My life tends to follow a pattern. Just as seasons come and go, so do my bursts of energy, my happiness and my friends.
I've always struggled to keep up with people who are far away. University was bliss - a group of friends living mere seconds from me. But with adulthood and the 'real world' comes the scattering - the friends pursuing corporate dreams in the London bubble that is known, and familiar, to most of them. I was one of the pioneers, making my way to the city before many had even finished their degrees. I was lucky; it was so close to my university town, and travelling backwards and forwards for the sake of my then-relationship was not even a question back then because it brought me back into the bubble of social circles I've had to leave behind.
I moved to the far north of Scotland not too long ago; initially I spent a year in Glasgow, but left for a different city even further north. I arrived in January, and with the winter gloom came too my winter cuccoon, a weird isolation that I've self-imposed when in times of trouble and confusion for as long as I can remember.
I think it stems from shame. I find it hard to put my arms up and say that I'm struggling, that things aren't rosy and peachy when friends from far flung corners of the country are gushing about their successes. It's hard to say 'I'm not happy. Objectively I should be, but I'm struggling with the winter puppy fat and the double chin that's arrived in photos, I'm worried I'm not doing enough or I'm well enough in my job, I'm worried that I'm wasting my talents and my brain, and I'm more than a little bit lonely'. It's hard to admit these things when the image you've tried to construct in social media is a wave of success, good parties and desirability. Some of it is true - but these are just snapshots of a larger picture, and it can be embarrassing to look yourself in the eye and admit that you've constructed this image of yourself and your life to make people believe that you are indeed, okay, and that the challenges you've faced over the last few years haven't in fact left you feeling spent, but rather that they've inspired and motivated you to be a better version of yourself.
I spend my life missing people and regretting my isolation, my self-destructive tendencies. I've spent more days than I want to accept thinking over what I've done wrong, the guilt for 'ghosting' people. It's a cowardice, a fear that people will reject me outright and that my life has diverged too much from what I thought it could and would be for there to be any source of current familiarity between us.
For years, all I've wanted to do is be the image of myself I try to project, someone social and bubbly and patient and resilient, but sometimes, especially when the weather is glum and the sadness kicks in, it's hard to do that.
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