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Success and my inner-bitch factory

Success and my inner-bitch factory

Success is a fickle bastard.

Wait, wait, wait. No. The way I feel about success is a fickle bastard.

From the perspective of friends and family, I think a lot of people would see me as relatively successful; I have the trappings of a pretty charmed life (good marriage, healthy daughter, nice house in a nice place, my own business, good friends). I’ve also had a few people tell me that the stuff I’ve done has inspired them to do their own things, a concept I find incredibly humbling considering what a lot of my friends have achieved.

But I also find it a bit fucking berserkoid. Because I NEVER FEEL SUCCESSFUL except for fleeting moments when I win an award, or I’m asked to speak at an event, or given some accolade from some person I deem as “better than me”.

I’ve started to touch on this in my therapy sessions, because it’s a theme that always comes up as the Voice of Utter Shitness in my mind: “YOU’RE NOT SUCCESSFUL YET”.

Earlier on today, I was directed to an Enneagram test by Lotte. I took a test, and found out I am a Type 3, also known as The Achiever (I have a wing of 4, which also makes me “The Professional”, but that’s a subsidiary matter). Now, I love me a good quiz, especially when I learn more about me and my personality. I’ve taken fucking billions over the years, from paid tests all the way to the type with batshit names like “which Disney character’s pubic hair most describes your cooking style?”.

Normally, I have a good deal of interest to these kinds of test, but there’s normally an area of “mmm, I kiiiinda think that miiiight sound like me, but not totally…”, and that causes me to not feel comfortable labelling myself as Definitely That Thing. Not to mention, I’ve spent a lot of my life not really knowing what I want, so actually I’m like a jack of all trades (or jack of all personalities).

It’s only been a recent discovery that success is a massive driver for me. BUT WHAT DOES SUCCESS EVEN MEAN TO ME?

I don’t jive with the whole “MAD LEVELS OF FAME AND POWER” concept. I also don’t want to live the life of a rap video, downing Cristal strawpedos while I drive round, I dunno, bloody Monte Carlo in a Mayback with the number plate “R1CH AF” before pulling up to buy underpants encrusted with diamonds from the Diamond Encrusted Underpant Shop. Both just seem quite un-me-like. But until today, I didn’t get why these results of success didn’t appeal.

So, I read into my Enneagram, and this is what I found:

“Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy, or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring. They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value.”

Er, wow. Well. That was a pretty enlightening read. There’s more detail on the Enneagram Institute page, but I cannot fault this.

Yes, dear reader, I need success because my main driving force in life is to “not be a worthless shithumper”. BRILLIANT.

Yes, dear reader, I need success because my main driving force in life is to “not be a worthless shithumper”. BRILLIANT. Not very noble, but it certainly felt very true.

So here’s a couple of other truths. Perhaps you get them, perhaps not:

1/ While I know there’s only one me, the fact that other people could be Type 3s (or ENFPs or Creators or Cinderella’s glittery pubic hair…) brings out a weird competitive edge in me.

I feel a bit “only gay in the village” about it, even though intellectually it’s clearly not true and that’s just a bit of weird programming I have left over from being a child.

2/ I’m more affected by the way I look than I’d like to admit. And that’s embarrassing.

I put myself through an eating disorder as a youngster, and as an adult, I’ve done a lot of work to vercome that. But the aesthetic thing shows up everywhere.

Case in point: on Friday, I had my hair done. My hair is my “thing”. As a teen, I was the girl whose hair people admired. I would wash and blow dry my hair EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It was styled perfectly – FOR SCHOOL. AN ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL. Random strangers and hairdressers used to compliment me on my hair. So fast forward to 2016 – I’m not as hair-obsessed as I once was, but I cannot tell you the joy and relief I had after having my hair cut, coloured and styled exactly the way I wanted it. I noticed the difference straight away; I spoke to people differently, it was like I moved from this place of “oh God what must they think of me” to “now I can be the person I always imagine myself to be”. I felt light and funny and eloquent and friendly, instead of awkward, ugly and weird. Because of MY HAIR.

HASHTAG SUPERFICIAL.

3/ I don’t get jealous often, but when I do, it’s because you’re younger, prettier and more successful than me. And I can be a bitch about it.

