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30.01.2019- On Learning To Trust Yourself

Wednesday, 30 January 2019


So, here we are at the end of January- we made it! For some inexplicable reason, this month seems to last about a hundred times as long as any other, but it always feels like an achievement when you get to the end- a five week marathon of early morning alarms, cold weather and a seemingly neverending wait until payday. As well as all of the above, the start of any new year can always be a little bit overwhelming, especially if you're spinning lots of plates at once, are generally feeling a little bit run down or are as deflated as a blow-up snowman after the excitement and seemingly never-ending series of meetups during the festive season. 

Whilst I'm not a believer in Blue Monday or any of the other general 'new year, new you' nonsense which this month in particular is synonymous with, January is a toughie for a lot of different reasons for me, but more particularly because it's a month which features a few anniversaries of family members passing away, including some who I never met- but who I still very much feel connected to. Even after a long period of time, grief is a funny old thing to get your head around (to be honest, I don't think you ever can), but these dates always, and without fail put me back into the shoes of past me- specifically an eleven year old girl who didn't quite understand what was happening- and maybe still doesn't. Even stranger is the sense of time passing in the blink of an eye- to the point where up until a few weeks ago, I hadn't realised that I've been longer in the world without most of these people than I had been with them. 

Everyone's experience of grief is different, but for me it's always been a case of trying to carry on as much as normal in the immediate aftermath- a coping mechanism which apparently the brain has evolved to train itself to deploy in times of sudden loss. Going through the motions as much as possible, ticking off all of the processes you need to go through- all of this I've done without really engaging in the reality of the situation- primarily as a means of just getting through it. That's not to say that it negates any of the emotional impact- it just delays the shock I think- which is why, eighteen years later, I'm sat here wondering exactly how that uncomprehending eleven year old got through that particular experience and all of those which came after too.

The answer is one which I haven't quite figured out yet, but I think it's got something to do with learning to trust yourself to get through, one day, one hour, one minute at a time. I think as a girl who grew up feeling very shy, and not particularly confident, it was difficult to appreciate just how much of a part self-belief plays in your growth- particularly when young women (and indeed all women) have been conditioned by almost all corners of society not to be forthright, opinionated or especially expressive. Hand in hand with this comes the common experience of bullying- particularly during those formative secondary school years- which more or less squeezes any confidence out of you- confidence which it takes a long time to build back up. 

Now, at 29, I think I'm sort of getting there. I'm still not the type of person who will happily blow my own trumpet, and 99% of the time prefer to fly under the radar (that introvert life), just plugging away and getting things done rather than shouting from the rooftops about things I've achieved. Work wise, this isn't always for the best, but over the last eighteen months or so I've really proved to myself what I'm capable of doing on my own- and that my temptation to worry about making mistakes isn't helpful in the slightest. So, yes, whilst January brings with it lots of opportunities (and a barrage of marketing campaigns) for self-improvement, I think that what I've come to appreciate of late is that everything is a work in progress, and that trusting yourself and what you can do, especially when you're out of your comfort zone, is far more beneficial than buying in to any of the temporary fixes which the new year brings with it. 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

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