How happy are you right now on a scale of 1-10? There are SO many reasons why we don’t always feel on the upper end of that scale- work, family, friends, relationships, failure, loss, loneliness. So many.
I was going to wait to write this post in a couple of months’ time. But the more I think about it and the more the scribbles in my notebook mount up I realised that actually the timing is great because I need to write this and take it all on board myself.
Over the last few weeks and months a few people have mentioned to me that I seem a bit distant and that I sound a bit sad, I was also asked why I was so MIA on Instagram, which I think is a bit weird.
There’s so many discussions about how our lives aren’t honestly represented on social media and I think this is true, up to a point. Only YOU choose to share what you put out there. I’m also a firm believer that if you’re feeling a certain way, or not feeling a certain way, why lie about it? You should be able to communicate what’s going on inside, and as a photographer and a creative I think this is what I do. A lot has changed recently, not just in terms of where I live and work but also in my personal life too. It’s not always easy to post smiling photos when you actually feel like crap, so why do it?
You should be able to reflect how you think and feel in your own way and you have the right to do so. Equally no one wants to see some form of Britney Spears-style break down all over their feed, and you should have more self-respect than to do this. There’s already too much pseudo-profound bullshit out there without sharing some meaningless quote pasted over an image of rainbow. I think it’s funny how people judge you on social media. Maybe my tone has just changed recently, but whatever it is I’ve definitely had a few comments, which kinda got me thinking.
It appears I’m going through some weird transitional phase in my life. In September I moved to London. Away from my friends, family, horse, and the little comfortable life I’d got going on. To say it’s been odd is an understatement.I’m trapped in some kind of limbo right now and if I’m honest I’m not really sure what the hell I’m doing and I’m struggling with how to deal with it.I think when you’re in your thirties you feel like you should have your shit together, and I sort of thought I had. If you haven’t it’s a horrible feeling. Mentally I went from feeling like I knew where I was heading to suddenly BOOM everything changed. Change can be a good thing. It was welcomed, and needed. I think unfortunately along the line I just lost my way.
I’ve been taking photos and making loads of notes of things ever since I moved here. When I started to write this post I’d found a photo on my phone. It was taken not long after I’d moved to London. I was at such a low point. I think everything had hit me all at once. I was miserable, had no home (that’s another story and too boring and complicated for words), I felt lonely, isolated and just didn’t feel like me. Anyway, I was sitting in a car letting the tears roll and decided that I never wanted to feel like this again. I took the photo and it’s just awful. It’s so sad and I’ll never show it to anyone, why would I? It’s not an attention thing but I kept it for me and for what it means. It was like a landmark. I’d spent weeks trying to blame everything around me- work, circumstances, and people, for how I felt and I got to this point and thought fuck it. I don’t want to feel like this. No one should. But we all will and we all do at times. It’s crazy how in this city of sirens, surrounded by almost 9 million people, I’d never felt more alone.
I’ve seen first hand people get into a REALLY bad place mentally and I never want to get like that. Feeling low is such a downward spiral and it’s so easy to just keep falling. I was talking to one of my best friends recently. I said I shouldn’t complain- on paper my life is GOOD. I have a decent job, I live in nice flat in a gorgeous area, I have a boyfriend, lovely friends, etc etc blah blah blah. She said that was rubbish. Yes there’s some awful shit going on in the world but that doesn’t mean you lose the right feel down when you’re struggling. Everything is relative. It’s so hard to feel happy and grateful when you just feel plain crap. Sometimes it IS insignificant and you have to metaphorically slap yourself around the face and remind yourself of this.
That’s why I took the photo. Basically to remind myself to get a bloody grip. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve not had any big revelations yet and there certainly wont be any ‘Transformation Tuesday’ posts from me, but I did make a vow then to do all I could to stop feeling like that. Which is why I started writing this.
I love writing. It’s so therapeutic. I always kept a journal when I was younger and now I always make notes- I have a bazillion voice notes, scribbles and photos all over the shop. If I can help myself feel better, maybe I can share this with other people too. Including the person in my life who needs it more than me. I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life. I have a great support network and it’s important to not lose sight of this. Any change is tough and adapting to change can be hard. Especially if you go somewhere expecting it to be a certain way and it’s not (FYI London is mental). But these are the things I’m doing to get back on track, and I hope they help you too.
Firstly the best way to just happier in general is to remember all the good stuff you have and just be grateful for everything. I’ve listened to loads of podcasts and Tedtalks recently and one that really resonated with me was a talk by Brother David Steindl-Rast (which you can watch here)
Appreciating what you have goes a long way in putting a smile on your face.
GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA
I read somewhere that Instagram makes you feels bad about yourself and Twitter makes you feel bad about the world. This is so true. If you’re not feeling great social media is the WORST. I know people who are OBSESSED with it. Like addicted obsessed. If I’m honest the ‘Explore’ section on my Insta feed makes me want to vom sometimes. Also what the hell do I look at for these ‘videos you may like’ to be suggested!??
It’s impossible to have a realistic perception of anyone’s life through Instagram and we’ve all fallen down the rabbit hole of looking at stuff we shouldn’t or things that’ll make us feel crap. Block that shizzle and follow accounts of things you’re interested in instead. Get inspired rather than sad.
