Should I stay or should I go?

This is the question that haunts my days and nights and causing me endless amount of stress. It’s nearly August and I still don’t know what to do.

I feel like instead of making a decision on what will make me happy I am choosing between what will make me less unhappy. I can’t even bring myself to make a list of pros and cons because I don’t know what will fall into what category. Also, I’m scared. Absolutely fucking scared shitless. I’m scared to make a decision because I feel whatever I would choose, I will regret not choosing the other.

All my life I have taken pride in the fact that I have lived my life without regrets but for the first time ever, I’m worrying about regretting. And it’s driving me insane! I’m not sure if it’s being little bit older (nearing the 3 and 0, which I know isn’t that old at all but when you’ve never had to write your age down with a number that beings with 3, it’s a but daunting…) or if I’ve just suddenly become a coward, but I am genuinely afraid to choose.

Staying means staying at a job that I really, really like. It means working in a place that I have become to love and work with people I really like working with. It means for the first time in my life being trusted and appreciated at work. It means feeling like I’m important and what I do is actually helpful. It means knowing that maybe I’m not completely shit at what I do.

Staying also means staying in this area that I find so home-like. It means being able to wander around in the hills and nature. It means living in a small community where I am not judged, even if I am a foreigner. It means the simplicity of a village life. It means not worrying about what I wear to go to the shop or for a dog walk or the pub.

Staying means independence from influences of my family. It means being able to be far away to make my own decisions and choices. It means not worrying about having to explain myself. It means not being judged for wanting different things.

But staying also means being alone and lonely. It means feeling like the third wheel most of the time. It means feeling like a annoying little sister who is only invited along because that’s what “mother” order, because it’s the polite thing to do. It means always being the outsider. It means not having my people who’d make me feel like maybe I’m not a complete loser. It means being the only single person in a society full of couples.

Going means being close to my people again. It means being able to go out, talk, drink wine, do silly things. It means having an option not to stare at the ceiling on my own when not working. It means having friends again. It means feelibg like I belong. It means being slightly less lonely and alone.

Going means being living in a bigger place with more opportunities to do things and to meet people. It means more diversity in options. It means standing out less in a crowd like a sore thumb. It means being able to blend into the mass more easily.

But going also means risking not finding a job that would offer me as much as my job now offers. It means having to start from square one to prove myself. It means risking nit having an employer who can see past my insecurity and complete lack of self-confidence. It means risking not achieving anything because no one will belive I can achieve anything. It means feeling like a failure in life.

I don’t know what to choose. I don’t want to choose! I’m afraid to make the wrong decision. I’m afraid of not knowing what to do next, nit knowing what I want to do next. I’m scared that whatever I do, I’ll never amount to anything more than a lonely failure. I just don’t know what to do!

I just want someone to look into a crystal ball and tell me it’s going to be alright.

A fool in the hills

What sweet luxury it is to have a weekend that’s longer than one afternoon and one full day! It feels like it’s been a long time coming…

Instead of taking it slow and resting, I decided to wake up at my normal time on Saturday morning and hitch a ride to Honister and have a little walk on the hills around there. I had prepped everything the night before: the bag, the food, my knee. I had ordered some kinesio tape and on Friday night I spent some time watching YouTube videos about how to tape up your knee. After a two big Saturdays in April, I suffered from horrible knee pain and ended up having to see a physio. The problem was my IT band which was too tight and had been rubbing against the bones in my knee and as a result became inflamed. I walked with a hobble for nearly a month. So I wasn’t really ready to go through it all again and pretty much taped the shit out of my knee. Spoiler alert: it worked!

