Stopping To Tie Your Shoelace

Have you ever been for a walk, stopped to tie your shoelace, and then when you look up all of your friends are twenty metres ahead of you? And then you run after them like a headless chicken shouting “Hey guys, wait for me!” and are silently outraged that they didn’t even notice you were gone? (there is a point to this, trust me)

When you stop moving forward and the people around you seem to be doing so at the speed of light, you can feel very alone, lost, and frustrated. Hearing about how great other people’s lives are going only reminds you how much ground you have to make up, and how much living you have to catch up on. And no matter how hard you try to get on with your life, you can’t. You are limited by external factors, or internal factors, and more often than not, by yourself. Watching everything and everyone that you had slip away from you and move into the distance is difficult. Quite often people don’t even realise that you feel left behind. They are just carrying on with their lives as normal, and don’t see the things that we work so hard to keep from them. They are too busy swimming to see you get taken by the tide. The thing is, that there is a difference between living and existing, and people only seem to realise that when they stop living.

The worst thing about being left behind is the feeling that you will never catch up again. People move on and slowly fill the part of their lives that you used to fill. You don’t want them to, but there’s nothing you can do about it. When we don’t know how to deal with things most of us run a mile. Friends do exactly the same thing. When I first got sick and went into hospital my school friends came and visited me a lot. After two years in hospital how many of them did I still speak to? One. That was harder to deal with than being unwell. (People react the same to all sorts of illness, physical and mental. And bad news… And difficult circumstances…) I’d been there for them through so much and they didn’t know how to be there for me in return. Do I resent them for that? No. I didn’t know how to deal with me either. I would have walked away from everything if I could have. I just didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect to message them every day and not get a reply, to nearly die and then check my phone after two weeks and not have a single message asking why I’d stopped saying good morning. They carried on with their lives and forgot me. And I sat looking at social media sites and watched myself get wiped out of their thoughts. At the time I felt lost, and abandoned, and hurt. But I got new friends.

I basically started my social life all over again. I was scared to tell people that I was ill, but then I was in and out of hospital a lot, and dragging people along for ambulance rides when my heart gave up on being a heart, so I couldn’t really hide it from them. Yes some of them walked away (not everybody is going to stay), not everybody is able to deal with the stuff I’m going through. But I also learned that not everybody is going to leave you behind. I have about four or five friends. That is more than enough! They are the sweetest, most awesome people on the planet and I am honoured and amazed that they put up with me. We sometimes go for weeks without talking when I’m ill because they have their own lives, but I know they are always there if I need them.

When you get stuck in a rut and the rest of the world leaves you behind, some people will get stuck in the rut with you; some people will get lost with you; some people will drift in the current and link hands with you like otters do when they sleep so that you don’t drift apart. They just might not be the people that you expected to do that.

When people find out the ways in which my body is malfunctioning, they apologise to me on behalf of life (which I always find very sweet but also very amusing). But the thing is, the worst thing that ever happened to me has also turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. It might not feel like it most of the time, but if I hadn’t spent so long in hospital, or been forced to re-do my first year of sixth form, I never would have met the friends that I have now, or learned the value of friendship and all the little things that I used to take for granted. (There are so many negatives but I’m only looking at the positives right now, because they are the only things that I want to carry into the future with me)

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from” – Cormac McCarthy

Step 10 to getting out of a rut in life: 

Make a new path, make your own path. You might have to walk a few extra miles to get to where you wanted to get in life, but you will still get there. The harder you have to fight for something, the more you appreciate it when you get there. And all those people who followed their own paths while you were stuck in a rut… Well maybe someday your paths will meet again. And maybe they won’t; maybe, like me, you will meet a whole new bunch of people that you can’t imagine your life without. Right now things are rubbish, but they won’t always be. It’s just that everybody else only has a few steps left to go, and you have a couple of miles. Don’t panic about the destination yet, just enjoy the view.

Many situations are isolating and scary, not just illness, and the same applies to those situations as well. Being lost in life is a lot less scary when there is someone by your side. And if you’re lucky enough not to be stuck in a rut in life right now, then remember that.

(I would have posted this earlier but a) I’m actually pretty unwell today so I had to crawl across the room to get my laptop, and it took me ages to gather up enough energy to do that, b) my laptop is 6 years old, was dropped many times in its youth ,and recently takes about five minutes longer to start up every time I switch it on… d) I’ve been curled up in bed in a little bubble of Internet laughing at Jenna Marbles’ new video on my phone. It is hilarious. And I laughed so much that I used up all my energy and fell asleep)


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