Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Fortunes & Misfortunes: The Hardest Months of my Life

My Nan pulled me up on something a few weeks ago. She said that my blog had gone from being a 'happy blog' to something more 'dreary'. She said I had stopped writing about the positive things in life and that I was focusing more on negatives. She said she didn't want to read about the sad things, only the happy - but I don't think life always works that way. We can create a facade with a blog, put a show on for the world and pretend everything is perfect, but that isn't an accurate representation of things. That's just a fairy story. 

Normally, I'm all about the fairy stories but I'd rather keep an element of truth to this blog. This is a blog about real life, real feelings, even if it sometimes has fantastical aspects, it is always about the truth. And there is beauty in truth, just the same way there is beauty in sadness. It's because the beauty comes from emotion. From feeling, both good and bad. How dull it would be to stay in an apathetic state forever. How dreary would it be to feel numb, anaesthetised, have nothing to compare to joy to realise what it is exactly that defines the joy. 
I'd love to sit here and tell you that my life is always fantastic and magical, but that wouldn't be the truth. Sometimes there is sadness and sometimes it hangs around. 

So she moved back from the city to her beloved Ocean, she graduated University with a 1st class  honours in BA Creative Writing and resided in a small village close to the sea in Cornwall and lived happily ever after with her best friend and love of her life, taking photographs and spending afternoons dreaming up stories on the beach. Everything should be perfect right? 
The past few months have been a storm for me. I feel like I'm caught on a little boat out in a wild tempest at sea with no land on the horizon. The waves are bucking and tossing and I feel like I'm about to capsize the boat. They tell me this is adult life. They tell me everyone feels this way. They tell me this is how it is now for the rest of my days and that I should just get used to it. Oh dear god I don't think I can handle this. 

Adjusting from University to the 'real world' has been so much harder than I thought. Despite a degree, earning money has been so much harder than I thought. Everything is harder than I thought. From the day we moved back to Cornwall, everything has been chaotic. It was almost as if I had been cursed by somebody or had done something horrific to warrant a truckload of bad karma. I lost a great deal of money to an eBay conman the first week I moved back, my car got vandalised (again) and needed repairing, then broke down and required a large payout, then eventually had to be replaced altogether with a whole other car. I took a job which caused me to relapse into anxiety and gave me a great deal of panic attacks, our family dog ended up in intensive care with life threatening injuries and we didn't think she'd make it. We found ourselves travelling all over the country with our little business which was super exciting but often meant we were tired and run down and once, even found ourselves locked out of the car in the middle of nowhere with the keys in the boot with 2% phone battery. George has been run down and sad because he's really struggling to find work as he doesn't have a degree and it's been breaking my heart to see him so deflated and downbeat. 
Last weekend, my camera broke during a job which resulted in it having to be replaced (another huge payout) and much panic. There were so many other minor events over the summer that ate away at my confidence, spark and happiness but I've largely forgotten them. My heart has a self defence mechanism where it works hard to forget misery where it can, still working on it erasing everything. Eventually, after a gruelling and trying summer, George and I became so run down, downright emotionally exhausted and miserable that we decided to call off the wedding. In fact, this summer crippled us emotionally so much, that we broke up for a whole weekend which was possibly the darkest few days of my life. After five years of togetherness, I was terrified at the thought of losing my best friend but we took a breather, cried a lot, held each other and realised that this was one of life's tests. 2016 was certainly out to push us to our limits. 

