Do you ever get the feeling that the rest of the world has it all figured out, and they’re all just about to stop dead in their tracks, turn and point at you, with that scream from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, because “…there’s no-one like you left!” who is completely lost… Or is that just me?
Of course it isn’t just me. I might be the most recent person to draw comparisons to extensively re-made Pod-people pictures, but most of us have experienced similar feelings, I’m sure.
At times it seems like I am separated from the one I love, not by 800 miles and a bit of water, but by an unbridgeable crack in the universe, from which all the horrors of the darkest realms of hell will emerge to consume my soul. Now, you’re perfectly entitled to say that flying with Ryanair just makes it seem that way, and the one time I flew with Norwegian certainly brought me a lot closer to that conclusion, but I think it has more to do with internal demons than cramped seating and stingy carry-on allowances.
Allow me to crawl out of my own backside for a moment and attempt to explain. It’s all about fear of failure. Amki, would be the first person to tell you that I am entirely too fond of allowing my inner tormenting bastard to stomp around inside my head, in his big ugly boots, breaking windows and poking at my neuroses with a sharp stick, until all I can see is twisted metal and carnage, where there used to be a serene meadow full of fluffy, if rather bewildered looking, bunnies.
Considering some of the ill-advised escapades I have embarked upon over the years, it is perhaps just as well that failure never used to bother me. In fact, it used to bother me so little that I suffered from a terrible sort of escalation-of-failure complex which went something like this: “If walking across the street was fraught with danger, wouldn’t it be easier to try walking across the water? Or… Ooh! Flying across the street!” However skewed my perspective on the phenomenon, failure was just part of the game; fall off the bike, bandage your knee and get back on it. Unfortunately, you can only fall off so many times before common sense starts to tell you “Maybe I should just take the bus!” and those of us who occasionally suffer from a mind-crippling landslide of insecurities eventually start to see failure as the only likely outcome in any situation.
I have known plenty of people who rationalize “expectation of failure” by telling you that you are less likely to be disappointed, and while this may be true you are also much less likely to succeed if you begin with this frame of mind. Columbus had no idea what he would find out there in the uncharted ocean, and had little more idea where he had actually been at the end of his voyage, but history doesn’t care that he greatly underestimated the size of the planet. He is revered, and rightly so. How successful do you think he would have been if he had recruited sailors with the following, inspiring speech: “OK guys… we’re gonna be travelling off the maps, where no-one has gone before, and I fully expect that we will die screaming and alone, in the middle of a deep black ocean, far from those we love. Who’s with me?” Doesn’t exactly evoke confidence, does it?
So we have to begin new and exciting adventures from a standpoint of unbridled optimism… or at least meagre hope… OK, maybe just a shrug of the shoulders and a wince is enough of a start, but somehow we have to reclaim our adventurous spirit, lest it drag us, kicking and screaming, into the deep dark waters of Bloke-who-works-the-copier-whose-name-I-can-never-remember…dom.
We are the dreamers of the dreams! We are those who rushed in where angels feared to tread! The nerds whose devotion to internet fads paved the way for them to become so cool, that we were eventually not cool enough to be on people’s friends list! We said moving pictures will catch on! We are the ones who fall off the bike time and time again, so that those who follow us will not have to! History will speak our names with… a kind of mild disinterest, and say: “Never heard of him!”
You see? I can start off at a run, but it isn’t long before I get a stitch and consider feigning a broken ankle, so that I can sit the whole thing out, wearing a tin-foil blanket and cradling a Mars bar.
What is the solution? How do I get back that fearless spirit that propelled me into so many ditches full of nettles when I was a kid? Where is the optimism that left me completely unafraid to tell my boss to stick his job, just because he wouldn’t give me a bathroom break? How have I become this terrified little shadow of my former self; afraid to go into the bathroom in bare feet lest I stub my toe? Why, even now, when I am just weeks away from moving across the water to be with my fiancée, am I convinced that I will limp home with a broken heart and an unused tuxedo? I have never, ever… even for one second been given even the slightest impression that such a thing will happen. There is absolutely no evidence to support such a conclusion. I simply… expect… to fail.
So… now that I have laid (fearlessly or stupidly, I’ll let you decide) bare my concerns for half-a-dozen people across the globe to see, I expect something in return. I would like any suggestions on how to tackle this kind of behaviour. And when I say suggestions, I don’t mean wonderfully insightful comments like “Cheer up, it might never happen!” I can get all the fortune-cookie wisdom I need from stoners and facebook evangelists, thank you very much. I’m looking for ways that I might start putting more than a trembling toe into the bath-tub again; to get back the days when I did not need a piece of blue touch-paper, tied to the end of a garden-cane, to light my fucking barbecue.
I’ll tell you what… I’m asking too much. Just leave a comment.
Y’see? I did it again.
Don’t bend over for the soap! Or… DO! Nothing ventured, nothing gained… right?