Friday, 5 February 2016

Reasons I Fail vs Reasons I Am EPIC


So, I have this thing, where I sometimes feel compelled to list the reasons why I am an epic, epic fail.  The trouble is, all too often, we're more likely to self-deprecate than we are to build ourselves up.  And the fact is, almost nobody is made entirely of flaws.  We're all made up of reasons why we're stupid and reasons why we're actually awesome.  Those reasons fuse together to make a fully rounded person and that's actually pretty cool.  So, you see, I am a total failure as a writer, because I just used "actually" twice in quick succession, but I'm a total epic win as a writer, because I'm attempting to use my blog to make you - yes, YOU - realise that your flaws are just human and that being human and having flaws is OKAY.

With all of that in mind, I've decided to have a look at some of my biggest reasons for failure and contradict them all with some of the reasons I actually think I'm doing okay at being a human.  Although someone needs to take the word "actually" away from me, before I use it again and am forced to add "ACTUALLY ADDICTION" to the list of fails...

FAIL: I am extraordinarily sensitive.

You know how some people are really tough and nothing ever seems to affect them, emotionally?  I am not one of those people.  In fact, I am the polar opposite of those people.  I cry at adverts.  I have been known to lie awake until the early hours of the morning, regretting a casual sentence I may have uttered once ten years ago, because I'm suddenly concerned that someone might have taken it the wrong way and been upset about it and now it's too late to take it back.  I've been known to lie awake at night analysing things other people have said to me, brooding over whether or not I've taken it the wrong way.  Literally everything I do and say is tempered with a desperate need to not upset anyone, combined with a constant fear that I'm not a nice enough person.  Add to that the fact that I have the total opposite to "thick skin" and you have someone who bruises like a peach in the emotional sense, given the slightest metaphorical knock.  It's annoying and I hate it and I want to be all tough and strong and ROAR, FEAR ME, WORLD!  But that's not me and it never will be.

WIN: I am extraordinarily sensitive.  SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!

Sometimes, your flaw doesn't always have to be a flaw.  I am massively sensitive and in a strange way, it's like a bizarre superpower.  I can tell when someone is upset, even when they're doing a highly convincing job of being all "I'm fine."  I know how to talk to someone who needs a bit of emotional support.  I am tactful, because I know what it's like to accidentally take someone's words the wrong way and be awake until 3am internally beating myself up because I can't stop replaying them over and over.  Someone once told me that I'd be one of the first people they'd go to if they were upset about something, because they could guarantee that I would be sensitive enough to handle it in the way they needed.  I'm taking that as quite the compliment, frankly.  Epic fail done good.

FAIL: I have really bizarre fears.

I am scared of having my blood taken.  Like, actually terrified to the point that when someone has to take my blood, I freeze and they often can't get any out.  Weirdly, I don't have a phobia of needles in the slightest (I have tattoos and I get an annual flu jab because of my asthma) and blood in general doesn't freak me out all that much.  But somehow, the idea of having it deliberately taken from me makes me literally shake with fear.

I also suffer with emetophobia - the fear of vomit.  If someone is ill around me, I will obsessively wash my hands until the skin peels, because I am so terrified of catching a bug and being sick.  I can't handle seeing anyone throw up (to the point that when I watched a YouTube video with my best friend recently, she had to pre-warn me that the guy was sick in it, in order to give me adequate time to look away in horror).  When suffering from a stomach bug, I have genuinely been known to pace around my bedroom, repeating: "I will not be sick, I will not be sick, I will not be sick..." like some gruesome mantra, until the very last minute, when I inevitably panic and am forced to quite literally face my phobia head-on (or rather, head down).  I work in childcare and it's an in-joke amongst my colleagues that if a kid is sick, I will rush out of the room on "urgent business."  The "urgent business" generally being "I MUST GET AWAY FROM THIS DESPICABLE HORROR BEFORE I EMPTY THE CONTENTS OF MY STOMACH IN RESPONSE."  It's a genuine problem.  The thought of someone being ill around me prompts a massive fight or flight response, in which my heart goes crazy, I get breathless and I shake.  I'm a terrible, terrible friend to be around if you're unwell and I'm sorry.

I am also scared of spiders to the point that I will leave a room if I see one, depending on its size (if it's little, it can stay, as long as I know where it is at all times).  And wasps... Don't get me started on those evil little bastards.  I got stung on my ear once and the whole thing swelled up to twice the size.  They're vile.  I need to be warned of their presence immediately, so that I can exit the situation as quickly as possible.

Thanks, Dan and Phil.  Especially Phil, because reasons. Such strong reasons.

WIN: I am SO much tougher than I ever realised.

I'm a survivor.  Insert Destiny's Child gif here, because I'm still too busy looking at the one above.

I got bullied to the point of feeling genuinely suicidal when I was only twelve years old.  I lived through being told I was ugly and unlovable on a daily basis.  Being spat at, tripped up, reduced to "it" rather than "Emma" or even "her."  But I never stopped believing that one day, life would get better.  And once I was older, I trained in being a "listener" and gave up my lunchtimes at Sixth Form to help run a counselling service for lower school kids who were being bullied and needed someone to open up to.

Then, years later, I fell in love with a man who abused me psychologically, emotionally and sexually.  I became a total and utter shell of who I was before.  I was so manipulated and confused that I believed I deserved everything he said and did.  But, somehow (and believe me when I say it was the hardest thing I ever did), I found the strength to walk away.  I sought help and rebuilt my life.  Then, when I was in a much better place, I used my experiences to become an anti-abuse advocate online and to write my debut adult novel, which aims to raise awareness of psychological abuse and the damage it can cause.

