I had an idea not so long ago; a thought that kept niggling away at the deepest part of my brain. What if I wrote a blog that told #thetruth? Instead of dramatising my reality, for whatever reasons, what if I told the unadulterated truth?
Well, I'm on draft 6 now. Not because telling the truth is hard, but because getting the tone right is. I guess that's because I want to expel my thoughts from an honest standpoint, a standpoint of pride and jubilance. I want to write something from the heart - from that part of my heart I usually hide so well. I want to write a piece of hard-up honesty that is refreshing, but not sad, because no matter how hard life can sometimes swing, I don't feel sad or hard done by or inadequate. But I do feel as though I’ve not always told #thetruth - you just have to look at my Instagram account to see that. I mean I have a real talent for making grey days look positively Hawaiian, which I hope is a reflection of my attitude and persistent optimism. Basically, I am a dreamer. But being a dreamer means I have to constantly tell myself I'm doing okay - that I'm doing great in fact - and that has seen me exaggerating the truth to kind of convince myself that I am on the path to success. So, yeah, I occasionally paint a picture that isn't entirely accurate. I edit what words fall out of my mouth. I concentrate on the positives whenever people ask what I'm up to. I cast a spotlight on my bright looking future, knowing full well that future may never happen, when I maybe should underscore the uncertainties I face right now. I tell people what I want them to hear, possibly because I'm scared I'll be judged if they knew the whole truth.
Why do I do this? I don't know exactly, but I guess it's because I'm petrified of being seen as a failure - both in your eyes and mine - so I talk about the best bits sort of in an attempt to convince myself that I'm doing great, and doing the right thing, and working hard enough, all of which sort of helps me feel less like I'm failing.
But this is my chance to come clean; completely clean. This is my chance to go against the norms of a social media generation and paint you my picture exactly as it is. Basically, this my chance to tell you #thetruth.
So here it is.
1. I'm no longer working in the film industry, and whilst my writing career could be on the up, my passion for writing is a risk like no other. It is a risk that may be harming my family and my future. a risk that is putting a strain on my financials and my family's security, a risk that snatches away my sleep and my weekends. It is a risk that is built on nothing but hope, then doubt, then hope again. It is a gamble and I don't know if I'm good enough at sitting at my laptop and bleeding. (although it is important to mention that I couldn't stop writing even if I wanted to because the stunning madre to my beautiful bambino won't let me).
2. Last year, I spent 8 months working for free. I thought I was doing the right thing. I was trying to help save the film company I worked for, and loved, from going bust. I wanted to protect the shareholds and my colleagues and my boss, so I gave it every thing I had, only for it to be snatched away by a reverse takeover that resulted in me losing my job. I knew the risks, and I still committed to it. I had a new family and a newborn baby girl and yet I chose to gamble my income to try and save a company that only paid me £18,000 a year, and usually never on time. In short, my pride and determination and ambition seems to frequently hurt my family's chances.
3. At this moment in time, I'm working as an unskilled labourer on a building site for £240 a week. I spend my days ripping up carpets, moving brick after brick from one pile to another, stuffing itchy insulation into dark attics and stud walls, filling skips and skips. I spend my days wondering how this happened, my sanity threatening to explode like a volcano as I think about how I'm using my one shot at life, how I'm spending my time. Time is the most valuable commodity we have, the one thing we can't make any more of, and I'm failing to use it properly. I had a small fortune spent on my education, and I'm sweeping up building sites, literally sweeping them. That can really get me down.
4. It doesn't matter how hard I work, it is never enough. I'm still banging my head on the wall. I mean, I get up ridiculously early so I can write before I go to the building site, and so I can learn more about writing I read books on my lunch break, taking the endless banter as well as I can. Then, after I've cherished my time with Phoebe, read her a story and put her to bed, I start writing again, or I practise building websites. I put as much skin in the game as each day will let me, but sometimes I can feel the lump in my throat grow bigger and bigger, and I ask myself why I do it to myself. I can sometimes feel my strength evaporate from me as I think about the tiny monetary return I receive for my blood, sweat and tears. I find it hard to admit it, but sometimes my monthly pay doesn't even exceed £900.
