New Year, just me.

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I know it’s been a while since my last post. Or posts. But I though that now with 2016 here, it can’t be that hard to write something about last year, about me, about what I hope this year will be like, plus, of course, the whole cliché called Resolutions and anything else.

I had lots of moments I’ve been proud of in 2015, and I’d like to talk more about a quite recent one: I’ve written a book. Although I’m not sure this is the right term for it – it’s not published and it may not even be in a publishable form. But it’s a novel that I enjoyed writing, and with a clear purpose in mind: to enter it in a ‘Young Writers’ competition that was happening in my home country. Obviously, the desired language wasn’t English, which made things a little harder since I’m used to write on this blog. More obviously, there were a certain deadline and a minimum number of characters involved – not words, for some reason, which means that
supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (tell me you know the word)
counted quite a lot, and ‘to be or not to be’ not that much… So I tried my best not to write like Snoopy below, given the fact that I knew my editing time would be really, really short. And I used a really cool Android app called Writeometer to keep track of daily progress.

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Although the time was short and postponing the task made it even shorter, I managed to finish both the storyline, the (minor) editing and to reach the threshold number of words about an hour before the deadline. The whole process could have fit into the NaNoWriMo challenge, but somehow it went a little over it. If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, it basically stands for National Novel Writing Month, and you’re supposed to write a little bit – or more than a little bit – each day of November, so that your draft / novel is finished by the beginning of winter. Did I write each and every day of November? Nope. Did I finish before the 1st of December? Nope, but I finished 11 days later, which was the deadline that interested me. Over 200.000 words, based on a much shorter story that I had written in high school, in my mother tongue – I wouldn’t have time for another proper draft anyway. Did I enjoy it? Of course I did. Or else I would have stopped… (If only this could be valid for everything else in life.)

I know I said at some point in an older article that writing a book is nowhere close to writing on a blog. But to be honest I realised there are more similarities than I would have expected – the question is, would people read it? Which is the same question for blog articles, in fairness. The only thing is perseverance and passion – plus a good plot and characters. I ended up typing most of the book on my phone: writing on the tube – just like I do now, paying attention from time to time not to miss my stop – writing before going to job in the morning, writing while having dinner, writing in the lunch break at the office. Because even if the actual typing doesn’t necessarily make a good book, there’s definitely no book without it. So I cared less about editing and more about letting the words flow – that’s how I write on the blog in the end, right? Sometimes that’s how I speak as well. Just my pure thoughts.

But anyway, for me meeting that deadline was the prize itself. I feel like I won my own, personal, intimate competition which was represented by the challenge of finishing the novel. Will it get short-listed? I don’t know, I’ll find out soon – but if not, it means I’ll still get the chance of improving it in the future, without thinking about publishing it until it’s ready.

About my other fulfilled goals from 2015… Well, they’re mostly usual ones, like starting a great, long-distance relationship (I know I said in an earlier post the “great” and “long-distance” can’t be used together, but maybe I’ll explain at some point how I ended up changing my mind), starting a job, finishing university and starting life in a new place. But the question is, how I’d like this year to be – comparing it with the past one, since it’s better to learn from our mistakes and past experiences in general.

Of course I have cliché resolutions like going to the gym and eating healthier. But I also wish for things that people don’t usually say – like feeling good about myself, being more confident (I’m also trying to stop using foundation on my face on a day to day basis, ’cause after all I shouldn’t really care that much about my imperfections), crying less, managing to find out the reason I’m crying when there’s no apparent one, feeling less lonely, making new friends, smiling, having more time for my hobbies which – unfortunately – are not work related so they have to be done outside work times: like reading, writing, drawing. I was thinking I could try read 26 books this year. Or at least 12. And write not only on this blog, but also for some creative writing contests. Maybe finish that website that i started half a year ago, which was supposed to be a better version of this blog… and understand that I can’t create a perfect website, but it should be as close to perfect for fitting its purpose.

I guess the whole idea of a New Year resolution is to get out of your comfort zone – which is never easy. But if you stretch out far enough, you’ll eventually exit it, right?

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Violet, Horseradish, P.S.-s

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I decided to buy a horseradish and a bunch of violets to give my day some taste and colour. The funny thing about both the horseradish and violets is that they aren’t easy to define. You could think about the colour violet that’s actually a mixture of red and blue, two states of a soul that are contrary in such a way that the final result can’t be explained in an easy way. It’s almost dangerous to mix the passion of red with the sadness of blue, it creates an explosion which is just as strong as the perfume of these violets. As strong as the horseradish taste, which is too strange to be defined: is it bitter?… is it sweet?… It’s violet. Just like life.

P. S. 1. I wrote this little article at the Arvon Creative Writing workshop back at the end of August – if you follow me on Facebook, you know about it already. The very first exercise we received was to choose two random words that we like or we find interesting. Easy. Mine were ‘violet’ and ‘horseradish’, violet because of this and horseradish because of this. But actually both of them come from Lemony Snicket, with Violet and the word horseradish that I first encountered – in English – in one of those amazing books. But anyway, while the first exercise was piece of cake, the second was to write a sentence containing both, and the next one to just immediately continue writing and see what you get. That’s my result.

