I just don’t feel right

This will be my third try at a blog post. I’ve been trying and failing to write over the last few weeks: I had this grand idea that I’d start writing daily throughout this global pandemic. I was going to call the chapter ‘A blog a day to keep the blues at bay‘. But every time I put pen to paper (or started typing, but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as romantic does it?) I was unhappy with what came out.

I guess I wanted to try and write truthfully about how this time is making me feel, to get it off my own chest, but also in the hope that it might help someone somewhere to read that this time’s got us all feeling a bit out of sorts. If you’re feeling odd and mentally vulnerable, you’re not alone, I promise.

But whenever I tried writing I found myself trying too hard to cover all bases: To reiterate that I know there are people who this pandemic is affecting in worse ways than I can even imagine and that I know how lucky I am. And I am lucky. I’m so grateful for this beautiful, safe house and garden and the fact I can work from home and that my work is so fulfilling and that I have amazing family and friends…

I just don’t feel quite myself. My shoulders are constantly tense and my jaw too. I find myself sighing all the time and every day just feels like a bit of an uphill struggle. I’m trying so hard to be positive, but I just feel a bit down in the dumps.

I miss myself. All this time indoors is giving me heaps of thinking time and that’s what I’ve realised. I’m missing old me. I keep thinking that a younger, ‘funner’ Bronwen would have done better in this situation.

But I’m always looking back and always wanting to go back to being the person I was and today the penny has finally dropped: Looking backwards isn’t doing me any good…

When I was at university, I missed the care-free girl I left behind in Chelmsford, who loved her high school boyfriend to pieces and spent all her time singing. Nowadays, I miss University me, who wrote fun blogs and could stay up late and was more up for a good time. I bet some day, I’ll miss this me. Whoever this me is. And I’ll kick myself for all the time I spent dwelling on how a previous version of myself would have handled things. 

Yes, I’m more tired nowadays and a bit more careful, but I don’t worry any less that’s for sure. I can try and tell myself that I used to be care-free all I want, but really I’ve always been a worrier.

And so I guess it’s no wonder Covid-19 has got me feeling a bit iffy. If anything, I’d expect to be less calm than I am. I’m still getting up every day, showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I’m still eating plenty and getting out for walks and staying in touch with family and friends.

Let’s cut ourselves some slack during this time. It’s so hard when we’re constantly exposed to perfect images of how everyone else is handing things, but I for one need to remember that I’m doing okay doing what I’m doing. There is no right way to deal with a worldwide pandemic, we’re all figuring this out one day at a time. AND I’m just Bronwen. Not past Bronwen, not present Bronwen, not future Bronwen, just me. Still me… Just a little older and maybe actually a little wiser too?

A trip down memory lane

My room at home has been pink and fluffy for as long as I’ve lived in it. When we moved in I was seven and I was allowed to choose just how I wanted it decorated. As a result, the top halves of my walls are covered in pink wallpaper with stars on it, the bottom halves are a deep purple. The carpet is bright red and amazingly soft. The walls are littered with photos of me in my young teens and the shelves are filled with childhood story books, teenage romcoms, fluffy pens, computer games and various ornaments picked up on monumental birthdays.

It has never really bothered me that it is so childish: There are so many memories attached to it I could never bear the thought of stripping it back and redecorating. Besides, I only live in it for a few months of the year. Sleeping in my old bunk bed isn’t much of a problem for me either, because I simply haven’t grown enough. It was yesterday, when I was sat at my desk reading for an essay on performance practice, that I suddenly felt really out of place. I suddenly felt like an adult sat in a child’s room. It didn’t feel like my room anymore. Me and my dad agreed that perhaps it’s time we thought about redoing it. I am admittedly tempted by the thought of a double bed and a bigger wardrobe.

Then, yesterday evening I went on a walk down memory lane, although in this case the lane is a bridleway that runs between the part of Chelmsford I live in and the bit next door. A group of us used to do the same walk on a couple of nights, of every week without fail. We’d walk across the bridleway so we could join the rest of our friends at a park, where we would spend hours out in the cold until curfews crept up on us and we had to head back home. The walk back used to terrify me: The bridleway would be pitch black and even if we took the road around it, there were no lampposts and we had to pass a graveyard just before we reached the end. It sounds crazy now, but when me and my friend were reminiscing last night we realised that some of our happiest memories come from evenings spent walking that walk and spending time at that park.

We chose a beautiful evening to walk the walk last night. It wasn’t even quite as scary as it used to be, because the skies were clear and the moon lit our path up remarkably bright. I still found myself gripping his arm as we passed the graveyard. When, just over a week ago, he sent me the text suggesting that once I got home, we do the walk again for old times sake, I knew I’d love it, but I could not have imagined how much. I hated it as much as I loved it. It made me miss being sixteen more than ever and it made me realise just how much everything has changed. I woke up this morning and it felt like I’d dreamed it. I’d just spent my evening sat on a swing , while the sun set, with one of my best friends, catching up on months worth of life. Then we’d walked back home in the dark, the same way we always did when we were sixteen. It was beautiful, but it made me feel so old.

I feel like an adult. For the first time ever I’ve come home to find that, actually, I feel kind of older.

Call me Indecisive, but

One minute I’m ridiculously excited over a quote from a book on an interesting historical topic or I’m so engrossed in writing the opinionated conclusion to my essay that I forget it isn’t cool to be caught enjoying coursework. The next minute I’m stood in my room singing Mozart’s Agnus Dei, loving it and deciding that singing is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Since the age of 5 I’ve been telling people I want to be an author or as I get older, a journalist: Younger Bronwen stapled pieces of A5 paper together, designed front covers in felt-tip and crayon and then wrote numerous ‘Chapter Ones’ for what she planned would be hugely successful novels. She bought note pads and then ripped out half the pages just because she decided the story she’d written inside wasn’t worthy of publishing.

When I discovered singing at the age of 9 suddenly, that was all I wanted to do. One performance on stage turned into two, which turned into three and before I knew it I was addicted. Performing on stage isn’t comparable to anything else I’ve done or I think, anything I will ever do. Nothing annoys me more than a frog in my throat or a cold that stops me singing. Nothing clears my head more than an hour spent at the piano singing and playing until I forget what on Earth I had to escape from in the first place. Or of course a few minutes in the spotlight scared out of my socks, but up on cloud nine.

My first meeting with my tutor this year ended with a discussion about the future; about what I planned to do when I left University and ventured out into the big wide world. I could go on to study Journalism; review musical concerts, lead political debates, write agony aunt columns. I could study Post Graduate Music at a conservatoire in the hope of becoming a professional performer. I realised just how hard the decision is going to be. For one thing I still go through days when both singing and writing are stressing me out so much that I don’t want to face either of them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll decide I want to do something completely different.

All I know is, it’s time for breakfast and I need food for thought. Hot Cross Buns it is.