Living alone is painful.

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I have lived alone for the majority of the time I have been out of university, around 8 years. I once lived with a friend for a while in Hong Kong and with a guy whilst I rented out a room in his house.

I thought I was good at it. I’d hear people talking about their partner going away for a night or two and how they wouldn’t be able to stay at home alone. Now, I’m not that bad, but I am beginning to realise just how much living alone effects me.

My partner and I have just come back from a holiday away as well as a few weeks when we were both off work. During this time he lived here with me in my apartment. Things had a purpose. I washed up because we needed new dishes, I tidied so we could eat or work or play uno. He also picked up the pieces if I felt ill or tired and vice versa.

After a week of constant contact, he returned home, about an hour away. As soon as he left, my body seemed to stop functioning. I lay on my bed being inhaled by social media and by the time he’d got back I hadn’t moved. The last few days have mirrored this. I’ve begun to tell him that life doesn’t make sense without him. This hurts my sense of independence.

I have always been able to get on with life and have never needed someone by my side to do anything. I’ve travelled alone, flown alone long haul and moved to a new country. As I think more, I realise that the same thing has been happening for a while now. If I have something to do, I’ll be able to function, go along have a laugh, but I return home and life stops again. I’ve spent holidays sleeping through days and finding myself unable to cope with my own space. I used to sleep through weekends, fuelled by my hectic schedule, but it was more than that. I knew I needed time off work, but when I had it, I couldn’t find the energy to do the things I had wanted to, alone. I would return to work unable to properly explain what I’d done in the last 7 days and it made me so sad.

It’s true if my schedule is full, this becomes easier as I fill in the gaps with housework, errands and cooking. Having another person with me means the world makes a lot more sense. Whenever he’s here I find myself ‘pottering’, going around the apartment and sorting little things I hadn’t before, almost wasting my time with him.

Thinking about it, life has never made sense without someone. For years I have longed for a companion. I have found friends who I’d spend long periods of time with, go to events with and do the things you’d do with a partner as two singles who want to just bloody go to that fun new activity. Everyone I sought this friendship with grew wary of my presence. There’s always been remarks about how we’re ‘spending a lot of time together’ and how there ‘must be something else going on’. It’s unfair really, to assume things like that of people. It was most likely too much for them to handle, after all I needed someone to be there for me. No one was invested in keeping me sane!

I don’t think it’s to do with my partner that I say these things to him. I am independent with and without him and I know a lot about the world, but my mental health is poor and being alone has really stirred that up.

I always seem to write on here just before an ‘episode’ where I’ll have a period of depression or a worsening of my anxiety. Perhaps that’s also what drives the feeling of loss I suffer when people leave. I can get upset very easily at the thought of him not being here. It does show however that I truly believe him to be worthy of companion status, perhaps a little more than that and it’s been so wonderful to have someone who finally has wanted to take on that role, without shame or question. I’ve found a good egg. I still find myself trying not to put all my problems and emotions onto him though. I’ve learnt that it’s best to share it around with friends and family too. It gives each person a chance to have their own life too as such. The next time you talk to them after a small break, they’re ready to listen again.

Living alone is still shit though.

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A Year Today…

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A year ago today I was flying back from Hong Kong, having spent a few days in Dubai. It came up on my feed as these things do and it got me thinking. What’s changed and is it for better or worse?

Work
Having got away from my work colleague and entered a freelance life I’m much happier with my work. I managed to get funding for a project I created and bid for myself. I put hard work in and got rewarded for it. Though I don’t have a full time job at the moment, I tend to be happier whilst working. It gives me more time for creativity and quality rather than quantity.

Relationships
I now talk with my Mum again and have somehow forged a new type of relationship with her. I can tell her things I never would have before and I like that. Friendships have blossomed and shrivelled that I never thought would, that’s something I didn’t expect, but often for the better. The friends I have are strong and loyal and I love them to pieces. My boyfriend, that’s something I never would have happened. This month we’ll have been together 6 months and I’m truly very happy at the moment. I feel like I’ve found someone who gets me, we’re taking it very slow and we’re very different people, but together we’re supportive of one another and I love that. I’ve fallen out with my brother and had a true heart to heart with my sister for the first time in my life.

Travel and Dreams
I haven’t set foot on an aeroplane since I got back to the UK. This is one of the saddest things that I am forever thinking about. I said when I got back I would put away money especially for holidays and travel, but I never got the chance. Since last August I’ve not even made enough money to be taxed, but I’ve kept myself afloat. My new dream is to have a narrowboat, intentioned as a home I could move around the country in the case of my job moving, somewhere I could call home and feel like I owned something. This dream has turned into the idea of some kind of tiny home, but all these ideas come with notions of loans I won’t be given by a bank anytime soon. My instagram posts are a mile away from the asia content it once was.

