What was No. 1 in the charts on the day you were born?
There are lots of websites (like this one) where you can easily find out. I’ve always been quite pleased with the knowledge that when I entered the world on the 17th of October, 1981, the song at No. 1 was It’s My Party (although, sadly, a cover version. A very, very eighties cover version. You know how I feel about 80s music…)
I’ve always enjoyed the (original) song, mainly because I have a tendency towards seeing myself as the sad, plain wallflower who has to watch the man she wants leaving the party with another girl. 14-year-old Mark from the youth club was the first one, with his cute floppy hair and cool, pretty, 13-year-old girlfriend. Honestly, nothing much has really changed since I was 14, as far as that goes, but that’s not why I mention the song today.
It came into my head because I haven’t been able to write a damn thing lately. I have writer’s block in the extreme, and why? Because I’m deeply unhappy, and at the same time acutely aware that nobody wants to read negative posts. Which means there’s been absolutely nothing for me to write about. The last thing I want right now is to lose all my friends because I’ve become the depressive moaner. I used to be all enthusiastic and excited – about travel, about teaching, about partying, about random insignificant moments and discoveries – and now I’m just… flat. I hear myself talking to the one or two colleagues I travel with to and from a few schools throughout the week, and all I hear is negativity and misery. In my own voice. I hate it. Granted, I might always have enjoyed a bit of a rant, but it wasn’t my character-defining attribute! But for these newest people in my life, that’s who I am, and who I’ll always be in their memories. Negative, bitter, miserable, and complaining. Ugh. Hence my almost constant solitude. I don’t want to be the one bringing everyone else down, tainting the air with my unhappiness and marring their own experience. So I avoid them, as far as I can.
I had a total meltdown on New Year’s Eve, sobbing uncontrollably to my parents (sorry, Mum and Dad!) and panicking indescribably about… well, everything. Most of all, I suppose it’s a feeling of failure – of disappointing everyone. I was so confident, a few years ago. I felt like I’d found my place in life – I was meant to be a traveller, an explorer, an adventurer, a writer, and a teacher. Over the past year, though, it’s gradually all come crashing down around my ears, and I’ve reached that painfully self-aware place where I’m in my thirties and have achieved nothing. No real savings to speak of, no investments, no home full of memories and trinkets, no worthwhile qualifications, no partner/children or desire to have them, no plans for the future. My Facebook feed is a constant stream of friends getting masters degrees, getting married, getting promoted, basically getting their lives together in one way or another.
I was a fairly smart child, which weighs on me now because I feel like a let-down. I had real potential! I could have done something with my life – could have made a difference. Failing that, I could have at least gotten on to a more highly-paid career path, and been financially secure, which would have given me peace of mind both for myself and for my loved ones. But no. I had to be all free spirit-y, which is why I now live in a crappy, dark, cramped studio flat in a grotty, depressing city, working for peanuts, singing nursery rhymes every day, and watching my meagre savings dwindle away to nothing. I’m not proud of myself. I’m frustrated, and disappointed, and scared. My granny, in her innocence, always asks when I’m coming home for good – but what on earth would I do there, at this point? I’d have to go back to university and plunge head over heels into debt in order to get a decent-paying job, and then live on next to nothing for the rest of my life anyway, as I repaid the loans necessary to get the qualifications in the first place.
You know, you have all those dreams when you’re a child, when even the age of 20 seems impossible and ancient, when they’re pumping you full of “You can do anything you put your mind to!” motivational speeches in your teen magazines and TV shows. I thought I was going to set the world on fire. I was going to make my family proud, and strangers interested.
But now I look at my best friends, and other members of my family, and acquaintances I’ve met along the way, and I see their achievements, and how far they’ve come. I look at myself, and all that’s there is a whinging, regret-filled, terrified teenager in the body of a woman whose next big -O birthday will be 40. Feck.
Feck, feck, feck, feck, feck.
And I can’t even talk about it because I know I’m just whinge, whinge, whinge, and that knowledge makes it worse, so the vicious circle continues because I’m a disaster and a flop and I can’t talk about it because other people have real problems (guilt, shame, more failure, and rinse and repeat), so I become a recluse and eat and sleep and drink a lot.
But then I remembered my birthday song, and you know what? This may be uninspiring and depressing for you to read, but it’s cathartic for me to write.
And it’s my blog, and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to.
You would cry too if it happened to you!