A hard fail

Lately, I keep turning up here with some burning desire to write abut something but, once I arrive, the impulse drains way. It seems, all of a sudden, so meaningless. It feels self-indulgent, and not in a ‘who do I think I am?’ way, which was actually once a driver for me to keep this endeavour alive – now it’s a ‘why am I wasting my energy on something this unimportant?’ flavour of self-indulgence.

And part of this is definitely fallacy, not least because it tips me into a strange sort of paralysis of meaning. By not doing this, I do not make space for myself to do something ‘more important’ – I often in fact find myself doing nothing, or less than nothing even; siphoning my energy into a scrolling screen of someone else’s devising. I don’t know, precisely, what the ‘more important’ would be, so I allow the vacuum to fill with detritus.

For a long time this space was very meaningful to me. In a very personal way. It was me standing my ground, after years of letting other people’s opinions erode me. It was an act of reclamation, and the fact it stood barely and starkly, with my full name across the top, and no inclination to appeal to the market, was intrinsic to its usefulness. But, now, I’m not sure what its usefulness might be.

I’ve thought about relegating it even further into the backwaters, detaching it from my name and making it harder to find. And equally I’ve thought about making it bigger, brighter, bolder; making it try to do a thing. Making it more important.

The real issue is I don’t know what to do with my life, let alone this tiny part of it. I have been flapping around, slapping the waters of a wave rising within me for several months now, and I am still unclear where it’s headed.

So much of my life to date has been sub-optimal. I don’t feel I’ve done enough with the time I’ve been given. I once had material promise, but I took a huge sabbatical from achievement, in order to become a person I was happy to live inside. Now that I have accomplished that, it’s starting to feel like maybe that was a distraction from the harder work, of doing something worth doing.

Truthfully, I don’t think I was capable of doing anything worth doing as the person I was before. I could do plenty, but it came from the wrong place. I have never been more capable than I am right now, of doing something worth doing. And that is why I’m paralysed with fear, and seeking to hide in the shade of regret and self-criticism. The work I did was work I needed to do. The writing I did here was writing I needed to do. And I’m proud of it, even though that makes me uncomfortable to say. But now it’s time for something different, and I don’t know what that looks like.

I have a pretty good idea of my priorities. I have a pretty good idea of the moves I want to be making. I’m just not sure of the tactics, and I’m not sure of the timings, and, frankly, I’m not sure of myself. I have always been over-ambitious, and when I was younger, I had some evidence to back me up, but all that momentum has long since lapsed. I’m worried I’ll end up wobbling around in mid-air, unable to commit to the jump I’ve taken. If I’m going to fail, I want to fail hard. I want to fail trying. I want to fail with my whole fucking heart.

The only thing I’ve ever failed that hard at is loving other people. I’m not sure how that generalises.

PhD

“Will you still love me if I don’t finish my PhD?”

It was such a bizarre and preposterous question that I surely pulled a face.

Firstly, why would I, or my love, give a flying fuck about his PhD? In fact, I probably deserved bonus points for loving him despite the fact that he decided to do a PhD right after I’d given birth. The PhD was more problem than solution in the equation that was our relationship.

Secondly, he was treating me with such contempt by that point, that I was fairly convinced he didn’t give a flying fuck about me or my love. But I could see on his face he was really asking, and he really needed the answer.

Day after day, I told him what I needed to be able to stay in the relationship, and day after day, he told me I was wrong. And now it turned out he thought what I needed was for him to have a PhD?

How very odd. I wondered what other things he thought.

Whether or not he had a PhD was completely unimportant to me. He didn’t finish his PhD. I still loved him. And I still left. None of these things related to the others.

…But I can’t say for sure that whether or not I have a PhD is unimportant to me. It’s not clear that I would be loving me if I allowed me to keep on sacrificing it in favour of other things. And I’m not sure I wouldn’t be abandoning myself if I ignored the fact it still keeps calling me.

Conjuring

So, yesterday I decided to write a post (after a glass of wine or three, because sometimes it’s fun to write drunk) about how I was basically on Twitter because Lex Fridman. And I also mentioned how that was weird because Elon. And then, after posting, I bumbled around for a bit, drafting emails while I had the prosocial inclination, and collating my unwrapped Christmas presents, maybe had another glass of wine, and went to bed in a buzzed, exhausted haze. Then I woke up at 3:26am because wine, and I picked up my phone because stupid, and weird stuff was unfolding, or had unfolded, I don’t know exactly, it was the middle of my night.

