Two weeks ago it came to me. Sat in a sunny cafe window, licking melting flapjack from my fingers and inhaling the cardamon in my tea. I reached for my phone and mindlessly scrolled through instagram. Moments before I had been immersed with ink on paper. I was getting somewhere good. I was feeling excited. It all got too much. I stopped and distracted myself. After a few seconds it dawned on me. CHALLENGE! ADVENTURE! Time for a month offline. The below writing is what spilled out when I got home that evening. In the spirit of allowing words, exploration, self to flow and not be stunted I am posting as it is. As I am. Bare. Open. Ready to listen and see what happens.
The first moment I open my laptop after deciding to give up the internet for a month i google “giving up the internet for a month”. After perusing the list of hits and taking a quick read of a Guardian article I decide to cut that dead. Close window. Open new Pages document to begin to write this down. Shit. I am officially all i-Lifed up to the i-Balls and have just shouted at my laptop for spellchecking ILIFED (ah ha, it doesn’t do it in capitals – fuck you Apple).
I am weary. It’s been a long day. This isn’t me loosing my will to live and donning a tinfoil hat. I simply need a challenge. An adventure. But one that isn’t about More! Action! Crazy! Information! Give! It! To! Me!, or something with less exclamation marks, but is about less information. More focus. More connection. Simply slowing the fuck down and allowing my magpie mind a chance to catch up with itself. To work on the blossoming projects I am gently stoking and not run off, with the click of a button, to a distraction, to follow a glimmer of a fresh idea, to stick some stuff up on instagram or twitter or Facebook or stare at iPlayer until something looks appealing to while away an hour watching.
I am a writer. An artist. A sensitive, creative human being. And I am in a fledgling stage of cracking open the shell I have been squirrelling away in (sorry to mix animals… As I said, it’s been a long day) for the last 30 years (that is all of my life, by the way) and finding my true voice. 12 months ago I took a leap of pure blind faith into my practice and I haven’t looked back. I have acquired a stack of qualifications and good jobs in my life, but nothing seemed to scratch the itch. The itch I couldn’t quite name for so long. Now, with the wonders of hindsight, a fantastic core process psychotherapist and a brilliant mentor I am beginning to see that I have had the answer all along. I just wasn’t wasn’t listening right. I have spent my whole life thinking that I was odd. Odd in a bad way. The world has felt too much for me on numerous occasions.
I have felt bamboozled and overwhelmed by the whole thing. My experience of the world, my misunderstanding of my sensitivity, my emotionality led me to believe I was mentally unwell, broken, unhinged. For some time I think I probably was. But man did I know how to hide it. Most of all from myself. I have been a master of disguise, a chameleon, a fractured girl and woman of many faces who constantly looked outward for validation, reassurance and to be told where to step next. I have been in the long, heart wrenching, renewing and quite simply word defying process of self discovery (a wanKy word, perhaps – bloody spellcheck again – I know, but kinda bang on the nail) and I am finally listening. I don’t quite know what has clicked, re-railed or shifted direction but it has now gotten to the point when I quite simply cannot put this shit off anymore. This is where the turning off the internet for a month comes in. As is the natural state of all things yin and yang, or something, along with this new found sense of FUCK YEAH comes a great big clanging ARRRGGGHHHH HOLY SHIT in response. The deep fear of doing something new. Of standing strong in myself and spewing (now that was meant to say speaking but is a mis-typed autocorrect I will leave) my truth. Of really listening to my needs, to the delicate dance of self-caring as a sensitive woman. Of losing my humour, or rather my ability to use humour as a means of emotional avoidance, should I stand in true alignment with my deeply raw, juicy self. I want to shed the defences I have built around me and live true.
The fearful, critical voice in my brain imagines this Kathryn to be a bit shouty, a bit whingy, a bit boring… but I see you voice for what you are. You served me well when I wasn’t strong enough to stand on my own. You did your best to keep me safe. But this Kathryn that is being built from the inside out knows that should any shouting or whinging occur it will be done with loving awareness. Yeah, ok… I’ve set the bar a bit high there. To rephrase and clarify, I am finally recognising that is just ok to be human. The ball of wool that sat heavy and tightly tangled within me for so many years is loosening and I can start to see the strands. There’s loads more space in there now and that arsey looking cat in my head has stopped nastily playing with it so much. I am standing on the threshold of gaining a great deal, it is the getting over the welcome mat – and a lovely one it is too – that is proving tricky.
There will always be distractions, fear, self doubt and uncertainty, but it my time to sit with this and get some discipline in focusing on my work. My work is my life, my story, my communication to the world and right now it needs some real affection.
If you are still reading this, well done. You may think this is all a bit melodramatic for a month off the internet! Interesting thing – that really doesn’t bother me! This is a break through. This stream of words has come out as a freely written whole and the trusting of this, of my experience, of not self-editing so much is completely what I am talking about. Also, I am highly aware that if you are still reading you may actually be quite engaged, and that’s good, and with the powers of the internet and information consumption those who aren’t that arsed will be off looking at cats on youtube or reading the news.
So here it is… Who knows what will come out of this. I am reluctant to state what I am working on here, so as to put in writing something I will then be accountable to show in some way at the end of the month. This is a pressure I don’t think I need and this, right now, would be done out of a LOOK AT MEEEEEE itch. The fine line between wanting to ‘be seen’ and wanting to ‘be seen to be something’. No more like buttons. No more retweets. No more mindless scrolling and multiple-tabs opened with too.many.things.to.absorb.
Here’s to asking someone a question if I don’t know something.
Going to library if I need to know something that happens to be in a book.
Feeling my way.
Listening to music… Without online mix/radio streaming. Erm…
Making films – if I can work out how to teach myself the things I need to learn without youtube tutorials. Errrrm…. Software manuals?!
Listening even more.
A bit more writing.
Yeah… ok, this list is getting pretty smug and shmultzy, and if it was written in a nice font it would be on numerous candy coloured Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds.
That is it. The end.
Thank you for reading.