The 2018 round up: 1 in 400 Trillion
This year I bought a small A5 notebook that says on the front: 'I'm done acting like I know anything at all'. I quite liked the sentiment. It was pleasing to me, to own something with such a frivolous and cynical statement. In a way, it feels like a sentence that could set you free. But then again, free from what? From giving too much of a flying fart? From burdens? From responsibility? From choice?
What I actually decided to do (as a small act of rebellion, I know I live a wild life) was use the notebook to write down all the things I have learnt and all the things I do feel I 'know'. I suppose as a reminder that beneath that statement of the 'pretence' of knowing, there are some important little understandings that live within us all and we collect this data and this experience as we go through our lives. What I decided the notebook cover was telling me, is that I don't really need to prove myself to anyone; about what I know, or who I am or where I'm going. I can just be me. And so can you.
I thought I'd do a bit of a list of the things I have learnt in 2018. It's the year I feel I grew up a bit. I've turned 25 and all of sudden I feel the reality of adulthood has really come into full swing. Although adulthood doesn't necessarily mean knowing more- I was actually a lot more sure of myself as a child I think. Often as an 'adult' I've wanted to hide a lot - to deny the process of decision making; to relinquish control. But recently I have been reading this book 'The Choice' by Edith Eger. She was a holocaust survivor (bear with me) because although this is a very specific trauma that I cannot begin to fathom, she still manages to make the feeling of choice and control in your life incredibly relatable to anyone who reads her words. The experience of freeing yourself from adversity or challenge by making choices, choices that are proof of your worth as a human being. I suppose that 'choice' is something I have become more accustomed with as something a lot more weighted than what shall I have off the breakfast menu. And that everyone can choose, eventually.
Note- I was a bit hesitant about writing this blog because I'm not trying to give you loads of advice, as the reader. It's more what I have learnt that someone might enjoy or get something small out of. It's a reflection I suppose, on where I am as a 25 year old woman. Feel free to take something from it or nothing at all!
I've made a list. I LOVE lists. These are the 'things i know' or 'things I have learnt' this year and thing I choose to take on the journey with me.
NB: Gals, isn't it quite pleasing that the illustration is a man?
1) Re the title of this blog: I learnt that the likelihood of us being born exactly who we are, to the parents we are born to, in the moment in time we are born within the universe is 1 in 400 trillion. ARE YOU ALRIGHT SCIENCE? So that's either a license to feel super significant and important or an excuse to just become the sofa and watch re-runs of friends to the end of eternity - literally do whatever you want with that information. I'm still not totally sure how I feel about it.
2) I have learnt that things don't always go the way you plan and - the way you envisage them to go - and I've learnt that doesn't mean things will fall apart. What it means is new decisions and adapting. It means still envisaging happiness in the face of uncertainty. We all deserve happiness in this world as long as we work hard to be the best we can be for ourselves and for others. Doesn't matter if something shifts or if plans change- you won't fall apart forever. The structure is you; a whole living breathing human and in general it appears we are made out of pretty strong stuff.
3) I know (I feel I have always known) that the relationships we develop and sustain; the value we see in others and they see in us- that is the thing with most weight and importance in this world. Expect to be valued. And value in return. Do not take your positive relationships for granted. Your companions are your bedrock.
4) I am happy delighted to learn that grapefruit wakes you up better than any caffeine. Like ZING 'Hi world!'
5) I have learnt that sadness is laced into life. It's as likely as bumping into someone in a crowded street. There is not much we can do to prevent it. I have had my own unexpected interactions with sadness in my life and by no means have they been as damaging as I expect and know the world has dealt others; but I what I know is that sadness will pass, much like the stranger in the crowded street you bumped into. You will part ways and sometimes return to each other. Accept your sadness in the way you accept your brighter days. Because it doesn't define you but it's a part of life. See point 9...
6) I have found out that money can feel crippling. When something is difficult (like money) do your best to understand it. Don't run away from it cause it's coming for you- tax bills and all. But find ways to live by spending less (not living less might I hastily add). I have habits that admittedly probably reflect the life I have been accustomed to growing up - but I'm not as well off as a 25 year old in 2018 as my parents where in 1986...and I have to rejig my habits with money as a result. I'm telling the world this so that in 2019 I really start doing it. Reduced aisle of Tesco here I come...
