Monday, July 18, 2016

Feeling a Failure

More often than not, these days, I catch myself wondering when I am going to be found out. When is someone going to realise that I am not a proper grown up and don't really have a clue how to achieve the things that I am theoretically already "supposed" to have or have done? How has my lack of certainty not been obvious to everyone that comes in contact with me? Where is this life I am supposed to have managed to create for myself?

I know that I am not the only one to feel like a bit of a fraud, wandering through life waiting for someone to point and start laughing. It isn't even like I have a great job/relationship/house/etc. to feel fraudulent about, either. The above response is one that I expect to get for just being me. Or rather, for not even being good enough at just being me.

We all make choices, and I don't regret mine when it comes down to it. But I do have a deep rooted fear of being a failure... which is also what I firmly believe I am in many respects. Contradictory as that may seem. Every time I take a step away from my life to look at it, all I can see are the failures... the things I have not managed to achieve. And as each year goes by, it gets harder and harder to justify to myself that those failures are not as absolute as they seem.

When you are younger, it is easier to tell yourself that it is ok you haven't found that job/relationship/income/home yet, because you have plenty of time to do all of that. "It will come," people say. And though I am hardly on death's door, I have reached an age that it is getting harder and harder to convince myself of that. What if it never does come? What if I have blindly missed my chances somehow or am simply never meant to have any of those things? What if, deep down, I really have just failed at this thing called life? At what point do you have to reconcile yourself to never having these things?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Comparing Me to Me

Comparisons will be the death of my self-worth.

"So, don't compare," you say.
"If you know how to do that, please teach me how," would be my response.

I have this strange binary that exists when I think about myself - especially my physical self.

On one hand, I can admit that I am not hideously unfortunate in my appearance. On the other, I have trouble acknowledging anything good and know full well I don't sit anywhere near the terribly attractive end of the scale. I can stand in front of a mirror and be sort of ok with what I see (if I don't look too closely or too long), but put me beside other people and the bile and vitriol I immediately douse my self-assessment in is astounding.

The same thing happens when I think about love. There is a part of me that refuses to give up hope that there is a chance someone out there could love me... whilst another voice is also constantly telling me that history has proven that no one ever could. 

And yes, this is a very me-centric circle of torment as well. I am fully aware of that. I see the beauty or appeal in the people around me (who are not all model perfect or with the soulmate of their dreams, I promise). I firmly believe that they are attractive and wonderful... whether they have found their own inner acceptance of it or not. So, I do try to bite my tongue when someone tries to tell me that they see something in me that I don't.

The problem is, I can't get past what I have become in relation to what I always thought I would be. As easy as it is to compare myself with the people around me and come up lacking, it is the comparison with the self that I am never going to become that fuels and worries me more. The effortlessly successful woman with the amazing guy, career, and twenty-five inch waist is never going to be me. And yet, I compare myself to her constantly.

In those comparisons, I am easily hideous. I am disgusting and barely worthy of pity. My inability to make myself better, thinner, more successful... anything other than what I am... is frustrating and demoralising. It is only that small contradictory presence (it isn't really a voice, as it doesn't speak up or make itself known very often... but somehow, I feel it is there) that keeps me able to walk out of the door when I have to. Or allows me to hold my head up when I am in public. And I am terrified of the day that that presence is no longer there.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The One vs The Many

 All too often at the moment, I look at the news and am overwhelmed with the scope of unrest, damage, pain, or other negative images and stories. And as much as I hate to admit it, it is often hard to humanise the stories unless I have a specific connection or insight to them.

The tragedy in Fort McMurray, recently, for example... I could see the horrible things that were occurring, but I didn't emotionally invest anything in the story until I began to think about the people I know who are there. Even though these people were not directly involved, I suddenly had an emotional tie to the whole ordeal and watched further reports with more of an emotional than intellectual involvement.

