Tag Archives: loneliness

Lifestyle | But, am I doing okay? Really?

15192616_10153957418182617_4700111268043211696_nI’m struggling lately. I’m not afraid to admit it. On the face of things, I have my shit together, I’m one of the most together people I know most of the time. Always sure of myself, always knowing my next step and what I want out of life. But these past few weeks, I’ve just found myself questioning everything. I don’t know what set it off, perhaps it was the exhaustion of the post-festival comedown and working over 50 hours a week that has left me an emotional mess, perhaps it’s just a mid-twenties crisis. But let’s be honest, sometimes all it takes is the news of how everyone else is progressing around you – in their relationships, careers, travels and lives – to make you really question everything you are doing and have achieved. I’m not one to compare myself to others, I know I’ve chosen a very different path to most people, but it’s easy to look at that without a heavy dose of perspective and think you’re not doing as well as you should be.

I said in a previous post how I was struggling to find the words to put on the page and I was taking a short break from writing until I regained my mojo. But it was only the last few days when it suddenly hit me that perhaps the reason I had lost my mojo was because I wasn’t writing as much. Spending so much time focusing on work, the gym, friends and enjoying Melbourne meant one of my biggest passions was pushed to the wayside and I was left with no real outlet for all those thoughts that swirl around in the back of my head. As a creative individual it’s easy to not realise the huge impact that has on you as a person, the challenge of being a creative is always finding new, and more satisfying ways to express yourself. But if that mode of expression is taken away, all that creative energy can just eat you up inside. I can see it even now as my fingers fly across the keyboard, just how much I have missed writing and sharing every facet of my life with you wonderful people.15203347_10153970687092617_759818856468780508_nSo what sparked this huge realisation? Well, last week at work (I’m working at a rooftop bar in Melbourne CBD) I had a visitor – a lovely girl who had travelled all the way from Germany, apparently a huge fan of this blog, and just had to meet me in person on her last night in the city. I can’t even begin to tell you what this meant to me, I’ve had a few real down days these last few weeks so to know that someone appreciated me and my work so much was an incredible boost. It hasn’t automatically fixed everything, but it has brought me back to writing and it has made me realise my priorities. I love exploring the world around me and living life to the max – I will always be a workaholic who struggles to maintain a work/life balance that doesn’t push my body to extreme exhaustion. But I also need to give myself time to reflect and enjoy, to appreciate the amazing experiences I have had rather than always surging ahead towards the next.

But, am I doing okay?

It’s the question we all ask ourselves all the time, whether we say it out loud or we let it eat us up inside as more friends announce new homes, huge career progression, engagements, marriage and babies. It’s so hard not to judge yourself by the standards of others, and it’s so easy to forget your own individual huge achievements that others just can’t compete with. Now several years down the line, I know that giving up my nine-year relationship to travel the world solo and build a freelance journalism and travel blogging career was the best decision I have ever made in my life. But I still can’t help but compare it to friends who have done the opposite and gave up everything for the one they love – putting aside their career and life plans. Likewise, giving up my working life at a newspaper was something that was long-overdue but going freelance and travelling long-term has also thrown me back into a life of temporary hospitality and casual work. I can’t help but both love the freedom and easiness of it while hating the transiency and the lack of progression. There is no future in it and it sometimes makes me crave the excitement of seizing career opportunities.15181360_10153970688762617_7809531450665387419_nI mean, technically I’m doing amazingly. I’m in a great job, earning good money, I’m complete independent, the fittest and physically happiest I’ve been for a long time. I have a great apartment, incredible friends and family on every side of the globe, and plans for the future. But right now, something just isn’t sitting right with me, I can’t put my finger on it but whether my life is missing something or I’m in need of something different, I know that something has to change. I’m not one of these people who mopes around and complains about the way things are, I prefer to be a little proactive and make things better. Being a solo traveller, you have to be willing to get off your arse and to do things for yourself instead of waiting for someone else to make you happy. I like to apply that attitude to every aspect of my life and so I always get impatient with myself when I’m having a few down days – I’m not a wallower, I’m a problem solver. So my next mission is getting myself out of this funk and finding my new happy, the change that will help me regain what I feel like I’ve lost lately.

