The post that was asked a question

I was walking along with my father and I don’t know what we were talking about but then he asked:

And what’s your long-term plan?

And there it was. A question that I had no good answer for. I didn’t realise it at the time (this happened a week ago) but this question hit me hard and has been chipping away at my mind ever since.

I woke up this morning and I was really out of sorts. I was very distressed and I didn’t know why. Then in the following few seconds, the dream that I had been having came flooding back to me. In my dream, I had been in a war situation. I was being physically attacked in a battle and I was running and hiding and trying to fight back and trying to escape.

Then this afternoon, I had kind of a realisation and I can’t help but see this dream as a metaphor as to why I have not made progress in life from a professional and personal perspective. In the dream there was no clear enemy, all I knew is that I was under attack. But now I believe the enemy was myself.

Deep down, I do not believe I have anything of value to offer anyone. I create distance between myself and everyone else because, underneath it all, is a crippling fear that if I were to be my true, authentic and genuine self with other people, then I would be rejected. Social rejection fires up exactly the same pain receptors in the brain as physical pain so it’s not exactly a feeling that one goes chasing.

When I look at my life, distance is everywhere:

  • I live in a city that’s a long way from any family members
  • I have a job where I am working alone and not as part of a team
  • I do not have a group of friends I see regularly, rather 1 or 2 I see on an individual basis
  • I have not had a romantic partner for years
  • I avoid situations in which I may be required to collaborate, whether professionally and personally

Some of these may be conscious decisions and some may be subconscious but the bottom line is that when it comes to something important that requires joining forces with someone else, I would rather say no than risk getting close, revealing my true self, and being what I’d term as ‘found out’. I constantly seek to avoid risking disappointing someone and consequently being rejected.

At work, I can hide behind a job title,¬† with friends I’ve hidden behind humour and other things for years, and with new acquaintances I do the same. Put on a mask. Create a facade. So why do I (and we as people) do this? I can only think it’s because we don’t like our true selves, and we reason that if we don’t ourselves, nobody else will.

So to save ourselves from that pain, we engage in a simple self-preservation technique in the form of not getting too close to anyone. Whether it’s a work colleague that may realise you’re incompetent, a partner who may realise you are an idiot, or a friend who may realise you’re boring.

When these feelings of low self-worth are so entrenched and the habits that form around them are so established, it is very difficult to break the mould. Which is unfortunate because it’s clear to me now that these are major obstacles to self-development, growth and, ultimately, fulfilment.

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The post that wonders

I’ve been watching lots of YouTube videos lately about the universe, how the universe started, the big bang, how long ago that happened, and the theories about what there was before the big bang.

They say it’s about 13.8 billion years old.

They say our universe has 2 trillion galaxies in it.

They say they can trace the universe back to a time when it was a billionth of the size of the nucleus of an atom.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that made me feel like my life was pretty damn insignificant. 13.8 billion years and we live for about 80 of them. Human beings are little more than a blip on the radar.

This got me thinking about how short our lives our. Particularly in comparison to 13.8 billion years. Now, I’ve never worried about, or been afraid of, death. But for some reason, this all really got to me. It hit a nerve or something. This idea that I am going to die and there is going to be nothing and things will continue but I will never know about them.

It’s the first time I’ve ever considered my own mortality before. I didn’t like it.

And now I am kind of afraid of death. Well, afraid of life really. I’m worried. I’m worried my life is going to be shit. Worried I will get to the end of my life and will look back and think, that was rubbish.

If this were the last night of my life, I would be deeply dissatisfied. But at the same time, I would know that I went through my life not knowing how to do some of the basics and therefore probably did the best I could with what I had.

Things like not knowing how to form meaningful relationships. That would be a big one. The more I read and watch on the subject of happiness from an emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, health and scientific perspective, the more I see that the studies reach the same conclusion: regardless of their other life circumstances, having strong and meaningful relationships are the single biggest influence on happiness, health and wellbeing.

So, with our teeny, tiny amount of time in this universe, what should we do with it?

It’s often said people should do what makes them happy and not worry about what others may think? It’s easier said that done a lot of the time.

But really, what would you really¬†really do if the shackles were off and it didn’t matter what other people thought?

N x

The post that has been thinking about purpose

I have been thinking a lot about the importance of purpose in life lately. How it gives life meaning and it gives people a reason to live.

Why do we do what we do? Why do we work? Because we have to? Because we have rent or a mortgage to pay or children to feed and clothe? Fine. But what about if you paid off your mortgage? When your children grow up and leave home? Why would you work then? What would be your purpose in life then?

For a while now, I have had no purpose. I have had no goal in mind and nothing to keep me going. Nothing to help me through the days. Something that I can point to and say, “this will all be worth it when…” and I’ve noticed it with my spending habits.

I’m throwing money around frivolously because I have no plan for it. I’m earning money but I don’t know why. I’m going to work every day and I don’t know why. I look forward to the weekends after a 5-day slog and I don’t know why. I wake up on Saturday mornings and I’m glad I can relax and don’t have to go to work but within hours I find myself wandering around the house not knowing what to do with myself.

