I just logged into my Wix account (my website editor) for the first time in months. Many months. And I had a read through what I wrote in my "About" section" when I first started this project. Musician, writer, Millennial, traveller, knitter. Those are words I use to describe myself. Of course the Millennial thing won't ever change, and I doubt the others will either, but in the past year those parts of me have been harder to access, travelling in particular. But I also feel more like myself than ever.
Before the first lock down, a relationship ended. A relationship in which I moulded myself to fit someone else's narrative. In conversations with my counsellor, I have found that I've been doing that for most of my life. For a long time I wasn't really myself, but rather a version of myself that I thought people wanted me to be. The version that would cause the least upset, in my mind. This strategy failed me and resulted in depression after depression. Suppressing yourself is uncomfortable and awkward. It is soul destroying. A bird is not born to be caged, as it turns out.
I don't think I'm out of the woods yet, but I do see the clearing ahead. Back in March 2020, I discovered that I needed to be true to myself. As much as that sounds like an inspirational Instagram post (insert photo of bare feet on the beach) it is what saved me. And hey, I love being barefoot on the beach. So I moved. And after six weeks of filling a friend's home with bin bags full of my possessions, I moved into an unfurnished flat. A clean slate. A blank canvas. A year later, I sit on my colourful sofa, surrounded by my plants, books and instruments. I was able to fill this space myself. That seems so banal, and obvious, but what happened was that I created a space I love. I don't think there is a colour not represented in this place.
I created a space that I love in a lock down. I'm a Millennial. We share things. We love to share things. If it's not on Instagram, did it really happen? This space I've created has hardly been seen by other people, and to me that is a special thing. It means I have done this solely for myself. That is a big deal for someone who has spent over 20 years people pleasing. I sit here, a year on, feeling so grateful for this space. And feeling grateful that it exists for me. Realising that I exist for me.
This is the most I have written in a long time, this blog post. I define myself as a writer, so not writing for an extended period of time feels wrong. But as much as I love writing, I am still myself if I don't write. Writing that felt weird. Especially as I have, time and time again, written "I feel like myself again" in journals when I've come out of a non-writing period. I don't have to write to have value. I don't have to produce things to deserve my life. I don't need narrative to exist.
What I will do, is produce things, write things, create things, because doing so brings me joy. (Also dread and fear and despair and confusion and self doubt, but that's another blog post for another time.) I have written new songs in the last wee while and with it, I've found motivation and inspiration. I'm finding myself more and more comfortable in my own voice, and in my own skin. Music has also been difficult in lock down. I play bass, which is pretty lonely when there's no band to play with. Safe to say, I will never again take live music for granted. Nor playing with other people.
Words can be wonderful, but also limiting. I've always leaned on words, on narrative, to make sense of the world, and myself. Who am I? Words like musician and writer have answered that question. Sometimes I can't find the right words, or I run through a labyrinth of words to find a sentence that fits what I'm trying to say. Sometimes I will be unstructured and sometimes my point won't come across. But I'll write and talk and create regardless. I'll be myself independent of the words I have used to define me. I'm done editing myself to the point of getting nowhere. It is in that freedom that I feel free to create for the joy of creating. It is in that space I am free to exist.