Tag Archives: problems

15 Struggles of People Who are Pathologically Early for Everything

Hello, lovely reader!  Long time no see!  How have you been?

I recently came across this article on Buzzfeed about how it feels to be perpetually running late.  I have a few friends who belong to this happy clan of tardiness, and I can’t say that I love them any less for their constant cries of “sorry, I thought we were meeting at twelve/my alarm didn’t go off/the dog ate my Oyster card”.  However, on behalf of those of us who are so paranoid that we turn up obscenely early for everything, I would like to submit my own list of thoughts and problems.  Here it is:

1) You must always, always have a bag that’s big enough to contain whichever book you’ve selected to keep you company while you wait for people.

2) Finishing your book (or – horror of horrors – forgetting one altogether) can completely ruin your day.

3) You get so involved in the plot of your book that when other people turn up, you get a bit annoyed with them for interrupting you.

4) You tend to look a bit too eager on first dates.

5) Ditto job interviews.

6) It is ALWAYS left to you to get the party started, because an invitation that says 7pm means 6.45 to you and 9pm to everyone else.

7) By the time everyone else turns up to the party you are at least three drinks ahead, which never bodes well.

8) You are often left to the mercy of the weather.

9) Thoughtless people assume that you have nothing better to do, whereas actually you are very busy but you hate the idea of letting people down.  Consequently…

10) …Arriving somewhere on time rather than early makes you feel like an abject failure.

11) People who usually arrive late think that you secretly judge them.

12) You secretly judge people who always turn up late, and have to hide it from them.

13) You don’t understand how anyone could possibly be so laid back as to not mind being three seconds late for something.

14) You feel like a lone pioneer of good manners in an increasingly disrespectful and inconsiderate world of lateness.

15) You’re aware that there are more important things in life than being obsessively prompt, but you’re buggered if you can break the habit.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Worriers

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Hola and a very merry Friday to you, you lovely thing.  I hope that your week has been productive, enjoyable and unusually amusing.

Today I would like to have a chat about worrying, and specifically worrying about someone you love.  It’s completely acceptable to worry about someone, because it means that you quite like them and want them to be alright.  Similarly, it’s usually quite touching to be told that someone else is worried about you, because it means that they’re thinking about you and wishing you the best.

So worrying comes from a good place, but what is it good for?  (“Absolutely nothin’, say it again y’all!”  Etc.)  Worrying about a loved one doesn’t actually fix their problems, and it’s not going to do you a huge amount of good, either.  Unfortunately, nobody has handed you a magic wand/fairy dust/a time machine with which to fix your loved one’s troubles.  So you feel a bit rubbish and you’re also aware that that feeling isn’t doing any actual good.  This is decidedly not cool.

The way to deal with worry is to act upon it.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that we follow people around saying “are you ok?  Are you sure you’re ok?  What’s the matter?  You look annoyed.  Are you annoyed?  I’M WORRIED ABOUT YOU” ad infinitum.  That is definitely not the answer, for obvious reasons.  However, I think we can agree that we need practical ways to deal with our worry:

1) Say something
Tell the person that you’re worried about them.  Not to make them feel more stressed or guilty for upsetting you, but to reassure them that someone (i.e. you, you super star) is thinking about them.

2) Say something to someone else
If the person you’re worried about has confided in you, obviously don’t go blathering their secrets around your social circle.  But if you have a mutual friend or family member who will understand how you feel (and may already feel the same way), share the load.  For example: I have four siblings, and if I’m worried about one of them I automatically rally the other three.  There’s a lot to be said for strength in numbers.

3) Say something helpful
Offer your support.  Make sure that your friend/loved one knows that you are willing and able to help them if they need you.

4) Really mean it
Only offer support that you know you can give.  You may not be able to fix their entire life, but offering someone a shoulder to cry on or a good distraction from their woes is still very valuable.

5) Really mean it and prepare for it
Stocking up for emotional emergencies is a lot more fun than panic-buying for the end of the world.  For example, I have a secret stash of nice things – chocolate, fancy coffee, etc. – just in case one of my friends comes round and needs cheering up.  On a slightly more serious/less sugar-based note, if someone you care about is going for a scary hospital appointment, for example, clear your schedule for that day as much as possible.  They may claim to be ok, but they might change their mind at the last minute and need you to go with them.

