Just be an adult already!! 

Something happened over the past few years. It happened when I wasn’t looking. I was no longer a child, I was no longer bound by the rules of my parents, with nobody to answer to. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, what I was doing or what time I would be back. I became an adult. 

What age does this even truly happen? Growing up, we seem to believe we’re “adults” by the time we’re 16, 18, 21. It’s a subjective theory in all honesty, something that is relative to life experience. I definitely remember feeling fairly adult at the age of 12, battling with what I saw to be “grown-up” depressive moods and thoughts, protecting myself from my aggressive step father and dealing with my ongoing internal monologue. That felt fairly adult to me. But in reality, it was a young girl, a very lost one at that, dealing with a world of adults who showcased very negative thoughts, emotions and relayed them onto my vulnerable brain. 

Now, at 23 years of age, I live in my own house with my partner, I’m studying for my degree, I’m learning to be my own person as I expect to do for the entirety of my life. I’m an enthusiast for the world, for travel, for work, for learning and for growth. I love to write. I love to walk. I am an adult. So why do I still feel as if those strings have not been cut from my childhood. I still feel like I need guidance, I still feel as if I need to answer to someone. And I still feel as if I need to cling to my childhood in order to be carefree. 

What I do that counteracts the fact that I’m an adult?

  • Everything I do I seek gratification from someone, somewhere 
  • If I have a sick day from work, I validate the fact that it is ok with a parent, my partner, or family and friends 
  • I explain every decision I make 
  • I justify myself constantly 
  • I live to please others 
  • I still feel unfulfilled, as if being a child allowed me to do more (that ironically I never seemed to take advantage of) and that adulthood results in not being able to really “live”
  • Living in a messy house – expecting someone else to clean it for me 

Why do I do this? 

  • Being an adult was always a negative thing in my younger life – adults were harsh and scary and violent and unpredictable 
  • I care what people think far too much 
  • I seek validation as I am still unsure in my own ability to decision make 
  • I have convinced myself that adult hood means working, paying bills and being unfulfilled 
  • I have a warped view of what being an independent truly means 

How could I step into my adulthood like I mean it? 

  • I need to consistently remind myself that adulthood is just a theory – it’s a concept that simply means I’m older. 
  • Remind myself that adulthood is not scary and it doesn’t mean that I have become a reflection of the adults I knew in my childhood 
  • Remember that it doesn’t change who I am – I’m still a big kid 
  • Don’t allow the concept of being grown up take away my dreams – it doesn’t mean the time frame has gone, it simply means I can choose when, where and why 
  • To learn that whilst pleasing people is ok, it shouldn’t be at the detriment of pleasing myself 
  • Remember that I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m my own person 
  • Believing in any decision that I make 
  • Keeping a tidy house in order to keep a tidy mind. 
  • Helping myself to help myself 
  • Staying in touch with my inner child and allowing myself to play and have fun 
  • Laugh more – laughing and being silly isn’t confined to being a child 
  • Working on my thoughts on what an adult is – not seeing adulthood as boring bill paying, as realistically, it changes nothing. 

I’ve got some great things to work on this summer! 

How do you live authentically in the concept of being an adult? 

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Give yourself a break

The thing with mental illness? It makes us our own worst enemy. We start to punish ourselves for the thoughts in our head, the fact that we’re not ‘normal’, the things we miss out on, the things we make ourselves do. The list is endless.

The question is, why do we do this? Seeing as we’re going through such turmoil, I don’t understand why we punish ourselves further! We make our lives difficult, and pick holes in everything we say and do. We lower our view of ourselves, and we feed self-hatred.

The more I read this, the more I realise how damaging we are being to ourselves.

Being inside your own head, when your brain purges your every thought, turns your every positive into a negative, and is your own worst enemy, is exhausting.

Give yourself a break. Recognise how hard your brain is fighting, day in day out, to keep you alive. Realise how far you’ve come. Write down all your achievements. Acknowledge how many obstacles you’ve overcome. Allow yourself to smile, or laugh. Do what you love. Be with family. Spend some time with friends. Rest. Sleep. Read. Eat well.

