My Favourite Failures (Pithy Post On Perfectionism)

Aside from Brexit failing to materialise last Friday, I have had some failures this past week. I failed to post a blog on either Friday or Saturday (my usual schedule), I failed to achieve creative goals I set for the weekend… and yet, those failures contributed to a pretty good result.

About the goal: I’ve been banging on about Brexit (in blogposts, poems, comedy, podcasts…) for almost three years. And I decided to release all the backlogged content I have about it during the Brexit weekend! On brand, on time, everything done! Go me! I was excited: the idea was pleasing to my perfectionist brain. It had a feeling of achievement paired with the idea of a clean slate: it’s practically perfectionist catnip.

Spoiler alert: I failed. But what does failure mean? It means: I published an episode of Jobstealers podcast that has been languishing on my hard disk for years – an interview of another European human right after Brexit, when we were both despairing and hopeful, unlike the beat-up tiredness of the present. I also figured out how to do audio editing on my shitty cheap laptop (the answer is paid online software, but hey, it worked!), figured out YouTube’s editing software, rewatched my solo show on Brexit (“F*cking European”) and edited my YouTube channel. How is that for “failure”, considering that a lot of these things needed to get done for a while?

I have a tendency to take on too much, but this weekend it has served me. Sure, I fell short of my goal. But I am still working on publishing my videos, the podcast has premiered, another podcast is on the way and I am re-energised in my creative practice, even if a lot of this is essentially admin, and admin long overdue at that.

I’m cosying up to failure. I’m learning to reframe. Frankly, perfection only exists in not-doing (as I keep learning again and again); “perfect is the enemy of the good”. Perfect, pfft! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I Love Swimming. I Don’t Love March

Quick note in addition to my Wednesday blog: this week has been… a bit not good. Tough, even. I expected myself to Do Stuff to do with my permanent residency – something that I am beginning to accept might not happen, because as I do the research, it turns out that the way I worked, earned and survived might not be good enough for the British taxman. I am still looking into it, but also trying to let it go slowly. I wanted this. Settled status will still be a option, later. We will see.

It is a very strange thing to think of the years I’ve spent in this country – growing up, learning about myself, trying, failing, designing my artistic career – as a retroactive audition for citizenship. I certainly didn’t “perform” my life to earn a passport, I haven’t come over with that in mind. I’m not the most business-minded person, although I am working to change that: that means that when I registered as self-employed, it was to find out whether I could hack it as a performer and get legally paid. It doesn’t mean I had what is considered a “viable business idea” or knew how to realise such an idea. Or earned enough to prove that in retrospect I was The Correct Kind Of Potential Resident.

So many of us. Doing cash-in-hand jobs, floating, trying to be free, trying to survive, trying to be artists, performers, to add beauty to life. In this new world order, we are so vunerable, so unpractical, considered unnecessary and extraneous, of low value. Kafka-esque paperology. Good thing I know that my value doesn’t rest on it.

And today is Friday. So I went swimming. I love swimming. For now it’s enough.

My Phone Is Boring. Also Brexit Sucks

Okay, it is time to admit it: I started to miss social media. My phone, aside from the “call” and “text” functions (okay, and WhatsApp) seems like a glorified clock. Well, I do still use the camera. But anytime I take my phone, I might look into the browser (there are things that I might read Someday, there), I can clear some data, take a selfie and check emails… and then I run out of things to do. It is not a little eerie that a thing that used to occupy many of my precious HOURS is now seemingly useless.

A grinning selfie of Rita wearing a cowlneck sweater standing in a white walk in wardrobe with a steel pole for hangers shining above her.
Here is one I took in a hotel wardrobe in Peterborough. It’s a long story.

But here is the one thing I don’t miss: Brexit. Even with my limited media intake at present, trying to actively avoid knowledge of it while preparing for its eventual presence, it is ubiquitous. Friends send links; my radio/alarm clock device talks about Theresa May with relish while I blearily try to get my bearings in the morning; randomly picked up newspapers share that David Cameron bought himself a cottage to write his memoirs. Nice job if you can have it, I suppose.

A cutout of a small article from a Tube newspaper with a picture of visibly older David Cameron, captioned "I'd promised; David Cameron yesterday" and the following text: "The 52-year-old has kept a low profile since standing down and has bought himself a £25000 shepherd's hut, with sofa bed and wood burning stove, in which to write his memoirs at the family home in the Cotswolds". There is also a cut off headline: "(I have no) regrets over calling (the referendum). I do regret result."
David Cameron doesn’t regret the referendum. How nice for him.

