I usually do one of these rambles on the new-year. But this year seems a bit different.
I turned 30. I’m an adult, (at least numerically). The only thing that’s changed though really, is that I pretend a lot these days. What if writing the usual ramble exposed the pretence, I thought.
Then I thought, fuck it.
This ramble is for those people who have failed relationships, have had terrible jobs, have made big mistakes, and, most importantly, are still a bit lost. If that’s you, good work. Being lost is the best thing that will happen to you. If you think you’re not lost anymore, then you’re screwed. Here come some things I think I’ve learned.
People are unkind, but only when they’re scared.
Brizzle chaps will remember that bit of graffiti in the bear pit that just said ‘Relentless Optimism’, as you stepped out into the grey chaos of Stokes Croft.
That’s the best bit of advice I’ve ever read, and I read a lot. The world is fucking mean. By 30, you realise 90% of the people you know don’t really give a toss about you. They don’t really know you in fact. They get on with you because your lifestyles circumstantially cross over for a fleeting time.
And in time, when (if) you meet up with these people again, you have to revert to being whatever person you were during that brief time you had something in common. However, the 10% you meet that are still friends when all that convenient lifestyle shit is over are pure gold. You can’t make those friends by arranging awkward lunches, going shopping, having similar jobs, all that crap.
They make the 90% who say they’re are proud if you do well, but only because it makes them look better, and who are only kind when you feel bad because it makes them feel better, worth knowing. Those people have their value too. Their value is to make you realise fitting in is exhausting, and actually, you don’t really give a shit.
Don’t expect anyone to bail you out.
Most people, no matter how much they know and love you, or how well you think you know them, won’t help you. They have their own stuff to do and worry about.
Some people will help. They’ll support you, they’ll notice when you are sad or struggling, without you having to make it explicit. But most people won’t pick up on your hints. They won’t have heard, and if they have, all they will see those hints as is an inconvenience, and they’ll see you later, when you’ve sorted it out.
If you are a kind person, just bear that in mind.
Don’t judge. No matter what people do, they had a reason.
People will do awful things. They will make you sad, and they will make you mean and bitter if you let them. You’ll do the same to people back, even if you don’t realise it, or mean to.
However, everyone does what they do for a reason. Most of the time, that reason isn’t because they are a bad person. You can paint anything anyone does as awful if you are on the receiving end, and they can do the same to you. If you are kind to people, whatever they’ve done, most will respond well in the end. If they don’t, don’t hate them, just accept you’ve done all you can and move on. Just stick them in the forgettable 90%.
You can run anywhere, but you’ll still be there.
The saddest I have ever been was in the most perfect place I could imagine. That’s why I went there.
I escaped to Barbados, and swam far, far out into the sea, early in the morning. I’d messed up everything at home, badly. My family are from the Caribbean, so that’s where I thought I’d go.
I swam because I couldn’t sleep, and looking back at the pure white beach, the palm trees, while the sun came up, it was the most perfect place a person could ever be. And all I wanted to do was go home.
Sound like a whiney bastard? Yeah, I know, but that’s not really the point.
The point is you can look fine on the surface. You can buy everything. Drink everything. Be in all the best places. You can have the most perfect looking life, job, relationship, whatever. If you’re using all that stuff to hide from something in your own head, it’ll never work.
Wherever you run to, geographically or otherwise, you’ll still be there, snuggled in with your destructive side. However you manifest that, it’ll be there until you sort it out. So sort it out, then run, if you feel you still want to.
Stop saying yes to everything because you have to prove yourself.
That means friends, deadlines, favours, relationships, jobs… but it’s hard to stop. In your twenties, you have to prove a hell of a lot. You agree to a million things you shouldn’t, because you haven’t the confidence to say no. You may miss the opportunity, the chance to learn.
And that’s great, in a way. Agreeing to everything teaches you, slowly, to realise your worth as a person, and how much your time is worth.
Just be wary of trying to prove yourself, whether to partners, bosses, or any number of other people who charm you, flatter you, and who you feel are doing you a favour by giving you their time.
Women especially, I speak to you. Switch it around.
Are these people really worth your time? Are they really being kind, or do they see that you want to try your best, and can therefore politely undermine you for less that you’re worth?
You are as valuable as they are, whether you feel like it or not. And they are as unsure of themselves as you are too; they’ve just learned to hide it better.
No one is a grown up.
A long suspected accusation, but it’s only in the last year I’ve realised it really is true. And while terrifying (there really is no one to help you, you’ll just have to muddle through yourself, sorry) it’s quite a nice discovery.
First, there’s that bit where you suddenly understand your parent’s motivations for things, and realise that they hadn’t a bloody clue what they were doing either. And actually, that’s okay. They muddled through in their own way.
Then there’s work and all that other adult shit you pretend to understand. You spend forever working up; dealing with business, bosses, estate agents, bankers, you know, people above you, real adults.
But when you stop finding them intimidating and listen, you realise they haven’t a clue what they are doing either. They have learned to articulate themselves better, and to stop fiddling with their hair when they talk. That’s it.
At some point, those scary ‘grown up’ people realised they needed to learn the lingo. They started posturing. Standing in a position that takes up space, rather than making room for others.
Again, women generally seem to learn this a lot later than guys in the workplace, if ever.
N.B., Any blokes that are reading this and doing the ‘ah, a feminist rant’, sigh – Stop there. It’s not. Shy guys do the same thing, but I am a female, and therefore, I’ll write as such. That’s all I know!
When people intimidate you, just remember, it’s all blag. Every one of them feels like they are pretending, same as you.
Sometimes you will feel small.
That’s because you are. And if you ever feel big and important, you’re probably an industrial unit*
There are many people doing things that are as important as whatever you are doing, if not more so. That can seem daunting or depressing, but it really isn’t, not at all.
It’s horrible when you feel small and lost and like no one is looking after you, but that’s what being an adult is, and that’s great as far as I can see. Once you realise you are small, in charge of yourself, and that everyone can easily get on without you, you can be happy.
And you can do whatever you like.
You probably won’t make a lasting mark. Most people don’t. But what does a lasting mark mean anyway? If you can make someone else happy, just by being kind, and live a life where you are pretty happy with yourself, even though no one is looking, you’re onto a winner.
So why write this opinionated crap?
I feel better for starting 2016 knowing that if all the things that I worry about day to day go totally wrong, it’ll be fine.
If you think I’m being cynical or self indulgent, that’s your problem.
If someone reads this and feels better too, the relentless optimism was worth something after all.
*Whoever did that Bear Pit graffiti, thanks.