One year. One whole year has already passed. It feels so surreal.
It’s bizarre to think that, on New Year’s Eve 2015, I was stuck in the midst of another unrelenting battle to keep myself from circling down the proverbial drainpipe into another pit of self loathing, misery and depression.
It only feels like yesterday that I was sat at my desk, laptop open and alcoholic beverage nearby, typing out the thoughts as they came to me. It was difficult to write, it was even more anxiety-inducing to publish, and it was terrifying to show my family and friends something I was even afraid to admit to myself.
That night, I vowed to attempt to become a better person, to become mentally healthy, to test myself in ways I hadn’t done so before and become the individual I saw myself becoming years ago.
Now, 2016 has come and gone and, staying true to the promise I made myself that night in 2015, I went back and re-read that deeply personal blog post of mine to see how far I had come.
The honest truth? I’ve not come as far as I had envisioned.
Looking back, I still found myself ducking out of some social engagements. I got stressed out over simple things like journeying home from work, frantic to get back to my house and just relax for the evening – a bittersweet irony, given how much I worked myself up on the bus about getting home. I lost my temper far, far too easily with those closest to me over the most insignificant of things. I’m still yet to summon up the courage to begin conversations with people who I’d like to meet or, even more personally, chat to women I find attractive. And I didn’t make the most of other opportunities when they fell in my lap.
It hasn’t all been bad though. I started the year by earning a gold standard diploma for my journalism studies – an achievement I never thought I’d be rewarded with. I picked up the fitness bug, spending most of the year running and building my stamina, and have been a member of a gym for almost five months now to build up my strength. I went to gigs to see bands I’ve wanted to see for years. I watched films that made me think about life differently. I got a job that makes me get up in the morning. And, perhaps most importantly, I realised how lucky I am to have the family and friends that I do have.
It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi
With a New Year, then, comes a fresh start. It’s something of a cliche to hear people around this time of year come out with phrases like “New Year, New Me”, but I genuinely feel like such a mocked phrase could actually be relevant to me as I continue on to become the best version of me I can be.
In order to do that, changes need to be made. As someone who’s very much a creature of habit, said change won’t come easy, but if I want to continue up this road of fighting off my demons, change must occur.
With that in mind, here’s a few things I plan to do this year:
- Spend less time online and, in particular, less time proscrastinating on social media. It’s time to stop comparing myself to others, and the perceived fun that they’re all having, on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. I want to create new, happy memories of thoroughly enjoyable times of my own, and add them to those I’ve already got.
- Read the self-help books that will go some way to helping me sort my mind out. They’ve been sitting on my shelf for a while now and, if I’m to continue down this road of recovery, I’ll need all the help I can get.
- Continue my pursuit of becoming a fitter version of myself. This will include more gym sessions and less comfort food – the latter especially if I don’t stick to the former. I’ve got a new workout programme to follow and, all being well, I’ll see it through.
- Begin meditating again, especially on days when I don’t physically work out. Even if it’s just 10 minutes at some point during the day, finding some space and time to centre myself and find some peace will be beneficial.
- Meet, talk to and hang out with new people. No matter how nerve wracking it is, it would be good to get a handle on my social anxiety and become comfortable interacting with anyone.
- Appreciate the small things in life more, and stop stressing about things that genuinely don’t matter. Why get worried about journeys home? Or stressing about what I need to get done every day? Things work out in the end, regardless of time, so I need to quit putting so much pressure on myself for no reason.
- Spend more time in the company of family, friends and loved ones. My support group is important to me, and I’d like to give time, effort and other things in return for that.
- Vow to stick to the vast majority of the above points. In the event that I slip up on them from time to time, I’ll try not to beat myself up over doing so. Be kind to yourself, Tom.
It’s easy to write the above points down, and think I’ll stick to them just because we’re a couple of days in to a new year, but I have to become and remain determined, honest, confident, self-aware and hopeful that I can achieve them.
Nothing in life worth pursuing is easy, especially when you feel like most every day things are such a toil due to the mental struggles I’ve had, and continue to have. However, I really, really want to spur myself on and, knowing that I have the support and belief from family, friends, colleagues and relative strangers, I can go a lot further than I’ve already done.
I’m ready, 2017. Let’s do it.