Silence your mind. And try to learn to be your own best friend, because really, you don’t deserve to be punished. You deserve to celebrate the good you’re doing, and the progress you continue to make.

How would you treat a friend who told you they were going through what you’re going through? How would you look at them? How would you speak to them? What would you say? Try treating yourself like that – with some kindness. And try it now! Without hesitation.

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How to build your self-esteem

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the status of my self esteem. Am I truly comfortable in my own skin? Or do I just tell myself that I am, and push it to the back of my mind, hoping that nothing comes to fruition that proves me wrong?

What do I think self-esteem is? I believe self-esteem to be the alliance between loving yourself, appreciating yourself and respecting yourself. I see self-esteem as being comfortable in your own skin, being able to tackle anything that life throws at you, and feeling strong and in control. I see those with good self-esteem as being proud to be who they are, strong in their beliefs, and content with themselves and those around them.

What is it really? What is it’s definition? The dictionary definition of self-esteem: selfesteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.

How do I show good self-esteem? I think I know my own mind, I can be very self-aware, and as my blog shows, I am learning to be congratulatory of my successes and focus less on my weaknesses or mistakes. I am beginning to feel just as worthy of all the good in the world as every body else. I am learning each and every day to feel more confident in my own skin – to wear what I like, to be able to leave the house without being plastered in makeup, and to be content with the person I am on the inside, which is kind, caring and loyal.

How do I show I lack it? At times, I still struggle to be the confident, self-loving person that I so truly want to be. I can sometimes feel inferior in the company of outgoing, loud people and this can sometimes make me retreat into my shell. I sometimes notice that others are more comfortable in their own skin than I am, and this makes me envious. I can be too quick to point out my flaws and not my successes with much more focus on the negative. My mind can continually beat itself up over genuine and unintentional mistakes.

What do I think caused my self-esteem issues? I believe that the majority of my negative behavioural patterns, including my battle with self-esteem, stems from my childhood. I wasn’t shown enough love and affection and attention from my parents, I saw things that a child shouldn’t have to see, I wasn’t complete, I didn’t know myself or how to conduct myself, and this relayed into adulthood. I was thrust from counsellor to counsellor, none of which actually helped me – which led me to the belief that nobody could help me because I didn’t deserve it. My depression spiralled my low self-esteem deeper and deeper into a pit of self-loathing, which ultimately led to suicidal thoughts and self harm. I had no respect for my body, or my mind. And no sense of worthiness or deservingness. I had no sense of control over myself, and simply was lost in my own little bubble. Every step I took in the wrong direction worsened my self-belief, or lack thereof.

My experiences with low self-esteem: We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt lower than low, hating our appearance, our lives our jobs, our hair, amongst all the other things there is for us to dislike about ourselves. I have felt, even now in my current training position, not good enough to be doing a job, not clever enough, not worthy enough, not physically fit enough, just not enough.  And feeling not enough for something or someone is a miserable place to be. It turns into self-hatred, self-loathing and deep seated anger with yourself. I have struggled to build my self-esteem since I was a young girl, bullied at school, struggling with anxiety, depression and eating disorders, and trying to work out who I was. I have felt unable to cope, broken and unworthy of being fixed. Even in my counselling life, I have had some turbulence with my self-esteem and I share with you one memory of a particularly bad experience. I remember one particularly low point in my life when I was seeing a counsellor who specifically dealt with relationships – with family, with friends and with lovers – to try and break down this cocoon of so-called “safety” I had wrapped myself in that involved no trust, lots of aggression and fear and ultimately, to conquer these issues and become more positive and trusting in all relationships in my life. This was my goal anyway.  I went in to the therapy room which is, as I’m sure any of you who have experienced therapy, really quite daunting.  I sat down with a clear intention, and a good level of self-esteem and self-belief, in the mindset that I was here, I was proud of myself for taking the step, and I could overcome these issues I was facing.  When I began to explain my life story, this woman made me feel small. She made me feel small using her body language, her words, and her mannerisms. My self esteem immediately had been sucked out of me. This woman told me, in her own words, that I would never find love, and I would never find happiness and get rid of my anger. At this point I felt I had nowhere to turn – even the professionals were telling me I was no good, I was broken! I felt totally unworthy – someone else was confirming my worst fears, someone with a qualification! It took around 2 years for my self-esteem and self-belief to start building up after that, after seeing a new counsellor.

