At the ripe age of 24, I’m still embarrassingly proud of winning a ‘performing arts’ award at eight years old. The award certainly wasn’t for my artistic prowess nor my shining acting ability, but for my writing.
I always had a book in my hand as a child: eating breakfast, cleaning my teeth, sat in the crook of light which came through my propped-open bedroom door after bed-time. Put it this way, there was never a struggle for my parents to know what presents to get me. I read Joy Adamson’s ‘Born Free’ age seven, Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ not long after, and the highlight of each week was a trip to the library with my nan.
After reading Anne Frank’s Diary at a similar age, keeping my own became my first creative outlet. I was traditional in my style: ‘Dear Diary’, ‘Love Lauren’ with the now-hilarious anecdotes of an 8-year old child to read back on. My language was indicative of my obsession with Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ and reflects my idyllic childhood of horses, Devonshire caravanning holidays, and a roast dinner on a Sunday.
It wasn’t long before this love of creative writing became apparent in my school-work. I’d write story after story, using books I’d read as inspiration. This was always encouraged by my family and school teachers, providing me with the support and motivation to continue doing what I loved. Growing up I was on the school journalism team, frequently contributed to the local newspaper, and started my career working in the Sixth Form I’d studied at, supporting students in university applications and sourcing career opportunities. I started an Open University BSc (Hons) Psychology Degree in 2015 which taught me what I loved and most definitely hated (neuroscience and I will never be friends). But, with my studying came the realisation that staying in Devon was never going to offer me the career path I so craved.
My partner and I moved just south of London in 2018 to chase higher salaries and fulfilling career opportunities. This move meant subconsciously creating a new identity to fit in with these unknown surroundings. I stopped reading, stopped writing, changed how I looked and before long was living a life that definitely wasn’t mine.
The irony of getting ‘gnothi seauton’ (know thyself) tattooed on my arm in the midst of all this has not been lost, and a recent wake-up call meant working on actually knowing myself before I started really disliking who I saw in the mirror.
The last year I’ve focused on re-familiarising myself to areas of my personality I’d nearly forgotten. I’ve read more books in the last three months than I had in the prior two years. I dusted off my diary and committed to writing for fun at least once a week, and have published well-received articles on LinkedIn.
Re-igniting my passions has achieved so much more than simply putting pen to paper – it grounded me. I no longer feel like I’m chasing the life my current situation requires of me. I am living the life I want.
My partner loves an analogy and once told me “if you don’t talk about how you feel, you stack each problem on top of each other like unstable china plates. The longer you don’t talk, the more precarious your stack of plates becomes.” But, each time you talk about a problem, you remove one of the plates from the stack. This is how I feel when I write: I get my thoughts into coherent words and then deal with them.
Right now, I’m more happier with myself and my life than I have been in a long time.
Give yourself time to do the things you love, and the rest will work itself out.