The more things change…

So it’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog. I only realised it the other day when I started to think about maybe getting back into writing, and noticed that my last post was about Melbourne, which I visited in January 2010. It was somewhat horrifying  to realise that somehow a year had passed in which I didn’t manage to find the time to write anything (or at least to post anything. I had a few failed attempts littered here and there.)

It got me thinking about how easily time passes and slips away, and that it’s not even necessarily about what you prioritise, or at least what you want to prioritise. I know I managed to keep updated with whether RPattz and KStew are actually dating, and I carved out time to watch X Factor. When it comes down to it, is that what is more important to me than writing? I also only managed to read a handful of books last year, but I read my fair share of trashy magazines. I suppose sometimes it’s just easier to be lazy. It certainly takes less effort to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians than to write a blog post.

The one good thing, or at least enlightening thing, about how I have not posted in almost a year, means that the ‘new year’ posts are close to the top. I was reading over one in which I lamented that my ‘just do it’ philosophy was obviously not being heeded to, that I needed to keep a diary, that I needed to be more organized, that I had started the 100 push-ups programme.

I was hit by how crushingly similar my aspirations are this year. I spent the 2nd of January scouring book and stationary shops in an attempt to find the perfect diary that would somehow manage to transform my life into one of efficiency and achievement; I had downloaded the 100 push-ups app onto my iPhone; I had tried to stop putting things off and just do them when I thought of it.

A lot of things have changed for me in the past year.  I’ve planned trips that I didn’t go on, and gone on ones that I didn’t plan, I’ve dabbled with cancer, I’ve been to a psychotherapist, I’ve said goodbye to my first proper job and wondered if I would ever find anything that suited me so well, I’ve managed to get a new job which has opened my eyes to a side of life that I never experienced and I’ve moved to the other side of the world.

And yet when the new year rolled around, I was still battling with the same issues I always was – that I’m not achieving my potential, that my body is not as thin as it should be, my hair not as long, my skin not as clear, that I still don’t have an idea of what it is I want my ‘career’ to be and that I’m still apparently unable to use a diary for more than a week at a time.

My hopes and dreams for a new year all seemed a bit futile in the face of such overwhelming evidence that my weaknesses remain the same, that my ability to overcome them is limited. Part of me wonders if maybe I should just throw away the diary and accept that, like a friend said to me recently, if something is important, you’ll do it. But at the same time, I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, and maybe it’s just in my nature to take the easy way out, to be a bit lazy, and maybe it’s also in my nature to want to struggle against that. I know in some ways I’m setting myself up to fail. That I will stop using that diary, that I will somehow end up watching a re-run of Everwood rather than going to the gym.

I went to a shambhala meditation group some time ago, (a component of my ideal self is that I would meditate daily, without my thoughts drifting off to consider whether I need a new pair of shoes). The teacher discussed the problematic nature of the idea of self-improvement and progress. I found this quite a difficult idea to wrestle with, as if we don’t want to improve or progress, then it seemed like giving up. But the teacher explained that what they were meaning was to interrogate the impulses behind that improvement. Is it negative or positive? Who are you trying to improve for and what are the true benefits?

While I don’t think I could just let go of feeling like I need to improve, I do think I probably need to switch my focus to what it is I have done right, what it is I have achieved, rather than focusing on what I haven’t, and how I need to do more. Maybe it’s about enhancing what is already there, rather than thinking about what I’m lacking or not doing right.

I may never change in the way I have strived to. In fact, I wonder if I would be recognizable to myself if I did. If I suddenly woke up tomorrow at 6am and meditated and went to the gym t and then practiced yoga and chatted easily to acquaintances and held the gaze of strangers and dressed my lithe body in fabulously minimalist chic attire, read some literary classic on the tube on the way to my as-yet-undetermined perfect job that is enjoyable, but also makes a difference to people’s lives, had cocktails with friends after work, a delicious meal with an intelligent man, who I was not intimidated by, and we have deep and meaningful conversation, I order the salmon, because healthy food is just so delicious and I don’t have dessert, because I’m not much of a sweet tooth, and I was on time for all my appointments and was not indecisive once.

Anyway, back to reality. Who knows whether life would be more satisfying if we were living out our perfect selves? That fantasy is just that, and in the end my weaknesses are as much a part of who I am as my strengths. And when I think of the good people I have in my life, and accept me for who I am (and maybe because of who I am) it serves as a reminder that maybe I’m OK if I never change.

Chances are, I’m 28, and this is what I’m like, but I think maybe I need to start enjoying the attempt at change, and to take pleasure in simple victories, like how I actually sat down and wrote this, rather than thinking about doing it, but reading my Twitter feed instead.

Rather than the goal of unattainable perfection, I think my goal for this year is just to live consciously, the exact meaning of which I’m still trying to work out, but it’s a phrase that keeps coming back to me when I think about this year and what I want it to be and how I want me to be, but that’s another blog post (hopefully!).

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10 responses to “The more things change…

  1. June

    Yay! A new blog post! Can’t believe it’s been a year. Six months, maybe, but a year? It’s crazy.

