So I’ve been in an unusual place lately. Perhaps for a year now, I’ve felt what the French refer to as ‘ennui’. I learnt this poncy word studying literature at university but for those who have not yet come across it, ‘ennui’ generally translates to mean a great feeling of dissatisfaction and boredom and for that year, that’s the feeling that encapsulated my life. I was going through the motions of what I thought might provoke some sense of joy or fulfilment. I was doing the surface, shallow things that don’t mean much if they aren’t backed up by something more meaningful at a deeper level. On paper, everything looked good. I was working a job and earning good money. This job also gave me a lot of time off which is not something you could shake a stick at. My family are from heaven and I have some incredible friends who make me laugh and are always there for me. Despite this, I felt cornered, trapped and pretty exasperated. Life just seemed like a never ending grind, and I wasn’t getting much pleasure or liberty out of it.
What I came to realise, slowly, was that I hate London. I hate the pace of life, I hate the rat race, I hate prioritising money and possessions over experiences and accomplishments. I hate sitting in the same dreary carriage on the same dreary train in the same dreary weather day after day because I feel obligated to some notion of earning money and getting caught in the web that we all get stuck in to some degree: ‘I need money. I NEED IT. Because without it I won’t be able to eat at that restaurant or see that movie or buy that house or have that wedding or BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH’. Now these are what they call #firstworldproblems on twitter, because it’s all too easy to moan and groan about these things when you live a cushy life where you can afford to sit around and complain. Richer financially yes, but I don’t know that I’m richer mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Now there are a lot of great things about London, but I’ve lived here my whole life. Frankly, I’m bored of it. At this stage in my life at least, London has nothing else for me.
Recently I had an experience that changed a lot of things for me. I’ve always been a very ambitious and adventurous person, but those two qualities have always been buried beneath an avalanche of fear and mistrust of my own intentions. The part of me that hungers and hankers for far flung adventures, the part that is magical and free, that dreams, dances and wishes, meets with a very constricting individual who urges me to stay on the path and do the ‘right’ thing (the right thing translating to mean the path that has been trodden many times before.) The thing about the right thing and the well-trodden path is that, even if you hate it, even if you get to the end and think ‘god I wasted my time’, you’ll be in good company, because that’s the way most of us head, but if you deviate and end up hating it, you are more in the minority. That’s what’s scary about going ‘off-road’. Still this part of me that wanted an adventure was getting louder. So loud it managed to push the fear away and I signed up for a volunteering project called Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. Animals are my big passion and I really wanted to do something positive. I think everyone has their own reasons for doing so, some catalyst in your own life that encourages you to reach out and attempt to do something for someone else. My catalyst was the encroaching boredom. Nothing will strangle you more.
This experience (and I will blog about it more thoroughly later as there is much to say) taught me several vital things about myself that were buried for a long time:
1) I can do the thing I fear most
2) I am not incompetent
3) I can survive on a lot less; less money, less clothes, less comfort, less food
4) I can stand on my own two feet
5) I can be a friend to myself
6) I can be strong for others
7) I am not satisfied by the 9-5 office grind
8) People are people the world over; everyone has their own pain, their own hurt, their own suffering and everyone has something or someone they would like to run away from
9) Every culture and every people has something to teach you, and also something to learn from you
10) You can’t hide from your passions and dreams forever
Now, back home, I realise nothing is keeping me here. The feeling of being trapped and of feeling claustrophobic is back again. My family and friends are all that keep me here. The job? The job is just £ for the bank. The city? London no longer feels like home. It feels like a strange place.
So what do I need? A plan. I need to take some action. This strange mood is kinda hard to take for sure…I’ve never felt so antsy and restless, so consumed by wanderlust and so bored and disinterested in things that I would expect on some level to intrigue me. TV ads to me now are just trying to sell me what I don’t need. They are part of the trap. Shopping now is like an extortionate consumerist nightmare. Work is just a way to fund a lifestyle I’m not sure I even want, and have also thought I’ve never wanted since the age of about five (big house, marriage, kids). That’s the dangerous thing about doing the thing you want. You can’t go back because to go back is so unsatisfying. I definitely think I’ve opened a door to what I want, and now the door is ajar and I can peek through to what I’ve just been privy to. I can’t slam that door shut ever again without feeling deeply unhappy and distressed. Part of that experience, and I can’t go into full details, was being active, direct, doing what I wanted and going with the flow without thinking of the consequences, the repercussions or what I might think or feel about my actions later. All that mattered was the moment and whether that moment brought me joy, happiness or exhileration. If it did, I was living.
So what is this post about? It’s just me telling me: get up, get out, go do it. And the same to all readers and followers: that slow, aching boredom will become a mountain of rage and frustration eventually. If you know what makes you happy, please go and do it! Don’t be afraid that it will go wrong. It’s better than letting that ‘ennui’ boil you alive.