30 for 30

30 for 30 2018 - Laura Whispering

New Year has often been a difficult time for me: a day in which I am painfully confronted with the reality of how little I've achieved; a reminder of all the times and all the ways in which I've failed to be the person I would have liked to be. It is a time for looking backwards and I, inevitably, never like what I see. The road behind me is paved with broken glass, reflecting memories that linger like a recent bad dream. My eyes are blinded by the glare of too many regrets; too much shame; too many missed opportunities; too many past hopes come apart at the seams. It is a slap in the face; a kick in the guts; the burn of hot coals beneath weary feet. It hurts. It is a dark and difficult period for me.

I was sectioned on New Year's Eve 2014. I was already in hospital, being nursed on one-to-one obs on New Year's Eve 2016. It is hard to buy the firework fallacy of "New year, new me!" at the best of times, but it's nigh on impossible when, for so long, this empty, hollow darkness is all you've known and been.

I find birthdays difficult for much the same reason: another harsh reminder of disappointments I'd rather not face. This year, in particular, has always threatened to be a tough one for me. 

I turn 30 this June, you see. 

The year of 30 has long seemed a significant landmark - the gap between us shortening, its shadow looming more powerfully over me. 30 became a number of great importance: after struggling through most of my twenties, I promised myself I wouldn't tolerate the same in my thirties. Things have to improve before then, or else.

For a very long time, I seemed to be ploughing head-first towards 30 in the dark. Things were not getting better. Nothing seemed to change. There was no light; no hope; just a constant succession of disasters and depression, played out on repeat.

Until recently. Recently, a tiny strip of light has risen on the horizon. Recently, things have begun to change, gradually, slowly. Recently, there have been baby steps in a different direction - small achievements stacking up encouragingly. Recently, a long-awaited treatment has arrived with the promise of fresh perspectives and new opportunities. Recently, glimmers of long-absent hope have been restored to me.

Hope is like a superpower. It makes you see the whole world differently.

It's certainly transformed my feelings towards '30'.

Things are not perfect, but they're better than they've been. Miracles have not happened, but there are certain signs of hope and change. The road is not always smooth, but I have a little light by which to face the bumps along the way. With all of that, 30 no longer feels like a self-imposed cut-off, set to make or break me.  30 seems like just another number; just another year; just another day. 30 seems like another opportunity - one I've decided to embrace wholeheartedly.   

Goal-setting has always been a troublesome concept for me and I'm wary of pushing myself too hard, allowing the "shoulds" to ask too much of myself too quickly. Life is a lengthy journey and I have a long way to go, with no real idea where I'd like the destination to be. Instead of setting myself a to-do list of demands to meet before I turn 30, I've decided to embrace the whole of 2018, writing myself a list of hopefully-manageable, predominantly-enjoyable aims and activities to inject a spoonful of focus and a healthy dose of fun into the coming year.

30 items for 30 years, to be attempted in the next 12 months.

30 for 30 2018 - Laura Whispering

The majority are fairly frivolous, but read between the lines of this list and you'll spot a certain set of implied intentions - perhaps more meaningful goals, necessary if I want to achieve these things. If I want to succeed, I need to remain out of hospital for extended periods. I need to fuel my body and maintain my haemoglobin above the level marked dizzy-and-breathless. I need to look after myself; to keep myself healthy and fit. I need to willingly, wilfully extend myself a little kindness, compassion and grace. 

These things are more difficult than I'd like to admit.

This list might look silly and insignificant, but to complete it will be an enormous accomplishment. I hope laughter and pleasure will show up to accompany it.

Unfortunately, I can't possibly know what the year will really bring. The road ahead - with all its peaks and troughs - isn't clear or predictable for anyone, but I'm ready and excited to face it for once!

Here's to 2018!
Here's to a year of fun!
Here's to facing 30 head-on!
Here's to embracing the future!
Here's to saying that - truthfully - for the first time in far too long!   


P.S. I'd love to do some of this with accomplices. If you can encourage me, join me, travel with me, put me up for a night, direct me to relevant freebies (cheeky!), collaborate with me, stand by and laugh at me, or simply cheer me on, I'd be delighted to have you along! Hit me up.

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