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Be Positive, Grab the Freddo![The Wasted Time Project]

The Wasted Time Project: POST 2


Everyone knows the struggle of thinking positively. That’s why there are so many apps, Ted Talks, books, articles, etc that are there to help us train ourselves into thinking positively, because it’s so, so, SO bloody difficult. Living in a world where we’ve got a twitter-mad, keyboard warrior in charge of one of the biggest powers on earth, terrorism attempting to threaten every corner of the globe and the price of freddos going up, it’s pretty difficult to see the good side of the world at the moment.

As a musician, I think we pretty much train ourselves to think critically about everything we do, at least I certainly did anyway. That performance wasn’t good enough. I split that note at the end of that recording. I can’t believe I dropped my mute in the middle of that quiet passage. This mentality isn’t specific to musicians either. Sometimes life is going so fast you don’t feel like you have time to sit down, let alone reflect and appreciate the good that’s happened in a day. It can be a bit scary how this mentality can soon become the norm. Before long the world can seem like a very scary, isolating place and life is kind of plodding along with no real purpose other than trying to get through the day.

 

Living with anxiety, sometimes it’s just easier to accept the negative thoughts and avoid everything. No persuading yourself to do something, no questioning those thoughts, just mindlessly stagnating. I could get on a bus and see my friends, but that could involve something potentially going wrong, so I won’t. I could practise my instrument but it will be crap anyway, so I won’t. I could write or create something, but it probably won’t be much good anyway, so guess what? I won’t.

I’ve spent YEARS with this stupid way of looking at everything. I thought thinking positively was a bit daft to be honest and being realistic (read that as negative) about the world and life was a far better way, as you would avoid disappointment. Truth is, you can’t avoid disappointment, even if you have the most pessimistic outlook on everything. Disappointment happens as often as rain falls in Britain. Bad performances happen. You write or create things that don’t turn out as well as you planned. You try things that don’t end up working for you. Do you know what? That’s good. It’s really good. Why? Because you tried. If it didn’t work, it didn’t work but you took something away from it, whether that be something you learned about yourself, meeting new people, or just experiencing something new and unfamilar. Surely it was better to try and it not work out than to not try and never know?

 

When I was nineteen, I was given one piece of advice that, at the time, my arrogantly negative self dismissed as being childish and pointless and a waste of time. I was having counselling sessions for anxiety and I told the counsellor about how I felt I literally couldn’t do anything without thinking negatively or anxiously about it and that life wasn’t enjoyable because nothing seemed good. He asked me if I had ever kept a diary. I had when I was about fourteen for about nine months and most of what I wrote was either about a boy I fancied or how much I loved Twilight. I knew at nineteen I wasn’t one for writing about my day, as I didn’t feel it was interesting. I wasn’t into Twilight anymore, at least the passages about Jacob being a ‘delightful specimen of a man’ (actual diary quote) broke up the humdrum of everything else I used to write about. He told me to keep a diary of everything positive that happened in a day, despite how small or insignificant it was. I didn’t do it. At the time it seemed a bit futile and pointless.

Oh how daft I was.

After dropping out of uni, I felt like my entire world had collapsed (I’m getting to the positive bit in a second, honest!). The excitement, confidence and happiness I brought in September had been completely washed away by December and was replaced by confusion and negativity. For the first time I actually thought I’d failed, really failed. Everybody else coped. Everybody else was doing great. Why the hell was I so pants? What was I going to do now. I tried to put things in place for me to do whilst I looked for a job. I planned practise sessions that never happened. I started blog posts that I didn’t have the patience to finish. But I remembered what the counsellor had said and thinking that things couldn’t get any worse, I had a go at keeping a diary.

Not a flowery, fairy, ‘dear diary today [insert crush’s name here] looked at me in maths’ kind of diary. Just a simple account of everything positive that happened in my day.

Image result for penguin gif
  1. I got up and had a shower before 12pm.

  2. There was an Attenborough Documentary (I love Attenborough) on the telly and it was about penguins!

  3. I searched for jobs and found a couple I was interested in.

  4. I played a piece at band that was great.

  5. We didn’t come last in a band contest.

  6. I walked the dog.

  7. I went out to see my friends.

This daft ‘waste of time’ became a habit and I started to see that the world wasn’t as crap as I thought it was and more importantly I wasn’t as crap as I thought I was. This habit grew into writing in depth about my feelings (something that probably would have made me physically sick before now) and I began to understand my own mental health which helped me to make changes and ultimately fuelled the progression that has turned me into the person I am now. I actually like this person.

 

Crap things still happen. They always will. There are days you get stuck in traffic, have an argument with your sibling/friend/parent/partner/guinea pig, you forget to put sugar in your morning coffee, you find out freddos are no longer 10p (absolute travesty). There are days you just need a good cry or a hug because you don’t know what to do. There are days you just want to cocoon yourself in your duvet and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Yet, during those days, no matter how dark, there is always, ALWAYS something positive that happens. Somebody says something that makes you laugh. A friend checking up on you. You might practise or perform a piece and someone from the audience tells you how much they loved it. You write a post or create music or art and someone comments on it. You find 50p in your pocket, so you can afford a Freddo. Something as simple as: you felt horrendous this morning and was tempted to just lie there and stew in your pyjamas, but you got up and got dressed and did something- that’s huge.

 

I’ve learned to actively try to look for the positive. Don’t wait for the big things to happen like buying a new car, getting a uni place or landing a job in a Freddo factory. Instead, look for all the good little things that happen in a day. Look to your friends- text them, call them, send them a picture of a cat that looks like Hitler, remind yourself of who you have in your life. Look for that glass of wine or pint of beer at the end of the day- you got out of bed, you deserve that glass Echo Falls. Grab that Freddo with both hands and be happy they’re at least under £1!

I’m not going to waste anymore time dwelling on the crap, it’s happened before, it’ll happen again, life goes on. This lifelong pessimist is now an optimistic convert and a firm believer in ‘not everyday is good, but there is something good in everyday’.

Be you. Be Positive. Grab the Freddo!

 

 Read Post One from The Wasted Time Project: click here

 

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