Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Becoming a Failure For a Better Future


When I was younger, I used to have the same recurring nightmare. 

As most children do, from a very young age I was unfortunately bestowed with a deathly fear of the dark, and for me, this phobia seemed to manifest itself in the most haunting manner. 

Night after night, whilst still asleep and within my dream, I'd wake up. 

I'd feel this suffocating, fluid blackness heavy against my limbs and my chest, crushing the air out of my lungs and almost stinging this sense of fear into my very skin. The dark would press heavy against my temples, and my eyes would stare wildly, seeing nothing. And every night I'd fight so desperately to escape it. 

Now as an adult, I know this was sleep paralysis, but as a little kid, you can imagine this was scary as BALLS.


For some reason, however, I knew that if I could just reach the sanctuary of that little orange glimmer beneath the crack of the living room door downstairs, where my parents talked, watched television and laughed, I would be safe. I would be free. 

And so night after night, whilst still dreaming, like wading through treacle, I'd battle against the darkness to try and reach that little faint crack of light. 

It would feel as if a bungee chord had been tied around my waist and anchored into the darkest most impenetrable depths of my bedroom, and I would be scrabbling with fingertips and knees, trying so hard to reach that little orange glow that would instantly cease the pull. 

But I never got there. Sometimes I'd barely get out of my bed and other times I'd be so tantalisingly close, my quivering fingers just inches from the glow before the chord would snap and I'd go hurtling back into the darkness, obviously none of which was real, and I'd wake up in reality with a start. 


This kind of feeling has become familiar to me once again, but unfortunately for me, in the terms of a very real, yet admittedly less dramatic, fear.



U-n-i.

I feel like I've reached crisis level.


Classes, assignments, exams, deadlines - they are all looming thunderously above me, mingling together in this sickly churning cloud which swirls down in thin vortexes to take the form of smoky fingers placing firmly against my shoulders, dragging me back with a demonic laugh as soon as I begin to make progress in my life. 

There are times when I am in the most blissful state of semi-selective ignorance ever. 

The sun in shining, I'm walking through a city in which passionate life thrums beneath the paving slabs so aggressively that I can almost see them tremor, and I briefly glance at Scarphelia to see the hits counter climbing by tens of thousands weekly, more and more people joining in on my adventure through this crazy life, actually appreciating and enjoying what I do. 


I can't keep the smile off my face as I think of the steady progress in all my little projects, writing new songs with the band, having meetings at Gatherly HQ discussing all these ridiculously exciting new projects and ideas, with events and adventures dangling seductively in the very near future and meeting the most incredible and passionate people.

Then like a physical blow that sends me staggering, all of which I have elected to forget comes bursting through the flood gates and I struggle for breath. 2,500 word analytical film review, a 2-minute complex animation at 24fps, a 1,500 word journalism feature with a minimum of 4 interviews, a 25 minute solo presentation analysing Auteurs in European Cinema... and then next week-

I'd be a liar if I said it hadn't reduced me to tears at some points. 

And here's where I find myself.



I can't do them both.

I've never been one to thrive in an academic environment, if anything I suffer, and I suffer hard. But so far I've just about managed to throw in enough caffeine-fuelled and panic-induced gusto to just about scrape through with a fairly decent grade. 

But I can't do it anymore. 

I can either be Scarphelia, or I can be a student.

And I can tell you now this is one of the most stressful and agonising things to have to deal with. 

It's at this point my parents and all my professors throw up their paperwork in glee like the control room of Apollo 11 as it touched down on the surface of the moon, and 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang blasts out of nowhere.

'By god, she's finally got it!'

*gleeful jumping and hugging*

'She's finally going to put that blasted hobby of hers out of her head and concentrate on her education!'

*whoop with joy as the champagne cork pops off into the distance*

'Finally, she's going to actually get rid of all those silly internet distractions and buckle down at school!'