P.S.2. I didn’t have the chance to post it until now. I actually didn’t have a chance to post anything, not even another piece of writing from the workshop, or something related to one of the many, many ideas I have. It’s been a long time, I know, and I thought that starting a new job, moving into the capital city and getting used to everything that’s new could be good excuses. Guess what, they aren’t. I had a chat last night which made me realise they aren’t. Made me wake up in the morning and write this before work, and I’m thankful for that. Everyone knows that if you really like doing something, you’ll make time for it. So I hope I’ll manage to find a timeslot in my busy-or-not-so-busy-but-lazy life for writing on the blog 🙂

P.S.3. I haven’t forgot I promised myself I’ll create my own website for the blog. It’s there, in a very early version, but again, it wasn’t in the top of my priorities recently… Same as in P.S.2, I’ll make time for it, at least until I decide it looks good enough to be publicly announced, even if not completely finished.

P.S.4. I GOT PUBLISHED!! Or actually, I will this Saturday 😀 One of the articles written at Arvon was chosen to be included in an anthology for young people, which is launched this Saturday in Winter Gardens, Sheffield, UK. (Facebook event here). I will post it here as well after that. I know it’s probably not much, but then again, it makes me a little more motivated to continue with all this, which can’t be bad at all.

P.S.5 I realised that instead of P.S. I could have used ‘Note’, as P.S. is usually for ending letters. But perhaps all this was addressed to whoever is reading, so it makes a little bit of sense. I know it wasn’t the usual type of posts, but those will come pretty soon. It’s a promise.

The Pursuit of…

happiness

The inspiration for this article comes from three different comments I got from three different persons. They were the types of comments that stay hidden into your mind for a long, long time, and you think about them from time to time, but you never truly forget them. They’re just there, and you can’t even explain why you keep bothering about them, why can’t you store some other kind of information into your brain, rather than random remarks… except they’re not that random.

These three comments seemed quite different from each other until I suddenly saw them like the pieces of a puzzle, which somehow started making sense in a second. It’s the same feeling you’ve got when you start thinking about something, then your mind wanders towards something else, and so on until you stop and wonder how you got from A to Z, when they’re not related at all… But anyway, the first remark was given to me by a girl of my age, whom I had just met that evening. Somehow we ended up talking, and somehow the topic turned out to be the long distance relationships, which I mentioned that I don’t particularly enjoy. But right after that, her comment, half question, half pity, froze me for a second. ‘You have been in many long distance relationship, then?… ‘ Well, guess what, I have not. Not even in one. But I’ve seen enough around me – I have eyes, you know. I have ears, I have imagination, I have friends who’ve been there. And yes, I know you can’t really put yourself in someone else’s shoes when it comes to feelings and all that, but still, I do not have a good opinion about a relationship with someone you meet once a month, at least of course not without a proper foundation, let’s say. I know it’s hard, I know everyone knows it’s hard… Still you are allowed to say that I haven’t experienced such a level of love that is above all these – cause you’re probably right. I’m aware of the fact true love beats distance, but does true love really exist…? (I’ve written here an article about soul-mates some time ago – and I pretty much still have the same principles).

The second remark was made online by a friend, with whom I somehow managed to have a deeper conversation even though that didn’t happen often. And by deeper, I mean about happiness. I mentioned not having a boyfriend and then I asked for his opinion about how I could be happier. I don’t know if I expected his answer to be related to some relationship thing, but it wasn’t. ‘Just make more of what makes you happy.‘, then ‘And having a boyfriend doesn’t guarantee happiness, does it?‘. And he was right. I knew that, I had known that beforehand, I had experienced it at some point. And I know that there’s no one who can make you happy except yourself, as you can’t really be happy with someone else until you learn it by yourself. And you may be sad now that you’re single, but you may be even sadder with someone wrong near you. So as much as I like to pretend that being single is the reason for my occasional lack of happiness, I know I have to admit that’s not the case. It’s something deeper, that no one can figure out except myself; after realising what makes me happy and what doesn’t, I can start working more on the first bit, and improve my happiness, I guess.

The last remark is the one that put everything together in a bigger picture. It was addressed to me by that one guy which I could consider being the cause of my unhappiness, except I know that’s not the case. I think I’ve mentioned him about that, about sometimes being unhappy. And his reply made me half frown, half smile. ‘You’re the one who’s got a job, so stop complaining‘. And I stopped, but just because I didn’t know how to respond. Yes, I got a job, and yes, I will be moving to the capital city soon. But an old cliché proverb says that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness – although, I know, it’s a lot more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bike. Still, it doesn’t guarantee happiness, the same way having a boyfriend doesn’t. What the job guarantees, though, is the fact that I’ll move outside this city. Which brought into my mind the first remark; what if a boyfriend would have been left behind? Then it would have been a long distance relationship. So… isn’t it better that this is not the case? Isn’t it better that I do not have a boyfriend, with whom to have a long distance relationship, which I doubt would be that pleasing?… Yet I’ve heard though that such relationships do have their benefits; plus of course, many other possibilities exist, such as the boyfriend coming to the capital city, money buying happiness, or me discovering that even a long distance relationship is not that bad. For now, though, I’ll stick to what I have, which is the future job. That may not be enough to make me happy, but hey, it could have been worse, right?