What I'm saying is: I lived through some awful things.  Things that led me to the lowest point in my whole life.  But it got better.  I fought to turn those horrific experiences into something positive, so I could try to help other people.  Turning a negative into a positive isn't easy and I'm proud that I've never stopped trying.  I might be a bit of an oversensitive twerp, but it turns out that you can't keep an oversensitive twerp down.

FAIL: I am SO clumsy.

Oh, this could so easily be me...

Literally in the time it took to upload that gif to my blog, I have attempted to pick up the drink that's on the table beside me, got the coaster stuck to the bottom of the glass, shook said glass and sprayed my face with the contents, whilst sending the coaster flying across the room.  

If someone is going to fall over, it's almost always going to be me.  If someone is going to knock something down, it will definitely be me.  I frequently break things and have no idea how I've done it and today at work, I trod in playdough and trailed it all down the brand new carpet in the corridor, before I even noticed something was amiss.

Somehow - and I really don't know how - I have never broken any bones.  Also, for reasons I will never fully understand, I'm quite good at ice skating (seriously, me on ice with blades attached to my feet should not be a situation that ends well).  But for the most part, my life is one incident of utter clumsiness after the next.  My legs are covered in bruises and I have no idea how I even got most of them.  

Seriously, if you need something broken, dropped or spilt, I am your woman.

WIN: I write books that people seem to like!

I went onto Amazon earlier, to get the link to my novel (pictured above), because I figured it would be handy to put it in this blog, seeing as I was talking about my experience of living through abuse, earlier.  When I searched for it on Amazon, it came up as having four 5* reviews.  Last time I looked, it only had two, so obviously I was very keen to read the new ones!  

Nothing - and I genuinely mean that - makes me feel as proud and thrilled as when someone compliments my writing.  I don't do it because I want to be rich and famous (although I wouldn't turn down a million pound movie deal, if anyone's reading this...).  I do it because I love it.  There is nothing in the world that I want to do more, in terms of career goals.  Writing, be it creating a blog post like this, crafting a fun and entertaining children's story or the process of actually writing a whole novel, is my greatest passion.  To think that anyone reckons I'm any good at it is incredibly humbling and completely exhilarating all at the same time.

If you'd asked me this time five years ago what my biggest dream was, I'd tell you that it was to have a book published.  Now, I've had three traditionally published and two self published and I think that's something to be pretty damn proud of.

FAIL: I am utterly and completely hopeless when it comes to approaching someone I am romantically interested in.

I have actually written about my personal Five Stages of Having a Crush, before.  Suffice to say, if I like someone, I am more likely to stick pins in my own eyes than face having to tell them, such is my massive fear of rejection (issues, so many issues).  

I can vividly recall one night in September last year, being out for the evening and being graced with the presence of my then real-life crush.  At one point in the proceedings, his friends all went off to the loo/the bar/to discuss the weird short girl eyeing up their mate and my friend disappeared to get a drink.  He was all by himself.  I was standing mere feet away.  So, I wandered over, uttered an entirely awkward line of conversation, he smiled, I panicked and then I pretty much ran away.  I mean, I made the excuse of going to get a drink, but the fact is, I had a drink in my hand.  I was just terrified.  I'm talking "someone has a syringe in their hand and they're tapping my arm to find a vein" kind of terrified.  What if he knew I liked him?  What if he threw up at the mere thought?!  That would be traumatic on two levels.

The trouble is, I'm not sixteen.  I'm thirty bloody three and entirely capable of holding a conversation with almost anyone.  I'm generally fairly comfortable in myself and I reckon I'm a pretty decent human.  Yet, you put me in front of someone I like in THAT way and I turn into the most epic of epic fails you could possibly wish to meet.  Specialities include:

  • Spilling my drink on myself.
  • Going all giggly and shy.
  • Becoming mute OR talking endless nonsense (there is no middle ground).
  • Mumbling, because I'm not confident in the utter rubbish I am spouting.
  • Turning a delightful shade of puce.

Bizarrely, if someone I like initiates the conversation, I'm generally fine (albeit hugely nervous), but if I have to initiate it?  Good lord, no.  Nine times out of ten, I will sit and think about initiating it, until the chance has passed.  At which point I will go home and cry over not having taken the opportunity because I am an idiot.

WIN: I am, despite all my flaws, happy in myself.

Awkward pose on the dance floor - wooooo!

One good thing about getting older is that you become more attuned to who you are and who you want to be.  You start to realise that you're actually okay with being you and if there are things you still don't like, you learn to either accept them or change them.

I may be an oversensitive, clumsy loser in love with a particularly weird set of phobias, but I'm me.  I'm the only me in the world and that's pretty cool.  All my strange little ways are just what make me unique and anyway, weirdness is good, right?  

For all my flaws, I know that I've got a kind heart, a sensitive soul and a creative brain.  So, I over-analyse stuff and I dance like my Nan, but who cares?!  I cook a bloody decent risotto, so that more than makes up for it.

It's the same for everyone - for all your flaws, there are positive personality traits.  Everyone has a list of negative qualities - it's impossible not to, because nobody can ever be perfect - but we've all got a list of positive attributes, too.  Our goal in life should just be to ensure that the good outweighs the bad and that we don't let ourselves dwell on the negatives for too long.

So, embrace everything that makes you who you are.  You're a big jumble of things, all mixed together to create a whole.  And that's just the way it should be.

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