Words

four little words and a lesson in self-belief.

Image
Ughh. Yuck. Thanks, but no thanks, Weight Watchers.

If you are a female over the age of 12 I think I could safely guess that you have read a magazine interview with a pretty, successful celebrity (most likely an actress or popstar). The interview will conclude with the starlet sharing their advice for anyone wanting to emulate their success. They finish by imparting their Words of Wisdom with their teenage audience, “Just believe in yourself!”

Just believe in yourself.

Please excuse me whilst I go and ease my nausea.

Believe in yourself?!

Please, kindly, piss off. I don’t need your cheesy, meaningless, insincere drivel in my life. Particularly because I have quite literally just eaten some delicious cheese and I am not in need of any more at the moment, but thanks anyway.

It is mildly infuriating, isn’t it? “Just believe in yourself” reduces success down to something as flighty and intangible as self-belief. I find it frustrating that it glamourises and minimises all of the gruelling work which goes into achieving goals and dreams. It trivialises something which is probably really amazing and turns it into another throwaway catchphrase.

And this is a shame because it means that we miss out on appreciating all of the effort and dedication which does go into achieving great things.

Perhaps some more useful advice would be to say, “Be prepared for really difficult times, but know that they will be invaluable to the person you will become”. I dunno. Just an idea.

In one of my business subjects at university this semester we have learnt about what is known as the Locus of Control. It is essentially a measure of whether an individual feels that what happens in their life is determined by internal forces – their own actions – or external forces – by chance and figures of power and authority. The former of the two is known as an internal locus of control, whereas to be of the latter is to have an external locus of control.

It was an interesting exercise despite some diabolically dry compulsory readings and from it I have realised that I have a strong internal locus of control i.e. I believe that I predominantly determine the course and outcome of events in my life. Since then it has caused me to think about how my own internal locus has impacts upon my life, as well as the effect of our collective loci upon wider society.

And so what does my locus of control mean for “Just believe in yourself”? Well, my perception of control over my life suggests, due to its focus on the individual’s ability as the source of power, that “Just believe in yourself!” is, in fact, the perfect catchphrase for me.

Oh, lord.

How can this wishy-washy bullsh!t be relevant to me?!

I’m not sure. But let’s hang in together for a few more sentences, ok?

Despite only developing my cynical streak within recent years, reading “Just believe in yourself!” was one of the first instances which elicited a cynical response from me as a young(er) chipmunk. Believing in yourself just seemed like a whole load of glittery crap.

But over the past few months my slightly cynical 23-year-old self has begun questioning my dismissal of this oft-repeated tidbit of advice.

It all began with a surprising and exciting opportunity presenting itself.

For some context fun: I left high-school as a bona fide over-achiever who, with the help of some mental illness, has since learnt to be an average (or under) achiever, among other things. I’ve talked about how much non-fun depression can be in previous posts, and something which I’ve experienced on a regular basis is being stuck in a rut. Ruts feel endless and awful and hopeless and it’s all rather miserable. Everything – even the simple things – feels like a strain. It’s somewhat the opposite to the plastic fantastic, perky optimism of “Just believe in yourself!”

And I may not have believed in myself a few months ago, but someone else did. And it was both disconcertingly foreign and incredibly powerful.

Someone thinks that I can do THIS?! Someone thinks that I am up to this challenge? You’ve got to be kidding me!

I hadn’t realised how long it had been since I had so consciously felt the encouraging push of someone else’s belief in my ability and my potential.

And it was mesmerising and surreal.

I continue to stumble along my way, but I now have that little reminder that someone believes in me which encourages me as a muddle my way through the day.

I would be lying to say to you that I’m not scared. I am scared. I am officially very scared. This opportunity is exciting, but it is also petrifying.

I am scared of how I am going to cope in certain circumstances. And I am scared of re-triggering sources of pain. And I am scared that I won’t be ok.

But someone believes in me.

I would be lying to say to you that this opportunity came about easily. It didn’t. It’s the result of many years of slogging through tough times. There has been a surplus of slogging.

But other people believe in me.

And from their belief I have noticed a change within myself:

Someone else believes in me… and that someone is me.

Being the cheesy critter that I am, this has manifested itself in a mantra of sorts:

“I believe in you.”

Four little words.

They are neither revolutionary, nor original, nor exceedingly elegant words. But they are words which are accessing a long-neglected source of internal willpower and which are helping to lift me up out of those ruts.

Perhaps these four little words are an essential I have long lacked, for I am delighting in the hope and comfort they bring.

Perhaps they can help me smother the heavy fear on the horizon.

