My Book of Life

Something you should be aware of: I have a lot of mental issues. While none are officially diagnosed disorders, I consider them as such (I have a whole other post about that, don’t get me started on self-diagnosis).

I have struggled a lot with these issues, but this post is not for pity. It is to explain one of the ways I am dealing with them, as well as figuring out some ideas for my future.

A notebook.

It may seem stupid, but I have a Life notebook. It contains a mish-mash of things; from tattoos I want to get, to skills I want to learn, to traits I want to have. All the stuff I want to have in my life. While it may seem like a silly idea in theory – and yes, I know I sound like every useless school listening service ever by suggesting it – I can honestly say that it really helps. Thinking about things I want to do/see gets me through my depressive bursts, while writing it down satisfies my anxiety’s desire to have a plan. Plus, it fills time productively and is actually pretty fun.

If you are unhappy with an aspect of your life (which everyone is, don’t lie), then a good way to work towards correcting it is to write it down. You don’t need to sketch out every detail to scale, but having a basic note will make you more likely to actually do it. Studies have actually shown that physically writing the idea down is more effective than typing it somewhere, but if you need to use the Notes app on your phone, do it. I mean, you might want to up the security on your phone afterwards if it gets personal, but still do it.

By taking the time to evaluate your hopes and dreams – or your “bucket list” – you can actually learn a lot about yourself. For example, I discovered very recently that I’m interested in a medical career, which I had previously written off long ago. I also discovered, by virtue of writing a “keep in touch” list, that there are some ‘friends’ in my life that I am perfectly content to lose touch with. And that’s okay.

I would like to go to university. I would like to foster a child. I would like to skydive. I would like to get my black belt (that may be a little harder though xD). Had you asked me a few months ago, I would have been adding a lot more “might”s to those sentences. Now I know some things I would really like to do.

If you’re not certain whether or not you want to do something, a good indicator is when it physically aches. You may not know the feeling, but if you get a physical tugging in your chest or butterflies in your stomach at the thought of it, then put it in the book. That feeling doesn’t always come though, so don’t live your life waiting for it; take some chances and it’ll come to you.

My personal Book of Life is decorated with quotes on what life means to me. Yours can be whatever you want. Whatever life means to you. Love, laughter, money, success; whatever is most important to you. Most of my quotes are about love and happiness, but that doesn’t mean that yours have to be. Life means different things to everybody.

… I wasn’t intending for this to become a meaning of life thing, but okay.

My original point was: having a physical record of the stuff that interests you is a great motivator in the darker times, and can also be a fun project in the lighter ones. The best of both worlds, if you will. I already hate myself for saying that, now the song is stuck in my head.

Didn’t I warn you guys in my first post that I go off on tangents? I think I did. I hope I did, anyway.

At the end of the day, your life is your own; you have to create it as you create yourself. However, when it all gets a little heavy, you might not see the light of the future in the tunnel, so having a solid reminder of what’s out in that light can help pull you through.

Whether you decide to make a Book of Life or not, I wish you all the best with your hopes, dreams and journeys through dark tunnels.

86 Years is a Long Time

Careers. Obviously pretty important things. I don’t know about you, but they’re all my school ever talks about.

My boyfriend and I were discussing them earlier today. He was telling me all about his structured, 12 year education plan, culminating in a doctorate. This plan involved a lot of back and forth between universities and earning money, which would mean a lot of travelling and not much stability for me. This was not what I would have chosen for my path.

So I mentioned that I was thinking of joining the army. I was very quickly – excuse the pun – shot down.

Not unkindly, but he was quick to remind me of the danger, and that there was a “big” commitment, as you often are required to serve a certain amount of years. Normally, it’s 3 or 4 years minimum before you can leave. The thing I fail to understand is how “that kind of time isn’t something you should just throw away lightly”.

According to recent data on http://www.socialsecurity.gov, a female born in the year 2000 – like myself – can expect to live to around 86 years old. So to that scale, how much is about 5 years in one job, really? Say I do my degree beforehand as planned; that’s starting my training at 21, so by 26, I could leave. One chapter closed, a new one opening. And I’d have 5 years of incredible experiences under my belt, along with some new qualifications and the knowledge that I changed someone’s life. To me, that feels like a decent chance to take. Even if I enjoyed it, the recommended age is 16 – 32, so it’s not a permanent commitment anyway. I would still have a good 50 years for something new.

Now, I’m not making this post to tell you to join the army. I’m also not making it to attack my boyfriend; his concerns were understandable and valid. The purpose of this post is to explain why you should just go for anything, even a pipe dream; they say life is short, but really, 86 years is a lot of time to make memories.

Yes, not everyone in your life is going to agree with your ideas. This doesn’t mean you have to cut them out, it just means that you need to explain why it matters to you. If they refuse to support you after that, then okay, maybe you need to address that and evaluate the situation. Don’t worry though, because if they are really meant to be in your life, they will try to support you.

So go out and make memories. Go to that country. Learn that skill. Try that extreme sport. Give that unthinkable career a go. Maybe you’ll find out that something wasn’t for you, even though you had your heart set on it all your life, but at least you know. Maybe you weren’t sure you would like it and find out you don’t, but you know. You won’t be sat there wondering what it would have been like. And who knows? You might find out that something you never dreamed of doing actually seems pretty interesting.

After all, you have about 80-something years to make a really cool autobiography.