There is something so oddly strange about new year, isn’t there? We seem to confide our lives into 365 days and then, collectively, we hit refresh and start again. We set ourselves goals and strive to grant our wishes every January 1st. We seem to spend 365 days comparing our achievements, gains and even losses to the previous 365. But that’s all it is. It’s just 365 days of our lives. It’s a chapter in our story. A path on our journey.
The last 365 days have been a rollercoaster for me. 2017 has opened up my eyes with a flash of education like no other.
My journey with mental health has always been honest, but when I started DanCooleDaily, I never thought it’d become so honest. There were things I swore I’d always keep close to my chest, stories I’d never tell. Over the last 12 months, I have shared two pieces of my history that are so crucial to my story.
My adoption has never been an easy subject to think about, let alone discuss. I still have flashbacks to my childhood shouting ‘at least I know my real dad’ to me during a game of netball. I’m still scared to fully understand how my adoption impacted my whole family. But for the first time ever, I have understood that being adopted wasn’t my fault. I’ve spent so long ticking over and over in my head, telling myself that I am not good enough because I was never good enough for the two people who created me. Yet here I am. I am standing strong, and I am realising that there are two people who love me more than anybody else ever could. Me and my dad have been bickering a lot this week. I think it’s the fact that it’s Christmas, and we are all spending days on end locked inside the house together. But each and every time we quip under our breath, I still know that he loves me.
And that’s the thing.
For the longest time, I have been afraid of negative situations – even when I have created them – because I am scared that I will open myself up and show the world and the people in it that I am so unlovable. Only now, at 24 years of age, am I starting to understand that even when negativity is in the air, I am only human and mistakes are guaranteed. But they don’t shape me. They don’t make unlovable.
For a while, however, I let my mental health consume me. I became so obsessed with ironing out the creases, tweaking what needed to be tweaked, that I forgot to live. For the last six months, I have lived inside a bubble that I am too afraid to burst. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know why I feel the need to constantly protect myself, but I do. I don’t think I will understand my mental health fully for many years, if ever actually, but what I am starting to understand is that it shouldn’t stop me from taking risks.
For those of us who suffer from the various elements of mental health, it is so easy to become wrapped up in the idea of being safe. We forget to live because we spend so much time calculating risks, working through what may or may not happen as a result of stepping outside the house. I am not saying we all find the nearest sky diving centre and throw ourselves out of a plane. Instead, do more of the things that make you scared. Earlier this year, I went to London, completely on my own. I was terrified. I might have cried a few times in the hotel upon checking in. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do on my own in such a big city. I started with a simple Starbucks. It was safe. It was a place I’d been to all over the world. From there, I took a deep breath and began walking. It was only when I was sat in the hotel bar later that evening, alone and drinking wine that I realised I had accomplished something I never thought I would.
In 2017, I gave up on my fight for love and crawled back home to my parents. Although I am starting to get itchy feet, slowly desiring my own space again, I am glad I took time to cocoon myself in a place that was so familiar and safe.
My desire for love is a strange one, however. I feel like I don’t fit in with todays love society. I am not about nudes or one night stands and I am forever pining after the wrong person. Earlier this year I began to fall for somebody new. Something I thought I never would do again. The only problem was that he had a child and he was massively unsure of himself. I was on the tail end of a huge breakup. As you all know, I am a huge disaster when it comes to my life and our downfall was my fault. I imploded under the pressure and I think that’ll join the long list of things I will regret for years to come. He’s moved on now, and I am so happy for him, but I think I will be sad for a while yet.
For obvious reasons, it didn’t work out. But instead of being proud that I got back on the dating horse, I felt defeated. Sometimes I think it’s better to write myself off rather than get invested and have feelings hurt. I call myself a potato, I joke that I am a dating disaster. I lie and say that I absolutely love being single. But the truth is that I spent most of the last 365 days wishing I could find somebody who found me attractive, who would understand my mental health days and who would hold my hand as we skip off to Starbucks.
But then, recently, I realised something. I have to love and understand myself in order for somebody to love and understand me. Otherwise they won’t know what they are getting, and I won’t know what I am giving. Love is this crazy thing because we are brought up to believe that it’s all that matters, and when you don’t have it, or when it is going the way the storybooks tell you, it’s very easy to become defeated, to become hurt.
Don’t get me wrong. 2017 has had some incredible moments. I am lucky enough to be working with Adoption U.K on some exciting projects in 2018. I have a new job, one which I absolutely adore. My family welcomed the arrival of my second niece, and she is bringing such joy into our lives. My parents are beginning to wind down and reach that age of retirement and it’s so warming to see them enjoying their lives after spending so long pouring their entire existence into making sure we were raised properly, but more importantly, happily.
Finally, I have begun to understand myself in ways I never knew myself. Each and every day I learn something new about who I am or what I stand for, and I think that is an incredible thing. We sometimes get to stuck in the how society want us to be that we become more of a number than an individual. If I could try and propose one thing you achieve in 2018, it’s to remember what makes you individual, what makes you, you. Find a way to get back in touch with yourself. You are just as important as everybody else on this planet, don’t ever doubt that.
My main hope for 2018 is that we can collectively become nicer people. We can stop shaming people for being who they choose to be. That we can rid the world of the Donald Trumps and the Harvey Weinsteins. That we can all come together and remember that individually we have a voice, but together we can make it echo.
Most of all, however, 2017 showed me that no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing and no matter what your mood, you can always put on a pair of headphones and play Lorde – Supercut at full volume and everything will be okay.
I hope you all have the most incredible new year, I hope you enjoy yourselves whatever you do. Whether it’s a huge night on the town, a cosy night in with loved ones or if you’re like me, sitting behind a desk in your job.
Thank you so much for the opportunities this year. Thank you for the follows and the comments and the likes. Thank you for taking time out of your life to read my posts. Thank you to the boys I dated for making me realise I could do it. Thank you for for the viral tweet. Thank you to my friends and my family who have applauded my journey each and every step.
Thank you to those who have challenged me when I have been wrong.
This life is a learning curve, eh?
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