6) Really mean it and prepare for it and then do it
If there is anything that you can actually physically do to help, do it.  If you’ve offered help to someone and they’ve taken you up on it, that demonstrates a huge amount of trust on their part.  Respect their trust and don’t push them to do/say things they’re not ready for.  Worrying is hard, but being worried about is also a big deal.

7) Let them get on with it
If you’ve said all you can say and done all that you can do, your only course of action is to sit back and let them work through whatever’s happening.  You can’t force someone to confide in you, call you when they’re sad or turn to you when they’re scared – some people prefer to do these things alone, and we have to respect that.  But if you’ve made it clear where you stand (i.e. right beside them whenever they need you), then you have already acted upon your worry as much as you can.

One last thing: I completely understand that being told not to worry is a bit annoying, because we don’t have much of a choice in the matter.  But just as your words and actions come from a well-meaning place, so do the intentions of the person who says “don’t worry about it”.  They just don’t like to see you wandering around looking as stressed out as the goldfish at the top of this post.  Poor, worried goldfish.

Have a glorious weekend.

I Love You John Hannah, But Please Shut Up

John Hannah (Vanya), Joe Dixon (Astrov) and Alan Francis (Telygin) in Uncle Vanya at St James Theatre. Credit Simon Annand.

Hello, reader!  How are you doing?  You’re looking very well, I must say.

Last week I went to see Anya Reiss’ modernised version of Uncle Vanya at the St James Theatre, starring the relentlessly wonderful John Hannah as Vanya.  Having studied all kinds of plays at uni – including the work of that cheerless bunch of bastards known as “the Naturalists” – I am already as familiar as I want to be with Chekhov’s story of love, labour, loss and smug gits.  I mainly went to see John Hannah, if I’m honest.

For those of you who were not forced to read two Naturalist plays a week for a year, all you really need to know is this: traditionally Naturalist plays are characterised by all of the characters being miserable, and unanimously doing sod all about it.  Actually, that’s not very fair: sometimes they commit suicide.  But that’s about it in terms of problem-solving techniques.

What these characters do instead of pro-actively fixing their lives is talk.  They bitch about each other, they speculate on each other’s love lives and futures, they whine a LOT about the causes of their constant unhappiness, and they make terrible jokes.  What I like about Uncle Vanya as a play is that someone finally picks another character up on this.  Vanya is to be pitied for falling in love with a much younger, married woman, but it’s not her fault that she doesn’t feel the same way.  Will he shut up about it and behave with a shred of dignity?  Will he calmly and quietly enjoy their friendship for what it is?  Will he resist the temptation to constantly attempt emotional blackmail?  Of course not.  Understandably, Yelena cracks in the face of Vanya’s relentless whining and tells him to shut up.  Well, wouldn’t you?  I mean, John Hannah is absolutely wonderful, but even in his sultry Scottish voice, Vanya’s lines sound pathetic.

I am a big fan of words, talking and verbal communication in general.  I think that it is healthy and positive to have conversations about your feelings, and to process ideas and upheavals by discussing them with loved ones.  But venting about our problems means absolutely nothing if we are not willing to do anything about them.  It’s all very well and good to bemoan a bad situation, but if there are steps you can take towards resolving it – even if it’s just walking away with your dignity intact – why not take the flipping steps?

It makes no sense to talk the talk without walking the walk, especially when it comes to our emotional well-being.  Talking about stuff is wonderful, but (unfortunately) it won’t always solve our problems.  If you think about it there is always something that you can actively do to make a situation better for yourself, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential it might be.

Also, acting upon your social survival instincts can lead to good things, and it teaches us to follow through with stuff we know is good for us.  For example, since I came back from the Fringe I have been contemplating (out loud and in front of witnesses.  Oops) taking up indoor climbing.  The time has come for me to face my fear (and a wall, presumably), so tomorrow I will be going climbing with a friend of mine who has given me strict instructions not to “fall off and die”.  I will do my best.  Assuming that I’m successful, I’ll report back on Friday.

Have an amazing week.  Eat super tasty breakfasts every day.

Cliché Corrections

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Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?  Gosh, it’s been ages, hasn’t it?

