A new year, a new notebook.
Some people hate the blank page, but not me. In life, I love a clean slate and as a writer there's nothing I like more than starting a new project. I know writers that find all that white space staring back at them scary, but not me. I love it.
I have a girlfriend who says she's not a finisher and I think I'm the same. We love to start new things. We love the project. Writing that report at the end, not so much. The handover to the client, not really. Formatting and getting the book out, not exactly.
I love a new project and I love a new notebook. I get the same on each year in a different colour and I'm on my fourth version of the ones I love now (not the one in the photo). One for every year in a rainbow of colours. They're a record of my writing life and my life in general - it's a shame I have the handwriting of a serial killer and no one else will ever decipher them. The fresh notebook symbolizes a new opportunity, a chance to write things anew
If only it were that easy in life.
2015 wasn't a great year for me. I'll be honest with you it was pretty blah. Flat, flat is probably the best word. (Please let me note I know I'm an incredibly lucky person. I live in a safe and beautiful country and I happen to live in a spectacular part of it. Nothing bad happened to me or my family this year for which I'm extraordinarily grateful.)
Still, it was a year of waiting, or marking time. Not much new happened. It felt stagnant. I felt flat.
And here's the really interesting thing about that, from a personal point of view, no one much noticed. I was quite lonely this year, melancholy for some of it and frustrated for much of it. And no one much noticed.
There are a couple of reasons for that beyond people having busy all-consuming lives.
We all play roles in life that's a fact. There's a reason there are archetypes and stereotypes in stories because we recognise those people. We know them, heck, we are them. One role I've played for a long time is I'm the go-to girl. If you have a problem I'm the one you call. I listen, I help, I step up. People like that.
Most of us have that person or if we're lucky, several in our lives. Those people are the glue. They hold together families, friendship groups, workplaces. They babysit, they make you food, they call and ask about your sick mother or your job interview or your broken heart.
It's amazing however, how little it works in reverse. Somehow you can be the go to girl but not be the come to girl. (Mon, what does that even mean?) It means people don't come to me to check on me. They assume I'm fine. They don't ask otherwise, they just roll with that assumption because it the easy way. First of all they genuinely want to believe I'm happy and cruising along and secondly if they think that then they don't have to do anything.
And some of that is my fault as well.
"She'll reach out if she needs me." Yeah, no she won't. Or probably she won't. Some people aren't wired that way and if it takes you three days to call back, if you don't return texts, if you get on the phone or sit down at lunch and start talking about your own drama the go-to girl is wired to assume your needs are greater.
So there's that. So if you have a go-to girl or guy in your life I suggest you make 2016 the year you check up on them just a little. Instigate the contact, it can't hurt after all.
And then there's the second reason - social media with all it's smoke and mirrors. Liking someone's Facebook post is not the same as sending them a text. And texting, while convenient, is no substitute for an actual phone call. We all rely on these quick and the easy tools to check in with people way too much - I do too. (If you know me you know I love Facebook and I quite like Instagram as well I'm not dissing them.) We see a photo of someone and their dog or their hamburger and we feel connected to them, as if we know what their day was like. We don't see the mess in the kitchen or the fight they had with their teenager or their crisis of confidence. Of course none of us post pictures of that stuff.
That means however that we're basing our relationships on assumptions and not reality. We have the illusion of connection without the real deal.
So what does this mean for me? I guess it means in 2016 I have to stop being the glue. I have to stop helping other people to hold it together at the expense of my own needs. Hence the title of this post, I need to stop being the glue to get unstuck.
So time to open life's new notebook - the new year - and get writing my own story in a more interesting way.
(If you're reading this and you know me for real, in the real non-cyber world. This is a blog post about me and my reflections on the year gone and the year ahead - it's not about you or how I feel about you.)