Bad Luck and Gratitude

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A couple of days ago I was planning to write a blog about gratitude, and yesterday I was going to write a blog about how I think I’m cursed. That pretty much summarises how I’ve felt since I returned from travelling. On the one hand, I see life through a different lens than I did before, and I have a renewed gratitude for my life and the people in it. But I have also had a seemingly-endless stream of bad luck these past couple of months, and no matter what I do I have been unable to change my situation.

As I sat in my Film & Television Studies lecture this morning – half-asleep because the nearest café was out of soy milk, so I hadn’t been able to get my morning coffee (I told you I’m cursed!) – I tried to reconcile my feelings of gratitude from two days ago, with my consistent experience of bad luck. Perhaps it’s a cliché to say that you can’t see the light without the dark, but that’s the only perspective I can choose that doesn’t make me want to cry.

A large chunk of my bad luck has been related to my search for a flat. I’ve been looking since March, and I still haven’t found somewhere. I have tried looking with other people, I’m now trying to find somewhere on my own, and no matter what the situation, it always seems to fall through. Whether it’s losing £100 in agency fees only to have your application rejected, or being told you can have a flat and getting a rejection email the next day, or turning up to a viewing only to find out the flat’s already been taken, the bad luck stays consistent. Thankfully I have friends who are letting me live with them temporarily, and I am so grateful for that. Which I guess proves my point that the bad shows you the good.

It’s shown me just how far I’ve come, that I have friends who look out for me, who trust me enough to let me live with them. A little over a year ago, I didn’t have friends at all. So this is proof that things get better.

Some situations are harder to see the good in. For example, Bad Luck Situation No.2. This is a simple tale of Girl Meets Boy:
Girl meets Boy, Girl gets crush on Boy (Girl is pretty sure Boy isn’t into her, but men are complicated creatures, so Girl can’t be sure, and she’s probably *slightly* in denial about her inevitable heartbreak). Girl plans to ask out Boy. Girl finds out she’s never going to see Boy again, because Boy isn’t returning to Glasgow. Girl has the super smart idea of sending Boy a message telling him how she feels. Boy reads Girl’s message, and never responds to it. Two weeks pass, and Boy has still not responded. Girl realises that she really needs to get a life.

It may not seem like that (toootally fictional) story has a happy ending. How could it? All it does is continue Girl’s constant narrative of rejection, and make her feel very miserable. Certainly for the first week afterward, Girl was very sad. She knew Boy probably didn’t feel the same way, and she knew he had a history of taking several days to reply to messages, so she hadn’t expected him to respond any time soon. But she didn’t expect him to ignore her message entirely. Girl is used to dealing with rejection, and she is used to coming to terms with it. But it’s different when stories are left open-ended, when there are so many unanswered questions.

Today, two weeks since Girl sent that message, I realised that maybe the story had a happy ending after all.

I had a lot of crushes last year. Okay, four. Which if you divide it evenly between the nine months I was at uni, isn’t actually all that many. But three of them were in a very short space of time, and hence Eliza the Serial Crusher is a running joke amongst my friends. From January through to two weeks ago, I have not had any time where I didn’t have a crush on someone. Which isn’t exactly healthy.

Especially when, in retrospect, 3 out of 4 times, I liked my idea of the person rather than the person themselves. Crush no.4 was the only one where I felt like it wasn’t just the idea of the person I liked. But hey, retrospect is a funny thing. Now I can say I probably did only like the idea of him. I still really like them as a person (I’d like them a whole lot more if they hadn’t ignored my message), and I still think they’re very attractive. But one of the important lessons I’ve learned lately is that I can have attractive male friends WITHOUT getting a crush on them. Yes, it took me over a year to learn this.

I began to wonder what it says about me that I always have this need to focus my hopes on someone else. If you ask Drunk Eliza, she would say “I just have so much love to give, and no one wants it”, which is both true and untrue. I’m a very loving person, and when I’m comfortable with people I’m extremely affectionate. I do have a lot of love to give. But as for the “no one wants it”? Lots of people want to be loved. I’m so lucky to have so many friends. So I have to admit, Drunk Eliza is wrong on this one.

