This is not a movie.

TO CONTINUE TREATING MY LIFE LIKE IT’S SOMETHING FROM A SCREEN IS TO EXPERIENCE IT IN INCOMPLETION. SO NOW I TELL MYSELF; THIS IS NOT A TV SHOW – THIS IS REAL AND IT IS HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE – THIS IS YOUR LIFE.

***

I can put this simply. But I will journey first, because that is what I like to do, and background is important.

University life was cut short in March 2020. Then I was locked up for four months because I was immunocompromised! In the Summer I was finally allowed to go outside and enjoy the sun, but with extreme caution. I fought pessimism throughout Autumn and Winter, and I was obsessed with love as a spectacle. Someone (for lack of the better word, according to them) described me as a female incel (LOL), but I believe I was reacting to the love I was seeing, rather than responding to an absence of love in my life. I regret nothing about the conclusions I came to, I stick beside them!

I started a course in March 2021, which ended in August – it was challenging. I’d also moved out in April and I felt so free. Some of the things I’ve experienced since moving out have felt like a movie – so surreal and ideal at the same time. So dreamlike.

Autumn began beautifully but became not so beautiful as I started going in circles about my career, self-perception, love life, faith, and future. It took a huge toll on my mental health. Habits I developed during the pandemic had more control over me than I would like to admit and I felt hopeless. Sometimes I still do. Apathy towards my faith was unhelpful in all of this because I didn’t care to pray about any of it. Music is all that kept me going.

But one thing I have picked up on is the phenomenon of speed in my life since 2020.

Life was moving at an expected pace during university; I had no complaints other than busyness here and there. Then from March 2020 – March 2021, everything was on pause. I found joy in my creative endeavours but sometimes I had no motivation to carry them out. Also in February 2021 I carried out a fast from secular music, social media and TV, and it showed me just how empty I was without distractions. But life pressed play in March 2021 and it has been like diarrhoea since. Non-stop, and painful (yes).

The weight lies in the way everything has played out. So many situations feel extremely symbolic, down to body language and my physical positioning in relation to others. Different people are saying the same words to me at different times as if they all agreed to do so. The convenience of some situations is perfectly orchestrated, and some curveballs feel like they are spitefully placed just to see me suffer. The lessons I am learning feel like something I’d hear a wise man say and so many songs speak my exact situation. I feel better just as fast as I feel awful, as if yesterday didn’t even happen.

At one point I thought to myself, “This feels like a script. It’s so eventful and tumultuous.” So I began holding my life at arm’s length, and during Autumn I decided to view it like a TV show. Was this a bad idea?

“January to March was season one,” I said. “March to August season two, and September to now is season three.” I told people about it – it was in line with my year after all.

I may rain on a parade here.

Though it was fun to see new people in my life (there were many of them) as new characters and romantic interactions as mere love interests, it soon felt tiring, because this fictional character that I made myself into was dealing with real, non-fictional emotion. There was a disconnect.

I was in disbelief when crazy or symbolic things happened to me because I had been distancing myself from the ownership of my experiences. Yet the truth is that these experiences were not ‘plot-twists’ – they were real! My life was not emulating cinema, because in fact, cinema emulates life. I just hadn’t experienced anything like it before.

What we see on our screens is a perfected version of real-life experiences. In most cases, writers write from a place of truth and identity; they just exaggerate or downplay what they choose.

To continue treating my life like it’s something from a screen is to experience it in incompletion. So now I tell myself; this is not a TV show – this is real and it is happening. This is not a movie – this is your life.

This year, hearing ‘you only have one life’ resonated more than ever before. I think this is what it means. I am not a spectator, I am real, so will be real! I realised that I need to stop being passive, and to instead, actively participate in my life. Sometimes I need to be more serious about these things.

Yes, life can feel unexpected and surreal, but that’s what makes art so beautiful, as art itself imitates life.

Maybe it is just personal. But I am teaching myself to say it feels like a movie less. Now I would like to say, it is beautiful. It is my experience and it is exclusive to me, I won’t give credit to a non-existent writer’s room.

So, when I am walking down the street feeling any type of way while listening to a song that fits my mood perfectly and it ‘feels like movie’, I remind myself that life really is just like that.

Beauty starts with me, not on screen. I will participate in that wonder, not spectate it from afar. That is a blessing.

I think it should have always been that way. But at the same time, I don’t mind learning this now.

Be it tragic or beautiful, I’m playing the fullest part in my life now.

an uncanny reminder

I almost teared up when I saw this cover from across the table in Daunt Books. I was in an uncommitted relationship with it when I was a teenager, taking it out and putting it back, picking it up and putting it down. The cover is so distinct. I tried so hard to read it but never committed. Or maybe I did, I can’t remember now that I think of it.
I wondered why we forget things like this, and instead remember all that brings us pain.
I also felt a longing to return to my school library and feel this book in my hands for the first time again, with a naive certainty that I would complete it. Though the familiarity was welcome, the hindsight was debilitating.
Anyway, I bought it. I knew that copy belonged to me.

Peace in my mess. (Untangling the earphones of life)

Wow! Life is so complicated.

***

I am about to contradict my whole blog. If that’s what it takes to find the necessary life-balance that I’ve been so ignorant of, then so be it. I won’t hesitate.

I started journaling on August 20th 2011. I was 12 years old. I didn’t know that I was equipping myself with a survival tool at the time – a day when I was going to a wedding with my mum and sister, and my mum was taking ages to get ready. To this day I can’t say why my response to this delay was writing about it in a diary. At first I wrote general recounts of my days, and noted how people made me feel, and what I thought of them. It was funny, and eventful in my own context. I wrote about my friends, family, my crushes, my stresses… They all mattered to me then, but now I see that I had a big storm coming.

