Saturday, 12 March 2011


"Love, you are one of the most amazing people I have ever met"

This was from one of my lovely commenters, and is especially appreciated because it was from someone who has only met me once or twice. Although... my thou-art-worthless head could say that's WHY she thinks I'm amazing... because she doesn't actually know me properly...

But anyway. I just re-read my "RAH" post and was surprised to find myself describing myself as amazing. Because I don't mostly believe that these days.

It's not just the new career. It's been several years now since I really succeeded at anything. I used to think of myself as a person who could do anything she set her hand to, but that has been disproved several times over now, and in several different spheres.

One of the worst things about my current predicament is that for a while my colleagues were saying, "You're too hard on yourself."

They've stopped saying that. Because people in positions of power and authority, who know what they are talking about, are being just as hard on me as I ever was, and are confirming my own most private and worst suspicions about myself. And I know that other people are thinking, "Oh yeah, come to think of it..." And the more I am criticised, the worse I perform, and the more I worry about being perceived by all as the "drain on resources" I have been described as, and the more I agree with it myself...

The other day there were interviews at my place of work. Such is the nature of the job that some of us got to observe some parts of the selection process. I watched those interviewees and thought back to my own interview. I put on such a good show. Afterwards I said to a small number of colleagues, "I was very confident that I had got this job. I know my interview went well. They were very keen for me to start work here. It must have been such a disappointment when I turned out to be so rubbish." One of the people at the table blushed and hid behind her hair. The image stays with me. And it was my own stupid fault and God, I hate it when people say loudly in public things like "I'm such a waste of space," which puts the listeners in the horrible position of having to either deny or avoid, and is such a needy thing to say.

But anyway.

I joined a gospel choir a couple of weeks ago. It's lovely. It's something I can do, and do well. And it's not about ego and nobody gets the limelight. We just sing together, all concentrating hard on not standing out, on being part of a whole that makes something beautiful. And they're such a great cast of characters. They just accepted me instantly, without asking questions or expecting anything obvious of me other than that I join in and sing, and learn my harmony with the minimum of fuss - which is something I happen to be rather good at. So, there you go: Something I haven't failed at. And which is uplifting and gorgeous.

I'm an atheist. Not everybody in the choir is a Christian. I don't know the proportions - nobody asks or seems to care, although it's clear there are a fair few believers. Personally I'm quite happy to piggyback on the benefits of religion. Spirituality, for me, is about celebrating all the wonderful things we humans are capable of, and - thank God - (haha) that includes music.

So, anyway. Am I amazing? Not so much, not right now. But I tried to do something really difficult, under difficult circumstances. So I'm brave. And I'm still doing it, despite a horrible amount of pressure and some unnecessary unpleasantness. And I'm still trying, and I'm still smiling, some of the time, including at my tormentors (every chance I get, I smile at them. I am bigger than them) (I'm not, I'm smaller, so much smaller, but my smile can be big). And I can sing.



Queenie said...

"It's been several years now since I really succeeded at anything." Sheesh! Let's talk about your parenting, shall we, for a start? Then we could move on to discussing your very healthy relationship with Mr Squirrel (no you may not give him all the credit for that), and the friendships you maintain and nurture, and the quality of your relationship with your family. You have, and continue to, succeed in these, and they are neither small nor insignificant.

You're good at relationships. That doesn't mean you get everything right - nobody ever does - but I think one of the most telling indicators is that you notice when you hit a bum note for someone else ('...blushed and hid behind her hair...') and you reflect on that, and learn, and make changes. Lots and LOTS of people don't, can't, do this. It shows a high degree of emotional intelligence.

The choir sounds like a terrific addition to your successes. Enjoy.

Ragged Thread Cartographer said...

Oh you are so, so good at this living business.
Sing your heart out - what a full-on confirmation of self and soul ! xx

Megan said...

"But I tried to do something really difficult, under difficult circumstances. So I'm brave. And I'm still doing it, despite a horrible amount of pressure and some unnecessary unpleasantness. And I'm still trying, and I'm still smiling, some of the time, including at my tormentors (every chance I get, I smile at them. I am bigger than them) (I'm not, I'm smaller, so much smaller, but my smile can be big). And I can sing."

