This is a strange one. I don’t know if I’ll even post this as I feel like It could be a little too personal, even for me. Also, it’s likely to be such a massive brain dump that it probably won’t make any sort of sense! I know everyone is struggling during this pandemic and there is also a lot to be thankful for during these really strange and scary times, but I’ve definitely found more recently that because I’ve had so much time not working and essentially spending WAY too much time in my own head, I’m struggling even more…
I feel like at the moment I’m piling so much pressure on myself to make myself “something” during lockdown. Like, because I have the time, I should be building an empire, if that makes any sense? I have done several courses over the duration of the pandemic firstly because I like learning and secondly, I guess, to try to make myself “something”. Most of the courses have been photography based as I’ve been interested in photography since I was little - my dad is a keen photographer and he used to turn our tiny bathroom in our little council flat into a dark room at weekends and I would be fascinated by how the negatives were processed and how the images would appear magically on a blank piece of paper after being bathed in different solutions. A number of years ago I bought a Nikon DSLR promising myself I would take up the hobby, but when the first few shots didn’t turn out like I had seen them in my head, I put the camera away. I ended up giving it away as a gift to someone else I thought might get some use out of it. Not sure they ever did to be honest, and whilst I still feel it was a really special gift to give to someone else, I kinda wish I hadn’t parted with it..
When we opened the restaurant, I wanted to spend time doing a bit of marketing and keeping our social media looking great, so rather than just constantly using my iPhone (photos on which never really look the way I anticipate either), I invested in a LUMIX so we could try to get some decent photos. Sadly, all my time was swallowed by actually running the restaurant, so the photography once again fell by the wayside. When lockdown 1.0 started, I decided to do a course to see if I could improve my skills. It was in depth and interesting and whilst I learned a lot, I couldn’t really figure out how to translate what I had learned to my LUMIX (as it’s not a DSLR), so once again, the camera got shelved.
Now, in lockdown 3.0, wanting to pick the camera up again I found myself a photography challenge. 30 days of different things to take photos of. Sounds easy, right? Nope. I can’t bring myself to do it. I keep thinking about it. I have ideas for how I want the photos to look, there are effects shots I want to try out, but I just can’t seem to get my ass in gear and pick up the camera. It sits on the shelf next to my Instax (which I also don’t use) daring me to use it, but I can’t. I can’t let go of this terror that I will be shit at it; even though I know deep down that it doesn’t matter and if I enjoy it that’s the main thing, but I want to be good at it! I think there is an element of me that has been interested in it for so long that if I start trying to do it “properly” I’m just going to be useless and get angry with myself and then the camera is going to get put away again. Or worse. I’m also weirdly embarrassed. I don’t want to start setting up the camera and taking weird self-portraits or still lives because I don’t want Tony to look at me like I’m some kind of lunatic. Despite the fact that I’m 100% myself around him and know he loves me, there are certain things I don’t want to do in front of him because I feel utterly stupid and strange. I can’t talk to camera if he is there even though I really wanted to get into making vlogs. It’s nothing he’s done and he’s super supportive, it’s just how my ridiculous brain works.
Thing is, the photography thing is just the tip of the iceberg. I feel the same about pretty much everything I do, or want to do. I want to be a wine/spirits expert and writer, and I study all the time, I write notes on every wine I drink, yet suddenly it feels like everyone else is a wine expert and has a million (I over-exaggerate here for effect) followers overnight and those closest to me suddenly seem to have more expertise than me without even trying, and share it confidently and articulately and I just feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. It’s like no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be the expert I want to be. In any field.
The question I suppose is this; is it that I am truly not very good at any of these things and I am right to put the camera away and let other people be the expert I wish I was, or is it that I could be good at all these things but just don’t let myself be? I was once told by a therapist that I have a fear of both failure and success and I think this still prevails. It’s easier not to do things because then I don’t have to worry about being shit at them, and equally, if I succeed, I’ll beat myself up over the fact that it wasn’t really me that succeeded and it was all just a bit of a fluke. Additionally, if I succeed and get all the things I want (or think I want), then what? Everything I’ve been telling myself for the last 38 years was a lie and actually I am good at something?
Don’t be ridiculous, I am definitely right about the fact I’m useless.
And the cycle continues.
Strangely, it doesn’t even matter if I enjoy something, I still don’t seem to be able to let myself go. I have always wanted to learn to roller skate, so for Christmas Tony& I bought each other roller skates. He used to skate a lot when he was younger so was, of course, bloody brilliant and I was in awe. (It’s amazing seeing someone who is good at what they do, isn’t it?!). I managed to actually skate but wasn’t exactly good, and even though I had the best time; I just felt like a scared kid who didn’t know what the heck to do with themselves. My knees were locked and my body rigid; uptight and tightly-wound. Thing is, I feel like that every day. I wake up and am petrified of everything I’m doing. I run a people-facing business but I’m still terrified of talking to people. I make drinks, but I’m still nervous I don’t make them very well. I watch constantly for signs that the drink is going to be sent back to the bar to be remade. I talk about wine and I still feel like I’m just making shit up and that one day I’ll get found out. That’s called ‘imposter syndrome’, right?
I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I’m intrigued, however, why we feel this way. Is it “instagram” culture that has forced us to feel like we should be doing more and more and more? I don’t think so. No, it doesn’t help, but looking back, I’ve been suffering with this since before mobile phones.
Yes, I’m that old.
Where does it stem from?
Is it because my older sister is super clever and it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t moved up a year at school? (Not her fault, she’s amazing)
Is it because I didn’t like the same music as all my friends at school and got bullied because of it? (Kids are arseholes)
Is it because I was, for a short time, a better singer than my peers and they all rallied against me and as a result, wasn’t allowed to be the lead in any of the school shows. (I repeat, kids are arseholes)
Maybe it is all these things, maybe it is none of these things and I’m yet to pinpoint the start of the issue. Or maybe I’m just wired wrong.
I think we all want to feel special, and like we are good at something. We want to feel like what we are doing makes some sort of difference in the world around us; to find our niche - that thing that we don’t mind doing each and every day even if sometimes it is really hard - but is this just a pipe dream for the majority of us? It’s beginning to feel that way.
As usual with these kind of brain dump blogs, this has ended in a different place than it started. Perhaps this is why I’ll never be the writer I want to be - too much verbal diarrhoea and not enough structured prose.
Oh, and by the way, the camera is still sitting on the shelf mocking me.