As I grew up (I’m still growing) I became disillusioned with life. I developed base feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and sadness (Malibu & Lemonade). I was going through so much emotional turmoil and it was all inside me. Today I realise just how traumatic it was. I cried so much when I was alone, and no one knew because I kept it to myself. There were only a few times that I cried in front of people after being in my head about my sadness for days. I only let those tears out to them when they asked or when felt like I was about to snap.

Through it all, my diary was my refuge. I didn’t have as much energy to address ‘small dramas’ in my life because my mental state became my drama. I was living with a broken and despaired state of mind and my diary transformed from a place where I collected daily experiences to a home for my extreme emotion. I would (and still do) pour my heart out there in an effort to do something with the overwhelm of feelings I had.

Soon enough, I started doing something with this. Rather than just pouring out my heart, I began asking myself why I felt this way. Even if the answer was that I didn’t know, I would still ask. I started to look back and see if I could find reason, for anything. I became more honest with how I felt about myself and others. I kept on writing until I accepted that my answers had always been inside of me. It gave me freedom and a life-perspective that I found comforting. I learnt how to make myself feel better through writing and figuring myself out.

Two big answers I found when I was roughly 19, were that I did not believe in myself and I was not working as hard as I needed to get to where I aspired in life. The only reason I came to these conclusions is because I had been asking myself why for all these years – it had finally led up to something. I realised that I had to work hard at my craft, whatever it would be at any given point, in order to make myself worth believing in, for myself, not for others – but myself, most importantly. I could not keep hoping that one day I would feel worth something. I just had to make myself worth it, and that philosophy worked for me.

From this sprouts everything I’ve done over the past 5-6 years. My blog, YouTube channel, poetry, journalism, my style, podcast – everything. It’s all been in an effort to be fearless and believe that I can truly do what I want. The only way to know was to do it… to try. Hence, The Art of Trying.

All my posts up to this point have been one long conversation with myself. My tagline, So you can relate, is just a side effect of that. I knew that you would be able to relate to the things I write, so I share it with you.

That’s why realisations mean so much to me. Every post I publish comes from a new realisation, and I can’t express how much freedom it gives me. I erase lies about not being good enough, giving up, having a distorted self-perception, being self-conscious, etc, in all of these posts. It’s all in an effort to be free because truly, I just want to be myself with no fear. This is why somevariables.org means so much to me.

But now I am scared.

Because recent events have shown me the downside to everything I’ve just explained. There is an imbalance in my approach to life. I question myself too much – not necessarily my decisions, but my thoughts. I ask why without any prompting nowadays and it’s driving me out of my own mind.

Now I must teach myself how to relax and let go. I’ve been told to perceive life’s chaos as my order and I don’t know how to do that. I plan and plan and plan and now I can’t deal with life going its own way. Meanwhile I thought I made these plans impartially.

It’s difficult because many realisations about myself are linked to my emotional trauma. And they came about in an effort to reduce the pain I had at the time. As I said, I found so many answers, and they cleaned up for me. But those years that I spent trying to understand myself took place when I was very impressionable, and now they are making it hard for me to be okay with my mess.

I have spent so long doing things to make me look put together, that people actually believe the lie that I am put together! People who don’t know me, anyway. It’s scary when you are completely jaded by life and your current experiences, and someone pierces that bubble of truth with an assumption that you are “put together”. Is that my own fault? I speak about the façades of others from behind the façade I have developed for myself. Now I am scared of myself.

Keeping this post to myself would be the maintenance of my facade. People don’t need to know my business but this feels like a freedom path.

I say I am trying to untangle these earphones of life. I have to pay attention, stop walking, and use both hands to figure this mess out. And I must find peace in it.

But really, I must find ultimate peace in the fact that I will never fully untangle them.

I will not invalidate my past experiences, but figuring them out was so much simpler and easier than what I am faced with today. Life is so complicated and I must come to the terms with the fact that I can’t fix things anymore – no longer can I question until I find out my truth. Sometimes there is no truth to find.

Currently I’m dealing with apathy towards my faith and everything it pertains to. I am so worried that I will stop believing in God. I am dealing with broken heartedness and hurt. I am experiencing endings and aloneness (not loneliness) which is an enigma in itself. But I am also dealing with overwhelming gratitude (yet, guilt) for the good things happening in my life. These earphones are truly tangled and I don’t know what to do. For the first time in forever I have to be okay with that. Here, I don’t have a solution.

Thinking has become circular. Lately there has been no way out and I’m certain I don’t even need to be in a maze of thought all the time. I am trying to leave the maze. That’s what I mean by letting go. To stop trying to do the right thing as a result of my conclusions and ‘solutions’. Trying to do the right thing and avoid further emotional trauma has just led me to a new kind of pain, a kind that I have no cure for. Perhaps that explains why I feel so hurt by life. I knew it was spiteful but this is a sinister spite.

I began this post with saying I will contradict my blog because it is all about self-actualisation and self-belief etc – to some degree minimising the mess that life is and seeing clearer. But now, I am letting go. I don’t care about much anymore because I am slowing down my sprint away from the mess that I am. Denial is on its way out the door, and I can’t believe it was here for so long.

I pray to God (all I have left) that this leads to the balance that I need. I thought so hard in one direction and now I need to make my way to the middle. I just need to release and truly go where the wind blows me. For a long time I’ve been claiming that that’s what I am doing but now it’s time to mean it. For haven’t I grown tired?

To be known

I don’t want to be realised
I want to be known from the beginning,
Fully understood and accepted
By those who want what’s beneath the surface