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However prepared I thought I was, I hadn’t quite got it in my head how big the start of my route was going to be. I did consult the map and count out roughly 2 kilometres to the top of Dale Head and I calculated that it would be 400 metres of ascent. I was aware of these numbers but it didn’t quite hit me what it meant in reality. In reality, it was going straight up hill for first 2 kilometres; no warm up, no easing into it. I’m really unfit right now anyway and having suffered from an annoying cold, this was quite a struggle from the start. Half way up I considered throwing in the towel and turn back down. It felt so hard! A huge help for me was having my Garmin watch that helped me to assure how much more I have to take this struggle. There’s something about knowing exactly how far I’ve come and calculating how many metres of ascent I’ve yet got to climb actually helps me to cope with the hardship.

It took be roughly 45 minutes to get to the top of Dale Head (753 m). By that point I was dripping in sweat, majorly out of breath and feeling quite nauseous. So I beelined to the summit cairn and sat down in its shade to gather myself. It was about 8.30 in the morning and I had the top to myself. It was already a hot day. I think I spent about 15 minutes there just to make sure I was up for the day I had planned. I watered the dog and had an apple and decided to push on.

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I dropped down to Dale Head Tarn where Mac the dog could have a cool down and then headed back up to High Spy. A much shorter and easier ascent. I met two guys on the top of the hill there and foolishly said that I had done all my climbing for that day. I also shortly after met a family who said they hadn’t been able to pick up the path I had chosen for my decent. That didn’t fill me with much confidence as I am an expert in going the wrong way. So I took out the map, measured the rough distance and looked at my Garmin determined not to miss my turn. As it turned out, the path was clearly marked by two cairns and it was visible on the ground. It didn’t really take that much of navigation skills to pick it up. Nevertheless, I mentally patted myself on the shoulder and felt quite smug. Again, foolishly.

I loved that decent. There were plenty of bilberries and I took my time in picking them and stuffing my face with them. I also had a little sit down on a high point that offered spectacular views of Borrowdale and Derwent Water. And the best part of the decent was that my knee held up! The taping had worked!

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I decided not to go in the the village of Grange and just turn back towards Honister via the bridleway. All the smugness I had felt about my navigation earlier on the fell came crumbling down as I got seriously confused over bridleways and campsites and pretty much had to be led by hand to the correct turn by a sweet couple staying at one of the campsites. Well, that was embarrassing. Also, I then realised that I now was at the very bottom of the valley and I had to get back to Honister Pass which is at 356 m. So my climbing for the day hadn’t actually finished at the top of High Spy. Why I had though it would be an easy stroll back to the start when planning the route, I had no idea.

After the first kilometer or so, which I found really hard on the wide paved bridleway, the path actually narrowed down and turned into a really beautiful and enjoyable trail just under the crags. I had one last look of the map and made sure that I just need to stay on this track and keep to the right and it would take me right back to Honister. Again, a mistake. As when I came to a fork in the road, I just confidently kept to the right and started to climb up the path only to realise about 200 metres later that, actually, this wasn’t the junction I meant to keep to the right. However, there were people about and I was too embarrassed to turn around, so I continued to go uphill for another 200 or 300 meters until I could cross the stream and take the path on the other side of it to get back down to the bridleway. So much about my wonderful navigation skills…

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The slow but steady climb in the heat back to the start point made last bit of the journey just next to the road seem quite endless. I just wished Mac to pull me along a bit. However we made it back to the visitor centre just before 1 pm. This meant that we had about 2 hours until my Employer was due back from supporting a friend of his BG attempt. Mac seemed tired enough and settled down in the back of the van for much deserved nap. I had made him go into every bit of water along the route to keep him from over heating in this weather and I was pretty certain he was okay. Just tired from a good day out. I was also hot and tired and cuddled up with Mac.

Altogether we did 14.9 kilometres and ascended 931 metres, which in my books is quite a good day out. Back in Shap, I managed to drag myself for a half an hour swim before crashing into bed for a very good night’s sleep. Today I feel only a bit stiff and my knee is still showing no signs of distress. Also, I still have the whole of tomorrow off work, which is quite unbelievable luxury.

