Turning 30. No Turning Back.

I’m turning 30 and I’m not where I thought I’d be.  I’m not divorced, I didn’t have kids, I don’t have my own house or a phD.  I’m in a strange place in my life and I don’t know where I’m going, but I’ve made safe and informed decisions and followed the clearest path I had, so it is what it is.  I am where I am.  If I have gained anything that I meant to it’s experience and a little wisdom and it’s only fair I share some of it.  Here is a list of things I learned in my twenties that I wish someone had told me sooner.  Or if they did tell me, I wish I’d listened.  I wish I’d been sat down, bribed with cakes, and forced to switch off the EMO rock and listen.

Here we go:

1/ You’re Not Perfect (and that’s ok)

Coming into my twenties I wanted to be the best at everything and I beat myself up because I wasn’t.  I stopped trying things because I’d fail or fall short.  I hated myself because I didn’t tick all the boxes of what I thought I should be.  That was stupid.  Realistically, nobody is perfect and if they act like they are they’re faking, or playing it really, really safe.  It’s ok to just be really good at one thing and not at ten million things.  It’s ok not be sure what you’re good at, you’re young!  Try things, fail, try new things, fail, start again, keep fucking going.

You don’t have to be pretty, and smart, and good at cooking, and a master athlete, and a workaholic, and the life and soul of the party, and the go to guy for everything.  You can’t.  You are neither an octopus nor a time traveler.  Pick one thing to excel at and leave the rest for others.

2/ Be explicit

You have to say what you mean, say what you feel, say what you want, ask explicitly.

Hints are bullshit.  People either don’t get them and you feel ignored, or they show up as ambiguous and again you feel ignored.  E.g. I once really liked someone and I didn’t know how to approach them about it so I posted some videos of songs that I felt really spelled out how I felt (honestly!), I’ve also done it when mad at someone and wanted them to feel the fury, angry video, take a hint tactic.  THIS DID NOT HELP.  It was ambiguous, impersonal and just really NOT enough.  Any one of my 400+ friends could have seen that and thought it was directed at them.  It was a dumb hint aimed into mid-air.  No target.  Absolutely useless.  Could have just said it!  Then there’s no doubt.  Courage is a fine thing.

Believe me, I know sometimes it’s hard to just spit it out, but whatever you have to say, just say it, let people handle it.  How people handle it can be really revealing.  It can work out really well.  Or it can be difficult.  But it’s better to have a tough answer to a question rather than just a question burning at you for months and wasting your time wondering and looking for clues.  In the event that it goes down badly you deal with it, back track if you have to, apologize, and move forward.  Don’t just get stuck in limbo with a loaded pistol that never gets shot.  Ask the big questions, reveal the big truths, or they will block your path forward.

3/Don’t attend every argument you’re invited to

It has taken me a long time to get this one, but since I have embraced it, it really works for me.  If you’re being pushed around without due cause, constantly attacked without good reason, constantly in battle with your peers/parents/etc without any logical justification given, get out of there, do not engage.  These people are terrorists and you do not negotiate with terrorists.  Keep your cool and follow the path of diplomacy.  If diplomacy is not an option, step aside until it is.  If this means leaving behind things that you’ll miss, tough!  You will find other things that don’t lead you to a place where your confidence and sense of self is trod on and where you feel under threat every second.  There are better places to be than under someone’s shoe. I’m not saying disassociate from anything or anyone that gives you a hard time when you deserve it, or fights to smooth over tense situations, but know where the boundaries are between friendly, well-meaning pushing and unnecessary bullying and punch bagging.  The more you put up with the more you will be expected to.  Don’t put up with it.

4/ It’s ok that you fucked up

Most people at one time or another in their twenties have seriously made a mess of things.  For some people it was a relationship, a friendship, others a job, an opportunity, a trip down the path of rebellion, heavy drinking, drugs, a spiral out of control, a phase of aggression or sexual expression, shameful antics, whatever you did, it’s ok you fucked up.  Get over it, learn from it, make up for it, let it be what you do afterwards that counts.  We all fucked up.  It doesn’t define you any more.

5/Remember that other people’s problems are not your problems

I hate to say this one, it sounds harsh, but this is important.  People will struggle around you at times and they will have it tough and they’ll want you to help them.  Do help, do as much as you can, but know when you need to say no.  You are no good to anyone exhausted and burnt out.  You can’t solve everyone’s problems for them, you can’t save everybody, you can’t be there for everybody all the time.  You have things to do!

