Thursday, 10 March 2016

Imposter Syndrome

I haven't written anything in ages, because for a long time I've felt...together. Like my life has not been dramatic enough to be worth writing about. Not interesting enough to read about.

But...impostor syndrome. By god this is something I've felt all my life, the more I achieve, the more I move on, the more this becomes prevalent.

I always assumed I would be a jobless, homeless bum, dying in a ditch somewhere while people with real lives passed me by, disgusted by the tramp lying in the gutter, clearly too "lazy" to pull everything together and live a normal life like a normal human being.

Every achievement pushes on me further the feeling that I shouldn't be where I am. That at some point, everyone will realise that I'm a fake of a human being, that I've lucked my way into my position, with a decent job, good pay, a place of my own, a girlfriend who loves me. As though all of this will come crashing down around me when the world catches up with me and says "oy, who is this guy, why have we let him be where is he is?"

I'm facing a promotion (maybe), and a definite bonus and pay rise in June regardless because somehow, I have exceeded the expectations put upon me. This boggles my mind, well and truly. How am I a capable human being? Is everyone simply faking it, does anyone really feel the confidence they appear to  project?

When will it all come crashing down? When will I be pushed back into the gutter that despite all my achievements, all my hard work, I feel I truly deserve?

How long can I keep this up?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

How I Taught Myself To Approximate A Normal Human Being

When I was a kid, I didn't get things like other people did. I liked maths, because maths had rules and logic. Take this input, perform these actions on it, get this result out. Every time. Maths made sense. Maths was reliable.

I never did anything without a purpose. I couldn't understand why people spoke to each other. Almost everything they said seemed meaningless, they weren't imparting required information to each other, just making noise.

When I entered 6th form, I was fed up of not fitting in, of not having friends or being invited to parties, so I decided to figure out how to be a normal human being. I started being that creepy guy no one really knows just hanging around at the edge of a group, staring but not talking. I was observing, figuring out the rules and logic governing human interaction. I spent months trying to figure out the purpose of small talk, trying to figure out the rules so I could replicate them, but I couldn't find any logic or reason to the conversation I was hearing. It all just seemed like meaningless noise, devoid of useful information, with no set pattern, no subtext that I could determine, no purpose that I could see.

After about half a year of observing people, it hit me one day. I had my first big breakthrough. I'd been looking at it all wrong, trying to determine the purpose of small talk through the meaning of the words. I realised then that there was no purpose to the words, it was the act of talking which itself had meaning. Small talk is just a little "Hello! I'm here! Don't forget me!".

Armed with this theory I took it to practice. I'd been standing quite literally on the outside of groups, backs turned, but I started making noise. I repeated what someone else had said, in a slightly different way. I said meaningless things just to keep myself noticed, and it worked. Those turned backs were turned my way more often, and the more noise I made the more they turned. Eventually, I was allowed into the group to join the circle, and we all made noise together. A brief little "Hello, include me, I am relevant" together.

And that's how I learned to approximate a normal human being.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

On maturity and growing up

Strange post for me to be writing, this one. I've fought against "growing up" for years but alas it seems to be overtaking me. It's with a bemused and slightly wistful tone that I write these words.

Maturity. What is that? Many, many, far too many people seem to think maturity means being "grown up", grown up apparently meaning to be serious. When we say someone is "immature" we usually mean they're a bit weird and they act a bit childish. I would argue that maturity doesn't require a person to become boring, plain and serious. To me, maturity, in the ways that count, means dealing with ones responsibilities. Finances, relationships and work being the main ones.

Everything else is academic. One can grow old without "growing up", and still be mature. I think it's a sad state to assume that growing older means we must abandon the things which make us happy. Spontaneity, a sense of wonder and adventure. Doing something we feel like, because we want to and it makes us happy, like rolling down hills or climbing trees without worrying what some strangers we'll never see again will think about us. I see friends lamenting lost childhoods on Facebook, all the things they used to do because they simply wanted to and it was fun, and don't feel they can now because they are "grown up".

Why block out that inner child? To what end?

As I said before, maturity, true maturity that counts, means looking after your responsibilities. Being an adult to me, mainly seems to consist of doing things I don't want to. But I AM an adult, I AM mature, I do those things. I get up at 5 in the morning to go to work. Or I head in at 7 in the evening and leave at 7 in the morning after a night shift.

