And here endeth the blog.
I was talking to someone earlier about the importance of taking positives out of negative situations and trying to learn and grow as a person. Bit deep and meaningful for a text chat, some might think, but hey. This is me we're talking about...
But seriously, I do genuinely believe that we never really stop learning about life and indeed about ourselves, as we make our way through the years, and it's important to take stock, now and again. Because the person we are today, could be very different to the person we were five years ago, and different again to the person we'll be in five years' time. Everything we go through in life - good and bad - changes and shapes us, after all.
So, with that in mind, I've been thinking about what have I learnt about myself in the last five years. And this is what I've come up with...
1. I am one tough little cookie.
I need to binge-watch some American Horror Story, later...
Okay, so I've been through a lot in my whole life, not just in the last five years, but it's only recently that I've realised how strong I am. You know that awful cliche about women being like teabags: you never know how strong they are until you put them into hot water? Well, I'd make a damn good cuppa. Unless you like it weak. Okay, I'm going off track, here...
...What I'm trying to say is that for years, I've thought that because I'm incredibly sensitive, it's meant that I'm not very strong. And then life proved me wrong. I've walked away from an abusive relationship and put my life back together. I've gone back into the specific strand of my day job that I left at least in part because I didn't think I was able to keep up with all the changes that were coming in at the time, and I've proved that I'm bloody good at it. I've stood up to people who resorted to petty bullying as they took sides in a fight that was not theirs to have. All of that has happened in the last five years and whilst I may have been dented by some of it, I've never been broken by it. And when you realise your own strength, you also realise that you have the power to avoid the things that could hurt you, by ensuring you're not prepared to take any crap in the future.
I don't know what life has in store for the rest of my time on this planet. But I do believe I'll get through it. Just... You know... Remind me of this on my bad days, eh?!
2. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive.
Me too, Chandler. Me too.
I've talked about this a lot in the past, but it's true, damnit! There is literally nothing wrong with being sensitive. It just means that you're empathic; you feel things deeply. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Life is something we experience, not just something we passively pass through. Feeling sad when bad things happen is natural. Caring about the people who have an impact on our lives is understandable and kind of important, if you don't want to look like a total psychopath. Which... Well, I'm guessing you don't?!
Being someone who cares and feels things means you're experiencing life on a deeper level. You're sucking the marrow out of life, to borrow a quote from Henry David Thoreau (which I only know because of Dead Poets Society, but shut up and let me look intelligent, please).
It's not weak to feel emotions on a deep level. Nor is it weak to cry. In fact, to be able to feel things like deep sadness or unbridled joy and to be able to acknowledge it without shame is something to be applauded.
My name is Emma and I'm ridiculously sensitive. And proud of it.
3. Following the herd is boring as heck.
If you're anything like me, you've spent at least some of your past, trying to fit in with others. Nobody wants to feel like a social outcast, especially not when you're young and trying to find out who you are. Sticking out like a sore thumb can be really scary and it's natural to want to hide in a majority, rather than risk being the odd one out.
...If you're not being true to yourself, then what's the point? There comes a time when you start to realise that actually, there's no shame in being the one person who says "I can't stand *insert name of popular thing loved by everyone else you know here*." Or, in being the person who likes something that everyone else thinks is tragically "un-cool." In fact, let's be honest, being the person who likes something that everyone else thinks is tragically un-cool is basically my purpose in life...
I've reached an age where I no longer give even the slightest toss whether my fashion choices, musical tastes or personal values fit in with the majority. If I'm old-fashioned in some of my beliefs, so be it. If I'm accused of being cheesy in my taste, who cares? And you will prise my Tesco children's range sparkly tights out of my cold, dead hands. Or, rather... Off my legs. But please don't.
4. I'm a soppy old romantic. And I'm okay with that.
When you've been through the worst kind of relationship that life can throw at you, it's perfectly understandable if you get a little... Cynical. And yep, I went through that phase. You know the one. Where all happy couples give you a mild urge to roll your eyes and say "I give it six months," before skulking off to your room to listen to some Alanis Morissette... Don't judge me.
But the thing with being an incurable romantic is that... Well, the clue's in the name. There's no cure.
After a year or so of being a ridiculously (although possibly understandably) cynical type, I started to defrost. I came to realise that I still believed in love. And I'm talking big love. The kind that makes people get off planes in sitcoms.
There's... There's something in my eye.
I am a soppy little sod. I want to be loved by someone who thinks I'm beautiful, even when I'm stumbling around in my pyjamas first thing in the morning, with crazy hair and no make up. I want to have someone to write long, soppy messages in birthday and Christmas cards for. I want to hold someone's hand as we walk through the streets, knowing they're holding my heart just as tightly.
You may all go and vomit now, if you need to.
Seriously, though. I do want those things and I believe in them. And even if I never find them, it won't stop me believing, nor will it stop me being glad for everyone who has found them. Just to have that belief and that desire to have those things for myself after having gone through the total opposite at the hands of someone I loved is a pretty big deal, too. Well done, me. ;-)
5. I'm okay by myself, too.
Do I want to be with someone? Sure, of course. Do I need to be? Don't be daft. I'm in a fabulous relationship with my awesome self. ;-)
In the last five years, I've realised that I can be perfectly happy on my own. I can go out for the day by myself and not be crippled by loneliness (or the fear that everyone is watching me and wondering why I apparently have no friends...). I can take care of myself and I enjoy my own company. Now, that doesn't mean that I'm about to become a weird recluse, who talks to her own reflection and never speaks to another living human. It just means that I like me and I'm confident enough in who I am, not to need validation that I'm an okay person.
I mean... Most of the time. Don't remind me of this when I'm watching a sad film and wishing there was a guy hugging me, whose chest I could dramatically weep onto.
There are ways in which I miss having a boyfriend, but I've reached the point where being single is no longer the dreadful, miserable experience it has been in the past. I have no ties, I can wear a onesie to bed and not worry that it's the least sexy item of clothing in the world, plus I can go out and not feel remotely guilty if a guy comes along to chat me up (and shockingly, that does happen, sometimes...).
Besides which, it's always best to get into a relationship because you want to, rather than because you feel a desperate need not to be single. You have to be okay with who you are, before you can expect anyone else to be. Which means I'm actually in the ideal place, should Mr Right come along.
So, I guess I've learnt a fair bit about myself over the last five years. And I've not even touched on a lot of it, such as the fact that I've learnt that I cannot quit my addiction to Irregular Choice shoes, or that I can't put on false eyelashes. Seriously, how do those even work??!!
There are still lots of things I would like to learn about myself, such as what sort of mother I'd be, whether I'd be able to handle fame if either my writing or my YouTube channel took off, or how crazy I'd go if I had a house of my own to decorate. But hopefully, there's still plenty of time to find all of those things out.
The one thing I know for sure is that at the end of every year, when I look back on all the things I've done, I can't help but reflect on what I've learnt along the way. And in doing so, I get to know myself a little better.
I can't wait to find out more.