Step away and rather than looking at it just live it. I went on holiday recently and didn’t post a thing (apart from a horse photo obvs). It’s pretty liberating to not stare at that illuminated brick all the time.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
This is hard one for me at the moment. I’ve given up a hobby I’ve been doing since I was 7 now I’m in London. I still have my horse but he’s retired now and he’s not up the road anymore. Yes there are stables in London, but it’s not as easy when you live miles away from them. Plus I don’t just want to be plodding around a school, when really I want to be galloping across a field! When you have a hobby you’re part of a community, its like family. I miss that so much. As I’ve not had an actual home since the end of July any kind of permanent gym membership has gone out of the window too, which is killer as I used to be there four mornings a week.
My point is whatever your situation, get a hobby! Do what makes you happy- gigs, films, theatre, whatever. Just get out and do it- even if it’s on your own. It’s another way to meet new people. I’m fortunate in that London has a bazillion classes. If I want to learn to be a fire-breathing pole dancer I can…
It’s so good for your soul. Even if it’s not abroad book a train ticket, go and visit that person you’ve been banging on about for ages, or just jump in your car and drive somewhere different. There’s so much to see out there and travelling to new places is an instant mood-lifter.
You can’t escape the fact exercise makes you feel good about yourself. You don’t need to join a gym or be an athlete. Dance, run, walk. Whatever. I used to always do this before work and it genuinely set me up for the day. I never had the energy after work and I get home so late now. Get up and get it done. You’ll never regret a work out. The feeling during a run can be torture. The feeling AFTER a run is glorious.
ONE FOR THE GIRLS
This is something I’m looking into at the moment- if you use the pill, implant, patch etc then do you actually know what you’re putting into your body? I changed mine a while ago and I swear the week before a period I have two days where I just want to hide from the world and cry into my Soreen. I swear when I wasn’t taking it I was happier, and possibly slimmer, but my mood was definitely different. Maybe this was relationship related but if you’re feeling low and stuffing yourself full of hormones this surely can’t be good. Make a note of how you feel and when. Then have a think about the alternative. My gorgeous BFF did a video on this, which you can check out here (TalkBeckyTalk).
IT’S DOWN TO YOU
Don’t rely on other people to make you happy. Find your own happy. The cliches are cliches because they are true- you’ll never be happy with someone else if you can’t be happy on your own. I’m definitely guilty of looking to other people for this. I moved to London to be with someone I love, but I’d hate for one second for them to feel responsible for my happiness. We were talking about this the other day how we both had a weird feeling when I found out I’d got a job here. If you’re making changes think really hard about them and why you’re doing it. Listen to your gut instinct.
Last year when I returned from Australia I genuinely thought my next move would be abroad, it’s a weird old life but it’s also short so make the most of it.
Steer clear of thinking ‘things will be better when X happens…’ they WONT nothing will change. It’s still your mind set just different circumstances, so do something about it.
Don’t always be looking forwards for something else to happen in order to act- have things to look forwards TO, but don’t be waiting for shit to happen. It won’t unless you make a change.
We all need friends and loved ones for support but at the end it’s down to you.
Whether you own your on place or you’re at uni make your space a little cosy haven you’ll enjoy being in. There’s no place like home after all, so you want it to be a happy one. Fill it with photos of anything that makes you happy, keep it tidy and clutter free and just make a space you’ll be happy to come back to every day. I can’t wait to have a more permanent residence, living out of suitcases and boxes for four months sucks. I’m so fortunate to live in such a lovely place now but it’s not my belongings that surround me and I have no control over what I can bring here. Roll on the move in November!
This is quite new to me but something I now absolutely adore. Total and utter escapism, expanding mind and imagination. It took me four years to finish Eat, Prey, Love. In comparrison I’ve just read four books in three months. Not only does it make a smelly commute beneath an armpit more bearable but it keeps me away from emails and ALL the social media. If you can’t be arsed to read listen to a good podcast or audio book. Any recommendations send them my way!
Make a banging playlist. I had an amazing nostalgic drive home the other week singing my heart out (alone luckily) to all the tunes I used to love. Music is medicine for sure.
I recently bought a little notepad and started writing down all the things that make me happy, even basic things. The stuff I love, things that I want to do, shoots I want to try etc. In a nutshell anything that made me happy. Making notes and actually planning things inspires me to do them more. Getting things out of my head and onto paper feels awesome. I’ve written out shoot ideas and projects to work on. If you have a blog or just love photography get a load of people together and go and shoot some stuff. I miss my crazy Wolfpack in Nottingham and Leicester, we’d just set up random shoots and get cracking. It’s a lot easier to shoot when you have someone with you, so grab a pal and try something different. Get some smoke grenades, go somewhere random, or set up some random props. I’m definitely the Instagram husband in my relationship. My camera roll speaks volumes about my life at the moment, it’s just pictures of my boyfriend on his own and stupid memes! Writing and photography has always been a passion project for me, and that’s the kind of shizzle that makes me happy. If you’ve got all your ideas on paper you’ll always have stuff to work on when you have the time.
I’ve written this post mainly for me, as a little reminder of what I need to do. Hopefully it’ll help other people too. Sometimes, even when you think you’ve got your shit together you’ll realise you haven’t, but that’s the joy of life- who knows what’s going to happen. Everything is an opportunity and we all have to make the best of what we have. Work out what’s making you sad and change it. This doesn’t really work if you’re grieving but you can still find so many ways to find a smile. Hitting a rock-bottom sadness makes it all the sweeter when you realise how far you’ve come when you reach the other side.