I don’t know what happens next

Every morning, my alarm goes off at 7am. Every morning, I snooze it four times. Every morning, I crawl out of bed at 7:45am, hating my morning sloth self.

Every week, I tell myself I’ll join the free circuit class run by the Australian defence force. Some days,I even go as far as throwing my sneakers into my car on my way to work. And sixty-odd weeks in a row, I’ve not gone.

In my inbox, I have a growing conversation thread where I email myself names of places to pitch articles to. The thread, called “to pitch this month”, started in March, and contains nine messages, most of which I haven’t dared to open after sending to myself. I don’t know how many, if any, of these places I’ve pitched.

I have been thinking this week about an aphorism I saw online once and jotted in a notebook: we struggle when we resist what it is. It’s making me think about the need I have to be in control and the arbitrary goalposts and markers I throw up to make myself feel like I’m working towards something; like I’ve driving where we’re going.

But perhaps I’m forcing myself into the current.

I can wake up easily at 8am, so why do I set my alarm for earlier? Why am I still hanging onto an idea of how early it’s proper to wake up, chastising myself for sleeping in and fearing laziness and un-productivity instead of simply recognising and honouring my body’s needs?

Why do I get myself worked up thinking about all the exercise I haven’t done, spiralling into thoughts about how undisciplined and lazy my absence from circuit makes me, instead of taking pleasure in the slow morning walks and gentle yoga classes I do enjoy?

And why do I set arbitrary rules for myself? Send three pitches this week, learn to drive a manual car by the end of August, resume Tetun classes two lunchtimes a week, wake up with first alarm… what is any of this for? What do I seek to achieve?

The next six months of my life seem uncertain and I suspect in settling plans for myself I’m grappling for control and surety.

I don’t like not knowing; I don’t like feeling out of my depth. I get embarrassed easily and I hate being wrong. I’m also an insecure perfectionist who worries constantly that I’m not being a good friend, not being kind not doing a good job,that I’m saying the wrong thing, saying too much, that I’m being too selfish, that everyone’s secretly talking about me, that of course no one’s talking about me because who the hell thinks about you that much you selfish git. (Living inside my head is a delight sometimes). As I write this I’m trying to distract myself from a lunch I’m about to have with a friend who’ll give me some critical feedback on an article I wrote this week, which is churning in my stomach even though the conversation will of course be fine.

This week Felix and I will hear some news that will help us decide what we do next year. We may stay in Dili for a little while, we may both move to Australia, I may go back alone. I don’t feel particularly nervous about that decision; every option sounds good, but I’m preoccupied with what I’ll do in whatever place we end up and how the things I’m doing right now point me towards a bigger goal (or not).

If I want to make a real go of freelance writing, should I go back to Australia and study journalism? Or should I move to Jakarta, where there might be more work? Or should I continue in communications work, and make time each week to build skills in design or filmmaking? Should I study development so I better understand how to work without harm here as a foreigner?

Is it selfish to remain away? Should I return to Perth? Will I end up in Canberra? Maybe I’ll study public policy. How can I best do something meaningful; how can I made a difference? Do I want to write a book? That sounds hard. Is the font on the blog annoying to read?

This feels extremely 15-year-old-girl diary and I’ve written before about how I feel like my early 20s have been the moody adolescence I missed out on as a do-gooder perfectionist teen following a straight narrow line.

I now feel at a crossroads; I’ve felt unsure for a long while. And I’ve been trying to force it into something I can understand; palatable confusion with an evacuation route. A don’t-worry-Mum, cute kind of uncertainty. Soph’s just figuring it out exclamation mark.

We struggle when we resist what it is.

I spent all of last week in the mountains, in Aileu and Ainaro on a field trip with work. On cold evening alone in my guest house room I read books and wrote notes and thought, and despite my utter reliance on my colleagues for transport, meals and plans paradoxically felt freer than I have for a long time. I wasn’t trying to plan anything,I wasn’t deciding how things would be, I wasn’t trying to force it. I surrendered to what was.

An intention, as we coast into the second half of the year, in this brief golden week were everything’s possible and I don’t yet know.

Don’t resist; surrender. Don’t fight it, don’t fight it, don’t fight it, if you don’t know what it is. From tomorrow morning’s alarm on.

3 responses to “I don’t know what happens next”

  1. […] On setting arbitrary rules to feel in control (and should I move to Jakarta?) […]


  2. […] Resisting what it is and being comfortable with not knowing […]


  3. […] myself for a year: don’t try and resist what is. I’ve written about setting myself arbitrary goals and standards to make movement; about how normal it is to not be good at things; about lowering impossible standards and accepting […]


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