If someone asked me to name a feeling that I don’t feel as often as I would like (I don’t know why someone would ask me that, but humour me here), I would probably say ‘calm’.
In part, that’s a personal thing. I like being busy, I can’t relax when there are still things to be done, and I’m nothing short of a disorganised mess at juggling my time; this leaves me prone to feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, mostly completely unnecessarily (if there’s one thing I love, it’s being a little melodramatic), and sometimes not.
Yet I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of other calm-avoiders out there too, for reasons that are also to do with the age we live in; this is 2018, after all, and life for lots of us tends to be fast paced, jam-packed, and full of pressures. We’re expected to be grafting hard for successful careers, saving for or buying houses, doing mad stuff with our pals ‘while we’re young’, hustling on side projects, travelling the world, getting regular exercise, visiting our grandparents weekly, maintaining friendships, being social butterflies, perfecting our winged liner (okay, that one’s a joke, but I still can’t do it) and god knows what else.
When you try to fit all that stuff into an average week, it’s easy to see why ‘calm’ might not be on the agenda. I know, I’ve tried.
And yet the calm-avoiders know that some calm time would be good for us. Which is why, every so often, I make these little resolutions to myself that I’m going to be better at chilling out, that I’m going to schedule in downtime, that I’m going to take an evening to do absolutely nothing – because I know that that calm, that headspace, is really important and will genuinely benefit me.
The problem is, I then put a sneaky little disclaimer against said resolutions.
I’ll try to chill out more once this project at work is finished. I’ll get better at relaxing once these two weeks where I have a lot of social events are over. I’ll take an evening off once I’m two posts ahead on the blog.
It doesn’t quite work like that though; once that project at work is finished, another will appear. Once I finally feel like I’m on top of my (admittedly, self-inflicted) blogging workload, there’ll be a week of plans after work every day and I’ll be behind again immediately. While there are some situations where you need to power through for a little while then enjoy some downtime after, more often than not life just keeps happening, regardless of how you’re feeling, and it is virtually impossible to ever be ‘done’ with everything that’s demanding your attention at any one time.
That’s why I’ve decided it’s time to abandon the idea that I’m ever going to reach this mythical time when everything is ‘complete’ to get a dose of calm, and that I need to find or make room for it instead, even when things feel like chaos.
On Monday it was Rob’s birthday. We both booked the day off, and we made no plans. We had a really slow breakfast, and pottered about. I had promised not to ask for any photos (it was genuinely a struggle if you’re interested, even though I know that’s ever so slightly pathetic, because when you work full time getting photos in winter is HARD and a weekday off is gold dust for blog snaps).
Naturally, I also resolved not to do any work work or blog work, since even without the photos I don’t think Rob would have exactly been chuffed if I’d have sat there all day going ‘Oh just wait, this marketing plan is really important’ or ‘Let me just schedule a few tweets’.
And we had a really calm day.
It wasn’t that there was no work to be doing. And it certainly wasn’t that I had a blank to do list. It was just that, motivated by wanting to be more present on the birthday of my ever-patient and long-suffering boyfriend, I decided not to give anything else my attention, and devote myself to this pocket of calm instead.
This is what I have decided I need to keep doing. Not necessarily taking whole days out, but finding or making little pockets of calmness, mindfulness or whatever you want to call it, and properly giving myself over to them, even when my brain is resisting relaxation unless I’ve completed everything on my to do list.
Like when I’m in the shower and there’s not really a case for multi-tasking (thank god taking electronics in there with you is inadvisable or I would do it, I swear) so I may as well switch frantically going over and over my to do list in my head for quietening my thoughts.
Like when I’m on my way to work and it’s pretty difficult to walk and type and what am I really going to achieve by doing that anyway so I may as well put the phone down and spend it just being, taking in my surroundings and clearing my head before the day begins.
Like when it’s 9pm and there’s still lots to do but nothing will actually happen if it isn’t done right this second – so it might just be more beneficial to have an hour of really chilling out and come to the next item on the list tomorrow morning. No doubt I’ll feel like I’m behind either way, but that headspace that comes from properly relaxing before going to sleep is priceless.
It seems that – aged 27 – I’ve finally realised that life isn’t going to slow down just because I feel like I can’t fit it all in. The world won’t just stop, work wont cease to need doing and yep, the wash basket will continue to refill because hey, I’m putting pants in it every day. That moment I’ve been holding out for where I have absolutely nothing that needs doing is never going to appear, so pinning all my hopes for finding calm at this non-existent point in time is ever so slightly stupid.
Here’s hoping it can be found amongst the chaos of life instead.
Jacket – Primark | Dress – New Look | Boots – Primark | Necklace – Lisa Angel
Photography: Thom Law Photography