The illusion of time
Have you ever felt like you’re behind in life? Have you ever looked on social media to find pictures of people accomplishing things and compared those to accomplishments of your own? Have you ever felt like you’ve been left behind? Forgotten? Or like you should be at a certain time in your life? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, I’m glad that you have stumbled upon this article because although it feels it, know that you are not alone.
From such an early age we are taught that we should meet certain milestones once we reach a particular stage in our lives. For example, if children have not formed the ability to communicate a clear sentence by the age of about four years old, the child is labelled ‘behind’ in their stages of development.
Consequently, this particular child becomes a concern to those who care for them. As we get older and begin to embark upon the absolute madness otherwise known as growing up, we are told that we should do this by the time we are 18, or we should achieve this by the time we are 20 and we should own this by the time we reach 29.
It is extremely harmful and detrimental to our well-being; growing up with these expectations from a number of outside influences such as the education system, our own parents or guardians, school teachers, university professors and even those who we follow on social media. We are unfortunately led to believe that if we are doing things differently to the majority, then we must be doing it wrong. Sometimes, I wish someone had told me this sooner – there is no right or wrong way to live.
You Do Not Owe Anyone Anything
I have spoken about this in my previous article, but not in great detail. In 2016, I was sectioned under the mental health act and detained in a psychiatric hospital. It was undoubtedly the most confusing and distressing experience I have faced throughout the whole of my 20 years on this earth. One of my friends described it as, ‘one day you were here, and the next you were gone’.
This was one of those moments where someone says something, or you read the last line of your favourite a book or hear that certain line in a song which makes you literally feel the dragging pain inside of your own heart. My friend put it perfectly, one day I was there and the next I was literally gone.
The length of time a person stays in hospital varies from person to person, but the things we miss out on will always remain with us. A single day spent in hospital can feel like three days. Throughout my entire admission, it felt like time completely stopped.
When I was discharged after about five months, I stepped back into reality and everything had changed. The people once so familiar to me all of a sudden felt like an alien species. I forgot what it was like to be present in a universe of people because I had been trapped inside the walls of my brain for so long. I can only describe it as everything seemed to completely stand still, the world stopped spinning and nothing really made sense.
Upon leaving hospital, the ‘real world’ beyond those hospital walls seemed to spin 10x faster and I could not keep up. This is the part of recovery that not many people will talk about because it’s such a complicated feeling to be left with. I was not like my friends.
I didn’t finish school, nor did I ever think about my future or the possibility of what was to come because I simply couldn’t see past the troubles that lay right in front of me. For a very long time i had been deeply resentful towards my illnesses because of the time that it stole from me.
But it wasn’t necessarily time I missed out on. This may be daunting to comprehend at first but time is merely an illusion. Time really is just a bunch of numbers that don’t actually hold a great deal of meaning. It is the memories that hold the meaning. In simpler terms, if I remove the concept of time from the situation, all i had was those moments that i missed out on because I was too unwell. Birthdays, Christmas, seeing the new year in with my closest friends and something as simple as walking alone, freely.
Looking at this from a wider perspective, if I had not received the treatment that I needed perhaps I would not be here to share this with you all. Its been over five years of learning to live with my illness in the community. I’ve been working for two years at a job I hold no relevant qualifications in. Some people may wonder what the point of this is – the point is my survival – this job has given me the strength to wake up in the mornings. In September. i will be entering the world of education again whilst still working at this current job.
I may be the oldest student in the class but it is never too late to start living. Its taken me a while to get to a place where i feel i can truly do this and do it well. The path of life is uncertain for all of us and ever-changing like the seasons. While some things and events in my life have been undesirable, i do believe that there is a right time for everything to happen. Allowing things to simply unfold naturally is okay, regardless of society’s expectations of you. Lesson number 1: You do not owe anyone anything.
Its Okay To Not Know What You’re Doing
One of the worlds most famous actors, Morgan Freeman, had his first big break when he was in his 40s. Interestingly, Morgan Freeman has lived with a disease called Fibromyalgia since 2008. Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread pain all over the body and severe fatigue. People living with fibromyalgia are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing depression and anxiety as a result of living with this condition.
Until I had researched about this piece of information, I would have remained unaware of this fact. This is an example of how we never truly know what goes on inside peoples lives, as much as we may think we do. I find information like this comforting to know and also incredibly inspiring.
It reminds me of the point I made earlier about how it is never too late to start living. Similarly, one of my favourite artists of all time, Bob Ross, showed society that time is merely an illusion when it comes to success. Bob Ross spent 20 years serving in the US air force.
He taught himself to paint shortly after retiring. At the age of 41, his name had become increasily popular across the globe. This shows that even people who seem to have infinite amounts of success and popularity, may not have been child stars or simply lucky.
The wonderful thing to realise about human beings, that too many of us often forget, is that we are all the same. Despite the things which try to steer us apart, we all come into this world the same, we then wish to be happy, we desire to be free from suffering, and eventually we all leave this world the same.
I have often felt like an outsider, like I don’t fit into the tiny little box that society tries to put me in, and I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Its okay to not know what you’re doing. The majoirty of people on this planet really have no idea what they’re doing.
I think if people can be a little more honest about this, then a lot of our own individual problems and challenges might not seem all that daunting. Collectively, humans have the power to enlighten, empower and empathize with one another. Perhaps if we start to look past the things that try to steer us apart we can then be able to notice our similarities as opposed to the differences between us.
All We Have Is Now
Just because you started a degree 10 years later than your best friend does not mean you are not worthy of the same success. Just because it took seven months for someone to be granted a discharge date from hospital, but another patient two months, does not mean you and your recovery has been a failure, or they have had an easier ride.
We all do things at different times in our lives and there is nothing wrong with that. Time is simply an illusion that is embedded into our minds at a point where our minds are still growing. This is why humans always feel compelled to be doing, striving, acheiving, or grinding.
We work tirelessly to reach a certain point in our lives, only to find that we are not entirely satisfied, and so the grasping continues. I no longer wish to compete with those around me and I hope that by reading this article you may begin to look at things in a similar way.
I take pride in the fact that my journey has not been smooth or short. In fact, I believe I am still wandering the path of recovery and continuing to learn new things about myself and my illnesses every single day. Learning is a wonderful thing to do, so I’m okay with that.
I have spent too many years of my life filled with thoughts of terror whenever I think of my future. I remember becoming increasingly frustrated at school whenever teachers would ask me about my future plans. Would it have been more appropriate for these teachers to consider asking about how my day was going first? I was reluctant to think about my future let alone plan for one.
I can remember feeling inspired about particular things that I was interested in, or ideas I had which I shared with people who would be dismissive, unenthusiastic or tell me that these ideas of mine were not possible, or unrealistic. If a small child comes up to you and presents a magic wand in their hands, would you help them to conjure up a spell, or would you silence them and tell them to put the stick back on the floor beneath the dirt?
To all readers, thank you for continuing to welcome me into this community and reading these little insights of my mind. I often question myself and my writing an awful lot, and feel I should change this or change that in order to make it more appealing to others.
But I am not someone who can work like this, and so I write what I desire which is proving to be difficult at times, but each day is a step forward and each sentence enables me to make a little more sense of each thought I have inside my head. So thank you for that. As always I am sending infinite amounts of Peace, Love and Light to you all x