It’s Monday, a work day, and like every work day, I pull on a pair of soft black joggers. I own so many pairs of soft comfy pants, it’s as if I knew remote work was in my future all along. As for tops, however, I don’t ever pair black with black. My mother’s words linger in my ears ever since my angsty teenage years: “you look like you’re going to a funeral!” So on this day I choose the navy blue crewneck despite the clear mismatch, because who is going to see my anyway, except perhaps my do-good neighbor Lowell who rings my doorbell to inform me I have packages on my porch. As unkempt and tired as I am today, however, I may just let him yell his warning about porch pirates into my Ring doorbell camera.

I am yet again on this rollercoaster of emotion. I was on the top, I was riding the high for so long, but now I’m on a downward slope with an uphill climb ahead. Every day life feels so daunting again. I was so ready to embrace the new year head on with new social media and writing projects brewing in my head. I was working hard on bettering myself and maintaining an all-natural can-do attitude. But I was heavily triggered recently by what my be considered superficial things. That, mixed with good old Midwestern cloudy February skies, and I just feel…kinda blue.

There’s another reason that I chose this outfit today. It’s because it happens to fit, and every time I pick out clothing it’s a reminder that I am physically growing in the wrong direction. Being bombarded at the start of the year with so many body transformation success stories, and then comparing them to my own stagnant body habitus, I fell hard into a self-loathing spiral this year. I have been trying my best to be healthy. I stopped setting resolutions because the pressure usually backfires. But due to several different medical issues my body has not reflected my efforts. Though I am happy for the people who have succeeded, the younger person in me who was constantly reminded by the people around her that her body was never good enough is easily triggered by external influences.

My birthday is always another major trigger as it follows the New Year fairly quickly. Turning 39 was perhaps a warning sign: no U-turns ahead. I still yearn to feel young and relevant, but my body and society tell me I am no longer either of those things! I have started to utter phrases like “I don’t understand new music,” and “I don’t know what the kids are saying.” I had to google “No cap” and other such lingo because, what? What does it mean other than not having a hat? I laugh at myself-when did I get this way?

There was always a part of me that attempted to convince myself I would be fine with aging. Aging meant life still being lived, opportunities still existing, another day for an adventure. The little voices, however, are difficult to ignore. The whispers are compounding and the volume gains decibels little by little as my hairs grey and wrinkles appear around my eyes and hair grows in places it shouldn’t and leaves the places it should be (who knew thinning eyebrows were a thing I’d care about?)

I have surprised myself, though, with the lack of sheer all consuming depression that I’m normally weighted down by this time of year. There have been times when I am so utterly miserable I can’t even fathom waking up the next day. In my current state I can still enjoy life and look forward to being with my family and weekends and find a way to laugh each day. But there’s this looming sense of not being good enough, not having succeeded that is lingering.

I hope as the winter thaws into spring it breathes a newness into my perspective. I plan to continue to work on my health, to find activities that fulfill me. To leave behind the comparison game as best as I can and quiet the little voices that have travelled with me for most of my life. With a little bit of work and refocusing I hope to lift the veil of winter blue to be able to continue being me.