Something’s been going wrong over the past two weeks. A lot of things seem to have conspired at once to produce within me a feeling of crisis.
1) I received an email about 3 weeks ago, at the height of my visa stress, that knocked me for six. I didn’t deal with it straight away (couldn’t deal with it straight away), due to impending ‘being-chucked-out-of-the-country’ issues, but as soon as that had died down, the email loomed large once again. This email, which I don’t want to go into detail about, made me suddenly question various truths I have held about myself and my life over the past three years. And, when you think about it, three years is a pretty large chunk of time to have to suddenly start questioning.
2) I turned 28. That’s a pretty freaking huge number, as far as I’m concerned. It may seem on the surface a seemingly innocuous and mundane number and you may well ask, ‘what’s so wrong about 28?’ but we need only dig a little deeper to realise the inner sinister nature of the number 28. For starters, it’s closer to 30 than 25. It is an even number, which is only a good thing for ages that are multiples of 10, because then at least you get the benefit of a huge party with which to drown your sorrows/mask your anxieties/make you feel worthwhile (you know its true). You don’t even get the benefit of saying, as you do at 27: ‘Oh, its my Saturn’s Return! I will experience great power and magnificence this year, as a far-off planet returns to the point it was when I was born and I get to be more ‘me’ than I ever have been before. Oh, yes, I can already feel myself becoming more myself. Pass the guava juice.’ The only proper way to deal with such a horrible birthday as 28 is to pretend it doesn’t exist and only grudgingly eat banoffie pie and ice-cream until you feel uncomfortably full and then reluctantly agree to see a comic book movie with your housemate.
3) I returned to Dublin. Yes, yes, I know, I was freaking out something terrible about the thought of NOT being able to return to Dublin, but the fact is I had such a delightful time in the UK when I was forced to leave Ireland and I was so deliriously excited over my UK visa and the thought of moving to the UK, that when I landed back in Dublin it was a bit like ‘Wooo…. oh. This place again?’ Its like when you get really excited about the start of a big road trip and you get all the mixed tapes going and your friends are all excitedly discussing what you’ll see and where you’ll go and what you’ll do and looking out the car window, when someone suddenly realises that they’ve left their bags at home and you have to turn around and go get them. So often the excitement is never so great the second time round, like the rhythm has been thrown off, the momentum has been wasted. I got myself all worked up about moving to London and then realised I wasn’t moving there for another 5 weeks. Boo.
4) I’m finishing up with Fishamble. The position of Literary Intern with this company is one of the first jobs that I have truly loved, have felt I was capable of, have felt I was making a difference and contributing to something that I believed in wholeheartedly. I loved the people I worked with, enjoyed getting up each day to go to work, learnt and was inspired by my workplace and I could go on and on and on listing many other wonderful things it did for me. Most of all it gave me a sense of self-worth. I don’t know if or when I will get another job that ticks so many necessary boxes and that also ticks the most important box of all (that not even Fishambe could tick): its paid. As much as I enjoyed the internship position, its obviously not something I could do in the long-term and I just can’t be certain that a similar paid position will be coming along anytime soon.
5) Related to the above, I got very excited about two London jobs that happened to be advertised in the past two weeks, both of which I was qualified for and could do well. Both were in companies that I would sell my front teeth (and many of my back teeth too) to work with. When I suddenly (and unexpectedly) had my UK visa approved, I worked hard at writing excellent applications for the two positions and submitted them all full of innocent hope and optimism. Almost straight after I had hit the ‘send’ button on my email, my natural pessimism kicked in and the voice in my head (lets call it the Eeyore voice, as it speaks in a similarly downcast way) listed all the reasons why I probably had no chance of even getting an interview for these positions, let alone the job itself. The Eeyore voice won’t even let me tell you what companies I’ve applied for, on the off-chance that you will turn out to be evil, gloating people and not my friends at all and will laugh in my face and cry, ‘Ha! You think you could work for THAT company? Why, they would not employ one such as you to shine their boot caps!’ (Eeyore thinks everyone vindictive is also Victorian. I think he gets the ‘v’s confused). Either that, or I’ll jinx my already-slim-chances of an interview by telling you which companies I have applied for. Either way, I’m not writing them down, if only because I don’t want to have the ability to read back over my foolish hopes and dreams in 3 -4 weeks time if I haven’t gotten the jobs.
