My belated New Year’s Resolution 2015.

I hate having so many ideas in my head, sentences and paragraphs that I think up while wandering about or going to bed, but then everything hiding away in corners of my mind when I actually sit down to write.

I think it’s because I feel so much pressure to write perfectly, coherently, interestingly and –this is the kicker– like an expert.

I’m 23. Yes, I know a bit more about life than I did at 13, but I’ve only been a full-blown adult (if I am at all) for a few years. I’ve only been in full-time employment for just under two years. My expertise on ‘adulthood’ and business is limited, and I need to stop holding myself to an impossible standard that is simply holding me back from things that I want to do, like writing.

Many people have noted before me that the young want to be seen as older and the old want to be seen as younger. I’m in a funny limbo where I want to hang on to my youth (because being a grownup is scary, you know) while also putting forth this experienced and knowledgeable persona. Why not embrace where I am now? Trying to sound like I know more than I do will be like putting on my dad’s suit jacket as a kid, with the sleeves reaching my knees (they probably still do).

I don’t know everything, and I can’t learn it all overnight. Expecting too much of myself will only burden me. If I only do something when I know how to do it fully, I will never do it. So my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 is to accept who I am now.

A sobering end to 2014.

2014 is ending in a way I never thought possible. My parents are getting divorced, and the circumstances around the divorce make things more difficult. I feel unsteady, my foundations shaken.

People may be surprised to read that being an ‘adult’ living in a different country does not make a divorce any easier. I almost envy my younger brother, who has witnessed the gradual breakdown in my parents’ relationship over time and has been expecting the divorce for a while. The news was ceremoniously dumped on me prior to my flying home for Christmas, so that I wouldn’t be surprised when I got there. I almost didn’t want to go home, but I did, and we managed to survive.

However, I sense that this whole ordeal is going to leave a lasting scar on my heart and mind. I feel myself readjusting my view of my parents, my sense of family and my priorities. I feel a little lost, as I’d grown up with my family unit being the only stable thing in my life (having moved between countries with friends changing year on year). I felt safer launching myself into the world with them as my base. This widening crack in the unit has destabilised the platform, and I no longer feel sure of what I’m doing and what I should be doing.

I’m now sitting in the airport in Frankfurt, waiting for my connecting flight to London (a whopping 5½ hours). I did not want to leave South Africa (as usual). I wanted to stay with my mother, who is now more alone than ever, having seen both her kids off at the airport at the same time. My brother is spending a few weeks in Milan with his friend before returning to South Africa to start university. He’ll be a four-hour drive from where my mom lives. We had to help my dad move out most of his stuff this past weekend, so my mom is going back to a house devoid of her children and her soon-to-be ex-husband.

My dad’s work is what started tearing our family apart, his job in another city meaning he spent less and less time with his family over the past year and a half. After being a part of this, I wonder whether I have put too much stress on my own job, to the disadvantage of my family and my happiness. At what point do you decide that while the work is good in one place, your heart belongs in another?

I’m reaching out now to anyone else who has experienced their parents divorcing in their early adulthood. How were you affected? Did you also find yourself readjusting your worldview? Did you do anything different as a result, and do you regret it? I ask these questions because the reading I’ve found on the subject is limited – only a single book on Amazon about adult children of divorce (ACODs) for a start. Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Top tips for living with Cold Urticaria.

Now that I’ve experienced this interesting allergy for the past three months, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about dealing with cold urticaria (an allergy to cold). Hopefully this will be of use to anyone else out there who finds themselves getting rashes and hives from exposure to cold.

  1. The itching does not go away simply by distracting yourself for a minute. It’s not like a mosquito bite. The only way it’s going to subside is if the area warms up. I have naturally cold feet, and I suffered through three very distracted hours last week in meetings because I wasn’t wearing my now customary two pairs of socks.
  2. Never, ever walk without at least socks on, if not slippers/shoes. Trust me, itchy feet are massively irritating and make you look very stupid when you find yourself hopping around because the movement is somehow soothing. As stated in the previous paragraph, I wear two pairs of socks, and now that it’s starting to get properly cold in the UK, I wear a normal pair covered by a thermal pair. Even then, I occasionally get itchy heels.
  3. The quickest way to help the itching subside is to deliberately warm up the area. I find running my hands in very warm water particularly helpful.
  4. Dry off properly after bathing/showering. I have learned the hard way to target my ankles and feet quickly.
  5. If you’re a girl, avoid shaving your legs, unless you like the feeling of hundreds of pinpricks when your legs get cold. It goes from being itchy to actually stinging when your freshly shaved legs experience a walk outside in the cold.
  6. Invest in thermals and lots of knitted layers.
  7. Stock up on scarves, gloves and hats/earmuffs. I’ve even considered getting a balaclava to protect my face, but I have yet to give up that part of my dignity.
  8. Avoid the direct path of air conditioners.
  9. If you can’t avoid air-conditioned rooms (e.g. your coworkers run on the warm side and like to keep the room cool), don’t forget to bring something warm wherever you go. Take it with you to any meeting rooms where the other members of the meeting want to turn the air conditioning on.
  10. Exercise is not your friend. I’ve discovered that I can be warm internally, but if my skin cools down, I’ll get rashes. This has been particularly annoying when walking quickly to places (I get warm, take off my coat and then get itchy), as well as when exercising. As your sweat evaporates, your skin cools, even though you’re so hot you’re sweating – vicious! I did a 45-minute workout on Monday in my heated house, and I had rashes everywhere by the end of it. A hot shower was very welcome.
  11. Medication does not work. This is my least favourite tip to write, as it’s the most disappointing. I have tried a few antihistamines, and none have controlled these reactions. Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, but I want you to know so that you don’t get your hopes up. I read a few reputable websites that claimed they’d work, but Dermnetnz.org (recommended by my GP) claims that 4 times the usual dose can work. For me it didn’t, so my GP has contacted a dermatologist by email to see if they have any further suggestions.

Please do let me know if you are also living with cold urticaria. Ask me questions, and I will try to answer as honestly as I can. We’re a rare bunch, so we need to help each other out!