Hellooo! I’m back on my blogging bullsh*t again. Back when I started this website in November 2016, I used to write a LOT about really introspective, quiet moments we all need to value more. The importance of the simple things in life to me, my biggest lessons of each year, lifestyle-related topics ‘cos that’s what I enjoy writing about most – so I thought I’d bring it back to basics today with a post about something I’ve realised the stark importance of in 2020: the power of just BEING. And I thought I’d throw in a few recommendations for my favourite place to just BE – my beautiful home of Clifton in Bristol.
2020, aside from the obvious scary, uncertain and challenging points for the world, has been a profound period of reflection and realisation for me. This sounds like something I probably should have nailed a long time ago, but with the busy nature of life, things get in the way – I’ve realised what my ‘core values’ are this year; what truly makes me happy.
Stop stalking forwards towards the unknown future, trying to engineer every step; don’t look back and ruminate on the past. Just BE. Right here. Right now.
And my goodness me, the very things I thought would make me happiest to ‘be’ aren’t actually all that. I thought one of the biggest driving forces of my happiness and contentment was striving with determination towards career goals. So much of my life up until now has been about work. I used to mock up my own magazine spreads when I was nine. ‘What career do you want?’, they asked when I was applying for University. Then so much of my degree was hammering home the very point that not only must we succeed academically, but we must access every single internship opportunity possible before graduating into the terrifying world, to then find not just a job, but the career for US. You career is your life. Or so, that was the message I thought I was seeing everywhere.
Yet, something I’ve realised this year, is that the very things we believe are the markers of living in society can disappear before our very eyes. I worked HARD in my first job out of University. Being in Marketing, it wasn’t my dream career, but there were aspects that allowed me to write, be creative and I really enjoyed the role. Fast forward to March 2020, and that was taken from me, along with millions others in the UK, when I got furloughed. Suddenly, my entire purpose – get up, work, sleep, work – was gone.
On another, more materialistic level, I questioned the identity I portrayed to the world. I realised, come March, that I didn’t really do loungewear. So much of my wardrobe was more put together looks, clothes that aren’t the comfiest but are trend-led, that usually make me happy and help me express who I am. Yet suddenly, all I wanted to do and all that felt right was wearing joggers and a jumper. Who was I anymore? I questioned how much of what I wear is for ME and how much of what I wear is an image I’d like to portray to the world. It made me realise the importance of caring for the planet more than the latest lewks, and I value the opportunity to play with your own, existing wardrobe more than ever before. YouTube hauls, every single trend and one-off pieces aren’t for me anymore.
There was no way to be sociable, to enjoy the time ‘off’ as society shut down overnight and we were locked up in our homes, and suddenly, I realised that the very things I put so much attention towards, weren’t there anymore.
So, instead, I learned to enjoy the power of just BEING. In the present. No understanding of or aim for the future – because back in March, we had to take everything day by day. What makes me truly happy now? Reading a book. My favourite magazine. Going for a quiet wander in Clifton with no obligation to spend money or do anything flash. A conversation with my boyfriend, a friend or my family that leaves me with bellyaching laughter. Wandering outside the flat and really (and I mean really) taking in what’s around me, instead of rushing from A to B. Getting a work/life balance, if that ever is achievable – by putting my well-being first and choosing a job I know gives me the flexibility I need long-term.
This year, I’ve realised what I need. And it was that space, that endless stretch of nothingness that lay before us back in March, that helped me realise what I need.
Some of my favourite spots in Clifton, Bristol for that time to just be:
- A wander on (or off) the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Those VIEWS, the trees slowly drifting in the breeze, the stunning architecture of a centuries’ old bridge. It’s the most breathtaking view in Bristol.
- A trip to Parson’s Bakery (best baguettes in Bristol, end of) to then take with you to the bridge for an afternoon picnic.
- A wander past the incredible houses at The Mall and on the Royal York Crescent. Some of the most expensive houses in Bristol, I love to just imagine the lives of those living there.
- A sit in Victoria Square. A stunning grassy area with ornate houses and apartments looming overhead. It’s a great place to just sit and think.
- East Village Cafe or Primrose Cafe in Clifton Village: the perfect brunch and people-watching spots.
- The White Lion: a classy boozer with an incredible terrace that has an insane view of the Suspension Bridge ahead.
Sometimes it’s those moments of reflection, that perhaps might at first feel uncomfortable and scary, that we need to grow. Maybe it’s time we stop looking forward and take a second to just breathe, look around us and realise. Realise the power in just being still.