Hello again my dears!
I hope you won’t see the title of this post and think I’m about to have a rant about how wonderful I am. On the contrary, today’s mutterings are brought to a screen near you by the overwhelming sense that I am of no use to anyone.
I know how whiny that sounds. I’m cringing just looking at it…
Poor, delicate little me! My existence as a healthy, white, straight, educated, financially supported young woman is so awfully burdensome!
I’ll be honest – I’ve sat in front of my laptop for the last hour deciding if I should even publish this post, because I am so scared of sounding like a pathetic, whining little girl. But I would be lying if I said my privileged status was enough to make me feel like I matter in the world, and I want to discuss why that is. So here goes.
Six months ago, my grandmother passed away. I was on the other side of the planet, waiting tables in a rowdy pub on the bank of the Thames, when I got the message from my dad saying she only had a couple of hours left. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried into my apron, overwhelmed by how very far away I was. She died later that night, and the main emotion that poured out of me was panic. I had done absolutely nothing for her to be proud of. I had had twenty-two years to make some contribution to the world for her to witness, and I had failed miserably.
She was proud of my sister, I knew that. An academic stand-out, an intrepid world-traveler, a volunteer in Vietnam, a capable athlete, a hard worker – my sister is all of these things. She was proud of my brother, I knew that too. An amazingly talented musician, an actor, a singer, a scholarship winner, a natural sportsman – my brother is all these and more. But what about me? I’ve never topped a class or mastered an instrument, and you can thank your lucky stars you haven’t seen me on a sports field because it is physically painful to watch. The only goal I ever scored for my football team was in our own net, true story. How could she possibly have been proud of me? I grieved for the loss of my grandmother, but also, selfishly, for the lost opportunity to make her proud. Somehow, her passing made me even more aware of how little I have contributed to the planet.
I don’t know why, but today I woke up thinking of her, and those feelings of panic came crashing back. I spent the day feeling utterly inadequate. Like the most tiny, boring, useless waste of space on the planet. Like if I died right this minute, the world would thank me for freeing up space for a better, more useful human. I cried secretly in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, and again while browsing the pasta varieties. I put my dirty lunch dishes in the oven because I was too busy feeling rotten to distinguish it from the dishwasher. Safely concealed in my room, I cried again.
It took me until this evening to realise that these feelings had been smuggled in by an unwanted visitor.
Being the bully that it is, Depression had barged into my brain, shoved away all of the positive aspects of me, and plonked itself down, centre-stage. It had reached into its pockets and pulled out fistfuls of hateful, hurtful messages, then flung them about like sadistic confetti until there was no way I could sweep them all up. Most cunning of all, Depression had done this last night while I slept, so by the time I woke up the mess was already too big to contain. My mind was in a shambles before I’d even had breakfast.
Now that I am sitting here typing, the logical chunk of brain which managed to dodge Depression’s latest attack has crept to the surface. This chunk tells me that my feelings earlier on were not my fault, and that despite what Depression told me, some people actually like having me in the universe. This chunk tells me to make the most of the logical headspace I am currently in, and write about today’s upheaval so that others may benefit from it. So that is what I am doing. Basically, I want to reiterate what I have said in a previous post, which is
Your feelings are NOT you.
They are visitors in your head – sometimes welcome, sometimes not – but they are NOT you. You are NOT defined by your feelings. I am not inadequate, boring, or worthless, even if my feelings disagree. My grandma was undoubtedly proud of me, even if my feelings try to convince me otherwise. From now on, I am going to write in my notebook one thing per day that is good about me. I am going to compile a list of things that I like about myself, which I will recite to Depression over and over again the next time it stomps into my brain unannounced. With any luck, it’ll get bored and scuttle away to sulk.
So, I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to include the first thing on my list in this post! What I would absolutely love is if you could comment one thing that you like about YOU. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. It could be “I have a nice smile” or “I bake a kick-ass banana cake.” It could be “I’m good at Pictionary” or “I recycle.” It could be “I can sing the Arabic alphabet backwards whilst juggling baby penguins with my eyes closed. On a unicycle. And the unicycle is on fire. And surrounded by angry, man-eating adult penguins who are pissed off that their babies are being juggled.” You know, just little things! The title of this post is about celebrating the tiny, mighty things that make us worth being on this planet. I know you all have something about you that makes the world better, so if you feel like sharing please do! I promise I won’t think you’re boasting. Here’s mine:
1. I am kind.
I know that this one tiny thing is true, no matter what state I am in. And if one person has benefited from my kindness, then my life is worth it.
Thank you for reading my waffling today! I am so grateful for all of you and one thing is certain: MY world is better with you in it.
All my love as always,