I question whether it is me that is 'at fault' for this lack of an empathic response or if it is a combination of being constantly exposed to similar stories, presented in fairly detached news reports,  and the general inability to connect with every story of loss or pain without losing your hold on yourself.

Sometimes it is too easy these days to disassociate. We are bombarded with images of pain and devastation and become desensitised to the actual effects. Why does it take terrible things landing close to home to make us respond?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Writing for good or for evil?

A long time ago, I jokingly (and lovingly) made the comment that some hockey players needed a picture book to remind them of a few little things that were integral to the game. "You are on ice. Ice is slippery," being the first thing that many seem to forget as they go to take off after someone and fall flat on their backs. In the same way, I do sometimes wonder if a similar guide for writers would be helpful. "If your main character is un-likeable, chances are, your readers won't like them - which might hurt the book," would be the first thing I would say. And for those who think that they can throw the rules of grammar out the window... think again, buddy. There are reasons that the conventions exist. Spaces, punctuation, capitalisation, all of it exists to assist the reader. The less the reader notices it, the more they can be drawn into your story. Yes, you are allowed to have your own idiosyncrasies, but you are not allowed to turn the English language upside down and ask your readers to read from right to left.

Sorry. I started to rant there. That wasn't the point of this post... I love writers. I honestly think they have accomplished something amazing if they manage to complete something and get it to a point that they want others to see it. It is something I could never do.

What I was trying to say was that I often feel like I am a bad person for caring about grammar, spelling, or story development. I don't expect anyone to share my enamoured view of character and plot tropes or my vehemence about the Oxford comma. But I don't want to feel ashamed of any of that either.

In an age of text speak and emojis, have I become a dinosaur purely because of my love of the language that has been somewhat overtaken by 'convenience'? Does my refusal to use numbers within words or remove all the vowels constitute a terminal disease? And as far as prospective authors go, am I smothering the creative genius that is distinguishing the good guys in a novel from the bad ones by the capital vowels used (or not) when referring to "ThEm" or "Them" if I refuse to accept that as a valid construct? If I prefer the sentence itself to make it clear?

When did wanting the quality of the story and the clarity of good prose to be the only champions a writer needed become a bad thing? Or have we become the old Vaudeville adage from Gypsy- "You gotta get a gimmick"? I certainly hope not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

On the Edge

I have had a funny feeling lately that I am constantly on an edge. It doesn't matter what part of my life I think about, an edge is there.

Emotionally, I have been teetering between futility, anger, dejection, and loathing just barely holding on to the fa├žade that I need to present to the world to function. Physically, my knees are playing up and my back has decided to spasm. If those go over the edge, I am pretty limited in what I am capable of. Mentally, I can't seem to do anything right at the moment, with the pressure of constantly feeling like a failure, or just not quite good enough at anything, mounting as each example of my ineptitude is tallied.

I know this is not a good place to be in any of the above respects. I can also understand why an outsider might not see things the way I do. But they don't have to live in my head or my life. And recently, I have not found many people who actually can understand how to empathise. Feeling isolated is making it all worse.

Every thing I do at the moment is a struggle. I have to convince myself to do things that should just happen. I have to convince myself not to do things that I know make it worse. (I am far less successful at this one. Damn my destructive behaviour patterns.) My self-worth and self-confidence have taken a massive beating and are clinging to life on tenuous threads. (Not that they have ever been excessively healthy to begin with!) And the sad thing is, I know a lot of it is in my head. Yes, there are external circumstances that are playing into the negatives that I am struggling with at the moment. Life is hard. I have chosen a specifically difficult path for myself. But being trapped in this loop is making every little thing amplified and harder to deal with, and I am slowly losing my grasp on the things that keep me me.