My wedding dress arrived - that was a disaster too. Not only did it come in a colour that didn't match the sample (a horrid lemon yellow as opposed to a gentle champagne colour) but it was about 2-3 sizes too small (I've not gained that much) and had a whopping stain on the back. Another sum of money lost (although I'm currently trying to dispute with the dressmakers)
Every day I listen to the radio and the news of politics splinters my heart. I hear of the troubles in other parts of the world, I hear about lives lost, families torn apart by war and religion and it seems as though suffering is the theme of this year. I know that my troubles are minuscule compared to so many and I blame myself for feeling this way and I empathise with those who truly are having an awful time. Then I find myself crying myself to sleep about the latest terrorist attack.
So they say this is how it is now. Constant stress, trying to find ways of making more money. Trying to support my partner and keep his morale up when I can barely manage my own. Continually having to spend money (money I don't have) on things that seem out of my control and figuring out ways of being better, being stronger, being an improved version of myself.
I'm exhausted.
I spend afternoons staring into space. I have to take afternoons to go and sit and gaze at the waves, to have a temporary reprieve from the melancholy. I constantly scold myself; "what is wrong with me? at least I can spend afternoons at the beach avoiding the melancholy. So many people have it worse. At least there's a roof over my head, at least I have a job, at least I'm not in a war torn country. Pull yourself together Sarah for crying out loud."
I scold myself a lot. Mainly for being weak, for being ungrateful, for being negative. There's a voice in my head and it's cruel and it constantly tells me I'm a baby, a spoilt and silly child.

This isn't how I imagined life would be. It's been a hard transition. I'm not sure whether it's just a bad year or what 'they say' is true and this is just how it is now. The other day, I sat at work while it was quiet and thought to myself. Good things are happening, it's just that the bad has a tendency to out shadow the joy. It's easy to not notice the joy of things when so many bad things are happening, for some absurd reason in life; pain outweighs joy. I forced myself to write a list of the good things that were happening/were about to happen and the bad things to compare them. I wanted to examine my fortune, to see if I truly was cursed.
I found myself coming up with plenty of reasons to be joyful

  • George and I are moving into a little cottage on a farm together on Sunday 
  • Milly (the dog) made it through her operation (it could have had a sadder ending) 
  • One of my best friends just got married to her soul mate and I was a bridesmaid at the most beautiful celebration 
  • I'm healthy 
  • I have a really nice part time job now and work for lovely people with great ethics 
  • I'm getting really nice feedback about the wedding photography 
  • The new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film is coming out in November. 
  • The trees are turning beautiful colours 
  • I've made some really nice new friends this year 
  • I will be able to make autumn themed biscuits now
  • I get to spend my first ever autumn/winter living in a cottage with a real fireplace 
  • I am by the sea 

See, loads of reasons to be happy

It's easy to get bogged down with worry and well worn by everyday struggles, but in between those moments are little joys and glimmers of precious memories. This summer has been the hardest summer of my life but I know that it will strengthen me. I've mentioned before that I believe in prayer and I often find myself praying for strength. Maybe this is a way of it being answered. 

It would be inaccurate to pretend through my blog that my life is always filled with perfect pictures and joy. I wouldn't want you to believe such a lie. 
I do however refuse to believe that this is life now. 
Yes, I accept that the transition into adult life is treacherous, boggy and onerous. I accept that I am now utterly responsible for earning every penny of money that I have and that every single decision I make will have a consequence. I accept that free time is now about to become a valuable and cherished commodity but I make it my mission to not become a slave to this existence. To not bow my head and accept my place on the treadmill of life. 
I've had my pity party, and now it's time to build myself a foundation, to create the best existence I can for myself with the resources I have at hand; my mind, the countryside, my capabilities. Adult life will not be a drudge, it will not grate me down and most of all, it will not extinguish my joy (even if it's been doing a very good job at doing just that lately) 
I will work my hardest to create a lifestyle where I can balance my own time with work and grapple with the modern notion that we have to be 156% productive all of the time. This is something I've really struggled with; this expectation to be so efficient and productive with our time, that life is just whizzing by at a super-fast speed leaving me feeling dizzy and dazed. 
I want to remember how to live slowly (#slowliving LOL) not in the hipster sense, but actually cherishing quiet moments of reflection and pure existence, relieving ourselves of the insane pressure to do so much in such little amounts of time. Remembering that creating art, stories and bakes are just as productive as getting through that 'to do list'. Even day dreaming in a place I love is more fulfilling to me than putting on two wash loads and calling the tax office. Sometimes I just need to make time for those things, even if it's just twenty minutes in the early evening after work. It's easy to let to-do lists take over our lives and forget the connections we have with people, forget how we actually look and interact with things around us like sights and smells. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the concept of the world that society built up for us we become almost blind to the real one that's always been there since the beginning. 
The treadmill of life can do one. 
And with it, all of the notions that adult life should be accepted as something onerous, dreary and bleak 
Not me, Not I. 
I will come out at the other end of this tunnel and reunite with my muchness. 


