I need your approval
Today something happened before I got home from one of the most tiring days of the past seven. I was reading Dolly Alderton's Everything I Know About Love on the tube. The words on the page described something I felt so close to me. I almost started crying. The story she described was empathetic. Her experience so relatable it felt liberating to hear I was not the only one feeling confused about my life.
I walked home from the tube station listening to Bon Iver's 22, A Million. It is probably the fortieth time I listen to this particular album: one of those beautiful gems that never stop to surprise me. I made myself a drink and thought I could do with an hour of Netflix before going to bed. But the flat' smart TV had some issues connecting to our notably slow Wifi. I found myself abandoned to my own thoughts.
The search for a time-filler led me to check the stats for my website—an involuntary response to my narcissism asking for approval—only for me to find out that people are engaging with my work. Even if the data claims the visits happen sparingly, this is excellent news. It feels like a big pat on the back, one which your dad never gave you and that you keep seeking from the outside.
I put my phone down, grabbed my laptop and started writing this.
My therapist told me my life is an experiment
It is a particularly hot night in London. I am on the couch writing words hoping that someone would relate to them as much as I do to Dolly' story.
Last time I met my therapist, he told me my life is an experiment, and that I should keep it going. Yet, I never asked to be a scientist running experiments. A researcher of my own path. I grew up thinking I could do the opposite of what people wanted me to, and I would be safe. Turns out you can't just react to what happens in your surroundings. You have to act out of your own initiative, make things happen.
When I relocated—alone—to London at 19, I understood there were choices I would have had to make on my own. Moving was like finding myself in an escape room with endless doors. All doors leading to equally compelling life paths, but there are red herrings all around you.
It is this trial and error game that I have spent countless days fretting about. Being exposed to the experiment that my life had begun might have opened a canal for all kinds of thoughts. I have since been more anxious that I ever remember. As my self-awareness grew, I started noticing the patterns in my behaviour. Patterns that my therapist thinks I should experiment with. And for once, I agree. Things can't change if we stay the same, right?