Who, What, Where, Why, How

Who, What, Where, Why, How

While everyone I know is making jokes about how epically they failed to live up to their New Year’s Resolutions for 2015 or bragging about their achievements, I’m feeling quietly smug that I decided to forego more traditional resolutions in favour of asking myself a few very important questions about myself:

Am I who, what and where I want to be? If not, why? How can I change things so that I am?

(Admittedly, I did set myself a bunch of goals, and I’m pretty sure I failed at all of them. I did read like 230 books, far exceeding my Goodreads goal of 75, though, so I’m counting that as a victory. And I started writing book reviews, etc etc.)

Now, in a typical New Year’s Eve blogging activity, I’m going to try and answer those questions.

Who

Am I who I want to be? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I want to be someone who is strong, emotionally and physically, and I know that I’m not. I want to have confidence in my sense of identity. In other words, I want to know who I am — and I don’t feel like I do. I know myself better than I did a year ago, perhaps, but that’s not saying much. And while there have been some moments this year where I’ve looked in the mirror and liked what I saw, identified with what I saw… sometimes I feel so out of place in my own skin that I want to claw it off and become someone else. Charming.

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What

I’ve been having a crisis lately about my writing. I haven’t achieved my goal of finding an agent — I’ve barely even tried, instead giving up and returning to editing (again). I haven’t published any more poetry, and while on Christmas Eve somebody bought Crossroads Poetry, that was the first book I’d sold since a single copy of Broken Body Fragile Heart in June. Which is a long way from my goal of selling maybe two per month. I get it, there’s no money in poetry, but it’s kind of hard to keep believing in myself when all I can see is something that strongly resembles failure.

I also didn’t write much in the way of novels, even edits. So I’m not feeling much like the writer I’ve been trying to be since I was eight.

All the artsy library selfies in the world can't make up for not actually writing anything.
All the artsy library selfies in the world can’t make up for not actually writing anything.

Where

Sometimes, Cambridge is wonderful. Beautiful gardens, interesting shops, and people who understand my passions, not to mention a dozen different opportunities to be creative. But sometimes, I want nothing more than to drop out, go home or to a different university, and leave that whole world behind.

I never wanted to go to Oxbridge — it was only when I realised I wanted to do Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic that I even started thinking about applying to Cambridge. I didn’t want the pressure and the inferiority complex that being surrounded by clever people would surely give me. With my health, physical and mental, there are a dozen extra hurdles to jump over. And there’ve been points this year when I’ve felt that ASNaC wasn’t worth it.

Honestly? I think the answer to where is ‘no’. But I don’t know where I’d rather be. Several times this year I wrote in my journal that I don’t know what I want, but this isn’t it. However, I’ve decided to stick with it. I was helping with interviews in December and seeing all the applicants reminded me how much I wanted this when I applied. How desperate I was to get in. Maybe this will be the year my health gets better enough for me to actually enjoy things.

I managed to cycle to and from ballet a handful of times, but it took a lot out of me.
I managed to cycle to and from ballet a handful of times, but it took a lot out of me.

Why

My health’s been the biggest barrier this year, but unlike previous years, it’s been more a case of mental rather than physical health. That said, I’ve had a lot of fatigue issues, so they haven’t helped. I’ve been constantly struggling to overcome despair or apathy in order to find something approximating positivity and motivation. So to a certain extent, these questions have been outside of my control. I can’t be who I want to be while my brain is waging war on my emotions. I can’t do what I want to do when I’m struggling to see the point in getting out of bed.

How

Like I said, it’s not always something I can control. I’m adjusting my meds. I’m taking vitamin D. I’m hoping to get a daylight lamp in the near future to combat what I think may be mild SAD. I’m hoping that being gluten-free will eventually start to have a positive impact — currently I don’t feel any better, and I can’t eat any of my favourite foods to cheer me up, either. I want to beat these problems once and for all.

Can I do it? I have no idea.

I occasionally look badass, but actually I am a small, timid beastie.
I occasionally look badass, but actually I am a small, timid beastie.

But while this year may not have been the best year of my life, largely because of my health here are some things I did achieve.

  • Resurrected my book blog and reviewed a whole load of books, some of them pre-publication.
  • Read over 230 books throughout the year, some of them very long.
  • Wrote a bunch of short stories for NaNoWriMo and posted them online.
  • Went to Aberdeen with Charley, my first holiday away without any supervision. (We got lost a lot.)
  • Did Adulty things like voting in my first General Election, phoning the bank all by myself, and earning a bit of money here and there.
  • Dyed my hair four different colours and finally began to like certain aspects of my appearance.
  • Performed in Coppelia with the Cambridge Ballet Club — and got a role as one of Tybalt’s henchmen in our upcoming production of Romeo & Juliet (this February).
  • Didn’t fail my first year of university (in fact, did better than I expected).
  • Worked for seven weeks in a library and gained a huge amount of confidence in my abilities and decision making, even if dealing with students was difficult.
  • Had consistently higher blog stats than last year, despite irregular posting.
  • Survived.
And, perhaps most importantly, befriended my friend's cats.
And, perhaps most importantly, befriended my friend’s cats.

How was your 2015? Any resolutions for 2016? I might post about mine in a couple of days (when I’ve actually thought of them) — I’ll see you on the other side.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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