  1. As always, such a beautiful, beautiful post. :)

    Too often, people forget about balance. Yours truly is no exception, but everyday is a learning experience. And there will always be that silver lining in the clouds, that there will be something to be grateful for.

    Thank you for sharing this. :)

  2. Don't berate yourself. You are strong and beautiful and infinite. Life is tough but so are you so chin up my lovely, just be the best you and everything else will follow. Massive hugs xxx

  3. This is truly so beautiful and honest. I can feel your strength through your writing and the world needs people like you who have a light and don't allow it to go out, no matter how hard it seems at times to keep it bright. I am certain you'll find a way to sail through these rough times, and if this helps at all, I promise it does get easier.

    Very best wishes to you in everyday.

    Keep Calm and Start Writing ~

  4. I feel as though this summer, and in fact this year, has been so testing for so many people. Perhaps it's our age as we all try to find out feet and stumble a bit along the way, or maybe it really has just all gone wrong since Bowie died. Who knows! I'm glad you managed to find some joy amongst the darkness. It is only healthy to allow yourself to feel the frustration and sadness and anger though too, life can't always be rose tinted. Alice xxx

  5. Never think that your troubles are trifling compared to anyone else's. They are your troubles in your situation and they are difficult.
    And in your case, that does sound a lot of horrid incidents, situations and happenings and I am not surprised how hard you have found it. Your positive list is beautiful- I am so glad that you have that ability to look for the beauty!x

  6. I can relate to every word in your story Sarah. The transition is very rarely smooth sailing: things go terribly wrong, ideas and fantasies don't blossom in the way you had pinned your hopes on and unfortunately money never comes easy for the majority. But it's alright, you're allowed to make mistakes, you're allowed to be a little self centred and head strong, you're meant to tumble down, but always dust those dirty hands and knees off and try again- perhaps not in the same way, but certainly don't become accustomed to the tumbling down. Finding your 'place' in this world is a journey and a journey is always an adventure- you don't want a boring one!! Keep your chin up and when you feel down just remember that you tred in the footsteps of many before you and they did alright in the end.

    Kim xXx

  7. I believe that life is what you make of it. I relate to you so much as I was reading this. I'm currently in University myself but I can feel myself being swallowed up by the real world, it's all a bit much. But I remind myself of the things that make me happy. I plan goals and aspirations for the future to bring excitement to my every day. The little things I find enjoyment out of, making my favorite drink of coffee in the morning. Your journey is beautiful. Things can be tough along the way. You're strong, beautiful and courageous. Remember that, and do more of what makes you happy. xo

    McKenzie |

  8. Thank you for being honest, first of all. I think the fact that you can still find light in the darkness is a testimony to how strong you actually are. And I hope that things to do get better (which I am sure they will - you are moving to a cottage on a farm -how lovely!) It may seem like a trite thing to say but... "you are not alone". Hang in there kiddo - the sun will shine again xxx

  9. Oh Sarah, you are a brave soul! I've learnt along the years that life has got to hit you hard sometimes for you to relish and cherish the good times and the precious moments :-) which from the sound of it, you've begun to get the hang of it! I can totally relate to this - I spent the last 2 years finding my way and trying to get a job (without success, might I add despite knowing I am qualified). I have the feeling and am positive the light will always find you one way or another, you beautiful human xxx

  10. Sarah, what a beautifully written post with so much feeling and meaning of which I am sure resonates with so many of your readers, myself included. I am a firm believer that life only throws at us what we are strong enough to take and fight. As you say, life doesn't have to be like this, we have the ability to turn it around, sometimes we just need to realise that and take action in whatever way we see fit.