Lazy, hazy days of summer

It’s been hot in here! Although living in what is supposed to be one of the wettest places in England with a name that suggests that it’s half way between shit and crap, I shouldn’t really complain. Not that I am but it is very hot.

Mostly, it doesn’t bother me as I am at work most of the time anyway (although the kitchen can get a bit too uncomfortably hot when we’re doing dinners). Wednesday we catered for a school group of nearly 30 kids plus the normal dinner service. It all went as smoothly as possible actually. So much so that when Thursday evening came around and it seemed like quite an average night, I let myself to be chilled out a bit and not worry about the night. Big mistake. With the England v Belgium game on and a few unnecessarily difficult guest, I lost it and had a anxiety attack that left me shaking and gasping for air. My night was ruined from then on. I was angry at myself for letting myself and everyone down. Luckily my Employer realised something was off and closed the kitchen door to allow me some space away from guests and took on some of front of house duties.

By Friday I was once again knackered but in slightly better form than a week ago. We had planned a Wineskype with friends, so by 4 pm I had managed to set out a little picnic on my patio and open a bottle of cava. I really needed the catch up and I am forever grateful to have friends who are still willing to give me a time of day even after 3 years of being away. And who are happy to set aside dates 2 months in advance for catching up in person.

It was nearly 9.30pm by the time we finished our call. I enjoyed feeling a but chilly sitting outside after few days of not being able to cool down. I had had no plans for Saturday except for just a bit of chilling but at about 9 o’clock I got a message from my Employer inviting me to walk the dogs in Swindale. I wasn’t going to say no and just in case packed a towel and put on my swimwear in chance I could get in one of the pools of the waterfalls. We did end up scrambling up the river and to the lush pool at the top.

That place feels like a real secret paradise: it’s off the path and covered by steep banks on either side with some lush vegetation surrounding it. Although thanks to Tia the dog having a shake at the very moment I had hunched over her to give her a hand on rocks, I was already pretty wet when we reached the pool, I still decided to actually dive in the water. I couldn’t really feel it being that cold, the difference of temperature did give my body a but of a shock and for a moment knocked my breath out.

It was a perfect swim. After nearly three summers in this country, I had never swam in open water till the last couple of weeks. First I went for a swim in Windermere a few weeks ago after paddle boarding and now Swindale Beck. I love water and especially natural pools. As I kid I spent all my summers in our local lake only emerging when my parents managed to convince me to sit in the sun until my lips were no longer blue.

I spent the rest of my Saturday being lazy and not doing much. As it was so warm, I also decided to head for a swim in Shap open air swimming pool. Apparently my Employer had got me a season ticket so it would not do wasting it. I invited LA to join me and we spent about an hour leisurely measuring the lengths of the small pool. After a nice dinner and a glass of wine at home later on, I slept like a log until 8 am this morning, which is a major lie-in in my books!

We’ve got one more long week to survive at New Ing and next weekend we’re going to have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off!

Sunset in Swindale

After a lazy day, I did decide to go walk over to Swindale just to have a sit down and think. It is one of my most favourite places in the the world. There’s something about sitting on the verge of that valley and looking around that just cuddles my soul. It’s both calming and it also stirs up plenty of emotions.

I had a great and much needed chat with a friend on Facebook yesterday and it gave me plenty of ideas to chew through. One of the drawback of stepping away from social media has been no longer being in touch with goes on in my friends’ lives. But a beautiful thing that has emerged is that in the last couple of weeks, a few people, whom I haven’t really been in touch with for a while, have messaged me because they haven’t seen me online and asking if I’m alright. It really means a lot to me. One of the reasons I felt I needed to step back from Facebook and Instagram was that it made me feel so alone and isolated. So to have people notice my absence has been a huge surprise to me, but in a very good way.

