I used to be an all-or-nothing person, full-on until I had seen an idea through to the end and not satisfied until all boxes were ticked that related to my original objectives. Socially, my confidence wore itself on my coat – I was terrified of my peers and did not make friends easily, but behind my fear of people, there lurked an inner obstinacy which ruled how I set my own personal goals and how I envisaged my future and, in a way which I never worked out, that is apparently what most people could see – a tenacity often criticised as a form of arrogance. True to say, I was convinced, until I left university, that I had a role to play on the planet, that I would work hard at whatever it was and do something worthwhile with my life, not, I hasten to add, because I suffered from any delusions of self-grandeur as, sustaining reasonable results at school rarely put me top of any class that I can remember, but my insecurity around people and my fear of not being liked was no conscious platform for me to express my visions of the future externally.
Perhaps, then, it was the conflict of perspectives – on the one hand: the I could be whatever I want to be attitude vs I am not liked, therefore I am not a nice person, therefore I am doing something wrong which began to change my motivation. Perhaps it was the subconscious pressure of playing to two teacher-parents who had set all their hopes in a daughter who would change the world, or perhaps it was simply the ultimate realisation that I was (am) in fact ordinary – just another number whose skills were not actually good enough to become brilliant at anything. Multi-faceted though I have always been, I am, quite honestly, even now just a Jack-of-several-trades and master of none.
Would it be egoistical, arrogant or even narcissistic of me then to suggest that I should actually have turned out better – that I should have been more successful, or that I should have done more with my life? Doesn’t a person of average-to-reasonable intelligence – if I may be so bold as to tar myself with this brush – owe it to themselves to ‘be great’ ?
This is a perspective I struggle with every day of my life, the fact that I could have been so much more, that I never did find my niche and, in the words of certain people who shall remain nameless, have simply ‘fritted my life away’. With everything handed to me on a plate as a child: perfect health, an athletic body (in my younger years!), many opportunities to push myself in areas where I showed above-average talent (predominantly music, drama, dance) I find it hard to justify to myself how I ended up a single mother, running not my career but ‘our existence‘ from a cramped corner of my lounge, seeing no-one but shoppers in the local supermarket for days on end and being a passenger to the hours hurtling past with no ability to slow things down or to take back the control.
Dissecting myself piece by piece, particularly over the last couple of years , in an attempt to break down the real me, I simply cannot put my finger on what it is I have actually become.
Fast approaching 40, I realise I have achieved so little of what I set out to achieve, but have, (instead?) sub-consciously developed a multitude of personae over the years, each one reigning respectively during a different phase of my life and tackling a different set of experiences. For sure, it felt real and authentic at the time, but each entry to a new phase saw me questioning who the heck the person was who was evanescing into the background to make room for the new me. I have often felt an uncomfortable sense of detachment when faced with memories of myself in certain situations – almost as though I was recalling events which had happened to someone else, someone with a view so distorted of the person I think I am, that I even emerged from such phases feeling an overwhelming sense of relief at ‘I’m finally back .. this is the real ME!’ before unintentionally allowing that person to drift off again in place of someone else about to live the episode to come. Complex? Definitely. Schizophrenic ? I hope not! but I do have an issue now, today, in working out who is at the core of me and what I actually, honestly still want from my life – which Me of all the different versions in the past was/is for real?
In the same way as I am finding it impossible to achieve what it is I actually want to say in this blog for the cacophony in my head, I have found it impossible thus far to concretise what it is I really want to do and who I want to be:
My failure as a writer – in my total inability to translate that which is battened down in the depths of my soul – is, for me, the epitome of all my failings as a musician and an artist and, by default then as the person I always wanted to become; the issue is consistent: I can feel something that I cannot, cannot manifest in word, nor music, nor (to be true to myself) in my daily life.
My quandary might, at some stage if ever discovered, make for good existentialist debate over a bottle of something more potent than tea, but then, I am not solely on a quest for a permanent state of ‘happiness’ – at least not as a priority. Perhaps, if I was so lucky as to work out the answer to my conundrum I might find that I could at least live out the rest of my days in a state of contentment – knowing that I did the best I could, to be the person I had the potential to be. However, cynical that I am and aware of the abstractness of the problem at hand, I fear I might simply be chasing my tail; chasing my tail in an endeavour to prove something to myself that I am not even aware of yet … and all that, whilst squandering the most precious of commodities which was, in fact, always mine to do what I liked with in the first place : time.