A Letter to September

Dear September,

I have to confess something. I have been mistaking you with August for the whole 30 days, I don’t even know how. I think it’s because you usually make such a dominant entrance that everybody can’t help but to acknowledge you. The change you bring to so many lives is undeniable, some people may even think of you as January’s twin. There are some students who dread meeting you, some who are excited and there are parents who are relieved to have routine and structure back into their lives. I, on the other hand, don’t fit into one of those categories. Although, I am no longer in education, I feel like I have finished the academic year, graduated with the grades to prove it and yet somehow I’m still there when I know I should be moving on.

You see, September, you’ve just left me feeling really confused (which isn’t unusual). If I know that I’m wandering down a dead end road, then why am I still walking? I suppose I’m just a little disappointed because I was really hoping that you would completely change an aspect of my life. I felt so ready to take the world by storm and to put myself out there and  progress. It doesn’t make sense to me why you’ve made me stay in the same place when I’m capable of so much more. I hope when we next meet, it’ll all make sense and that you are leading me to a diversion which will eventually take me to where I want to be.

However, it would be wrong of me to say that you have left my life untouched. After months, if not years, of loneliness and isolation and a couple of failed attempts at socialising, I finally found a group of people I fit in with. They are as warm and welcoming as an open fireplace on a cold winters night. You know what they say, third time lucky! So although my anxiety may have escalated in the beginning, and may continue to, I know that it is totally worth it and I should have nothing to fear. Here’s to me hoping that life will only get better from here.

Always, Ashlea

 

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Letter to June

Dear June,

How half the year has gone by already is beyond me. It feels like only yesterday I was hoping and praying that this year would be better, that I wouldn’t be alone anymore, that I would find my person. That maybe, just maybe, I could be happy again. And now here you are. Although you haven’t given me a miracle, you’ve given me a taste of excitement, a glimpse of everything I’ve wanted. It’s been the start of something, hopefully amazing, filled with expectation and potential but also apprehension, anxiety and lots of doubts. I joined the club that I was considering for a while but was too scared to actually do and finally met people my age. They are all so lovely, it’s just that being the shy natured person I am, it’s been difficult and I haven’t pushed myself enough to enjoy all of its possibilities. But I suppose I am still growing and it’s something I need to work on. But through all of my worrying and doubts of never being good enough, you have comforted me with your warmth and allowed me to simply, walk the feelings away. There’s something so therapeutic and calming about walking alone down empty country roads, surrounded by nothing but fields. It’s given me a lot of time to think, more so than usual, and that’s probably why I’m in this mess right now. Although where I live is beautiful, it’s boring and hauntingly lonely.

In the past week I’ve had three people I once knew, ask me how I have been in the years they haven’t seen me and each time, I’ve lied. I tell them that I’ve been okay and life has been good, but these past two years have been the toughest. I’ve reached lows I never knew I could sink to. I’ve had breakdowns from feeling too many emotions all at once. I’ve over thought every single detail to the point where it drives me insane. And throughout these two struggling years, I have never been more alone in my entire life. False hope can destroy a person, building up their hopes just to watch them crash again.There’s only so many times you can pick yourself back up; I wonder how many more I’ve got left.

It’s a shame you’ve caught me writing this at the end of the month, given a couple of weeks ago I was bright with hope and life started feeling as though it was heading in a better direction. But once again, the hope that once filled my heart has been diminished by life’s mysterious and confusing ways. I honestly thought I had it figured out, that I had cracked life’s code and was finally on my way to happiness. I thought about my journey in so much depth, that I was convinced that this would be the right road. I would face my fears and truly be fearless, I would become independent and confident and meet people and it would all fit together like it was written from the start. But of all people, I should have known better than to trust the blind hope that always finds a way to creep back into my mind. And every single time, it lets me down.

So you see, June, you’re leaving me lost and confused. After all of those walks I took to try to calm my anxiety and to settle my worries, my mind is still running wild. I’ve never felt so lost, searching for answers to help make sense of this life. Being here doesn’t make sense. I don’t belong and I have nothing worth staying for. I feel like I’m just withering away into nothing.

So now the question is, do I continue down this lonely and unforeseeable road or do I turn back?

Next time around we’ll both know the answer, but until then,

Always, Ashlea.