7) I have learnt that leaving London makes me breathe out. This city is a big part of my identity but I don't know if my future will always be London shaped. There is a bigger less polluted world out there.
8) I know now that bravery is something you practise
9) I have learnt that we are often asked to bring the 'best' of ourselves. But it's hard to know exactly what that means. Sometimes this expectation is a challenge. Be 'the best you' when you can (point 2), but being the 'best' doesn't mean being perfect and always happy and light in my opinion. You might be best even when you are struggling. I see people as the best of who they are when they show their vulnerability. I have watched people excel and triumph and glow and I have felt inspired by their positive and motivated energy. And I have sat with people close to me when they have cried and fallen apart and I've loved them all the more for it. The world doesn't need us all to be extroverts. I want us all to be okay with who we are. No one is the best. Fuck being the best.
10) A bit 'lifestyle' here but...get your heart rate up everyday. When I did actually do this in 2018 I just felt better. End of. So 2019 is going to be a sweatier year for me.
11) On that note, if I start to genuinely believe my value lies within the layer of fat over my tummy, because Instagram told me so, then I'm going to start living life as a spare wheel. Like literally the wheel that sits in your boot for years and years and only comes out when you go flat. And not even as shiny and nice and useful as the other wheels. That's what the world tells women- you'll come out when I need you and you'll be TIGHT AS FUCK and THEN you will be happy. I sometimes stand in front of the mirror and wish I was 'tighter' just like the thousands of other people who do the same thing everyday after a big bowl of pasta. And it makes me sad. But my body is mine. It will be the shape it wants to be. It has kept me well for 25 years and I'm sure it will try it's hardest to keep me well for the next 25.
12) I know I need to spend less time on Instagram
13) I have learnt not to google my systems but to trust my gut
14) I know I don't read enough. I forgot to read this year (pathetic). And then when I started doing it again, I was amazed by how much better a good book is than scrolling the internet. It's so much more fulfilling. Technology fuels our anxiety. Give your brain a break and go to Foyles on Charing Cross Road when you have a day off- best books (and best cake).
15) I learnt that one of the theories that the dinosaurs went extinct was allergies. Like, HAY FEVER (?!) So I hope you are all stashing nasal spray and antihistamine. With the rate of my sinus issues I'll be off to join the dinosaurs soon...wherever they are now. Probably partying on Pluto.
16) I have learnt to speak when there is something valuable to say. Think about what you want to convey before you attempt to convey it. Quality over quantity when it comes to words is important. The language we use can really impact others if we hold each word as sacred. There is lots of noise in this world, find the few words to cut through it and create more clarity.
17) I have learnt the exact amount of gin I can consume that won't lead to a devastating hangover. RESULT.
18) I have learnt that dungarees are universally the best item of clothing and everyone should own a pair
19) I have learnt that it is important to me to be generous to others - however you want to be. There is something very fulfilling about being kind. Making cups of tea or sending a loving text. Whatever it is. When people do small things for me I feel loved. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. I've learnt I don't need much from people to feel appreciated, but consistent small kindness is a great way to be good to those around you.
20) I've learnt a lot about the nature of inclusion and the nuance of the process of creating an inclusive society. I have learnt about where I sit within that as a young white woman. I have learnt that I am certain I want to continue to help others to understand the benefits of a diverse creative space. It's not something I do because it makes me look good or makes me feel less guilty about privilege. I do it because I have come to learn it is the only way to live a fuller existence and I don't intend to exist any other way.
21) I can wear pink and enjoy it...much to the dismay of my 15 year old self
22) I learnt that 'Brexit means Brexit' which means I didn't learn any f***ing thing at all
23) I learnt that I am more wasteful than I thought and need to be better at helping in small ways to save our poor planet
24) I have learnt that being a grumpy woman means sticking two fingers up to a society that LOVES to tell women to smile on cue. I have learnt that I call myself grumpy too often probably because I've always been called that since I was a kid. But I also know it sometimes acts as my superpower and allows me to operate in the world on my own terms. Grumpiness is a scale. We are all on it somewhere.
25) And finally, I have learnt that there are still a lot of things to learn. And that is so exciting. The prospect of absorbing and enriching myself with so much more experience and understanding of our world is what I am heading into 2019 with...
So there it all is...well some of it. I have also learnt that I have a love/hate relationship with humous. Which isn't life changing but is news to me.
Peace out 2018 xx