It has been four years.
Now, that is one sentence that I know with certainty I can put down.
Another, is that I can say with some embarrassment, but without a shred of shame: since that post I had not written creatively or otherwise for leisure. For communication? Sure. As a necessity for my job? Of course. Yet this wasn’t the first time that I wanted to write for leisure; it is simply the first time that I actually did it.
So when I clicked onto my site this evening, I realised there were a few posts that I made in 2016 that I didn’t recall making. My memory had been that I had made a lot of reviews, and blogged about my 2014 Malaysia trip, but it turned out that in mid-2016 I set all those on private, and started afresh. Of course, I immediately remembered why – I had just gone through a breakup, I was feeling motivated to be something new, something better, and what better way to achieve this than to prove to myself, “I am a writer, so let’s write!”
If you visit the About Alex page, you can see a caricature of an enthusiastic, energetic entrepreneur, with ideas and motivation conjured out of sheer willpower. I’ll leave those up, since I don’t know what I’d replace it with. Who am I now, anyway?
Fact #1 I have learned and accepted about myself: I’m not entrepreneurial.
Who knows? This may be the single lonesome post for the next four years, crammed into stasis by a restless mind Month Three into lockdown. Yeah, that’ll date this post for sure – the Pandemic Lockdowns of 2020.
I won’t fault any parts of my past self for being short of perceived perfection. I was, am not, and will never be the level of perfection that I deem to be acceptable. I will never become a famously regarded writer, or famously regarded anything, because I am not entrepreneurial.
And this isn’t me projecting self deprecation to draw validation from my (imagine my surprise) 12 followers, a number of whom have probably ceased to remember my existence up until 5 minutes ago. I am content with the fact that I am not entrepreneurial.
Fact #2: I like who I am now.
Super freaking weird thing to say about yourself, I know, but hear me out.
I used to be so cynical and negative about everything. I thought that was a personality trait. I thought that by being so cool and indifferent, that it would somehow validate my imperfections in the eyes of those whose opinion mattered so, so painfully much to me.
What it really gave me was a list of names – longer than I care to admit – of those very same people who no longer talk to me. My toxic, needy and ungiving attitude unsurprisingly pushed them all away.
I don’t know exactly when, and I’d like to say it was right after the previous 2016 post, but I think honestly it was around 2018, but I just wanted to stop doing all of that. Just stop the negativity, get rid of all of the emotional armor and bullshit. It was exhausting being so mean, and it was a lot more fun to be kind. And yeah, that sounds cheesy, but guess what? It really, really did wonders for me. Not my social life, or my friendship circles – me.
Actually, I lie, I know exactly what and who changed this about me. He’ll never see this, but if he somehow does – Hi Bradley!
So in 2018, Bradley joined my previous job. Bradley is, and I say this with obvious love, gay as the day is long. He is campy, he loves costume changes during the workday (I’m not exaggerating) and he calls everyone kween. And he really, really loves to love. And you know what I used to think? That he was faking it – it’s a new job, and he’s faking this super nice, loving gay persona. I was clearly projecting.
Sometime between the housewife wigs he’d put on at 3pm to serve everyone coffee and tea from a creaking tea trolley that he picked up from an op-shop, and the unflinchingly infectious attitude he’d bring day after day, after day, after day, I realised – holy shit, who cares if he’s faking it, I want to be that happy about making others happy.
I know it’s probably not ideal to model myself off of someone else, since it’s just another layer of armour, but guys – guys, I made it work. I’m not like Bradley, that’s ridiculous, he’s way more beautiful. I am Alex. I am the version of me that I’m proud of being.
Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to have turned into a self-help sermon. But it is one of the bigger things that changed about me. Fun side note: I voiced these feelings to a good close friend recently, one who has known me for over 14 years, who despite everything didn’t end up on that long list of friendships past, and she was gracious enough to say to me, “I always liked who you were, but I’m glad you’re happy now.” Guys, I mean, wow.
Fact #3: I’m a writer, just not the writer I want to be.
This one is tricky. This one is icky. I don’t think I’m at a point where I have fully accepted this, and a big piece of evidence for this is the fact that you are reading this now.
So, my day-job is in corporate communications. It’s a role I fell into through a series of coincidences and very, very hard work on my behalf. I won’t take away from myself the fact that I am good at what I do, and I still strive to improve, but let’s be honest – corporate communications is not creative writing.
Sadly, due to my day-job, I no longer have the creative or mental bandwidth to write the way I want. This post, that would have taken me less than an hour to write in 2016, has taken me the better half of my entire Friday evening. I find it much harder to craft artful metaphors or slip symbolisms without breaking down a few fourth walls with my clumsiness. I write directly, and I write with purpose.
There was a time when I was in early high school years that I would be so prolific that if I were to read those pieces of writing now, I’d impress myself. I don’t think I can ever capture that lightning in a bottle again – and again, side note, in 2017 I accidentally lost the USB that contained everything, everything everything about me in the past 10 years , and earlier this year I accidentally formatted even more. I can’t even go back and be inspired by the younger me if I wanted to.
And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’d love to prove myself wrong – now, or in the near and distant future. But even if I don’t, that’s okay. I don’t need to build my identity around a set of self-created expectations.
I don’t know. I wrote this because I wanted to make myself accountable. I wanted to solidify the point in time when I was happy with myself, when I accepted my own faults, and when I genuinely feel inspired to stay on the path of perpetual improvement. If I falter, and perhaps I should say when I falter, I need this here to rouse me.
Since 2016, a few of my friends became parents, and I find myself in a position where I may actively be a part of their children’s lives by association. While I don’t plan to have children, I think there is a version of the so-called “motherly instincts” kicking in, where I wish to be a source of comfort and safety for those tiny little poop bags. I can’t be that being who I was. I can’t even be that being who I am now. There is more I can do, and I will do.
Also, one of the mothers of the poop bags told me this week that I inspired her to take steps to better herself, which was a pleasant but slightly horrifying surprise. I had tried – and began to succeed at – kicking a really bad snacking habit, and that had pushed her to wean off of YouTube. So instead she’s blogging! So I’ll be inspired by her right back.
P.S. The featured image is the picture that Demi picked for me for a profile image. Also since 2016 I adopted a new online user nickname that I tend to use a lot, and it has to do with pugs. Just thought you might want some context.