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Posts Tagged ‘settling down’

Over the last month it’s been interesting to observe the state of my mental health. All things considered, I should be a wreck. Immigration trouble, unemployment, poverty– just one of these things is usually enough to send me rolling downward like a coin in a funnel. But apart from the short daily squeeze of anxiety and the occasional rage at people who think immigration is a ‘problem,’ I’m doing quite well.

It’s hard to think of myself as a resilient person, but I think I am. Given how long I’ve struggled with crippling depression and anxiety, it’s kind of astonishing that I’ve picked myself up and kept moving. I think there are a few reasons for this.

One is the support of my friends, who have been incredibly generous and concerned about my situation and have offered to help however they can. I’ve never had the luxury of this kind of social safety net before. It’s kind of astonishing. Kind of puts a dent in my lone wolf attitude, but come to think, wolves run in packs anyway. What a rubbish idiom that is.

I have a plan. Even if ‘the worst’ happens and I have to leave the country, I’ll come back. I might spend a few months faffing around Europe and do the travelling I’ve idly thought about doing but never actually done. There’s a lot I want to see. I’m planning to whittle my possessions down as much as I can. I’ve always been a bit of a pack rat, so maybe it’s good for me to have to part ways with a lot of things I have and don’t need.

I’ve started freelance writing. It’s difficult, because a lot of people want to do it, and a lot of people are willing to work much more cheaply than I am. I think, rather than competing with all the other people writing SEO articles, I’m going to stick with what I know I can do well and accept the possibility that I’m not maximising my income. It’s already encouraging that the amount of time I’d spend applying for admin jobs and getting no response at all has already netted me two freelance jobs.

Freelancing, even in the short time I’ve been doing it, already feels loads better than my last job. I don’t have to commute, I don’t have to sit in an office on a crummy industrial estate, and I don’t have to do a monotonous job with no hope of variety. I hadn’t realised at the time just how much my minimum-wage drudgery was wearing me down, but it was. It coloured my whole life. Almost a quarter of my week spent making quite a lot of money for someone else. Nearly 10% of it spent on a bus because I couldn’t afford the train. Get up, go to work, be a cog in the machine, come home too dispirited and tired to do anything but go to sleep.

I’ve realised that I can’t go back to that sort of schedule. I’m at an age where I just can’t do it anymore, especially when it doesn’t even guarantee a living wage. I have a long-standing fear of unemployment (that American Protestant work ethic), but given my feelings about capitalism, I don’t think I can ever go back to 9 to 5 jobs.

If I’m lucky, I’ll soon be able to call myself a ‘writer’ in the actual occupational sense, instead of it being a kind of postscript to small talk, the thing I want to do but can’t. I’m going to be a paid writer. Actually, I think I might be already.

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When I came here in September, it was with very specific intentions. Brighton was a step in the right direction, a means to an end. I planned to do my degree and then move to London to work in the publishing industry. I planned to do a lot of things that didn’t work out.

My life has been one of anticipation. I’ve always been waiting for the next stage, the next place, the next step on the trail of something resembling a real life. I’ve always been restless and discontent. I’ve always felt trapped by places, boxed in by circumstance, which only made me want to get out that much more. I don’t feel that anymore.

It could be age. I’ll be 29 next month. Maybe subconsciously I want to Settle Down. Find a relatively permanent place to live where I’m not always straining forward to see what’s next, like an impatient terrier. I’d like to buy furniture. I want to bring my cat over and maybe acquire a few more. I want to get comfortable.

Maybe it’s the people as well. I’ve always thought of myself as a loner, lurking on the fringes of social groups. I am a rock, I am an island. Now I realise that’s probably a load of crap. I like seeing people I know all the time. I like going out and knowing half the people in the room. All the things I’ve been involved with this year, for good or ill, have brought me into orbit with some amazing individuals. I’ve made friends with people that I’m not sure I could bear to leave behind.

There are more things in this city than are dreamt of in my philosophy. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve been spoiled by the juxtaposition of the ocean with parkland. I can get on a train to London and be there in an hour, and by the time I’m sick of concrete and heavy traffic, I’m on the train back home. I can look out the window as it approaches the station and see the hills covered with lights, rows of houses that all lead down to the sea. I can walk home late at night and watch the foxes lope across the grass.

So yeah. I’d like to stay. If that’s okay.

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