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Contemplating your purpose is normal

I don’t remember contemplating my purpose nearly as much as I’ve done recently. There’s a fine line between this and having a full blown existential crisis. Believe me, I’ve crossed the line a few times. This goes back to the original theme of my blog: am I just a speck of dust in this vast universe whose actions and decisions are meaningless? There’s so many of us, surely we can’t all be special. Therefore by definition, the vast majority of us are simply average.

Living for someone else

One of the things I’ve learnt in my late twenties is to relinquish control, or more realistic, the sense of control that I think I have. Because you see, when you think you don’t have control, you start to unravel. One of the things you definitely don’t have control over, is someone else. There’s so much to unpack here but essentially, we pair up with someone else with a mutual agreement that we’ll love, cherish and hold that person forever and forever amen. Or is it til death do us part? I’m not married, so I’ve no idea. But you can’t control that other person, and so if they wake up and change their minds, you’re f*cked, pardon my french.

Losing control

When this happened to me, I lost control over my life. I unravelled. It led me to start pondering what the purpose of my life was. Before, it was clear. My purpose was to live for this other someone. We would tick all the boxes of the rites of passage: buy a house, get married, have some kids, go on holidays and live happily ever after. My purpose was to be a girlfriend, then a wife, then a mother. I would spend my life devoted to this other purpose and to these kids. That for me, was winning at life.

So many questions

So I did lose everything. Including my sanity for a while. And when I finally resurfaced and was able to find happiness in myself, the questions started. What is the point of me? What have I done that I can call an achievement? Have I helped enough people? Am I doing enough now?

It’s okay to keep questioning

I’m still searching for my purpose but not as primary goal of life. I am accepting that living is enough. I find purpose in everyday life. The monotonous everyday is my purpose. I must live a life as humanly as I can. And for my own peace of mind, as kindly as I can. But it’s okay to keep asking yourself everyday if you’re living your life as you should. There’s no answer. It’s just a check we must do in order to keep track of everything. We self evaluate, and we improve. We refine our purpose, and we evolve.

Seasonal depression, seasonal sadness, winter blues, whatever you want to call it

It has begun.

From the nhs website: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter. Some people with SAD may have symptoms during the summer and feel better during the winter.

Every year since I was thirteen years old, I remember getting very low and sad in November. It was only 15 years later that I realised this wasn’t happening just to me. This is a common phenomena happening to millions of people. Let me describe my experience.

It happens after my birthday

My birthday is in mid October. I love having a day when everyone is nice to me. I get presents. My family cook my favourite food or we go out to eat. At that end of the day there’s cake. What’s not to love? I know not everyone enjoys their birthdays but for me, it still holds that childhood magic. I love the decorations, balloons, candles…the whole thing. I ride that high until the end of October, and then plunge into darkness.

I started noticing that November was alway a low month for me when I was 17. Before then, I didn’t piece together that out of the whole year, this would be the only time I would find myself retreating from socials, wanting to hide my body, crying myself to sleep at night. It’s like my thoughts themselves would change, turning moody and dark. My lens on the whole world would be clouded over. Everything was sad.

Once I noticed, the inevitable darkness was hard to escape.

I looked forward to my birthday but dreaded November. I tried everything to turn it into a ‘good month’: making plans for Christmas early, stick to an exercise plan, call it my mental health month where I took extra steps for self care. It didn’t work. November remained dark.

This continued for years. I forgot each time I came out of the other side. The promise of spring and summer would soothe my memories and I would promise myself that this year, November would stay happy. I would get through this winter without any issues.

What is actually happening?

The main cause of disorder is a lack of sunshine, leading to a lower production of melatonin, serotonin and a disruption in my circadian rhythm. It’s good to know the causes, but it doesn’t help. Well I could always ship off to a tropical island at the end of each October; Mauritius is great from November to February. But short of that, it seem I’m stuck having to brave November year to year.

What happens after November?

December is still dark and dreary but at least there’s Christmas activities to distract me. January brings the promise of a fresh start. February is when I start thinking of spring. And then there’s light.

An Average Day

There’s nothing special about my day. And that in itself is worthy of being noted. Every day life isn’t meant to be extraordinary. This doesn’t take away its value. It doesn’t take away its importance. The average day of an average human is boring. Nevertheless, an average boring day will make up the majority of our lives. Let’s live it.

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Work

There’s no escaping work. It takes up the majority of our day, awake for roughly 15 hours, working for about 8-9 hours of that pie chart. I wake up with work on my mind. How am I going to respond to an email I’m anticipating? My mind ticks and writes up lists of my tasks. Briefly I consider what I’ll have for lunch. Food is always on my day to day mind. Thankfully I have a job where I can switch off once I clock off. I try to not think about work outside of work hours. Nevertheless some thoughts creep through. Lately I find myself dreaming about work. Nothing bad, but one dream is still one too many.

