I’ve been having a rough few weeks, truth be told. I’ve not really told anybody about it. It didn’t seem like something I wanted to talk about really. I didn’t know how to talk about it. Or even if there was anything to talk about either. Turns out there wasn’t, which is good. Great in fact.
I found a lump in my boob (I can’t say breast, it sounds too much like “nurse speak” and makes me think of those grey, plastic-looking things that pass for chicken in Tesco), but luckily it turned out to be nothing more than a cyst.
It’s great that I’m OK and obviously I’m thrlled and relieved and chuffed and thankful and all that jazz. It does make you think though. I’ve had more than a wee bit of an existential crisis, I guess.
I started questioning where I am in my life, where I want to be, what’s working for me and what’s not. On top of everything else, all this thinking was quite overwhelming. Very overwhelming in fact. But out of all of the head-fuckery came some level of enlightenment, I guess. Or rather, I allowed myself to think about the things that I wouldn’t normally. Consider the options I had previously thought out of reach. Face up to the things that I’ve been frightened or unwilling to think of.
When faced with your own mortality suddenly everything feels achievable. Small. Possible.
What have I learned from having the shit scared right out me? What have I decided to change? A few things, I guess.
Check yourself and don’t be such a fucking wuss about going to the Dr.
Whether it’s a mole, a lump, a rash, some burny pee, just stop being such a baby and get it checked. Yes it might be bad. But it might not be. And if it is, then better for it to be a little bad thing, and not a big one. No excuses.
Just. Fucking. Do. It.
Don’t take your health for granted.
It’s almost the same as point number 1, yes. But more than that, look after yourself on a greater scale. I’m a wee bit of a porker at the moment (not helped by the comfort eating I’ve been doing over the last few weeks) and it’s time I sorted it out once and for all.
I’ve used the money from my lecturing gig and bought a brand new bike so I can finally start commuting to work in a way that’s going to lessen the size of my arse rather than enlarge it, and get me fitter. Whatever you enjoy doing, just get moving. Even a little bit. Life’s too short to sit on your arse the whole time.
Don’t take your mental health for granted either.
Do not hide from the things that are frightening you. You can’t run away from your life. You can’t block out the things that are nagging away at you. That shit follows you.
Think of it as someone knocking on a door. They might knock politely at first, waiting for you to answer. You don’t, so they knock a little louder. Then louder still. And the longer you ignore them the worse it gets until they kick the door down to make you pay them some attention.
That’s what goes on in your head when you ignore how you’re feeling. Sooner or later those feelings will knock down the door/wall you put up to stop them and then you’re in trouble. So pay them some attention. Look after yourself. Look out for yourself. And ask for help if you need it.
Get rid of the things that don’t make you happy and make more time for the things that do.
Whether it’s a job, people, furniture, social media… anything, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not making you smile or giving you pleasure then get rid of it. Be ruthless. Be selfish. Be honest with yourself. But get rid.
William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your house that you know not to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Apply that to your life – it it’s not working for you it has no place in your life. Removing the bad will make room for something good.
Surround yourself with people that love you (and that you love in return)
It might sound trite, but a lot of this post does and I don’t care, but having people that care about you, on the good days and the shitty days, whether you’re a joy to be around or you’re being a total c*nt, is invaluable.
Go out of your way to spend time with the ones that matter. Visit them, call them, Skype them, email them, whatever. Just make some time for them. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel a million times better about pretty much everything. Every time.
There’s nothing like a proper belly laugh with someone that means the world to you to make your day a brilliant one, regardless of whatever shite it’s thrown at you beforehand. So go and get yourself some more belly laughs – also, I firmly believe that belly laughs tone up your stomach muscles so, y’know, maybe do it to get some rock hard abs too (I am not guaranteeing that you get rock hard abs by the way. Please don’t sue me.)
Stop being a bleeding martyr, that’s shit’s pathetic and annoying
If you have a problem, tackle it or shut the fuck up about it. Don’t piss and moan about the things that are wrong with your life and do nothing to make it better. A happier life is not going to land in your lap because the world owes you a happy life. It doesn’t. It owes you nothing. Not a thing.
You make your own happiness.
Listen to TuPac, he might have been a total dickhead in a myriad ways, but he said this and I have to agree with him…
Don’t allow yourself to stagnate
Just as constantly focussing on the problems you think you have stops you from living your life, so does just going with the status quo. Think about how you can be better. Life is about learning all the time.
In 1562, when he was 87, Michaelangelo scribbled, “ancora imparo” in the margins of a sketch. It means, “Still I learn”. If someone as talented and skilled as a veritable genius can still think he’s learning when he’s almost 90, you can bet you still are.
Embrace that. Be open to it. Look for it and push yourself.
Think about the things that you’ve always wanted to do and go and do them. The things you’ve always said you don’t have the time, money, intelligence for. Try and find a way. No, I don’t mean selling your body in return for some salsa classes. But how about a skills swap? For me, I’m going to learn more Chinese with a view to becoming fluent in a year or two.
And I’m going on a Hyper Island course in October that also kind of scares me – it will be FULL of really talented brains from the industry so I’ll need to push myself. It’s going to be challenging but I can’t wait.
That brings me on to the final thing…
Do something that scares you
You know that feeling when you have adrenaline rushing right around your body and you feel more alert, alive and enthusiastic than normal? Find ways to get that feeling in your life more often. Big or small do something that scares you. Make yourself feel alive!
Face your fear, whatever it might be that’s holding you back from going for what you want. The hardest part is to take the leap of faith and know that it will all be OK. It absolutely will be OK. Bollocks to security and doing the next thing that’s expected of you. Do the thing that you want to do, deep down inside. And FUCK the begrudgers and the naysayers. Nothing is really irrevocable.
I’m doing a relatively small thing, although it still terrifies me, as I start lecturing next month. And I’m kind of planning a bigger adventure, but that’s going to take a lot more thinking and planning (and bravery) before I share it with you here, but I’m working on it.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve learned while I’ve been freaking the fuck out over the last few weeks or so. What life lessons have you learned? Leave them in the comments below and share them…