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16th February 2020

It’s not often I get shy about anything or find myself lacking the ability to talk, believe me. Recently though, both in real life and online, I’ve found myself in a sort of weird limbo. Call it mid-term blues, January blues, whatever you want – but what annoys me more is that I haven’t to be able to pin point it. That was until Friday.

With good old Valentines popping up recently, I thought I’d try out the ‘writing a love letter to yourself’ trend. I know of a few people who have done this and for whatever reason, it has really helped them. Something I’ve been doing more of recently has been writing anyway, just when I’m feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed and it has been surprisingly helpful and I guess this love letter thing is along the same lines.

I don’t know why this picture is relevant, I guess a beach seems profound…

The thing I’ve been feeling the most recently is frustration. I really pride myself on my ability to be positive, lift myself and others up and process whatever I’m feeling, especially if it’s weighing on me. But in the past 3 or so weeks I’ve been in this sort of slump, feeling neither here nor there, unable to coherently express or understand myself. And once again, as someone who prides themselves on emotional intelligence, it’s a weight to bear. And because of that, I’ve put more pressure on myself to figure it out and getting annoyed with myself when I can’t. It’s a complex one.

I’ve also been in a massive vicious guilt complex. I know that I work through and help myself by talking about what’s going on and how I’m feeling. But I can’t seem to bump the feeling that I’m talking too much about myself to friends and that it comes across as incredibly selfish. So, in trying to conserve myself a bit, I end up feeling worse, talking more and feeling more guilty. I called my best friend Yaz about this the other day and, because she is practically my twin, she understood completely and helped me to realise that:

a) helping yourself and taking care of your mental health is never selfish

b) those who really care about you never think or make it feel like a burden

c) you’re a talker – changing that would be integral to who you are as a person

Sometimes, you can be hearing all the right things from the right people, but a particular person will just phrase it in a certain way, and there it was, laid out in front of me – ‘Ria, shut up, you’re being ridiculous.’

Lesson 1 – Trust your friends more. If it’s too much, they’ll say. They’re your friends for a reason.

When I mentioned ‘mid-term blues’ earlier – very. real. I have talked to a plethora (loving that word recently) of people both at Exeter and elsewhere who are all feeling exactly the same. A total lack of motivation, a loss of drive and desire, a slump in productivity and a decrease in general enjoyment or interest in your degree all seem to be symptoms, and I’m feeling every single one. I don’t think it helps that I only have 4 contact hours this term, which even for English, is low. I like having a full busy schedule and whilst it was nice to have so much freedom at the beginning of term, now I miss having at least one lecture or seminar a day to at least build my day around. And so I have been struggling, particularly in the last week, to give myself routine, structure and a plan. And if it’s one thing I need on a daily basis, it’s a plan…

I need to know what I’m doing, when, who with etc. It might seem meticulous to some, but for me that’s how I work. I feel really satisfied now with how much my lifestyle has changed and developed around my health and activity. It’s taken 8 months, but the gym is now less of a want and more of a need. I need to workout, more than anything for my mind and that has been a big let up recently in order to think and process. But as a goal-orientated, tick-sheet type person, it doesn’t account for productivity anymore, which I’m really glad of. Looking after mental health, in whatever way you choose to do that, be that the gym, writing, headspace – in my book shouldn’t be something to tick off or ‘complete’, but rather is part of your lifestyle and is as second nature as eating. Obviously this doesn’t happen over night and isn’t easy, but I feel really glad that mine has now taken priority and is key to my lifestyle. That’s a big win for me.

So all this has made me have to make more of an effort to fill the chunks of time. And you’d think with a blog, the Matriarch community, a degree and a business I’d be pretty busy. But even with those things, which, particularly Matriarch, are passion projects I would be able to produce and maintain continuously. But the truth is, that doesn’t happen. I’m really luck to have had 8 fantastic months with Matriarch from conception to now, growing slowly but surely, creating content I love and growing this amazing community and online presence. And it is so, so normal, that after 8 great months of that, you’re going to have a slump or trough. And what I’ve realised is being self-employed and having Matriarch is completely dependent on me. On my ideas, my passion and my abilities. Now, whilst I couldn’t love it more, it makes complete sense that occasionally, I’m not going to have the consistent level of creativity or passion. It’s still there, but just needs a rest. And expecting this immense drive and consistent ability to churn out content that’s of a standard I approve of, is unrealistic. I have not at all lost the passion, I’m just having a bit of a rest at the minute.

Lesson 2 – Stop acting like a superstar. You’re a human, consistency is great but continuous consistency is stuff of legend.

I’m kinda out of breath now, that’s how it feels to finally write it all down and get it out, and as expected I do feel great. Almost like a massive block has cleared. Ria, get a grip.

In disbelief that this love letter thing actually worked lol.


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