So, how do I do this?

Well my first changes were pretty instantaneous, I cut a few toxic people out of my life in the last few weeks, people who were’t bringing anything positive into my world. I came back to writing, determined to let it heal me and to find my way back to this blogging world. I took some time for me, I went treated my body well and allowed it to recover, I indulged in my passions without stressing about doing things for other people. I planned a much-needed escape to nature with amazing friends and I refused to feel guilty for putting myself first. It hasn’t changed my world yet, but it has eased my mood and has given me hope for the upcoming weeks. Now all we can do is watch and wait.15179224_10153957417787617_6807561513212356488_n

Are you struggling at the moment – how do you cope with these feelings? Have you got any tips for getting back on track?

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Travel | Top tips for maintaining relationships at home while travelling

imageSome friendships break at the first sign of trouble – perhaps a boy gets in the way, or the distance becomes too great, or it’s just not as easy peasy when you’re not in the same class at school together. What it comes down to is often laziness when your lives start taking you in opposite directions, a shame, but often it is the best way to cut down your friends to the ones who really deserve to be on your Christmas card list. I’m talking about the ones who will pick you up in the middle of the night when it all goes wrong, who will sit out with you until the sun comes out talking about life and setting the world to rights. Those soulmates that you know you just can’t live without, whose voices appear at the end of the telephone line at the slightest sniff of trouble and scream with excitement at any tiny piece of good news. They’re the ones you want around and they’re the ones who stick by you even when you make a life changing decision to jet off across the globe without any idea of when you will return.

I won’t lie to you, it’s not easy to maintain friendships and relationships over Skype and Whatsapp, many just won’t make it. But the world we live in makes it easier than ever to keep in touch and there really isn’t any excuse for not showing the people you love how you feel. Often I find friendships like these fall into one of two categories – there’s the ones you speak to all the time, whether it’s just a like or comment on a picture on Facebook, a long old chat on Whatsapp, or FaceTiming once a week to update each other on all the gossip. Then there’s the friendships that seem untouched by time, the people you don’t speak to for weeks, even months on end and yet you know that you could call on them any time of day for help, or even just a chat. Both types are just as important and I know my best friends fit into both of these categories and all of them are just as important to me while I’m out here, as I hope I am to them. When it comes to family, there’s nothing more important than letting them know you are safe and well, and for you to know the same about them. Trust me, if you’ve ever had drama while travelling or felt unsafe at any point, you’ll know the first thing you want to do is call home.image

 

So how can you keep these friendships and relationships alive?

Compromise is key
They have to understand you are travelling and that you won’t always have good wifi or the time to be on the end of the phone or message 24/7, just like you have to understand that life at home goes on without you and that family and friends have lives and jobs too. Try and organise a time that suits both of you to Skype or message, that way everyone is happy.

Flexibility helps
Sometimes you just need to talk to the other person even though it’s the middle of the night, sometimes you’re upset or things have gone wrong, or you’re just plain homesick. Other times, your best mate’s cat might have died, or his girlfriend dumped him – perhaps they need to talk. Or there could be a family crisis that doesn’t fit in with your free time for skyping. Be flexible and open to talking when it doesn’t suit, it might be necessary.

Be honest
If something the other person has said or done has annoyed you, just come out with it. You know how they always say married couples shouldn’t go to bed on an argument? Well it’s the same principle even when you’re thousands of miles apart. Often they don’t even know you’re annoyed but just saying it out loud can ease the problem.

Make the effort
There’s no debating – relationships are built on the effort you make and the time and love you put into them, if you can’t be bothered to call and catch up or to listen to their problems every now and again then you can’t expect them to return the favour. Friendship and family are a two way thing, let down your end and you can’t be sure the other end will still work.

