Monthly Archives: April 2016


I’m knackered this evening, and while it’s because I’ve been self-torturing at the gym (in the absence of my personal trainer on Friday), the fact that I almost didn’t go, coming up with all sorts of excuses such as the Northern Line being shut and the aching shoulder I was suffering from last week, proves I’m dealing with a different kind of exhaustion these days.

I know recently I said the reason I wasn’t going out so much, to climb at the Castle (except at weekends or when “best mate” meets me there), or to meetup groups (I haven’t found a yoga class to replace the one my friend was running), was that I was trying to save money by avoiding having to eat out between work and the event.  Well, that too was an excuse: a good one, I admit, seeing as eating out is expensive (Nando’s is about as cheap and convenient as they come, since there’s no way I’ll go into a Subway again if they’re going to insult me), but still not the full explanation.

No, the real reason I’m not going out much these days is simply that I’m exhausted — emotionally rather than physically, as my entire job involves interacting with people all day long.  I enjoy my job, of course (and if I say that enough times you might believe it, right?), but it takes a lot out of me, and all too often I just want to go home and relax (and thus play video games) rather than continue interacting with people when I’m not getting paid to do so.

It’s bad enough on the Tube and in Tesco, where I don’t interact with most of them anyway (but still have to tolerate their existence); actually having to meet people face to face, and talk to them and be nice to them… ugh, too much effort.  It also doesn’t help that it’s usually around 6pm by the time I get home, so unless I do literally nothing other than change clothes and eat a snack, I can’t get back out again in time to do anything — which means I have to stay out (and eat out) for the entire evening if I do something, and this just builds my resentment against social activities, like they’re some kind of onerous obligation.

I have to emphasise that don’t want this situation to continue — I want to get back into enjoying other people’s company and making new friends, and being “out there”.  After my Japanese classes ended in early 2011, I spent the rest of that year descending into depression, having no real social outlet other than my housemates (one of whom I couldn’t stand), and very occasional meetings with “female best friend” (who by then was already in the relationship that’s since led to marriage, motherhood and, recently, life in Norway!).

Let my blog be my bond: I WILL go out this week, even if all I do is climb at the Castle on Tuesday evening!  Maybe I’ll drag myself to the Science Museum on Wednesday for their monthly “late” as well, and in return, I’ll rest after work on Monday and Thursday (since my personal trainer will be back on Friday to torture me).  After all, my grandmother’s gifted me £100, so I might as well cut loose and enjoy myself by eating out now and then… but not every night, of course.

Oh wait — the weather’s going to be miserable over the next few days, a cold front wiping out the pleasant climate we experienced last week… as if I need another excuse to run home after work and shelter from the outside world!

Manning up

darktowerDespite the title, I don’t want to get into the whole debate about what a man “should” be compared to what a woman “should” be, like that it’s somehow okay for women to express emotions other than anger or triumph but not men, who need to repress that all in order to “be” manly (except during sporting events), because that’s what society expects.

However, it is emotional control that I seek, as I’m still prone to stupid bouts of anxiety and confusion these days, even if I’m better than I was last year, more confident with my daily tasks, and even physically moving with more certainty.  Despite my building confidence, one little thing can still set me worrying like a child…

For example, even though my boss expressed happiness with my performance before she went away on holiday recently, she also told me off for looking at the Internet (despite everyone else in my team doing that between tasks), and it got me anxious all over again.  I’ve been dreading her return to the office, which is happening tomorrow, but why should I?  I work hard in my role, I’m learning all sorts of things, and everyone makes mistakes — and if there’s a lesson to learn, it’s not “don’t goof off”, it’s “don’t let the boss see you goofing off”.

(I actually wonder if that’s precisely what she wanted me to learn!)

