Hi! Instead of sharing my outfit of the day, or writing about a new hotspot in town, I wanted to write a more personal blog post today. The last couple of months have been really intense. As you may know, I’m doing my master in English at Ghent University at the moment, which includes writing a master dissertation. If you’re at the same stage in your studies, you will agree with me that this pretty much takes up all of your time. Although my social life didn’t fully die, since I did go to some good parties and made the time to hang out with friends this year, the two last semesters of my four years at Ghent uni have been extremely stressful and exhausting at some points. I often felt like I couldn’t fully enjoy the moments where I wasn’t working or studying, since my dissertation and the work I had to do for my other courses were somehow always at the back of my mind. When I was at home during the weekends, to spend time with my family and visit my grandparents, I often wasn’t really “there”. I constantly had something to worry about, whether it was an approaching deadline, or a chapter that I had to finish as soon as possible. A lot of the time, I was worrying about school related stuff so much, that I forgot what really matters in life.
I consider myself someone who enjoys the little things in life – taking time to prepare a nice breakfast in the morning, starting a book you’ve wanted to read for a long time, receiving a compliment from a stranger – but this year I have had a lot of days where I didn’t have the energy to do any of those, or where I felt so anxious that it felt like a better idea to just stay inside instead of leaving my room.
On June 26, I had my last exam. Two days after that, I had my wisdom teeth removed. The recovery took a lot longer than I expected, so I couldn’t start working on my master dissertation just yet (yep, still not done with it…), which made me even more stressed than I already was. Yesterday was one of those days on which I was constantly overthinking things that have happened in the past and worrying about the future. I felt exhausted (although that was partly because of the medication I have been taking after the surgery, and the fact that I still had to catch up on sleep after exams), stressed, and anxious. I planned to have a productive day and restart working on my MA dissertation, but I ended up doing nothing.
But … today! Today was a really good day. I don’t know how exactly my mood changed from stressed out to cheerful overnight, but it somehow did. I woke up refreshed, took a shower and put on some of my favourite clothes, and started the day with a morning walk. Instead of listening to music, as I would normally do, I left my earplugs at home and just listened to the sounds of the bustling city. I sat down to reply to some messages, but for the most part of the day I didn’t look at my phone too much. I had read some good things about a new all-vegan place that opened in Ghent’s historical city centre, so I decided to go there to have a coffee and work on my MA dissertation for a while. Whether it was the atmosphere of the cafe, the friendliness of the owner, or the fact that it felt good to be among people again after having stayed at home for too long, I got a lot of positive energy and actually had a pretty productive day. I returned home feeling satisfied, and decided to prepare a home made lasagna to end a great day (the lasagna turned out great, so I might share the recipe later!).
Nothing special happened, and I didn’t do any extraordinary things, but I felt really happy today. Some days ago I saw the movie About Time, which tells the story of a young man who learns that he can travel back in time. I don’t want to spoil too much, since I feel like you should really watch this movie (it’s on Netflix). It’s not only heartwarming, but it also comes with a very strong and important life lesson. What this movie taught me, above all, is that living in the past will not make us move forward, and that we should appreciate and cherish the moments with the people we care about, instead of worrying about what might or might not happen in the future. To use a quote from About Time: “Worrying about the future is like trying to solve an algebra problem by chewing bubble gum”.
At a certain point in the movie, the protagonist reflects on his ability to time travel and says the following sentence: “The truth is, now I don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live everyday as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day. To enjoy it. As if it was the full final day. Of my extraordinary, ordinary life”. You will only fully understand this quote if you’ve seen the movie, but basically he’s saying that the way we look at life has a lot to do with perspective. This is something I understood more than ever today. On days like this, I suddenly have these moments where I realise that even though I sometimes feel as if everything is one big chaos and that I can’t keep up with life, things are actually okay. I’m lucky to have a family that cares about me, the loveliest friends to talk to and spend time with, and the freedom to do the things that I like. It’s those little moments – those moments where I receive a text from my grandma asking me how my day is going, my sister telling me that I’m doing good, my parents sending me a card to wish me good luck with my exams – that make me realise that life is so much more than grades, exams, and papers.
The pictures that accompany this blog post are, once again, taken by Naomi. At first, I planned to focus on what I’m wearing on the pictures and create another outfit post, but I feel like the story behind the pictures perfectly matches the message that I hope to convey with this post. When I was walking to the campus for the psychology course that I took this semester, I passed this really nice spot where the ground was covered in pink petals. I took a picture of this, shared it on social media, and got a message from Naomi asking me whether I wanted to do a shoot with her. I picked out an outfit that I like, and the same day’s evening we took some pictures there. Although I generally find it hard to really live in the moment, this is one of those moments where I did succeed in doing that. We had a lot of fun playing around with the petals and were both very excited about how the photos would turn out. I had many, many deadlines approaching and things I had to do for school that week, but they didn’t cross my mind during our photoshoot. Moments like that, where I am truly living, are the ones I want to think of when I’m having “bad” days like yesterday.
I found this quote recently, and will try to remember it on one of those days: “Start romanticising your life. Start believing that even the smallest and mundane things are exciting and new. You have to, because that’s when you start truly living. That’s when you look forward to every day”. Similarly to the message that comes with the movie About Time, this quote is about living in the moment, and appreciating little moments of happiness. “Living in the moment” is something that, on days where I feel stressed, sometimes feels impossible. But I’m working on it. I have to remember that focussing on these small moments of joy can turn a bad day into a really good one. Again, it’s all about perspective. There will always be things to be happy about, as there will always be something to be grateful for.
I wrote this blog post two weeks ago, since I wanted to share these personal thoughts with you. I feel like a lot of people will recognise themselves in this. Many people are experiencing stress nowadays, whether it’s related to school, work, or something else. At some moments, it can feel as if the stress is taking over our lives and stops us from really living it – at least that’s how I felt multiple times this year. In the past weeks, I’ve had some more of these days, but I also had some really good ones. It’s important to remember that, although it might not seem so sometimes, there are always little moments of happiness to discover. ♥ I hope you manage to do that.
P.S. Go watch the movie About Time, it’s worth your time!
Pictures taken by Naomi De Kind