Elon did a Twitter poll about whether he should remain head of Twitter, because of course. And Lex Fridman offered to take over, because…obviously I accidentally manifested it?

Without any insider knowledge, my foray into Twitter has all the qualities of an actual dream. Long may it continue, I say. What random stuff can I conjure next?

Tweet tweet

I have waded into Twitter.

It seems a weird time to do that. Not because I have particular opinions on how Elon is managing things, given my up-to-this-point complete lack of investment, but more just because…Elon is managing things. And my coincidental presence feels like a statement that I’m not qualified or inclined to make. I will admit I probably veer more toward the Elon-fanboy category than away from it – I would rather trust him than many of the other options. But I know fucking nothing, so make of that as little as it warrants.

So why have I waded into Twitter?

I’ll be frank. It’s because I watched Lex Fridman on Andrew Huberman’s podcast and it reminded me how much I fucking love the guy, and how from the moment I heard him speak I believed in his integrity, and from the moment I heard him speak about love I was thrilled to hear those kinds of words out of, well, anyone’s mouth except my own, but specifically an intelligent, rational man’s mouth. And it turned out a lot had happened since I decided it would be weird to tune into an artificial intelligence podcast just to hear his voice. He’s kind of a bigger deal now. And he even talks to psychologists.

So, naturally, I then immersed myself in his content to explore whether this admiration and, dare I fucking say, desire I felt, persisted.

And it did. So that told me some things. Not least that I am not in fact beyond having a proper fucking crush on someone. It hadn’t happened for a fucking while, so I was beginning to wonder. But of course I wanted to investigate the underpinning factors, given the fact I am unlikely ever to meet the man, let alone actually know him.

And what I learned, first, was that I wanted to be the kind of person that would attract a person like Lex Fridman. And what I learned, next, was that I am not, necessarily, not the kind of person that would attract a person like Lex Fridman. And what I learned, then, was that, regardless of that, there are things I admire about Lex Fridman that I would like to integrate into my own character, and that is more important to me than attracting anyone else into my life.

And so I wanted to scout for any opportunities to submit a question to him about something he has mastered that I have not. And Twitter seemed to be the obvious way.

So. after this extended meander, I arrived at Twitter to find that, of course, I had already been there and forgotten about it, when I intended to explore Writers’ Twitter. I have, in actuality, visited Twitter on a number of occasions, armed with a number of email addresses, and with a number of intentions…but none of it amounted to anything.

Yet there I was again, and this time, for some reason, without much thought, I fucking replied to a Lex Fridman post, and went about my day. Now, I absolutely acknowledge that is not remotely a big deal, objectively speaking. But, like I said, I’ve been to Twitter many times, and always I’ve felt deeply uncomfortable with the idea of actually engaging; fucking hell, no fucking thank you very much. And that’s why nothing came of it.

So, now I’m living in a new fucking reality, why fucking stop there? There are photos of space to comment on in awe, and writing prompts to indulge myself in ’til the cows come home. I am being conservative with it. Sort of. Maybe. I don’t fucking know. But, I’m there, and it doesn’t paralyse me to consider posting a tweet. So tweet I fucking shall.

External

There are many quirks of my psyche that I tussle with myself over whether to embrace or reject.

One of those is that I do better, functionally, if I believe there is someone watching me at all times. If I imagine seeing myself, my words and my actions through their eyes, then my self, my words and my actions improve.

But what is better? Because I judge better through their eyes too. I am so ridiculously malleable, I can conform to anyone’s ideals without realising if I stop putting thought into it.

But maybe this isn’t a fault. Maybe this is feature of my extremely high openness. A trait I value highly in myself and others, and wouldn’t ever want to change. I love that I can see from many perspectives; I love that I can take another’s point of view without needing to effort it. I love that my mind can hear a word and explode with unexpected tangential inspiration that takes me to a place I couldn’t have prepared for, even though it often feels out of my control.

So if that makes me susceptible to the opinions of those I admire, perhaps I should just leverage that as best I can. Curate the circle carefully and strategically. Imagine they love me back, even when they don’t know me. And then let them loose in the room with me, and find out what they see.