The Scribbles #3 - Has 2020 turned your brain and heart to mush?
Forgive the extremely out-of-date reference, but I'm trapped in a glass cage of emotion.
It’s been a while, huh? I’m not going to lie, I’ve been struggling to write over the last few weeks. Despite making great strides in *self-care* - I’ve started exercising and actually eating vegetables again - my brain refuses to do what I want it to. There’s been a lot of anxiety and homesickness, and far too many ADHD meltdowns, where trying to focus on a thought feels like trying to catch a fly with chopsticks, Mr Miyagi-style. And I’m no Miyagi.
It’s not just my brain that’s turned to mush. These days, my heart feels distinctly...squishier? I mean, I’ve always been someone who cries easily; my brother could tell you about one cinema trip where I cried for a full hour, horrifying the audience and embarrassing us both. The film in question? King Kong (2005).
Needless to say, Ol’ Waterworks here has cried a lot in 2020 (although at least, not over terrible Peter Jackson movies). And I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve been talking to friends about how elevated our emotions are this year - everything feels extra tender and vulnerable.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing though, and here’s why:
It’s easier to know what’s important
The insanity of this year has given us, if nothing else, a sh*tload of perspective. We know what (and who) is important to us. I count my blessings daily, miss the mundane and annoying things I once took for granted, and never EVER let a phone call or Zoom end without saying “Love you,” no matter how crazy or corny is makes me sound.
It’s easier to feel grateful for each other
In a strange coincidence, two separate meditation sessions that I did last week (one with my friend Dina and the other with my friend Kristen) instructed me to think about someone I love deeply; about why I love them and what they mean to me. One session was about opening up my heart (check) and the other was about learning how to create a moment of joy, rather than waiting for the ever-illusive destination of ‘happiness’ (check). It was a simple, but powerful, exercise in gratitude.
In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t think about my cat. For once.
It’s easier to be brave
The idea that being soft makes you braver sounds like a paradox but I think it’s true. When our emotions are on the surface and the world feels downright apocalyptic at times, it feels much more urgent to speak our minds, tell the truth about who we are and reach out to the ones we love, without worrying about what others will say. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that a lot of people have been much more open when it comes to talking about mental health - and that can only be a good thing.
What do you think? Has 2020 made you more soft-hearted?
That’s all from me for now. I’ll be back with the next edition of The Scribbles next month but you can always find me spending far too much time on Instagram and Twitter in the meantime. I would love to hear from you.
Until then, here are some links for you:
A podcast episode to help you find focus without throwing your phone into the sea
If you’re anything like me, you are continually resolving to spend less time on your phone, then spending most evenings doom scrolling for hours because you just wanted to “check Twitter for a minute.” I love this Sara Tasker interview with Nir Eyal, author of ‘Indistractible’, because his solution isn’t developing superhuman willpower or swapping your smartphone for a Nokia 3310 (#neverforget). Instead, his methods are more about honouring our values and the promises we make to ourselves - without giving up Instagram forever. (There’s also a follow up Q&A episode here).
An article from a self-help sceptic (that’s actually pretty helpful)
Oliver Burkeman has been writing about life advice for over a decade and Eight Secrets To A (Fairly) Fulfilled Life summarises his most important bits of wisdom. One of my favourites is:
“Thanks to capitalism, technology and human ambition, these demands [on your time] keep increasing, while your capacities remain largely fixed. It follows that the attempt to “get on top of everything” is doomed. (Indeed, it’s worse than that – the more tasks you get done, the more you’ll generate.)
The upside is that you needn’t berate yourself for failing to do it all, since doing it all is structurally impossible. The only viable solution is to make a shift: from a life spent trying not to neglect anything, to one spent proactively and consciously choosing what to neglect, in favour of what matters most.”
An article about how my brain works
This year, I’ve tried to be a lot more open about my ADHD diagnosis, in the hopes that it will help others and take away some of the stigma. This article by Noelle Faulkner about ‘the lost girls’ of ADHD put into words so much of what I’ve been feeling since I was diagnosed last year. (Also, if the article resonates with you, please feel free to get in touch).
“Chaotic and curious, sometimes we feel like superheroes; other times, super-failures. It’s not always a lack of interest that makes it hard for us to process information, but our brain’s desire to absorb so much of it. We are jacks of many trades, purveyors of information, collectors of hobbies, beginners of tasks and finishers of few.”
A book to make you laugh
I read Rachel Bloom’s new essay collection I Want To Be Where The Normal People Are in a single day. It’s hilarious, obviously (just like her show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) while also being brutally honest about her awkward teens, her creativity, mental health and motherhood. Plus, it includes some Harry Potter fan fiction and some truly terrible erotic poetry. I loved it.
And finally, a sweet tweet to write on a post-it and keep somewhere you can always see it.
Take care of yourselves. Thank you for reading.
Love, Stacey x