It is what it is

Someone in my life once ranted about how they hate that phrase. It quietly enraged them, in fact. So inane. So pointless. So infuriating.

I smiled politely and didn’t bother to mention that I happen to quite like it.

I certainly didn’t venture to posit that, perhaps, their anger toward it might suggest some issues with acceptance they could benefit from working on. Or that, perhaps, they might learn something from sitting with the statement and appreciating the starting point it offered.

Instead, perhaps what I actually did, with the slightest of smiles, was take a deep breath and remind myself that they are who they are.

Wordgame: Red

I am very partial to a red lipstick.

If I was the type of person to put myself together every day, I’d probably like to be a regular red lipstick sort of person. As it is, though, I only wear red lipstick about twice a year. And, even then, when it’s either Christmas or fancy dress, it feels like…a bit much.

I don’t know at what point I started training myself out of making statements. Started looking for all the reasons it wasn’t worth the potential downside. Started talking myself out of effort. I’ve been around a lot of people who scorned effort over the years – scorned my effort, sure, but also just the idea of engaging fully with life. I’ve never liked them for it, truth be told, but I’ve let their disdain for effort colour my behaviour nonetheless. Or, more accurately, uncolour.

I am not going to start wearing red lipstick regularly any time soon. I would like to say that I am, as an exercise. But I’m not. I won’t. I’d be lying. As I type this, I’m still trying to convince myself that I could. I’m imagining being the person who would do that. Reminding myself that, Once Upon A Time, I was exactly that person. Wondering if I can reconnect with that self. Wondering if I want to, when it really comes down to it.

Maybe it won’t be red, but perhaps a question to ask myself is what statement am I willing to make today? What statement am I ready to make? What statement must I make, regardless of readiness or willingness?

Mitigation

I am attention grabbing by nature.

I’m tall and ‘attractive’, to kick things off. I like to wear bright colours, and items that would generally be considered statements. I have big eyes, and I use them extensively. My walk is more of a dance to the music, and I’m often grinning for no good reason. I might be singing. I’m very expressive, and I like to exhibit myself. I am inclined to obliviously defy hierarchy. I interrupt excitedly because I already know how the sentence ends and it’s given me an idea. I gesticulate profusely. Once I start talking, most people label me intelligent. My opinions are usually outlandish, complex and challenging.

Except, most of the time, if you actually see me, I’m not sure you’d notice me doing any of this stuff. Because, whilst I read that description and like this person already, I have invested a great deal into mitigating all of it in myself. Ashamedly shirking the attention my traits would have me grab. Mitigating my nature. Not because I don’t like me, and, looking back on it, not because other people don’t like me either. Just because I never knew how to handle the attention, or the effect I had on other people.

Quite a long time ago, I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped wearing colours. I stopped talking unless someone expressly asked me to. And, to this day, I’m almost constantly monitoring my own behaviour when out in public.

I’ve been working to undo a lot of my acts of self-diminishment, but they’re fucking engrained little fuckers. I’m not sure I’ll ever be complete.

I was walking to the shop earlier. I had my music loud and no-one was around. Life was good. And then, at some point, I spotted a guy headed my way. And I toned down my swagger, lest it be too noticeable to him. Lest it cause him to make comment. Lest I leave an impression.

Later, when I was walking down the high street, there were suddenly lots of people around, so I suppressed my joyful glee at being alive and moving, lest I cause someone to question it – be that outwardly or inwardly. Lest my defiant difference make somebody uncomfortable.

When I catch myself, I try to reverse it, because it’s stupid and unhelpful. But the effort is lacking. It’s like I’m faking the thing that I stifled that was so authentically me.

We must all do this; we must. It can’t just be me. But we mustn’t do this. We mustn’t. The world needs us to be more, not less.

Proximity

I started a new job this week.

One of the things this means for my life is that I now must regularly travel to the office.

One of the things this means for my life is partaking in public transport during rush hour. Namely the local Metro system.

The first day this went remarkably smoothly. The local Metro system has something of a reputation, which mainly centres around its perpetual struggle with low rail adhesion, so to arrive on schedule was something of a miracle.

The second day, it did not go smoothly.

On the way in, this was a simple not running according to timetable situation which led to me being twenty minutes later than intended, but still on time.

On the way home, however, an exciting ‘police incident’ in the station brought all trains to a standstill, and we all got to listen to the voice over the tannoy sternly address a misbehaving passenger and repeatedly threaten them with arrest. Unfortunately, this was resolved magically without providing any closure for us poor bystanders, and we were left to await our transportation with no further entertainment.

When my train, after having been overtaken by multiple other trains and comedically appearing to get further away on the station information, finally arrived over half an hour later, there were a lot of people waiting for it. Approximately three times the amount there normally would be. This was to be replicated at a number of stations further along the line.

I am quite unusual in that I fucking love a crowded space. I love being squished up against strangers in a serendipitous manner. I love the enforced and bizarre intimacy of it. So, while it was not in accordance with COVID-related recommendations, I was thrilled to be part of the disgruntled wave of people that swept into the train car and spilled into every cranny with a reserved British disquiet.

I think an important thing I like about these situations is that there is a collective decision not to talk to each other, because it would take the enforced and bizarre intimacy into more uncomfortable territory. So I get to indulge in the energetic presence of all these people, without any distracting expectations. I get to sense them, and imagine I can feel who they are. I get to connect with something of them; a part of them that it’s not worth trying to articulate. I find that enriching. I find it more enriching than talking to people in most instances. For a person who likes words so much, I think I could very happily never talk to anyone again, as long as they didn’t talk to me either, and instead we just enjoyed the space around each other. The space between. Oh, that space between.

Making it something

Lately, just as an exercise to prove I’m not self-obsessed, I’ve been trying to think of posts I could write that don’t start with ‘I’. I’m not very good at it.

Maybe all I’m good at is airing my dirty brain laundry.

I’ve also been thinking about ways I can introduce additional streams of income into my life, and one of them would be to try to make this blog something. To try to figure out what it is that makes some people like it, and do that more, and show it off, and find more people, and then…I don’t know, make some t-shirts? Solicit donations? Sell a fucking writing course? That last one is a funny joke for myself.

But it’s probably a good job this blog doesn’t have a large readership. Because I’m clearly using it as a form of therapy, and I quite like the feeling of speaking into the abyss. I know people see it, I enjoy getting the odd like, and I really appreciate it when people reach out directly to tell me that they’ve read it, and that it was an enriching, or entertaining experience for them. And I also quite like that that doesn’t happen all that much. I quite like that I don’t really get comments on my blog, and I wonder if I somehow repel them, because at one point, quite a long time ago, I started getting a few, and my entire being got all spiky and wanted them to stop intruding on my life. And I felt guilty about that for a while, because I felt obligated to want comments, because this is a blog, and that’s what blogs have. And then I reminded myself that this can be whatever the fuck I want it to be.

If I made it something, though – if a lot of people were to read it – it probably couldn’t be whatever the fuck I want it to be anymore. I wouldn’t just get the odd nice message, I’d get opinions and judgement and demands. And I’d get spiky, because I wouldn’t be able to ignore them.

All of this is assumption. I don’t really know what would happen. But I think about it. And that’s a problem I have. I think myself out of things before I’ve even given them a chance to exist. Before I even know if they’re viable. Because I’m scared they will be, and that will mean things have to change. And I’m scared I can’t handle it.

But maybe I need to start finding out. At long fucking last, maybe I need to try anyway. Maybe I need to risk success.