How To Survive Being “…Meh”

I’ve always been told I’m headed for great things. I’d like to believe that. Who knows, maybe I am? However, right now I can categorically say I am not doing great things. I am nothing out of the ordinary. I’m average. I’m a student. I drink, I write essays and hand them in on time, I maintain a good grade, I go to the gym. I know that sounds quite productive, like the usual good student having fun but remaining studious, but it’s average. Masses of twenty year olds in the country are doing the same.

Now, that thought may seem like a belittling, negative one, but bare with…

All my life, I’ve been reassured by loving parents, grandparents, sometimes even strangers that I’m the “prettiest” , the “most intelligent” , and a “very promising” girl. That could be correct, given the right circumstances, but it’s probably not. This isn’t an “oh boo hoo I’m so ugly/stupid/useless” post, it’s positive, I promise, I’m getting to it. Basically, my whole life I was conditioned to be something special, something exciting. I was going to be a performer, I was going to be something so admirable, and exciting and I’d have hilarious stories to tell quirky strangers in bars. There was this huge pressure on me, particularly through college, that being ordinary, being like everyone else just wasn’t enough. That’s probably because it was a performing arts college, leading us all into a competitive industry, however, I do believe at some point everyone feels this same pressure. This pressure that to be important and popular and unique is everything.

I used to spend ages scrolling through Instagram looking at people I thought were the most beautiful. I wanted to look like all these girls with perfect make-up and gorgeous clothes, and I wanted to be surrounded by these gorgeous, edgy male models drinking gin and flashing their watches. They were the best, the elite and I wanted to be part of it. I wanted this lifestyle that involved gorgeous people, with cool creative jobs, who seemed to just effortlessly stroll into VIP Lounges and tell people stories about the time they met such-a-body from the radio or how they partied with such-a-body from TV through their most recent acting job.

Basically, I used to spend hours convincing myself I had to be something more than what I was. I’m not the sort of person who gets into VIP just by strolling in. I don’t even like clubs that much anymore, I’d really rather be in bed by 11pm. My stories are somewhat quirky, but they’re usually at the cost of my own dignity, and don’t often involve celebrities or much more than me making a fool of myself. I like gin, but I’d really rather drink it with my friends on a weekday than with some guy in a  snobby bar who just wants to tell me how much his watch costs. I used to think I had to do all these things so I’d have something to impress everyone with, so I could be the kind of person who had a witty anecdote if ever needed. But really, how often are they needed? And who am I impressing?

The fact is, being cool, being new and exciting is nice. If you are cool and exciting and you have all these amazing stories and interesting careers, really, more power to you and keep up the good work. I admire that, and there’s still this part of me that wants all of that, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting that. But some of us aren’t there yet. And that’s okay too.

It’s okay not to be the most beautiful. It’s okay not to be the most intelligent. It’s okay to not have everything together yet in a nice Pinterest-worthy package of a life. You probably are headed for great things, but your parents will be proud of you if you’re happy. It’s equally as impressive to have what you need and not want more, to have a quiet life with  a small circle of loved ones. Your job doesn’t have to be the most exciting to strangers if it’s exciting to you. You don’t need to post a quirky picture of “the best night out everrr [insert party popper/champagne emoji]” on Instagram every week to make people think you’re interesting. Doing the ordinary isn’t settling. Doing something you’re uncomfortable with is settling. Never settle.

I hope this made some sort of sense. If you need a summary after my rambling: Ordinary is okay. Most people are ordinary and they’re perfectly happy. Just be happy, and do you, boo, do you.

Speak soon,

Laura

x

 

 

 

 

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How To Survive A Meditation Session.

So I have a very overactive mind. I’m always worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet, calculating the worst possible outcome of things and overanalysing everything I say to others and others say to me. A lot of the time, this leaves me feeling horrendously tense and, simultaneously, drained. Seriously, reading the same three word text and trying to decipher its hidden, usually non-existent, nasty meaning various times throughout the day is exhausting. So I thought there had to be a way to change this.

After some googling, and repeatedly seeing the term “mindfulness” cropping up, I was eventually led to some Buddhist teachings, and the idea of meditation. I thought it couldn’t hurt to try, and there was a Buddhist centre in Manchester which offered lunchtime meditation sessions.

Now, admittedly, I was worried I was going to end up feeling like Julia Roberts when she goes to the Ashram in Eat Pray Love, and everyone’s chanting and reading this book she just hates, and they’re all fasting or silent or scrubbing floors. It turns out, it’s nothing like that. You don’t even sit with your legs crossed saying “ohhhmmmm” over and over. (I mean, you can sit with your legs crossed if you want, but nobody makes you chant or anything.)

Basically, everyone took their shoes off and was led into the Shrine Room. The name may seem intimidating but it’s actually a really nice place. There was a large Buddha, and a picture of Sangharakshita (Founder of Triratna Buddhist Community) at the front of the room, so it’s kind of Shrine-like but not in the creepy way, more in like a “Oh what a lovely place, what a happy Buddha.” kind of way. It really sets a good atmosphere. Most people sit on cushions, but you can sit on a chair if you want. (You’re shown how to sit, but there’s no right or wrong way really and you’re free to move around if you become uncomfortable. Some people even lay down under blankets) The emphasis on sitting instantly made me feel like this was something I could get in to; I’m pretty darn good at sitting doing nothing if I do say so myself.

I don’t want to say too much in case anyone wants to go, I’d like them to have the same new experience I did, but there’s a few things that I learnt in my first session. So firstly, a whole range of people benefit from meditation. Some people looked like they’d come in during their work lunch break, there were a lot more young people than I expected, and also plenty of older men and women. It wasn’t some big, cult-like experience where you come out having an epiphany after chanting to a deity, but the whole ordeal was very relaxing. For a whole hour I was away from my phone, nobody was asking me to do anything, or to pass an opinion on anything, it was just breathing.

Most people think the whole aim of meditation is to clear your mind, but I found the emphasis of this session to be on noticing things, and letting them go. Noticing your breath, noises from the outside, noticing your thoughts and feelings, noticing your mind wondering, and then letting it all go, and bringing yourself back to your breathing. The importance of kindness was also stressed, being kind to yourself in particular. Whenever I noticed tension in my body or mind (apparently my shoulders are hella stressed about something because they just would not drop) I was asked to breath in with kindness and get them to relax.

Overall, I’d recommend guided meditation to anyone. I didn’t come out feeling like a new person with an urge to hunt down the Dalai Lama himself and ask for the meaning of life, but I did feel like for an hour, nothing mattered. For a whole hour, I wasn’t bothered about checking my ex’s Snapchat story, how many likes my latest Instagram post had gotten, or how many new Tinder matches I had. It was a nice break from “real life”.

Most cities have a Buddhist centre (from what I can gather from Google anyway), and even if it doesn’t seem like your scene, I’d recommend giving a meditation class a try to anyone. There’s no yoga, you can wear whatever you want and all you have to do is sit and breathe whilst someone with a calming voice keeps you focused and relaxed. It’s like napping without the guilt of wasting your day. There’s even blankets if you want one.

Speak soon,

Laura x