How I’m making 2024 last longer

 

Photo by Daniel Buckle on Unsplash

Happy new year! It’s still appropriate to say that, right?

January is grey and bleak. You’re broke, fat, depressed, and severely conscious of how far away you are from whatever goals you set 365 days ago, and the 365 before that. You can’t fathom where the entire previous year went; it all feels like a blur that passed you by far too quickly, and you’re desperate to go back in time to savour each and every minute you let waste away. But you can’t.

Cue the blues.

This is a feeling that, sadly, escapes almost none of us. No matter how fully you have lived, no matter how happy you are with how you spent the year, you’re always left with that gut-punching feeling of time is slipping from me. It’s painfully obvious that there’s only one solution to this, because unfortunately nobody has come into possession of Bernard’s watch:

Make the decision to live slowly and more consciously.

You can’t go back and relive those precious days, but you can do something with your newfound self-awareness. I like to think I do this already, but, in my desperate attempt, I actually end up doing the opposite.

My mind is always going at a thousand miles an hour and I wring my days dry until I’ve squeezed out every minute. The result is that I don’t feel like I’ve truly been living; I’ve simply ticked a lot of boxes off my to-do lists. In trying to be productive every day, I’ve ultimately made a full time job out of living in which I must fill a quota in order to be satisfied with how my day went. Wake up. Go to the gym. Go to work. Read this many pages. Go to the park on that day. These days don’t add up to a successful period of living: they are confined to what they are, which is a day of robotically doing things I pencilled in just to feel like I am making use of my time. I need to stop clocking in and out of my life and just live.

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash.

I am obsessed with poring over my calendar to make sure every waking minute is filled with useful things — but I don’t want to just have useful days. Those aren’t memorable. Reading and writing and a hundred walks through Richmond Park are not memorable; it is not the act itself that we remember, but the memories we attach to them. It’s the lessons in strength and perseverance that hundreds of characters have displayed in varying ways, it’s learning how to get our thoughts down on paper in creative ways, it’s when we stepped ankle deep in mud to get close to the deer and had to put our shoes into plastic bags before getting into my car. My point is, you should be living life and relishing both the ups and downs rather than letting it pass you by.

The way you do this will be personal to you. You should know how to ground yourself, you will know what makes you feel present and alive. It doesn’t have to be something monumental; it could be as small as sitting outside for ten minutes a day or as big as spending a weekend swimming in the ocean every month.

For me, it is the following:

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On Making the Most of Winter

Despite the incessant moaning and groaning of English Folk (read: Londoners, mostly) on the odd super cold day, I actually feel like winter has been quite forgiving so far this year. In fact, I admit I’ve woken up some mornings saying ‘Hey. You know what? I could go for a walk today because it’s so crisp and delicious outside!’ And, though my nose feels like an ice cube, I am content. I seem to have foregone the usual bout of SAD this year, though I’m unsure if that’s partly because of my recovery time off work.

Nevertheless, winter, to me, is a time for doing almost nothing outdoors except the bare minimum. Yes, the Christmas markets are up and running, enticing us to leave our cosy homes for promises of a bustling, vibrant atmosphere that includes Mariah Carey playing much too loudly on a speaker nobody can locate and a £7 hot chocolate that we could have made at home without being sardine-packed on the Piccadilly Line. But what else is there to do outside this cute, expensive little activity?

There is many a festive menu across all restaurants, and enough limited martinis that now have a generous sprinkling of icing sugar snow dusted on the side of the glass. We’re being reminded that, actually, there is a lot to leave your house for, guilted into staying indoors instead of venturing into the cold. It’s December and I haven’t even been to any Christmas markets! Or the outdoor ice-rink! I haven’t been to see a single flashing light and I’ve missed Winter Wonderland, a heaving extortionate waste of time that I now have to pay and queue up for!

So anyway, I’ve thought about the winter goals I have that don’t necessarily mean doing festive things because, truly, I very much enjoy the weather that forces me to stay indoors. What a shame, I can’t go outside, it’s raining. Damn it. Actually, I’m blissfully happy laying in bed with the lightbulb red, asking Alexa to play metal while I write, so I can really feel like I’m in a dungeon. Can’t do that when it’s sunny at 8pm.

I would, on a normal day, like to have some mulled wine and chestnuts, but it’s not something I’m going to pen down and venture into the crap weather and ginormous crowds for; don’t get me started on Christmas crowds because I’m exhausted just thinking about them. There are plenty of indoor and introspective goals to be achieved in Winter, especially for an introverted dopamine-chasing hermit who absolutely loves their own company and will look for any excuse to stay indoors.

Here are my five winter goals. Let me know if you have any of your own that I can draw inspiration from!

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The definitive guide to becoming burnt out

Is the relentless rat-race becoming too easy for you? Do you need to shake things up a bit, take things up a notch, show that you really love to face challenges? If full blown exhaustion is your goal, follow these eight steps to make sure you really empty the tank of all it has!


  1. Set aside some time to plan your work week on Sunday

What better way to make sure you’re ready for the work week than to go through all of your work tasks before you actually start? If you say no to spending time with family on Sunday, you can use your free, unpaid time off (of which you have two days – plenty!) to get a head start and make sure you’re raring to go at 9am the next day! Surely you can’t expect that planning for work would be part of your work hours?

