It’s time to erect those maypoles and get festive with fire and ribbons, people!
Happy Beltane/May Day everyone!
It also happens to be my birthday! Woo Hoo! Another year older, and still not a clue how to adult properly. Hey-ho, maybe I’ll have it figured out by next birthday? Anyway, seeing as it’s the only day of the year where I get to act like a spoilt knob-head (get me CAKE Husband), I decided to throw caution to the wind and head down a self-absorbed topic this week… a subject that I’m obsessively—naively—passionate about.
For anyone who hasn’t read my novel’s blurb or seen the Watership Down-esque-bunny I have as my main background picture (drawn by the very talented Patricia), death plays a central role in my writing.
I can’t say I’ve had much experience with it, though. I’m still alive… sooo... that puts an end to that avenue of exploration. I’ve only been present at one person’s passing. And my brief, but comprehensive, university module on death and dying was never fully absorbed in the grey matter. I’m notoriously bad at remembering information. Just ask my library colleagues… whatsaname and thingamabob.
For the sake of staying inoffensive, I’m not delving into any religious territories either… whether you believe in a God or a Giant Spaghetti Monster… it’s all good here.
However, given the tentative subjective nature of death, I can’t promise to not step on anyone’s emotional toes, but, I’ll try not to be an upturned plug in your barefooted path or a memento-mori-mate sucking the soul out of your party.
This isn’t a blog about grief or loss. Well, maybe just a teensy-tiny bit. But if you chose to carry on reading, you shouldn’t notice me too much. I’ll try to remain unobtrusive.
Death is the one unbending inevitability of life that’s guaranteed (unless you’re planning a cryogenic funeral—I applaud your optimism, my chilly friends); but, for those who don’t have a gazillion quid and a big freezer filled with liquid nitrogen, death is something most of us feel a little bit uncomfortable talking about.
Why not pull up a chair, take a seat, and let’s get snuggly together.
From the moment we harness self-awareness, we begin to understand the consequence of life: it all has an end sometime… and no, I’m not talking about the sun turning into a red giant and swallowing the earth in a few billion years’ time… that’s just freaking mind-boggling. I’m talking about the knowledge of our own mortality.
My jovial flippancy isn’t born out of disregard. It’s simply grounded in a place of acknowledgment. There is nothing I can do about that part of fate. One day, I will die.
We do, however, have choices on how we view that certainty: freak the hell out, philosophise and consider what mortality means, or ignore it and crack on.
I’ve visited all the above emotions. I think most people have; depending on what mood I’m in, I dip in and out of each of them. Hey, I’m no guru, if I were, I wouldn’t be sitting behind my laptop typing this whist sipping a cold cup of tea— I’d be on top of some mountain, folded in the lotus position, watching the sunset and making ‘ommm’ noises.
The only consistent and comforting conclusion I’ve come to about death is this: it’s inspiration is unending;
death enables us to create beauty out of seeming ugliness.
Think of all the amazing literature, incredible art, emotive music, and philosophical debate death’s ever-presence has stirred and nurtured.
Really, think about it…
And before my husband accuses me of being a pretentious horse-head, I’m not just talking about the kind of intellectual you’ve-got-to-have-studied-a-decade-to-understand-it kind of art or even the spiritually-altering Alan Watts kind of thought (although I happen to think his lectures are flipping awesome). I’m talking about all the stuff we don’t even think about: from TV black comedies, to mind-candy pop songs. Death’s inspirational impact is everywhere.
Now, this doesn’t lead me into a segment where I talk about my own literary work. Sure, death inspires me to explore what it means to be human, to question life and all its brilliantly floored nuances; but, as a result of my writing, my own personal journey has turned out to be a little less epic.
