Those of you who regularly pound the London pavements may well have come across “notes to strangers”; little quotes strategically placed on lampposts, post boxes and bins throughout the city.
This is a project headed up by a local artist, designed to make people feel less alone in this oh-so-big and scary city.
I have always seen them and had a little smile to myself about the messages they conveyed, but it was only last weekend that I saw the below quote and it really struck a chord.
It may have been the incessant drizzle and dull, grey skies or, the result of a busy week without enough sleep, but I was most definitely feeling a bit sadder than usual and this quote made me think more deeply about why.
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I pride myself on being a pretty happy person most of the time. I have been referred to as “jolly Jenni” on more than one occasion and feel forever grateful that my life, friends and family enable me to feel like this most of the time.
But, as much as this is a blessing, it can also come with pressure. I feel like I always need to bring my A-game, and any “less than 100%” moments potentially hit harder.
It’s like I am letting people down with my lack of happy vibes.
I am, however, not a superhero and so – as we all do – I occasionally get hit by a little bout of unexplained sadness, which serves to knock me off-kilter.
For the few hours that it sticks around, it makes me feel rather uneasy.
I think that this often comes down to the fact that I am single in my 30s when a lot of my friends are settling down.
I have a brilliant, independent life in central London with friends, travelling, cooking and a demanding job that I love.
But in these occasional low moments, I suddenly start questioning EVERYTHING…
Will I ever settle down as society dictates that I should? Why are so many of my friends married with multiple children, seemingly living the dream, while I continue on my one-woman mission to absolutely live the best life possible?
(I must stress that these things do not bother me on a day-to-day basis, merely on these rare sad occasions!)
It does not happen often and when it does, I have a sure-fire list of things that I know will cheer me up.
Getting some good old endorphins flowing is key, therefore a sweaty spin session or swift 50 laps of the pool usually serves to perk me up.
Follow this by a good old natter with my sister (insert relevant feel-good friend or family member here), some quality time with my kitchen aid, whipping up some baked delights and a good sing-song, and I am right as rain again; ready to keep on living my best life.
For those of us in our 30s and 40s who are maybe not quite conforming to what is seen as the societal norm of settling down, starting a family and entertaining the in-laws to a roast every Sunday, it can sometimes feel like we are being left behind.
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Many of our friends are popping out baby number two and choosing where to live according to the best schools; whilst we go about our lives looking after number one and (quite frankly) having a lovely time.
I am lucky enough to work here at Flash Pack, where I’m surrounded by like-minded people, who – like me – aren’t necessarily following a conventional path in life.
In their 30s and 40s, they may well be single and travelling the world, rather than settling down with 2.5 kids and a mortgage.
I’m reminded of the fact that we are a growing demographic, who would do well to shun societal expectations in order to enjoy life to the full.
In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, I just wanted to send a little reminder to all of you out there – no matter what your situation is – that even the happiest person in the world feels sad sometimes.
And more importantly, that is totally OK.
Images: Jenni Shaw and Shutterstock