When you are growing but not blooming

Frieda Strachan

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You might have noticed this Ultravenus post is late. Only three weeks in and I’m already letting the side down.

In the blossoming of a new feminist collective, it was decided by the coven to run a subtle theme of ‘blossoming’, flowering, renewal – something I was so into and so down for, and felt that I was totally embodying, and in the past two days this totally changed. My new job has consumed me, I had an argument with my significant other and I was just, well, living. But you know what, just like editor Sian said when I reiterated for the millionth time this would be late – “it’s ok”.

 

I’ve spent the past month employed, which is great, but prior to these four weeks of joy, I had a tenth month lull where I was unemployed, and spending the first quarter of that extremely anxious and depressed. Not the kind of depression that warrants worry or concern from others, but the kind where you just feel like you are about to veer of a cliff at any moment. Like you are just waiting for the worst of ‘it’, whatever your ‘it’ may be. It felt like I was being consumed by the dread of realising that everything I thought would take place in 2017 was slipping through my fingers. I mean, 2016 was awful wasn’t it? I had just relocated from London to my home city in the North East of Scotland, a place I’ve never liked. My relationship was over and he and I were both struggling which was hard at the time. I was about to drop out of my postgrad in journalism. All I could think was that I was a letdown, a dud, an embarrassment. It was bad.

 

I’ve written about my admiration for ‘the older generation’ before, and once again, it was them I looked to when I needed a boost. And that came in a moment of inspiration that helped me muster the strength to start picking up the bits of life around me, piling them up high and forming an exit out of the hole I found myself falling deeper and deeper into. When I told Jessie, an old family friend (and ex-dinner lady) I was struggling, she reminded me I’d said it before, and that ultimately, ‘what is for me won’t pass me by’. She’s right – I have found myself in this position a million times before. I’ve been at what I thought was my Lowest Ever Point, but then I’ve renewed myself, flowered and withered and flowered again. Life is cyclical, but making choices and changing who you are, who you want to be, who you want to be with – all those things are cyclical too. Nothing is permanent really, and it’s always worth remembering that. Even tattoos fade.

 

A year ago Obama was in office, I was earning twice what I am now – those two things alone are a big indicator of the changes that were afoot, and a year ago I had no idea I would be where I am now. I’ve never been someone who takes time to prepare, or to ponder or to think about any problems or issues that could arise as the result of things I plan to do. I like making a decision and then just going for it, making it a reality as soon as possible. What I don’t like is when everything falls through, and when these quick decisions I push forward with were not decisions at all, but mistakes. And I’ve made a few of those, including enrolling to a postgrad course I didn’t really know anything about, and then realising after paying the enormous fees, that maybe the course I chose wasn’t really for me… But it’s how you choose to move forward from these bad decisions which allow you to change and grow. It’s from those mistakes that you get the seeds to make a whole new part of your life – a whole new you. Like I said, if you pick up all the debris from the bad moments, the moments of chaos and fear, you can make something new – an idea, a friendship, find a skill, find a new interest, have an epiphany.

Last Christmas, I went to Edinburgh with my family, weeping at night when alone, and crying in the arms of my mother on the street when she could sense I was feeling unsettled and overwhelmed by sadness. Without even thinking about it, I was also endlessly texting and keeping up with a guy who had messaged me out of the blue a few weeks earlier. A month after that we met in person for the first time in ten years and drove around the coast – our unofficial first date looking for puffins. Last week we spent what was essentially our 8 month anniversary counting 283 tiny little pipistrelle bats fly over our heads with The National Trust. We were the seeds of my mistakes – I’d never have met him had I not moved home, I’d have had no one to drive me out to Haddo House to see those bats. And I actually feel happy up here – which is something I never thought possible for me in this city. But the conditions were right – I have the right amount of sunlight, am getting all the nutrients I need to be happy. And I’m at an age where happiness is the thing that matters – not the location, not the pay etc – and that is a decision I’ve made and decided to stick to. It’s a choice I’ve made in order to allow myself happiness – to focus on it and aim for it, and not the other trivial stuff. All the darkness was worth it, and just like Jessie told me in her tiny little house by the shore – I’d been there before and ‘what was for me’ sought me out and became part of my life. Plus me and my friend are starting a band, and I’ve taught myself to weave, and all my family are in a good place, and I’m near my nephews – tonnes of things have fallen into place after all that darkness.

 

Not every moment needs to be a time of blossoming. Sometimes its in those moments of quiet, where nothing seems to be happening, where everything is dark and where times seem bleak, sometimes it’s those moments where you are just a seed. Those are the moments where you get your bearings, spread your roots and prepare to face the sun. Growing is just as important as blossoming.

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