Don’t forget the small gestures
Sometimes it can just take a thoughtful tweet or Facebook message to make a person’s day, things like wishing them a “Happy World Elephant Day” because you know it will make them smile. Or sending them a message to say how proud of them you are for passing an exam or coping with something big by themselves – remember to do the small things.

Don’t go changing
Travel has a huge impact on your life and you can’t deny it changes your priorities, but don’t let it change who you are as a person. Remember the people who were with you from the start and don’t forget to value them even when you’re swept up in meeting new people and making new friends.

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Have you lost touch with friends at home? What’s your preferred way of keeping in contact with friends and family? Do you prefer to message all the time or save it for a big catch up?

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Backpacking | “You’re never alone but you’re always lonely”

imageI had a pretty intense chat with a friend recently, he was going through a bit of a tough time and had lost his travelling way for a little while. It happens to us all when we get settled in one place for too long – we get antsy, frustrated, feel the need to escape but don’t know where to turn next which can leave some people feeling pretty alone. I know because I went through the same thing at around the same time – it’s the trouble with having a travelling soul, you’re always looking for the next adventure. Most of the time that’s amazing, but if that feeling hits you when you’re stuck working somewhere and have to wait to leave, it can be a killer to your mood. After several people I was really close with left Darwin to start their next adventure, I was pretty down and sick of life there – don’t get me wrong, the city had been an amazing home for me for three months and is full of memories for me. But it was the longest I had spent in one place since starting travelling – while that was just what I needed to start with, it soon became suffocating as more and more people left. I know my friend felt much the same, he was struggling to see why he was still there because he too had never planned to stay as long – he had just fallen in love with the place and the people, as had I.

At the time, I found our conversation hard to hear and talk about, but now – since moving on, it keeps coming flooding back to me and I can’t help but remember one phrase in particular. “When you’re travelling, you’re never alone, but you’re always lonely.” The way my friend came out with that really surprised me, he’s the life and soul of the party and everyone loves him so much, he always puts in every effort and will do anything for his friends. But it just shows you that even the ones who are the centre of so many people’s worlds can be lonely and struggle sometimes. I could totally understand what he was talking about after speaking to another close friend who said: “You form these intense and beautiful bonds with people, but you never really have a lasting connection with those around you because people always leave.” I couldn’t put it anymore perfectly myself – I’ve felt this so many times when I’ve met people and fallen in love with their character, personality and soul. I’ve fallen head over heels for the moments we’ve shared and the things we’ve experienced together. Then just days or even hours later, we part ways and sometimes never see each other again.imageIt’s a hard thing to adapt to and I think that’s why me and my friend were feeling down – we were both so used to being the people who leave and go on to something more exciting to distract us from the sadness of what we have left behind. This time, we were some of the last ones of our gang there and we felt the pain and the loss of every single bright spark who made our time in Darwin as special as it was. I totally understand where my friends were coming from but I can’t help but disagree about the part after people leaving – it can feel like that at times when you’re constantly moving from place to place and don’t get a chance to spend more than a few days together. But there have also been so many times where I have seen it proven how amazingly travellers can come together to create a family that cares for each other no matter what. I saw it when I was in the crash in Cambodia and friends who were scattered across Asia and beyond went out of their way to check I was okay and to even come and look after me until they were happy I was safe enough for them to move on. I saw it in Darwin when something awful happened to a friend of mine and the whole gang rallied around, they did so much by just being there and it just showed how close we all were after just days of knowing each other. I know that I could call on so many of my travelling friends day or night, if every I were in trouble, or just needed a chat, they would be there.

