Lately I have been experiencing an unsual quantity of self-doubt. Normally I am happy to roll with being myself without thinking about it all too much, but lately I've been aware of my current positions in life; as a friend, girlfriend, daughter and sister, as a postgraduate, as a twenty-something who should be revelling in being young and free and beautiful. I feel frustrated by myself, by my space, by my body, by the way I spend my free time.
For the first time, I find myself sizing myself up against someone else - an unhealthy habit that I've managed to avoid for the past 22 years. The most frustrating thing about that someone else is that it is myself; I look back to me one year ago, and I see someone excited by the present, enthusiastic about the future. A girl interested in the world around her, with time to read slowly and ponder the words, enjoying Philip Larkin with breakfast, Plato before bed. Waking to a morning yoga routine, falling asleep late after spending long summer evenings with friends.
On Sunday evening, during a lovely self-indulgent chat which prompted this post, a friend asked me to show her my favourite photo of myself. I chose a photo which was taken on the veranda of a bar in York looking over the river, as I sipped a very expensive glass of Pimm's before my Summer Ball: officially my last night as an undergraduate in York. To me, the photo reflects the simple joy of that time; a degree behind me, a degree ahead of me. Days filled with everything I love, surrounded by amazing friends and a man I had just fallen in love with. I'd moved into my own flat and was relishing the sense of 'self' and independance that I was finding there.
I've been reflecting on these feelings for a little while, thinking more about the girl in this photo in relation to the girl sitting at this table. The fact will always remain that those days are gone - they were always going to be that amazing, and they were always going to be short-lived. But here I'm on the brink of living out some real dreams, things I have to work for, search for and earn. It's less glamourous, less fun and, for now at least, less exciting. And that's ok; I'm happy with my lot, probably even happier than I was back then. But the circle that I've come round through doubting myself has left me with a sense of urgency for the little joys that were some commonplace when I didn't have blank space waiting for my 20,000 words. I need to start thinking more frivolously again, reading more slowly and more often, taking time to cook and taste food, indulging in real conversation with the people I want to know more about. Living slowly and peacefully and with gratitude for the small things that my world has in such abundance.