My laptop crashed tonight. I’m writing this blog on it, so obviously it wasn’t fatal. But it took an hour to reboot, and kept coming up with error messages. I spent the first half of that hour hoping it would sort itself out, and the second half scrambling about on my bedroom floor looking inside every box and bag and drawer for the hard drive reboot disk. I didn’t find the disk; my laptop’s battery died and that was enough to solve the problem. What I did find during this search, was a whole hoard of random junk that I have absolutely no need for: theatre tickets from when I was 16, books I never read and have no intention of reading, coat hangers that don’t fit in my wardrobe, old receipts, and empty boxes.
The main point I took from this was that I need to declutter my room. The reason I don’t is because I’m overly sentimental and don’t know where to draw the line. I have kept twenty years’ worth of birthday cards. I never look at them, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. I have movie tickets from four years ago, that I definitely will throw out. I have so much stuff I don’t need, stored in spaces where I don’t see it, and it kind of feels like a metaphor for my brain.
I am a cruel master. I force myself to wake up at 5:30 every morning, write three pages in my diary, and go to the gym. My theory was that this would tire me out enough to get me to go to bed early. So far, this hasn’t happened. I average somewhere between five and six hours of sleep per night, and I spend my days yawning and drinking copious amounts of coffee. This morning, as I lay shivering and trying to write in my diary, my mind kept drifting off to far-distant yet familiar places, and it took me an hour to write my three pages, when it usually takes me thirty minutes.
My sleepy brain was like “I want a hug” and I reminisced through every good hug or show of affection I’ve had in recent months, then I started thinking of every nice thing people have said to me lately. Amongst all this, my eyes kept drooping shut and I’d drift in and out of sleep, still holding my pen in my hand, trying to write in my diary. My mind was a catalogue of movie scenes from my own life, playing images of the people who remind me what it feels like to be loved.
Many of these were taken out of context though. As usual, I looked through my rosy glasses, and clung on to moments that time has proven to be meaningless. And if not meaningless, lacking in the meaning I ascribed to them. Yet they still claw their way into my mind in those hours before daybreak, and take hold of my sleepy heart when my defenses are down.
I realised tonight that my brain is like my bedroom. At first glance, everything is neatly ordered, fitted into boxes and shelves. The walls are decorated with posters and postcards, little keepsakes to tell you who I am. If you look closer, you see the bin is overflowing, random books and papers are lying around, and for some reason there are shoes everywhere.
I give myself the illusion of control. I have a routine, I force myself into productivity. But at the end of the day I’m a sentimental mess of a human who never knows when to let go.
I cling to my ideas of the past or the future, and I forget the context surrounding them. I have changed so much in the past weeks, let alone the past year. I hold on to the wants and needs of ghosts of Eliza past, because I don’t know what present Eliza wants. My priorities have changed, and I’ve blossomed (or withered, depending how you look at it) into this new person who is so much closer to my true self than I ever was before.
I didn’t get to this point by accident, I got here by letting go of people I couldn’t trust and things that no longer served me. I learnt what my values were, and I changed in accordance. I’m no longer “nice”, and I’m more vocal about my opinions and beliefs. I no longer force connections, or hide parts of myself to please people.
In some ways, I am the same Eliza I have always been. If I love you, I will love you with my whole heart, I will try to understand you even if we’re on completely different wavelengths, and I will love you at your best and worst. I am a devoted friend, I am kind and caring, I listen and I give advice, just as I always have. The difference is I am now more selective about whom I trust, and whom I invest my time in.
So far, third year has been hectic and dramatic and downright bizarre. All the things I thought I could rely on were illusions, and I had to rebuild from the ground up. I still don’t know if my foundations are solid. Everything is temporary, and the rocks I cling to may one day be swept up by the stormy sea. I am slowly but surely purging everything stagnant or unreliable from my life, and I trust that each new beginning is a sign I’m on the right path.
I’ve felt really lonely lately, for a number of reasons. Part of it is just the way my mind is, as well as the fact two of my friends are abroad this year, and other friends of mine have graduated and moved away. Because of this, my social circle has become smaller than it once was. A part of me started to believe this was just meant to be one of those years that acts as a bridge to the next, the kind of year that is spent waiting for life to begin again. I know it’s not true, because the drama factory of my life has been all systems go since mid August. This is a year of constant change, but the lesson I’ve learnt this week is that once you get rid of the old, you’ll make space for the new, and life will surprise you.
