As the year comes to a close, the questions of what we value and who we want to be become more prominent. Time is a man-made construct, but we continue to measure ourselves against it, and when each year ends we look back and ask what we could have done better, who we could have been if we’d made different choices.
When I came back from Estonia in September, I gave myself a clean slate, as much as I could. At first, I wanted to erase every part of my history, cut my losses and reinvent myself completely. That wasn’t possible, and I spent about a month paralysed by indecision on how to move forward. I passed most of September by sitting on my sofa, watching 8 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy a day. I lost myself in the melodrama, the love stories, the sense of community. I found in fiction everything I lacked in my reality.
Something changed in October; I realised what I wanted. It wasn’t a clean slate, so much as a revision. I took a step back, observed, gave myself time and balance, learnt to take things slowly, rather than burning in the flames of my impulsive nature. My life has been quite the roller-coaster this year (let’s be real, when is it not?). In January I took a long, hard look at the woman I’d become, and I was not impressed. I dealt with this by listening to “I’m The Villain In My Own Story” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on repeat, and deciding goodness is relative. Months went by, and I realised I kept making the same mistakes, sabotaging different relationships for the same reasons. I began to change, learnt to hold myself accountable and accept my mistakes. I learnt to love myself in spite of my failure. The chaotic freedom of summer brought out a different side of me. I learnt to be angry, I learnt to stand up for myself without relying on passive-aggression. My time in Estonia was… an experience, and there was a lot of bad in amongst the good. But by the time I returned to the UK, I was the most valuable thing in my life. I didn’t find myself in Estonia; I built myself.
This semester has not been easy. I floated along through October, living in the moment and enjoying the progress I’d made. I was so grateful for the special people in my life, grateful to be studying a subject I love, grateful for the person I had become. November hit me like a giant metal tank falling from the sky. It crushed me completely. I got a job as a cleaner at a hotel, and it quickly became apparent that it was not what I bargained for. My “part-time” job had me working five days a week, whilst still being in full-time education, and having essay deadlines, and theatre rehearsals a few times a week. I got an average of 4 hours of sleep a night; my mental and physical health suffered.
I hate asking for help. I’ve built so many walls around myself this year that I still shudder at the thought of expressing vulnerability. I kept telling everyone I was fine because it was temporary; I was too prideful to quit. When I finally let a friend talk some sense into me, I could have cried with relief. Vulnerability is scary, but it’s better than the alternative. I quit my job, and I learnt to feel more like myself again. More than that, I learnt that it’s okay to admit I’m struggling, I learnt to be open with people again, after a year of closing myself off to avoid getting hurt.
As the month went on, things began to improve. I adopted a cat. Her name is Cinnamon (though I like to call her my precious Cinnamon roll), she’s a Scorpio sun and Sagittarius moon, and she is the love of my life. Having a cat changed me. Every day I come home to this tiny furry being that wants me and needs me. I hold her like a baby and she puts her little paws around my neck and hugs me. I can say “I adore you” ten times in a row and she doesn’t get weirded out by it (because she’s a cat and probably doesn’t understand human language).
I love love. I love romantic love, I love platonic love, I love human/pet love. For so long I thought I loved the idea of love because I wanted to feel like someone needs me, or I liked attention, etc. Lately I’ve realised it’s the reverse. Yes, I love being loved, but more than that, I love loving. I feel most like myself when I have people to care for. Not in a codependent way. I have worked hard to not lose myself in other people. I used to think love was an oblivion to hide from the world in. Nowadays I think love is like a vessel in the shape of an infinity sign, a pouring of energy that always comes back around and balances out. Some days you give more than you get, but the love and support finds its way back to you in the end. When Cinnamon stares into my eyes with her intense Scorpio stare (yes astrology is real for cats, I will fight you on this), I can see how much she loves me. This strange little animal–a different species to me–loves me as much as I love her, and my life is so much better for having her in it.
As you may have gathered from the fact I’ve mentioned my cat’s star sign twice in this blog, I’m really into astrology (read my post about moon signs if you want to learn more). Looking back at the past few months, I can see how each astrological season mirrored the themes of my life. During Libra season, I sought out balance, I stopped flip-flopping back-and-forth between extremes, and learnt that progress doesn’t come from impulsivity, it comes from dealing with the options in front of you. Scorpio season was intense; it broke me down until I was at my rawest, lowest point, and I resurrected like a phoenix. I built myself up again. I found my power, my values, my identity. During Scorpio season I found clarity amidst the confusion, and I was no longer afraid of the things I wanted. I knew what was meant for me. It’s Sagittarius season now, and the biggest lesson I’m learning is to have faith.
I found the light at the end of the tunnel, but I am still walking towards it. I know what I want, I know where I’m going, and I have to trust that it will be there when I reach it. In three weeks from now, it will be Capricorn season. Where Sagittarius is about luck and faith and shooting for the stars, Capricorn is about building something real and lasting, laying down a solid foundation. I hope the final month of this year allows me to make my dreams a reality.
December is a month of dreams and deadlines. I used to feel like I was running out of time, but this year I’ve learnt that everything has its moment. Rushing things only ruins them. It’s important to work hard for what you value, but that work simply plants the seed. You have to give it time to ripen.
In 8 days from now, a dream I have worked towards for a long time is becoming a reality. I am publishing my novel The Purest Form of Chaos. It’s taken me seven years to turn it into something I am proud of. I’ve been working on this novel for a third of my life; it is my truest love, my oldest friend. I’m ready to take a leap of faith and put it out into the world. I used to be scared of people reading it, but I’m no longer afraid. I released the cover on social media in the middle of Monday night, and when I woke up yesterday morning I had received so many kind words of support and praise. I felt this warm glowy feeling that told me I was exactly where I am meant to be. This is the life I want for myself, this is who I’m meant to be. Being a writer is my identity, my blogs and poetry are how I process things, for better or worse. But writing novels is my destiny, it is my purpose in the world. Most things in life are a choice, but there are a handful of things I know so deep in my gut are meant for me that I could never not choose them. Writing novels is one of those things.
I can’t wait for people to read my novel. I’m so excited to see how my readers interpret the story, which characters they like best, what they expect to happen in the sequel. When The Purest Form of Chaos existed as its earlier manifestation, Consequence, it was the first book in a trilogy. I’m rewriting the series, but The Purest Form of Chaos will be the only book that follows the same basic plot. My current plans are to combine elements of the 2nd and 3rd books, and steer the series in a different direction than I intended when I first wrote it. I’m not afraid to annihilate my writing, I have no desire to tell the same stories now that I told at 14. I look forward to writing the second book, to starting afresh and writing something new.
The Purest Form of Chaos comes out on 12th December 2019, and will soon be available to buy in print from my website, and as an ebook on Amazon.