I have matured a lot since I left University. I could never have imagined working 12 hour shifts when I started, or reaching a point where I can support myself. When I began, I was a wide eyed innocent little teen, with no idea what I wanted (ESPECIALLY when it came to relationships and girls). I had no sense of responsibility...9am lecture? No thanks, I'll stay in bed! And it's that which I have fought since leaving University...the real world is too harsh, it hasn't got time for you to lie around in bed during the day and stay up late drinking every night. Do that and you'll end up jobless and broke. The real world is difficult and cruel, but it's something which must be not only faced, but embraced, if one is to get anything out of it.

And it's in this terrifying "real world" place where keeping in touch with your inner child is so very important. It would be awful to lose touch with the innocence and joy of simply doing things which make you happy, for the simple reason that they make you happy. Being "immature" is the only way I can deal with being "mature". I'm proud to say I'm immature.

And I've grown up too.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The dreaded question - "Where are you from?"

A very difficult question for me, which I am often asked when I meet new people, is "where are you from?"

Those of you who know a little about me will know why this question causes me trouble. If I answer "the world" people think I'm trying to be clever.

See, I was born in Berlin in 1989. When I say this people go "Oh wait, you're German?" NO! I was born in a British Military Hospital to British parents. This makes me British. My Dad was in the army, so we moved every two or three years, and so I have never really had a "base" other than the quite literal base I would be inhabiting at the time.

People often try to place my accent, which is an unenviable task given the nature of my upbringing. It's very strange when people to try to place me as "Northern" or "Southern" given that those words don't really hold any meaning to me. In fact, believe it or not, up until about 2 years ago I didn't really understand that there was any difference between "Northerners" and "Southerners", I wasn't aware that there was any animosity between the two. Having lived OUT THERE in the wide world, it seems ridiculous that one country should be divided in itself. Even more ridiculous is that I find that there are more divisions, between people who live ridiculously close together.

Take Warrington and Wigan for example. They are less than 15 miles apart. 15 miles people. And yet there is this huge rivalry. As an adopted "Warringtonion" I am supposed to hate the "pie eating Wigans" with fierce and amusing intensity. What baffles me is that we eat pies here too. We're practically the same. If anything, people from Wigan seem friendlier.

As a forces kid, I have no idea what to say to people when they ask me where I'm from. Is it the place I'm currently living? The place I've lived the longest? It feels very weird and quite disconnected to not really have a "from" for me. Some people suggest I'm from the places where my family live, but I only ever went to Leeds at Christmas to see family, and although my mother, and thus I, currently live in Warrington, I definitely have no connection to this place.

Where are you from?

I have no idea.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Smiles are my weakness.

I wrote this while I was bored in my old job and I just found it again recently. Yes it's soppy. Deal with it ;-)

She had an amazing smile. A beautiful grin which bloomed across her face and lit up her eyes. When she smiled I was entranced. There was pure, unashamed happiness and honesty in the upward curve of those lips, the shine that entered her eyes and lit them from within. When she smiled, for a moment all was right with the world. Every part of her came alive, she seemed radiant, larger than life. When she smiled, I wanted to take her up in my arms, squeeze her tight, kiss her forehead, and then her lips, and then clasp her head tight to my chest, my hands running through her smooth hair. When she smiled...I felt happy.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Snelling Cornbottom

The inspiration for this little story came from an amusing interaction with someone with an amusing name. I had a mischievous idea and from that came this delightful little short story, written as an intro to a more complete work.

And so without further ado,  I present to you, "Snelling Cornbottom".

Snelling Cornbottom hated his name. His parents had been whimsical creatures who had a teapot named Eric, an iron named Peter and a child they decided, against all reason, to call Snelling. The unfortunate last name of Cornbottom was something his Father was afflicted with through the pure bad luck of being born to a proud line of Cornbottoms. Perhaps this was why his Father felt the need to pass on the injury and call his only child Snelling.

Snelling lived in a tiny flat above a bakery, the scent of warm baking bread wafting up at all hours to fill his single room, permeating the air with a friendly atmosphere and making his stomach grumble constantly. Snelling was good at grumbling, in fact it was his favourite past-time next to picking the fluff out of his belly button and adding it to his collection, stacked in neat rows of jars along the windowsill. His friends were disgusted by this habit, at least, he assumed they would be, but his friends couldn't speak, being in fact a spider that lived on the lampshade and a moth which had one night flown in through an open window and couldn't seem to find it's way back out again. He hadn't named the spider and the moth and so they were simply known as Spider, and Moth, respectively. But they were his closest friends.

