By writing this blog I am either going to be a massive hypocrite or it will be a monumental action in the movement of the game of life.
We all play the game, we’re all pieces on a chessboard; we all move the marker on Ludo and we all fight for that one special piece when it comes to Monopoly – for me it was the dog, I don’t know about anyone else.
Whatever your chosen piece for a boardgame the rules are the same…
Win win win!
Don’t try and lie, it’s true, no one enters a game to come last, no one wants to lose, we all want to come first and stare at the people behind us from the finish line and feel even just a miniscule of satisfaction so that we can tell ourselves…
“…this time, we did not fail.“
No one ever says…
“Well done for coming last.”
They always say…
“You tried your best.”
But if we’re honest with ourselves, what we really hear is…
“You tried your best…BUT IT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH WAS IT???”
I’m not being mean, it’s just my version of reality and if you disagree with me that’s absolutely fine. I am not naïve enough to think that what I’m saying is the truth because it might not be; it might just be my own opinion but to some extent, it is just as valid as yours.
Today I didn’t intend on writing anything. I was going to have a weekend off from blog writing because all I’ve said this week is…
“I’m running out of material.”
But am I? Who knows? I’ll let the reader be the judge of that one.
In just over a year I’m going to be forty – god it kills me every time I say that, simply because anyone who has known me for over ten years, will know that when I hit twenty-nine I freaked the hell out! I spent an entire twelve months panicking about turning thirty. I kid you not it was awful, I was awful!
For me, becoming thirty was worse than any episode Bernard had to throw at me. It was worse than hospital, it was worse than losing all of my friends to an illness that I had no control over. It was worse than being left on the single’s table at a friend’s wedding and being told you didn’t make the cut for bridesmaid because your self harm scars would look ugly on the photos (yeah I’m not joking, that did actually happen).
When I looked at my life I was ashamed, I was embarrassed. All of my friends were in a much better position that I was. Better jobs, boyfriends, girlfriends, they owned their own houses, they drove a nice car – they could actually drive! They had kids or were having kids or were in a position to have kids. I had none of that that. I was stuck in a job I wasn’t much good at, even though a monkey could do it for the same amount of peanuts – my old colleagues will agree with me, it wasn’t rocket science, again, I’m not being mean.
Everyone else had everything you’re supposed to have by the time you reach that milestone of turning thirty. I stuck out like a poor unfortunate thumb…
Mentally ill, single, rubbish job, can’t drive, lives with her mum.
The epitome of failure in the eyes of the successful.
When I was about twenty-seven I went to the theatre with a friend. I was working part time in a kid’s clothes shop. We went to see Billy Elliot. Going to the theatre always sparks of my creative side. Once I wanted to be on the stage, then to the side of the stage and then, to have anything to do with the stage would have been lovely. But for me, at that time I was a simple shop assistant; my friend on the other hand had a super high-profile occupation, she wasn’t a surgeon, but she changed lives.
We were driving back from the theatre and we were talking about how good the show was and I made the mistake of saying how I wished I could be part of something that incredible. I remember her response as clear as day…
“You’ve got no excuse to just be working part time. You haven’t been ‘ill’ for a while now and you’ve got the time on your hands to be doing something more worthwhile, you say you’re a writer so you should be doing something with your writing.”
I remember instantly thinking – after “ouch”…
“Well that’s your birthday present gone from twenty to a tenner!”
I know some people reading this will agree with her, she was my friend telling me how it is and there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s friendship! Well, a word in your ear…
Do you think the unfortunate haven’t heard that before? Do you think we haven’t said that kind of thing to ourselves? Trust me, when you feel like a failure compared to everyone else, that kind of thing is part of everyday living, it’s like brushing your teeth, it’s like flossing, pouring the milk on your cereal, tying your shoelaces on your way to your mediocre job…it’s a way of life!
Now let’s get real, the world has been throwing milestones at us long before we turn thirty. From birth your baby is supposed to crawl by a certain time, walk by a particular age and be speaking full sentences before you’ve even thought about introducing them to the potty and if your kid doesn’t do these things, your kid isn’t half as good as the kid four doors down with the parents who have a jacuzzi in their back garden. Don’t lie mums, I know you’ve all read those “how to” books.
The truth is, there is always someone telling us that by a certain point in your life you should be doing a certain something.
When I was sixteen I was getting ready to leave school, I was putting my record of achievement together and probably going through some form of depression at the same but the biggest thing of all was every day I would look in the mirror and I would feel panic. I panicked because in my eyes I was sixteen and I hadn’t done anything worth shouting about. When I looked at the contents of my record of achievement I didn’t see anything. No Nobel Peace Prize. No Man Booker Prize. No Medal of Honour or Outstanding Contribution to Music Award. Vice form rep was as close as I was ever going to get to any kind of societal recognition. And just so you know, I was robbed of head form rep, the guy my form voted in never even went to the meetings, he was too busy smoking by the bins!
I’m not going to list my every failed attempt at a milestone, god that really would be depressing and I’m trying to turn the frown on this blog upside down, remember, this is not a space for self-pity because public self-pity is a request for admiration and ego-boosting and that’s just not what this is about.