 

Dear Friend

Dear friend,

I don’t know if you’re reading this, but hopefully you will one day. Friend, I want you to know that I love you and that I’m never going to leave. You are a wonderful and absolutely beautiful human and I need you to understand that. You are so much more than you think, so much more than what you see in a mirror or that awkward picture that somebody else took of you (you know the ones I’m talking about?) I know you just want to feel pretty but honestly, I don’t think that can be entirely down to appearance. Your looks aren’t what define you. But the sad thing is, you never get to see yourself for everything you are. You never see yourself laughing in hysterics, or smiling at a stranger down the street, or looking into the eyes of somebody you love. You never see the way your face lights up or how it looks when you’re excited. You never see yourself lost in deep thought or making jokes with your friends or caring for someone. Beauty is not in the colour of your eyes, or your bone structure or your dress size. It’s in the way you love people, the way you want to change the world, your laughter, your kindness, the way you make others feel and always put them before yourself. Beauty is instilled in your soul, it’s flowing through your veins. So don’t you dare think that you are not beautiful because you my dearest friend, are the definition. You are worth so much more than you could ever think. If you were in my shoes for a day, you’d see it too.

I know that reading this won’t change your mind, it won’t give you the proof you need to love yourself better but please don’t hate yourself, because you don’t know how lovely you truly are. I wish I could magically cure your mind from all the disbelieving and destructive thoughts you have about yourself. If there was a way to show you how incredible you are, I’d do it, but all you have are these words and hopefully the belief that I think so highly of you. But if these words aren’t enough to save you for a night, then please come to me. I don’t want you to think that you’re alone in this, fighting a losing battle by yourself. We’re in this life for the long run and I will always be by your side getting through it together.

‘If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sun beams and you will always look lovely’

-Roald Dahl

Stay strong & stay beautiful.

Always, Ashlea

A Conversation with Social Anxiety

Me: I hate feeling so lonely all the time, I just wish I could make some friends.

Anxiety: Make friends? No. You can’t do that! You’re safe at home by yourself. Besides, people don’t tend to like you, remember? They always think you’re boring and awkward and unattractive and annoying and…

Me: Okay, I get it but I don’t want to be alone anymore. I want to have fun, maybe join a club or something?

Anxiety: A club?! No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Absolutely not!
You can’t do that. Every club you’ve ever joined, you’ve always quit. You’ve always been the shy, awkward one in the corner that everyone ignored. Remember how awful you felt? Always feeling like you didn’t belong, uncomfortable, self conscious, anxious.

Me: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.

Anxiety: You’re inadequate, socially inept, never good enough, or fun enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough, or smart enough, or funny enough. I mean, honestly what do you even have to offer and can you even begin to imagine what could go wrong?

Me: I haven’t actually thought about it… like what?

Anxiety: EVERYTHING! How are you even going to join a club? Make the first move and talk to somebody? How? Where? Randomly message them online? What are you going to say? ‘Hi, you don’t know me but I’ve found this online and thought that I might like to be apart of the club, by the way I struggle with social anxiety so I’ll probably be a right mess when you first meet me’
What if they think you’re desperate and needy? What if they completely misunderstand you? What if you instantly make a bad first impression and you haven’t even met them yet? And then you’ll have to meet everyone else and what if you stand out like a sore thumb? Where would you meet them? A pub? A public place? What if you have to drive there by yourself and get lost? What if there’s no parking and you don’t know what to do? Or what if you can’t park properly and everybody watches you try? What if you walk in by yourself and can’t find them? I mean you’re basically searching for a bunch of people you’ve never met. What if you walk in and they all just stop and stare? What would you do then? How would you deal with that? What if you don’t belong and end up wearing the wrong thing and they all just look at you and judge? What if you don’t understand what they’re talking about and have to awkwardly sit or stand there with a vacant look upon your face? What if you say the wrong thing, mix up your words or can’t think of anything to say at all? What if they think you’re stupid or boring? What if nobody actually likes you and you’re just awkwardly there, feeling like an outsider? What if nobody comes to talk to you? What would you do then?

Me: Oh wow, that’s a lot to take in. I hadn’t thought of these things before.

Anxiety: Well? What would you do?

Me: I…. I don’t know.

Anxiety: Exactly! See, I knew you wouldn’t be able to handle it. That’s why it’s best to just avoid it altogether. You’re fine where you are and most importantly, you’re safe.

Me: Yeah, I suppose you’re right.