Homebody or Hermit?

This time last year I was going out for cocktails in the city most Friday evenings, wearing fashionable outfits and glam make up, staying out late then posting my pictures on Facebook and Instagram the next day. Fast forward a year and I spend most Friday nights at home either in front of a tablet or TV screen or reading a magazine or book. Lots of the clothes I wore last year for nights out barely fit me anymore and lots of the friends I used to go out with have either fallen by the wayside or usually aren’t able to go out when I’m free. It’s amazing how much illness can change your life. Until July I didn’t know if I was even allowed to drink alcohol and my tolerance to loud, busy places is now a lot lower than it used to be. I also get tired easier than I used to and although this is gradually getting better as my health improves I’m still ready for bed by 11pm. The strange thing is as exciting as getting dressed up and as distracting as those nights out were, most of the time I didn’t really enjoy it. Sure, I’d have a laugh and let my hair down for parts of the night but the long queues at the bar, barely being able to move in packed bars or clubs and rude, drunk people began to grate on me.

However, now I’m mostly stuck at home I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out a bit. I am only 28 after all so not quite over the hill yet. I think this feeling is stronger in the summer though as when the sun is shining it feels like everyone but you is out, having a great time and drinking Pimms in the sunshine. This is why I’m such a winter baby as I love being snuggled up and cosy indoors when it’s cold outside and the FOMO is less prominent. I’m quite a homebody anyway and like to do most of my socialising during the day or early evening. Does anyone else feel this way? That said I could do with a good night out soon, even to just get dressed up.

Living with Anxiety

For as long as I can remember I’ve been quite a nervous person who worries and panics and works myself up over things that wouldn’t bother most. As a child I had a phobia of loud noises, would freak out if my mum started the car before everyone had got in and was always convinced that our house would blow up after watching a gas explosion on Neighbours! As I’ve got older I’m not quite as bad but the anxiety has never left me. I find that I go through bad periods of it when I’m worried about something particular or a number of things. Luckily, I don’t have panic attacks but it does make me feel on edge and affects my sleep and appetite. In the past I’ve worked myself up so much that I’ve ended up being sick but this hasn’t happened for a couple of years. Situations such as job interviews can trigger quite severe anxiety and I’ve had to give up on driving tests as I got myself in such a state but I’ve had it for so long that I’ve just learnt to weather the bad times as they’re not permanent.

At the moment I’m not sleeping properly, have aches and pains all over my body and have a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach because my grandad is seriously ill and currently in hospital waiting for an operation. I feel so helpless, worried and sad and although we are yet to find out the full prognosis it isn’t looking good. It’s obviously affecting every aspect of my life but I know that one day these uncertain times will be a memory and all I can do is spend as much time with him as possible and make the most of that time.

One thing I’ve learnt about anxiety is that in most cases the fear isn’t as bad as the reality and we have an inbuilt survival instinct to deal with whatever life throws at us. It isn’t easy but it makes you a stronger person and more appreciative of the positive parts of life.

Ripping up the Life Checklist

Looking around me, about 80% of the people I know, read about or see on social media and TV seem to follow a similar life pattern of ticking goals off the life checklist to become a fully fledged adult and although the order of events vary, the general story is the same. It often starts with gaining the relevant qualifications, leading onto landing a job or career that you feel settled in, passing your driving test, meeting the one then going down the conventional route of moving in together, getting married and having children. I recognise that there are many people for whom life doesn’t follow this pattern as things often don’t work out as planned but most people seem to meet at least half of these objectives by the time they’re in their mid thirties. Most of my friends have achieved at least three of them already and my newsfeed is full of people getting the keys to their first house, engagements, births and weddings.

Personally, I don’t really have any life plan or goals and have only ticked two things off the list, being qualifications and meeting who I believe and hope to be the one but the journey of life doesn’t run smoothly and there are many unexpected bumps and obstacles along the way. By failing three driving tests due to anxiety and just not feeling confident enough in my ability I fell at one of the first hurdles but I’m trying to teach myself not to feel like a failure. As for the rest of the list, other than moving in with my partner which feels like a distant dream due to the cost of mortgages and bills, I’m not sure if I actually desire the conventional path of marriage and children. Call me selfish but the thought of spending any spare cash on regular holidays and any free time pursuing passions and catching up on sleep appeals to me far more than marriage or parenthood! That said, if my boyfriend proposed and we already had our own place and were stable financially I wouldn’t say no but marriage has never been a priority for me. As for the thought of being a parent it involves way too much responsibility, worry and not enough sleep!

I’m secure in my decisions but can’t help but feel in the minority as I don’t seem to want what most others do. When people discuss their wedding plans and the joys of parenthood I have nothing to contribute. I feel like Peter Pan, the eternal child as despite being 28 I still live at home, am currently unemployed and don’t feel anywhere near ready to deal with any ‘adult’ responsibilities. I would love to hear from others around my age who feel the same. My advice to those who are struggling to acheive conventional standards is to be proud of who you are, what you want (and don’t want) and not to feel pressured to live a life that isn’t for you just because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you fall at any hurdles, some things just aren’t meant to be or if it’s something you’re really passionate about then pick yourself up and try again, even if you need some time out to reevaluate before doing so.

The End of an Era

For most of my adult life I’ve worked in the insurance industry which is something I fell into my chance rather than choice! When I left school back in 2003 my nan got me a job at the Insurance company where she worked. I was only 16 so the opportunity to earn money and be able to afford my own Evisu jeans, Burberry bag and Gucci loafers was too good to pass up! Therefore, I took the job assuming it would be a temporary fix until I began my glittering career as a fashion journalist. (The naivety of youth eh?) When I started sixth form that September I fitted work around my studies which extended to my uni days as I chose to go to a local university to study media and creative industries. After graduating in 2009 I was offered a full time position at the insurance company. It didn’t pay very well but being in the middle of a recession, job opportunities were thin on the ground and at the time I was lacking in confidence or any self belief that I could get into the journalism industry so I accepted the job.

I stayed there for two more years before deciding to quit and pursue my career dreams. After contacting every magazine I could think of I managed to get a couple of weeks work experience in Colchester to work for a variety of craft magazines. I was in my element and they asked me to go back a few weeks later but unfortunately, I had run out of money for travel. At that point I had to get some paid work so I did some temping work before falling back into Insurance where I stayed for the next 3 years. Due to health problems which I’ll go into in further posts I decided to hand my notice in a month ago so now I’m officially a full time blogger. Once I’m fully recovered I plan to attempt to get some further work experience in the pipeline as I don’t want to give up on my dream just yet. Failing that, I’d like to do something different that I’m more well suited to than insurance but it’s difficult as that’s where most of my experience lies. I just hope that I can get through my health issues and anxiety and that someone will give me a chance to show what I’m good at and where my heart truly lies.