The word on everybody’s lips appears to be… Brexit (sung to Chicago’s “Roxie”, of course) and while I understand why, I’ll admit to being weary. I would like to be more of an activist, and when I rebuild my mental health and good online habits, I will likely look into pragmatic and not-burnout-threatening ways to engage; however right now self-care and showing up at a heavily understaffed workplace (my current line of non-artistic work attracts a lot of immigrants…) take up all available energy and time. I am doing small things, like cooking and essential oil baths, and bigger things – like applying for festivals and figuring out my artistic plans; I might, at some point, resurrect F*cking European as it is undoubtedly timely. What I refuse to do is be buried in a news avalanche. I have good sleeping habits; I intend to keep those.

A Vispring Luxury Beds ad, featuring a beautiful king size bed with a blue decorative throw and a tagline "Don't let Brexit keep you awake at night/Sleep well. Live better."
This is an ad in a free Tube “style” magazine, usually safely devoid of political matters. Now they have political mattresses.

For now, three weeks in this self-imposed fast, I find myself reflecting on the power of boundaries – a topic that has been more and more relevant of late. In trying to consciously engage, I have refused to be drawn into the information miasma, refused to be swallowed by the clickbait monster. In the attention economy, I am hoarding my precious currency, mostly because – tired as I feel – I want to spend every penny on things that matter. In this last stretch to Brexit, many things matter less… and things that used to be less important matter more. Example: I take joy in throwing things out and arranging them to my satisfaction: it’s a physical representation of the streamlining process that my life is currently undergoing.

A square Ikea container with dividers, stuffed with socks and underwear, all stored vertically.
Marie Kondo would be proud.

I discovered of late that while I could go to Berlin or Warsaw and start everything anew, I value the life I made; I have found friends, career and love here; I want to stay. Working towards a sustainable life that would allow me to do that occupies a large portion of my attention. It feels terrifying and vulnerable to admit that much; to be attached; to be at the mercy of Home Office in this way. But that’s the way my path seems to lie. I’ll tidy socks, make a freezer dinner and start learning for the Life In The UK Test. At least my pub quiz career has given me some preparation…. and while I live the uncertainty, I don’t know how to finish this post. It’s hard to say that I am purely hopeful; but I’m being pragmatic and taking care of myself. As per site policies, right now that is good enough.

Halfway To Thirty (Also Brexit, Fuck)

6 months left until I hit the big 30! Feeling lost, confused, helpless, sad, confused… Granted, some of it might be due to Brexit. And no sugar diet (hello, withdrawal).

The big leading Thing of Things that seems to be happening in my life: in my race to Become A Cool Person (which is not always successful, let’s face it) I seem to have lost the person that I actually am. Cue rude awakening. See confusion. Example: I want to be the person who gets up early (I do function better in the mornings), but right this minute I am not that person. Responding in my favorite way (with guilt and bitter self-recrimination) really does not yield the desired effects. Changing the response incoming. Frankly, I’m not sure who I am, who I think I should be, who I’m becoming, who I want to become. There are things going right – I have to work on the appreciation of The Good Things – but mostly I’m looking around, wide-eyed, going: is this me?

Also, this just in: I might be an introvert. Please stop laughing. Is there a late onset? I love people; I tend to be at my best in (good) company, enjoy being centre of attention, etc etc. But people exhaust me, too. Maybe just now I have a lower tolerance – crowds definitely a no-no. Also, I’ve not been leaving the house due to freelance/mugging and subsequent fear of dark & outdoors/post-Brexit low mood.

On the bright side, there is writing. Writing is the best. If I rouse myself from reading-induced stupor (favorite escapism, now that eating a pack of cookies is not an option) and start writing, I know I’m gonna be okay. Writing, verbalizing – they keep me sane. That’s why I talk so much. Well, I talk for many reasons. I hide in plain sight sometimes – if I speak of it all, no one suspects there’s anything deeper. But writing… is the easiest, most accessible way of coping. So if I have enough energy to write a blog post, an article, recently (!) a fanfic, I know I’ll be okay eventually.

Ongoing creative projects: #GirlfagThePlay (egads, it’s slow-going! I’ll get there), Safe, the one-woman show (might rename it Shame, or something related). Newest idea: a stand-up show called A Fucking European. Oh, and the Polish-language show, No Such Place As London. Now just need enough focus to do these. 🙂

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