This is a really depressing admission for me. I didn’t even realise it was a thing until I voiced it in a therapy session a few weeks ago. Normally I can handle envy – I feel like it points to the place you want to go, or something about that person speaks volumes about where your direction should be heading.

But there’s a magic trifecta of things that cause jealousy for me; age, beauty and success.

Bleurgh, right?!

If you have any one of these assets on me, it’s likely I’ll feel a little envious, but I can kind of get on with my life and in fact I will make it my aim to become friends with you. Two things? I’m going to be a bit jealous, but I can still hide it. All three and one of two things will happen: I will stalk you on social media, work out our age difference, compare how I look to you (unfavourably for me), and if I can, leave sickeningly supportive messages on one or two pieces of your content (BUT NOT TOO MUCH BECAUSE PLEASE DON’T THINK I’M WEIRD. Also NOTICE ME). Or, I will find out bad things about you and feel very justified in my inner-circle bitching about you. And I really don’t do bitching all that often.

I’m working on it, but YES, I know. This is a reeeeally sucky part of my personality.

It does feel good (freeing? Honest?) to admit these things, and there are probably more things lurking in my mind waiting to be unlocked. Better out than in, right? Or is that just farts…?

 

Online business shit I can do without

Online business shit I can do without

I’m a-gonna rant lyrical for a few minutes here, so please bear with me. I would say usual programming will recommence, but consisering I have no usual programming schedule, you might just have to get used to my slightly rant-filled posts.

I’ve been working on the online space now for 6 years. Long enough to get to know a lot of trends in the industry, and long enough to know who and what to avoid, and the fact you won’t earn 6 figures while you curl out a monster turd in the bog. But the frightening shitness of how women are marketed to (AND how they’re marketing) is preposterous. Starting with (but certainly not ending with)…

The Ridiculous feminising of names

Ohhhh, I get it. You’re a mother AND an entrepreneur, so yeah, mumpreneur. And ohhhh, you’re heart-centred and you lead with your soul, so that makes you a heart-centred soulpreneur. And of course, you’re the boss AND a lady – a ladyboss! Oh how quaint! What are the odds!?

Look, I’m calling SEVERAL PILES OF HORSESHIT ON THIS. Let’s take “mumpreneur” as a starter-for-ten. You’re an entrepreneur who happens to be a mum. BUT being a mum has no impact on your ability to have a business – and I’m not talking about the juggling of kids and family with the day-to-day running of a business (relatively-to-really-fucking-hard), but to have a business in the UK at least starts with a) a decision that you want to run a business and b) filling in a few forms (pretty easy).

Women without kids are what? Maidenpreneurs? Nonmumpreneurs?? NOT -ONE-PERSON-HAS-ENTERED-THE-WORLD-THROUGH-MY-VAGINAL-PASSAGEPRENEUR?!?!?!! Why stop at kids – heck I’m a MARRIEDPRENEUR! That’s totally a fucking thing,right?

And those heart-centred fempreneurs? Uh, sounds like a wank-focused shitpreneur name to me. How you run your business doesn’t dictate that you can run one.

Look, if you were employed in a job, does that make you a “femployee”?! I don’t fucking think so.

The word is “entrepreneur”. Men don’t call themselves “dadpreneurs” or “manpreneurs” or “manboss” or “dick-centred cockpreneurs” because firstly, weird, and secondly the fact that they’re fathers or men or are in possession of a penis has no bearing on the fact that they can run a business.

The fact you identify as a female (and let’s not pretend this is more of a middle-class, white, cisgender trend), or have given birth (and deal with intricacies of running a business and raising kids), or are soulful or spiritual have no bearing on how enterprising you are. Why do we need to make special little soft girly names for non-gender-specific roles? It sounds like the term “entrepreneur” is a cisgender white “man’s” thing, in the same way blue is a “boy’s” colour. WHICH IS A COMMON-OR-GARDEN BAG OF DICKS.

You’re an entrepreneur, or a business owner, or a boss. Gender has nothing to do with it.

Ahhh, that feels better now.

Here’s a picture of a leaf shaped like a heart. You’re welcome.

What I dun on my weekend: Autumn flava and a dead squirrel.

What I dun on my weekend: Autumn flava and a dead squirrel.

Well, now it’s technically gone and done an Autumn *gumble grumble where was the Summer please grumble arse grumble*.

