Monday 27 November 2017

i know we've all seen better days: ten years of aly & aj

until yesterday i hadn't written in my diary (yes i keep a diary) for four days. to some people this would seem perfectly normal; maybe not the fact that i keep a diary, but that i'd gone four days without writing in it. however to me it feels odd; as someone who has obsessively chronicled every thought they've ever had since the age of eleven, the fact that nothing significant had happened for four whole days made me feel somewhat sad and concerned that life is passing me by, which is exactly right. 

for the last few months since graduating, my life has consisted mainly of working, coming home to sleep and going back to work, with the occasional visit from my best friend. on paper it's not a bad thing, and now i'm getting into the routine of going to work - nearly - every day (a result of doing double the hours my twelve hour contract stipulates), i realise that this is just the norm for the majority of people. but dealing with depression and anxiety on top of that leads to some pretty dark thoughts wherein i feel like nobody cares about me. even something as mundane as walking home a few weeks ago sent me on a nostalgia trip as i walked past the houses of people i used to be close with, and my old primary school, and i couldn't help but think of all the things i've lost over the last few years.

as i said, it's not a bad life, but when i think about how only few months ago i was working on my final project for uni and living just outside london, it's hard to believe it even happened at all. though i do appreciate being at home - it was all i wanted during my time away - i've gone from going out three times a week to hardly ever and i've realised i need a balance of the two to stay somewhat sane. despite my best efforts - attending speed mate-ing events and a few god awful socials - making new friends has been difficult, and it was only reading a man repeller article that reassured me other people feel this way. honestly, i blame films and TV shows for my unrealistic expectations of not just romantic relationships, but also friendships, as characters seem to walk into a new environment and instantly make lifelong friends. my disastrous and often cringeworthy experiences have taught me that this is absoultely not the case, and it won't happen straight away. despite this, i want to belive that there are people out there who would be interested in becoming my friend, and once i've fully recovered from the rejections i've faced, i intend to find them.

my job search is still on-going, though i've been rejected more times than i care to admit, and comparing myself to people i went to uni with has not helped. my negative thoughts do a great job of convincing me that everyone i know is having a better life than me, so it was only when i read a girl from my course's blog and saw that she'd left a decent-sounding job at a start up company and was attempting to go freelance as a writer that i realised we're all in the same boat here. and how's this for a laugh: the other day i got a letter from student finance, alerting me to the fact that from april next year i'd have to start paying my loan back... if i was earning over £25,000. at this rate i probably won't earn that in my lifetime, never mind in the next five months.

the only thing that has made life bearable has, as usual, been music. i was beating myself up about not having the motivation to write a post until i realised that it's only been three weeks since my last, and it finally made me dig out my notebook and start writing this one, which (annoyingly) i've had planned for the last few weeks. though things have felt fairly stagnant work-wise, my desire for new music has gone into overdrive. maybe it's due to my shortened attention span - thanks social media! - or maybe just that there's so many good songs being released lately. in the last two weeks i've probably obsessed over at least four different songs, and when i say obsessed i mean playing them on repeat all day until i get sick of them, before moving onto the next one. 

one EP that has remained a firm fixture in my headphones has been ten years by former disney stars aly & aj. i wrote about their comeback single take me not too long ago, but they released the rest of the EP a few weeks ago and i can't get enough. riding the wave of 80s-inspired tracks as seen - or heard - by the likes of the 1975, shura and carly rae jepsen, they discussed their love for the decade in this nylon interview, "making something old kind of new again" as aly puts it. by referencing the past their EP avoids falling into the trap of a certain ms. swift, whose latest album reputation borrowed heavily from current trends in music, "pandering to hip-hop’s cultural dominance while fundamentally misunderstanding its essence and basic appeal". picking a favourite song is hard but right now i'm leaning towards promises, a moody mid-tempo track detailing the fear of being cheated on. luckily this isn't something i've ever experienced, but have taken great pleasure in singing along to dramatically - often in front of the mirror, hairbrush in hand, no shame whatsoever - as if it was written by/for/about me. 

another song i can't get enough of is i know, another low-key affair that builds to a dramatic synth-laden chorus. though it was written after an acquaintance of the duo found out a friend had lost his battle with cancer, my interpretation of the lyrics was how hard it is for friends to understand my struggle with depression, sentiments echoed in the first verse; it's a state of mind that's bringing you down / so tell me what will get you out. if only it were that easy; sometimes even talking about how i feel is a struggle in itself and find myself re-tweeting self-deprecating memes on twitter instead. this carries on into the second verse; your light is fading out too soon / maybe if i could somehow feel this too? though i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, i sometimes wish they could experience things from my perspective. when i don't reply to a message for a few hours/days/weeks, it's not because i'm being rude, i just can't think of the right thing to say or simply don't have the energy to make conversation. reassurance comes in the form of the bridge; who's really gonna care about tomorrow? asks aly. it's gonna be fine / you're gonna be fine / we're all gonna be fine. i repeat this over and over in my head on the way to work as my anxiety over trivial things threatens to drown me like one of those huge waves that pulls you underwater when you least expect it. some days it works, others it doesn't, but it reminds me that every day is a new start and spending hours analysing that one stupid thing i said in conversation - that nobody else even noticed - doesn't achieve anything. 

closing track the distance hit a little too close to home despite clearly being written about a romantic relationship. again, the media places such importance on finding and losing lovers, but not so much on how to deal with long distance friendships and drifting apart from people you were once close to. aly & aj perfectly encapsulate my feelings towards this several times throughout the song. sanity kind of got away from me / calling up should've come more easily, goes the opening, perfectly describing the guilt i feel when i go weeks without texting a friend from uni. it should come easy but anxiety so often gets the better of me, convincing me that they won't care whether i send a message or not. next the pre-chorus; with the back and the forth / every hang up took the soul from me, reminding me of every time i ended a skype chat or drunken phone call from my best friend during uni. next the chorus; i keep on going the distance / time keeps on making me hate this, and i'm thinking of every trip i've made to visit my best friend and how bittersweet it was, the joy of seeing him tarnished by the fact it could be weeks before we meet again.

i understand that everyone's lives go in different directions but i can't help feeling like the transition to a new city and finding a new set of friends came so much easier to him, and having no other friends in our home town didn't exactly help. the bridge is where it hits hardest though; this heart never grew stronger / distance never grew fonder, just longer to wait. nevertheless, despite said distance we still have an almost telepathic connection and without me even having to say anything it's like he can sense when i feel lonely and need to see him again, and my phone lights up with a text telling me that he's home. (in that case, he's definitely due a trip back; it feels like an eternity since we last drank wine and laughed until our ribs ached.) 

so as it stands, things aren't the best, but they've definitely been worse, and i'll keep on trying to find out what it is i'm supposed to be doing with my life, deleting email after email filled with job alerts for positions requiring a minimum of two years' experience, and you can guarantee ten years will be playing in the background.

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