Saturday 5 July 2014

The Power of Negative Motivation

I'll always remember the moment I realised where my greatest source of motivation comes from.

I was about 15, sat in science class next to my best friend with whom I was bickering pointlessly with at the time, in the way we always loved to do, and after we'd just got our quiz results back and I'd beat him by one mark, he turns to me with a scowl and says:

"Goddamn it Katie, I swear the only time you ever get any work done is if you're pissed off."

And at 21, looking back from this position in life and everything that has happened since, this concept seems to have repeated itself over and over to a point which provides me which one irrefutable, and probably a little bit screwed up truth.

I owe everything I am now to everyone who has ever screwed me over.

This isn't about having 'haters' or any of that sickening stuff. It's just, you see,

Throughout my entire life, all I've ever been told is that I'm not good enough. To not bother trying because there are so many others out there better than me. That the idea of just 'doing what I want to do' is as good as laughable against the looming backdrop of financial and academic security and what is considered normal.

And for years, I let that beat me.

I let myself believe it was true, and I tried to make myself normal, be the child my parents wanted me to be, be the kid at school who didn't ruffle too many feathers and let my dreams dither into nothing but fading 3am notepad scribbles, hastily stashed away in the top drawer of my bedside table as the landing light flickers on.

But one day I decided enough was enough. If I didn't fight back with the last of my strength in one last valiant battle to save my own identity then I was going to be lost forever, a life of trying to appease other peoples expectations whilst constantly casting my eye away from 8 year-old me standing in the rain, tapping at the window, asking what happened.

That was the day I started this blog.

And as soon as I started to admit to myself what I really wanted out of life, revel in the selfishness in saying 'No, this is MY time.' I got my first taste of that long-awaited victory of proving people wrong.

I realised that there was nothing in the world which gave me more fuel, more drive to excel onwards, more passion and determination in my bones, than not being believed in and doing it the hell anyway.

And so this is my tale; 'And Ode To All Who Have Screwed Me Over'

To my parents, (although I know this was borne out of love and my best interests were at heart) who when I stood before you as a child and belted my heart out confessing my desire to perform, laughed in my face and told me I couldn't sing and refused to send me to stage school. Who wouldn't let me have music classes to learn an instrument because you thought I'd give it up.

The reason I am now the lead singer of two bands, have sung on stages in front of hundreds of people and taught myself by hand to play the ukulele and bass guitar.

Who refused to listen when I said I didn't think University was for me and forced me to head down the path of academia of which I was so unfit for, and I struggle daily with the pressure of Uni classes and projects.

The reason I chose to educate myself, and educate myself properly about the world and the universe and began to construct an online empire based around this learnings of life. I'll add here however, my parents who I still love and appreciate very deeply, and who I am very thankful for being proud of me now and allowing me freedom at last.

To my Uni professors, who told me they 'thought I was an intelligent girl' when I failed a module on attendance because I was at an internship, who have almost kicked me out on multiple occasions, once because we were instructed to 'think outside the box' while writing a journalistic article about drugs from a detailed press release on how to procure them, and so I decided to write a satirical piece questioning why our professors would provide such detailed information on how to buy drugs to Uni students.

The reason I chose to write my own work, instead of just spending 3 years and £9000 of finding new ways to recycle and rearrange the now irrelevant words of aging professors of a long-lost era.

To that internship, the tiny and long-afflicting clothing company now sinking into a pit of debt and obscurity, whose prime business model is latching onto the success of bloggers and attempting to drag themselves long with them, who after working 6 days a week in London unpaid for 5 months, despite giving me express authorisation and consent to reference them in my work, maliciously and unexplainably attempted  to file for copyright infringement and fraudulent claims directly to my university without even speaking to me, and almost got me kicked out.

The reason I was determined to become more successful as a blogger, to grow and perfectly develop my little world, and gained half a million hits since I left.

The boss of which, who's now quit, I bumped into at the train station the other day whilst waiting for my bandmate so we could head over to the launch of the creative agency I now work with in a Blues Bar in Shoreditch, and she was there snickering and gossiping in a little pack of hyenas who I simply smiled at and pitied.

To every guy who has broken my goddamn heart, who has cheated on me or made me feel like a speck of shit on the bottom of your shoe, who has reduced me to tears of anguish and self-loathing.

The reason I was able to take time alone and to learn how to love myself. To learn that I actually do have a beautiful heart and I am a good person. That I have the capability to perhaps even be a little bit wonderful.

To the bullies who made my life a living hell in my late teens when they discovered an arts website I'd been uploading some of my poetry and creative writing to, and later my anonymous youtube channel where I'd been uploading daily vlogs under a pseudonym. Who trashed my car and created an online hate movement which spread amongst the whole year, leaving me hundreds of anonymous messages telling me I should kill myself or drop out of school.

The reason I can now stand proudly with everything I create now and shout it from the rooftops, without feeling shame, the need to hide or keep it a secret, with any derogatory comment made now simply deflecting uselessly off my resounding satisfaction and happiness with what I do.

To every person who has shut me down and made me question everything I've ever held true to a cellular level, you have inadvertently allowed me to push through that dense fog of self-doubt and find a goldmine of passion, soul and an unwavering determination to succeed, and I have never in my life been more sure of what I want to do and who I am going to be.

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly vengeful person, but when I think of all those who have wronged me in the past, I feel this almost carnal sense of power surge through my heart like electrical wires which reach out, entwining around my arms and my limbs, electrifying my whole body. And to them I say, I hope it wounds you a little bit each day to see a fire you so maliciously tried to douse now a towering raging inferno. And even if you don't, the beauty is, that by no means lessens the blaze. Because a tiger does not lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

They say success is the best revenge, and all though I'm by no means successful yet in the things I want to achieve, if you measure success alongside happiness, then I can't help but feel I've got a pretty damned good thing going.

And so I guess overall, it comes down to this.

I'd say 'Don't let people walk over you', but you know, being mistreated can actually be an incredibly positively powerful learning curve if you choose to acknowledge it so.

Throughout your life there are going to be so many times when you're reduced to nothing, when you feel hopeless and trodden on by the whole world. But if you can internalise that feeling and convert that negativity into a forceful kind of power, when you stand up and say 'Fuck 'em!' and decide to prove everyone wrong, you can begin to curate your own success and oh baby, does that victory taste so sweet.

And however much I actually dislike the song, there's a particular lyric that comes to mind, and has stuck with me ever since I first heard it:

"Everyone's the kid that no-one cares about, that's why you've got to keep screaming til they hear you out."