When you always try and help, when you are that kind of person, sometimes people will take it for granted and they will expect your help for nothing in return, they won’t learn to help themselves and you will become a security blanket called upon in any difficult situation that could have been independently solved.  Sometimes people might even take advantage of your willingness to help or pretend they need help to get your attention.  Sometimes you have to take a risk and let people find a back-up plan, or their own source of inner strength.  It’s tough, but it’s bloody true.  There are things I didn’t know I could do alone until I had absolutely no other choice, and I’m better for it.

6/ Self-care is important

A follow on from the previous point, it really is important to help yourself.  It’s great to help others but make sure you look out for you too, even more so.  If you know you need some quiet time or a bath, or to do some things you’ve been thinking about for a while, for the love of god go and do them and stop letting people put you off because they want you to do something else.  Again you are no good to people when you’re being dragged around like a dead cow.

If you’re tired you go to sleep, if you’re hungry you eat.  That’s as simple as it needs to be.  Don’t be guilt tripped into being anyone’s bitch or following anyone’s demands when that isn’t what you want to do.  I’m not advocating absolute selfishness here.  It’s nice to compromise and open yourself up to doing things you might not have wanted to before and letting someone else take the reins now and again.  But let it be that, now and again.  You have to be the captain of your own ship.  That’s your right and your duty to yourself.    If your ship ends up in pirate territory with a mutiny on board and you aren’t steering, you’re in big fucking trouble little china.

7/…… to be continued

 

(I don’t want to bore or exhaust anyone any further.  This is enough for one day..but I’ll be back!)

 

 

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The Girl Who Smelled Death

‘They say when something bad happens you should get back on the horse…but I just shot it in the head -that’s how I roll’

To anyone else Jessica looked like any other happy-go-lucky, odd and rebellious, three sheets to the wind kind of student.  She put up a big front.  She hid a lot behind a little exterior.  Five foot one and built like a wire Jessica could have passed for a toddler, so people joked.  Tiny, but fast, sharp and strong.  You kind of have to be to survive at such subterranean levels, that they also joked.

She went to school like everyone else, ate meals with friends, fully managed to keep up appearances, to a manageable extent at least, at home and in town.  But under the guise was another world.

It started when she was little.  When a friend of her mother’s was ill and dying they had gone to visit.  Jessica played by the bed as her mum sat holding a hand, wiping away a tear of someone about to pass any minute.  The doorbell went and Jessica was left alone in the room with the soon to be departed.  She heard a rasp and saw a beckoning hand reaching out to her.  Scared but curious, as always, Jessica approached slowly and cautiously.  Stopping just a pace away, she felt the beckoning hand reach out and touch her forehead.  The hand stayed there for a moment that seemed to hang there indefinitely.  She looked in the dying eyes before her and saw something dark and strange and tangible staring intently back at her.

Then, in a flash of icy white, she saw that strange light leave those eyes and enter her own.  She felt the hand drop limp before her and the silence in the room become suffocating.  Stuck still in shocked silence Jessica stared ahead, and then screamed, for mum, who would have no idea what had just been done to her precious, and daring angel.

 

 

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To be continued……….

Weekend Coffee Share

So I’m sitting here in my little room, a little hungover, tapping away on this dusty keyboard and I’d actually love to share a coffee with you.  There’s no-one else around, not even my cat!  Standard.  Sigh 

I’m going to make a big pot of Colombian dark roast coffee and drink it in my new shiny black mug that I bought myself as a treat (I’m single so I treat myself well and often and will only be stopped when someone else decides to take over and treat me well too and let me do the same for them).

I would tell you the gossip but I don’t have any really.  Nothing majorly exciting or life-changing has happened me this week.  Unless it has and the changes just haven’t been revealed yet.  I don’t know man, stop pushing me.

Anyway, how are you?  I hope this coffee isn’t too strong for you.  I tend to make it strong in the hope that it will speed me up, accelerate me, lightyears into the future so I can cheat the game and see how exactly I go about figuring everything out and finding my way to a happy well-adjusted life.  It hasn’t worked yet, but I hold on hope.

We could talk about the news, the passing of a boxing legend, but maybe it’s flooded your Facebook since last night and you’re getting tetchy about that so we’ll just leave that where it is(legend though, what a legend).

I’m glad you stopped by here.  I was beginning to feel like, that weird preacher guy who used to sit in the bus depot, looking like guerrilla warfare was about to bust out and he was ready, in full militia gear, good to go, but also going to talk a lot about Jesus to anyone who was there, there and generally putting headphones in to not listen.  Just talking to myself.

At least I listen to me.  Listen, argue, battle, console, restrain, remind, motivate, madden, deplete, encourage, warn, protect.  I’m like my own fucking master and mentor these days.  It feels good and terrible all at the same time.