I would like to apologise on behalf of myself and my erstwhile laptop for the radio silence this week.  On Friday, Calcifer unceremoniously died on me, and had to be taken to a computer repair place.  And yes, I did name my computer after a character from Howl’s Moving Castle.  He is back in action once more, thank goodness, so I can carry on talking to you lovely people.

Today’s blog is about clichés.  We use them all the time, perhaps without even noticing how frequently we drop them into conversation, and we rely upon them to make our meanings clear.  Clichés can be annoying, trite or even offensive, but they are also a tried-and-tested method of expressing ideas in a way that everybody understands.

Having said that, some clichés now seem to be a bit outdated or irrelevant to modern life.  We still understand their meanings, but honestly, how often do any of us have any birds at all, let alone ones in bushes?  With this in mind, I have decided to tweak a few famous phrases to better suit our needs.

Hell hath no fury like a woman whose best friend has been scorned

It’s true that scorned women tend to be pretty angry, but their friends’ wrath is usually much scarier.  The last time I found myself in a somewhat scorned state, my beloved flat mate Ash was livid, and she doesn’t really “do” anger very often.  Potential scorners, beware: women are of the (absolutely correct) opinion that their best friends are beautiful, fascinating and lovable human beings – hence the friendship – and if you mess things up, they will come down on you like a furious ton of bricks.

A watched phone never beeps

I admit that I sometimes stand and watch a pot of water, getting cross because it just won’t boil.  However, that invariably turns out to be because I forgot to switch the hob on, rather than my feverish anticipation affecting the laws of physics.  In this day and age, communication technology has become the pot, and texts, Tweets and Facebook notifications are the bubbles we wait for.  Particularly when we are interested in someone or we are waiting to hear about a job interview, we just can’t tear our eyes away from our screens.  Well, it sucks but it’s true: waiting for something won’t make it happen.  Put your phone down and make yourself a cup of tea.

Plenty more fish on the dating website

Those of you have read this blog about Tinder will recall that I’m not a huge fan of internet dating, but I completely understand why so many people are.  I find the original cliché about there being an abundance of fish in the sea silly for two reasons: firstly, talking about fish either makes me want to watching Finding Nemo or eat smoked salmon, so I tend to get distracted from the task of finding said fish.  Secondly, the unanimous response to “plenty more fish in the sea” is “I don’t WANT another fish, I want THAT fish!” Or boy, or girl, I guess.  If you’re actually attracted to fish then we’re probably focussing on the wrong issue, here.
Anyway, the point is that finding new potential partners is daunting after a heartbreak.  Even though I’d never use it myself, I think it’s kind of nice that people can browse internet dating sites to ease themselves back into romance and all that jazz.

When life gives you lemons, go and find the tequila

Who among us actually knows how to make lemonade out of lemons?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I do know how to do a tequila shot, though.  I’m being flippant about some fairly sound advice, here: when bad things happen, find a way to make them work to your advantage.  I totally agree with this idea, but I also think that sometimes all you can do is switch off.  I’m not condoning binge drinking as a solution to life’s woes, but I do think that we should relax and enjoy ourselves when we can.  Sometimes there just isn’t a way to get a positive outcome from a negative situation, and at those times all we can do is try to have some fun.

Well, it’s lovely to be back with you, dear reader.  Have a fantastic day, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Drama Queens and Darned Clichés

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Hello, marvellous reader!  How goes the world with you today?

As you might expect from my theatrical background, my social circle is filled with wonderful people who are passionate, intelligent and hilarious.  They are also a bunch of drama queens.  (This applies to me as well, obviously, and it’s no bad thing.)  At the end of 2013 my closest friends and I decided that this 2014 in the Year of Our Lord would also be the Year of Our Lives, and that we would make the most of every opportunity that came our way.  There would be fewer hangovers, better hair days and generally a lot less drama.

Shockingly, this has not turned out to be the case.  So far 2014 has seen some pretty massive upheavals in a lot of my friends’ lives, and although many of them are wonderful changes some of them are pretty rubbish.  Four months have flown by in a whirlwind of “what the hell just happened?”s, and at this point I think most of us would settle for a quiet sit down with a cup of tea and a good book.

It is tempting at times like this to turn to clichés: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, the only way is up (which obviously puts this song in your head for the rest of the day) and a watched egg never scrambles.  Or something.  While there is a lot of truth in these and many more well-known sayings, they can be very irritating.