Stability
In Hong Kong I felt transient, like I was going to leave any minute. My flat felt lifeless as I bought furniture for necessity rather than to make it a home for myself. Since being back I’ve gone from being ready to move somewhere else with a job any minute to just wanting to stay in Birmingham. Finding a relief in setting roots for a while. This is only an option if I work for it though and it may be that things do change, I get a job I would love to take on somewhere else, but there are other things like friends, family and now a boyfriend to consider.

My anxiety
I have gone from lessoning my medication, to difficulties breathing, panic attacks, changing my medication cold turkey, having insane withdrawal effects I was not ready or warned of and the eventual addition to my dose which sees me where I am today. It’s scared me and contented me on and off. I still feel anxiety at points but more physically than psychologically. I look at my life now and know for certain there are so many things I can now do that I wouldn’t have been able to before. Long car journeys, early morning without nausea, a positive energy that has returned to my demeanour and a heart ready to invite others in.

Looking back
I attended the wedding of a friend from Hong Kong last month and had the most wonderful time. When I left, I cried, I cried for all the things about Hong Kong that I’d missed, I cried for all the people I left behind in Hong Kong that I loved dearly and I cried for the trapped human I was there. It was hard to describe to my friends and many didn’t understand. That’s something that you’re forever unable to explain to people. I mourn the loss of Hong Kong every day, but it’s not the reason I would go back, I thought deeply about my move and overall I feel happy with the decisions I made.

In review
ON January 1st this year I posted this tweet:Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 7.37.38 PM

From this list, I can say that I am truly on my way to succeeding in my aims. I also have found a moment of calm in what has always been a rollercoaster of events and location, it’s nice to find a steady moment of me time. I needed that.

The future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera!

A Letter to Myself.

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Dear N,

Remember who you were in Hong Kong. Remember that confident and resilient woman you were. Remember the friends you made and the people you now cherish.

I know England is hard for you right now, because life has become hard for you right now. There’s a certain way you used to be in Birmingham which effects who you are right now. But that’s the old you, that’s not who you’ve become. Embrace England with a fiery passion in your belly and a kind spirit.

Noone knows your personality like you do. You’re hilarious, witty (sometimes) and altogether kind. Remember that. Be that person you want to be, smile at strangers, be kind to the people around you and live life to the fullest. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in or who’s around you. Do this next step for you. Make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt and love yourself ever the more for it.

Remember people don’t know what you’re thinking. Ask for help when you need it and take notice of what’s going on around you. Be┬áthe strongest you, you want to be.

You know you don’t always love yourself. In fact often it’s quite the opposite, but the only way you can get through this is to be true to yourself. Use everything you learnt and be the traveller N. Right now there’s not much difference between you and her. Take that as an opportunity.

It won’t always be easy to read this letter without crying your eyes out or wishing you didn’t exist, but remember it’s always here. To care for you on the dark days and lift your spirits on the bright ones.

You need a new start and that all happens with you. Sit and write those applications and tell them everything you love about yourself, about how when you’re working with Young People you can’t think of anything else you want to do in your life. They make you happy, they give you life and without them you don’t have that. So get it.

Now, stop reading and get on with your life. Live it, to the full.

Best wishes,

N

Everything’s about to Change.

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It’s a few months away yet, but I have made the decision to leave Hong Kong. There’s just not the breadth of opportunity I need here when it comes to my career and I have known that for a while. It’s time to return to the UK or to find somewhere else to call my home, at least for the time being.

I’m not scared of the move, I’m starting to save money and look at the posts that are coming up and if I’d be suitable for them. It’s hard though to go from a full time job to something I can’t really plan for. I’m starting to make my CV look good and think about who I am and how I can present myself. Think about my USP etc.

An anxious mind is not what I need in this situation and for the most part i’m doing good. As I mentioned before my anxiety is near to nothing which means I can take these steps without feeling like I’m doing anything wrong. So far it feels like the right move. I’ve told my work and I’ve told my friends, even my Mum and that’s huge! Now I just have to survive the next couple of months.

It’s funny you know, now I’m in my late twenties, I should have this shit down. I’m the person with 3 years experience, a breadth of knowledge and experiences under my belt. But will they want me? I now have everything that a few years ago I wasn’t getting anywhere because I lacked it. This is a forgotten moment in any person’s life.

Theoretically I should have a family, a house, a car and a pension building up…so far that’s not the case. You know what though, I feel like I’ve lived, if only for 3 years, I’ve explored, I’ve sought new worlds and new experiences that not a lot of other people have. There’s no engagement ring on my finger, but you know what? There’s time for all of that, I still feel like a teenager when I look at other people ‘adulting’ but I feel like my mind is more rounded. My perception clear and my body ready for this next chapter.

“Adulting isn’t all it’s made up to be anyway”