NOTE: Three months after writing this as a draft, I had the chance to date someone and perhaps even be in a relationship, but I chose to end it after a really short time. And it proved me everything I had already written in here, everything I was trying to convince myself when I was typing the above thoughts. Now I know, I’ve felt it, I’ve lived it. A relationship does not guarantee happiness. Your attitude does, and the better the relationship is, the better your attitude – but also the other way around. Until you realise you’ve got the relationship you want, don’t offer your happiness “bare-handed” to anyone – it’s too precious and too fragile, just like your heart, and you should handle both of them with kid gloves. Learn to value yourself and be happy whether you’re single or not, whether you’ve got that job or not – but hey, at least you can still do more of what you like, and if that doesn’t make you happy, I don’t know what else does.

Bottom line, of course, don’t worry, be happy! It’s well worth it 😀

Ready. Choose. Go!

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Why do we ask advice from others about our own lives? Why do we feel like giving advice to others but, most importantly, why do we accept someone to tell us which path to take into our lifes, which choices to make, what to do? Giving advice is something I do quite often, but maybe it’s wrong. I mean you can’t really put yourself in some other person’s shoes, can you? All you can do is listen to them, and ask the right questions so that you make them think. Then you’ll guide them not towards the path you’d like them to take, but towards the path they feel they should take. You make them understand themselves better. It’s all about explaining the feelings to someone else, either by writing or verbally. And the sense of having to explain everything from head to tail to some other person, who of course can’t feel the feelings you’re describing just as you feel them, makes you see the situation with new eyes. But it depends a lot of the advice you’re receiving. For instance, if you’re about to make a decision and you just can’t figure out what’s the best choice, you may seek help at some friends or family members. Some of them will be certain that option A is the best, some of them otherwise. The thing is that you’re really weak in those moments. You’ll talk to the first person who explains all the arguments for option A, and you’re about to believe that indeed it’s the right thing, when some other person – or even the same one, which makes everything even more confusing – shows you that option B may actually be better. And you’ll end up even more confused. Instead of focusing on what’s the best for you, you’ll start thinking which of those persons knows you more, so that you can be sure that their arguments were the best. And that’s wrong. It will alter your way of thinking, and you’ll lose yourself amongst others’ ideas, thoughts, illusions and, perhaps most importantly, wishes.

So stop asking left and right about what YOU should do. It’s not their life, it’s not their choice. At least if you’ll realise you chose wrong, be brave enough to admit it was your own mistake, rather than cowardly hiding behind someone else’s. Cause if you let them choose for you, you’ll never be confident on your own self. There’ll be moments when you’ll think What if…? and start day dreaming about some other path of your life, which you abandoned just because someone else told you so. Of course it’s easier to blame someone else. But it’s not right, and, again, why shouldn’t we choose our own path in life, either the easiest or the hardest? At least you’d be proud no one had to push you that way. If you take your time and think about it, think first about what your heart really wants. Is it A or is it B? Or maybe why not complicate everything by including an X in the equation?

If you’re still not sure about it, talk to someone. Yes, indeed, i know I’ve said it’s not a good idea, but if the person knows something about communication, listening and helping others discover what they want, it may work. It happened to me – or at least i think so. The thing is for them to say the right things. For instance, they may tell you that yes, of course, inevitably you should choose A, and also give arguments. They should say Problem solved, I’m sure that’s the right thing to do. Take a deep breath and analyse your feelings. Was this what you were hoping to hear? Do you feel happy that someone else showed you that indeed the option you always preferred deep inside your heart is the best one? Congrats then, you’ve just discovered what you really prefer. The bad news is that it doesn’t mean it’s the best decision. But it’s the one you’ll enjoy the most in that very moment. Now the problem is if you listen to your wishes or not.

On the other hand, when they persuade you to choose something you don’t want to, you may end up doing it just because of the pressure. But again, deep inside your heart, your true wish will try to come to surface. You may regret it after a while, you may regret letting them choose for you. Cause after all, no one has been through what you have. Not even the closest person you may have. No one knows you better than yourself – but that is if you take your time and meditate a little. No one knows what will prove to be the best choice in the future. Not even yourself, unfortunately. Life is full of risks, but don’t forget it’s your own life. Your own risks. You shouldn’t let anyone push you away from a path, just because they appear to know what’s the best for you. Trust me, they don’t. Only you have power to change what’s the best for you, and in case of a mistake, learn and get over it. It’s better to learn from your own mistakes than letting others experiment on you with their ideas about your future.

So whatever you choose, don’t overthink it too much, don’t listen to 100 other opinions. Be brave enough to choose your own path, and proudly start walking on it. Keep your head up even if things around you fall apart, and don’t regret anything. Don’t let others define your life. Sadly there will probably be cases when you’ll realise they knew better, but… That’s life 🙂 The only one we have, and we shouldn’t live it as a puppet in someone else’s hands.