I’ve realised that I have a choice in how I view life; I get to choose what I do with my limited time. It doesn’t matter what happens to us, what external forces whack us across the head with their copper-based frying-pans. You get to decide how the hurt of metaphorical-metal impacts your noggin. That biological clock never stops ticking… do you really want to waste it rolling around in hurt?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not after leaving an awe-inspiring legacy, or even trying to reach nirvana. That kind of pressure is crippling. Why would I want to do that to myself? I’m an emotional hodge-podge of crazy at times— I don’t think I’d be writing if I wasn’t. But writers get to make good stuff, helpful stuff, out of craptastic moments. And that’s pretty flipping awesome. Everyone should try their hand at getting creative!
Moving beyond the narcissistic ramblings of my own mortality, I’m only briefly mentioning the other side of death: losing someone you love.
Because I’m not an insensitive twat to try and deconstruct that kind of personal pain.
And besides, I promised this post wouldn’t be morose. And I keep my promises.
So I’ll leave you with this…
When my Grandad’s ashes were being sprinkled off Hunstanton Cliffs in Norfolk, I was a little tired, a little cold, and I yawned. I didn’t expect there to be any air trapped in my gullet. But there was. And out popped an accidental burp right in the midst of Grandad’s eulogy.
If you’ve read my post about humiliation, you’ll probably realise I have gas problems. What can I say? I eat a lot of fibrous foods.
Anyway, I got a few dirty looks, and I’m not ashamed to admit, being twelve-years-old, I cried a little harder for my awful faux pas; but, in the end, I came to realise: Grandad would’ve seen the funny side. He would have laughed. And so, in the end, that's what I did.
Humour in the bleakest of moments isn’t inappropriate or disrespectful. It’s like the flicker of a candle in a shadowy cave. It might not seem all that useful; it certainly won’t show you the way out of that dank cave. But it’s there to remind us that even when everything seems dark, light still exists.
Embarrassment is universal; whether you live in an icy igloo or a gazillion pound penthouse, everyone at some stage of their life will have experienced the soul-crushing, sweat inducing, obliteration of humiliation.
But like all personal experience, it’s relative; one person’s idea of complete ruination is another’s fodder for growth—perhaps a chance to laugh over a pint with a friend.
Sure, humiliation can (and should be) life changing but I don’t think it has to be the essence-shredding, soul-tarnishing beast that devours self-worth like a ravenous zombie.
It can be something else. Something worthy. Something brilliant that offers far more than it steals away.
Until I attended school, I’d never really had the pleasure of complete annihilation through humiliation; granted, I probably assisted in dishing out some humiliating moments… said and did things that mortified my parents (I wouldn’t have been a good daughter if I hadn’t… after all, it’s in a child’s job description to be a total tool when your parents are least expecting it).
But if parenting is done with cotton-wool kindness, little kids don’t tend to feel the shameful-heat-of-doom rise in their cheeks… they won’t have had chance to learn its incinerating effect.
But sooner or later, you’re going to experience humiliation’s hot-fingered embrace. And if you’re reading this, then I’ve no doubt, you’ll likely be able to recall your own little face heating, heart pounding, mind scrambling moments of cringeworthy memories.
I certainly have mine and, because I have little-to-no filters, I’d like to share a few with you…
The first time I wanted the ground to swallow me whole was initiated by a lovely teacher; due for retirement in 1984, I’m going to go out on a limb and presume she is no longer of this world. But in her final year as an educator, and my second year of schooling, she taught me more than just the three R’s. She taught me that people can be utter twats.
I wasn’t the brightest of buttons. Painfully shy, I struggled to grapple the basics. And like a lot of kids, I never asked for help; instead, I sat quietly chewing my pencil and daydreaming. Who knows what I was thinking about— clearly not schoolwork.
One afternoon, the teacher called me to the front of the class, opened my book to the unfinished page of unintelligible scribbling and held it up for all to see. But, because she was born from Satan’s loins and Medusa’s stony womb, her point needed an extra little boost… and that came in the form of a good hard whack across my thighs.
My five-year-old self was mortified. I had officially been baptised with fire in the ways of humiliation and shame (yes, corporal punishment was meant to have banned by then… but she was old-school and those kinds of dragons, although rare, were still about).
