I believe in miracles and “meant to be”, and that the position of the planets at the time we were born can tell us who we are as a person. In spite of this, I am a massive cynic. I flip-flop between “this is a sign!” and nihilistic rants about how everything is meaningless and humans are a plague on this Earth. I was never good at being just one thing, I am two (or more) people battling for control of one body and one mind. Some days it makes me fickle and indecisive, contradictory and controversial, a walking juxtaposition masquerading as a person. Other days it just makes me sad. A vast chasm lies between where I am, and where I want to be, though the gap lessens every day.
On Friday night I lay awake in bed, slightly drunk. I stared at the wolf tapestry that hangs beside my bed, looking into its eyes in the glow of city lights that streamed through my window. I had been at a social event, and found it near impossible to socialise. Small talk doesn’t come naturally to me. On good days I am passable at it, I can go through the motions without failing miserably. On bad days, I am paralysed by fear of my own ineptitude, frozen into silence. I had had the week from hell, so I was closer to the latter. I was ashamed of myself, I wished I could be “normal,” rather than the shrinking-violet-who-comes-across-as-a-stuckup-arsehole that I am. I wished to be better, I wished to grow out of this part of myself that feels like a lifelong battle.
That was when it hit me: I am twenty years old. You’re probably wondering how this information escaped me for so long. How did it take me 20 years to realise I am 20? I have always been old beyond my years; my inner child is 45. I’ve never been scared of getting older, it’s something I craved. Words cannot describe my joy at turning twenty, to finally be free of my teenage years. I live in the past and the future, and often forget the here and now. Amidst my reflection on what might have been, and my longing for what could be, I forget that I am still young. I am a quarter of the way through my life (or two thirds, if climate change destroys the planet in 12 years. On that note, read my blog about how to combat this: http://elizaserenarobinson.com/apocalypse-cow-is-veganism-the-solution-to-climate-change/ ). I have so many friends left to meet, so many novels left to write, so many emotionally-and-geographically-unavailable men left to get unrequited crushes on.
On Saturday I went to the city centre to meet a friend for coffee. My brain was in this weird space I go to sometimes, where I’m not quite in the real world. As we walked down Sauchiehall street, accordion music drifted into my ears, and swept me away to another time and another place. In this hazy corner of my mind, I could see a different city, a different Eliza, a different life. Maybe it was simply that I am unused to hearing accordions in Glasgow, as most buskers play bagpipes. Whether it was my overactive imagination or a sense of my real future, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is what I took from it: I am not limited by where I am right now.
Later on I wandered through the city center alone. I walked through alleyways I’d never explored, meandered across bridges, and stared into the depth of the dark grey River Clyde, overcome by this sense that Glasgow is not where I’ll spend my life. I love this city, and it has been a home to me in ways no other place has. This was the city where I met myself, where I met the friends who became my chosen family, where I loved and lost and was reborn. Glasgow will always be the place my heart calls home, but I know I will leave once I graduate. We outgrow places in the same way we outgrow people, and I can already feel myself outgrowing Glasgow. I need more than this city, more than the experiences I have had here.
There is a part of me that will always want to run away, not out of fear, but out of curiosity. I want to live in a foreign country and learn a foreign language, maybe marry a foreign man. I have spent my life feeling like an alien, constantly in search of my home people, my home planet. The cynic in me knows I can’t find that in another person or another country, that it’s something I have to find within myself. And I have, I am my own home in a way no place or person will ever be. But I am a house in need of renovation. The structure is sound, but I want to strip away the wallpaper, cushion the floors with a softer carpet, install a more welcoming doorbell. It’s okay to be a work in progress. It’s okay to be halfway through decorating yourself and not know what you want the finished article to look like. Who you are at twenty isn’t a life sentence, and it’s not a promise of the person you’ll grow into. You’re not meant to have it all figured out at this age.
Growing up is about learning who you are, what your tastes are, what your boundaries are. I’m inconsistent in how I dress, the media I consume, the type of coffee I order. I’m still figuring out who I am. Through this inconsistency, I have learnt so much about myself. When I was 15 I dyed my hair red or purple, at 20 I dye it black. Some days I paint my nails pink, other days I paint them purple, or blue. I own approximately ten different shades of lipstick. The desire to dye my hair and paint my lips and nails is consistent, because I like to curate the image I project to the world. It ties into one of my core motivations: the need for control. When I don’t like something about myself, I change it. I don’t like my natural hair colour, therefore it is now black. I didn’t like the shape of my body, therefore I am strict about what I eat and how often I go to the gym. I see where I can do better, and I do better. I will always seek to improve myself.
The other week I was telling my friend about how my go-to comfort foods are pickles and peanut butter, and she said that that was so me, because it’s efficient, but what on earth is going on? That’s basically my brand; I am the pickles and peanut butter of people. I am organised chaos in human form. I may look like I have it together, but on the inside I am the lovechild of a tornado and an exploding bomb. I strive to be in control of everything in my life, and I always fall short of this goal.
I have this…let’s call him an “acquaintance”…who I compulsively write to out of the blue every so often. We live in different countries, we aren’t even friends on facebook anymore, but I’m this annoying little submarine that keeps resurfacing in his life every so often. I don’t know if he thinks of me as an annoying submarine, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Our communication is characterised by two things: my randomness, and the inconsistency of time he takes to reply. Response time ranges between an hour and 135 days (yes, I counted. I’m a petty person). It pushes my buttons in a way few things have the power to do. The most recent time, however, I began to view it in a new light. When I write to him, I am impulsive. It usually begins with me telling myself “Eliza, no!”, then my friends fail to talk me out of it, and before I know it I’ve broken months of silence with a message that I could have waited another few months to send. He then takes his time to reply, if he replies at all. Whilst this infuriates me to no end, I have learnt so much about myself through my interactions (or lack thereof) with him. I knew him for three months, before having minimal sporadic contact over the course of the past year-and-a-half. It defies logic, and yet he has taught me more about patience than anyone else I know. When you wait 4.5 months for someone to text you back, you inevitably do a lot of soul searching.
