’t know that there’s really a guidebook for any of it either. Day by day I take things as they come, and meet them with whatever mood happens to me. I never have proof of my strength and I often feel like a wimpy, whiny baby, but I’ve been told that I’ve been doing okay so I take that as a success and keep moving forward.
My life isn’t better or worse than anyone else’s. While it’s hard not to feel like the world owes me something, I want to believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe this year is a year for hard-earned lessons that will prep me for whatever 2018 has coming my way. I don’t know. I can’t know for sure. But what I do have now that I didn’t have before is experience. I’ve learned way more in these last few months – about myself, life, humanity – more than I ever could’ve imagined I would.
This life is precious. Although it’s cliché, you never know what tomorrow may bring. I do what I can in a day, and then I’m done with it. I make time for what I want and need, and do my best now to strike a better balance between work and my personal life. Work still seeps into my personal life, but it is a choice and not a requirement. I am grateful to have friends both here and in my hometown, all of whom show their support for me when I need it. Life isn’t about merely surviving – it’s about living, right? That’s what they say.
So I guess this post is my thank you to everyone who’s been following my life thus far, offering tid bits of ‘you’re doing great!’ and ‘thinking of you’ comments here and there. I imagine from the outside looking in it’s been pretty dramatic and entertaining, so I can’t blame you for wanting to know how I am and how things are going. Thank you for caring. Thank you for striking up conversations even if I look unapproachable. Thank you for spending time with me even on the days I’m not very communicative. Thank you for being constant beacons of light when I’ve not even realised I was in the dark. I am so very grateful that even on days I feel like I’m dealing with this life alone, I’ve never actually been alone. It’s been quite the adventure so far, hasn’t it? Here’s hoping for tomorrow…