You know what? Over the past couple of months, I really feel as though I’ve found my feet with my work/life balance. After the, quite frankly, trainwreck of a year where I gave myself no down days and made over a hundred videos, I realised I needed to get a handle on my schedule and my free time. Not only is it important for getting my eight hours a night and bringing peace of mind, but my particular flavour of burnout has a darker side, and likes to bring out the big guns when it comes to drinking. If I work myself into the ground, my drinking takes a noticeable turn for the worse, so after one too many experiences of physical and emotional burnout last year I decided to get a handle on it and prioritise my mental and physical health and put work back in its place. And so far it’s going well! I’m getting up earlier, finally finding a routine and taking at least one day off a week. I’m getting better at managing stress and I’m juggling bigger projects than I was able to before.
However, just as things start going smoothly, life throws you a curveball. This one came in the form of moving house. I’ve been interested in taking the plunge for a couple of months now. I love my flat, but West London isn’t my true love and I swear I spend more time on trains each week than I do anywhere else in this city. My meetings are in East London and so is my boyfriend, both of which make it a pretty enticing place to live.
I was so excited for the change, mainly because it would be the first major change I’ve made in my adult life that wasn’t a necessity. I’m choosing to leave this flat; there’s nothing making me move, such as the end of exams or not being able to afford the rent. I was making a decision in my best interests, and now I could make decisions on where I was going to live independently of anyone else. It was all very exciting – I found two lovely people to live with and we started the hunt. I’ve always embraced change, I feel like it’s a natural part of life, so getting to do it on my terms makes it just that bit sweeter.
Once we’d committed to looking for a place to live, however, I started to notice my mentality changing. My anxiety dreams started again (absolutely blessed to not be an insomniac but waking up exhausted with your heart pounding every morning isn’t the one either,) and I found myself not being able to keep up with work alongside the house-hunt, which made me even more stressed. I started to feel a black hole in my stomach where I used to feel a fluttery anticipation. I realised I was going to miss my housemates, the view from the landing window, my favourite lady who works in Tesco – my life here.
Then this week, we got thrown a whole host of other curveballs to do with the move and the excitement completely left the experience. Everything suddenly became so much more urgent, and if things don’t work out we’re at risk of not finding a place in time and having to live on people’s sofas for the next couple of weeks. Any enjoyment in this process has been replaced by the nice, cold taste of fear. I’m accelerating towards something that hasn’t been defined yet and could fall away at any minute, leaving me in the middle of nowhere.
In reality, this is similar to what I’ve experienced with some of my moves in the past – in fact, I’ve had much more challenging curveballs thrown at me before. But this one has really affected me, and I feel destabilised before the process has even properly begun. I have near-constant anxiety and I haven’t even started packing up my belongings yet. It’s led me to ask myself: when did I become so bad at dealing with change? I used to be so good at this just a year or two ago! Why is it affecting me so negatively this time around?
After a bit of analysis, I think it’s the upheaval combined with the uncertainty and change in expectations. Everything has happened so fast, and we don’t even know where we’re moving to yet so the changes are going to keep on coming until we’ve signed agreements and arranged the start of our tenancy. I’ve also had to adjust to not only prioritising myself but also the two friends I’ll be living with – I wasn’t looking on SpareRoom anymore, but instead at empty, currently lifeless houses with two people who have different expectations to me. I think I had my heart set on finding something that suited me down to the ground and hadn’t mentally prepared for compromise this time around. And all of this change has happened in a month – the change in my expectations, the change in stability and the change in what my living situation is likely to look like in a month. That’s a big chunk of change to be processing all in one.
So right now, everything is up in the air. I don’t know what the outcome of the next two weeks will be, and to be honest, I’m a little scared. But instead of worrying about my extensive list of worries (classic anxiety amirite), I’m going to be putting more effort into embracing change like I used to. This is still a time for optimism and the potential for a really great fresh start, so I’m going to hold onto that and keep my chin up. I can cut myself some slack for the next week or two and focus on keeping my head above water and working with the temporary loss of structure in my life. Cheers to new beginnings.