The Times They Are a-Changing

I haven’t written in a few weeks. I’ve been a little sidetracked. I’ve had some rather big changes happen in my life, and they’ve all happened rather quickly. I’ve had some adjusting to do, and it’s kept me pretty busy.

Firstly, I got a job.

*cue applause*

It took a while – in hindsight, probably not a long as it felt when I was going through it – but I got a job. I’m now a copywriter with an online retail site. It’s not the most glamourous occupation, but it is a job that pays me and actually utilises my degree, in a good office that’s only a reasonable commute away, working with nice people and not answering phones all day. As a graduate, that’s pretty much the ideal.

I’m enjoying employment. Regular pay goes miles towards relieving anxiety. I don’t have to worry about when my phone bill is due, or if I can afford to go to dinner with my family. But aside form the obvious financial benefits, I’m enjoying the sense of purpose and freedom it brings. During my unemployment, there were mornings when I awoke with no idea what I was doing that day, and as a result, I did nothing. I struggled with the lack of structure. I had a lot of free time, but I wasted it more than I should have. I felt guilty about every free moment I didn’t spend looking for a job.

Now, not only do I not have to worry as much about money, my evenings feel like my own again. When I come home from work, I can write for my own pleasure, or read my vast collection of unread books, or bake or go out with friends or do absolutely nothing – and it’s all right. That freedom is delicious, and aside from financial freedom, it’s the greatest thing about being employed.

It helps that I can say I’m honestly enjoying my work, that I like my colleagues and the environment of our office. Moving into full time work is a big adjustment – I cannot deny I was nervous, and I’ve only been there a week, but I think I’m doing pretty well

Secondly, I’m healthier.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with PCOS, a deceptively common condition with a whole host of symptoms, from the negligible to the nasty. My case is not terrible, which is why it went unnoticed for so long, but it does explain a lot, from my lethargy to my headaches, my undulating anxiety and my occasionally skewy blood sugar.

Diagnosis meant I could begin treating the issue, and after a few months I’m happy to say just about every aspect of my general well-being has improved. I feel better. I have more energy. I sleep better. Anxiety, when it hits, is easier to handle. While being told you have such a condition, even a less severe case like mine, is never easy, it is good to have an explanation, to know what’s going on. Knowing what’s wrong – and what you can do to fix it – makes a huge difference.

Thirdly, I got a nasty case of lock neck a week or so back and that just made it really hard to type for a while.

My life is changing, and changing fast, but it’s changing for the better. For now, at least, things are looking up.

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Hatching some plots, scheming some schemes

Many many years ago, probably in early high school when the world seemed much less scary and much more infinite, some long forgotten lunchtime conversation led to me and my best friend making a promise – some day, eventually, we’d go on an adventure together.

We’ve done a lot of living in between then and now. We graduated. We travelled with our families. We’ve lost some friend and made new ones, and through it all we kept coming back to the plans we made as teenagers, kept promising each other we’d do it.

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[from my last European adventure – Copenhagen, January 2014]

Now, we are.

A few weeks ago, while we were waiting for a train, we found ourselves talking about the places we wanted to go. Ireland and Germany for me. Scotland and Prague for Lara. Budapest for everybody. But this time, instead of trailing off with our usual promises of ‘one day…’, we made a plan. And instead of letting this plan slip through our fingers, we’re actually working to make it real.

It’s early days yet. We’re thinking 18 months away, too far off to be looking at flights or booking hostels, but time to start budgeting, to look at maps and plot paths and write wish lists. We have a lot of ideas – probably too many to fit into one trip – and there will, undoubtedly, have to be some sacrifices and compromises, but we are, finally, working towards making our fanciful notions actually happen.

It’s a strange feeling. I’ve planned parts of trips before, booked dinners in New York, researched regional flights in the Arctic, learned my way around London, but this is the first time I’ve been responsible for, more or less, the entire trip. There was a moment of thrilling realisation when it occurred to me that we could go anywhere. We choose the route, we choose where we go and how we get there, and we make it happen. We’re taking responsibility for our own dreams, and it feels terrifying, and it feels wonderful.

So I’m reading up on Eurail passes, Lara’s building a budget plans, Angela’s photoshopping us into pictures of London (???) and Olivia, probably the most levelheaded of the lot, isn’t counting her chickens before they hatch.

I know I’m probably too excited, getting ahead of myself, but I’ve always found planning the adventure is half the fun.