"...I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever."
And so it was, that after reading this, that I decided to follow his advice. I very suddenly felt so very afraid, but also very much so excited. You see, for me, Neil Gaiman is trustworthy for he has been responsible in making my imagination expand beyond the depths I never knew existed. So, I felt that I had to do this. I had to give it a go.
As a result of his wish, I was less hard on myself, which was very difficult to do at first, and I relapsed quite a few times but I kept trying. These days, I am a little easier on myself despite making mistakes. Prior to last year, I put far too much pressure on myself, to the point where I began to suffer from an uncontrollable amount of stress and anxiety. I constantly worried about all aspects of my life, even the parts I had no control over. It got to point where I worried about the future- as in when the sun would eventually die out what would happen to our planet? Or what if my child(ren) marry English people and then my grandchildren do too and then forget I ever existed and become UKIP-esque party supporters and forget their Indian roots completely? Pretty extreme/bizarre stuff. I still get these types of questions popping into my mind now and again, but I tend to mentally shrug at them. Another thing that I used to do was be overly controlling because I constantly thought of the consequences of every action I thought of taking or anyone else would be taking that would affect me in someway. This made me a terrible person for some time, and I was also restraining myself from taking risks. Neil Gaiman would probably say I was also restraining myself from making mistakes.
This year, it's been a pretty different story; I have been easy-going but I have still tried my best to achieve the top grades. And there was a couple of times that I didn't get the top grades in Sweden. I didn't actually cry or beat myself up too much about it. I was sad but told myself how well I had done in the other module so felt a lot less worse. I have also tried not to worry about things not being good enough, especially when it comes to my own art. I started the painting dedicated to the friend who passed away last year, and decided it would be dedicated to others who had passed away in my life too. I spent most of the summer on it as I couldn't get a job and now it's sitting on an easel in the living room, with about 3 hours of work left to it. I also spent the summer writing more of the novel that I have been aspiring to write for some time now. I managed to write an extra 12,000 + words to it, and redrafted the first couple of chapters too. For the first time, I sent to some people and asked for genuine criticism, not fearing my work receiving any kind of constructive of negative criticism.
Finally, despite having planned my time in Sweden before the post by Neil Gaiman, it came in handy in so many ways whilst I was there. I let go of so many restraints, unbeknownst to myself until that point I had put on myself. Of course it took some time but it began with letting go of the fear of falling over. It was really thanks to the army boots from the local Army/Navy shop that a couple of my friends had recommended. For about a week I was walking like a penguin and after realising that I wouldn't fall- began to enjoy my time there.
The one thing that I was completely unsure of was whether I would make any friends, or more so if I still had it in me to make any friends. I was also worried about the age difference between me and a typical student. I missed my friends from England. I didn't think I would make good friends as the ones I already had but then I realised that I didn't need the same type of friends in Sweden. As soon as I let of this, I made real close friends, we had fun, we did silly things, we had adventures, we laughed and we cried. We walked on an iced over Nydala Lake (I shook with fear) from one end to the other. We saw Aurora borealis, and wished upon shooting starts together. We shared our secrets, fears and loves. We told each other our stories. We jumped over fences; I felt like a badass. We even judged a Yoiking competition. We did things on a whim, for once I really lived a spontaneous life. I opened up and started conversations with strangers. I spent a lot of nights alone at the lake, sitting there, breathing in fresh air and watching the sunset and sunrise at the horizon, or just sitting there staring at the moon and the stars above. They were so clear there, there was no light pollution, every star shimmered individually. There really did look like diamonds in the sky.
I won't go out of my way to make mistakes but now I take risks and take actions of which the consequences aren't clear cut. I now no longer beat myself a lot for making mistakes and nor am I petrified by the idea of making them. I do my best to learn from them so that I can improve and develop from them in the future. I don't worry about things I have very little or no control over. (Or really, I am writing this article after making myself ill again after stressing myself out over not being able to get a job, and then I waking up yesterday morning and my mind-radio switching on and the first song on in my head was 'Let it Go' from the film Frozen only the words from the song went a little like 'Fuck it All...' you get the idea.)
I also realised just now, that if we don't make our own mistakes we won't ever really learn anything worth learning. Whenever anyone ever says- 'Don't do this... learn from my mistakes!'- it hardly ever had the same impact as when we make the same mistake ourselves.
As I haven't really shared any photos for a while, here is one of my new painting, very close of being finished. It is also the biggest in size yet- standing at 40x32 inches...
So until next time,
Have a great week or two,
Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and if you fear mistakes then make 'em! Be spontaneous, do something on a whim, but don't go to a random restaurant on a whim- go to tripadvisor first!
P.S- I also didn't freeze- I took a pair of thermals (bad joke, but go on- humour me :D)
Neil Gaiman's blog post: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/12/my-new-year-wish.html