I don’t really mind the idea of Autumn – all cosying up with #cinnamonlatte and fairisle socks while you hug a few pumpkins next to a radiator and hide from children doing the annual sweet collection dressed as skeletons and witches. But the days of everlasting greyness plus the diminishing daylight, all multplied by never knowing what the fuck to wear because will it rain??? Will the sunshine be kind?? Is the scarf overkill??? Was this jacket too light?? WHY DID I NOT WEAR THERMAL LEGGINGS?!?! Ugh.

I find Autumn quite melancholic, although necessary. I used to really enjoy September with everything feeling quite “new school term!” and the fresher temperature, but that’s changed in the past few years because I love the Summer, and we don’t really get a proper one in the UK, so I feel like I’m mourning the death of a season that only half showed up, the fickle fucker. I’ve only had my Summer duvet on for about five fucking minutes, and it looks like I’ll be changing it back up to the chunky mutha sooner rather than later.

I’m an Autumn baby, too, so I feel I should LOVE this time of year. But while most posts you see or read on the subject of Autumn are all “LOOK AT MY GINGERBREAD MAN PYJAMAS/HOT CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!/OOOOOH IT’S NEARLY C-WORD (LOL LOL LOL I DIDN’T SAY IT BUT LOL CAN I PUT MY TREE UP YET LOL)”, I’m all “CAN I PUT THE FUCKING HEATING ON YET?!?!/YORKSHIRE GOLD OR GTFO/WHO LEFT THE GATE OPEN AT THE C-WORD FARM BECAUSE THEIR APPEAR TO BE FUCKING CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS IN THE SHOPS ALREADY”

This weekend was the start of the Autumn, and I’m trying to make sure that I spend as much of my weekend outside as possible.

We hit up Oldbury Park in Fishponds on Saturday, threw some pooh sticks, flew a kite (badly) and went for a long stroll. Unfortunately, we also saw a squirrel murdered by two Lurchers. We all froze to the spot with mouths agape, Noemi included, while these two dogs cornered the creature and ripped it to shreds. It all happened so quickly and it was squeaking while the owner tried to extricate it from his dogs’ mouths. Sooo, yeah. That happened.

But, y’know, otherwise a lovely day…

On Sunday, we ventured out of Bristol to Marlborough. A couple of years ago my family and I moved from Southampton to Bristol. I didn’t really gel with Southampton, but loved the friends we’d made there, so we like to try and meet up with them relatively regularly, especially when they do things like, y’know, create brand new humans together. Cute babies, pub lunch, ridiculously changeable weather, and a walk around Avebury stone circle before tea and cake. Because tea. And cake.

Despite the fact I’m a bit of a grumpy bitch about the whole “Autumn” shenanigans, this weekend suited me fine.

In defence of inconsistency

In defence of inconsistency

Consistency has been a concept I have struggled with for MANY. FUCKING. YEARS.

Seriously, even writing this post has endured some fairly industrial level procrastination. In fact before even finishing the first sentence, I have:

  • Watched an entire episode of Pretty Little Liars (TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF OF THOSE PANTS OF JUDGEMENT. I SEE YOU…)
  • Had a shower
  • Got dressed
  • Sent WhatsApp messages to Lotte (follow her, because she’s FUCKING AMAZING) (Aside: I also made an epic typo of boundless hilarity, and now “Wetherspoons”, the brand of affordable and popular British uber-pubs, shall now henceforth be known as “Wergerspoobs”. Much better.)
  • You will notice that even this list suffers with procrastination and lacks consistency
  • Seagulls
  • Ballsack
  • I don’t even know what I’m doing…

My school reports are all dotted with “Gemma doesn’t apply herself” and “Gemma lacks consistency”. And to be honest, I’ve always known there was more in me, I just didn’t see the point of studying for History or Religious Studies when, really, what was I actually going to do with those in my life? (PRO TIP for any teens out there wondering if there really is any point to studying these subjects, I can conclusively declare NO, there is literally and figuratively not one point UNLESS you like them and enjoy them or you just really want to own it at Trivial Pursuit. Get the basics sorted with Maths and English, try and remember a few phrases in a different language that enable you to get by when your family find themselves lost looking for the B&B in a quiet European village and everything else? Seriously, just do the ones you enjoy. Operative word being YOU. Lesson over…)

Even with things that I love, I lack the staying power. I get to a certain level and I’m, well, just done with it. Guitar, keyboard, roller skating, reiki, Michael Jackson.