6) I had a meeting with the Guest Artist we’re working with for the Cork Midsummer Festival in which he managed some incredible insights into my character and life story for a man who I have only met 3 or 4 times. None of the things said were were critical or negative, if anything they were highly sensitive and understanding. However, that just seemed to make it all the worse. I wasn’t upset, but I suddenly saw myself in a completely different light and I didn’t like what I saw. This flash of a half-grown woman, a stunted person, someone who still seemed to be 15 years old, girly, verging on prissy, someone who, despite moving across the world innumerable times, seems still to give the impression of naivety, of innocence, someone who has never, will never be described as ‘sexy’ (why the sudden, particular obsession with this word? Possibly something to do with number one in this list, but possibly something completely unrelated).
All of which lead me to Sunday afternoon on the bus from Cork to Dublin, staring out the window and getting a sudden desire to just grow-up, stop being anxious, and bloody well GET OVER IT. All of it. At once. Right this minute.
Somewhere deep in my brain, probably somewhere on that creative, impulsive side, ‘growing up’ became translated into the physical action of cutting off my own hair. And then dying it red. Both of which, surprisingly enough, I did.
As a person who has always been painfully aware of her physical appearance (and its effect on the way others view me), the potential disaster of cutting my own hair and then dying it is actually a fairly big fuck you to the past 27 years of my life and could be seen as an apt representation of ‘getting over it’. Honestly, if there had been a tattoo parlour open on Sunday, I would probably have gone inside and inquired about the prices for a little ankle decoration for the words ‘get over it’ in sanskrit or something equally naff. I’m not saying I would have gotten the tattoo (lets not go crazy here), but I would have felt no reluctance in approaching the big, gruff, tattooed men in the parlour and asked for a price.
Anyway, I now have a haircut that I quite like and a hair colour that I don’t mind. I certainly look very different, and I would venture to say, ‘more grown up’. But does that make me so? Certainly the way people treat me has a big impact on how I feel about myself. And the way people treat you is (unfortunately) related to how you look. The more people call me ‘darling’ or ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’ the more my brain convinces itself that I’m still only a relative child in the world and shouldn’t be expected to take on board difficult tasks or responsibilities or goals. Perhaps this will lessen with my new look. I have a feeling, though, that I still radiate naivety and I’m not really sure how to switch that off. Maybe I should stop biting my nails.
|My hair: really not the worst thing in the world. You know, when compared to genocide or nuclear weapons or the breakdown of the Middle East peace process.|
But am I any different, in myself, deep down? I do actually feel a bit different. I’m apparently a person who will cut off her own hair with a cheap pair of 2 euro scissors with blue plastic handles and damn the consequences. I’m also a person who no longer cares about being a natural blonde (because, as if this actually MEANS something? Sure it saves me a few quid every month, but does being a natural blonde actually equate to being a superior human being? I think the history of Germany circa 1933 – 1945 might answer that question adequately). On some strange level, I do feel like I’m moving into another era of my life, but is this because of the hair, the move to London or the email (or, indeed, a fortuitous joining together of all three into one gigantic book-end of a life period)?
Have I, in any sense, ‘gotten over it’?
The answer, I suspect you’ll find, is a resounding ‘no’, hence why I’m still blogging at 3:30am, why I suddenly can’t get up in the mornings and go for a swim, why I’m stumbling around Dublin in a kind of sleep-deprived, hunger-induced haze. It leaves me feeling a little daft for thinking that the solution to an identity crisis was at the bottom of a box of 5 Euro Clariol Nice ‘N’ Easy No. 93, but, hey, you’ve got to give me points for trying at least, right?