What did I learn from that lesson? AVOID HUMILIATION.
AT. ALL. COSTS.
Not long after, in the middle of a school assembly, my rectum failed miserably to keep watch over dignity—and I let one rip during the lord’s prayer. Given that I was sitting, cross-legged on a hard floor, the vibrations of my butt-cheeks offered a little vocal boost to the offending noise. The entire school heard it. Heads turned, kids giggled and eyes focused in my direction.
But it didn’t end with the impending knowledge that I’d be ridiculed at playtime for being Mc-Farty-Pants. The Headmaster stopped mid-sentence, lowered his hands from prayer and in a thunderous voice asked, ‘who did that?’
Well, I did what anyone would have done in my position… I quickly pointed to my best friend sitting next to me and laid the blame on her.
Yep, my previous lesson in humiliation had taught me well. Not only did I deny the undeniable, I added a truck full of shame in blaming my friend too.
Why was I such a skinless loser?
Because I wasn’t used to embarrassment, I didn’t know how to deal with it.
For anyone who hasn’t guessed by now, I’m no longer the jerk trying to shift blame (unless I’m with the dog, he doesn’t mind taking one for the team).
The uncomfortable truth about humiliation is that you cannot avoid it— try, and it’ll only mutate into something more sinister, something that’ll make you want to drown in a bottle of vodka—or medical grade alcohol.
Embarrassing yourself is fine. Really, what’s the worst that can happen?
You’ll have stories to share and laughs to be had. Feel the warmth of friendship in the mutual bonding of embarrassment.
Nothing beats recalling my husband’s accidental bollock exposure on a trip to the supermarket (he learned that going commando with a dodgy pair of flies is only going to end one way); or, the time I brought a friend back to the house and failed to announce her arrival as I opened the door. Left alone with a computer, there was only one thing the husband was going to be doing. And it wasn’t research on cake making!
Humiliation is something to embrace. You might turn beetroot, want the world to forget you exist for a moment, but being able to laugh at yourself is an empowering thing.
There will be times when others try to use it as a weapon. You know the kind… we’ve all come across the vindictive turd jockeys whose well-rehearsed belittling techniques make the air around them stink, like halitosis.
But their stink loses potency… especially if you’re already used to a little bit of self-induced, healthy humiliation.
It’s all about confidence. Knowing you're not the only one. And perspective.
I’ve managed some spectacular demonstrations of personally-induced humiliation as an adult. A rather drunken night in a tent with my husband about seven months after our first son was born is an excellent example…
It was our first time alone together. I say alone, what I really mean is alone in a packed campsite on the outskirts of Newquay. After an evening of frivolous drinking and dancing, we returned to our tent (for anyone who hasn’t been camping before—tents can be deceptive—you forget that the millimetre of fabric has zero soundproofing).
A drunk couple, alone for the first time since having a baby… it doesn’t take a genius to work out what went on in our tent.
I woke in the morning with a hangover that would have put the Incredible Hulk in A&E. And memories of things I’d said. Things I can never repeat for fear of my kids’ reading this one day. Things I know that an entire campsite would have heard.
Was I embarrassed? Hell, yes. Did I feel the humiliation in the same manner as I had aged five? God, no.
Apart from the fact that I’d never see any of those people again, I knew that my vocalisations weren’t unique. I was not alone (okay, I know I was with the husband—but that’s not what I mean). Chances are, they’ll be a dozen other stories five times more embarrassing than mine (scrap that, I’m not sure there will, I know what I said and it wasn’t remotely sexy).
There are countless times I’ve managed to make it into the red-faced book of records. A few are too obscene for me to write about here... maybe I’ll post some of them in another blog after a vodka… or perhaps write them into a novel for a bit of personal distance.
Not doing things through fear of making yourself look like a tit will probably result in a rather boring, sedentary life. You’re guaranteed to make a fool of yourself at times. Even when you don’t mean to. It happens. Why not take those extra chances and embrace the humiliation when it comes? You can’t control external forces, but you can control the way you react to them. The more you get out there—the more you humiliate yourself—the less it will bother you. Trust me!