Another thing that messed me up recently was “other female best friend” posting an article in Facebook about trypophobia, an irrational fear of holes in patterns, especially organic ones (and most of all, lotus pods — Google them if you dare).  I’d never consciously felt such nervousness before, but now the holes in the walls at the Castle climbing centre, the speaker grill in my alarm clock radio, or even certain patterns in stone doorframes of posh houses around Marylebone (where I work), can make me feel scared for no sensible reason…

And speaking of walking around Marylebone, there are quite a lot of beggars (presumably thanks to Islamic State driving them over here) — and maybe it’s fear (rather than contempt) that keeps me from even acknowledging them, or maybe I’m just too afraid to admit that I don’t want to give money to strange people, and feel the need to rationalise this as “they might be con artists or in a gang”, or “they’ll spend it on booze anyway”.  It’s hard enough for me to interact with strangers at all (otherwise I’d tell off cyclists who ride on the pavement instead of tutting).

It’s possible I’m just experiencing similar fears to those everyone else has, but I don’t want to — I really do want to “man up”, and become a proper grownup who can face problems confidently instead of finding childish excuses to wimp out.  The problem is that I never really had any real life male role models growing up: my father never visited, my cool uncle died when I was young, and my grandfather, although a good man, was of a completely different generation.  Perhaps this is why some of my few male friends over the years have been a kind of “alpha male” to me, including “good housemate” when I was at Caledonian Road: he challenged me, accusing me of being gay (and also a heterosexual virgin, depending on his whims), and helped toughen me up a bit.

(Probably not intentionally, of course!)


If I could raise one eyebrow, I’d have it made!

These days, lacking any significant male celebs to admire (because I’ll never be a footie fan), I find myself trying to emulate some of my fictional heroes, men who keep their heads and replace fear and anxiety with confidence and competence.  An obvious example (cited a few times in these hallowed pages) is the unflappable genius Mr. Spock, of course, who taught me to think logically and rationally when dealing with problems, and that it’s all right to be internally conflicted as long as your intellect remains in control and you maintain a quiet, knowing demeanour.

However, perhaps my greatest inspiration in terms of “manning up” comes from Stephen King’s very own gunslinger, depicted at the top of this post: Roland of Gilead, from the Dark Tower novels (yes, I’ve reached that far in my attempt to read through all of King’s works).  Like him, I want to be someone who never gives up, always moving forward instead of focusing on the past (“if only…” being one of the most futile things to waste thought upon), doing whatever is necessary without hesitation or complaint (however unpleasant), and never shirking, goofing around or forgetting the face of one’s father (i.e. screwing up like a fool).

I also find myself wishing I could be more taciturn, like both men: watching and listening intently, noticing every little detail, instead of feeling the need to make smart-alec comments, ask nagging questions and blunder around making silly and avoidable mistakes — to be quietly confident in all things instead of concealing my anxiety behind a facade of manchild whimsy.

Of course, the most grownup thing I could do would be to accept myself as I am: yes, I have room for improvement, but what’s wrong with me being a bit of a joker, if I make people laugh and cheer them up?  That’s always been a major personality trait, and while my inane attempts at humour may annoy Vulcans or gunslingers, maybe I’m not such a bad soul after all.  The main thing I need to do to “man up” is discipline myself and work hard in everything I do, never putting off things I can do right away or finding excuses, but also to accept when I can’t do a thing (as happens with a lot of my IT tickets), and either ask for help (when appropriate) or be patient for a resolution.

Truth be told, I’ve been a bit withdrawn for the past couple of weeks (I’d love to say that’s the reason I’ve not been posting in this blog!), but now I’m once again forcing myself to go out and socialise at meetup groups in the evenings, instead of rationalising that staying home is about saving money or preserving my spare time (though it doesn’t help that my exact bit of the Northern Line is closed many weekends in April and May… it’s 2012 all over again!).  It’s fine to be afraid, as long as you’re honest with yourself that it’s the reason for not going out, the first step to fighting and overcoming it (which is what grownups do).

Since I (still) feel loathing for most of the male population of London, going out is a case of leaving my comfort zone and facing my fears — and thus a good example of “manning up”, don’t you think?