How has low self-esteem affected my life? Due to low self-esteem I have avoided social situations, lived a life of total exclusion and seclusion whereby I have not had any exciting experiences or made memories. Low self-esteem has assisted my eating disorders – my view of my body and hatred of it making me feel I had to starve myself or make myself sick. I have been to the depths of depression and self-hatred, and ultimately, it has aided my self-harm and suicidal thoughts too.

I no longer want low self-esteem to be an issue in my life. I want to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin, and for it to be clear in the way I conduct myself that I am confident, content and comfortable. 

By doing a little research, and gathering information from the internet and also from my experience in life and seeing different counsellors, I have begun to write a list entitled ‘How can I build my self-esteem?’

  • Being kind to myself and forgiving all my misgivings, mistakes and allowing myself to see that I am only human.
  • By not pretending to be anyone else, I can build myself up to be who I want to be, instead of basing my confidence on the confidence of someone else. I need to be self-confident in my own right and in my own skin, as me.
  • Whilst not pretending or trying to be anyone else, I can pick up hints and behavioural patterns from those around me, and those who make me feel comfortable in their presence and who exude self-confidence and contentment. Sometimes we learn a lot from observing behaviours we do and do not want for ourselves, and applying them to our own lives.
  • Learning to say yes when I want to say yes, and no when I want to say no. Becoming more assertive can mean that I am expressing what I want to do and what I don’t and therefore having some control over myself.
  • Challenging myself and putting myself out of my comfort zone in order to have new experiences and live the life I have always wanted to but perhaps haven’t believed I could – for example, I have booked to go to Europe to visit a friend alone next January. This is something I never would have believed I could achieve a year, or even 6 months ago. Now, I believe I can, so I will.
  • Looking at myself in the mirror more, and appreciating what I see and making an effort to feel good in my own skin.
  • Taking good care of my body by eating healthily, drinking lots of water and exercising
  • Repeating positive mantras such as “I can do this”, “I am strong enough” and “I am worthy and deserving”, to really drill into my brain that I can do whatever I set my heart on.
  • Challenging old beliefs. What do I believe about this? What made me feel this way? Is this true? What about if I thought about it differently? Which leads me to…
  • Creating new beliefs about things that I have previously held negativity around. For example my beliefs about marriage have been entirely negative: dangerous, emotional, hard work and confrontation (to name but a few). By writing down a new belief system, beliefs that I want to invest in, and training my mind to see what I want to see, I can begin to live this way. This can be done for friendships, love, jobs, parents etc.
  • Doing things you enjoy – having a job that is fulfilling and challenges you in the right areas, before coming home and having a fulfilling personal life, full of great friends, stimulating conversation, hobbies, reading, exercising, and love.
  • A good personal hygiene regiment. This sounds silly, but when you feel low and lacking in self-esteem, you tend to (without realising it) let go of your personal hygiene routine. Keeping yourself clean, washing your face, brushing your teeth, applying a face mask or a hair mask, going for a massage or a facial etc will make you feel much more positive and ready to face the day.
  • Trying to be open – to give and receive advice, love, compliments etc
  • Sleeping better is one of the linking factors that can help all mental illness and negative thought patterns. A good sleep hygiene routine can make you feel more equipped to face the day and truly refreshed.
  • Focus on the good things about myself, for example writing a list of qualities I love about myself – kind, caring, intelligent, inquisitive, loyal, honest, feisty, funny, hopeful, passionate (even writing that short list made me feel good!!)
  • Creating a scrap book of positivity is something I’m working on right now too. Something that I can go to that contains my list of positive things and things I love about myself, positive affirmations, my hopes and dreams, my loves and hobbies, ways I have made myself proud etc. This is something I can look back on when I’m feeling a bit low, and realise my accomplishments.
  • Spend your time with loving, uplifting, supportive, honest and caring people who want to see you happy and build you up.
  • Getting into the habit of saying more positive things, thinking more positive thoughts, smiling more, keeping note of the good things no matter how little, and trying to shift the balance to 90:10 to positivity!