Anyway, at 7pm last night I packed my notebook, book, some wine, my badass wine glass and a few snacks in my backpack and headed towards my spot. There wasn’t a soul about except grazing sheep. I found a spot that gave a good view of the whole valley and settled in with my book and a glass of wine. As it had been an overcast day, I didn’t expect an amazing sunset but in the end I think I got what I came for.

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I got back home just before 11 pm. Straight to bed and enjoyed a good night’s sleep. With all the thoughts that ran through my head as I was sitting there, one certain decision that I made was to buy a new camera to take better photos and transfer them in a better fashion.

Lazy days

I’ve been so tired lately. I feel like my whole body is exhausted. And today I decided to succumb to it and accept it.

It’s Saturday and last week has been pretty busy at work. Wednesday night we must have served about 40 covers, which is a lot for our establishment. It was pretty full on night making sure all the guests got looked after, getting all the orders right and trying to stay smiling all through it. I didn’t finish until after 10pm and I was back at work just after 5am the next morning. Thursday night was late again with some added drinks (because I’m an idiot who thinks she can drink on school nights). Friday was a again a 5am start (with a very bad head) and busy day of getting the house ready. Then I got a lift to Kendal straight after to do my food shop, back home for a quick tidy up, shower and a minute in the deck chair before heading to town for a few beers with Employer and the Monk.

I was so tired that I even forgot to put on my shirt for going out and didn’t realise it until half way to town. I wasn’t exactky naked butbI did feels like in in just my strappy top and shorts. Now that dogs are no longer allowed on the window seats at the Fell, I occupied it myself and I really struggled with staying awake as we sampled the beers. I really haven’t felt so completely knackered in ages. I could barely concentrate what was going on around me. It got to the point of exhaustion when nothing really matters anymore. I did seriously considered just closing my eyes for 10 minutes in the bar… just for a quick kip. I didn’t. But I was early to bed last night.

This morning I still feel tired but I decided I’m going to embrace it. I worked hard and I’m allowed to be tired. I’m allowed not to do anything. So instead I’ve been reading in my PJs on the deck, caught up with TV and genuinely lounged about. Normally I’d feel bad about it but I decided not to today. As I walked to work early Friday morning, the hills looked so lush and I want to play in them so badly but I also want my body to have a chance to recover. So when my Employer suggested dropping me off at Shap Fell early morning, I told him to jog on. I as much as I feel the need to be in the hills, I also needed to have a good night’s rest. And I am thinking about maybe heading to Swindale for sunset to catch the light and have a little moment there.

Until then, I’m just going to be lazy and not feel bad about it. I’m taking my first steps in trying to listen to my body and offer it what it needs. And today it needs a couch, loads of water, fruits and chocolate. And that’s okay.

Work talks

It’s been the usual mad days. The season has started at work and this means that I’m fully busy. We started with minimum staff for the first 4 weeks, then our help from last season came back to take a full-time position reducing my hours to somewhere close to 40 per week. Until last week when she told us that she’s leaving. Yesterday was her last day.

Our immediate reaction to the news was to down a couple of pints midday last Friday. Not the most adult way of dealing with things but seemed like a necessity at the time (which led to quite a lot of beer by the end of the night). We’ve managed to cover some of her shifts going forward but inevitably, this means that my work load is about to increase again. I will be doing every breakfast and every dinner shift from today onwards till early October.

I’m not too stressed out about having to work a bit more. I know I’m good at what I do. Last week, I had so many guests leaving and shaking my hands and expressing their gratitude. However, I know that I will probably lose myself in my work and it will be so difficult to recover from it. It will be difficult not to be empty and broken by the end of the season. I already struggle with fitting anything but work and sleep into my week and I know it’s only going to get harder. This last week I’ve felt so tired already and it’s only June. I’m not trying to blame it on work, it’s just me. I know that I have trouble switching off and stepping out. I’m a workaholic and not in a good way.