For most of us fantastic mortals, life is a complex beast. Modern living can sometimes feel more like a sideshow juggling act rather than the exciting, surprising and brilliant journey it should be. If you’d like to join me, I invite you to step outside of the normality box for a moment, and I’ll try my dandiest to show you how I see it... in a nonsensical random way, of course.
Imagine if every facet of your existence was represented by a ball.
And Health, etc.…
The list is extensive and unique for all of us, but for the sake of simplicity (and length of this blog), I’m going to stick to the basic things I have experience of.
At different times of the day, depending on what you’re doing, you’re going to be juggling those balls—throwing them in the air and catching them with the aspirations of maintaining the status of ninja-clown.
Only, you’re not, nor should you be, a martial arts expert dressed as a children’s entertainer.
Because it’s plain weird and wrong… it doesn’t work, does it. So why do we try and aspire to be something that clearly doesn’t mesh?
Let’s pop our balls down for a moment and look at good them.
Life’s balls aren’t created equally, and, some are more pleasant to handle than others (and no, much to my husband’s disappointment, I’m not talking about the flesh variety); they come in an array of weights and values, often given an importance that doesn’t always appropriately fit.
Here are a few I’ve named for myself, along with the consequence of what happens when my fingers get greased with the oil of worry, doubt and negative-ninny-isms, and the balls slip out from my grasp…
Shiny glass balls— these are my emotions. It might seem like these precious, delicate balls should never be broken, but it’s okay. If they weren’t meant to break, they would have been made from carbon-fibre. If you drop one and it smashes, sure, it’s a mess that’ll need urgent attention before it impales an unsuspecting foot (usually mine or the husbands); but, once it’s swept up, there are plenty more in the cupboard to replace it.
Lumps of lead— these are the housework balls. Housework is the mother of all things I hate, but a necessity that needs to be done (no one wants to be known as a scutter, but there’s a clean house and then there’s insanity). You try to throw these too high? You’ll drop it. Probably on your toe, too. You don’t have to juggle these lumps, really, you don’t. Plop that big brick of boring down and turn it into something more useful—like a door-stop. For me, if clothing doesn’t come out of the tumble dryer un-creased, it doesn’t get worn. And the charity shop will eventually receive another donation (charity shopping is underestimated, guilt-free purchase-power). Everyone’s a winner!
Squidgy balls of wool— work. For some, work might be represented by a lump of cold metal, but for me? Work is a squidgy ball of niceness (that occasionally get a little itchy when things go wrong). Have I mentioned I work in a library? I don’t take this one for granted, I know I’m lucky. I love my job, and so it’s easy to pop one of these balls in the back pocket and crack on. Sure, it might change one day— my colleagues might leave (who’d want to stop working with me? Inconceivable, I know). But, for now, it’s good, so I’m embracing it.
Rusty barbed wire balls—tricky things. There are some balls that are universally horrible. Be it death, illness, loss… I could list all the shit things in life that constitute these barbaric balls. But I won’t. All I can say is that these balls should not need to be juggled. Ever. They need careful, gentle and considerate handling.
Little bouncy balls of bright colour—these are my kids, and husband (the fourth child in our three-child household). For others, they might represent the furry/scaly/feathery variety of children. If you drop them, they bounce in all kinds of seemingly erratic directions; you end up chasing them around the house, often in a futile attempt to control and contain them. When really, you need to sit back and let them do their thing—hey, they’ll stop bouncing eventually.
You see, juggling is hard enough… but doing it with balls that aren’t even equal in weight, material or size? We can’t expect them to stay airborne for long; they’re going to get dropped.
So why do we do it?