Today, this is me saying I’m having a bad day. I’m grumpy. I’m moody, I’m short tempered and I’m just fed up, I’m not going to lie.
Today I am fed up because I have a massive spot on my face that I can’t get rid of! I’ve tried every acne trick in the flippin book and nothing is working…
(NB – not asking for tips, trust me I’ve been fighting off mini mountains since I was ten years old)
I’m fed up because I miss my cat. When everything else in the world was rubbish she was the one constant thing who never passed judgement. And today, when I really need her fluffy tail in my face and her little head pressed against my chest like she was trying to listen to my heart, she’s not here.
I’m fed up of lockdown. I just want to go to M&S and have a bacon butty and a cup of tea with my mum.
I’m fed up because I want to go to the bakery round the corner and get a Bakewell tart and not feel like I’m committing a crime because its not really an essential item.
I’m fed up because apparently I look like I’m in my twenties, and don’t get me wrong I am grateful for that, believe me, I am. Every night when I wash my face I look in the mirror and I am happy that I don’t have crows feet yet but when I looked in the mirror this morning I swear to god I could see a wrinkle right near my mouth!
I’m fed up because when everyone was turning thirty I felt like I was being left behind but now that I’m facing forty, I feel like I’m being forced to leave my youth behind and I’m just not ready to do that.
They say age is just a number. They’re right, it is just a number.
- How many boys did you kiss before you were 12?
- How many GCSE’s did you get?
- How many A-levels did you pass?
- How many driving lessons did it take for you to get your green ‘L’s?
- How many times has your heart been broken?
- How many bedrooms has your house got?
- How many kids have you got?
How many times are you going to torture yourself with the answers that come up to the expectations of our everyday society?
Because that’s all it is, it’s everyone else’s view on how we should live our lives. We put pressure on ourselves to match up to that expectation, whether it’s what we want or not. We still strive for it in someway and we burn ourselves with self-pity because we forget the things we’ve done and the things we’ve achieved in terms of our own lives.
I look at my thirties and I wish I’d done all of the things I have when I was in my twenties. I wish I’d met Matt earlier so I could get married young. I wish I had been quicker to learn how to manage Bernard so that I wouldn’t have spent my twenties trying to lead a life of apparent normality. I wish I had been a speaker sooner and had the ability to believe in myself so that sometimes life wasn’t so hard. Sometimes I just wish things were different.
Having said that, I also know that what we have is never enough. If I could drive I would love a baby blue Fiat 500. But who’s to say that once I got my Fiat 500 I wouldn’t then want a BMW? Then a Mercedes? Then a Porsche?
I’ve got a four bedroomed house but I’d love a bigger back yard.
I’m in a job I couldn’t be happier in but I want more money in my pay packet.
I’ve got hair on my head but I wish it was thicker.
I’ve got a decent laptop but now I want a better one.
I’ve got a stoma but there’s something wrong with it so I want a new one.
Truth is, we always want more. We always want something better than what we already have. We’re never happy with just our lot and that’s just human nature.
We compare ourselves to others because…
“Keeping up with the Jones’s”
…is drilled into us from birth.
Today I was writing the fiction story that I started last year. I will never do anything with it because it’s just for me. It’s my release and something that has kept my head above the water for months. As I was writing it I could feel those burning, hot water, things they call tears trying to push their way through my eye sockets and I realised that I was thinking of the things that I can’t control. I found my brain inflicting self-hatred, reminding me that I will never be normal and I will never have the things others have so easily. I may get what I want, but it will always be a battle because life has always been a battle.
And then I thought…
“Stop it. Stop comparing yourself to others.”
…because I am not “others”, and would I even want to be? Would I really, honestly want to be someone that I am not?
On Wednesday at work, I was having a natter with a colleague and we were discussing how people spend their lives comparing themselves to others. Suddenly I realised that as humans, we spend so long comparing the things we have and haven’t achieved that we forget to actually bask in the glory of the things we have. She then quoted, probably one of the most wise and profound things that I have ever heard…
I can’t help wishing I’d heard that when I was thirty, then things might have been different. My friend printed that quote and it now takes pride of place on the wall facing my desk.
Today I had to remind myself of this quote and of the conversation we had because she made me realise that, although I may not have achieved all of the items on the world’s invisible achievement checklist, I have done some things others will never do.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget about what we have because we’re too busy trying to better them. How can we appreciate what we have if we don’t even acknowledge how great it is to ourselves?
Now before I end this, I am under no illusion that this little epiphany might not last. I might post this and read it a week later and think…
…delusion and illusion are part of life and I know when we think we see things clearly it’s often a moment in passing but, in preparation for that moment of self-doubt I want to tell myself and anyone else who has made it to the end of this blog…
You are an individual, you are not the same as anyone else and nor should you strive to be…because my friend…
…there is no comparison.
Dedicated to my friend at work, you turn my frown upside down, even if this piece doesn’t reflect that; thank you for making things clearer…