Perhaps they can help me to achieve all of my goals and dreams.

Perhaps I should dull my cynicism and listen to celebrity drivel more often.

Mmm. Perhaps.

Alex x

Advertisements

words, actions and the vast chasm in between.

Dissecting a state of paralysis.

ImagePhoto courtesy of Jeen Na.

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”
– Simone de Beauvoir

“Live the life that you want to live today.”
– Just some words I wrote on a piece of paper which I then stuck on my wall

****

Funnily enough, writing this post has me thinking about this one time when I was squished in the backseat of a stranger’s car with three other people in the middle of the night driving along empty streets. As you do. 

At the party we had just left my friend and I had – unbeknownst to each other – both been eyeing off umm flirting with politely chatting to the most attractive guy there. At the conclusion of the evening he kissed one of us while the other was collecting their stuff. Then, in the car on the way home, someone else in the car shared that he had told her that he was interested in one of the Sydney girls… the one he didn’t kiss.

Oh, and at this point in time I was more or less sitting on top of this friend (seeing as we were still doing the sardine-in-the-backseat-without-seat-belts-oh-my-god-such-rebels thing).

Awkward.

“Words and actions,” I said loud enough for her to hear, looking straight ahead.

****

I am not wise; I pretend to be wise. I can rattle off things which certainly sound wise, much to my father’s annoyance. Why does this irritate him? Because wisdom without discipline is futile. And I epitomise wisdom without discipline.

See, I may know what’s good for me, but do I actually employ any of these tidbits of awesome into my own life?

Ahh no. I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a no. Ok, no need to be overly enthusiastic, Alex. A simple “no” was sufficient.

Want some examples?

Do I know that ice-cream is not a “health food”? Yes.
And so what did your diet consist of over your recent break? Umm. Ice cream. Maybe. Perhaps. Definitely. Yeah, so mainly ice cream.

Do you know that exercising on a more regular basis would improve your fitness, energy levels, skin, mood and overall health? Yes, I do know that.
And how many times have you exercised this week, Alex? Ahh minus twice. (I didn’t even know that was possible.)

Do you know how to make more financially responsible decisions so that you can save money for travel? Yes, it’s called not going on Asos.
And did you receive yet another parcel from Asos yesterday? Ahh yes. Yes, I did.

Do you know that going to bed earlier is immeasurably good for your health and wellbeing? Yeah, I feel ah-mazing after getting an early night.
And how often do you do this? Twice a year… max.

Do you know that you gain very little from sitting at your laptop? (Well, apart from testing the strength of your self-esteem by playing peer-comparison games on Facebook and knowing every detail of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe.) I’m sure that my stalker-esque knowledge of Kate’s wardrobe will come in handy one day. It will, I swear.

My saving grace is that I do drink water and I floss my teeth on a semi-regular basis (which is better than “never”, right?)

****

I am full of words. My words create blog posts, but they do not generate actions. I talk a good game. I’ve read hundreds of articles about a) fitness b) health c) getting what you want out of life d) being a better person e) blah blah blah.

I don’t need any more knowledge (seeing as nearly all of the articles can be reduced to the same thesis). I have all of the major building blocks I need. Perhaps lots of life stuff isn’t that complicated, but that we make it complicated so that we don’t have to can postpone tackling our issues… (Please note that that was an inadvertent “I am Alex and I am so wise” comment. See what I’m talking about?!)

Yet I prefer to read articles similar to previous articles about “Living Your Best Life”, rather than actually making changes so that I do live my best life. I have all of the tools already sitting in my handbag (or head). It’s just that I choose to not use them.

Why the hell not, Alex?!

I don’t know. That’s exactly what I’m trying to work out.

Insert literal thinking time here. 

(Disclaimer: I am about to sound like an arrogant twat.) I know that I can do it. I know what I’m capable of and I have a firm belief in my capabilities. I can put my words into actions. I have the drive, willpower and discipline to achieve my goals. I know this because I’ve already proven it to myself. I took all of those traits to the th degree. Which was only very detrimental.

Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps I’m afraid of what my life will become if I fully exercise the full force of my willpower again. I’m afraid that allowing the tidbits of wisdom I have amassed to be transformed into action will turn me into the obsessive person I was. And that scares me and if that’s what would happen I’d much prefer to stay being the unhealthy, hypocritical, arrogant person that I am, thank you very much.

If I put into action the things that I want to be a part of my life my life would be an Instagram feed of green smoothies, early morning runs, national park walks, camping trips, quinoa salads, piles of books I’d (metaphorically) devoured, sunshine, a chic yet rustic apartment, fresh morning air, travel, limbering limbs, laughter, healthy/#clean/gourmet meals, fresh flowers, lunch break walks, re-established evening rituals, organic protein balls, a vintage bike and seeing the stars out in the countryside.

