Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2018, The Year of Me, Myself & A Healthy Mindset


I saw her for the first time in 9 months. It was a Saturday and I was wearing a pink tutu swimsuit that I had stolen from my sister. Long legs, thick black hair, clear skin. I looked in the mirror, smiled and went outside to greet her. 

My life long friend and I live in different countries. We exchange the odd message, but we’ve never been one for communicating too frequently over social media (apart from the odd Gilmore Girls reference). I took in her Audrey Hepburn appearance, same glasses, brown curly hair, pouted lips. After we caught up on each other’s lives, she stopped, and didn’t speak for a long time.

There’s something different about you, India. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about you has changed.

After she said that, I looked at the items around me. I had a big lapis lazuli in one hand, Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs book in the other, and next to me; sunscreen, two notebooks, my Sticky Notes manuscript and my favourite fancy-ass pen. 

It’s now 9:21pm on a Wednesday. It’s been the greatest of lazy days, complete with ferrero rocher wrappers all through my bed, and a day of watching the brilliant coming-of-age Netflix show, The End of the F***ing World. I’ve been a little bit starved of my books, but I’ve been so tired that I haven’t tried to read.
Her comment got me thinking. What did she mean by I have changed? Was it the way I looked or my personality?
And I realised. It was everything. Not just my noir-sky hair, but my personality. (After having confirmed what she meant over a long phone call). The one person who knew me best in the world, said that they couldn’t believe how much I had changed. I was suddenly this confident, certain being. Someone who had found their passion, hunger for success, and yet was completely the same as the old me. 

If I stood in front of my 17 y/o self, and really interrogated her, I would be astounded at the person I am now. 
New York has really done it. Because I was writing a book and living alone, I was forced to spend (too much) time with myself. Alone, with my negative, blue thoughts. Before I moved to New York, and I was living in LA, I was miserable. I hadn’t found my purpose - my days were filled with sitting on my awful green ikea couch,  talking to empty people about what club we would go to that night, and if I would be able to afford to stay in the city in the next year. 
New York made me blatant. The city forced me to get to know myself. It stripped away all the reasons why I didn’t like myself, and made me grow a new mindset.
However, this was a gradual process. I was surrounded by so much beauty, and my friends (who are filled with so much peachy youth and colour) that I took a hard look at who I was.
What was wrong with me? Was there anything at all? Why was I so hurt? Who had caused this hurt? What could I change?

I remember all the nights I would be up at 3am calling my best friend Grant, sobbing on the phone. Grant, why am I so depressed? 
Then I realised.
I was listing all the things I didn’t have instead of the things I did. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t believe that I could be a successful creative. I didn’t have the patience or the understanding of who I was.

Getting to know myself this past year has been the most enriching experience. I learned to really spoil myself - with massages when my back was sore from writing for hours on end, midnight blueberry pancakes at Cozy Soup and Burger (on Broadway), and a large bagel budget. I bought a million and one amethyst crystals, spent so much time alone just writing in coffee shops, and got lost in the Strand Bookstore. I learnt about my friends, what made them who they are, and most importantly, I read. I found myself in hundreds of different worlds, learning about history. My head was brimming. 
Anxiety died down a lot after that. I still get the odd 2am attack, where you’re sweating and your heart feels like its jumping on a trampoline. Where everything around you feels unfamiliar, and you have to speak out loud to calm down. But it's never when I'm writing. And it's never really there, anymore. My mindset doesn't attack me in the middle of the night, trying to punish me.

How I helped myself was with little things. Of course, self-love. Spoiling myself. Getting to know myself. But I bought an everything notebook, and I would jot down lists, manifestations, ideas for future projects, and poems. Having a book for everything is really freeing. Your mind loosens up. 

The thing is, you have to fake positivity until you start to believe it. I would watch Ted Talks on self love, how to not give a fuck, how to say no. Once I changed little aspects of my life, I started to respect me more. I started saying no to catching up with people I didn’t want to see, and I cut out toxic, obsessive people. 

(And I learnt, it’s so ok to be selfish. To not make an appearance at your friend’s party. 
Sorry boo, it’s 10pm and I’m in comfy sweats and I’m watching Stranger Things. I live in Harlem. I’m not going to a scungy dorm room party in Brooklyn!
(etc.)

A life saver was taking the pressure off myself. I don't shame myself/feel bad because I haven’t achieved certain goals yet. I have a daily checklist. I learnt to trust that I was capable. My mantra is literally I am capable. I would recite this over and over, in the mirror, before a big book meeting, when I woke up. I started living more sporadically, and seeing more colour. My poem ‘Penny for your sight’ (you can read it here) was about taking the pressure off and finally being able to see the colours of the east village trees. 

I know this post is all a bit everywhere - but that’s my life. That’s my mind. 
All I’m saying is, if I can fall in love with myself, and lead a positive life, you can. You have to put in the hard work. But what’s the point feeling hopeless and miserable? What’s the point of not treating yourself? Who else is gonna do it?

You’re the boss of your life. Once you grasp this concept, you can do anything you put your mind too. Don’t let the negative, bastard voice in your head stop you. Don’t let anxiety take away from being a teenager. From loving. From being selfish, pursuing passions. You have to be your own best friend. I know I am.