Snelling himself was an old man of about 70, with a curved nose and a wart upon his right cheek, hair sticking up out of it like little spiders legs. Maybe this was why Spider hung around, perhaps he thought he had found a mate. Snelling didn't like to imagine what Spider got up to at night when he was asleep, but he sometimes woke with an unpleasant tickling sensation upon that cheek, and he would swear he often heard the odd tiny joyful squeal as a small dark shape swung off into the darkness.

Moth never seemed to care much for Snelling, in fact he seemed unreasonably enamoured with the light bulb which he danced around while Spider sat closely by, watching and hoping, but Moth had an uncanny knack of avoiding the carefully laid web.

It was a precarious friendship, founded on necessity, bad luck and not having anywhere better to be. This was Snelling's home. This is where our story begins.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Girl With The Bat Tattoo

This bit here is a sex scene from the latter half of the fourth book (holy shit did he just say there'd be FOUR books?!). The first two paragraphs are present here to provide a bit of context and won't be included in the final book as they won't be needed...the night out will have been written up properly in the previous chapter, the male character is the main character and will be well and truly fleshed out by now (three and a half books worth of fleshing out) and the female character will have been introduced. As a quick bit of background, she is not a main character and not really a recurring one - this is a one night stand, yet our main character will get fully into it, for this one night only. I may make a post explaining his thoughts, personality, motivations and a bit of background at a later date, so it's easier to understand him as I release snippets. And so with no further ado, I present to you The Girl With The Bat Tattoo (temporary title for this snippet).

What had started as a quiet and initially awkward night in the pub with a girl he'd met once and her friends, had over the hours turned into a joyful, inappropriate, excited night of swapping grand stories, tales of sexual misadventure and clumsy flirting with the girl he'd sat next to. When the time came to go home, he'd been heading to the bus when she'd offered him a place to go and drinks to be had. If there was one thing he'd never turn down, it was free drinks. Sex was if not the last thing on his mind, certainly not expected or even hoped for.

It was always this way, his enthusiasm and complete lack of inhibitions, coupled with an inexplicably naive innocence and complete surprise that anyone might want him, led to many a night in many a girls bed, with no rhyme or reason and no expectations. He stumbled joyfully through drunken nights, passing out outrageous compliments and flirting heavily, comfortable because he never intended to get anywhere and never expected anything to happen.

"So where do you want to sleep, couch or the bed?"

Through his fuzzy drunkenness the answer was obvious.

"Bed of course!"

She looked at him with one eyebrow raised, as if surprised at his enthusiasm, or his bold confidence in claiming her bed. With a shrug of her shoulders and an amused twist to her smile she turned and proceeded to get undressed.

He shrugged off his clothes, fumbling with his belt before it clumsily fell to the floor, almost joyfully threw his jeans off and climbed in her bed, now entirely naked. He stared openly at her, as she undressed with her back turned to him, saw the round curve of her buttock encased in her knickers, gave an excited, muffled gasp as he caught a glimpse of breast as she rearranged herself in her bra, making herself comfortable for the night. Craning to see the nipple, hoping for that stolen glance. She began to turn and he quickly jumped back, to lay on his side with a beatific drunken smile. The world turned around him as he lay there, with a small flicker of excitement and hope and mischievous intent.

She climbed in next to him, saying nothing, wearing nothing but her underwear, and he turned around and fit himself against the curvature of her back, one arm thrown over, hand resting on her stomach. Spooning, he reflected, was fucking fantastic.

He nuzzled into her hair, still neither of them saying a word, content with the comfortable bed and warm blanket, drink fogging up his mind and making him comfortably warm inside.

Spooning, he reflected, was second only to spooning with a tit grab.

Sliding his hand slowly up her stomach, gently caressing in slow circles, he pressed himself lightly against her to feel her reaction. She turned her head ever so slightly towards him, and arched back gently as he continued his hand's upward movement. Eventually he came to the base of her breast - now was the moment he'd see how this would go. An excited gasp or a slap and harsh words? It was always this way, never sure, never expecting, never daring to hope, never truly believing until he was fucking, even then barely believing his luck.

His hand slid upwards, gently creeping across the lower breast, until he held it, whole and firm, nothing between him and bare flesh but the bra she wore. With a slight nibble and gentle kiss of her neck, he slid his hand up, over the border created by her underwear, and then down again, until his hand was firmly under her bra, nipple hard against his palm.