It sounds glorious. And pretty damn healthy and happy. And sickeningly virtuous.

The only thing is that I’m not very skilled in virtue.

I hope I’ll get there. No, I will get there in time, but it’s going to take time. Seeing as I’ve written this post I can’t feasibly get away with doing nothing now (it’s harder to be a hypocrite when you have an audience) I’ll just have to keep taking some very small steps in the meantime.

But until I get past my fear I’ll just have to content myself with watching other people project the beautiful, organic life they (want all of their followers to think they) live on my Instagram feed.

#sigh

Alex x

PS: And happy Mean Girls anniversary, bitches. #tenyears #sofetch

the dictionary according to Alex.

My friend eliminated one word from my vocabulary and it changed my love life. Completely.

Raspberry-MochatiniI can’t exactly remember what that cocktail looked like. All I know is that it tasted good.

This post comes typed to you from Downtown Vancouver to the sound of my favourite ear-gasm: London Grammar.

I recently spent quite a bit of time one-on-one with a close friend  (and by ‘quite a bit of time’ I’m referring to the ‘together 24/7′ variety). It was a bit more than we’re used to, but it was great – especially as we didn’t end up at each others’ throats. Always a bonus. 

Anyway. During our time together she laughed and noted that I use quite a lot of bizarre expressions on a regular basis. Of course she already knew this about me, but she commented that she hadn’t realised quite how often I used these Alex-isms.

Yes, it’s true. I use lots of weird phrases. Regularly. ‘All the time’ kind of regularly.

Let’s see. We have:
“Ready spaghetti!”
“Cool beans”
“Cool bananas” (feeling the food vibe yet?)
“Amigo” (or “amiga” depending on the person’s gender)
“For the love of peanuts”
“Honey bee” (for my darling canine, anyone under the age of seven or a close girlfriend)
“Boom!”
“Fandango”
“Shebang”
“Negatory, ghost rider”
“Roger that”
“Non-sober”
“B!#chcake”
“Zing!”
“Dingus”

I’m fairly oblivious as to how often I use these words. Put it this way: apparently I wasn’t paying much attention in primary school and I subsequently left some gaping holes in my vocabulary where some more eloquent phrases should reside. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.

Now, a few months ago I was sipping on a cocktail with my good friend. In fact, he had kindly let me have his cocktail and he took mine cos mine was kinda gross and his tasted like chocolate, but he liked my weird one. Whatever! I was unpacking my most recent quandaries (gentleman-related quandaries, obviously) to him. Suddenly, mid-conversation he turned to look at me and said, “Alex. Can I give you my unsolicited advice?”
“Of course”, I nodded eagerly. I’ll take any good advice I can get my grubby mitts on.
“Firstly, for the love of god, never use the word ‘singledom’ ever again,” he gasped. “You’re not… you’re… your being single is not who you are,” he reasoned. He paused, exhaling with exasperation. “Secondly, that guy?… Meh,” he said as he gave me the biggest, most non-committal, truly ambivalent shrug I’ve ever witnessed.
“Huh?”
“Put it this way: if he’s not being emotionally honest now, how can you ever expect him to be emotionally honest with you in the future?”
(He’s got a good brain upon his shoulders, this one.)

And you know what? He had been far more insightful in those few minutes that I had been in a long, long while. I couldn’t see that I was letting my relationship status govern how I saw everything else in my life and how I saw myself. And hearing that from him did, in fact, change my perspective. For if I was indeed defining myself by my (long-term) lack of a long-term romantic relationship, then who was I without this identifier? ‘Hi! I’m Alex and I specialise in singledom’ had to become, ‘Hi! I’m Alex’. And that had to become enough.

What my friend reminded me in those few words was that I am a whole entity just as I am, rather than a four fifths hoping and waiting to be made whole.

Oh, and what he said about that emotionally dishonest guy? Hit the nail on the head there, too. Yep. Twice within two minutes.

So, since then I have been quite conscious as to the words which tumble out of my mouth. Specifically, I’ve been correcting myself as I get out of my subconscious habit of using the word ‘singledom’. Initially, it was a little hard (and it was surprising when I realised just how often I was using the S word), but now it’s fine.

Anyway. I’ve added a new word to my jargon to fill the void which ‘singledom’ left: “Babetown” – a word reserved for the description of the most physically delectable of the human species and a word which I’m using with fervour.

Mmmm. Babetown. Mmm chocolate cocktails.

Alex x