Si enim fallor, sum (Augustine)

In the way that the opposite of love isn’t necessarily hate, but indifference, the opposite of happiness isn’t despair and depression but absolute boredom. In one of my many, many lists, I had promised myself I’d do 52 pitches – for something. Jobs. Ideas. Whatever. Anything so my life is not a trail of random activities to collect meaningless stuff to get to the end of a mediocre existence.

Except I haven’t. At all. Even a little bit. It’s too scary. Which is why I’m complaining about it here. In the hope that I can hide behind my MacBook/ Kindle/ pillow, and be handed opportunities and excitement on silver platters.

Yes, yes, I know about the 10,000 hours (which might be false after all), and that Michael Jordan missed the shot thousands, and thousands of times, and that I need to fail *a lot* before I succeed.

But I’m a perfectionist. A lazy, scaredy-cat one.

I’m going to have to get over this. suggests ways to deal with rejection, and Molly Borchers seems to be putting some of that into practice with her 99 Pitches to pitch 99 ideas and projects (which I love). A little closer to home, I can take a leaf from my husband who decided he’d try journalism since he’d always ‘loved writing’ and went from working as an electrical engineer to covering thirty countries across Africa as a journalist for a wire agency to writing a prize-winning novel. I’ve watched him take rejection on the chin, and keep going.

Like I said, my Inner Mean Girl is a b*tch. You might be one of those Martians who don’t suffer from that unhelpful inner voice, or an Earthling who has learned to acknowledge and then ignore yours. I’m not there yet.

As those Americans out there ambitiously strive for success, you might notice a sneer across a British face: we prefer to cut each other down to size thank you very much. Yes, apparently, we’re ‘haters’. This cultural phenomenon is called ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ (TSD) – where you are expected to ‘wait your turn’ and ‘not stand out’. This is so ingrained, that even famous, prize-winning authors could bear the brunt of it (except they don’t in this particular case).

I can’t really talk about the broad suppression of a society’s ambition, but I can absolutely confirm that finding myself in situations where I am required to put myself out there, and be ‘bold’ or ‘gallus’ makes me break out in a nauseating sweat. My Inner Mean Girl wins. In fact, this is probably somewhere in my own 8th Circle of Hell. I’m secretly stunned that I have ever been gainfully employed, since interviews are the epitome of this. In fact, if there is a Hell, I will find myself after death in an eternal interview (listening to 1990s Euro-pop).

Like the wise Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say, ‘Always do what you are afraid to do.’ And the oft-quoted Marianne Williamson said, ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…’ 

What if one of my 34,591 ideas actually works? Fork me.

Enough procrastinating.


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