    I’ve given up on making proper new year’s resolutions. They’ve pretty much been the same for about five years now — eat healthier, exercise more and be more sociable. And although I do try (to some extent), it really never lasts more than two weeks… at most. And that’s being generous to myself.

    But, like you said, I know who I am. I’m never going to magically banish McDonalds or KFC from my diet entirely; never going to run marathons or go to the gym every day to to turn my body into the way I want it to look; and I can guarantee I’m not going to turn into Miss Sociable, as much as I feel like I should. I think I just have to accept that I love junk food too much to give it up and that I’d rather be at home watching (or rewatching) Glee and The Vampire Diaries than going to the gym or going out and talking to people!

    But, yeah, I don’t think you have to change yourself completely. You wouldn’t be you if you weren’t, well, you. ( I don’t think that made sense, but whatever. lol) The little things can make a difference — like walking past the chips at the caff and getting a sandwich instead, or going out with friends, even though all I really wanted to do was go home and read/watch something. But I did it, and I’m glad I did. It was good. So taking pleasure in simple victories is definitely the way to go, I think! =)

    • Ugh, the gym. I really need to go there and I actually find it quite enjoyable when I get there (usually), so I don’t know why it’s such a struggle for me to go. I read an article the other day that was basically saying gyms are a big conspiracy and people just need to go outside and go for a walk. I quite liked that idea, but it was so cold when I was out walking in Hyde Park today! It was beautiful, but I don’t know whether it’s a realistic substitute for the gym and so I can fit my jeans comfortably again.

      I know what you mean about the sociable thing as well. I wish it wasn’t such an effort for me to engage with people sometimes. Or more that I just want people to organise things for me and I’ll go, rather than organising it myself. Obviously I’m just very lazy in general :-)

      • The Guardian had a Get Fit For Free guide today. I haven’t read it yet, though, so that pretty much says it all about my commitment to getting fit.

      • I checked out their website and there was some good stuff on it. I think I might stop my gym membership next month and see whether I can do the free thing, as long as the weather doesn’t get in my way!

  2. Samantha

    Glad to see you writing again, Ingrid.. I love your blog and the photos you add to it. By the way, your idealistic version of self sounds just like my idealistic version of self…! New Years Resolutions never work, but it’s a good opportunity in the year to take a look at where you are at and what you might want to change. Just don’t beat yourself up so much if it doesn’t happen! If I followed my New Years Resolutions, I would definitely not recognise myself or my life, and I quite like my life :-) You have shifted your whole life to the other side of the world.. give yourself a year off before worrying about self-improvement!! x

    • Ha, thanks, Sam :-) I think it was just the shock of seeing my ‘resolutions’ were exactly the same as they were a year ago and I hadn’t even realised it! It just feels like it’s always going to be about striking a balance for me between not putting too much pressure on myself and not being completely lazy.

  3. Amanda

    So great to see your blog up and going again. Hopefully you’ve inspired me to finish the post I started a few days ago. I also logged on to my blog dashboard in the new year and found multiple half-baked drafts from months ago and could no longer remember what I was intending to say. I drew comfort from my visitor stats, though – at least one person (probably my mum) was still checking in every few days just in case, even though I haven’t posted since August. That made me smile. I was one of the stats on yours, as I always enjoyed reading it back in NZ and checked it every now and then after I left.

    Given you’ve had more than your fair share this year, you will probably agree that change and upheaval are exhausting. When it gets concerning for me is not when I don’t achieve the changes I desire (that will always happen), but when I get tired and lose the motivation to even take small steps. And if I’m aiming to be someone I’m not, then that’s far more likely to happen. Surely the idea of self-improvement is not to be someone different from who I am, but to be more me. So in 2011 I’m aiming for small victories and will be happy with miniscule ones.

    • I really like that idea of ‘being more me’. I think that’s a nice way to think about it. Although I think sometimes I can find it confusing trying to work out exactly who that is!

      I think apathy is probably the worst feeling of all. I was feeling that today, actually. I knew a lot of things I should be doing to myself happier, but I just couldn’t be bothered or work up the motivation to actually do any of it.

      Change is exhausting, as is the upheaval of moving countries. It’s easy to forget that as well, so I guess we just need to be kind to ourselves at the moment.

      I checked your blog just the other day and saw you hadn’t posted in a while! I hope you manage to get back into it. I was cleaning up my bookmarks (part of my new year organisation craze) and there were a number of blogs I deleted because they were no longer active, so we’re not the only ones struggling!

      • Amanda

        The post I am working on at the moment is nothing profound – just a highlights package of 2010. I doubt it will be the rebirth of the blog, but I’m enjoying the process of documenting the year. Looking back is reminding me how privileged I am to have made the choices I have. That doesn’t mean I won’t slip into the odd ‘funk’ – a week or so back I was feeling much as you described yourself today.

      • Yep, we’re definitely privileged to have the choices we do. Looking forward to your post, and that’s a nice way to take stock of the past year :-)

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