The other day, I had this realisation that I’m basically a thirteen-year-old. I’ve never been on a date, yet I get lots of stupid crushes, and I can get drunk on half a cider. If that doesn’t make me a thirteen-year-old, I don’t know what does. But I don’t want to be a thirteen-year-old. I’m three months away from twenty, I need to grow up. But I don’t know how. Whenever I try to change, life gets in the way.

I have been trying to be a better version of myself since I returned from Europe. I’ve tried to be more mindful, I’ve listened to guided meditations, read books on spirituality, ate healthily, stopped drinking coffee for a few days… I even meditated once. You can’t say I didn’t try.

But I don’t want to be a trier, I want to be a doer. I don’t know who I am when I don’t have a goal to focus on, something in the future to look forward to. Perhaps that’s why I get so many crushes, because it gives me a goal of sorts, something I can hope for. But it’s false hope, every time. Goals which are dependent on other people are never going to end well. Because free will, ya know? People can’t help who they’re attracted to. I can’t help being attracted to pretty European boys, and pretty European boys can’t help the fact they’re not attracted to me. It’s life, and even when it hurts, I can accept it. But acceptance isn’t enough: I also have to learn from it.

So it’s time to learn. For the first time in more months than I’d like to count, I don’t have a crush on anyone. I’m out of my comfort zone. And even if I hug my male friends a few times too many when I’m drunk, there’s no one I know who I am likely to develop a crush on any time soon. Maybe this means I’m maturing! (Or that I haven’t met any pretty European guys recently…) All I know is that now is the time to grow. I can break free of the pattern I’ve lived in for the past year, and I can find goals which I can control. I can focus on tangible things, such as editing my novel. I can invest my hopes and energy into something worthwhile. I can learn to be the best version of myself, and who knows, maybe I’ll meet someone when I’m not looking. And if not, then that’s okay too.

I need to stop hoping for another person to fill the emptiness I feel within myself. That emptiness has been there since I went travelling, and maybe a part of it will always be there. Spending two months alone felt a little too much like staring into the abyss, and that’s something I have to come to terms with. Perhaps I, the person who spends most of the time craving their own company, is afraid of being alone. I need to work through that fear. I need to find a strong and stable (Theresa May has ruined that phrase for me!) sense of self, and that’s way more important than finding someone else.

That is why I believe the story has a happy ending, because Boy’s rejection means that Girl can focus on finding herself. And that’s the ultimate happy ending.

However, it’s not the ending of this blog, because I got massively distracted from my original point. So, back to gratitude and the fact that I’m possibly cursed, and how the long detour down the road of my briefly broken heart relates to that… In a way, I’m grateful for how things turned out. Admittedly, I would have been a lot happier if things had ended differently, but it was a situation where I had no control. By the time I sent that message, I knew I was never going to see him again anyway. And I had this extremely strong intuition telling me I had to tell him how I felt, because I would regret it if I didn’t.

I don’t know what I expected, but I think my intuition was looking out for me. I wasn’t supposed to tell him in order for him to respond, I was supposed to tell him so that I could move on. When I saw him in July, I knew he didn’t like me in the way I liked him. Yet I didn’t give up, because I’m stubborn and naïve and really bad at situations like this. I don’t have strong enough self-worth to know when to walk away from hopeless situations. But now I do… After a week of feeling sorry for myself, I thought “Fuck this!”, and from then on I have been actively trying to move on from the whole thing, and forget about it. I love and respect myself enough not to waste my life dwelling on a past I can’t change.

I am the first to admit I’ve had a ridiculous amount of bad luck lately, but I am also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Until the reasons reveal themselves, all I can do is be grateful for the good in my life, for my loving friends who keep me sane, and be as happy as I can. I can’t move forward if I don’t surrender to the growing pains. I pray my luck will soon turn around. But until then, I surrender, with gratitude.

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