It’s been nearly four months but I still speak to friends I met on the East Coast on a regular basis and am even making plans to be reunited with some of them soon. It’s been nine months since I met one of my most special gangs back in Thailand and I still speak to them every few weeks and even FaceTime despite us all being scattered around the globe now. It’s an amazing feeling to know you have so many connections across the world and is easily one of my favourite things about travelling – these friendships are so special and I treasure them so much. This morning I woke up to around 30 messages from old and new friends and it really showed me that even when I’m working in the middle of nowhere, these friends don’t just forget you. Yes, there are lonely times when travelling – but they’re also the times that really shape you as a person and teach you the important life skill of being on your own and actually enjoying it. There is no light without dark, and as much as there are times when you will feel completely alone, there are times when you will be overrun with people and friendships that will last a lifetime. The important thing is to recognise in other travellers what point they are at in their own journey – be kind and be what others need you to be. When we’re on the road it is more important than ever to look after each other and to support each other – don’t leave anyone lonely, don’t push anyone away. We all need a little family sometimes. The sights are important, but it’s the people that make the real memories.image

 

Have you struggled with feeling alone while travelling? Have you found that perfect travelling gang of friends? Do you manage to stay in contact with other travellers along the way? 

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Backpacking | Christmas while travelling solo and winter dreaming

imageIt’s easy to forget when you’re living in 30-40 degree heat that Christmas is a-coming and that it’s already nearly November! But I had a huge reminder last week when I spotted the first box of mince pies in the supermarket – needless to say, I squealed with excitement! Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I absolutely love Christmas – everything about it, from the decorations, to the music, from buying and wrapping presents for people to the alcohol and food, oh god the food. So the fact that I’ll be missing a traditional Christmas at home with my family this year and will be spending it in sunny Australia is pretty strange. This will be the first Christmas I have spent away from my family, and with so many friends booking flights home, you can tell there’s many who can’t cope with the separation over the holiday period. This Christmas, I actually have no idea where I will be, I’m currently organising my regional work and am due to leave and start it over the coming weeks. My three months will take me through to January or February which means I could be spending this Christmas in the outback somewhere in Australia with another family altogether. A strange prospect, but one I am actually quite excited for – I love the idea of experiencing Christmas as others do – it will be another amazing experience to add to my collection.

Christmas while travelling solo can be a scary prospect – it’s that whole being thousands of miles away from all you loved ones, those home comforts, and everything that is traditionally Christmas for us Brits. I’m talking about looking outside and seeing frost on the ground, or at least feeling a chill in the air, about the moment the smell of roast beef wafts up the stairs and draws your out of your bed, when you get to see the smile on your dad’s face as he opens his present, or when everyone starts arguing over what to watch on TV. Or that moment in the mid-afternoon when everyone’s eyes are drooping and someone is snoring in the corner. Christmas is special, there’s no doubt about it, and it can be hard when you have to spend that first Christmas away from everything you know – but it can also give you the freedom and the opportunity to start new traditions, to try something different. I love to push my limits every single day, to take more chances and to try new things because I think each time I do this it grows me as a person. By staying out in Oz over Christmas, I not only save a fortune on flights, but I also get the chance to see how others live and to see if I am capable of creating another little family in time for it to feel like home, or at least a good substitute.imageI’ve already spent Christmas Day on the beach in Mauritius with family eating curry before, so the heat shouldn’t really be a factor, but when it comes to Christmas it does feel strange to have a warm or hot day for it. Let’s be honest, Christmas is never that cold in the UK, but we associate it with wrapping up in scarves and gloves for a brisk Christmas Day walk to let your turkey go down. We love the idea of a snowy and cold Christmas, and every year I know we all pray for it to happen – no matter how old we are. Immersed in the heat and humidity of Darwin, I thought it strange when I was contacted by Igluski to write for them – but ever since then I can’t stop thinking about being cold. It didn’t help when a friend flew to her next destination and left me with a bag of clothes including the comfiest and softest set of sweatpants and a hoodie – I didn’t realise quite how much I miss wearing snuggly things like this until I tried them on – it was like wearing a cloud! I love the sun and the heat, but there’s definitely times I miss being snuggled up in bed with an actual duvet and a mug of hot chocolate – more for the cosiness of it all. I keep fantasising about winter holidays and love the idea of learning to ski or snowboard – I was actually supposed to go on a skiing trip when I was in Sydney but it was going to cut into my money for the east coast so I put it on hold for a while. But it hasn’t stopped me longing to try…

