December 14, 2017

December Is Weird

December is a weird month for so many reasons. For me, it intensifies my emotions, I have less energy, I mute Whatsapp groups, I start getting really reflective and I beat myself up for the people I feel I probably haven’t seen enough of. This December has been exciting but packed: normal work stuff alongside finishing writing my book (I hand in my first draft in a few days); trying to write 150 Christmas cards, buying gifts and also trying not to get too drunk and emotional at Christmas parties. I wanted to write a series of miniature blog posts to sum up some of my thoughts whirring around my head. I hope you are able to slow down this December (I even feel like there’s a ‘pressure’ around that too), and like me, you might try and take some time out for yourself. Life can seem like one big distraction sometimes and stopping isn’t always easy. 

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“To be less bothered by people”. This is my older sister’s New Year’s resolution. I thought it was interesting that it wasn’t “to be less bothered about what other people think” – no. It’s to be less bothered, by other people. I am one of those people who has in the past always taken on other people’s energy. I’d be like a magnet for other people’s emotions and they would be transferred straight onto me like a temporary tattoo. If someone is sad I would be sad, if someone is tense I would be tense, if someone is grinning I grin back, if someone is being weird and intense at a dinner table, I would be immediately weird and intense too. I would move with the ebbs and flows of the room. This is not what I am like now. My external and internal boundaries are pretty solid. You can care deeply for someone without taking on all of their stuff. If someone tries to make me feel uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean they will succeed.

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I had two horrible experiences in taxis this week. It wasn’t Uber. I was on my way to a work event in Chelsea (and I live East) so it was one of those hour-long across London journeys which I would never do unless it’s being paid for by the job I’m doing. On the way there the driver immediately asks: “Do you have a boyfriend?” Hmm. “Yeah I do”, I replied. “Is he rich?” “Er, no,” I reply. “You should get a rich boyfriend. Then you wouldn’t have to work.” I look up to see if he is joking, but he isn’t. He mutters something about how women shouldn’t need to work. I put my headphones in. On the way back, I hope for a better experience, I am already feeling fragile from the event I just did. The thing about my job, is it’s so incredibly introverted and I’m alone at home a lot (writing, pitching, editing, marketing) and then suddenly you have a spotlight on you, speaking to an audience, however big or small, you are exposed. And I love it. I love my job. But after you’ve laid yourself bare in front of strangers, you feel high on making connections and having conversations, but feel a little more raw than normal. This taxi driver decided he wanted to “teach me about the real Hackney”. Did you know someone was murdered here? This road was famous for it’s violence. There was a murder in that house, too. “Do you know where you are now?” He asks as we go down some dark back streets. He wanted to know if I had a boyfriend too. He wanted to know his name. He wanted to know what I’d bought my boyfriend for Christmas. It’s all fun and games until you realise you just really don’t want to talk, and you’ve got quite a bit of the journey left, it’s dark outside, he keeps catching your eye in the mirror, and he’s still talking about famous murders.

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If you feel like an artist, you are artist. Don’t let anyone try and Top Trump you in whatever you think or feel or make. There’s no such thing as a Real artist or a Real author or a Real anything. It’s bullshit.

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We talk a lot about “personal branding” online but of course it’s not new at all. I met a woman the other evening, in her late 50s, who works in investment banking. You could tell she was very successful. She works in the financial sector, and has her own company that she’s been running and growing for over 16 years. She did not encompass any of the usual stereotypes. She had multi-coloured feathers in her hair. She was wearing a big faux fur leopard print coat. Her businesses cards were bright pink, with a velvet-y texture to them. “In meetings or networking events, people always remember me”, she said. And I totally get why.

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The Christmas holidays are hardly ever like a John Lewis advert, but so many people feel like they have to pretend it is.

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I got a lot of Instagram Messages last month after a talk I did alongside Anna Whitehouse on flexible working and plucking up the courage to ask for more flexibility in your working life, whatever your personal reason for it might be. There was one girl who I was chatting to, and she said that she had been inspired to ask for flexibility and followed up recently so say it had worked, she was allowed to work from home on Fridays. She messaged me again the other day and it turns out we went to the same primary school together. I remember her. I had a vague memory of going round to her house as a kid. Sometimes I find it quite magical how small the world can be. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence when you “bump” into people. I think somehow we attract it.

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I go a bit loopy every time I go back to my home home. I am flooded with old emotions and I realise all at once how exhausting it is living in an endless loop of depressing news articles, guilt and Instagram stars.

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I watched LadyBird the other week. Someone asked me what I thought of it and I didn’t have much to say. Not because I didn’t have lots of thoughts on it. Some things are nice to just mull over by yourself. Feels nice.

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I am going to support my friend Luisa Omielan this week at her gig at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. She is one of the bravest, strongest people I know. She was booked to do her Am I Right Ladies!? show. A party show, that I’ve been to before. But Luisa’s mother Helena passed away this year. To reflect this, she has changed the content of her show to reflect this loss. She will now be discussing topics such as bereavement, cancer, palliative care and cannabis in the show. She recently did Live At The Apollo, and touched on some of these topics, and I cried with pure love and pride. Be More Luisa.

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I follow a friend’s private Instagram account who has been torn part publicly this year and I love her more every day.

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Writing my second book isn’t as emotionally fraught as the first time. My first book was wrapped up in so much feeling and tension and apprehension and what ifs and what nexts. This time it’s much more simple: I pitched a book I knew I could write well. I knew I was the one to write it. I got a deal, I got paid, I am writing the best book I can. End. It just is. There’s no catch or whats nexts.

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I’m excited for 2018.

  • Loved the style of this post, each point is really good and has made me stop and think about a few things. Think I’m going to put a plan in place to action asking about more flexable working in the new year.

    Becca x
    http://www.rawrrbecca.co.uk

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