I am lucky to have an Employer who doesn’t take advantage of my inability to stop working. In fact, the only thing he ever tells me to do at work is to step out and take some time off. He keeps telling me that he doesn’t want this job to become like any of my previous jobs where I had essentially burnt out. Unfortunately, I’m a stubborn cow and hardly ever listen to him. It’s not in my nature to leave when everything’s not finished. I’m a team worker and I like working with other people. I prefer to work in an environment where everyone puts in the effort to collectively achieve the result. I take work seriously, that’s the only way I can have fun at work. So that’s why I get stressed out and grumpy when others don’t work that way. When others take it easy because I’m already doing everything.

There been many moments where I try to help but it only seems to backfire and I feel like I’m doing just more harm. I can’t stand not knowing what is going on. This is why I took over the job of writing up rotas for work. Well, that definitely backfired. It’s complete brainfuck anyway to get the rotas done in a way that everyone gets the hours they should and it all still seems fair. So, obviously when there’s an awkward shift, I would put myself on it rather than anyone else. The Employer wasn’t happy with that and we’ve had more than one argument over it. The good thing about losing a member of staff is that there’s no longer the need to play around with rotas…

All in all I feel the deadline is closing in on me and I have to decide what to do after this season is over. Whether to stay or to go. I’ve tried to be as honest as possible with the Employer about my thoughts and doubts but I am still so confused myself that I don’t really want to say anything. A couple of weeks ago we talked a bit about plans for winter and next year and I feel guilty about not knowing. I told him that I know I owe him a decision but I just don’t have one yet. To which he obviously replied (in many, many words) that as far as work is considered, I am not just needed but wanted. Which is always nice to hear, I suppose. However, as I’m trying to figure out whether to stay or leave, it does make me feel guilty about even thinking about leaving. After all, work, in many ways, is more of a reason to stay rather than the thing that’s pushing me to leave. I can’t imagine finding another job where I would be appreciated trusted as much as I am here and that would offer the freedom that I have here.

But work is also all that I have. I don’t have a life outside it and I am getting to a point where I no longer like that. I want to have a life outside work. I want to be something else than just my work. But as I have never really known what it’s like not to put work first, I’m not sure I know how to do it. I am starting to feel being burnt out and I know it’s not because of work but because of me. I love my job but I can’t figure out a way of doing it without it breaking me in the process.

The end of a dream

It’s Easter weekend. It’s the last weekend before our season of bedding and breakfasting guests starts again for the next six or seven months. And it’s not exactly a free weekend. I have 24 people expecting a 2-course dinner tonight and I’m doing it alone. And Sunday, two of us will go in to do another dinner for the same lot.

The last few weeks have been quite a carousel of emotions. On the one hand, I am looking forward to working full-time again. It’ll be my third summer working here and I know what I’m doing and I know how everything works. I also know that I’m not completely shit at what I do. I like my job, even if it does mean working around the clock at some days.

On the other hand, I’m more confused about things than I have ever been. I had a horrific few days last weekend of just being curled up on the couch not able to move or do anything but be engrossed all the darkness that was occupying my mind. I guess I realised how bad it was when my Employer sat me down on Monday and essentially told me to get my shit together. In a nice and concerned way. I am scared of this season of working as I feel like after last year, I was left so empty and broken, and I’m not sure I’ve fully recovered. And I’m scared to be empty and broken again. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to handle it again.

I’m also scared because I feel like the pressure to reach a decision on what happens after this summer. Am I going to stay or am I going to go back? Or go forward? I have no idea what to do and I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve always had a secret dream or a plan of what I want to do. But I feel like I have reached the end of my dream, like this path I’ve been on is leading to a dead-end. And I genuinely have no idea what I want to do or indeed should do next.

I was having beers with the Employer at the top of the field on Wednesday night. “The top of the field” is a little corner of our grounds that’s the highest point and has the best view of the village and the hills in the distance. I love that view. As the sun was setting behind the clouds that had gathered around the hills, I couldn’t help but think, “How am I supposed to give this up!?” These hills are what I came here for, this quiet village life is something I have come to love and appreciate. A part of me cannot imagine life in any other place.