I think my ultimate wintery holiday would best spent one of two ways – either I would head to a ski slope somewhere in Romania or somewhere equally beautiful in Eastern Europe, an area I’m real,y excited to explore, where we would stay in a fabulous ski resort. I’d learn to ski and snowboard, make snow angels and drink hot chocolate in warm clothes, then the nights would be spent drinking wine in a hot tub under the stars – that would be my favourite part. The stars always seem the clearest in colder places and I bet they would be stunning to see. Either before or after the skiing, we could go off exploring the country, visit castles and the countryside nearby – meet the locals and learn about the country. But then there is also the other option – which I would love equally – of going to a festival like Snowbombing and getting the chance to party the weekend away to all my favourite DJs in these stunning surroundings while getting the opportunity to learn to ski and snowboard during the day – a perfect festival/holiday balance. I guess it would all depend on who I ended up going with… I better start planning the guest list! To book your ultimate ski break – click here.

Have you spent Christmas away from your family? Tell me about your experiences. Have you been on a skiing holiday – what is your favourite skiing destination and why?

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This was a collaboration with Igluski.com

Feel the fear and do it anyway this Halloween

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Meet my pumpkin, Stanley

Halloween

A time for our greatest fears and our worst nightmares to come out of the darkness and haunt our waking moments? Or just a time when we dress up as slutty cats and use it as an excuse to get drunk, while really wishing we were out trick-or-treating and getting masses of free sweets? Whatever your experience of Halloween – I felt it was only right for me to write a special spooky post for you guys today. I love Halloween. I loved the days of trick-or-treating with my sister and our friends around the town, of getting home and stuffing ourselves silly with sweets and carving pumpkins with scary, or just plain cute, faces. But I also loved the later years of dressing up for Halloween parties and getting rip-roaringly drunk while throwing spiders and making each other jump – any excuse.

I’m not sure what your plans are today, but I’m actually really excited because I’m doing something a bit different this year. Tonight I’m going to the cinema to see the live theatre screening of Frankenstein, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature. It does mean I won’t be dressing up for the first time in years, but I think I might get told off by the person sitting behind me if I don the cat ears or devil horns. But I’m really looking forward to trying something a bit different, and I haven’t missed out on the pumpkin carving – as you can see my mate Stanley pictured above. We even had a kids party at the pub when I was at work on Sunday, so I had an excuse to get my face painted Day of the Dead style – see the pics below.hallI’ve seen loads of posts about Halloween make-up, fancy dress, activities and food, but I haven’t seen any yet that talk about the essence of the day. I did a bit of reading into the meaning behind Halloween and traditionally it is to do with confronting the power and fear of death with humour and ridicule. A bit more reading left me thinking about our greatest fears and why we’re afraid of what are often such silly things we have no control over. After years of conversations with friends, family and even complete strangers, it seems to me that the three things people seem to fear most are the following:

  1. Looking silly
  2. Being alone
  3. Having regrets

These three fears come up time and time again, people worrying they will look back on their lives and feel they were a waste. Those who worry that people will think they are foolish for trying something new and taking a risk. And those who worry that taking these risks and chances will see them left alone at the end of their days. I know so many people who are terrified of one or more of these, yet have no reason to worry. They are amazing, witty, intelligent, brave, exciting and adventurous individuals who should be fearless in their decisions. They are the people I admire for taking chances and not being afraid to admit it when they screw things up, to learn from their mistakes and be glad they took the risk. Surely these are the ones who should be least afraid of looking back in disappointment?

fearI remember having a phase where I worried about looking silly and having regrets, and it was a horrible time. I was second-guessing myself at every opportunity and started slating my own decisions before I had even tried. I reached a point where I realised that my fears were starting to hold me back and my doubts were pinning me to a life I didn’t want – by listening to these doubting devils in my head I was actually creating a life I would regret. So what did I do? I stopped worrying about looking silly, and I stopped thinking about regrets – I started living in the moment and making each decision based on my gut instincts. Did it help? Well, it helped me make the choice to quit my job, leave behind friends and family and travel the world – a dream come true. What do you think?

