Obviously lots of things have caused me stress over the last couple of years; university, job hunting, working, moving home etc. but I've managed to track it all back to one day. My 20th birthday. It was actually a really good day. I was woken up by all my flat mates and my boyfriend, who had bought me presents and cards and cake. One of the cards from my flatmates had a very long message in it, that described all of our fantastic memories together. At the end was the line 'don't ever change'.
At the time I'd only just got together with my boyfriend, who I'm still with, and who was my first serious relationship. My friends, although they may have tried to be, weren't very supportive. I felt a constant pressure to not change, and I was so conscious of it I began to forget what I was trying to maintain. I was trying so hard to be myself that I lost sight of who I really was. I wanted to continue to be the person described in that birthday card. I started to think that I could not be who I was, simply because I had a boyfriend. I began to think that I was defined by my relationship status, and because that had changed, I was no longer me.
That really got me down. I loved my boyfriend, and I still do. But it was that that meant I had changed, it was having a boyfriend that lost me all my friends, the person I had been and the life I had had. That wasn't how it was supposed to be. But I loved him. And so I sank into a deep dark depression that I could see no way out of.
Last month, I read Yes Man by Danny Wallace. It's a really good book, and everybody experiencing anxiety or depression should read it. Many people say it is a life changing book. Not for me. It reminded me of who I was, and who I could continue to be. I began to remember that the reason I'd been so carefree was not because I was single and had no ties to other people, but because I embraced life. I wanted to do everything. That was my motto. Whenever somebody suggested doing something, trying something, I always said yes. Because I wanted to do it. My anxiety was on a back burner because I didn't think about how a situation may unfold, I just did it.
That's the person I was. That's what allowed me to have all of those crazy adventures my friend described in that birthday card. Everybody thought I was great because I was single. But that's crap. I was great because I embraced life and adventure.
So, I'm trying to embrace life again. I'm going to do everything. No, I don't have a single life goal to do with my career of having a family. That's never who I was. I want to do everything. Try everything once (within reason - I'm not about to murder someone!).
And it may be a complete coincidence, but since finishing Yes Man, I have signed up for Race for Life, been given a free weekend ticket to the Isle of Wight Festival, had my first advert published in a national newspaper, and been given a free ticket to Twickenham for England v Ireland in the 6 Nations, (which turned out to be one of the best days of my life) among lots of other lovely things.
I don't care if that's a coincidence. I reckon it's a sign. I'm going to be me again.