I am well aware that there is little anyone else can do to help - aside from handing me a massive wad of cash, a perfect career opportunity, a community to fit into and feel connected to, and a magic wand to take away all of the internal scars I battle constantly. (Somehow, none of those seems likely... so I am not holding out hope.) It has been a long time since I have felt that there is really something wonderful in my life... and a part of me no longer believes there can or will be again. But at the moment, it is still a part... which means there is still a part that hopes. A part of me that dreams of better times and bigger things. No matter what my past has shown me so far. So if you need me, I will be clinging to the edge of that hope too.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Angry Tears

Why does my automatic response when I get angry or upset have to be tears?

I have been involved in a couple of encounters lately that have made my blood boil. People have managed to get me riled up. And though I have managed to keep my cool during the encounters for the most part, as soon as the door closes behind me in my own space, I break down. And not just with soft, sweet tears. I mean, sobbing.

So, whilst I am thankful that I have managed not to break down in front of the offending parties (because that would invariably make me seen as the "hysterical woman" who can be dismissed entirely), my tears tend to fuel my anger... and then the anger fuels my tears... and so we continue ad infinitum. (Or at least until I manage to breathe enough to slow the process down a little and my mind is able to step away from the situation. Even I can't cry forever.)

And why do I have to react that way? That is what really annoys me. I have googled - and found nothing that really explains it. I have had sharp words with myself about not letting it happen again in future - but that hasn't worked. Time after time, I get so emotionally caught up in the anger that I shake with pent up emotion and then cry.

I don't mind crying when I am upset about something or when it is socially acceptable to cry, my issue is not with the crying itself. It is just that crying when angry undermines my position and makes it easier for my whole point of view to be pushed aside and disregarded. It hardly seems like an advantageous thing for my body to do. (That is one of the theories on why we cry... do your own googling and see.)

Gah. Sometimes the whole thing just makes me so angry I could.... cry.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Letter to the Divine Ms Midler

I know you have heard these words a lot over the last few months, but thank you.

I have seen the amazing connections you have made with the exceptionally lucky fans who have been a part of your meet and greet sessions, the touching stories that have come out about how you and your music have changed people’s lives, and the general joy that has been expressed at your embracing this tour.
Buying the tickets to your show was a momentous moment for me, but I did not realise quite how much of an impact the show – and you – were going to make on me until I was at the O2 tonight (July 18th) and you stood up from your opening reveal and took the stage for two stunning hours that were a masterclass in showcraft, talent, and a little bit of smut.  
As someone who has immersed herself in your career, I thought I knew what I was in for. I knew the music, had seen all the videos of your past concerts, and have even crafted two shows of my own that are dedicated to you and your career. Whilst creating and performing my ‘Bette’ shows, I have learned so much about myself as a performer and about myself in general. I have loved every (sometimes terrifying, occasionally demoralising, but more often than not exhilarating) moment of it. Without those shows, I would be a very different performer – and, I think, even a different person. So when the tears began to prick at my eyes for no understandable reason during the first two numbers (I managed to keep the waterworks at bay until The Rose… since then, I have been like a leaky faucet), I figured it was just the excitement that I was feeling at finally being able to see you perform live. But I was wrong.

I’d thought I understood just how good you are… but in that I was wrong too. And thank you so much for that.
What you showed me tonight has re-framed the performer I aspire to be. You were class, vivacity, sass, and an emotional wallop all rolled into one. I could easily wax lyrical about how amazing you were (and actually did, but deleted it for sake of brevity – why repeat what everyone who has seen your tour is saying?) but I want to go back to that thank you. Tonight you made me remember what it was like to feel completely and utterly in awe of someone’s raw (and so very polished) talent. You were a slap in my face… in the best possible way. I now remember, more than I have in a long time, why I love what I have devoted my life to and how much harder I have to work to stick with it and continue to grow, why I can’t let something stop me from at least trying to follow my dreams as far as they will take me.
There is so much more that I would love to be able to say to you… and even more that I would love to hear you talk about… but I hope that somehow, you see this, and know that there is one more life out there that you have changed intrinsically. And that I am so very, very grateful for that.