There is a fine line between being confident in yourself and being self-loving, and being arrogant and cocky. The latter is not an attractive quality, nor is it truly conducive to a healthy and happy person. It is so important to be comfortable with yourself, to love who you are and to believe in yourself, as at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, ourself is all we really have, and if we’re happy with that person, it’s all we need.

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A lot can happen in a year! 

One whole year ago today, I started my WordPress blog. 

12 months ago, I decided it was time to grow, and be honest.

52 weeks ago I found somewhere to share my innermost thoughts, and somewhere to escape to. In the process, I have been lucky enough to be in contact with some of the most supportive people I could have ever wished to know. 
365 days ago, The Suitcase Kid came to life. 

  
So what has The Suitcase Kid done for me? Well, what hasn’t this blog space done for me? I’ve realised that in getting my inner most thoughts and confusions off my chest, I can leave them behind, and let them go. In letting my baggage go, I can lessen the weight on my shoulders and give in to just enjoying my life. 

In the past year, in the main without counselling or therapy, I have become a stronger, better person, in ways that I never thought possible. I have become braver, more honest, more independent, less anxious, less sad, more real, more grounded and more human. I can feel now, I can feel what it is to be happy, to be excited and to enjoy. 

In the last year, I have realised that I can do it. I can live a life of happiness, and I no longer need to choose pain and sadness. 

On the anniversary of The Suitcase Kid, I would like to thank you for reading and keeping up with me, for checking in, and for making sure I am ok. I thank you for writing your posts, as reading them have helped me through harder days. 

Here is to our first year Suitcase Kid, and here is to many, many more

Why am I proud of myself today?

Ive had a bit of an emotional day today, and if I’m honest, I’ve probably felt it coming on for the past couple of days. I am still recovering from my operation, and still having good days and bad days, the worst of which include taking very strong painkillers and staying in bed all day. I’ve been overdoing it though. I’ve had my family visiting, and as I don’t get to spend too much time with them, I have pushed my body further than I should have, considering today marks 2 weeks since my operation date. My body is still healing, yet I have been out walking, drinking, out for dinner… 

Too much, too soon. 

My body has obviously been reacting to being pushed too far, and as a result I am laid up in bed today feeling very sorry for myself. There has been tears and frustration today. I’ve felt like a failure. It has almost felt as if I have let myself down by stopping, and for not being able to carry on. My body reacted to being pushed to its limits by making me sick, dizzy and feel all out of sorts. 

I decided it’s important to listen to my body, and to recognise that I need to rest. My body is still in the healing process, and whilst I’ve done some lovely things over the past week, I am not super human! As I’ve been feeling wrongly disappointed in myself today, and a little flat mood-wise, I decided to make a conscious effort to remind myself all that I should be proud of myself for. And once I got writing, as always, I was surprised by how much I had done in the way of success. 

Let me share…

   
 
In case you can’t read my very messy scrawl, I shall share with you: 

Why am I proud of myself today? 

  • I got out of bed, when I really didn’t feel well enough too – I chose not to wallow in my self pity 
  • Today, I truly recognising that I succeeded last night – I ate dinner, in a restaurant, a busy restaurant, with my family. I was ok – and I even had fun! 
  • I ate breakfast today – I tried at least! Even if it did resurface, I recognised that I was not sick because I ate food, but because I was unwell, and they are different! 
  • I went for a walk. 
  • I listened to my body when I knew it needed rest and cancelled plans to do so – I come first! 
  • I allowed myself some alone time because that is exactly what I needed. 
  • I set up a direct debit to my local animal charity, and have sent an application form to become a volunteer – I feel so good about this. 
  • I fought off anxiety 
  • I let myself cry because I needed to! 
  • I forgave myself for being human. 
  • I wrote this list – which allows me to see how much good 24 hours can do! 

Writing this list has made me see that allowing myself to be human, needing to rest, and celebrating my successes is just what I needed today. 

Every negative day must have a positive point, it’s just about seeking it. 

