Tag Archives: circumstances

Bye Bye, Bag End

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Hello, you lovely thing.  Are you excited about your weekend?

This post is one that I’ve been avoiding for a while, because I think it’s going to be pretty difficult to write.  The subject matter makes me want to cry and stamp my feet, so do bear with me.  If I start getting hysterical just throw a biscuit at me or something.

At the end of this month, Ash and I will be vacating our beloved flat.  We’ve been living in Bag End for a year, and we’ve had an amazing time here.  We have had lots of lovely friends round to visit, hosted parties that defy the (minuscule) proportions of the floor space, danced around the kitchen to cheesy music, spilled coffee everywhere , had heart to hearts in the middle of the night and eaten unholy amounts of cheese.  It’s been bloody brilliant.

When we leave Bag End Ash will be moving home to save up for her trip to New York, and I will be moving to South London with one of my sisters.  Both of these are excellent and exciting things, but they are big changes.  I freaking hate changes.

Change is difficult for a lot of people to cope with because it involves uncertainty, which is something that humans are not wired to cope with very well.  We fear things like death and the dark because they represent obscurity: we have no way of knowing what they contain.  It’s the same with big changes.  How on earth can we be happy about them when we don’t know what they’ll entail?

It also comes down to a control and participation issue.  When we voluntarily make decisions that affect change, we can be happy because we’ve elected them.  Booking trips abroad, starting a new job and getting into relationships all fall into this category.  Being forced into change by other people’s decisions or circumstances beyond our control creates the opposite feeling: why should we have to participate in changes that we never wanted?  Why should we be forced into changing jobs, moving house or changing our relationship status?  If I may paraphrase William Ernest Henley’s poem slightly: “I am the master of my Facebook profile; I am the captain of my post code.”

I have realised that the trick to dealing with unwanted change is to look at it as an adventure rather than a crisis.  Bilbo Baggins didn’t want to leave Bag End any more than I do, but he went on to have a very jolly time.  (You know, except for the orcs and the massive spiders and stealing treasure from a dragon and everything.)  If we are never forced out of our comfort zones we never get to explore who we are or challenge ourselves, and both of those are very important things to do.

The other thing is that if we choose to look at enforced life changes in a negative way, it won’t affect any of the outcomes.  When we choose resentment over optimism we are only hurting ourselves.  Universal justice, fate, God or whatever life-affecting force you believe in probably doesn’t respond to sulking.

With that in mind, I’m going to start packing up my stuff.  I am choosing to look at this as an opportunity to re-alphabetise my books (which may sound like a pretty tremulous silver lining, but that kind of thing genuinely matters to me, because I’m a nerd).  Have a glorious weekend.

Get Off the Roundabout

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Hello, you lovely thing. How’s your Wednesday treating you so far?

Today is a sad day. Today I have decided to give up on a book, which never happens.  The book in questions is Howards End, and I’m having to give up because so far I hate pretty much all of the characters. Also, E.M. Forster’s writing style is incredibly long-winded and patronising. The story might actually be quite interesting, but I wouldn’t know because the narrative is sending me to sleep.

Anyway, giving up on a book made me question my personality, my priorities and the inner workings of my very soul (or perhaps something a little bit less melodramatic). I’m being silly, but the truth is that when we choose to give up on something that we consider a big part of who we are, it does tend to make us stop and think.

A friend of mine who loves cheer leading is having to give it up due to health problems, which is a huge shame. When we are forced by circumstance to give up on something we love, there can be an element of resentment and feeling hard done by.  Is it better, then, to be able to choose to give up?  Is there more dignity in a decision than there is in obligation?

Yes and no.  Making the decision to give up something – a vice, a pastime, an unhealthy relationship – gives us a feeling of control and self-discipline, which can be very good for us.  Having said that, we are only making the decisions now because we know that later on the decision will be taken away from us, and it will become a case of necessity rather than independent action.

The other thing to consider is that you are not defined by the sort of things that you might find yourself giving up, even if it was a potential (or current) career.  I am not defined by the fact that I read a lot, any more than you are defined by your typical Saturday afternoon activities or your preference of hot beverage.

Besides, people change all of the time.  You are not who you were a couple of years ago, and you are not who you will be next week.  You never know what life is going to give you, and if you have to give something else up in order to move forward, so be it.  You might spend years thinking of yourself in one way, and then find that you’ve been going round and round and getting nowhere.  Get off the roundabout and find something new.

Have a stupendously enjoyable Wednesday.  May your lunch be truly worthy of Instagramming.

Wiggly Priorities

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Hello, and welcome to the weekend!  I hope you’ve had a nice lie-in.

If you’ve read yesterday’s post, you will already know that I decided to turn my phone off for 24 hours.  The main downside of this choice should have been communication issues, but luckily my flat mate tells me where I’m meant to be most of the time anyway, so that was fine.

The hardest part was actually the lack of sound.  I am always listening to music or a podcast, so wandering around without my earphones in felt very odd.  It was also pretty strange to go without the Notes feature on my iPhone for a day, because I use it all the time for blog ideas and so on.  The upshot of this was that I went to bed last night with a load of ideas scribbled down my arm.  These notes have now been partially transferred to my face and one of my pillows.

Embarrassing face-tattoos aside, today I would like to talk about priorities.  Yesterday I managed to work my way through a hefty amount of stuff on my to do list because I wasn’t distracted by my phone, so now my set of priorities has shifted.  Our priorities change all of the time: on a day-to-day basis they adapt to our immediate circumstances, but on a longer-term basis they shift depending on where life has taken us.  A university student’s priorities might be finishing an essay one day and applying for graduate jobs the next, for example.

People are always saying that we need to get our priorities straight, but it’s incredibly difficult to do.  How do you balance your daily duties with your lifelong endeavours?  How do we find a way to get our wiggly priorities aligned with one another?

We prioritise things for two reasons: their immediacy and their importance.  In contemporary life there is an enormous emphasis on immediacy from employers, friends and even the media.  We are constantly being told to believe that sooner is better, and I don’t think that that’s always true.  Good things come to those who wait, even in the simplest cases (like when you’re at a bus stop).

I was having a very deep and meaningful conversation about priorities with a friend the other day, and at one point he said “wouldn’t it be nice to be someone’s priority?”  Oof.  Right in the feelings.  Of course it would, but surely you are the person whose priority you ought to be?

What do you actually want today?  Do you want to feel like you’ve achieved something?  Do you want to spend time with some people who love you?  Do you want to go on an adventure?  Do you, in fact, want to build a snowman?  (Trickier to accomplish in this weather, but not impossible.)

I think that we have to trust that the day-to-day priorities (like work deadlines, essays and so on) will get us where we need to go in the bigger picture, but that paying attention to what we actually want will get us where we’d like to be.  I personally want to see Arsenal win the FA Cup, so my priority is to go to the pub with the boys and shout at a massive television screen.  To each their own.

Carlsberg don’t do Saturdays, but if they did, it’d probably be this one.  Have a cracker.