The point of this post? Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks, stop worrying about what future you will think. Fight that doubting devil on your shoulder and stop listening to those second-guessing spooks that follow you round. Be the person you were supposed to be – be that idealised version of yourself – give 150% all the time and don’t be scared of making the wrong decision. You have to make a lot of wrong decisions sometimes before you’ll make the right one, but when you make the right one, you’ll know.life-begins

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

Marianne Williamson

What is your greatest fear and how have you tackled it? What are you doing to celebrate Halloween?

Ab Lucy sign off

A stranger inspired me to share my own love letter

tumblr_kq9tj9gd2A1qzyxvpo1_500It’s strange to think how isolated we have become as a result of having so much technology, which in turn was designed to bring us all closer together. As a blogger, I am lucky to feel I have a network of blogger friends who are there when I need help or advice, or when I just fancy a laugh or to share something with them. But living in Norfolk, I can’t help but feel slightly isolated from them with so many living so far away from me. In this circumstance I am so grateful for the internet and for social media which have allowed me to become close to these people without worrying about the physical miles between us. When watching Hannah Brencher’s TED talk on her love letters to strangers, it made me realise quite how many people there could be out there who are entirely isolated from society, who are lonely and sad, or even depressed. It made me think how many lives these letters could save, whether from suicide or just from falling further away from society. It made me realise the value of reaching out to everyone around you – how just that one smile to someone in the street could change a person’s whole life around. Watch the video and see how it leaves you.

So what can we do to ease the lives of those around us? To help stop loneliness, to prevent the sadness and to help ease depression of those who are struggling? Well the love letters are a truly beautiful idea and I imagine they really mean the world to those who have found them, but there are so many other ways we can reach out to those around us. Forget a picture, if you ask me, a smile  is better than 1,000 words. A kind word here or there, a please or a thank-you. Holding a door for someone, giving someone what is left on your parking ticket, letting someone else go first at a junction, compliments, favours. All of these things mean so much to the person on the receiving end and if you ask me, they are not done enough. Growing up, I went to Brownies every Thursday and they taught us the importance of helping others and making people happy – a true value if ever I heard one. We were expected to do good deeds and report back each week, at first it was an expectation to be fulfilled, but soon it was something we strived to do as often as possible, to help as many people as possible. Even today, it stays with me and, probably unconsciously, I still do it.fitzgerald-beauty-of-literatureI wanted to write my own letter and figured the best place to do it was on here, I would have a much greater chance to touch the life of someone I don’t even know. So here goes!

Dear stranger,

I know we’ve never met before, and that’s probably a good thing – it means we can be so much more honest with each other. It means I can tell you that even though I’m lucky enough to have family and friends around me, that sometimes this just isn’t enough. It’s not enough to stop me from being sad, or feeling alone. I guess we all feel like this sometimes, when life gets a bit much and we don’t feel like anyone else will understand, like no-one other than us has ever felt this way before.

It’s so easy to get caught up in work and various commitments to others that we end up with a kind of tunnel vision, we forget to look outside the box and it feels more like the walls are closing in. I know lately I’ve been working so hard on so many different things that I have felt so scattered – it can leave me worrying that I’m just not doing a good enough job in each area. I’m sure you know the feeling, whether it is at work or at home, sometimes you end up stretching yourself so thinly you feel you might snap.

I guess it’s important at times like these to take a step back, to put things in perspective and to realise all the good that you have been doing. All the good you are capable of. To remember to not get bogged down in those small worries and stresses, the ones that give you those little creases between your brows and the ones that leave you staring into the dark past bedtime. When it all feels like it is getting on top of you, to take a deep breath and to smile. I always tell myself this, even if you don’t feel like it – smile. That smile will grow inside you and if you keep doing it, you will start to mean it. And even if you don’t, you might pass it on to someone who really needs it – because there is always someone out there who is having a worse day.

Whatever it is that’s getting to you this week – remember that it will be something different next week. Stress is fleeting and constantly changing, but it only affects you how you let it. Don’t let it get the better of you and don’t be afraid to share it with others, they want to help more than you realise.

