Actuellement: New Beginnings

Salutations, friends and happy Sunday.

I know that it necessarily doesn’t feel like a happy Sunday, given everything that is happening in the world right now, it feels impossible to be happy about anything. There is an overbearing cloud of frustration and despair hanging over the United States at the present moment as it seems that innocent people will continue to suffer at the hands of an unjust system. To everyone out there hurting, I empathise with you and I hope that something can be done to alleviate the pain. Music is one of the strongest ways I believe that people can connect and so, to anyone struggling with those feelings of anger, despondency or hopelessness, I leave you with the song ‘Hand of God’ by Jon Bellion. You may not necessarily be religious (I’m certainly not) but this is one of the most beautiful closing tracks I have ever heard on an album and whilst it may not be the Pepsi of Hope that Kendall Jenner hoped to bring world peace with; I hope this song can bring some temporary solace during a hard time.

Angry at all the things, angry at all the things I can’t change.

Pause. Let’s use this space to take a deep breath before we move on.

Whilst we’re on the topic of antidisestablishmentarianism and shaking up and changing the system, I figured I would take the chance to write about new beginnings. I’ve been planning this post for a while and have been back and forth about whether to publish given the circumstances (hello, read the room Andrea), if you’re reading this then I guess I decided to take the leap. In case you’re new here, my actuellement posts are to let you know about what’s going on in my life right now and give you a snapshot into the haphazardly organised file cabinet that my thoughts are stored in. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Self-timers are….. tricky.

To be quite frank, it feels like I’ve spent the last 3 months trying to pick myself up and put myself back together. I spent the last 5 months of 2019 abroad in Lyon, France, and whilst that was a transformative experience that I hope to give you more insight into one day, nobody tells you just how exhausting self-reflection can be. Being relentlessly honest with yourself can raise some uncomfortable truths, objectively questioning your beliefs can leave you feeling guilty and dejected and when you’re hard on yourself you can find yourself asking, ‘Is this how other people see me? How can I expect other people to love and accept me when I don’t even like me?’.

Propitiously (I had to sound every syllable out in this one very slowly), there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I promise you, the view at the top of the mountain is astounding. It’s like looking at the world through a pair of rose-coloured glasses, everything looks fresh and new. The feeling where you notice how the sunlight streams through the trees, how perfectly the milk blends into your coffee and how you find yourself singing out loud to your favourite songs. You start to notice things you’ve never seen before on the route you’ve taken to work over a million times: ‘Has that birds’ nest always been there?’, ‘Have those flowers always been bright yellow?’, ‘When did they paint that trash can?’.

Perhaps the most assuaging (isn’t it so soothing just to say that word out loud?) part of this process is how your thoughts are no longer racing, you finally feel like you’re in control. Your thoughts start to come through more clearly and you can hear yourself and your true thoughts are as clear as day. My favourite analogy comes from a Headspace meditation, Andy Puddicombe describes it as laying down in a meadow and imagining your thoughts as the clouds rolling by against a clear, blue sky. You don’t feel the need to get up and chase the clouds, nor do you allow them to rain on your parade. You’re calm, serene and at peace with yourself.

Scene from my favourite tv show, Adventure time.

I’m going to stop berating you with my analogies and feelings and get to the actual actuellement part of this post. I’m in sunny, sunny Berkeley, California having just started my summer internship at Facebook (remotely, of course). I’m so grateful for this opportunity to have an apartment with stunning views of the bay, a chance to flex my brain muscles on a challenging project and supportive, loving friends around me. In a time when so many of us are separated from our families and friends, I’m feeling incredibly motivated to be working at a company that is doing everything it can to keep us connected in this time.

My favourite thing on tv has been ‘The Midnight Gospel’ on Netflix. The series was created by Pendleton Ward, who also animated the kids’ tv show Adventure time (see earlier pic). This series is a lot more intense and deals with serious topics in 22 minute episodes. It too me more than a month to get through all 8 episodes given that there’s a lot of heavy dialogue that required me to stop and pause frequently to process what was going on and think about how it applies to my own life.

The moment I accepted where I was, instead of wishing I were somewhere else, everything just got better.

-The Midnight Gospel, Episode 6: Vulture with Honor
This is an incredibly introspective and honest tv show. Would highly recommend for anyone who likes thinking about death, hope, and self-reflection.

When everything seems to be so broken around us, I’m encouraging you to put on your rose-coloured glasses and see the world through a new pair of eyes. When we’re perpetually badgered by notifications, posts and stories showing us all the ugliness that exists in this world, it has become even more important to remember to take a step back, breathe and remember all the good that does exist.

As always, have a wonderful, wonderful week, reach out to me to talk about *literally* anything, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and feelings in these tumultuous times!

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