Sunday, 11 January 2015

Day Zero Project

Tomorrow I return to University to complete the second term of my second year studying English Literature. It sounds like something utterly cliché to say but the past one and a half years have flown by, and despite a massive struggle to keep going at times, I've for the most part have been doing extremely well. I remember being at school and dreading its return, now, despite my Christmas break not really being a 'break' (working in retail and studying an English degree in particular tampers with that word on occasion) - I embrace next semester with open arms, a sense of structure, normality, and a keenness to work on my recovery journey.

I've been thinking recently about how much we struggle to mould ourselves as we grow older. I think, and I may just be guessing here but many friends of mine seem to have a clear sense of who they are and what they want, and I've mentioned this many times before but I never seemed to have that focus. I've spent a large chunk of my life dreaming of other peoples lives and goals rather than setting out to live my own.

I've been struggling to work out whether I am the girl who loves getting fake tans and going out to cheesy 80's nightclubs as well as the one who watches Downton Abbey religiously and thrives off of Keira Knightley films and snuggles with my boyfriend. Am I the gig-goer I was as a teenager, loving rock and alternative music, or do I really prefer blasting out Kisstory whilst superficially lathering myself in foundation?

The truth is, I am all of these people and I've spent so long trying to figure out ONE true identity when what I've really been doing is failing to realise that there's nothing wrong with simply wanting to do and loving everything around me. I've been trying to visualise a concrete career path in my mind when the truth might be that I mediate between different options and careers and never truly settle. I shouldn't be ashamed that I love being superficial every now and again, as well as an academic - sometimes these paths are taught not to cross at all.

A few days ago I watched a YouTube video by a friend of mine, LauraLeJeune, who many of you will have undoubtedly heard of through her deservedly successful YouTube channel on mental health. This video particularly struck me and I urge you all to give it a watch, right now!

The Day Zero project urges and encourages you to record and set challenges for yourselves that you wish to complete in your lifetime. The list I have taken is the 101 things in 1001 days - giving a specific time frame to complete your challenges and goals. As Laura rightly puts it, having an entire Bucket List gives you an excuse to put your long-term goals off of your list for as long as possible, whereas having a set end date gives you much more pressure and a higher likelihood of achieving the goals set.

Whilst inputting goals onto my list, it amazed me how many of these goals were truly mine and how I had the capability to not put something on my list because it was something that I felt coerced or pressured into doing, like becoming vegetarian, getting a tattoo or completing a sky-dive, but were goals that were mine and represented my identity.

Unbelievably, I have completed some goals from the last 'goals list' I created - I unbelievably met my biological father and my brother, I now regularly donate blood, I hosted a huge party, I have now ran 4 Race for Life 5k races, I learned how to play poker (although I think I've forgotten now!). Small goals to some, but to look back at a time where I was in an awful lot of mental pain, believing I could do nothing, and knowing that somewhere I had the strength to attempt to achieve some of these goals astounds me. Composing my list this time around felt so much more momentous - I know I have the ability to travel now whereas I never did before and I really crave travelling to formulate a huge part of my identity, even if it is something I only begin at the age of 22.

I know realistically that nothing is out of my reach. Only I am the obstacle to my own success, and that makes life seem so easy, doesn't it? Of course it isn't. But belief is also a huge part of it all. Believing that achievement and doing things you WANT to do is possible, and living a life that is all yours and no-one elses. If there's one thing I hate, it's pressure from others to do and like certain things or be a certain way, and I guess it's part of the reason why I spent so long switching between friendship groups, music tastes, and lifestyles, attempting to work out who I was, being pulled along by each individual to adapt to their life and ideals. As I've gotten older, I've realised that what better life to lead than my own? I am the one in the drivers seat, after all.

I have a long way to go in treatment in regards to working out who I am. But one things for sure, I am a girl who can love Virginia Woolf novels, geeking out in the library, listening to Queen and Fatboy Slim, and drinking jagerbombs all at the same time and I am totally okay with that.

You can discover more about the Day Zero Project HERE and track my goals and projects - my username is amylvm - please do create your own lists and goals and tell me about them!

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