Dear Diary, I Can’t Get Sh*t Done, Am I Broken (Also: A Gig)

This is a post about when things go ever so slightly wrong and you can’t deal with them, because you PLANNED this and the plan was PERFECT and now everything is a DISASTER and…. what was this blog called again?

Yes. That. So.

I am ever so sliiiightly frustrated this week.

It’s half-term week. A week that, as special school teachers, we count the days to. Every so often, in that ten minutes before children arrive, we do the math of weeks and days and half-laughing, half-seriously say: can’t wait. Because the job is exhausting as well as f*cking magic, and beautiful and great. We count the days. We get tired. We get a week.

Being me, which means – set to productivity (a.k.a. a human brainwashed by capitalism, also ambitious and hungry for success); amazingly busy; with a lot of errands; – I made plans for half-term. Frankly, I made more plans than I knew what to do with. I made too many plans. I overplanned. But there were errands that needed doing, that I’ve been really dragging my feet about. I needed to buy glasses (done, FINALLY), do a blood test (nope, it’s been only 1.5 month now) and work on my citizenship stuff. Oh, and also, there was a gig.

As it happened, the week came to be dominated by The Gig. The gig in question was Sing It Wrong, a fantastic song parody night that I really wanted to do. I SANG TWO SONGS OKAY AND I AM SO PROUD, I DID A THING! First of all I sang about being in my thirties and looking for meaning of life, and I thought that it wouldn’t be funny, but it really was…:

I was in character as a silent, staring Pippi Longstocking-esque clown. Then I sang.

The second song was The Song – the one I was most scared of, most excited about. The one that I stayed up to edit the soundtrack for, the one that I spent over two hours writing the lyrics. I rapped to Missy Elliott’s Work It. Specifically, I rapped about Brexit. To Missy Elliott’s Work It. You read that right.

“Boys, boys, Tory boys….”

The gig was absolutely brilliant. It also threw my entire week plan off the cliff.

The first two days of half-term I got up at 8, did an hour of work on citizenship from 9 (okay, on Tuesday I did 4 hours, I got a bit single-minded) and tried to rest or get errands done for the rest of the time. But Tuesday night I stayed up to mess around with Audacity (yeah, my Missy Elliott track was creatively edited). So on Wednesday there was no early morning or citizenship work. I did go swimming though, so one win there. But then!

I COULDN’T GET OFF THE INTERNET.

In addition to my typical post-gig hangover (no, there was no drinking, just a slight emotional exhaustion), I wound up watching my videos all the time and sending them to people. Artistic self-promotion is really tiring (and it was also not in my plans at all), but I suddenly had this very strong and manic need for Everyone To Love This Thing I’ve Done, Right Now. I was bursting with it, and despite being embarrassed, wanted to share it ith everyone!

(…I get that way sometimes when something creative just WORKS. The high tends to be directly proportional to how excited and nervous I was about doing something (in this case: VERY). I just kept watching this person on the screen being seemingly super confident with her clown persona (video 1) or with her sexiness and dancing (video 2), moving the mic stand about purposefully to fit her needs (something that I actually don’t remember doing, that’s how automatic it was). I couldn’t conceive how easy it all looked on the screen – even though I was so nervous during the second song that I didn’t HEAR people cheering. If you watch the video, mid-song I am asking the audience to “give me some love”, because I physically do not perceive it at that moment. But at the same time, I am clearly inhabiting myself in this larger-than-life way and it’s facinating.)

But here we are on Saturday and… post-gig exhaustion persisted on Thursday: a social day when I had meetings with friends. It’s lucky it included someone cooking me breakfast….! Whenever I was not with humans, I was looking at a screen. I relaxed my normal social media habits, because of course you get excited about a gig video and it’s been awhile since I’ve had something fun to share! But it quickly morphed into reading about Brexit, about women being discriminated against in design and OMG ALL OF THE THINGS ON ALL MEDIA. MY BRAIN. OW.

Result: aside from my swimming class I did fuck-all on Friday. Well, except cooking and inhaling a large amount of food. Today (Saturday) I delayed leaving the house for two hours (and also slept eleven hours, what the hell). And now I’m writing the blog, not cleaning or doing laundry or whatever, because of all the things to do, this one was the most accessible. It is clear to me that I am tired. It is also clear that tomorrow’s date with Manbear (previously described as Gentleman Caller) will consist of me putting laundry loads in and dusting and things, and that’s kind of not how I pictured it.

Tally Of Frustration

This is the moment when I should probably stop myself and look at this week’s achievements. Look at me, being all mad because I didn’t clean and cook lunches. True: these things do matter in terms of setting myself up for a good working week (I think I have only one evening off!). But I’ve made considerable headway into my residence research, played a gig, chose a glasses frame (after months of dithering, because I didn’t like any of them. I just had to pick something in the end) and wound up getting some likes on the old Facebook page. Frankly, if I were in my depressed phase, making it to a swim class would definitely be enough of an achievement for one day! It’s just because I’m not, my expectations for myself are high. Too high maybe. Possibly the expectations don’t match reality very well.