Yours,

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photo_3 (5)The next time you’re having a bad day, remember the people who are having a worse one and do something about it. Why not write a letter of your own? Or tell me about your experiences of feeling like this and how the actions of others pulled you out of your own loneliness by leaving a comment below.

Drowning in a tea cup

Photo by Max Charping

Photo by Max Charping

Life got just a bit out of control recently. A lot has been happening, too much to deal with really so my response was to stop blogging, because quite simply, I didn’t know how on earth to put it all into words. It’s very rare for me to be speechless, or for anything to put my life on hold, but the shock of everything really did just stop me in my tracks. The shock hasn’t completely worn off yet and things are far from settled, but I’ve missed blogging and I didn’t want all my hard work in creating this little world to go to waste, so here I am.

I’m sure all of us have felt overwhelmed by life at times, I know that I have, I just try not to let it take over and start making plans to deal with things. I’m an organiser, someone who deals with a situation and moves on quickly by finding a solution. It’s just the way I am programmed. So it’s been hard the last two weeks to have my emotions up the wall and feel so scattered – I’ve been getting annoyed at myself for moping around. But when those feelings engulf you, it is very hard to see a way out. I know you all know what I am talking about – if you have ever experienced any real pain or suffering in your life, whether you’ve been bullied, lost a loved one or been through a bad break-up. All of these are devastating and turn our lives from the steady and calm waters to stormy tidal waves that rock the boat we once thought was so safe.

It is so easy to get caught up in our everyday lives, with work and relationships, and to let them seem like greater problems than they actually are. We are all guilty of letting a bad situation take over at times, some react by letting it plunge them into depression and others throw themselves into work and other matters to take their minds off it. Normally I am the latter, I throw myself into anything else in order to deal with the problem and move on, but this time things just caught me by surprise and I started to feel like I was drowning in a tea cup.

You might be thinking at this point “what a depressing post, get over it love”, and I am, trust me. But what really helped me was a heavy dose of perspective. It is important, when you start to feel like this, to take a step back from the situation, which can be the most difficult thing. But taking a deep breath and taking everything into account can really make a difference to the way you view things. My perspective came in the form of a terminally ill man who I had written stories about over the past year after he was given a shock diagnosis of a brain tumour and only 18 months to live. He died at the weekend, but only after squeezing every tiny bit of beauty and fun out of life. Writing his tribute was the hardest thing after seeing him so full of beans only a matter of months ago, but it helped to know that I was doing my bit to help the family to come to terms with things.

Something else that has helped me get a grip on things was hearing, from someone I highly respect and have learnt a lot from, that I am an example that he uses of “someone who will go very far”. We had a chat that led to him telling me this and giving me some interesting career advice that has certainly influenced some of the big decisions I’ve been making lately. It was great to be told from someone who is such an expert in their field and has so much experience that he agrees with my plans for the future and encourages them. Definitely gave me the boost I needed to firm up these plans and to make the first move.

I just want to highlight the importance of saying things like this to people we work with, people we have relationships with, our friends and families and anyone we come across in life. It really can make all the difference to share a positive and constructive opinion on peoples’ work and careers. When we put so much time and effort into things, it is important to reward this with praise and encouragement because it could give them the push they really need to make their next move. Don’t be loose with false praise because that benefits no-one and only hurts you in the long run when you have to explain people’s failings as a result of these words. But kind words and support when you can see the hard work that has gone in, that can mean a lot to us twenty-something’s and graduates who are working our way up the career ladder.

If you ever feel like the walls are closing in and you’re taking on water at the same time, like it’s all just getting a bit too much for you – try taking a step back. Speak to people, my friends have been a saviour to me the last two weeks and I don’t know what I would have done without them. Talking about it all also helps get a grip on the situation and to work out your next move. Don’t just go into a black hole of despair and suffer alone – I nearly did and it made things even worse. What are friends for at the end of the day?

Photo by Jill Justus

Photo by Jill Justus

Have you been in a difficult situation lately – what did you do to find a solution and reach the other side?