September. It’s a month of new beginnings. Long after you leave school the feelings of shiny shoes and a brand new pencil case don’t seem to subside. I half expect somebody to hand me a reading list of intimidating books we all know I’ll never read.
But the reality is that the pressures are different now, you’re a grown-up. Nobody is going to tell you to sit and read for hours every day. No matter how much you wish they would.
Instead we’re all hurtling towards another year, another decade, and right about now is the time I find myself reflecting, and regretting. I’m always harsh on myself in September, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve done enough but I feel that even stronger this time every year.
We romanticise September. The comeback of perfectly worn, slightly scuffed leather boots and impossibly thick-knit jumpers, worn on a walk through the colour-changing park to your favourite pub. The pub that always has a little dog, probably called Scruff, sleeping peacefully in front of the dragon-tongued fire that you watch while sipping a glass of Malbec coloured the perfect claret.
Yeah sure. Sounds wonderful. But this is real life.
Your boots will rub, or be slightly too tight so they somehow manage to make your feet colder. A thick-knit is possibly the most impractical of all the knits as the wind blows right through and makes you colder, don’t @ me, it’s a conspiracy. There’s dog shit in the piles of leaves. The pub will be heaving, the dog has fleas, you’ll be smelling fire in your hair for days, and your Malbec cost you £9.
Yes, I’m more than aware of my out of control cynicism. I’m not working on it.
I love the idea of reflecting, of recognising what I’ve earned and what I’ve learned, of seeing where I was this time last year and how far I’ve come in twelve short months. I love the idea of seeing the rest of the year as a challenge, to do even more, succeed even further, kick arse even harder. I don’t know if it’s a brain block of mine or just the reality that nothing really seems to change year to year, but I can’t find the pleasure in doing this. It just freaks me out. And stresses me out. And makes me go full entitled little princess with a ‘why not meeee?!’ complex.
September also happens to be the month of my birth. Libra. I know. Let’s not. I hate my birthday. Not in a fear of getting older way, getting older is such a privilege I feel eternally grateful to have, but for me birthdays seem to hold a lot of pressure. A pressure to socialise in a certain way, a pressure to have enough friends to socialise that way, a pressure to look incredible in photos, a pressure to look even more amazing in all the social media posts all those friends of yours post. Pressure doesn’t look good on me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t cry on my birthday, I can’t ever put my finger on just why it does that to me though.
There are elements of all this I’m working on, mostly the struggles with celebrating myself, but there are also elements of it I won’t be. We live in a world where we’re supposed to see the good in every moment, and if we can’t see the good then the potential to make it good. Sadness is not allowed. Negativity is not allowed. They’re bad emotions that need to be fixed, or medicated, or at least just ignored.
I’m exhausted by always feeling the need to wrap my crappy feelings up in a pretty bow and rolling it in some glitter. I’m exhausted by being told to keep my chin up or focus on the good stuff. Sometimes we need to focus on the shit, that’s how we avoid stepping in it again.
September might not be a month of celebration for me, but maybe it can be a month of analysing my shit. A month of recognising my fuck ups. A month of letting myself feel the sadness, and the anger, and that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach I can never really name. It won’t be a month full of sadness, but it will be a month of self-reflection, just in a different way to what the wellness gurus might recommend.
Although I won’t be saying no to the £9 glasses of Malbec any time soon.