In the end, half-term meant to be restful and all, I found myself missing my regulated work existence – 7 am wake-up, the same breakfast, the same hours. Waking up whenever and choosing a long-to-make breakfast is nice occasionally, but perhaps part of my anxiety is here simply because I’ve had too many choices this week. Perhaps at some point I’ll make like Obama or Jobs and have a set amount of the same clothing (I’m not far off with my work wardrobe). So it could be that the tally of frustration is here, because I had way too much choice and I need less of it. Go figure.

I’m still tired. And hungry. And a worthy human being even if today I struggled to get sh*t done. I have to keep writing to remind myself of that.

What is it about?

It needs to be said: I stopped writing, because I don’t know what this journal is meant to be.

I got stuck. Yes, perfectionism, but also – I want people to read me. This blog has been more of a place when I come to “write out” my thoughts. Write through the blocks. It’s a me-space that has not become a public space. It’s good enough for me-writing, but if I want an audience, I need to do better than this.

And so I’m stuck. Somehow, the freedom of writing just disappeared. And I’m not here. I don’t know what topic to pick. Picking at scabs, reaching for the moon, writing my play. Not writing my play. Not working. Learning to work. Learning to fly. Learning to crawl. Learning to be still.

I fought with my boyfriend today. Me not working is putting a pressure on us, and it all spills over. There are other reasons, but guilt remains, and is ugly.

I have a set point of misery and just keep going back there. I’m afraid to be what I can be, which is fully, unashamedly

– joyous.

I keep wishing I was someone else

Lifestats: articles – too many; Google – carrot cake vegan icing (no dairy diet); Money earned – not enough; Count of fear – high.

I wish for a lot of things. I wish I were more conscious of myself, more self-aware, more grounded; I wish I were less frustrated and happier. I wish I had better boundaries, better body, better everything. I wish I did more work, I wish I had more self belief.

I wish I didn’t have to write things out, and if I do, I wish for more audience. I wish I had a better blog, about something else, less self-obsessive than my tired mental health. I wish I were less dramatic. I wish I were better at meditation. I wish I believed in my dancing and singing enough to actually practice it. I wish I had the courage to leave social media when I need to work. I wish I had a cleaner room. I wish I could watch Netflix series all day, without feeling the guilt – but I also wish I watched 2 episodes and then followed the inner drive that tells me to do some work. I wish I didn’t try to subconsciously cook and clean more because I’m unemployed and my partner is supporting me – I wish I applied for jobs more, not appeasing some invisible female duties. I wish my partner were less frustrated. I wish, I wish, a prayer of the powerless.

I wrote this poem, about a year ago “Where do you keep your power”. Recently I tried to read it out loud in rehearsals, and man, I break in tears. As most poems, I wrote it for others, but for myself – if I stopped questioning myself all the time, if I believed. I can believe. There is a space for me to believe in myself, and I have to have courage to inhabit it.

I am ashamed for writing this. There are people with bigger problems for sure. Here I am, in this empty space I created in myself, too scared to step out. I’m not fighting for my life – or am I? I’m fighting with my brain, which tells me all the time that I suck. I am fighting with my habits, with lack of self love. I am grateful for all the good things – maybe not grateful enough; I look at everything with perfectionist eye of “things to be fixed” – so the things that don’t need to be fixed don’t even get noticed.

I wished I wrote all the articles I come up with, or at least most. I wish I didn’t lose belief halfway through the thought, nevermind the project. I wish I could help people, I wish I could change people’s lives. Is that naive? Perhaps I’m just the funny girl. Perhaps all that angst is for nothing and I can do some stand-up comedy. Look at me, all dismissive. That is worthy, too. I feel like I have so many sides of me and I can’t create a stable personality, a stable brand, idea. But perhaps I can. Maybe it’s okay to be all that I am. The poet, the singer, the voice. The writer, the teller, the dance. The messy, crying, sensitive, self-obsessed, humorous, witty, occasionally ironic, mostly charming, fucking intense person that I am – nevermind all the things I want to become.

I am capable of change. But if I don’t like step one, change will not satisfy me either. If I can’t celebrate my current self, exercise everyday – despite extra endorphines – will not move me into self-love. It could help, but the thinking of “I should be doing XYZ, instead” will stay.

Perfectionism is capitalism of self. All we want is more, more, more. And better. It’s okay to be more efficient. But conditional self-love doesn’t fucking work, now does it?

 

I Jumped And Life Caught Me.

light

Mood: ebullient & tired

Google searches: not in awhile. Just trying to keep up with life.

Dear Readers, life is awesome.

Let me tell you a story: on the last day of work – yes, that job I quit a couple posts ago – I was happy. I didn’t have brainspace to be anxious about not working; I was just immensely happy that the job would be OVER. And I had a customer. And we chatted.

