It’s the last day of 2022 today. This year has flown by so rapidly. I noticed that I’ve only posted eight blog posts so far this year. That more or less reflects my year, in a way. In previous years, I’ve been quite active, but this year, not so much. Plans and goals existed in my head but didn’t materialize. I think I might be low-key burnt out at the moment.
It wasn’t a bad year, though. One of the highlights has been seeing Puk and Pippi grow into (almost) adult cats. They had their first birthday in August, and even Puk is filling up a little bit now. They’re such sweet cats, both of them. Very friendly, playful, and attuned. They are still best friends, and I’m so happy about that!
I have also been knitting more again, some larger projects, mainly with handspun yarn. I have hardly been spinning, though. Maybe I’ll pick that up again next year. Turning some of my handspun into garments and a blanket has been great.
Painting is something that I’ve picked up now and then. This time usually with real soft pastels. It feels so good to play with colours.
For my birthday, I got a beautiful pastel box to store my pastels in. It doubles as a small table easel. I will definitely continue painting like this.
My violin has also been a way for me to unwind. I’m still taking lessons, and I have finished Suzuki books 2 and 3 (and am almost done with book 4). My goal is to lay a solid technical basis this time. I could probably sight-read all the songs in the earlier Suzuki books, but that doesn’t mean that I have mastered the specific skills that are being taught through them. I’m working on making my bow hand more flexible and relaxing my left hand more. I’m also learning arm vibrato this time. And most of all, I’m practicing being patient and enjoying the journey. It’s wonderful to play, listen to, experiment with, and discover sound. And I’ve been to a concert by my favourite baroque violin player, Rachel Podger!
Because I was so focused on playing the violin, I have not been singing a lot.
So that’s what I did this year. Work, play the violin, knit a bit in the evenings, paint once in a while… Socially, I have not been very active, though. After the pandemic lockdowns ended, I was quite used to not going anywhere. I’ve been working from home for close to three years now, and only after two years, I felt as if it would be nice to have a meet-up with my co-workers. I’m definitely a loner – or even a recluse. That’s not new, but it was new that the expectations from other people kind of matched my needs. When everything opened up again, that changed.
It’s not as if I don’t enjoy meeting people. I do, I love people. In small doses. For a short while. And I need quite some time, space, and silence to recover from it afterward. I think that I have kind of lost some social resilience that I had built up pre-pandemic. It’s not easy to deal with all the social and sensory input again. I’m easily overwhelmed. Especially now that my symptoms are being worsened by perimenopause kicking in.
My cycle is still regular, but I have been having brain fog more frequently for the last two years or so. My PMS is more like PMDD and kicks in about ten days before my period. Ovulation is like mini PMS. All in all, I only felt okay for about one week per month, the rest of the time I was sluggish, achy, super sensitive to sounds, depressed, and oh-so tired. Then I finally got covid, after evading it for over two years. Even more brain fog.
I started to take the pill again in August to see if it would help, and that lifted the brain fog mostly, but now I feel kind of flat, still tired, and I have gained 8 kilograms back because I have way more difficulty resisting cravings. It’s a work in progress, and I hope to find a better solution. But I don’t have a lot of spare energy for things that I used to just do without thinking about it. Social stuff was already difficult, and now it’s even worse.
Where I tried to meet all those social expectations previously, I have now accepted that I am different, that I have different limits and needs than many other people, and that that’s okay. I’m neuro-spicy, after all. I might try and get an official diagnosis this year if I have the energy for it (for my own peace of mind, mainly). But until then, I’ve decided to accept what I already know is true: it doesn’t work if I force myself to keep up with what society thinks is normal and to be expected. It’s not just a matter of pushing through discomfort to build resilience.
This realisation is not entirely new, of course, but I’m finally believing it. And I’m less apologetic. During this year, I felt less and less at home at the company I was working for. I started looking for a new job when it became clear that no matter how much I would put in, the company was not valuing me. So, in October, I was interviewing with another company. During the interviews, I was completely honest about my energy limitations – they are the reason that I work part-time, and that I don’t want to go into the office every day. I presented it as a fact about me, something that I have learned to work with. That was accepted as just how it is, and I got a job offer because they still thought that I was a good match.
I started working for the new company on the first of December, and it has been a great experience so far. My colleagues are friendly, the company culture seems a lot nicer than at my previous company, and it’s also great to be able to speak my native language again. For the past ten years, I have worked for companies where everybody communicated in English, and even though you can get very good at a second language, the smaller nuances that you can easily express in your own language don’t always come across. So, all in all, it has been a great step for me.
Looking forward, I think that 2023 will be about choices. Choosing what to do and what not to do with the energy that I have. Choosing what is important to me. Choosing to cultivate healthy habits again. Choosing what to do about perimenopause and neurodivergence. Choosing which hobbies to invest my time in. And about owning those choices.
It will also be about finding the balance between challenging myself and respecting my limits. Finding the balance between being a social creature and needing lots of alone time. Accepting that I do my best and that it is enough and good enough.
Today I felt like singing this song for you that is close to my heart. I wish you all a happy and healthy 2023!