Again it’s been way too long since I last wrote, but I figured the only way to get back into it is to just start again. The beginning of 2016 was a little harder than I would have liked. Even though my new vegan diet was (and still is) treating me well, I didn’t feel very good mentally. I had exams and assignments and on top of that I had to work a lot and by the end of the month I was exhausted. The concert I went to was a nice break from it all but I still struggled to find a good balance between doing things that I had to do, things I liked to do, things I wanted to do, and having a social life. This month I was trying extra hard to find this balance, and with the help of a little sunshine I feel a lot better.
Whenever people start a conversation, one of the first questions you get is how you are. For people that I don’t know really well, such as classmates, the standard answer is always something along the lines of ‘Yeah, I’m fine! How about you?’ or ‘I’m okay, busy, but okay.’ With friends and family, I always try to answer this question as truthfully as possible. After all, I’m assuming they ask me because they genuinely want to know what’s going on. Why bother asking if they didn’t? This winter, I’d gotten too used to answering with answers like ‘tired’ and ‘stressed’. If I would have been a hundred percent honest (not just with them but also with myself) I could’ve answered ‘not very happy’. I realise that I cannot be happy all of the time, but at the end of last year and last month the less happy and happy moments didn’t really have a good balance anymore. This month, it’s been a lot better. Yes, there have been moments where I’ve been really stressed (starting my BA thesis – joy!) but when I look back, these were just fractions of my time in February. Overall, I have been feeling pretty good. Now, when someone asks me how I’m feeling I initially want to give the answer that I’m so used to giving, but a few days ago I realised that I’m not feeling extremely tired or stressed for a change. So now when people ask me and I say ‘Yeah, I’m fine!’ there is finally some truth behind it. The month also started out pretty nicely, because I went away for a weekend with two good friends of mine. They are a couple, but with them, I don’t feel like I’m the third wheel. I can get along with both of them really well and I can just be myself, which is such a good feeling. We went to a little cabin in the countryside – a cabin without any electricity. This meant that we had to keep a fire going the entire day, chop wood for the said fire, light candles in the evening, hide under enormous blankets. It was amazing. Not glued to my phone, just enjoying the calm atmosphere. Not stressing out over things that had to be done, just staring outside at the green fields. No distractions, no noise, just the ever increasing wind that made the shutters squeak and the roof tiles tremble. Usually I get restless when I hear noises like ticking or squeaking, or when people are moving their feet rhythmically – I can get a bit over-sensitive. In the cabin I wasn’t bothered by it and felt very zen. It amazed me how much we talked that weekend – the moments that we weren’t enjoying the quiet of the countryside, we kept talking and discussing and singing and laughing. I’d have expected that at some point we’d run out of material to talk about, but the opposite was true. The more we talked, the more there was to talk about. We played games, cooked healthy meals (and ate not-so-healthy snacks), and danced around in our self-made blanket-dresses (yes, that’s a thing). The weekend away gave me a lot of energy to start the month on a good note.
Another large contributer to this new-found happiness (that sounds so dramatic, but really, that’s what it feels like) is that I finally have my priorities straight again. I figured out which areas in my life need more or less priority, and this month I’ve been living according to that, and it’s working well so far. Sometimes, it means I cannot do things with friends (like going out for dinner when I was the lowest on money I’d ever been, and hadn’t been able to finish an important assignment). In those moments it’s very frustrating, but in this case it meant that I had more time to focus on my uni assignment – it exhausted me to be at uni until 20pm, but the satisfaction afterwards was definitely worth it. Had I gone with them, it probably would have meant that I would have been stressing majorly the next day. It’s also a great incentive to get things done – I know that when I finish my homework, I can reward myself with spending time with friends. In those moments, I also enjoy it more because I have a clearer mind. I also try to work a little less, because I found that working 18 hours a week on top of homework, a social life and my other priorities was a bit much. But the thing that hands-down made me feel happier this month, was starting my workouts again. I have times where I rarely work out and slowly but surely I start to feel miserable, and every time I start again it suprises me how good it makes me feel. I’ve decided to move my workouts up higher on my priorities list, because it makes a significant difference in my mood. And a better mood helps me to focus on things that I need to do, and to stay motivated. Practising pull-ups (or rather – practising to be able to do one pull-up to start with), push-ups, training outside with friends, playing squash, doing yoga – I love it.
Of course a big part of my happy feelings is because spring is just around the corner! I never used to be a victim of the winter blues, but I feel like the lack of some good ol’ Vitamin D really affected me the past two years. But no more of that winter depression – flowers are starting to bloom again, I wake up to birds chirping, the days are longer, the sun is shining. (‘Can I really end on such a cliché? Shouldn’t I think of something deeper or more original? Okay – I’ll just do it.’) Life is good.