Why? I think it’s because I have no purpose. I do not know what I am doing here. I don’t know what I’m working for or if I’m working for anything at all.

A few months ago I found a new job. One that involves helping people through advice and guidance on a daily basis. I looked for this type of job because, I realise now, that I was hoping it would provide my life with purpose. How could it not, right? Surely helping other people will give me a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, I told myself.

And yet, it hasn’t. You know, you go through life and you go for what it is that you think you need only to find that you need something else. It’s frustrating. Life’s a struggle like that.

I now have some of the things that I thought would make me happier and give me more satisfaction and a purpose and yet I still feel completely lost.

So, how do you give your life purpose? What’s the big secret? Or are most people feeling like this and just accept it?

The post that doesn’t trust itself

As I lurch from one day and week to the next, extreme thoughts appear. And doubts. Doubts appear. They appear because I have gotten it wrong so many times in the past that I just don’t trust myself to make decisions any more.

What is the difference between taking a chance and being foolish? When does the former become the latter? Should I listen to my heart? My gut? My head? What is each one telling me? How do I know which one is the right one to listen to?

I fear consequences.

On the one hand, I just want to adopt a ‘not giving a fuck’ attitude. If I pretended for a minute that there would be no negative consequences of taking the chance, then I’d take it. Or even if there were negative consequences, that they would not be insurmountable. There would always be a way back. Then I’d take the risk then too.

What will happen if I do this and fail?
What will happen if I do this and succeed?
What will happen if I don’t do this and continue to fail?
What will happen if I don’t do this and succeed?

But when I keep getting things wrong over and over again, how do I trust myself to make the right decision. I don’t want to make a stupid judgement and take a gamble. But I also want to know. I want to know what taking the gamble will be like. Could I live with it if it’s a disaster? Could I? Would I be ashamed? Embarrassed? Or would I just be relieved that now I just know and I can move on.

I just don’t trust myself.

I was sure that the most recent big decision I made was going to be the right one. It felt right. It felt natural. And yet, here I am. Two months down the line and it is already proving to be a mistake.

I am my decisions. I am the chances I take and the consequences of my actions. I feel like I need someone to tell me what to do. To show me the way. Tell me what I have been doing wrong. Enlighten me. Give me some kind of penny-dropping light bulb moment. But I don’t have anybody who can do that.

I can’t keep ending up in the same state after every time I take a punt on something.

I guess I need to look at it this way. With the aforementioned recent decision that has backfired, I need to ask myself the question: Am I still glad I took the chance?

If I am really honest with myself then the answer is yes. And the reason for that is because even though I am arguably in a worse position now than I was before I took that risk, at least I can now close the door on that particular avenue of thought. It was something that I first started thinking about 10 years ago and now I finally have an answer for it. It was not what I had hoped for and not what I thought it would be like.

Interestingly, the decision that stands before me now also first appeared roughly 10 years ago. Perhaps that’s the lesson here. If something sits in the back of your mind for such a long time and it doesn’t materialise then there’s a reason for that – it’s not for you.

On the flip side, isn’t it a bit defeatist and not necessarily logical or wise to be put off just because one 10-year question did not turn out to be the answer I was looking for?

These are the questions and conundrums and dilemmas that I battle with constantly in my head. All the time. And let me tell you something. It is exhausting. And it ends in paralysis. Paralysed by fear and indecision, I do nothing. And when I do finally manage to make a decision about something, I am not rewarded.

So what is the lesson here? Is accepted stagnation worse than trying and failing? Is it?

Take the chance and if I’m left disappointed, face the consequences and console myself with ‘at least now I know’ platitudes?

Or be sensible, grit my teeth, try to scrounge myself out of the current mire and hope I can improve things?

The post that’s a stream of consciousness

Well, I don’t have a lot of hope.

And I don’t know when it’s going to get better.

I really don’t know when there’s going be light at the end of the tunnel.

And I don’t know what I am going to do next or how I can change things.

Over the past 12 months, I have been trying different ways of doing things, taking risks, taking chances in the hope that by doing something different I will get a different result.

Life’s a struggle.

I’m back where I am because whatever I do, I am the constant.

It’s difficult to know what to do next.

I feel overwhelmed by this world. I can’t keep up with it. So I retreat. I say no when I could say yes.

I don’t reply to the message. I ignore the phone call. I say I can’t come to the party.

Further and further inwards I go. Don’t talk to me. The worthless feelings increase with every corner turned and barrier subsequently met. I only have so much energy.

People exhaust me. Smiling is tiring. Continually trying to improve and do the right things only to find myself right back where I started is too draining.

I don’t want Christmas. I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to be around people. I want to close myself away and shut myself down.

As I said, I don’t have a lot of hope and I don’t know when things will get better.

Thankfully, you always have a choice.

Tonight, most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day and tonight they’ll sleep. And in one of those homes in a corner of London, the lights will go out in an empty room a little earlier than the rest. That’ll be my day ending. One. More. Time.