“Everybody gets lost somehow; it’s where we were meant to start”
- Zachary Britt
Last month marked the fifth anniversary of The Renegade Press, as well as the first anniversary of a friend taking his own life. I had originally planned on creating two separate entries to celebrate my achievement and commiserate the loss of a loved one. But after a few failed attempts to produce either piece, I eventually decided to let the month of July pass without posting at all.
In hindsight, I’m thankful for the writer’s block that stopped me from blogging about either occasion. It seems macabre to revel in the success of a site that began as a means of coming to terms with my demons whilst mourning the loss of a friend who never managed to overcome his own.
So much has changed in my life since I first started blogging in 2012. Over the last five years I have beaten anxiety and depression, watched my father survive a health scare that should have killed him, had my heart broken, received death threats from readers, published a book and severed ties with its producer, lost friends to suicide, and found a way to connect with perfect strangers across the globe through posts just like this one.
Although many of the moments that define me have been tainted with heartbreak; I have managed to find myself amongst the chaos and cacophony of life, and right now I am happier now than I have ever been. When I look back at my earlier work, I can no longer relate to the angry young man crying out for help through posts laden with vulgarity and angst. I’ve stopped writing about masks, depression and violence. The contempt that fueled me to create pieces with an acid tongue is long gone. These days I prefer to create posts about cultural acceptance, flowers, and a girl who has been a drop of honey spilled into my soul.
I still don’t know if I’ll get to celebrate Christmas a day early with her; or if she’ll let me be hers. But the hopeless romantic in me hopes that one day I’ll be able to write another post about her. She just has to tell me that she’s ready to open her heart, and I’ll sweep her off her feet and make sure they never need to touch the ground again…
A reader recently sent me a message to say that she was struggling. She said that her life wasn’t where she thought it would be; and that she felt lost. We talked for a while, emailing back and forth about our own experiences. I told her about some of my darker days, and she shared hers. When we finished talking, I told her that although it may not seem like it right now; she’s not alone. And she is exactly where she needs to be.
There was a time when I felt exactly like she does. I was lost and alone. I was confused and I couldn’t see a way out of the sickness that was inside my head. I used to write horrible posts about death, depression and loneliness as a means of coping with a feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I thought that blogging about my despair was a healthy means of expressing myself. But it wasn’t. Because when those close to me expressed their concerns about my words or behaviour, I would shut down and become even more volatile than I already was.
I spent years thinking that I had found a way to manage how I felt through writing aggressive bullshit. But I was disoriented, journeying down a path of bitterness and depression. Eventually I became so lost that I couldn’t even see where I had come from. Chris Nicholas the young man with the world in front of him was gone; replaced by a boy so angry and afraid that people constantly felt the need to ask if he was OK.
But then something changed. I stopped barreling down that trail of heartbreak as fast as my legs would carry me. I looked around and realised that I had no idea who I was, what I stood for, or what the fuck I was doing with my life. I began to understand that perhaps I had always needed to become so lost that I was forced to start over.
I realised that maybe losing sight of who I was could be the best thing that ever happened to me.
When I started over, I had a chance to learn from my mistakes and become the one thing that I had always wanted to be: happy. That’s not to say that I suddenly became the best-selling author that I always believed I would be by now, or that I’ve settled down and started a family, brought a house, or seen the world. I still have a day job, I’m currently trying to convince a girl that I’m worth taking a risk on, and there’s still so much of this world that I’m yet to experience.
But what it does mean is that by becoming lost I realized what true happiness means to me. I now understand how wonderful it feels to be able to share myself with the world like I do, and that it’s a gift to have found a place in the lives of so many people. And I recognise that there is nothing more magical than the moments you spend with your loved ones, or with someone who just smiles and takes your breath away.
It’s been almost two weeks since I last spoke to the reader who inspired this post.
But I’ve thought about her a lot since then. I’ve thought about how the moments that have pained me in my life allowed me to reach out through time and space and connect with another soul who was going through what I had. I’ve thought about how alone I used to feel, and how I never want anyone to feel like I did. And I’ve thought that maybe by acknowledging that sometimes we need to become so lost that we’re forced to start over, I could show the world that it’s alright to not be OK. And that things can, and will get better. They just take time.
If you’re reading this post and you feel like you’re lost, or alone, or that the world is pushing down on your shoulders so hard that your spine may break; I want you to take a deep breath and tell yourself that everything is going to be OK. If you’re not brave enough to do that just yet, then allow me to say it for you: You’re not lost. Not like you think you are. You’re finally at the place where you were always meant to start. Now that you’re there, it’s time to begin moving forward so that you can understand what it is that will truly make you happy.
If that’s to write like I do, then pick up a pen. If it’s to have a family, or to fall in love; then get out there and find your drop of honey and allow them to fall into your soul. Once you’ve figured out what it is that you want in your life; do whatever you must to make that dream a reality. Because even if you fall a little short of that fantasy, you’ll find contentment in your efforts. I promise.
Five years ago when this page started, I thought my happiness would come through being a best-selling author, and that anything short of that was failure. I never imagined that I would be twenty-eight years old with a day job, writing about honey to make a beautiful girl notice me, and producing books and blogposts in my spare time. But now that I’m here, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I closed out out my first ever post by saying that I wanted to “look depression and misery in the eye, and tell it to fuck off”. But I don’t need to do that anymore. When I started over, I learned how to beat depression with kindness and human compassion. So instead of beating my chest and ending this post by saying that I’m not lost anymore, I’m going to tell you that if you’re struggling like I was, it will get better. You’re not lost. You’re just at the place where you were always meant to start from.