Learning to love my flaws

I recently went on holiday…. which I still can’t believe I’m actually saying, as the old me would have flinched at the thought of leaving her comfort zone to venture to a different country. But anyway, yes I recently went on holiday and as a woman, taking off your dress or coverup by the pool and at the beach to reveal your not quite perfect bikini body, was one of my biggest anxieties.

Now, I live in the UK, where we probably get one week of summery weather a year, and the rest is bleak, overcast or rainy and as a result I don’t really get to wear a bikini so much at home. I’m not a dieter, and I don’t really exercise other than walking my dog everyday, due to my medical issues. Whilst I am lucky to have a fast metabolism thanks to my stick thin mother, I do carry some good old love handles and some extra orange peel around my thighs. As you can imagine then, I have body hang ups. Like everyone, there are parts I really hate about my body, parts I don’t mind, and parts I would gladly have a little nip and tuck if I could!

So there I was, pool side, anxious to get down to my scimpies and reveal my body to the other holiday era. (I don’t know why I thought they all cared by the way, but self esteem and insecurity doesn’t work rationally) Despite this initial holiday bikini fear, as soon as I took off my coverup, I felt free. It was like taking off a heavy, wet coat and feeling ten times lighter. For some reason, I just no longer cared. I was free, having fun, and didn’t give a hoot about who was looking at my cellulite.

I want to share this moment with you…


This is me, as a 22 year old woman, embracing my body.

Hello love handles, cellulite, the little bit of muffin top that hangs over my jeans, the boobs that aren’t quite as big as I’d like and the thick legs I got from my father. I embrace you all. I embrace the things I do like, even though they are few are far between.

My body may not be a temple, but it’s mine. I’m lucky to be able and agile and I’m here, saying I love my flaws. Because my flaws are what make me, me. And I’m coming round to the idea that me isn’t all that bad.

Post operative power

So here I am after my operation, in a lot of pain, but very proud of myself for the way I conducted myself. I travelled to the hospital not feeling too anxious, and constantly reminded myself that I would cope with whatever came at me. I tried to remember that I’d be fine, and to be positive. It’s normal to be anxious when something like this arises in your life, but remaining in control of the anxiety is so important, and I managed to do so. I felt in control and powerful. 

The endometriosis has been removed, and I’m hoping for a speedy recovery to step towards my new, pain free future in which I can live my life with no holds barred. Until I feel better, I’m tucked up in bed with my dog and Pretty Little Liars – my new cheesy US series obsession. 

I feel lucky to live in a country where healthcare is so easily accessible, and lucky to be able to have an operation to make me feel better. I live with a grateful heart for all I have. Now I move on from this. 

New job, new life, better health, happiness, hopes, dreams, holidays, freedom, new experiences, laughter and learning. This will be my life from now. 

Impromptu changes

Due to having my operation tomorrow, and with plans to leave my current job at the NHS in September to pursue my veterinary nursing career, I had planned to have 1-2 weeks off work to recover, and then work my notice period until my course began. Today however, my path has been changed by an unforeseen fork in the road. 

I went into my current job today, and handed in my notice whilst discussing the fears for the operation in an informal chat. It was put to me that I could leave the job, today, fully paid, until my course begins. Sound too good to be true? It sounds good, but it is true – Probably due to the fact that I’ve been a pain in the proverbials as an employee since my arrival. I have kicked up a fuss, stood up for myself and others, had a lot of absences, argued with bullies in the workplace…gosh I sound like a treat! 

6 weeks off is amazing. It’s rare. It’s lucky. But I feel odd. I don’t feel happy. So why do I feel down about having 6 weeks fully paid rest bite? I’ve had a think, and this is what I came up with…

