Living > Surviving

This week, I’m going to leave the writing to my close friend Ella. She’s a fellow student at the University of Edinburgh, in her third year of English Literature. Next year’s female captain of the Hare & Hounds, porridge-lover, wordsmith and just a wonderful human being. Ella’s post marks the first in my new blog series: Fruits and Friends (lol had to be done). I won’t say much more because I don’t want to detract from the poignancy of this post – so give it a read and let the words work their magic.

If you’d have asked me a little over a year ago if I would be happy with who I am now, I probably would have said no.  Stuck in a regimented routine, with strict schedules and plans, there was little room for spontaneity, adventure, or, let’s face it, happiness.  Unnecessarily early alarms, strict timetables and a risk-assessment strategy for pretty much everything – I thought that was what I needed to be successful. And success, I equated with happiness.  Achievement became synonymous with enjoyment.

What I’d lost to these all-encompassing perfectionistic tendencies, was the pleasure found in the little things.  The simple moments, with nothing much going on and without any real meaning, that bring pure, uncontrollable laughter.  The deep-in-your-belly kind.  In the last year, I have been fortunate enough to find what really matters. Yes, I’m slower than I’ve been in a long time.  And of course, life is far from perfect – I’m still that same overthinking worrywurt at the end of the day.  But by surrounding myself with people I truly love and who are somehow willing to put up with me, I now see things a little differently.  Sounds ridiculously deep and airy-fairy I know, and to be honest I don’t think of it like that 99% of the time.  But at some point, I crossed the line from just “surviving” to actually “living.” And in truth, I’ve never been happier.

I don’t really like to talk about what “happened” to many people, and I’m not about to go into that now either.  Maybe I will at some point, but right now I don’t think the world really needs to hear my – let’s face it, pretty insignificant – past problems.  It’s not a particularly inspirational or even very interesting story anyway, so you’re not missing out.  This isn’t a place for negativity either, especially with all that’s currently going on in the world, I think we all need some extra rays of sunshine.  So, let’s focus on the good instead.

It’s the little steps that got me here.  Venturing outside the comfort zone, slowly but consistently.  Saying “yes” when you wanted to turn around and go home, or not even leave the house at all.  Throwing yourself in the deep end when you genuinely thought you’d drown.  Getting lost (quite literally) and realising that it’s not the end of the world.  Listening to your body, however it felt, and actually being kind to it.  Having that extra-long lie in, eating a snack no matter what time of day, running for running’s sake and not caring one bit about pace.  Getting a little drunk, staying up late video-chatting, rushing up a hill to catch the end of the sunset… over-sentimentalised I know, but honestly, it’s things like that.

I know some people will say I’ve just become lazy – trust me, I would have thought the same.  But that’s not it.  I’ve learned to relax and to see the bigger picture.  I’ve learned that it’s ok, sometimes, to feel vulnerable.  Scary stuff, and it doesn’t always get easier with time.  I’m still learning, and I’m still making mistakes along the way.  It’s entirely worth it, though, because it’s given me some of the most incredible people.  Sincerely good-hearted people, who I’m forever grateful for.  By opening up my world, unintentionally and irreversibly, I allowed them to enter it.

And during tough times like this (thanks corona), that’s what is important.  Screw the targets, the PBs, the grades – when you relax and embrace things, success (whatever that means) will come in its own time, in its own way.  In the grand scheme of things, races, essays, awards, all of it is irrelevant. The last few weeks alone have shown that.  What actually matters are your friends, your family and the love you feel for them.  That is what’s going to keep us all going, through everything.  And if you’d have asked me a little over a year ago if I felt genuinely loved; again, I probably would have said no.  Now, I don’t know, maybe I’d think twice.  So, I guess for me, it’s thanks to my little rays of sunshine.  Slowly but surely, they’ve helped me realise what it means to actually “live.”

I just wanted to thank Ella again for this post. It’s so raw & real and it takes a lot to put yourself out there like that. From my perspective, I’ve witnessed/ been part of Ella’s journey and it’s been incredible to watch (however cringe that sounds). I hope this has inspired/ helped anyone needing a bit of inspiration right now.

Emma ♥♥