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But (and there’s always a big fat but) it’s an incredibly lonely life. It has taken me years and a huge amount of courage, but for the first time in my life I want, and need to admit it to myself that I feel lonely. I’ve always been the cat that wanders around on her own. I have taken pride in my independence. But there is a price to pay and it’s a dear one. I said at the beginning of last year that I needed to name my demons and I have realised after a lot of denial, that this one is my biggest one, and always has been.

As we were sitting outside in the cold (god, it was fucking freezing!) spring evening, I admitted to the Employer that I miss having friends. I miss having single friends. I only realise now what a stupid move it was to pack my bags and move thousands of miles from people who have so kindly opened their hearts to me. I don’t consider myself a nice person, or an easy person to befriend. I takes me ages to trust people and to make friends. I can count the people in whose company I don’t feel like the outsider, like someone they¬†had to invite along out of politeness or social convention, on one hand. In fact, I don’t even need all the fingers. And they all live in Estonia. So what am I doing out here? Why am I here pursuing some selfish dream that’s not working out?

And don’t get me wrong, the people I’ve met here have been incredibly kind towards me. But Cumbria is an odd place and it’s very difficult to actually make genuine connections to people. And everyone I know here (with an exception of the Monk) has the other half. It’s a different crowd to what I’m used to and it’s very easy to feel out of place. More importantly, it seems to really emphasise my loneliness and isolation.

It’s gets more and more difficult to make new friends as you get older and I can feel like I’m getting to an age, where it’s nigh impossible to weave close relationships with new people. Everyone already has friends and habits and partners. They are not necessarily out to look for new ones. So living in a small community becomes very, very lonely.

All this is making me think about moving back to Estonia. Except that I cannot see where I would live or what I would do that would offer me the satisfaction that my work and my physical environment does here. I don’t know what to do. What to I choose? The place or the people? It’s not like I didn’t feel lonely in Estonia but at least I had those few people who were only a few hours away, rather than a day’s worth of travel away.

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I’m lost for ideas. I feel like this selfish dream I came to chase after was just an illusion and I’m back at square one but this time without an idea what the next step is. And it’s killing me inside…

What’s real anymore

I’ve been away from Facebook and Instagram for a fortnight now. It doesn’t mean I haven’t opened either of them, I have. It has been either for work or just to quickly check my notifications. But all this has been just a quick check. I haven’t scrolled through any feeds or posted anything.

On the one hand, it has been a bit hard. I am so used to still killing time by scrolling and finding what else to do with this time has been a strugglr. I went for a walk and got some nice photos but couldn’t share them. I still feel like maybe I’m missing something important. On the other hand, it has been incredibly easy. In fact, I feel like I have proved my point that I can step away but at the same time I don’t want to go back because nothing has actually changed.

I also realised that one of the reasons I have stayed away is the lack of authenticity. It dawned on me when I was speaking to someone. They had been out snow boarding just a few miles away from here when we still had snow. They showed me a video of them throwing a wobble after face planting in the snow. What made me realise why I wanted to stay away from social media was what was said next. They said, “I was upset because I had had the longest run of the afternoon before falling down but that wasn’t on the video. And I felt, what’s the point, the video wasn’t even on!”

Suddenly the alarm bells started ringing. The experience didn’t have a point for them because it wasn’t caught video and therefore it couldn’t be shared on social media. Wow. Maybe it wasn’t meant so bluntly but it certainly came out like that.

