December Blues

It’s always this time of the year when I, and I’m sure most of the population, get reflective. The strand days of limbo in between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, where we cling onto the end of one year whilst anticipating the start of a new one. For me, 2017 has been pretty crazy, with ups and downs alike – but, dare I say it, maybe a few more ups. I’ve had my final year of university, I graduated, I turned 21, successfully got through university whilst having a part-time job on the side, and at the end of the year I started a new job, which just happened to be my dream job.

I set myself a lot of goals for 2017, from reading and writing to university and other life achievements. In January I tried to set myself more personal goals; goals that were more internally focussed, concentrating on mental wellbeing. More specifically, how I think of and how I view myself, which ties in with my ‘On Being Happy’ series. With starting a new job, and especially with the festive season of parties and social atmospheres, it is something that is at the forefront of my mind.

I’ve spoken in the past about my ‘eternal anxiety of being liked’, and I think that’s something that I’m still dealing with every day. Of course, it wasn’t going to disappear after I blogged about it, and a part of me tries to keep things fresh here and not rehash old topics, but it’s an important one for me – which of course means that I feel like I should talk about it more. I constantly worry about whether people like me, often changing parts of my outward personality to fit the scenario and appeal to that audience. There’s always been a voice in my head that tells me that at my core I’m not likeable, which as a statement for anyone isn’t true at all, but nevertheless it’s a voice that stays within me. It’s like I’m trying to convince people that they can like me, and I worry that they will then discover they don’t actually like me. It so means that with a large portion of my friends I’m never able to be completely vulnerable, probably due to the fear that if I showed every part of me, they would turn me away.

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Again, I’m well aware that they would never, but it’s still something that plagues my mind. And this fear always surges up at this time of the year. Instead of a festive, jolly post, I thought it important to voice the fears and anxieties that plague my mind, in the hope that if anyone else has the same concerns, it might be of some comfort.

And so as we approach 2018, I once more try to make that goal to improve how my mind works – if such a thing can be achieved. It’s far easier to turn to the negative than the positive, and whilst it isn’t something that will be achieved in a day, week, month or even year, it’s something that I want to continue to work on.

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NanoWriMo ‘Wrap Up’

So. I won.

Yes, you heard me, I actually ‘won’ NaNoWriMo and managed to write 50,000 words in a single month. For those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, please check out my previous posts including this one here.

I first participated in NaNo two years ago, in which I reached 30k words (something I was very proud about). I started off really strong and kept to the word count every day, but it tapered off halfway through the month. After stressing out last year with dissertation and various essays, I decided to skip out doing NaNo and instead just tried to write a little more in that month. Ever since I’ve been itching to do it again, needing that extra drive and excuse to write write write. So, this year, I started off NaNo in high spirits with twitching fingers reading to write like I was running out of time (which I was) Hamilton style.

Like two years ago, I started out very strong and stuck to my word count, even going above it on some days. Feeling pretty smug about it, I was rather chuffed with how it was all working out. Instead of reading on the tube, I’d be typing away on my phone. On my breaks at work, I’d jot down some ideas, and my time at home was spent writing away. It’s very freeing writing for NaNo, knowing that it doesn’t matter whether it’s perfect or not, you just write as much as you can every single day. I know the vast majority of what I wrote will need serious editing, but I equally know that there are a few gems there. It helped me work out the plot of a story I’ve been thinking about for the better part of a year, and it’s the first time I’ve found that I didn’t need to forcibly stretch my plot to reach 50k. Instead, I feel like I’m only two thirds of the way through the book, and think it could easily reach 70,000 or even 80,000 words if I put my mind to it.

I talk a little about the benefits of NaNo over on my reading blog (which you can read here), mainly about how I’d been in such a reading slump and the break from reading meant that I felt revitalised when I could finally go back to it. NaNo showed me that it’s not about finding time to do something you love, but making time – something which I now know I can do, and really there are no excuses.

About mid-November, I was thrown way off track with NaNo due to some exciting things going on in my work life, which has resulted in me getting a new job! All very exciting, but it meant that on my day off I wrote something crazy like 5000 words just to get back on track.

Towards the end of November, I managed to keep up and even keep ahead at times, until finally on the last day I reached that elusive 50k, and couldn’t have felt prouder of myself. It was a great goal that I didn’t for a second think I’d reach, which only made the win even sweeter.

So even though I know what I wrote is mostly tripe, and may never see the light of day outside of my computer, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.