I spilled some coffee on my cartoon YMCA coaster, I better go and sort this mess out.  Enjoy your day my friend.  And remember, you’re only as big as your next move.  (Somebody wise said that before, I just don’t remember who).  But own it!

 

Blues skies in abundance.

Daily promt: Sky!  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sky/

 

As a bit of a travel enthusiast I am a little obsessed with the skies. Here are some of my favourite photos that I have taken of it looking particularly attractive.

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Taken from a plane.  It looks like I’m in space here, at the edge of the universe looking over. 

 

 

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Sky over the Irish Sea.  I like this one because there is no discernible boundary between where the sea stops and the sky starts.  The photo also marks a safe homecoming after my first transatlantic adventure.
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The clouds here are particularly fluffy, full and tangible in this picture.  They remind me of how I feel after a good meal and a few cups of tea.
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This picture was taken along the ascent up Ireland’s highest mountain peak – Carrantoohil which I climbed last year.  It’s a typical Irish sky, cloudy, rainy, feels like home. 

 

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I took this on a flight home from London coming back into Ireland and love it because it looks just like a painting.  

 

 

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Blue skies over the Mourne mountains.  A  rare and beautiful sight. 
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I like this picture and the varying hues in the sky as the sun set on the Croatian town of Cavtat.  It was a really nice and peaceful place to visit.  I particularly like the way the fading sunlight has caught in the water leaving a trail of light orange through the calming waves.  
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On route to Liverpool, the clouds just blanketing endlessly across the sky.
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Nothing in the sky but a plane, proper holiday dream.  Taken Croatia 2010. 
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Last one, of an Irish sky over the Irish sea, on one of the few and cherished times it was blue and perfect.  

Rust and Purpose

Ah purpose, you old chestnut.  A chestnut I spend much time stressing and sweating about.  Of course I want to have a purpose.  I want everyone and everything in this world to fulfill or surpass it’s potential in purpose!…but often, instead, I find things falling short or not having any upward trajectory at all towards this high concept of fulfillment.  Myself included.

Worrying about my purpose in life has kept me up at night.  I decided long ago that I wanted my purpose in this world to be to make a difference, make a positive difference on the world around me, and I do try my best (swear!), but very often I feel like I’m coasting along and I’m not finding so many opportunities to make a positive impact.  I choose the path of least resistance, I take the first job that falls in my lap and ensures me survival.  Then I spend all my time on it so I don’t have time for anything else.  I don’t choose purpose.  I don’t make complicated choices.  I don’t have the luxury to.  Or, maybe I’m not giving myself that luxury..or time to find it?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the cogs and just rotate around on auto-pilot, running through the motions like a mechanical doll, on repeat until the rust sets in.  This is where I feel like I’m at sometimes.  Ruts.  They are like gaping bottomless pot holes littered all around the vicinity and there are very few warning signs, or people who know when to grab your arm and tell you you’re getting too close to one.

I rationalize out this lack of direct purpose by saying maybe I am where I am because this is where I need to be.  Maybe the universe has big plans for me and I am where I am for a reason.  Maybe it’s only the doubt in me that says this is a rut and I should have made decisions rather than meandering the paths that opened up before me.  It’s really hard to know whether you’re on the right track or not.  Now and again I think I am really on to something and then other times I have an overwhelming feeling of totally lost.

There always just seemed in my life to be more pressing and immediate issues than ‘what is my purpose in life really and how do I move towards fulfilling it?’  I mean can someone not just tell me or show me or remind me?  I’m very busy here with my books and my blogging and my work and my social and family life.  Can someone not just do me that one wee favour of highlighting my true purpose and then I’ll get to it- put it in my calendar for next week and I’ll make sure to fulfill it ok?

No, because it’s not that simple.

Because knowing your true purpose is like having treasure, and finding treasure is almost more fun than actually having treasure, that’s why they hide it.

I just hope I don’t rust before I figure mine out.  I might set aside some time in the diary each week just to think about it…or get the hell on the case and stop coasting.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/purpose/

(Sharing this because it’s really nice that I’m not the only person who sees the art in simple light) There is peace and serenity in The Light — Exile on Pain Street

Enough ranting about racism disguised as serious theater and Asset Management douche bags. Back to art galleries and woeful tales from my past. Instead of eating lunch, I took the C train down to the Bortolami Gallery in Chelsea for the Ann Veronica Janssens exhibit. There’s more than one kind of nourishment. Janssens’ primary medium is light. For sheer […]

via There is peace and serenity in The Light — Exile on Pain Street