I’ve felt insecure about making new friends this year. There’s a part of me that’s convinced I’m unlikable, and once you add in the fact I’m super introverted and rather anxious around new people, you can understand why I’d be nervous about my ability to make friends.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about friendship, it’s that you can’t force it.
The thing all my close friendships have in common was that they were people who caught my attention, people who stood out somehow, and made me want to put in the effort. One of my friends is someone I felt comfortable around right from the start, which almost never happened for me, because anxiety. Because of this, I knew I wanted him to be my friend, and Drunk Eliza (my alter ego who both causes and solves all my problems) simply said to him “we’re friends now” and 13 months later we are still friends. I trusted my instincts about him, and I was right.
There were other friends I clicked with automatically, and some I took a while to warm to, but they were all people who stood out early on, people I knew would be significant in my life somehow.
In spite of my nervousness this year, I did make a new friend, and words can’t describe how happy I am. It taught me to trust my instincts again. When you’re around people who are good for you, you feel different, you don’t have to force anything. There is something so beautiful about meeting someone who understands the parts of you that other people can’t comprehend.
I am someone who likes to have more than one close friend, mostly because I like having multiple people to gossip with, but also because I need different friends for different parts of me. I have a friend who I can tell each one of my mundane thoughts to, who I can sit with in class, rant about climate change and the patriarchy with, drink excessive amounts of coffee with; I have another friend that I can talk about anything with, a friend who’s known me since my first night in Glasgow, and has seen me change so much in the past two years; and I have a friend who can bring me back down to earth when I lose my head in the clouds, a friend who sees through every mask I wear, a friend who has tolerated so much of the worst of me and who I only want to give the best of me.
And now I’ve made a new friend, a friend who is similar to me in so many ways, and it brings this sense of validation I’ve never felt before. I no longer feel like this crazy alien, because there’s another person in the world who understands my obsession with love, and my creepy internet stalking habits, my craving for people to tell me I’m important, my desire to write about my feelings and post them on the internet. I don’t have to try to be likeable, being myself seems to be enough.
When something is right for you, you feel it. It brings a new perspective to the things or people in your life that don’t feel quite right, the situations you’re still forcing. I find it hard to let things go, and I am learning that I need to. I don’t want to be surrounded by people or situations that are the equivalent of four-year-old movie tickets lying in a drawer in my bedroom. Once you clear out the clutter, you make more space for the things that do belong.
I don’t want to live a life crowded with stagnant people who litter my mind like old receipts litter the hidden corners of my room. I only have time for people who makes me feel loved, people who help me grow, people who make me feel like I’m not alone in the world.
Maybe my brain is more like my laptop than my bedroom. Every so often, my laptop asks me to schedule a time for an update. I postpone it, because it’s inconvenient, The message comes up again, I postpone again, and again. Until one day, my laptop can’t take it anymore. I go to turn it on, and it comes up with an error message, telling me to reboot the hard drive. Then I spend an hour trying to figure out if it’s permanently broken, or if I just need to wait for the battery to die.
The error messages in my brain are more like repeating patterns, resurfacing wounds, vivid dreams — anything to show me that something’s not quite right. They’re screaming “upgrade your life!” and I ignore them, because removing people and things is inconvenient, and usually involves a lot of hard work or emotional labour. The error messages continue, and I’m like “lalalalalalala I can’t hear you!” Then the system crashes, and I’m pressing the power button over and over, taking out the battery as if it will solve the problem. Then I give up, I walk away, let it do its thing. I have faith that everything will be okay. The battery dies, I plug it in again, and it finally gets the system updates it’s been begging for. If I’m lucky, it even restores my tabs when it’s done.
It’s easy to put off making changes in life, letting go of the old, climbing to a newer level. But change is inevitable, and you can only postpone it so long before it blows up in your face. When this happens, you have a choice: you can press down on every button in anger, or you can give the situation time, and wait for events to unfold at their own pace. Sometimes life, and laptops, can surprise you, and when the reboots and updates are complete, you’ll see that all is not lost.