  1. Say yes to absolutely everything

Can you take on this task? And that task? And this task is too much for your co-worker, can you help, even though you are drowning under the weight of your own task list? Of course you can! If you don’t have time to do it, simply find the time. If you want to be a good employee, you must say yes to everything before someone else does. You might not be compensated, but at least you can look in the mirror and say you did it! Read more

I think I’m here, therefore I’m here(?)


Or whatever Descartes said.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I have found myself drawn more to the throwaway simplicity of Substack; my creative (?) thoughts are sporadic and I have a very short attention span, even when it’s for myself. When I lay down at night, I jump from memory, to thought, to scene two in that same thought, to scene three, back to scene one to find out how else it could have played out, to a different thought altogether, to a horrible scenario that I hope will never happen but I’m now prepared for in case it does. Long blog posts don’t really do it for me, and I know they don’t really do it for anyone else, either. I talk about things succinctly (but often), I think about things forever and then write about them succinctly (I hope) (but often). Other times, there is waffle.

This is one of those times.

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t been writing anything over the past couple of weeks because I’ve had fake nails on. I don’t know how you were expecting that sentence to end, but I know it wasn’t like that – maybe you expected simple writer’s block, being bogged down with work, a crisis in the family. And all of those things are true, but, for a writer, not nearly as debilitating as having long nails that prevent you from typing efficiently on the horrible flat butterfly keys of a 2015 Macbook that just won’t die. Let’s not tempt fate now, though, because, being older and closer to real adult life, I can’t afford my Macbook to die on me the same way I could when I was 19 and didn’t want to think about the future. I used to look into the future and see a black screen because, as far as I was concerned, I should have been dead already and anything that was to happen after that is a miracle in itself. Maybe miracle is the wrong word. Now, I look into the future and I panic because I wasted so much time being dead inside that I now have so much catching up to do; now, I look into the future and it’s not just about me – now, I see the white picket fence. Not really a white picket fence because, living in London, I know a small Tesco lorry will probably back into it and ruin everything. Maybe a big, strong, robust wall. And some barbed wire. And lots of CCTV and gates and deadlocks. Maybe a rottweiler.

I digress. But it’s also a nice illustration of how my thought process works. I get antsy, I can’t sit still. I get anxious, I get frustrated, I don’t know how to be calm. I am, quite simply, all over the place, all the time.

But sometimes, all the chaos must come to a stop and I am nowhere.

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Solitude – What’s the Big Deal?

To be alone, or to be lonely. There’s power in it… somewhere.


Happy Monday.

The phenomenon of the long weekend gives me a feeling of pure bliss… but once those few days are over, I realise it shouldn’t be normal to feel this much excitement at the thought of having a couple of days off work. So I end the weekend angry as hell. Slaving away shouldn’t be the norm –  I don’t want this to be my life, because living for the weekend is one of the things that reels my depression back in every time it feels like running away from me. Not so fast, we have work tomorrow! But, alas. I spent the Bank Holiday weekend on such a high, that being alone and back in reality right now just consists of me trying to pick up the pieces of myself after going splat on the floor. To be dropped from such a height is soul-shattering, and resuming normality is a long, painful process.

I’m one of the many people who has always loved my own company. The libraries, the lone cinema trips, the late nights with movies and a blank word document, the early morning sunrises with coffee shops and books. I’m always ecstatic at the prospect of having a few days to collect myself and bring myself back up to date with my life; maybe it’s the anxiety, but I need time to reconvene with my thoughts. I need to nurse my mind and cleanse my energy, to pluck off the remnants of the work-week and start brand new. ‘I’d get bored if I didn’t have work’ doesn’t apply to me, and I think you’re either attention-seeking, boring, or lacking in substance if you say such things. Probably all three. I have things to do, hobbies to engage in, plans to kickstart; so if you were to offer me three weeks off work, fully paid, I’m snapping it up without complaint because there is so much to be done. Everybody who complained about being bored on furlough deserves a kick in the face, I hate you all. I could check myself into a hotel for weeks on end and come out a much better person than I was before I went in. Either that or dead. Tomayto, tomahto.

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Clocks Go Forward


We all felt how violently that hour lurched forward, right? We all heard the big ‘fuck you and fuck your sleep’ in the sixty seconds between 00:59 and 02:00, right?

Daylight Savings, the horrible spoon of thick medicine we all needed, the forceful push into British Summertime as we had an hour thieved from us. The quintessential sign that summer is just around the corner, regardless of the fact that it’s horrible and grey outside, that we were plagued with torrential rain just the other day.

Today I woke up to the sun shining through my window, ate way too much brunch way too late, and sank into the sofa for an incredibly tense, nail-biting race. The first race of the 2021 Formula 1 season: the Bahrain GP. I saw Nikita Mazepin spin out on his first ever F1 lap, I watched Verstappen relentlessly fight like the charging bull he is, failing to snap first place back from the king himself, all whilst being gifted with little fiery battles between some of my favourite drivers. It was a great end to a horrible week, taking it from an almost-2 to a strong 9. There is a special place in my heart for Formula 1; I’ve always known I love the sport in the decade-plus that I’ve followed it, but I really sat there, after the first race of the season, and thought about how it feels like a void has been filled. Is that sad? It’s quite sad, isn’t it?

Credit: @MercedesAMGF1 on Twitter

No, it isn’t.

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