I’m sitting here, trying to write this blog, watching the Thick of It (everyone loves a bit of Malcolm Tucker, right?), talking to my husband and petting my dog; I’m doing all these things, at the same time, because my kids are away for twenty-four hours, and this is the only time I’ve got to write, get my comedy fix, and spend quality time with the husband and pooch. Really, this particular juggling act is small potatoes compared with most days. We do it because we need to. Modern society insists on it. We’re just too busy to stop and live in the moment. My advice? Take one ball at a time and give it your all. That’s why I’m wrapping up this blog now… Malcolm Tucker and the husband are far too distracting.
Life isn’t about trying to mindlessly juggle miss-matched balls. It just doesn’t work. There are too many things that can, and will, go wrong.
Life is about holding one ball at a time and paying attention to what it means to you. Sure, you might have a hundred things to do, but… There. Is. Only. One. Of. You (well, at least until cloning becomes a thing).
Do you have a favourite ball analogy? Maybe one that you can’t abide? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this topic. Please, let me know what you think!
Like demonic twins from a Stephen King novel, Rejection and Self-doubt go hand-in-hand. And seeing as I’ve babbled about self-doubt, I thought it only fair to give rejection her time in the spotlight.
Any writer/author will tell you that rejection is part of the journey into traditional publishing; it’s inevitable that you’re going to receive rejections. Some nice, some not so nice, and some aren’t even real rejections at all… they’re simply long, unanswered silences...
…watch those tumbleweeds blow.
But rejection isn’t exclusive to writers, it’s something that happens to everyone, daily. And it can lead to all kinds of craptastic feelings and responses. But I’m here to tell you, writers and nonwriters alike: just as we need love, we need rejection too.
Imagine an alternative reality where rejection was an abstract concept… go on, it’s not that hard…
Think of those kids, the ones whose response to ‘no’ is to whine, kick and projectile-vomit pea-soup until a parental ‘yes’ is produced—don’t get me wrong, when I’m tired or off-par my kids can sniff out weakness and grind me down with the efficiency of an industrial sander. But that’s just parenting, right? We all have our off days where our mini-dictators get the better of us. What would happen if those pea-puking kids grew up in our alternative universe, the one that’s devoid of rejection?
That’s right, the world would be populated with ‘narcissistic turds’ with about as much social grace and compassion as seagull shit. So the next time you’re rejected, know that you’re playing your part in humankind’s continuation of empathy, compassion and growth!
However, there are a number of issues I think need addressing.
If rejection hits us hard, it’s usually because we’ve placed an intense want or desire on something: a date, or job, or even finding out that the chocolate bar you left in the fridge has been eaten… okay, chocolate theft by your husband isn’t rejection; but still, it’s disappointing.
The amount of time, energy and promise we place in our desire are equally reflected in the emotions we experience from the rejection—say, you really, really want to be accepted on the next NASA space mission to the moon. Everything you do, you do for the astronaut cause. You live and breathe space stuff (technical talk, I know). You train for years, study and learn until you’re known as ‘Brian the Brain’; then, when it comes to the final crunch, you’re rejected. Your face doesn’t fit, you’re too tall, too short, you have a dicky heart—it doesn’t matter what the reason is. You’re rejected from becoming the next Neil Armstrong—or that other guy, who no one remembers the name of. That’s going to suck. Big time.
In the process of pursuing your crazy dream to become a spaceman, you met amazing people, travelled to exotic locations, learned incredible new skills (hey, being able to subject yourself to ridiculous g-forces has got to come in handy somewhere); in essence, you went on an adventure. An adventure you wouldn’t have experienced without putting yourself out there, and going for it.
Being rejected isn’t the end of the story. It’s just part of it.
What would you rather do: live a sterile, mundane life without risk to avoid rejection, or try your hardest to achieve those goals, regardless of the outcome?
If you said ‘achieve your goals’, then that is the correct answer. Well done! Brownie points awarded.
There’ll always be an element of luck, no matter what you want to achieve, who you want to date, where you want to be in life. But that’s okay. Certainty doesn’t offer much in the way of inspiration or motivation. Life would be tedious and boring if we knew we were going to get what we wanted. The element of risk is exciting. Invigorating. Just remember: every time you get rejected, you get to learn something new… like, what mascara doesn’t run when you cry for two hours straight because your tutor ripped your work apart with the same kind of compassion that a cannibal shows his/her next meal. I’m not bitter. Honestly!
