Hayley

The only woman I’ve ever really viscerally wanted to be is Hayley Williams. And that’s not a thing borne out of fandom, especially, though I have come to appreciate her work in recent years. It’s because part of me resonates so keenly with her, in a way I can’t really explain. Part of me believes I could have been her – should have been – if only, if only I hadn’t failed at being, in all the necessary ways.

When I was younger I was downright jealous of her, and I masked it with disdain. But I was the one who was scared to sing. I was the one who was scared to be in community. I was the failure, and I knew I had no right to criticise her, so the disdain ate at me, and wouldn’t let me forget it.

As I grew older and wiser, I let myself admit that I even enjoyed Paramore a bit. But they remained a ‘guilty’ pleasure. I didn’t want anyone to know I listened to them, and any time I did, which wasn’t often, I felt oddly on display. Who can hear this and what must they think!? As if anyone would think anything at all.

Her solo material was what let me reconcile my complicated feelings about her. We have some important similarities. We’ve had some importantly similar experiences in our lives. We have similar faultlines. We’ve learned similar lessons. But through that and despite it, she was able to continue becoming the success that she is and deserves to be. And I…well I never even seemed to begin. I had been holding that against myself, and she, most than most, reminded me.

What were the differences between us that led to our divergent paths through life, even as we traversed similar terrain? How was she able to build and maintain a fulfilling career, while every avenue I even thought of pursuing collapsed around me in short order? Why could she sing and I couldn’t? Why could she integrate and I couldn’t? We were both in pain, so my pain wasn’t the reason. How could she do it, and do it so well, and I couldn’t do it at all?

Well, there are very good explanations, of course. But that’s another tale.

Strange blessings

My neighbours are kind of shitty neighbours. They’re loud and dirty and often behave in ways I find inconsiderate. They’re low to medium grade annoying a lot of the time. When other people experience them they tend to comment things like they don’t know how I put up with it, it would drive them mad, they’d be raging at them after a few days. I, on the other hand, don’t really mind.

I like living in my flat. And yes, I even quite like living next to my shitty neighbours. Because underneath the crude, obnoxious, substance-loving exterior, they’re just…good enough people. They’re trying their best. They very truly mean no harm. They’re good enough.

At first, their shittiness itself was a relief to me, because I’ve spent so much of my life feeling like a burden, an inconvenience and a liability that I always enjoy being unequivocally not the worst. But then, as I learned to accept and appreciate them as people, they taught me to accept and appreciate parts of myself that I’d still up to that point been keeping estranged.

So I’m actually very grateful for my shitty neighbours, because their shittiness was exactly what I needed.