    Sending you much joy, love and happy vibes and wishing you a wonderful Autumn, may the coming month of October bring a much need new start with a breath of fresh air and plenty of autumnal biscuits.
    Peta xx

  11. I'm so happy that you've ended on a positive note. That is the way we should look at life. In between the bad moments we should cherish the good ones, instead of the other way around. I just want to say that there is nothing wrong with being down and tired and sad about life. You feel just the same as the next person and you shouldn't feel guilty of feeling bad. Just recently I had a chat with my best friend who has lost her dad last year and she was saying that she shouldn't feel bad about it because someone she talked to recently lost her dad too, but in a worse way. Losing your dad however, is still losing your dad though and you should never feel guilty for feeling upset, hurt and sad about that, because it is still your dad you have lost and that is just the same as you. All those things overcome you and you should not feel bad or guilty for being upset about something like that. Even if another person has worries too. Everyone does.

    Can I just also say that I don't want your blog to be perfect and happy all the time. The way in which you deal with life is far more interesting to me and it teaches me far more about you and myself to read about your true feelings.

    Love, Eline

  12. Things do get better, I promise you that. When I graduated and for a few years afterwards, a lot of my life was very uncertain and there were many, many lows. Being a creative person pursuing a creative career is so very hard, but unbelievably rewarding when it starts to come together.

    There is so much importance in taking time to be sad, if that is how you're feeling. Do not think that your pain is worth any less. Sometimes you just have to let it out, or else it can become a cloud over everything.

    I find you, your photography and your blog so inspiring, so keep strong and you will flourish x

  13. I'm hesitant to call this post 'beautiful' because it's quite hard to read how tough things have been - but then you say at the beginning that there can be beauty in sadness, too, and I think through this post you've found it. Things sound so hard for you right now, and I hope that people aren't telling you that this is how life will be forever, because that will not be the case. I guess this is a huge transitional period and everything is happening all at once. There's so much newness that it can be hard to remember yourself in it all, and stay true to yourself and your values. But this post could be a turning point for you; through it, you take ownership of your situation which can make more of a difference than it may seem. I don't want to give you advice, because who am I to do that (!) - but only to say that you should be proud of what you have achieved, and what you achieve each day by getting up and facing it all. You do not need to be constantly improving yourself: trust that you'll reach safe harbour, and that you are enough just as you are.
    Lx | Lightly We Go

  14. Early this year, I was nearly on the streets with my pet cat and dog with nowhere to live, a close friend who'd driven to drink and did everything in his power to make my life a misery and I did everything I could to hold on to my vision of a new place up in the Welsh hills with new friends and a more stable life. And every time something happened I reminded myself of my ideal outcome and guess what I got everything plus much more. Yes there was times when I broke down and thought life was unfair but I did my best to concentrate on what we call the small things which are in actual fact the big things in life.

    I am really sorry to hear all about your summer misfortunes but put it down to a test of strength - you sound like you've come out of it much stronger - good for you - many don't! The list is such a great idea! Hey in fact, I'd like you to read a series of books by an amazing lady called Rhonda Byrne - the secret and the magic in particular are life changing.

    Welcome to open fire life, it's wonderful!

  15. That sounds like a really rough summer/year! I wouldn't believe the people who say this is just how it is, real life, the real world or whatever. When I graduated from university I moved back home with my parents, I thought it would be for a few months but it turned into a couple of years as I tried to find my place and afford to stand on my own--it was lonely (they had moved to a state where I have never lived before) and a blow to the ego to not be the success story others seemed to expect or I saw my friends achieving. BUT I did move out on my own eventually, figure out how to pay bills on my own, and even eventually (quite awhile later than you!) found the love of my life and got to marry him. My life is 100% better than it was back then--I don't mean to go on and on, but rather use myself as an anecdote that yes, sometimes life gives you a kick in the bum, but it doesn't mean it's always going to be like that. So don't get used to this crumminess, know it will get better.

  16. Oh Sarah, I'm so sorry that you've had such a difficult summer/year. It does sound like things have been really tough. You really shouldn't scold yourself for feeling down about things though - even though other people have "bigger" problems, it doesn't mean that your problems are insignificant. Like you say it is important to appreciate the good things in life too though, and happy lists are wonderful in that way. I really hope that things will improve and get easier. I'm sure they will. Just hang in there! xxx


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