Food

I think about food when I’m not thinking about work. I don’t eat breakfast but I like a milky coffee: latte or cappuccino would do me fine. It doesn’t even need to be caffeinated. I just like the comfort. I find food comforts me a lot these days. I eat lunch at 12:00. Work has a restaurant on site so for a subsidised amount I could get a cooked meal. However, I still opt for the sandwich, wrap or bagel option. It sits more easily and doesn’t make me sleepy. After lunch, I try to get in a 15 minute walk to fail again at getting my targeted 10k steps daily. I snack a lot in the evenings. Fruit, when I’m being good, crisps when I’m not. Hopefully it balances out. I don’t keep track anymore. It doesn’t bring peace. Dinner depends on my mood. Sometimes I can bring myself to mess up my tiny kitchen, dirty too many pots and pans, produce a meal that’s eaten too quickly to reflect the amount of washing up I have to do afterwards. Too often, we resort to ordering out, or if I plan ahead, stick some frozen oven food in for a quick and cheap meal.

TV

I’ve been meaning to swap this out for something more useful like reading or exercise. Maybe something creative. Do I need another hobby? Do I have enough hobbies? God knows. Every now and then, I spend my evenings productively but the average day finds me slumped in front of the tv, not daring to stimulate my brain anymore than needed. I call it Mental exhaustion. There’s so much stimulation throughout the day that I no longer want to engage in anything that requires thinking by the time I clock off work.

Is this it?

No, not really. There’s various interactions like going to the GP, picking up milk from the local shop, getting fuel – and crying at the extortionate prices. Most of all, there’s the interaction with loved ones. For me, my partner and my two budgies. I squeeze in weekly calls and texts to friends. Forgive me for having to put a reminder on my phone for it. It’s not that I don’t want to interact with them, not at all, but we all live busy lives (evidently TV watching takes up a lot of time) and that’s my way of making sure I stay in touch in this disconnected world. Does anyone do that? Of course we meet up every 2-3 months for a social and catch up. I have friends from different jobs so this keeps me fairly actively social throughout the year.

The part I always hate about my day is cleaning up. There seems to be an endless amount of laundry. Living in a flat with no garden means I hang up my drying clothes, and unfortunately usually forget they’re hanging until I need the space for the next load of washing. The kitchen never stays clean and free. Even stripping the bed is a whole calorie burn workout. I ponder how many hours of my life is spent cleaning. The task is never done, and that’s the average day.

The Average Woman

It’s easy to get lost in this world. We’re told ‘you can be anything you want to be’, and for me that meant I had to stand out. There was little happiness in this pursuit.

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Life is full of ups and downs. Back and forths. Change, change, change. And I suppose you don’t really know whether you lived a worthy life until the end. Then how are you supposed to know if you’re doing it right?

So you try to stand out. There’s no prize in being ordinary. Even when you’re trying to fit in, you’re supposed to bring something new and original to the table. No one likes a copycat. So you find yourself seeking a niche, something that makes you stand out. Not too much. We can’t draw attention too much or they’ll say we’re asking for trouble. Be intelligent and classy, even though we don’t get paid as much as our gender opposites who don’t come near to this description, in order to paid for those classy outfits and meals.

On that note, we must know how to cook, prep meals for a week in endless tupperwares, eat a decent portion because we’re not models, go to the gym and wear those tight crop tops and shaped leggings while doing dead lifts.

If you’re intelligent, ignorance isn’t an excuse. There’s no victory in failing to meet your expectations. You must fulfil your potential. Were you top of the class once upon a time in a village far away? You should be curing cancer in your thirties. Are you lucky enough to live in a first world country, in the capital of the land? You should be in a business suit, six inch heels, face airbrushed like a mannequin. Of course you should be drinking at the pub or club, all the cool girls are doing it, but you must take part in the next charity 10k run as well. You can’t be normal. You can’t be boring. You can’t be average.

I spent so long trying to fit this scene. What an unhappy scene. So much do, do, do. There was no time for anything. Even meditating was so that I could be mindful and manage the constant demands of life.

Average, is what I settled on. The state at which I could breathe. Average didn’t recognition. Not trying anything at all. Just living. Just get through life, in my little corner of the world, on my own terms within the society I am placed in.

Average is peace. Happiness. Contentment. There’s so much joy is accepting what I am. Living day to day. Finding happiness in everyday life.