  • The anxiety about my impending operation tomorrow is all consuming. I can only feel that. I am a bundle of anxious energy, as can be expected when the thought of an anaesthetic in the morning is at the forefront of my conscious. 
  • Change. Us humans don’t like change do we?! Which is ironic seeing as everything changes every day really: the weather, the time, our skin, our age, our experiences, our knowledge, alongside the bigger things that change too. Change is one of the only things we can guarantee will happen in our lives. I think I’m feeling slightly unsettled at the thought of this not being the plan I had in my head. The plan has changed, and whilst yes this new plan is better, I’m a woman who likes a plan. I think the sudden nature of my change in direction has made me panic a little. 
  • I question if the path I have chosen is the right one. Should I be leaving a stable, well paid job to become a student? But then I nip that thought in the bud. I was born to be a vet nurse. And I will be. 
  • I feel a bit sad. Why? I bloody hated that job. It’s funny that when things are no longer in our lives we miss them, when all we did when we had them was whinge that we wanted them gone. Don’t get me wrong I did hate the place, I thought it was corrupt, miserable and badly led, however I made some good friends whom I know will be lifelong, learned a lot about myself, trained in a new area that I can always go back to in later life, gained experience and have been through things which shall only make me stronger. And I guess I’m sad that I’m leaving the good behind. 
  • I guess I also feel a little cheated out of a last day, a bunch of cards and presents and a proper send off. A quick goodbye in the middle of the day kind of says under valued. I guess for a 10 month stint, and for being a right royal pain in the arse, I can’t argue. And I get 6 weeks paid leave – which I must remind myself is better than a cheap box of chocolates and a card signed by people i won’t see again. 
  • Undeserving of the rest. All I’ve done is be a pain and be off sick, why do I deserve the break? But really, I do deserve a break. I need rest after my operation but also rest before 3 years of intensive learning to attain my goals. And that is vital to me. I never allow myself chance to just relax, I feel guilty as if there is something else I should be doing. I need to learn that doing nothing is something, and resting and relaxing is good for me, and I do deserve it. I work hard in 3 jobs and I deserve it! 

It’s funny though. I’m experiencing feelings I didn’t realise I would have through leaving a job I never enjoyed. 

Alas, this chapter has closed.
Hello summer of relaxation, re cooperation, fun, exploring and being happy. That starts right now, lying in the garden whilst my favourite dog in the world places her ball at my feet waiting for me to play with her. Bliss. 

The one where everything seems a little more obtainable 

The thing with dreams is, that they happen when when we’re sleeping, fictional figures of our deepest subconscious. Dreams can turn into nightmares. And that’s exactly what my dreams, aspiration and aim wise, became. They became nightmares that taunted me. Like dangling a carrot at unreachable length in front of a donkey, my dreams were inaccessible to me. They’ve always been unreachable; a fictional parallel that I never truly believed would become my reality. 

Dreams to me meant moving towards something, aiming towards a bigger picture. This felt like a concrete plan, something to worry about a fret over, and this felt scary. Dreams aren’t meant to be scary! Having a length of time to think about a dream made me panic, consider the worst, think of the worst outcomes, and force myself into a panic fuelled frenzy. This is why I gave up on what I truly wanted, because it scared me. The time I had to plan was the time I had to chicken out. 

Time however, is exactly what these days I see as my friend. Time is a healer, the old cliché! Nowadays, I see my dreams as exciting, and something to look forward to. I can make plans that don’t scare me anymore, and I can plan to my hearts content, feeling I’m truly getting somewhere in my life. My dreams are now in sight. 

How have I done this? I’m not really even too sure. I’ve grown, and I’ve changed. I’m evolving…Darwin would have a field day! I have aligned what I really want out of life, what I want to be and do and experience, and I seem to be able to pave a way to achieve it. I can actually feel what it feels like to be excited, whereas my empty shell of the past only allowed me to be exactly that: empty. I am genuinely gravitating towards excitement and change and I’m here, embracing it. 

Some of the dreams I’m working towards? More travelling and seeing the world, completing my vet nursing degree in order to work with my favourite souls in the entire universe and wider, to help animals across the globe, and to start a family. It won’t all happen overnight, it takes planning, and it takes hard work. But that doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m open to the prospect of happiness and fulfilment, and it feels amazing. 

Of course it wouldn’t have been achievable to have grown into believing I can live out my wildest dreams without the support of the people around me, and I do have wonderful people around me. Despite this, it has been a solo journey for me, and I’ve done a lot of this growth alone. For someone who never believed I was strong enough to achieve anything, or to change, I am so proud of myself for working towards my goals, a better me, and living a fulfilled and content life. 

How unlike me? No. Not anymore! How unlike my old self yes, but how like my new self, who has obtainable dreams and reaches for them!