I prefer to be realistic (not something that many people associate with my way of thinking, but never mind): you really genuinely never know what life is going to do, and when things are tough you can be sure that they will not stay that way forever.  This too shall pass, as the old lady said when her bus approached at an alarming speed.  The dramas and difficulties that abound among friendship groups are not the end of the world, and although I’m the last person to enjoy remembering sad times, it is comforting to know that you and your friends have come through arguments, worries and social crises many times before.  It’s not necessarily super fun to look back on them, but they show you that you will get through these ones as well.  No matter what is going on, there is always more love between you and your friends than there is drama.  I think that might be the weirdest and most saccharine thing I’ve ever said.  I need to watch some Frankie Boyle stand up or something…

Have a beautiful Tuesday.

I’ve Got “Changes” Stuck in My Head Now

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Happy Friday, lovely reader!  Got any nice plans for your weekend?

Last night I watched the season finale of My Mad Fat Diary on that absolute blessing of a website, 4oD.  For those of you who don’t watch it, don’t worry: I’m not going to go into any massive amount of detail about it (although it’s well-worth watching just for Nico Mirallegro, who is beautiful, as you can see).  For those of you who do watch the show but haven’t seen the finale yet, also don’t worry: I won’t spoil it for you.

The reason that I brought it up at all is because one of the key messages that came out of the episode is that you really never know how things are going to change.  You might think that you know how you feel about something, and then find that your opinion is entirely turned around.  (For example, I live in hope that one day I will wake up and discover that I like olives.)  You can think that you know how you feel about a person, and that can change without you even noticing.  That’s how old friends fall in love and old couples fall apart; sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s terrible, but it does happen.  You never know how you might change.

I’ve just typed the word “change” so many times that I’ve now got Bowie’s Changes stuck in my head.  (Weird fact about that song: when it was released as a single in 1972 it never reached the Top 40 in America or the UK, but it got great reviews and has since been listed as #127 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.)

Lots of us think that things happen to us, and that we are forced to adjust to them.  Sometimes this is true, but a lot of the time we actually have more of a say in how we feel than we realise.  If something changes that you genuinely can’t help, you can always find a way to adapt to it.  For example, when I lost my job a month or so ago I could have sat around feeling sorry for myself, but I didn’t.  (My friends and loved ones would never have let me do that, because they’re brilliant.)  I have registered as self-employed, I’m writing this blog and articles on other websites, and I’m finally giving my theatre company some much needed attention.  I have time to see my friends, and I can appreciate living in London for what it is: a bizarre adventure.  Sometimes it can be confusing or a bit lonely, but mostly it’s bloody good fun.

I decided to take that course of action.  I chose not to accept “Episode 7: The One Where Vicki Loses Her Job” as the season finale.  Think about times when something’s gone wrong for you in the past.  Did you sit around and feel sorry for yourself?  Maybe for a while.  But where are you now?  Are you still sulking?  Of course not.  You’re a wonderful human being with a lot of brilliant stuff to do.  You chose to respond to that situation by getting the flip on with your life.  You, my friend, have been commissioned for an additional twelve seasons at least.  (I don’t know why I picked twelve.  I have no idea how the television industry works.)

Most of this week (as you may have noticed from previous posts) I have been in a bit of a strop on behalf of myself and my friends, because we think that having feelings for people makes us vulnerable, and we don’t like that at all.  No siree.  But I had a truly enlightening conversation with a friend the other day, who told me that loving someone (in any way, not just romantically) is not just something that happens to you; it’s something that you decide to do.  You can fight your feelings and you can hide them, but they’ll still be there.  Isn’t it better to use them for something positive, even if you don’t know what will happen?  You don’t necessarily have to make massive declarations of eternal devotion or (God help us all) some kind of huge gesture worthy of a Hollywood rom-com.  You just have to be brave.  You have to admit to yourself how you feel, and then see where it takes you.  I suppose that’s an example of instigating change rather than being a victim of it, which can only be a positive step.

I think that that’s a big ask (especially on a Friday, for crying out loud), and I think it takes most people a while to be able to do that.  To be perfectly honest, I’m not quite there yet.  Although surely if I can master that bit, the olives thing will just happen automatically?

Have the Friday to end all Fridays.