But that is amazing. The get-up-and-keep-trying is the hard stuff, the every-day-living is the hard stuff. The doing-it-even-though-everything-is-horrible is the hard stuff.

I know it doesn't feel amazing.

But it is.

Claire said...

Yeh. I was thinking about the parenting. At least you've got that. But I guess that's not the point. Well done for hanging in there.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

HA - well I still think you're pretty damn amazing, and as for the choir thing. Well now I'm just envious. I'm kicking to join a choir - preferably a non-religious one tho I'm open to possibilities. It sounds wonderful.

And yes to all the other commentators here giving you appropriate reminders of the wonderful things you have done and do. Yes, even that observant attention to other people's feelings when you make a self-deprecating comment.

As someone who excels at lurching into making overly self-deprecating remarks I recognise both your pain and the urge to say these things. "the more I am criticised, the worse I perform" - dear one that is me all over. But you need to hold onto the possibilities of doing good things and remain attentive to the good things you do - not just at work but everywhere else as well.

Hang on in there love. You're worth the struggle and those who love and care will support you. (Even those of us who have only met you a couple of times :))

Andrea said...

I don't know the situation in your current career, beyond what you've posted up, I mean I'm not there to be any kind of judge on what's happening now. But there is something I *do* want to say... success is a personal definition. You've defined success for yourself in your choices, and you've judged yourself lacking. Now I do appreciate that having a goal can be very motivating but when not reaching a particular goal becomes a stick to beat yourself with ... well!! time to throw the stick away! (unless you are into that kind of thing!).

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that even if you haven't been able to reach your goal for each of your choices at least you gave them a bloody good go!!!

Would you really, *really* have been content to sit in the same job for 40 years until you retire, trying to dodge redundancy and generally just taking the money, whilst any actual interest in that job waned yonks before. Just for the security? with all your dreams, ideas and ambitions never acted on, never even attempted so's not to jeapordise the regular wage packet? Oh and never rocking the boat at work out of the same fear?

At least you aren't too scared of the insecurity, of the unknown, to not try. Or however many negatives make that sentence make sense!!

You should be bloody proud of what you've done, of what you are doing now. Because you followed an idea, a dream, a sense of what-if... that I couldn't do.

Andy said...

Not that it may be any consolation but, having been around a bit (in the sense of being older than you and stuff like that - not in any sexual way, you understand?), I must say that all people I meet don't actually know what they're doing either and so are actually rubbish at what they do.

On the other hand, you got this far and managed to convince them at the interview that you would be great - which is what everyone does. Therefore, you must be at least as good as all the other people who work there and so you must be good or, even, amazing!

Can't really say more as I only visited your blog for the first time today.

Oh but wait ....... yes, that's it. Never ask people what they think of you. Always tell them what they think of you - i.e. "I'm amazing". If you say it enough times people will believe you anyway. There! That was what I meant to say all along. :-)

Alice Turing said...

Thankyou Andy! Sadly the confidence to tell people you're amazing tends not to come until people are already telling you that you're amazing, if that makes any sense. Although to be fair my friends (including you lovely people here) have indeed been telling me that, and after a good hefty dose of it this weekend I went into work today much buoyed, and yes, beginning to project the idea (in a hesitant whispery kind of way) to others.

Andy, I'm intrigued: This is such a dim and distant hidden corner of the internet, not to mention dusty, and normally the only visitors I get are people I already know and who have been coming here for a while. What brought you here, and do I know you via any other avenues? Not that I'm not pleased to see you: I'm just interested.

Andy said...

Hi again, Alice.

Yes, I do know what you mean but sometimes you have to just do it even if you don't feel like it. Still, hesitant whispery kind of saying it should be a great start :-)

I came here via Karl's site and have noticed you comment on both his new and old site. It's the name that got to me and eventually I had to come and look for myself! No, I'm sure you don't know me even if I did live 'oop North' for a while.