Awkward things.

Insert Fun and Games Here

It’s all very easy to wallow, but it’s no fun. I should know – I used to do it a lot. In my teenage years I was a Goth. Well, I was a miserable, spotty girl that wore a lot of black and hung out in the library, listening to songs about people as misunderstood as me. It wasn’t really that people misunderstood me; it’s just that the school popularity pyramid was a game that I didn’t want to play. My friends were in books. They solved mysteries instead of doing drugs and they had midnight feasts instead of dodging behind the bike sheds. I don’t even know if my school HAD bike sheds, that’s how often I went outside, but I do know that we had a ton of books.

So I read. I replaced the audio-sulking with new worlds and movies inside my mind. I wrote my own worlds too, mostly dystopian gloom lands, but we were reading Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Handmaid’s Tale, so technically I was brainwashed. It was a good way to get the darkness out of me. I spilled the sadness out onto the paper like ink, and, by the time I left school, I was largely cured. In the real world I made friends, people that I could laugh with, people who didn’t see me as a shadow, but as a person, and it made me realise that I was a person worth being.

I learned more from being happy and visible than I ever learned from wallowing in the dank pits of my murky brain. I learned that life was a lot bigger when you decided to live, rather than to lurk in corners waiting to cry. Yes there were disappointments, failures, fall-outs, break-ups, break-downs and deaths, but with every black eye, I learned to dodge that bit faster, and with every tumble, I managed to scramble to my feet quicker every time. It all goes around, it’s all a work in progress,  it’s all research, and people that you thought were above you fall pretty fast when the high school blue print fades.

When my dad died, I didn’t wallow. Instead I ate a LOT of muesli and took a LOT of pictures of myself in excellent lighting. Those are two of my favourite things and, if it had been possible at the time, I probably would also have kissed a LOT of men with beards and bought a LOT of novelty balloons too. Sometimes life is hard, but that doesn’t mean that it’s stopped working. You get up, dust yourself down, don some rainbow-coloured, fluffy leg warmers and smile, because every second is either used or wasted, and frown lines suck.

So the next time something bad happens to you, by all means, let the darkness out; scream, cry, draw, write or punch a pillow, but don’t let go of who you are and don’t hurt yourself, because you don’t deserve it. Then, and this is THE most important part, do something really silly. Do something that would make the popular girls sneer. Do the chicken dance, sing reaaaaaaally bad karaoke, wear every hat you own at the same time, write a Dutch opera about Barbie engaging in an illicit affair with a sock puppet, then act it out in earnest. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that life can be silly and fun and more than a little ludicrous. Then send me the video, because we could all do with a little Dutch opera in our lives.

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Blowing My British Trumpet

Ok, here goes… I am awesome! …I do apologise for that outburst of ego, I’m so terribly sorry- No! No, little man on my shoulder that hisses ‘manners’ every time I slouch or glance at my phone in company, (who strangely looks like Jeeves of Ask Jeeves fame) I am going to shrill from the rooftops I am going to blare out my achievements and I am going to start right now.

Disclaimer: I am English. This sort of stuff does NOT come naturally to me. Yes, the bumbling, Hugh Grant thing is a stereotype, but it’s a stereotype for a reason. I like tea, I hate confrontation, I don’t play croquet but I feel like I’d be awesome at it, I despise queuing, but I do it with gusto, and woe betide anyone that cuts in line, because, damn it, I’m British and I WILL grumble under my breath for the rest of my life. I will even tell my grandkids of that fateful day when some idiot stormed in front of me and received a jolly good glaring at. You have been warned.

It is a complete fact with evidence and statistics and stuff, (possibly) that we Brits suck at blowing our own trumpets, even when our trumpets are super shiny. I can verify this. Recently after writing 2000 words of novel and an article every day for a week, alongside my lame, but taxing job, I was asked what I’d been up to; “Oh. Nothing much.” Nothing much?! Like seriously? Are you sure, because I was there and my brain is withered and on strike for a reason. To me, nothing much means extreme vegging out. This MUST include: Junk food, (preferably unhealthy enough to have a Daily Mail article about how it is going to kill you, like tomorrow) a box set, (Atm, I’m pining for LOST.) and some kind of preening that can’t be done when busy, (think painting nails). Actually, screw even asking me at all, if I look like crap, I’ve been super productive, and if I’m ravishing, I don’t want to talk about it, just admire my eyebrows and leave.

So I’ve apparently been up to nothing much. And you, Mr Inquisitor, how about you? What warranted this question in the first place? What do you have to toss onto the table, like a dog with a drool drenched bone? This is always, always, ALWAYS the part where I realise that I have been up to more than nothing, because my achievements and doings outweigh theirs. But it’s not like I can go, ‘Oooh, actually, based on your lame story, I am freaking awesome, let me tell you how much I have actually been up to, now that I see that all you’ve done is hang out with your friends and not even finish a whole boxset.’ But all is lost, and I’m doomed to replay the incident until the next time my ego falters. Nothing much. D’oh.

I have this problem. Actually I have many problems, but this one is relevant, so I’ll ignore the rest for now, yay denial! My problem is that I compare myself to every female that is my age and star-studdedly-successful. I ignore everyone that isn’t a megastar and just stare, open mouthed at the shiny things. I always feel like I should be so much further along by now. I should be well-known, I should be more successful, I should be able to quit my job and live my dream. But my counselling teacher has this saying that ‘shoulds are shits.’ I like that, but I forget it a lot, mostly when I’m sad, and my lack of success smacks me in the face. But I have achieved, I have done amazing things, things that I didn’t seriously expect to do, (like write for Hello Giggles! Still smiling about that one…) and I tend to smother those achievements in doubt, which is like sad.

Not shouting about my achievements doesn’t make me look modest, it doesn’t make me look cool, (nothing will do that, ever since moustache-gate) and it doesn’t make me work harder. By not showing what I can do or do do, I am putting myself down. My silence is blanketing my awesome with blah. How does anyone know what you can do if you don’t show them? No-one’s gonna come up to you and be all like ‘OMG! I have never heard of you, but may I read your manuscript and please will you link me to everything you’ve ever done ever, oh wise, anonymous wonder?’ Although, that would be pretty sweet. It’s a very American thing to go around showing off your amazeballs, stuck under the same flag as apple pie and Dolly Parton. But those things are awesome, maybe it’s time to copycat.

So I’ve decided to embrace my star spangled-ness. The next time someone asks me what I’ve been up to, I’m gonna flick the top-hatted grump from my shoulder, toss on a cowboy hat and let them know exactly what I’ve done and how awesome I am. But for now, I’m gonna watch LOST and eat apple pie, (which according to the Daily Mail, causes 7 types of cancer, diabetes, immigration and homosexuality. Possibly.)

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