The people I went to school with are settled down now. Married, kids of their own, the lot. But here I am, single, poor, and clinging to fanciful dreams of being a writer. Age doesn’t mean a thing to me; I couldn’t care less that I’m nearly thirty. The dreams and visions of my mind shine bright, and that keeps me feeling young. But, it’s strange to think back on all that’s happened up to this point. The memories. The days of glory, the days of pain. The love and hate, the loneliness. It’s no more or less than what others live through, yet it makes me smile wryly when I go over the things that have brought me here.
Ever since childhood, I knew I was somehow different. Others my age were thinking of future jobs, of owning big houses and driving fast cars. They couldn’t wait to be settled down, earning big money and being grown-up. But to me, all I ever wanted to do was dream and fall in love. I’ve been dreaming ever since. Doing my best to capture these dreams, I painted through college then at university. I obtained not only a degree but a Masters for my efforts. Not because I wanted to land a good job out of it, but because I wanted to become better at what I was doing. Expressing myself has always made me feel whole. It gives me a sense fulfilment that nothing else brings. Finding that painting was becoming too restrictive for me, I turned to writing. I’d been writing before this, but never with much effort or gusto. Deciding to write a novel based on a dream I once had, I threw myself into it and created a universe that matched what was going on in my head.
Despite expressing my creative side through writing and painting, as the years progressed, my inner emotions were neglected. Not enough effort was put into being truthful. Feelings were locked up, kept hidden for too long. I’ve had several lovers, but with each one, I never opened up as much as I should of. Maybe it was fear of being rejected or it was an issue of not trusting that other person with my heart. Some of those women hate me no doubt, but for what it’s worth, I truly loved them. Sat here writing this, it fills my heart with joy to reminisce over the good times; those moments when everything felt just right. Love is something you should give yourself to completely. There should be nothing you wouldn’t sacrifice for love. But, I’ve always managed to mess it up by not being open enough, and I’ve got no one else to blame but myself.
As those inner feelings are never fully expressed, not only do relationships break down, so your mental health begins to suffer as well. For the last few years, things have gradually been coming to a head. I was diagnosed with depression, but at first never fully understood why. In a previous relationship, my fiance and I had been expecting a baby, but it wasn’t to be. I mourned at the time and thought I was better; thought I was stronger than I was. Several months later, and there were times when I was too scared to leave the house; when I’d panic at the mere thought of going to the shops at the end of the road. Bouts of anxiety would take over leaving me socially paralysed. I’d be sick before going to work. Would do anything not to have to go out places. This paved the way to heavy drinking. Never during the day, but always at night. It would give me a release when I should have been releasing my feelings to my loved one. And so it continued, this vicious circle. On the face of it, I was okay. I’ve always been a happy kind of guy, and pretending I was okay had become second nature. But beneath the surface, everything was bubbling away until it finally got the better of me.
Or should I say, until I at last broke the silence. Opening up after a lifetime of silence is a painful thing, but when it eventually happened, it left me feeling as if I were truly alive. Sure, the damage had already been done, but being able to speak to someone after bottling it all up for so long was life changing. And to that person, I am forever grateful. I don’t deserve her time, but she gave it to me. She has a precious soul that’s for sure, and the world needs more like her. I’m not all better. This isn’t a happy ending. But at the ripe old age of thirty, it feels as though I’m beginning to understand myself. I’m still a mystery, even to me, but my feelings and emotions aren’t locked away anymore like they used to be. They are sacred, just as they should be.
Starting this blog was an attempt to carry on with my recuperation. To make sure my thoughts were put down every day, no matter how obscure or abstract. And as well as succeeding in this, so my passion for writing has returned. Several months down the line, I feel revitalised. The novel is yet to be touched, but it will be soon. Both artistically and mentally, I’m in a much healthier place. Happiness is a state of mind, not something that can be bought. You achieve happiness through being open and honest. For too long, these were the things I denied, but I’m getting better, step by step. You just have to want to do it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and embrace what you deserve.
My journey isn’t unique by any means. There’s no finish line, no celebration at the end of it. To use something that Bukowski once wrote, ‘it’s about how well we walk through the fire’. Stick to your dreams, and always have the power to believe in yourself. The road is long, and there are times when it will feel as though to give up would be infinitely easier. Others will convince you to stop, to become like them. You’ll be deemed crazy. A lunatic even. But you have to do whatever it is that’s in your heart, and always do it with honesty. Even when others are basking in the glory of cheap applause, stay true to what you want. Be open. Treat the beautiful ones just how they deserve to be treated, for beautiful people don’t come around often, and when they do, you should cling to them with everything you have. It’s taken me a while to appreciate this, and I hope it’s not too late. Nothing else matters when you’re in love with someone, and there are dreams in your heart. Without dreams, you may as well call it quits right now.
So there you go. I’m optimistic, melancholic, and wistful. I should be following the crowd. Should be stood on a driveway polishing a nice car and playing golf at the weekends with white-teethed wankers. Alas, that isn’t me. But I’m proud of this. Proud that I’m different and eccentric. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and will probably continue doing so. I’m far from perfect, but with only one shot at life, I want to stay true to myself as much as possible. I am what I am. And what I am, is me. Carpe Diem.