glass walls

I complain a lot about not being able to walk properly and being in pain all the time. Sometimes I feel like I over egg this. I know that other people face much greater challenges with far more positivity than I do (how the heck do folk do this?!?) and I just feel like I’m awkwardly chucking my issue in people’s faces in a way that sounds like a bratty toddler. I don’t know how much it affects my life because I don’t remember what it’s like not living with this and I do try and force myself to remember that ‘normal’ people probably aren’t that different. It’s easy when I’ve got a routine I’m comfortable with to forget there’s anything wrong; that’s obviously the ideal situation. 

There are times, however, when I feel like there’s a massive glass wall between me and the world; when I’m in a new situation with no control and am completely dependent on other people. For example, when you’re with people you don’t know very well going somewhere you don’t know and they walk at warp speed; there are only so many times I can ask you to slow the hell down or pull pained faces before I start to hate you (taxi drivers who take the piss out’ve you for getting a cab for a 10 minute walk can piss too by the way). I realise I should accept that people don’t necessarily understand and that I should be more direct, but when I do the latter I get a lot of looks that make me feel like the bratty toddler I mentioned earlier. If you can cope some of the time, why can’t you cope all of the time? I should get less angry, but I always wonder ‘if this is how you treat me, how do you treat other people?’ and it worries me that huge swathes of society could be so pointlessly marginalised (I realise I might just be being a bit of an arsehole even thinking I’m representative here). 

One of my least favourite things in the world is day long meetings with bloody networking and buffet lunches. Sitting for that long in uncomfortable chairs hurts (probably unpleasant for everyone, but it has a tendency to force my leg into stupid spasms which have been contemplating amputation with a bread knife and panicking about how to stand up). I’ve been trying to work out why it’s so much worse than everyday life in an office (which I don’t find anywhere near as difficult) and I do think part of the problem is my compliance with the expectation that you’ll be polite and sit there. Maybe moving around more helps and I need to get over the self-consciousness I feel when loudly shuffling out my seat and asking folk to move their piles of crap. Then the idea of pacing round the back of the room like a caged animal contemplating a prison break doesn’t seem appealing. I don’t want to seem like I’m attention seeking (to be honest I want to disappear; I feel like it’s a sign of capitulation). Thank you joyous teenage taunts and angry women in disneyland bathrooms for loading me with these delightful hang ups. 

To return to networking and buffet lunches, they involve a lot of standing. And holding things. At the same time. I have one free hand and, to be honest, I’ve bloody well given up trying to juggle this crap (especially since, as I said earlier, these days are particularly painful for me). I can’t even carry a bloody drink and food back to a seat at the same time and I get fed up feeling like I need to beg folk for help (again I realise this is yet another psychological issue). It’s nice when people think of it on their own and I don’t feel invisible.

Now, once you are sitting down with said drink and/or food you become entirely reliant on some kind soul agreeing to give up flitting amongst the influential type folk and speaking to you. Otherwise you look like a grumpy bitch ignoring everyone in the corner (which I do very very easily become in this situation). I get it; the fluidity of conversation and opportunity to listen to and contribute to multiple people at the same time isn’t there when you’re sitting down (‘a girl hasn’t got but two sides to her at a table’ after all). I feel so massively excluded from this for reasons that I think are outwith my control. I think the way it makes me feel is more within my control and I know that as soon as I feel I can’t physically do stuff I get so unbelievably angry; there’s only a small gap where I would actually let someone help/be understanding/not be an arsehole before writing off the whole human race. I know I need to work on widening that, but I find it hard. 

Basically, I don’t think it’s fair that any kind of social situation is constructed in a way that could physically exclude anyone. But that’s not how the world works. We don’t all know sign language. Not all pedestrian crossings beep or have pavement bumps. Wheelchair users can’t get on buses if they’re busy with people or pushchairs in that one space they can actually use (bit of a random mix of examples, but ok). I realise how utterly unrealistic this total inclusion is and I’m ashamed to think of all the times I’ve been an arsehole to people when I haven’t understood that they were struggling. 