Rejection is a perception that’s associated with a lack of worthiness. And worthiness is… self-defined; it isn’t dictated by acceptance, it’s created, by you, in your head. So, give your head a shake and change your perception.
I might not make it as a traditionally published author any time soon. But that’s okay. Sure, I’ll feel the sting if I’m rejected—maybe spend a few days rocking back and forth in my locked bathroom—but it’s all experience I can learn by. My worth hasn’t altered because of it; in fact, I would say my worth has grown because of it—each and every time I get rejected it gives me one more string to my bow of learned shit.
If all else fails, there is another option. And no, it doesn’t include hiring a hitman to take out your competition or the person who rejected you. I thought I’d gather up alternative substitutes for the term ‘rejection’ to try and give a less dejecting spin on it. Words are powerful things, and some words make you feel rather shitty just hearing them; rejection, I think, is one such word. However, there were no substitutes that I could find. Nothing. Not a sausage to describe rejection that didn’t suck.
So, in the interest of helpfulness, I made up some of my own… feel free to use them as you wish.
So if you don’t get that dream job as a naked artist, a fish inspector or playground tester, and your world feels like it’s falling apart… try replacing ‘rejection’ for one of my suggested alternatives.
“The agent I sent my manuscript to womble-bombled it.”
“I got burty-bipped for primary dancer.”
“The guy I asked out flabber-jabbered me.”
See! Rejection doesn’t sound so bad when you put it like that, does it? Okay, I might not be the most inventive of word curators, but what’s stopping you making your own stuff up? Words, like music, can and should be played with—by everyone.
Go out there, live, get flabber-jabbered, learn from it, and enjoy yourself! At the end of the day, when the final curtain is called and it’s your time to wave goodbye, what would you regret more: putting yourself out there to experience the brilliance of life, along with all its rejections, or living like a hermit in a cave built with the bitter bricks of ‘what ifs’?
We all suffer from it; It doesn’t matter if you’re the next Hemmingway, Picasso reincarnate, or Joe Blogs with a
passion for beer and porn. Self-doubt is one of those weird, uninvited emotions that strides in, jacks itself into your senses, and then sits back sniggering at you… you can’t get the words out, the paint won’t flow or, well, you know what happens to dangly bits if too much booze is in the bloodstream, right? Not a lot.
It can be crippling and debilitating.
But, self-doubt doesn’t have to be the evil floppy monster who whispers nasty comments in your ear. When you really think about it— when you chop out all the noise and nonsense— self-doubt is more like an untimely bout of wind than a demon weighing on your shoulder.
We’ve all been there…
You knock on the door of someone you’ve briefly met. Someone you view as important. Someone you want to impress; then, just as the door opens, when you hear the latch being turned, your lower intestine rumbles, and out pops a trouser-trump.
No matter how long it took you to prepare, how well-rehearsed you thought you were, self-doubt strikes: was it a simple gust of nothing… or something else? A silent-but-deadly, or the beginnings of a pyroclastic flow of disappointment and humiliation?
That’s the moment—the critical space between possibilities— the one that you’ve magically decided will path your entire fate from here on out.
A) Crack on, in the knowledge that everyone farts and poops?
B) Escape to a monastery, shave your hair, change your name to Hugo and indulge in some self-flagellation?
It’s easy: You hold your head high, smile, and blame the whiff-of-woe on the dog.
Why blame the innocent, randomly placed dog? Because, unlike us, dogs don’t give a monkey’s balls how others perceive them. So… be like a dog.
Stripped down, self-doubt is nothing more than a fear of stinking to high heaven when you’ve tried to path your footsteps with perfume and charm. It’s the loss of control; the worry of how others will see us. It’s voluntarily standing in a courtroom dock, to be judged by a panel of jurors, when no one has even accused you of a crime.
