I think the problem is my ridiculous levels of competitiveness. Who knows where it came from but I was born with an unfortunate desire to WIN. This led to many a board of snakes and ladders being thrown across the room when I hit just one snake too many and countless hours standing in the corner because of the tantrums I invariably threw when people didn’t let me win. This inbuilt rocket ship has come in handy at times – you wouldn’t have recognised me on a hockey/netball/rounders pitch at school (but not running remember?). And the only reason that I got decent results at GCSE and A-level and got into university was because I thrived under the intensely competitive atmosphere that private schooling seems to produce (we were regularly told that we had to try and beat last year’s grade performance and that we were in competition with one another. A tactic which worked well for some but most definitely had a destructive edge to it.).
When you consider this quite frankly bizarre behaviour then it’s no wonder I’m feeling the burn as everyone around me buys houses, move in with boyfriends, get good jobs, have amazing life experiences, get married, have children. I am losing the ultimate game. That of life. I think of how incredibly rageful I can get over a quiet game of Monopoly, of course I’m throwing a fit about the way my life is turning out – this is just my ugly competitive edge coming out.
This is what happens when we feel the need to conform. I can sit here and repeat “I am happy” until I’m blue in the face but the awful fact is that we still judge a person’s success in life by whether they;
1. Own a house
2. Have a decent job
2. Have a decent job
3. Are married (children optional)
Anyone outside of this we might admire, but we admire them because they stand out and you can admire someone all you like but it doesn’t mean you want to be like them. I’m happy to conform to be honest, box me up and ship me out with the rest of the clones – instead I feel like a square peg in a round hole.
I can’t even say I have any great life experiences to fall back on – look at The Curious Cat. I love that girl you know. She’s gone and done some travelling and experienced wonderful things. The furthest I’ve gone is to the other side of Hull unaccompanied (clearly I’m exaggerating but you have to allow me that at this moment in time I’m afraid). If marriage and houses and job that I love never happen to me then at least I could have had the option of saying “Ah yes, but this one time when I was trekking up the Andes something rather marvellous happened...”. Nope. Not for me.
I repeat “I am happy” and I do believe it deep down inside. But the mantra only works if I don’t think about the things that I want and don’t have – then I become unhappy. And I’m pretty sure the mantra “I am happy, apart from the fact that I suck at life” isn’t one you should be repeating 20 times a day in the mirror. I guess that’s the thing about inner peace – it isn’t just bestowed upon you, you have to really put the effort in. I have to really really believe that I’m happy for me to be happy and although I’m pleased with my efforts so far, I have to be honest and say that I’m failing.
I was doing a pretty good job until 2011 dawned. In 2011 I will be attending five hen dos and two weddings (if that ratio seems a bit off it’s because one wedding is in Israel, one is in Thailand and one is in Italy. I love my friends but unfortunately friendship can’t buy plane tickets or book hotel rooms). In the face of all of the joy and happiness of other people, I am struggling to keep hold of my own.
One of the first of my group of friends here in Hull got married at the end of November last year. I have been roundly mocked for my total inability to keep my emotions in check at her wedding. It’s no wonder people found it funny, I’m not known for my overly emotional side, I’m the one making inappropriate jokes and laughing in the face of mush, yet here I was completely unable to stop the tears from streaming down my face. I had no idea at the time what was the cause of it and put it down to my extreme happiness for her. She has just announced that she’s pregnant with their first child. The tears came again.
But I have to be honest. I don’t think I was crying because I was happy for her. I think I was crying for myself and the fact that life as I knew it, with my group of friends, was about to irreversibly change (married people, you may not know it but you do change when you get married, who knows why, but that gold/platinum band seems to make the world of difference. Protest all you want, I’m telling you the truth) and I feel like I’m getting left behind, watching everybody climb up the ladders whilst my throw of the dice never seems to come up with the right number.
This is a disgustingly unpleasant and selfish side of me that I feel ashamed to reveal to you but I say it in the spirit of honesty. Standing and watching people get what I would like in life is hard and deep down I know that it’s not a race and I know it’s not a competition but it’s easy to say that when you’re winning said game.
I’m sure everything will all work out, some people aren’t as lucky as others, and for whatever reason I have not been chosen to win this game as quickly as others. It could be that I’m the unlucky person who never gets to go up the ladders, but instead rolls and rolls the dice and avoids the snakes and gets there in the end.
So I carry on repeating to myself “I am happy” and try not to worry about the milestones that I’m not (and may never) reach and eventually I am sure I will find my inner peace.
But you might just have to bear with me for a while.