5. I have to try and guess when my card will get rejected each month - will it be at the petrol station? or in Lidl? or when I try to buy Victoria a birthday present, or just a tiny surprise to say thank you for every little thing she does for Phoebe and I? Or will it happen when I'm trying to pay my mum rent? (Yup, we live in my mum's house).
6. For month's I have been sending out my CV and for month's I have getting clobbered by rejection letter after rejection letter. I'm even applying for jobs that I don't want - that I have zero interest in but know I need in order to give my family some security - and I'm getting rejected by them too. Trust me, there is only so much rejection a man can take before these automated responses start to feel personal, before they consolidate and get under my skin and into my head and force my stiff upper lip to start wobbling. To me, each rejection letter represents another lost battle and another piece of lost hope.
6. I'm scared that I'm wasting my life. I refuse to believe that I was born to just pay bills and die, but I'm scared that is how it will end up, because that is how it sometimes feels.
7. I once heard someone describe themselves as The Faller. She said, "Maybe, just maybe, I'm the faller. Every friendship group - every family - has someone who falls, who doesn't quite make the grade, who stumbles, who gets tripped up by life. Maybe I'm our faller." Well I'm scared of being The Faller. However I'm also spurred on by the fact I'm still here swinging, still taking the punches, still smiling, still making others smile, still making the most out of this path we only get to walk once.
8. I also struggle with bi-polar. Actually it is called cyclothymia. But yeah, when I'm on a good day I'll pretty much out giggle anyone, even a child riding high on penny sweets, but when I'm feeling down, my thoughts become unbearable, just thinking about my thoughts is unbearable, and I have to pretend to be the same old confident me, and that's tough, that's an energy sapper like no other.
9. I sometimes look at social media and convince myself I'm failing. I sometimes look at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest - the amphitheatres of our era; the art galleries with endless walls, each one filled with an eternal myriad of beautifully edited pictures and gloriously edited text - and I convince myself I'm failing because, unlike my friends, I haven't seen enough of the world, or gotten a company car, or been able to treat my girlfriend for a romantic dinner at one of London's hotspots. I compare myself to my friends, and get caught in a crazy dichotomy where I'm happy for them and disappointed in me.
Anyway, the reason I'm saying all this - dropping my guard and exposing the lacerations which have scarred my confidence - is not to gain sympathy or empathy or to somehow feel wanted and important. No. Not at all. I'm doing this because I want to be honest, like completely honest. I don't want to dress things up anymore and sugarcoat them, there's no point. Honesty has always turned out to be the tonic for all my pain. The other reason i'm telling you all this is because, whilst I have some issues in my life (hiccups, speed-bumps, hardships, worries, drudgery, misfortune, tripe - call it what you will) I'm still incredibly proud of who I am. I'm still incredibly proud of what I am fighting for, who am I fighting for, who I am trying to protect, and what my priorities are. I am proud of my search for a purpose. I am proud of the importance I have place on my family's happiness. Despite how hard life has suddenly become since hitting 24, I still think life is incredible. It is the most spectacular circus I have ever seen. It is the last great adventure.
I'm sure everyone feels the same in some way or another. I can't be the only one who sort of feels unprepared for life. But as hard as it can be, there is so much magic out there. I mean, when I think about it, I have everything I could possibly want. I have what so many people spend their lives looking for, and what too many people take for granted in the search for something else. After all, Happiness = Reality - Expectation.
- I have a gorgeously mad family.
- I get to laugh every second I'm at home, laughing at the little offspring as she plays first fiddle in every smile, forever exploring the world with a fearless enthusiasm and cheeky smile and a coy shrug that only explodes onto the surface whenever she knows she is up to no good.
- I have devoted friends (who I don't get to see enough).
- I have my health and my happiness.
- And I have a struggle that I cherish - a pain that I am more than willing to take on the chin in order to one day call myself a 'real' writer, because I know if I keep putting some skin in the game then one day I'll be able to stand on the sand dunes and yell "I am a writer" across an empty beach, not to anyone, just to the sea and me.
Life can be impossibly hard at times, of course it can, but it is the only one we have, and it is pretty damn miraculous. But know that you are not failing, nor are you a Faller, nor are you alone in feeling that way. Sometimes your ahead, sometimes your behind, but the race is long and it's only with yourself.
But don't just take it from me, go and listen to the immortally wise words of 1997's most famous crooner, Mr Baz Luhrmann.