What am I doing?

I ask myself this a lot. It’s exhausting and probably irritating for anyone anywhere near me but I’m probably now at the stage where it’s too engrained for me to even try and stop. I have been attempting to adapt it to ‘am I doing whatever the hell this is well?’ but I’m kind of failing at the shift and still undecided if I like the question.

More irritatingly vague ramblings … what a surprise!

I’ve spent far too much time excusing myself from actually trying (you know, trying to achieve your full potential or some such nonsense). It’s easy enough to be passable at school or uni or get a decentish job and pat yourself on the back because you’re doing ok (despite being stuck in hospital or at home for long stretches; despite being in pain all the time). No idea why I chose to put the ‘despite’ bit in parenthesis given that it was the main thrust of what I was saying, but oh well …

Anyway, I’m now trying to do something I find difficult (i.e. my job – not writing this blog). I want to know if a constantlydruggedwonkyleggedhighlystrungpotentialcrazy person can be like the smart successful kids. There’s problem number one – my wonderful intellectual inferiority complex makes me value that skill above all others (could it be that some of the others are more important!?!?) and that’s the bit I want to find out if I can do. So if I take on a whole tonne of things I don’t understand and don’t end up cowering in a corner then I’ve succeeded. Right?

This is where it might be useful if I cared more about doing things well (you know, did you do things on time, in a way that didn’t irritate the hell out’ve everyone else, that incorporated other people’s views, that wasn’t just something you personally saw as being logically sound and could no longer pick holes in, etc) I’m a little bit too blind to that at the moment but, given that I really can’t believe I’m here, maybe I’ll get there?

Don’t believe the hype

This may be somewhat at odds with my general woe is me self-flagulation, but I’ve recently had a run of things that I think I’ve actually dealt with pretty well. Suddenly the world doesn’t seem so impossible and things can be dealt with without a hissy fit and running away to go hide in a corner. For a ridiculous example, I stupidly ate a banana flavoured sweet the other day (I’m allergic) and spent a significant proportion of my morning in the less than pleasant bathrooms at work (by the way, I’m forming a very poor view of Londoners based on bathroom cleanliness – maybe this is unfair?). Yet, I still managed to sit through a rather painful 3 hour meeting (my god, you could even argue I made some useful contributions) without prefacing it with a pathetic ‘I’m not well, waaaaaaah.’ This is a fairly big step forward for me. I realise this is probably standard for other people and I’m coming to the conclusion that a lot of my pathetic hang ups are far more common that I have been assuming. I just talk about them constantly and don’t like hiding them (I’m all about the surfaces). Oh dear, I’m less special than I’d thought (and more shallow). 

While on my roll, I’ve been cheered on by some positive comments. It’s nice to hear you’re making a good impression; that you’ve shown great potential; that people are grateful for stuff you’ve done; that you’ve really intelligent and pick things up quickly (I have a bit of a mutual adoration society going with the woman I sit next to); that you don’t need to compromise who you are to be successful (that one’s my favourite actually), etc. Even better when this stuff is said multiple times by multiple people senior to you. I wish my confidence levels weren’t indexed so closely to what other people thought, but apparently they are.

Having this excess of confidence makes me far more likely to speak whenever I have an opinion which, while sometimes being productive and useful, can also make you sound like a bit of a prat. I wince when I think about some conversations where I know I’ve spoken like a know-it-all who’s disappeared so far up their own arse it’s untrue (if I could tone down some of the showing off that would be quite nice too!). I am painfully aware of the mountain of things I don’t know enough about and I don’t want to pretend that I do understand them.

Basically, I’m scared of buying in to my own hype and forgetting that a lot of these compliments are caveated; you need to continue not to mess up and a fair chunk of them might just have been said to counter your negative attitude and get as much out of you as possible (as opposed to you being the greatest thing to have ever happened). 

If I could find the balance between having enough confidence to function and being a self-important twat I’d be a happy bunny.