There are moments in life, in which our world becomes smaller. Our focus is shifted to one event, one job, one task, something to cope with, something to overcome. The variety of activities and thoughts is minimised during this time and our perspective is… narrowed. I have noticed this at various stages of my life, not always due to indulgence in happiness but, also for obligation or through no choice of my own. When this happens, I have realised the importance of awareness and malleability.
Awareness, a buzz word passed around like a precious gem, holds significant worth. It implies interest, knowledge and concern; admirable traits to encompass. What we must be aware of, at times of minimisation, is that the scope of what one can feel is forever shifting. For example, I am in my third year of uni, my world has suddenly become very small. Yoga, library, bed. Gym, library, bed. Library, lunch, wine. Masturbate. (Did anyone else masturbate a lot during their third year of uni? I feel like it’s a necessity. Wondering if that’s just me?) The adventure of my days, is that of a 14 year old tabby cat, the bottom of the garden is equivalent to climbing a mountain.
In being aware that my world is smaller however, due to obligation and the pressure that comes with £27,000 worth of debt, I can shift my sense of expectation. I can change what equates to a great day, what brings me happiness and what feels like an achievement. Today I washed my hair. That is a 10/10 big accomplishment in my deadline stricken world. I have no time for hair washing, it wastes time, valuable typing time. But alas, the grease became too strong and I put my foot down: ‘You can’t work effectively whilst thinking every 5 seconds, god my hair is really greasy, do you think she has noticed how greasy my hair is?’
It would be easy, to compare this small achievement to a different day, perhaps a day where I did climb a mountain, or where I performed on stage, or I fell in love, but that’s not how days work. Every day is different and although the challenges vary in magnitude, even the days coated in mundanity provide some sort of challenge. It’s recognising these challenges in there context that prevents melancholy. Of course, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I did not say, I want to be proud of washing my hair. Although, at some stage in life, washing ones own hair is a pretty spectacular moment. I digress, although I did not dream of that, I did dream of being an actress, I did dream of writing my own plays and I certainly dreamt of being a ‘grown up’. This is what being a grown up is some days, its the small privileges that we get from significant steps in our life. Spending 24/7 in the library doesn’t feel like a privilege, but studying a subject that I’ve chosen, that is mostly interesting, has it’s perks. It makes me appreciate how much I love freedom, free of deadlines and schedules. It makes me realise how important self-discipline can be and it makes me proud every time I get to the library before 9 and leave after 5. It makes washing my hair feel like climbing a mountain.
Not too long ago I was wallowing in these things, feeling overwhelmed and bored of my little life. Then I realised that this was doing nothing for me. In fact, it was making me quite miserable and spotty. (I’m still spotty but that’s just the lack of air and nutrition.) It took some effort, but I am beginning to see the joy in this period of my life. The things that I can appreciate. The purpose, the books, the early nights and the earlier mornings, how much more I appreciate a yoga class, how much more I appreciate glowing skin, how comfy and fun it is to wear a tracksuit every day. This example is specific to me and anyone in their third year of uni but, it applies to everything and it comes back to that word awareness or even worse to BEING PRESENT. I hate when good terms become wanky because of how often they’re used in the context of an Instagram post, but it’s true. This is all just about being present, not comparing to any other state of being, to just appreciating and being aware of the now. There will be periods of life in which happiness and joy will be overwhelming. Every day will be filled with love, laughter and contentment. It is just as important to stay present in these moments and understand the fragility and the ambulatory nature of our days. Things will change, what brings us joy will change, nothing lasts for ever so whilst it’s here we may as well strive to find a silver lining. Even if it’s a very tiny one, even when it feels impossible, like nothing good can come of the situation that you’re in, sadly the best lessons are the hardest to learn.
I have a tendency to absorb the thoughts, concepts and knowledge from influences in my life, be it people, podcast, books and then regurgitate them as if I am a 23 year old Guru. I of course am not a Guru, on some days I don’t find much joy in banging my head against a keyboard and smelling like an old sock. But, it’s on those days that I need someone, pretending to be worldly wide, to remind me to appreciate the little things, even if these things will only bring me joy in the context of a never ending essay. I hope that I can be the little voice on your shoulder, when things feel dreary and grey, shedding a light on that little thing that happened which you may have missed. That little thing, that within the context of this particular period of time, is pretty remarkable.