Well, it’s done. I’ve made it to London, and I’m writing this post from my lovely new house in Islington. As it happens, I have something of a fuzzy head after a welcome night out with my new housemates – which was ridiculously fun, but my God, I am tired. You may have to excuse any parts of this post that wander off into fairly random territory. I’m a girl who needs her sleep.
As you can see, I travelled pretty light – much to the surprise of my housemates, who all asked me when my luggage was being shipped over after I turned up with just a backpack and a handbag. Alas – there is no other luggage. That’s the lot.
The last few months have really taught me the importance of trying to travel light, in every sense. It’s so easy in life to end up carrying things around with you that you just don’t need – grudges, bad memories, guilt and fear – that really aren’t going to help anyone, least of all yourself, in the end. If anything, they make things considerably worse.
If you’re anything like me, when you’re upset about something, chances are you’ll lean on something external to soften the pain – be that food, drink, cigarettes, or something else. These things give you a temporary escape, by providing a sort of numbness and giving you something to focus on. I’ll be the first to admit that after my last breakup, I drowned my sorrows in several bottles of wine, a packet of Marlboro Lights and multiple pizzas/tubs of ice cream/boxes of Milk Tray – and even though that was a long time ago (being a perpetual singleton and all), I wouldn’t want to guarantee I wouldn’t do the same again in similar circumstances.
It’s just what people do, especially when you feel like things outside of your control are causing you pain. If Bridget Jones taught us anything, it’s that such behaviour is THE DONE THING when you’re down – and I’m not going to judge anyone either way, because I’ve been there, done that, and gotten too fat for the t-shirt. It’s fine.
I’m using the example of a breakup as an extreme circumstance. That’s a kind of flood situation, where it’s one big event that’s thrown you completely off course and made you feel like crap – so the extreme reaction is equal to it. It’s like a counter-balance. But if that’s an equal reaction to a big trauma, then I’d wager that we’ve all, at some point, done the same thing on a much smaller scale, without necessarily realising it.
For instance, when you’re holding a grudge, it’s always kind of there, hanging out at the back of your mind. The same applies to bad memories. They’re just sitting there, lying around, occasionally giving you the odd elbow jab to the ribs, often accompanied by their partners in crime, guilt and self-doubt, who will each happily give you a kick in the shin for good measure if you give them half a chance.
Okay, that’s a bit lame, but sue me, I’m hungover – and you get my drift. They’re there, and they’re always going to be there if you carry them with you, everywhere you go.
If you’re an emotional eater/smoker/drinker/whateverer, you’ll be familiar with those cravings that just seem to come out of nowhere and just won’t go away. On a food level, quite often you can spot them because you want a particular thing. A cupcake, for instance. If you were really hungry, something else would fill that gap – but you can usually spot an emotional craving because you wouldn’t be happy with anything else, no matter how filling or satisfying that thing may be.
I’ve got a theory that when you’ve got these sorts of cravings, it’s because one of these dormant, small scale emotional issues has popped up and thrown a rock in your direction. You might not have even clocked it – but chances are, something like self-doubt or guilt lies at the root of that sudden urge to eat an entire bowl of icing sugar. It’s not the full-blown, obvious, get-me-a-bottle-of-wine-and-my-body-weight-in-chocolate emotional response that follows a sudden trauma – but it’s just enough to make you want to do something self-destructive in order to numb the pain.
And that’s why I suggest travelling light. The more of these issues, these little niggling annoyances that aren’t good for anyone, that you can let go – the easier it will be to avoid that kind of self-destructive behaviour.
When it comes down to it, you’ve got to work out what’s really important. I’ve realised over the last couple of weeks that I have such incredible friends, colleagues, and family who, I’ll be honest, I don’t tell enough that I really love and appreciate them considerably more than I can actually put into words. They’re amazing. And, as I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of people I now know either through this blog, or Twitter, or some other internet-based wonderfulness, that I’d proudly consider proper friends, despite having never actually met them. They’re ace too.
But in order to have room to fit in all this awesomeness, and to make time to thank and appreciate them for everything they do for me and try, in some small way, to do the same for them, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to let a lot of other things go. I don’t need to feel awkward about my stretch marks, just as I don’t need to still be pissed at a girl that might have been mean to me once on the bus, or doubt whether I’m good enough to perform well in my new job tomorrow.
Okay, scratch that last one. I’m a bit nervous about that. But let’s continue.
By binning these negative things, my emotional luggage is still full, but it’s not heavy – it’s all good stuff, like love and gratitude and happiness, that I actually want to take with me, everywhere I go. With these things in my life, I’m able to face pretty much any challenge life throws at me – and to sidestep (most of) those urges that can lead to negative behaviour and all-round bad times.
When all’s said and done, you need to travel light and ditch those things that are weighing you down – because I’m willing to bet good things will appear to take up the space they’ve left. I’ve taken with me only goodness and happiness – the kind that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when you think about it – and so, no matter what new changes, ups and downs happen going forward, they’ll always be there.
And that’s all I need.