So here I am. Aged 27 and wondering why, after the bumpiest rollercoaster ride of my life, everything is still at a complete standstill. It’s only fair I give you guys a little background, just so you can get to grips with my posts and where I’m coming from. Just to clarify, this is probably one of the gloomiest posts I will ever write!
Since July 1990, the curse of Middle Child Syndrome was thrust upon me, as my younger brother was born. This hit me hard I was always the baby of the family, but now my parents’ attention had been diverted and I was usually left to my own devices. I suffered badly with nightmares and panic attacks in the middle of the night. I spent the majority of my childhood playing with two girls. We’d talk about everything, laugh, enjoy (pretend) tea parties, play ‘school’ and do what most children do. In fact, I still believe I learnt a lot from them. I significantly remember the one day when the three of us were all playing ‘story club’ and my mum walked in on us. We carried on regardless, until my mum looked at me with an extremely concerned expression and asked, “Reena, there’s no-one in this room, so who are you talking to?” My bubble had burst, but it helped me realise the power of my own imagination.
I was always the black sheep from a young age. At school, while the girls were cooing over the boys, I had my head in a book. At home, everyone would be tucking into an Indian feast whilst I was pining for Italian. In fact, my birth wasn’t even normal as I came out legs first – (maybe this explains everything!) Somehow, I managed to get through my school days, using music and books to keep me company and form a detachment from the world around me. The words of Enid Blyton helped me forget the resentment I felt from being overlooked at home and school, as I instantly lost myself in stories of exploring, magic and amazing discoveries.
I realise now that my Middle Child Syndrome affected me more than I ever knew. The feeling of ‘never fitting in’ made it hard for me to settle anywhere. I hung around with the most random bunch of people at college. From a Goth girl that never spoke to a group of girls that spoke too much. Although I had friends, I was always very detached from them. I didn’t really speak to them outside of college as I was too engrossed in Nintendo, from the moment I got home. I’d sit upstairs for hours, not talking to anyone, losing myself in the world of Super Mario.
I somehow got accepted into the university I had applied for, Sheffield Hallam. Nearly a hundred of miles away from home, so it would be a complete culture shock to the sheltered life I lived at home. I did it. I lived, loved AND learned! I opened up, I laughed, I cried, I talked, I romanced and I grew. I found the real me and I loved her! Although my friends were all very different to me, we clicked. I learnt to share my good and bad times and became more streetwise. I even had some of my first love interests at Uni, which helped me mature and for once, feel appreciated. I had gained a new family. A family that cared, and took an active interest in my life. There were no walls around me anymore. I had found my identity and enjoyed every minute.
2008 came and I graduated with a 2:1 in Business Communication. Fuck. Me, the eccentric weirdo with issues had finally done something right! I went back to my parents’ house with no money, but beaming with pride at the amount that I had achieved, personally and academically. I left University knowing that I had my new family and identity to help me through any situation I was faced with.
I got my first job within two weeks of coming home. I was meant to be there for 2 weeks as a temp. I was there for 4 years and I made the most of every opportunity. Apart from my job, I hated life back at home as I had immediately become ‘middle child’ again. I was losing my confidence daily, and my relationship with my family wasn’t improving. In fact, it was getting worse as their expectations of me grew. My job and my Uni family were what kept me going. My social life was amazing. Out every week, dinners, drinks, holidays, you name it! I was enjoying life, the grown up way. Although I didn’t see my Uni family daily, they were in touch regularly and we would all meet up monthly for crazy weekends. Although life wasn’t perfect, I was happy.
That brings me to February 2012. The company I was working for went into liquidation, and we were all made redundant. After a horrendous six weeks of signing on at the local Jobcentre, (ugh!) myself and a few members of my old team were offered jobs by a similar organisation. I hastily went against my instincts, and accepted the job.
This was when life took a drastic change. I lost contact with all my old colleagues. My Uni family got into relationships and the phone calls stopped, texts stopped, crazy weekends stopped. I’d come home after work to hear my parents screaming at me, comparing me to every other 26 year old they knew – getting married, in successful jobs, buying houses etc. This became my day to day routine – hating my day at work, hating my nights at home, no-one to share my feelings with. Weekends came and went and I spent them in bed, not wanting to get out and face the world. Not even wanting to go downstairs and face my parents. I was resigned to the fact that I had failed at life. I’d look at my phone every few hours, just hoping for a text, a call, anything to make me feel alive again. Truth is, I wasn’t alive, I just existed.
I was determined to get my identity back, I hadn’t laughed in months. Guys didn’t look twice at me. In fact, I didn’t leave the house unless I was going to work or was dragged to a family do. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet anyone new, never mind maintaining a relationship. I was a prisoner, curled up in a self-made cocoon. I didn’t want to reach out to the real world, so I reached out to the virtual world instead. This is when I decided to create a Twitter account.
I know I will sound like a sad cow saying this, but Twitter has been the one tool that has changed my life. It has helped me realise that I haven’t lost my identity. I still have the crude and odd sense of humour that I discovered I had at Uni. I feel heard; I share my thoughts and have found like-minded people in the same boat as me. People that continue to inspire me and have a genuine interest in who I am. The greatest joy is when I receive tweets and messages from my followers, simply telling me that I make them smile! I, for one, know that making the smallest positive contribution to someone’s day makes all the difference.
November 2013 and I’m still in the same situation. Hating life at work, hating life at home, a little more contact from Uni friends, and a few rare holidays, but most weekends are still spent in my cocoon. In fact, on some days, the only conversations I engage in are on Twitter. The last time I went to the cinema was over a year ago and I’m applying for jobs in Sainsburys, just to get me away from my current job! That’s my life, in a nutshell. However, when I have a good day, it’s a really good day and I cherish every moment of it.
I want to break free from this state of depression, and I will. Right now, I’m surrounding myself with positive and strong people, whether on Twitter or in the real world. One thing I will say to everyone reading this and going through a similar situation is, don’t give up. No-one should expect sunny skies every day. Instead, we must reach and grab even the tiniest ray of sunshine, breaking from within the darkest clouds and make the most of it. After all,