Notes to June.

Oh June, you were a tricky one. One of the best things about keeping this blog semi-regular (being generous there) over the past few years is the fact that I am able to easily look back and see patterns in my posts, one of which is that as soon as it gets to the sunnier months my mental health declines pretty sharply. Indeed, my social anxiety seems to go a bit haywire in the sunnier weather as the pressure to be out-and-about living the carefree social life intensifies. It often feels that evenings not spent swimming in a river with friends are not worth having, and I find myself embarrassed and tongue-tied whenever someone enquires about my plans for the evening/weekend ahead. Surely, it must be obvious I have no plans to speak of? That I have no gaggle of friends, excited to meet up with me to soak up the good vibes at any given moment? I am ashamed, I dislike myself and I find myself lying to maintain face, telling people of my non-existent birthday party and picnics with friends. Lies that only make the gap between the life I wish I was living and the life I actually live seem bigger than ever to me. I am a fraud. I am lonely. And I am unlikeable. So yes, Summer is a tricky time for me – and June was no exception.

So when you read the post below, please bear in mind that this post (and pretty much any other social media posting you will later devour) points out the highlights of my month. It doesn’t dwell on the mornings I couldn’t get out of bed, or the days I spent largely not eating as food was the only thing I could control. It doesn’t document the just-punched feeling I carry around in my stomach, or the pain I feel at knowing what I am doing to those I love around me. Please, just remember that we are all human, we all struggle and we all triumph. It will get better – my posts from previous years are proof.

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Onto June then. Quite a busy month, in all! The month started with my return from a wonderful trip to Rome with a friend, with the Liverpool Champions League triumph vs. Tottenham the next day a particularly promising start to the month. Fizzy wine was consumed, shall we say. From there the month progressed steadily onwards, and on a particularly drizzly Saturday morning I finally took the plunge and dyed my hair ginger. Having been a lifelong blonde it felt like it was time for a change (the idea that my hair is another thing I can control in my life when everything else feels out of my control is not lost on me – see favourite meme of the month, below), and from the moment my hairdresser said “Hello Emma Stone!” I knew I had made a sound decision. Now, 6 weeks or so on I am still not exactly sure of the tone of red I want (think I want to go a bit more orange/blonde than the more punk shade of red it’s faded to), but I have to say that I feel like being a redhead suits my personality down to the ground. I feel like me, and that’s a wonderful feeling – most of the time, anyway. Even if people around me haven’t been so positive; I have been asked what the trauma in my life is that’s made me change my hair, I’ve been asked why I deliberately made myself less attractive and I’ve been told that blonde is “more popular for a reason.” Ouch.

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Another highlight of the week was an away day at work. Truth be told, the idea of a full 12-hour program of activities with my colleagues at the beach on a stormy day wasn’t exactly my idea of fun (may have Googled last-minute excuses a couple of times), but I am so happy to have been proved wrong. We were allowed to choose our own beach activities, so I finally got to try my hand at rafting (loved it, fell in, thought my arms would fall off but haven’t laughed so hard in years), an escape room and blo-karting. The day was then rounded off with drinks and food in a beachside bar (refreshments on the house, natch) and all-in-all I came away with a warm, fuzzy feeling of a day spent with wonderful people without making a complete tit of myself. Always a success.

The work socialising continued (I know – twice in one month! Who am I?) a couple weeks later as the team took over a local BBQ joint to celebrate the wedding of one of our directors. We went to Pendergast in West, which at first I thought was an odd choice for a group mostly comprising of non-meat eaters (tsk, fashion), but actually turned out to be a great shout. Plates of delicious food – tender meat and home-smoked veggies – wonderful whiskies and craft beers and the friendliest staff… No wonder we only made it out in the early hours of the morning. Particular shout-out to the mac ‘n’ cheese, my one and only.

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In terms of mini social events, B and I made time for a cheeky date night to go see Robyn in concert. To be honest neither of us were diehard fans of Robyn (as in we love her biggest hits but know very little of her back catalogue), but when we saw that she was coming to Amsterdam and that there were still tickets left, we thought it could be a fun date night. We were not wrong. A great little boogie and safe to say I have discovered some new favourite songs that I haven’t really been able to get out of my head since. The end of June also saw temperatures in Amsterdam reach the mid-30s, so we invited one of our friends over to the city for the day to go bar-hopping and eat some BBQ food with us. Nothing crazy exciting or ground-breaking here, but a wonderful Saturday in the sun nonetheless.

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Among all this, it is hard to believe i somehow made time for not just 1, but 2 weekend trips. The first was to the wonderful city of Toulouse with my gal pals, a whistle stop 36 hours spent consuming delicious food, drinking amazing wine and making countless dirty jokes. Just what the doctor ordered.The second of the trips was to Bath to see my brother – my parents were also down that weekend en route to Devon so we made it a family affair – and soak up the vibe in one of my favourite cities (on my shortlist for 2020; watch this space!). My weekend in Bath was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time – so much so that the comedown was so tough that I’ve found it hard to get my head back into Amsterdam life ever since (hello mental health crisis). My heart aches for Bath life; to be near my family, my friends, in a beautiful city and a familiar culture. Soon.

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All in all then, June was a busy month. Even writing this post I couldn’t quite believe just how much I managed to squeeze in in only a few weeks. Safe to say that July and August look significantly calmer, and I’m actually quite looking forward to having a few solid weeks in Amsterdam to go about my daily life and stop wishing I was elsewhere. I think it’ll do me good, learning to appreciate the here and now. So here goes.

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