Sure, we might make mistakes: turn out a bit of work that garners all the response of a sneeze; agree to run Rhymetime at work, knowing our voice resembles a wailing cat in heat (just ask the preschoolers I spend every Friday morning singing to); or we might make the wrong decision to get drunk on our wife’s birthday (I’m talking to you, Mr. Fitzpatrick).
Does it really matter? Will you spontaneously combust or be cast from society if people think your musings, voices, and poorly timed drinking habits suck?
No. They might laugh, they might cringe, they might even block their ears with pieces of flesh they’ve stripped from their bones in response, but you know what? Who cares? Really… WHO CARES?
Who am I kidding… I’m a self-doubt junkie. There’s always a little voice in my head that tells me I’m a fraud, a faker and delusional candlestick-maker (I’m not really a candle-stick maker, it just rhymed). We can’t help but care what others think, or worry how others see us, and our work. But, there’s a good, logical reason why. And knowing why is half the battle to defeating that mutated monster.
Okay, I’m no philosophic genius (no matter how much I try to convince my children otherwise) but I believe self-doubt is born out of primitive instinct; the one no longer needed in modern society: to either stand our ground and fight or get the hell away from the scary thing.
Those instincts served us well when we were toting spears and hunting woolly mammoths; but, like an appendix (the organ, not the table in the back of a book) and wisdom teeth, they seem to have become completely surplus to requirements in today’s modern, processed-food munching world (well, at least until the zombie apocalypse happens). Self-doubt is our brain's way of assessing risk and coming up with a response that’s as useful as a chocolate fireplace.
Fear of failing to impress people is a far cry from the fear of getting your arse served up to some apex predator because you forgot your sharp pointy stick on a trip out hunting to feed your family.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when doubt can serve you… self-doubt might be a warning sign to step back and reassess a situation. But. I would use this instinctual reaction with lashings of caution and calm. If something doesn’t feel right, take a break and walk away to gain perspective. Don’t think about it. Meditate. Read a book. Watch a film. Find a willing partner to have some vertical fun with. Do whatever it takes to get your mind into something else. Whatever you do, don’t obsess about doubts. Then, when you come back to it, with fresh eyes and a happy disposition, you’ll likely see the doubt for what it is: primitive, misplaced flight response.
When this fails, when I can’t see clearly—when the fog of gloom won’t dispel—I try to beat it back with a bit of introspection; so, I ask myself two very important questions. Questions, I’d like to share with you…
1) Am I responsible for the nuclear armament of a psychotic maniac who wants to cleanse the earth of the parasitic human race so he/she may breed his/her pet iguanas to take over the earth?
2) Have I bet all my life savings, along with the savings of my parents and grandparents, on a horse named ‘lungless-Joe’ in the hope that the wizard I met last weekend really does have super-powers, and he’ll keep his promise to fix the race at the final furlong using his wizarding skills?
If you answered no too, great! You’re not a turnip either; you can carry on and do what you do. Self-doubt, like any thought, is there to keep you grounded and humble, but don’t let it turn you into a tool of the hapless and hopeless.
Am I doubting the content of this blog (including my terrible abuse of punctuation and grammar)? Of course I am. Will it stop me publishing it? No way. When I turned thirty I made the decision to have a full-sleeve tattoo; a few well-intention people commented about my possible future regret. How will you get a job? What will you do when you get old and wrinkly…? You know the sort of thing. Well, in answer to those concerns… I managed to find a job (that I love). And when I’m old, if my colourful wrinkles are the only worry to plague me, then I’ll be one lucky O.A.P.!
We will make mistakes and we will fail. And then… we will probably fail again. Why is that so scary? We are neither immortal or infallible. The next time self-doubt haunts you, remember: we are made from the dust of stars, living on a tiny planet, in the midst of an infinite universe. So why not throw caution to the wind, put your ideas out there, and damn-well enjoy your time with all the wondrous things this life has to offer?