For whatever reason, he brings out this side of me that I have little power over. My impulsiveness stems from a need to be in control. But if you’re communicating with a person who may not even respond to you, there is no way to feel in control. The more powerless I feel, the more impulsive I become, and the more I realise I never had any power to begin with. You can’t (and shouldn’t) control other people. I can’t force someone to reply to my messages faster, just like I couldn’t force someone to reciprocate my feelings for them. The only thing I can control is myself, and impulsivity isn’t control, it is fool’s gold, and I must learn not to be enticed by its sparkling.
I don’t want to be impulsive in the future I’m creating. There are times for snap decisions and going out on a limb, but I want to build a future on solid foundations. My life is a series of calculated risks, and I’ve survived this far. But imagine what I could create if I took my time, if I worked hard consistently, rather than growing and creating in a flurry of fire that burns out in days or weeks.
I don’t know who I will be at in ten years from now. I want to be a successful novelist, and work in television. I want to live abroad, be fluent in a second language. I want to love someone who loves me back, and maybe have a cat. I want to be surrounded by friends and love and laughter, and live by the sea. I’ll live a life I won’t want to run away from.
I just looked at what astrological transits I’ll have when I’m 30, and I’m probably going to want to run away from the entire world that year, but a girl can dream, right?
There is also the fact that in a decade from now the world will look immensely different to what we’re used to, it must. Our entire political and economic infrastructure has to change if we want to stop destroying this planet. It’s scary, to think everything I rely on will be shaken up within the course of my lifetime, but it’s also beautiful. The world doesn’t have to end. We can create a better, brighter world, a world with less suffering.
Lately I have wanted to run away from my life, to find a forest in North-Eastern Europe and scream my head off (admittedly, those are my Christmas plans this year).
I feel more like myself again this week, and I don’t have quite so strong a desire to run away, but I am still counting down the days till I go travelling next month. In 41 days I will go to Estonia, and then Latvia. Estonia is a place I associate with freedom, it is where I will always run to. Latvia is a place I associate with a very particular moment in time; my memories of Riga are synonymous with the girl I was in the summer of 2017, a girl who is unrecognisable to me now. I’m sure the streets will be filled with ghosts of my former self, my former dreams. I think those ghosts still have something to teach me, otherwise I wouldn’t be drawn to go back.
In a little over a month from now, I will walk along the shores of the Baltic sea, I will eat Estonian rye bread, wander down the streets of the city where my novels are set. I will find peace. Whilst Tallinn will be peaceful, I don’t know what Riga holds for me, all I know is that I’m meant to go there, and I trust in that knowing.
I’ve had a strained relationship with my intuition lately. At the beginning of this year, I was a lot more intune with energy and the unseen world. I trusted my intuition completely, and I knew I was on the right path. But I am someone who likes to talk. I can’t keep my mouth shut, especially when I’ve had a coffee or three. So I would tell me friends about the recurring dreams I had, or how I could feel a person’s energy even when they were nowhere near me. The general response was “I’m worried about you”, and the insinuation that I was going mad. At this time I was depressed, and not quite myself, which only added to the idea that I was out of my mind. I remember there was this period last November where I dreamt about the same person every night for two weeks straight, and the dreams were filled with themes and symbols that held a lot of meaning to me.
Yesterday, I was reading about astrological synastry (the way people’s astrological placements interact with each other, and create the dynamic of their relationship). I was trying to understand someone who continues to bemuse me. I’d looked at their astrology many times before, but I’d never thought much about how their Mars falls in my 12th house. I don’t have any planets in my 12th house, so I’d never seen this as significant. Then I read that when planets fall in someone’s 12th house in synastry, this can cause vivid dreams about them, that Mars in someone’s 12th house can mean they feel your energetic presence. The 12th house rules hidden things, dreams, the unseen spiritual world. Mars rules energy and drive. It made sense. After a year of thinking I was deluded, I finally had the validation I needed. Admittedly, using astrology as evidence might not convince most people, but it convinced me I could trust in my intuition.
Blind faith is scary. Believing in something when you can’t see the outcome seems nonsensical, delusional, dangerous. How can I trust in myself when my instinct has led me astray so many times? I remember discussing this with a friend the other week. He told me I had to trust my gut, and that seemed like the most terrifying thing I could do at the time. I was convinced my intuition had lied to me all year. My friend told me it’s about balance. You have to trust your instinct, and you have to use logic. If you follow one and not the other, you’re denying half of yourself.
I forgot all about this conversation, because I’d had a horrible, intense week, and the faultiness of my intuition couldn’t have been further from my mind. But it came back to me today. Every person I have ever been was comprised of two warring halves. I am a cynic and an optimist, affectionate and detached, I am the most mysterious open book you will ever read. I have two favourite songs, two passports, two ideas of who I want to be. But my identity is not a battlefield, there doesn’t have to be a winner. Life is about balance, the yin and the yang, the dark and the light. Slowly but surely, I am learning to trust my intuition again. This time I won’t lose my heart in the clouds. I will trust in what I can’t see, but I will keep my feet on the ground, I will balance faith with logic, I won’t let the scales tip.