You’d think, with term ending tomorrow, and yesterday and today being holidays, that I’d be feeling quite chilled right now. The truth is that I’m not.
I mean, I feel really happy. There’s so much good stuff in my life right now. But maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still feel like I don’t deserve it, or maybe I’m just worried that I’m going to lose it.
For example, some of my friends are leaving Valencia. I have to keep reminding myself that doesn’t mean we have to stop being friends. And I’m also meeting new people all the time. Change doesn’t have to be bad. I know all this, but I still have to remind myself.
Time for a deep breath.
Time to remind myself to hold things lightly.
Time to remember that everything is always working out for me. (I can see proof of that in my life here in Valencia. I could never have imagined the series of events that led to me being where I am now. But that didn’t stop them happening.)
This I can do.
The other thing is that for me, routine – or more than routine, timetables – help to make me feel secure. I put everything in my calendar: when I’m going to prepare my classes, when I’m going to do Duolingo, when I’m going to write, when I’m going to go to the supermarket, or clean the flat, or do exercise classes… I don’t always stick to it precisely, but the act of making a schedule helps things feel more manageable, helps reassure me that I know what the plan is, that there is, in fact, time and I don’t have to worry that I’ll forget to do something. Or perhaps it’s not as rational as that. But one way or another, it makes me feel secure.
And now, suddenly, with the end of term looming, a big part of my timetable is being ripped out from under me. And I don’t quite know how to cope with that.
People say to me, ‘But surely you don’t schedule your time during your holidays?’ Well actually, yes, yes, sometimes I do. I’ve been known to take a week off work and then schedule in time for everything from cleaning to writing to reading to watching television. (Yes, really.)
It’s weird. It’s not like I want to plan every moment. I like the thought of being flexible, of being responsive, of meeting up with friends and going to the beach or the park, but I also find it quite unsettling to have absolutely no timetable to adhere to – or perhaps to break.
I’ve also put myself under pressure by giving myself the challenge of editing my short story collection this summer (and by telling everyone I’m planning to do it). It should be manageable in the 9 weeks available, it really should. But I’ve been going at it on and off since before I came to Valencia and now that I’ve been studying editing techniques in my writing workshops, I feel that some of the pieces might need bigger rewrites than I’d previously thought. Or maybe not.
Perhaps the key really is to stop taking everything so seriously – to stop taking myself so seriously. Perhaps I have to accept that the editing thing is an aspiration, not a deadline. And perhaps I have to put together some sort of skeleton timetable, just to quiet that part of my brain that demands the security of dates and times, knowing full well that I’ll break it. Perhaps I even have to relish the breaking of it, to enjoy sticking two fingers up at the control freak inside of me.
And if that’s weird, so be it. I’m not perfect.
I don’t need to be.