That moment I realised why I no longer wanted to do things that I used to like such as going for a walk or a run. Normally, I would share my experience by way of photos on social media. I wouldn’t go for a walk just to get an Instagram post out of it, rather I would just want to share the beauty of nature and the amazing feeling it gave me (garnished with a healthy amount of showing off). However, I have noticed with certain people around me that the reason for going out lies in getting a great post out of it that would make their lives seems so awesome. And I don’t want to play that game. What’s the point of complaining the whole walk uphill about the weather and how hard if is just to then post a dreamy picture of looking into the distance at the summit. #blessed #somerandommotivationalquote #NOTREAL

I genuinely used to love being outdoors. I could go and just get a rest from my brain and I wanted to celebrate that because getting simple joy out of nature was such a healing sensation. Now I feel like that experience has been soiled by the Instagram hikers who go out to create an illusion of an outdoorsy life. I feel like the things I used to love are not real anymore. They’ve become the “cool thing” to do and I’ve never been cool in my life. I feel that if I were to post a photo of a walk it would be classed together with those highly thought through Pinterest worthy compositions and it would just make the experience not real. Summiting a hill wasn’t about the photo oportunity for me, it was about the experience of doing it and about that moment of sitting down, sweating and out of breath, and feeling like I had achieved something. I now feel like a liar if I were to do it. I also feel like if I can’t have an amazing photo out of the walk, I have failed in the eyes of the society.

It sounds stupid and full of bullshit, but I feel like there’s so little that’s authentic in the life around me and that people have become fake too. When you struggle with self-confidence and trying to fit in/belong somewhere, this fakeness is so difficult to stomach. It makes me feel incredibly lonely because I don’t trust anything or anyone to be real. I can’t really feel any connection with anyone around me.

Worst of all, it makes me feel fake and I hate it.

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How one “should” look at the summit

(Source http://pinterest.com/pin/387942955383280331/?source_app=android)

How I look at the summit (or in this case, half way up to the summit)

How I didn’t go to Mosedale

For a few days I have been planning to come here and write about my sorry state. Today is my one real day off (i.e. I only spent an hour replying to emails…) and I was planning to spend it on whinging and asking for cyber sympathy. But then instead I decided to get over myself a bit and go out.

I considered going for a run but with hindsight I am glad I didn’t. Instead I decided to walk down to Mosedale, sit on a bridge that goes over the beck there and have a good think. So I packed my hydration pack with only a map, some water and a thermos cup of hot tea, put on my boots and headed out. I slid my way down to Keld and on to the concrete road and headed up towards the hills. As I was walking up the track I saw a herd of deer in running away in the distance. There must have been about 15 of them. I have never seen deer in this part of hills and never such a big herd. It was easy enough to see them thanks to the overwhelming whiteness of the surroundings.

The sky in the distance looked ominous, it really looked like the weather was coming in. Good, I thought, it goes well with my general mood.

One thing I hadn’t taken into account was how difficult the walking over the moor would be in the snow. I couldn’t see anyone else’s footprints going the way I was going. Even without the snow, there really isn’t a visible path despite one marked on the map. So what I normally do is to make a beeline to the dry stone wall I am supposed to follow for a few miles where there is a track that makes walking easier. The ground is bog central at the best of times. Today it was also covered with plenty of snow. It is hard work trudging through the snow up to your ankles, it’s even harder when every other step you sink knee deep into the snow and the underlying bog. It felt like a metaphor of my recent days: I can walk through my days like nothing’s wrong and the bang! Suddenly I sink knee deep into self-pity that leaves me sitting on my arse looking stupid.

After what felt like hours I finally made it to the wall but the track I was hoping to find had also disappeared. The walking didn’t become any easier. I gave up on the plans of going to Mosedale. It would be too much of a trek in these conditions. Instead, I revised the route to drop down to Wet Sleddale and make my way home from there.

Hardly anyone walks that route, especially in the snow like we are having. It’s a bleak part of the Lake District, even the names on the map suggest that: Bleak Dod, Peat Hill, Bleak Hill, Wet Sleddale. I have yet to meet a more descriptive place name than the latter. However, in the untouched whiteness it looked less miserable and more just completely removed from civilization. The wind was coming from the west which meant that that it didn’t bring with it the noise of the M6 behind me and kept my crackling of snow from the herd of deer I could still see in the distance.

