Last week, I revealed my core desired feelings for 2014.
As I love my navel-gazing, I thought it would be fun to explore each of these feelings a little over the next three weeks.
Let’s start with numero uno:
This choice seems like a no-brainer. Of course I want my life to feel joyful. Everyone wants to feel happy right?
Well yes, of course, in theory. But looking back through my life I can see that on many occasions I’ve actively held back from pursuing things that I knew would bring me joy.
I’ve come up with 5 reasons why I’ve done – and continue to do – this. Let me know if any of them strike a chord.
Reason to avoid joy-making activity #1: It feels icky, or embarrassing.
I am, and have always been, an insufferable show off. I love to draw attention to myself. As a child, I practised shouting (yes really) and performed skits and songs and plays for the amusement of my family. I was passionate about drama – I loved the buzz that came with being on stage more than anything. The actual acting I could give or take; it was the audience that I thrived on.
In my teens I died my hair silly colours, wore bold outlandish clothing; I loved parties and playing the clown and being the life and soul.
But then. I stopped celebrating my starriness, and started to feel ashamed of it. I decided that proper people didn’t draw attention to themselves. That fuckwits like me didn’t need – or deserve – the limelight.
So I became a muted version of myself. I got jobs which involved being quiet in the corner. Deep down, I was still an insufferable show-off, but it felt icky and embarrassing so I did my best to hide it.
As you may have guessed from the entirely self-absorbed content of this blog, I’m kinda done with that approach. I know who I am, and I’m proud of it dammit. And though there’s still a teeny bit of my brain that screaming ‘get over yourself you twat’, I’m doing my best to ignore it.
Reason to avoid joy-making activity #2: waiting for permission.
So, I’m kinda into writing. Words turn me on. When I’m in full flow, I lose track of the minutes passing by and the things going on around me. Writing brings me complete, unmitigated joy.
Although I’ve felt this all my life, I’ve never truly pursued the writing thing. Did a bit at uni. Wrote some reports at work. Spent hours composing emails to my beloved when we were courting. But not much else.
Why? Self-confidence, partially, but if I’m honest there’s more than that.
I’ve been waiting to be picked.
I’ve been waiting for someone to come along, grab me roughly by the shoulders and yell ‘LOTTE YOU MUST CHASE YOUR WRITING DREAM OR TRULY THE WORLD WILL END. LET ME GIVE YOU A MILLION POUNDS AND A COLUMN IN THE GUARDIAN AND A BOOK DEAL RIGHT NOW’.
The compliments I received here and there weren’t enough. I needed that big giant thunderclap from heaven to tell me YES, IT’S REALLY OK THAT YOU WANT TO DO THIS.
And to be honest, I think this blog only exists now because I *did* get that bolt from the blue, in the form of an email from my Dad:
Outstanding updates on what sounds amazing set of experiences! Can you write! Can you find a way to make money out of it?
There it was, in three hastily typed sentences, the words I hadn’t realised I’d been waiting to hear.
I am an entirely independent 33 year old yet the truth remains I’m only following my joy and writing this blog, because my father inadvertently gave me permission to do so.
Reason to avoid joy-making activity #3. I’m not very good at it.
I love to sing. It proper brings me joy. But the thing is, I’m not actually very good at it.
Miss Drummond told me as such in year 8 when she didn’t put me in Chamber Choir (sob). I had no hope of hitting the high bits: even when I was wee, I sounded like I smoked twenty a day. I can hear the notes perfectly in my head but I can’t quite replicate the sound. And if we’re getting really technical, a singing teacher once told me I don’t breathe properly either (who knew?).
And yet, and yet, I love to sing. Happy happy memories of being drunk and 17 and singing ‘Hey Big Spender’ with my bezzies at the top of my lungs as we shambled through Southampton town centre.
Even now, when I’m in a car with David and no-one else is listening, there’s nothing more I like to do than sing the Glee version of ‘Defying Gravity’, even though it’s really fucking high.
When I’m in full-throttled joyful singing mode, in my head I sing as well as Kurt or Rachel or even Christina Aguilera. And it’s an awesome feeling.
So this year I’m going to sing more. And one day soon I’m going to get singing lessons, and one day soon I’m going to join a choir, and one day soon I’m going to sing a Lili Von Shtupp tribute live in front of an audience. And I’m going to really fucking love it.
Reason to avoid joy-making activity #4. It doesn’t feel productive
I come from a very arty family. My mum is a painter; my dad a potter and photographer. My grandparents were all proficient artists too.
I want to be like them. I didn’t do art at school – you could only do art or drama and art didn’t provide me with an audience – so I felt like I ‘missed out’ on learning the skills and knowledge you need to be ‘an artist’.
So recently I went to a few evening classes, which I loved, and I drew some drawings and I painted some paintings, which I loved. And some of the stuff I made looked pretty cool, and I was all secretly proud of myself and happy.
But as much as I loved those classes I missed as many as I attended. I had too much on at work. I was tired. It was raining. I was heavily pregnant and couldn’t walk up the hill.
Classic self-sabotage. Lame excuses taking precedence over doing something that I loved.
And though I promised myself I’d draw and paint at home, I never did. I have unused art materials coming out of my ears.
Why do I resist from chasing my interest in art? Because (and no insult meant to the artists out there), it feels unproductive. My stupid head says are so many better things I ‘should’ be doing than fannying about with paint. Pleasure be damned. I don’t have GCSE art so I could never be a proper paid artist so what’s the point in doing it.
What’s the point in doing anything?
I need to start painting, and soon.
Reason to avoid joy-making activity #5: I’m a nob.
The fifth and final reason I’ve not pursued the things I love: I’m a TOTAL NOB.
I keep forgetting that I’m going to die one day. And when I’m on my deathbed I know I’m going to wish I did more of the stuff that I loved, that brought me joy, that made me joyful.
Time to get on it.