And consistency is the thing you really need in your life if there’s an area that you want to become masterful in. Running a business, for example, means consistently, day in, day out doing something that moves your business forward, that keeps you in the forefront of people’s minds. Being a fucking epic piano player means, day in, day out, practising playing the piano and the theory and putting your music out there in the ether. Same for being great at a sport, same for pretty much anything else you want to be great at.

But, the big issue is that CONSISTENCY IS FUCKING BORING. It’s ENDLESSLY DULL. The few things I wanted to do endlessly as a youngster were gymnastics, art and singing – and even some of those had boring bits in. The former stopped when my mum decided I wasn’t going to lessons anymore (heartbreaking), and the latter two ended when I went to Grammar school and realised that there were so many other people better than me, so really, what was the point. (Plus, I won’t lie, boys were increasingly more interesting.)

If you are like me, there are two ways you can approach the lack of consistency problem:

1. Choke down consistency every day, and just get it done and reap the rewards of achieving the goal that you desperately want to achieve.

or

2. Accept that you are never going to fall in love with the process of doing the endless work and – despite what the world might say about it – stand proud in your ok-ness about that.

Fact is, it’s OK to be a perpetual starter; things can never be truly finished anyway, especially when it comes to art or anything creative. It’s OK to only do things that you like. You might not be the next trillionaire business mogul, but is that what you even want? (Hint: if it is, then seriously, choke that consistency down like the filthy gruel it can be or get someone else to do the bits you hate).

When you grow up in a world that wants you to hit goals here and achieve All The Things, it can be hard to understand that, actually, it’s totally fucking fine to flow from one thing to the next, doing what you enjoy.

Looking back on all my reports, my lack of consistency and lack of application were down to the fact I was pretty bored. Boredom for me means I either need to step up to the next level of challenge in that area, or I just need to stop doing the thing that’s making me feel bored and try something completely different. I’d wager the same is true for you.

Find the enjoyment in your own process; and hey, it’s ok if that process looks like the physical dance interpretation of fusion jazz while tripping on mushrooms.

A local fair for local people

A local fair for local people

One of my favourite pastimes is haemorrhaging money so my child can bounce on different equipment, so when we heard that our local fair was in town over the weekend, we hit up that mother faster than you can say “four minutes bouncing for £4”.

It started well; £7.50 entrance fee, and we lost my mother to the second hand stalls around the perimeter. We’ve started a concerted effort to help Noemi understand the value of money by giving her a set amount at events like this and letting her decide how she wants to spend it, but understanding that once it’s gone, it’s gone.

You have never seen a child become so frugal in such a short space of time, so tentatively, I think it’s working.

First stop: Spacehopper Hurdles

Yes, it was as cool as it looks. Noemi excelled herself against a couple of two year olds who couldn’t quite fit on the Spacehoppers properly, and won a rosette for her efforts.

There are some things that are quite commonplace at all local fairs in the UK – perhaps elsewhere, too:

  1. A rock band with a singer dressed like she’s going to fancy dress party as a medieval serving maid
  2. Five different types of bouncy castle, all with extortionate prices-per-minute and teeming with more than the recommended safe number of children.
  3. Groups of bored teens
  4. Rain, or the threat of rain
  5. A parent trying to console a screaming little shit child.

And there are things that never happen at local fairs, like leaving with change from a twenty pound note.

Noemi’s next bouncing apparatus was a castle/slide combo. By the way, it turns out it is really fucking hard to get Noemi in focus while bouncing, so these rather artsy shots will simply have to do.

Jon and I laughed for the full five minute bounce time at the name of the bouncy castle manufacturer. That name was fucking inspired!

Our next move was a bit of a mistake, because we decided to wait in a MAMMOTH FUCKING QUEUE so that Noemi could end up on one of those trampoline bungee thingies.

FORTY-FIVE MINUTES (and one tin of Thatcher’s cider – mine, I hasten to add) LATER, and she was launching herself into the air with the greatest of ease.

After spending her final 30p on a Sherbet Dip Dab (STILL A THING APPARENTLY!), we watched four impressive ladies showing us their Zumba skills on stage and headed home.