I kept trudging on, falling every now and again and getting my feet soaked in bogs. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to get my moment on the bridge in Mosedale but it was actually okay. At least I was out, which is more than I can say about the last few months.

By the time I reached the reservoir at Wet Sleddale, I realised that the sky had cleared and the sun was out. The nasty wind that has been blowing for about a week was gone. The surface of the water looked like a huge mirror reflecting the snow-covered hills. I have never seen Wet Sleddale looking so beautiful. I have been there a number of times and it’s not a spot you’d consider classically picturesque. Its charm lies in its bleakness. But today I don’t think anyone can argue how gorgeous this valley looked. And that made me feel better. It gave me a tiny glimmer of something resembling hope.

The clear skies also seemed to clear the dark thoughts that clouded my brain this morning. No, I’m not saying that I am suddenly okay and happy and cured. No. But this walk managed to save the day which would have otherwise been spent sulking on the sofa. The very least, it helped to pass the hours quicker.

Altogether I walked 13.4K over 3 hours 45 minutes.

Why I am taking a break from social media

Today I deleted the Instagram and Facebook apps from my devices. Why? Because I need a break and a chance to see clearly without the filters. I have already written about how I live a life with an Instagram filter but only in the last few days did I realise how much I am actually influenced by social media and how anxious and depressed it can make me.

Over the last week, I have suffered through some pretty horrible nights. I have found myself unable to sleep and my brain has been working overtime. I have wound myself up to a point where I found it difficult to breathe or just to exist. As a result I haven’t been feeling great all around. I’m scared of going to bed because I don’t know whether I am able to sleep tonight or have to go through the ordeals again.

What has helped me a bit over these last few days has been shutting off my phone and making an effort not to check it after going to bed. It might seems such an obvious thing but it has given me a few extra hours each night. I realised that one of the things that I kept checking was whether someone was “communicating” with me. I was checking for acknowledgment from others in the form of likes and comments on my photos on Instagram and Facebook. I kept trying to figure out what to post to make my life seem more interesting and to collect more likes.

I realise that this a dangerous road to go down. There are never enough likes to fill the void I thought I was feeling. I have been feeling very alone and vulnerable recently, like I am isolated from people around me. I thought that Instagram and Facebook would help me connect with people, but in fact, they made me feel worse. I know that most people tap twice on a post on Instagram just out of a habit without giving it much attention. Tap-tap, scroll, tap-tap, scroll… I do that, so why do I expect anyone else to concentrate any more. So in the end, those likes that I was so desperately expecting didn’t really fill my desire to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be comforted in feeling alone and scared.

And when you are feeling alone and scared, other people’s carefully constructed and edited lives don’t make you feel any better either. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to what other people post on social media, but it’s difficult not to when you are feeling down. I felt like I am not pretty enough, interesting enough, happy enough. I felt like I am not enough. So although I was scrolling through the feed in search for escape, it was getting even more locked up in my negative thoughts.

I didn’t delete my accounts and I have every intention to returning to them but I just need a week or two, or even just a few days of staying away. A few days where I don’t have to compare myself to what I could be. A few days when I don’t have to think about creating an image. I need a few days where I can feel my feelings and learn to not to mask them with filters. I need to learn not to look for acknowledgement somewhere where it’s not actually given.

Is it going to be difficult? I have no doubt it will be incredibly difficult. I have no problem admitting a certain addiction to social media. It will so tempting to scroll through Instagram posts first thing in the morning and refreshing Facebook feed as a break at work. It will take a while not to think about my day in terms of what interesting I could post on Instagram. It will feel even more lonely. But I hope it will hurt a little less, I hope I can sleep again with a bit more peace of mind knowing that I have chosen to miss it all. I hope I can at least for a minute stop comparing my life with others and feeling like a complete failure.