*me in the corner pulling the needle off the vinyl record*

...I just can't do that.

*people freeze and stare in shock as a solitary party popper trail falls and lands in the hair of Sharon from accounting*

When I think of Uni, I am filled with such an abhorrent surge of hatred that it could almost make me sick. To me right now, it seems like Uni crushes any little individuality or uniqueness you have, and squashes you down into a series of tick boxes and numbers whilst a beady-eyed examiner analyses whether you're deemed worthy of a piece of paper on the basis of how well you've regurgitated the stagnant words of some ancient professor of a bygone era who wouldn't even be able to tell you what a hashtag is.

When I think of Scarphelia, Gatherly, my band boys, travelling, writing - everything I'm doing to enhance myself on an extra-curricular basis... Well, I don't mean to sound blunt, but in comparison it's rainbows and fucking unicorns. I feel so passionate excited to the very fibre of my bones about everything I am doing here, that I just can't possibly justify it to myself that to give this up and to return my focus to academia, could possibly be the best thing for me. 

I have created my own future for myself, because I knew I wasn't going to get it from graduate schemes and office temp jobs... and it has actually grown into something huge. With opportunities coming to me that I had only dreamed would appear many many years after Uni if I was lucky, a rapidly-growing audience of over 50,000 people per month who are interested in what I do... how can I possibly muster the effort for something I so passionately detest under the guise that it will be more beneficial for my future?

And so from now on, I'm ridding the negativity.

I'm erasing the stress, the pain, the worry and the drama, and although I'd like to make a point here that I'm not going to deliberately fail, I am no longer going to beat myself up, spending teary all-nighters in the library sobbing into text books and calling myself a failure. 

I am going to do everything I can to try and do well in my final year here, but I will NOT let it break me.

Because even if I do end up failing, I am not a failure.

And you know what, even in an hyper-pessimistic reality, if Scarphelia goes down the pan, everything goes to shit and I'm left with nothing but a lousy 'You Tried' sticker from The University of Hertfordshire, no job, no qualifications and it rains every single day, and I'm sat in the office of my sixth job interview of the day, and the dreary, sullen interviewer gives me a half-arsed frown and says '3rd class degree with an incredibly messy transcript... Well?'

Then I will bloody hell clamber onto that table in front of him, rip the arms of my stiff Marks and Spencers blazer and say,

WELL? WELL, *squints at nametag* MR FITZSIMMONS,  LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT PASSION. 

ABOUT DOING THINGS WHICH MAKE YOU FEEL ALIVE. 

ABOUT TAKING YOUR TINY LITTLE INFINITESIMAL TOOTH-PICK POCKMARK OF AN EXISTENCE ON THE GRAND SCALE OF TIME AND SPACE AND ACTUALLY FILLING IT WITH JOY. 

WITH THINGS YOU LOVE. 

THINGS TO MAKE YOURSELF, OTHERS AND THE WORLD, BETTER. 

THAT'S WHY I FAILED, MISTER. 

BECAUSE I CHOSE TO LIVE AND CREATE AND EXPLORE AND SEE THE GREATNESS OF THE WORLD, INSTEAD OF LETTING IT GET CRUSHED AND GROUND OUT OF ME FOREVER.

THAT'S MOTHERFUCKING WHY.

And I mean, either he will climb to his feet and grandly proclaim me chief exec of the company, or, more likely, call security, but I figure hey. If that doesn't get anyone's blood pumping, then I'll have no other option other than to become a wandering hippie nomad walking from continent to continent making friends with the animals and writing poetry on the back of palm leaves and selling them to tourists in exchange for their greatest stories and perhaps a pina colada or seven.

Because at least I'll be happy. 

And to be honest, it's not the success, the money, the recognition or the pride I truly want out of my life

Because all in all, at the very root of my most basic want out of anything for myself, is... Well.

I just want to be god dang happy. 


*

(P.S I don't know why people call me dramatic.)


                    

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