“What do you do? – I’m a documentary film maker. – Oh, that’s so cool. I didn’t get there yet, I’m a writer. Mostly comedy. I just quit my job and I’m writing as of tomorrow.” This is a shortened account of the conversation that took place. There was no pressure, no mercenary focus; I didn’t want anything from anyone. I was content, shooting off my mouth, just talking – sharing – re-confirming in my mind that it was happening: I was quitting to become an artist.

So what happened? Exchange of business cards; invitation to pitch; creating the pitch, winning the pitch and first project meeting!

Of course, I confronted the perfectionist beast right away. I want to be this effortless genius, whereas in the meeting I had to reign my ego in, strongly, when the animator – the expert – told me straight up my story is too long and too involved, and we’d better start over. But I know how nuts ego is. This is me, learning the creative ropes – creating ideas, presenting ideas, backing them up AND letting them go. I wouldn’t give this up for anything – especially not for dreamed up perfection.

This is real. Hard-won confidence starts here. My job is to listen: to my creative team-mates; to my creative gut (NOT to my brain that alternates between: “…they don’t even need you here, you’re obsolete” and “….you have to speak more”). My job is to work-out (which I’m doing), eat well (which I’m doing), do the work and not to take myself too seriously.

I’m working on it. And I’m loving it…. 🙂

I quit my job, I liked it… or: Bring on 2016.

no-you-should-not-quit-your-job-before-securing-a-new-oneImage source here.

Satisfaction: high.

Wave: gentle

Word of the year: listening.

 

Here we are! I said “I’ll write more!” and basically legged it, drowning in the aforementioned Other Job. There are reasons for that: long story short, I got stuck in my own thinking. Behold:

The “Get It Right” Paradox

… Do you know that feeling when you’re finding your way on a crossroads? You’re pretty sure left will get you where you need to be, but just in case, to avoid being wrong, you walk right for a bit.

Is it just me who does this? This whole idea that you’re not allowed to be wrong can result in some interesting routes. Basically, I was so scared of embracing my artistic identity (doing what I felt was right but feared was wrong), that I ran in opposite direction. Man, did I suffer for it. Trying to get life right because perfectionism. Incidentally, this blog is called Good Enough Diary for a reason…

Perfectionism is the most unhelpful thing EVER. So is a mortal fear of being wrong. Combined, they led me down this path: from a job I kind of tolerated/was getting bored of… to taking a full-time position. What the actual fuck. One of the more misguided things I’ve done.

The Trap of “Reasonable” Thinking

I do remember what I was thinking. It makes a twisted sort of sense – what we call “reasonable”, “real world”, “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “you have to eat”, self-preservation, OMG SHUT UP WHY ARE YOU FEEDING ME CRAP GET OUT OF MY HEAD. We all heard that shit and had it stuffed down our throats by well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) parents/grown-ups/society, who often had had it shoved, ad infinitum. Amanda Palmer sums it up as a “Get a job!” feeling, as if art wasn’t a real job and did not require effort. Add to it the crippling shame associated with being creative (=not a Real Adult), connected with this weird idea that being creative for money is somehow unethical (oddly, the reasoning seems to intersect with sex work, somehow; that certain things are too precious to be sold and should therefore be donated. Too complicated to develop here, but nonetheless interesting). Add all those up, and I found myself in the middle of mental gymnastics, explaining the unexplainable: why doing something completely against myself is a Good Idea (with footnotes).

And now…

It’s second of January. I quit the job about a month in and now know I should never have taken it in the first place. But I’m going easy on myself: I had to know. I had to learn that no matter what I do, the full-time “normal”, non-creative job will never, ever give me any satisfaction.

What next? My last day is on Wednesday. This month I’m writing. The challenge ahead is constructing a sustainable creative lifestyle, which is relatively free of perfectionism and procrastination. I’m looking for a sweet spot between stretching myself and over-reaching; for example, I’ll not be working from home, as it’s too distracting to begin with and might result in not doing stuff and/or depression; similarly, I will not expect huge achievements from tomorrow, as intimidating myself into not doing anything is a one way trip to Guiltland. I want to be loving, gentle and unstoppable. I want to be relentless like a wave.

 

First entry – or basic basics

Frustration level: wild to middling (going down)

Perfectionism pollution level: 7/10 (applied meditation)

Google searches: WordPress Tumblr connect; Stomp (& any number of musicals) tickets

Hello! This is my third attempt on a personal blog, and fourth one on a blog in general. I have been successfully managing a blog for my band/creative songwriting team, The Living Songbook, for as long as we had new songs to post (languishing for some time now). Two previous blogs seemed either too limited (London Pole – I ran out of will to write about identity crisis) or too unlimited (All Or Something – Sandwich With Everything. Does the name speak for itself? It’s a result of trying, and failing, to find a good blog name that somebody did not previously take).

But to be honest, I think that the main issue is my tendency towards perfectionism, which results in me writing long thinky essays or not at all.

So for this blog, I take a different strategy. I want to write every day, no matter how short or long. And I want to crosspost to Tumblr and learn how to build an audience. I have any number of texts I wrote for a potential blog, so I’d like to make use of them.

And this is my short list of goals for now! 🙂

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