With another kiss on the neck she turned to him, and their lips met as he slid his hand over to her right breast, and then began working the strap down her arm, lips locked together, tongues darting in and out, tasting each other, bodies pressed tight. With the first strap off, he slid his left hand down to squeeze her buttocks and press her against him, all the while still feeling her warm mouth against his, their bodies starting to move rhythmically as the passion built.

Suddenly, he rolled over until he was on his knees above her, pushed her down as she tried to come up to him, worked the other strap down and off her arm. Pulling her up close to him, he reached around and with a pinch the bra was undone, held to her only by their bodies pressed tightly together. Laying her back down he threw the cursed thing as far as he could, revealing her small, yet firm and perfectly shaped breasts, gentle moonlight dappled across them, a black tattoo of a bat plastered firmly across her left breast. He stopped for a moment, looking down upon her, with breath indrawn, savouring his treat, fixing the image in his mind, one more snapshot to join the countless others. The bat tattoo particularly drew his attention, sitting there peacefully and yet seeming to hold a wicked grin of it's own to match his.

"We'll need a condom".

Her words stopped him in his studied admiration of her body. A condom, of course. Those wicked, greasy things, akin to wrapping cold chicken skin tight around your prick. Like fucking the grease paper from a tub of butter, all cold, unpleasant greasiness. Not that he'd ever fucked butter but he had a good idea what it would feel like.

It would feel like wearing a condom.

God he hated condoms.

She threw a pack at him and he struggled to keep hard as he drunkenly fumbled at it, first putting it on the wrong way and stretching it out, ruining it. She threw another at him and he tried again, just managed to shuffle the awkward thing on, straining with every ounce of his will to keep hard enough to enter her. She watched him, half amused, half impatient, the passion quickly draining from the atmosphere.

He leaned in and worked quickly to get it back. Their lips locked once more and his hands explored her body, her legs wrapped around him as they pressed against each other. He began to kiss his way down her frame, hands trailing after, her smooth skin soft against his hands, warm against his slightly parted mouth. He stripped down her knickers and followed after, softly with his mouth, felt her warm clitoris against his tongue and started licking, ever so gently at first, mouth full of her wetness. Her groans increased as he worked against her, her groin moving in time with him, buttocks tightly contracting and releasing, until she pulled him up and to her mouth again.

He grabbed hold of himself and slid himself gently in, feeling the warmth of her pressed all about him, tight, close, warm and oh so wet. They worked together, their grunts and groans increasing in volume, her tits bouncing up and down. That bat tattoo caught his eye again, and he reached forward and grabbed it tightly, almost harshly, as he pumped faster. Suddenly, she rolled him over and sat atop him, back arched joyfully, hair tumbling about her face, the bat on her breast looking for all the world like it was trying to fly away as her beautiful breasts bounced up and down. He grinned wickedly up at her as she worked herself against him, and then flipped her over, lay her against the bed stomach first as he worked at her from behind.

She lifted herself up onto her elbows as he noticed with a twinge of excitement that the door stood ajar, the light on in the hallway, the house occupied, her groans and the wet slapping clearly audible, and it spurred him on, made him feel like a performer, a swift tingling sent sharp up his back. Her groans grew louder as they worked hard against each other, louder and louder, her fingers reaching down to rub against her wet cunt, his hand reach down to caress her right breast as they rocked back and forth, for an eternity of pleasure, the world turned into nothing but the two of them, panting, groans and gasps filling the room. Nothing mattered but this. No two people could be closer. Nothing could be more intimate or fulfilling. Gasps, groans, panting, and the wet slapping as he ground herself into her and she ground back, back and forth, back and forth, his groin and her buttocks drawing away and then meeting with intense inevitability.

Finally, reaching an explosive crescendo of pleasure, she shivered to a stop, gasping, collapsing onto her stomach, breathlessly whispering "I'm done, I'm done!".

He slid out of her with an immense feeling of satisfaction and lay next to her, their panting breaths filling the room, the door still ajar.

With a self satisfied grin he pulled the blankets up around them, threw his arm over her and held her close, mind still full of the actions of the moment just passed.

As he drifted off to sleep, mind still whirring from drink and body aching pleasurably from sexual exhaustion, the bat tattoo followed him swiftly down into his dreams.