I managed to miss my blog’s first birthday the other week, so this is a belated ‘one year on’ post. I’m writing this from one of my favourite local coffee shops, Taylor Street on Queen’s Road – all very Brighton with wooden floors and guest espressos, of course. I’m currently on a delicate jasmine tea but I will probably cave in soon and order myself a latte and a cake. It is Sunday, after all.
Birthdays are always a good time to reflect, and blog birthdays are no different. I’ve just read back to my very first blog post, published on 13 January 2014. I remember the preceding Christmas break being largely taken up with deciding what blog platform to use, trying out different themes and colours and layouts, figuring out what on earth to call my blog, etc. I felt rather ambiguous about starting a blog, largely because of the required presupposition that people would be interested to read it. It seemed a bit of a presumptuous, potentially wanker-y thing to do because of that. However, my primary motivation for this blog was always that without the pressure to publish, I wouldn’t have enough self-discipline to write regularly. I am convinced that this is true, and for that reason alone starting this blog was a really good call. Even if no one but my mum read it, it still gives me a good overview of the ‘journey’ I’ve been on this past year (never been a huge fan of the word ‘journey’ being used to describe anything other than physically getting from A to B, but not sure what else to call this personal evolution I have gone through).
I often wonder these days about the concept of ‘changing’ as a person. I suppose I have changed over the last year – I am no longer defined by a job I didn’t enjoy and the stresses that came with that; I’m probably more confident; I’m maybe slightly better at ‘letting go’ and relaxing. At the same time, I suppose I am fundamentally the same person I was when I was 30, or 22, or 16, and the same character flaws continue in their quest to sabotage me. I still worry too much about what people think of me; I still don’t like conflict and confrontation; I still struggle to express negative emotions in a healthy way; I still get stressed by all of the above and deal with that stress badly sometimes.
Outwardly, I have definitely changed. I’ve shaved my head and genuinely didn’t care too much about casting off what had been in the past both my crowning glory and a convenient thing to hide my shyness and awkwardness behind. I dance like a lunatic to music I would once have turned my nose up at. I go running and am trying to learn to play an actual sport. I hardly ever wear high heels.
As someone who has always been easily influenced by others, and troubled by this, I do often wonder whether all this change, and all these things, are really ‘me’. Am I just trying to fit in, or be cool, or hide the fact that I’m just a hopeless geek who listens to the Archers and knows all the lyrics to the entire Beatles back catalogue? Am I trying too hard, with my shaved head and my metallic pleather skirt from Urban Outfitters and my ticket to Field Day? Five years ago, that wouldn’t have been me. So how come that right now it does feel like me? Was I lying to myself five years ago, and denying the ‘real’ me, or am I lying to myself now and trying to be something I’m not?
Maybe neither of those statements are true. Maybe, just as Heraclitus said that thing about not being able to step into the same river twice, we are all in constant flux. We are all subject to influences: where we work, what people we hang out with, what we read and listen to. Perhaps some people will be less susceptible to those influences, or perhaps at certain times in our lives we are more or less susceptible to influence. At the moment, I feel quite open to influence, and quite curious and hungry for experience. And, for want of a better word, the ‘journey’ I have been on this past year is evidence of that.