If awareness if all you can offer, I don’t want it

The office has a ping-pong table, a source of such pride that it has earned its own bullet point in the ‘Company Benefits’ section of job advertisements.

 

It follows demands that each candidate ‘thrive under pressure,’ and ‘be willing to do what it takes to get the job done,’ which might mean working half an hour late on an occasional Thursday, but probably means pushing yourself to burnout whilst eating ready meals at your desk in the name of revenue targets. It almost certainly means deadlines and demands stacked like hurdles on a never-ending racetrack, stretching punishingly into the horizon to prevent your ever thinking you might have achieved enough to warrant a moment of respite. The ping-pong table is a plaster for toxic workplace culture: give them a sliver of controlled fun and perhaps they’ll forget what a breakdown looks like.

Teenage feelings

Do you remember the strength of your teenage feelings?

 

Do you remember the way they reverberated along your spine, one thousand volts of pure emotion strong enough to take your breath away?

 

My teenage self was convinced their intensity might split me in two. My small frame was an insubstantial casing, threatening to crack and fail at any moment. Some days I felt the buzz of electricity in my throat and in between my fingertips, and I wondered how I might remain alive.

 

My feelings were a force outside of my control, changing like the tide. I would crest on a euphoric wave and then my shipwreck heart would crash and ruin.

 

Each twenty-four hour period was either the best or worst of days. No high was ever comparable and no low was so commonplace as to be empathised with by any other person. I met the words, “I understand” with disdain. I couldn’t comprehend how anybody else might experience the same pain, excruciating as it was, or have the capacity for such strong emotions. I dragged my feelings on my back wherever I went, and I nailed myself to them.

I went Speed Mate-ing

I am a big fan of the motto, ‘do one thing every day that scares you’, because what is life if you’re not low-key terrified at least some of the time? There are few greater highs than the adrenaline rush that comes right after you achieve something you thought only moments before might make you vomit with fear. I try to meander outside of my comfort zone in at least some small way as often as possible. Case in point: today, I got a lunchtime Brazilian from perhaps the most thorough waxing technician ever to grace this earth. There’s no discomfort quite like leaning on all fours whilst a perfect stranger smears hot wax around your bum, let alone when she gets up in your business with the tweezers – but I digress. Not all of my comfort zone-abandoning pursuits involve hair removal. Interviews, solo travel, dreaded confrontation… I’ve done a multitude of terrifying things with varying degrees of aplomb. So when I saw an opportunity to try Speed Mate-ing last week – an event with a decent potential for fear – I was sold.

Turning into my mother

Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to everyone who is, or has ever been, or has ever acted as, a mum. On the scale of emotions surrounding ‘turning into my mother’, I have worked through denial and am now in a tentative acceptance. She’s great. I hope I have her tenacity when I’m fifty (and her skin).

 

To mark the occasion, here’s a list of ways in which I am like my mother:

The greatest loves of my life

Last week saw another Valentine’s Day come and pass in its predictable flurry of chocolates and roses and heart-shaped miscellany. Despite my usual enthusiasm for any possible celebratory day (I went hard on the pancakes), it’s not an event for which I make a great deal of effort. A nice dinner and a fancy pudding to accompany my chosen Netflix original will do just fine, thanks. But this year, Valentine’s Day was made particularly salient by the excellent pieces on love, be it romantic or platonic or familial, which filled my feeds and inbox. I’ve adored reading so many experiences and thoughts on a topic I feel is particularly dear, especially those with a focus beyond the bounds of romance.

January, or: In defence of hibernating

It’s January, commonly regarded as the shittiest month of the year. We’re all riding a heavy post-Christmas comedown, grinding through our workdays without the promise of a glorious week spent gorging on Quality Street and turkey to keep us going. The dark evenings no longer signal a cosy evening wrapping presents by the Christmas tree but yet another miserable commute home followed by a warmed up can of beans because in December we spent all of our funds and then some. January is a month of less: less money, fewer plans, and a sense of acute loss after having packed away the festivities for another eleven months. If I sound like a killjoy extraordinaire, it’s because I am it’s because I’m still getting used to a reality without naps at noon and a wholly acceptable misremembering of exactly which day it is. I’m sorry.