On The Topic of Dull Methodologies

I’ve come a long way since I realised I had a problem. Its taken me a while but the pointy end has been more recent so those who may not have known me for that long can’t see the evolution over time. Standing atop that mountain and looking over the spectacular view ahead of me, I reflect on the journey I took to get as far ahead as I have. Much like building tremendous strength in lifting, I maintain that only with putting one foot in front of the other and trudging up the trail can you ever get anywhere. The road to something amazing is spectacularly dull, as it were.

I was a shy kid who grew into a socially awkward adult that couldn’t read faces and had trouble understanding other people’s emotions because I didn’t know how to have feelings. I felt disconnected all the time. I’d look up at the sky and know that the world was beautiful but couldn’t actually feel it. I’d say it to myself over again that something was pretty and significant but nothing truly captured my heart. My high school sweetheart, an artist, was a hopeless romantic and always creating something or doing small kindnesses but they were all lost on me as I just accepted everything at face value and couldn’t see the emotion and feeling behind any of it. He stopped doing those things eventually.

I didn’t know why I was that way, but I knew I had to stop doing it.

At the time I was in university studying applied science and without deliberately designing it that way, I started experimenting with myself. I’d have my control group (I’m a scientist, not an engineer after all) which was my baseline feeling. I’d monitor what was happening and then reflect on that to find a variable or a group of related variables such as my behaviour or thought patterns and change them. I’d then experiment with those changes and see how I felt before reverting to the original baseline or keeping them. I didn’t apply this methodology to lifestyle habits until more recently. Those things are bastards to change.

What then happened is that I started to notice things. Back in my early twenties I used to hang out with a very broad crew of so-called ‘outcasts’ – metal heads, goths, gravers – who all prided their selves on how damaged they were. For the most part, a lot of them did have legitimate mental health issues and thus with all these broken people I felt at home. However very few of them were doing much more than taking anti-depressants, if anything prescribed at all. None were in therapy. Almost all were living for the weekend (regardless of what day of the week it was) and for many, spending it dropping eight-balls with ice chasers wasn’t uncommon.

I realised that I was getting better and they weren’t. I had found an objective measure of success.

Looking back this seems like easy pickings: don’t use drugs to mask your demons. Easier said than done when you look at all the ‘normal’ regular people who mask their demons with a myriad of other things: work, reality TV, sex, having more babies, home renovations. Harder still is when that’s all you have by way of influences. I’ve experimented with drugs to see if it was for me and to attempt to fit in with anything at all, but ultimately I felt that when you’re losing your mind the last thing I want is to lose what tenuous grip I have on it. So, I don’t do drugs and try to avoid getting out of control drunk.

I guess what I learned from this is that without someone holding my hand and without having relatable role models there was still space to carve my own path. It took a committment to what I knew deep down was right for me, and then the courage to do it. I still follow that rule, even though now I have built so many good relationships with people I admire and I expose myself constantly to more inspiring humans than I ever thought possible.

But sometimes I’ll still find myself in that little space where I feel disconnected from everyone, unable to figure out why the sky is beautiful. Except now I have built an out.

On The Topic of Fear

I feel scared. I feel scared a lot, actually. When I am scared I give it a moment to wash over me and feel the feeling. Then I hold it in my hands and turn it over like some million-squares rubix cube, trying to figure out what it is doing there in the first place.

I feel alone a lot, too. I grew up pretty isolated, physically as well as emotionally. The hallmark of my adult life has been to hold tight to my independence with both hands and not let go. I think the reason for that has been because I don’t like rules. The other day I articulated myself poorly in saying that I don’t like to be told what to do. That’s not true, I love being told what to do because I don’t like having to organise myself. What I wanted to describe is that I don’t like rules. When other people’s rules are forced on to me I stop and I get off the bus.

Many of my childhood memories are stained with the word NO. No, you can’t do that or no, we are not doing this. I am a normal adult but I developed quickly as a kid and the other side effect of having been neglected is that I was constantly under-stimulated. I felt trapped all the time like I was in solitary confinement and the warden was drunk and terrifying. I remember being so hungry but so scared of leaving my room because I didn’t know what I would find on the other side of the door of our tiny, suffocating little house. There would be no escape for a few years yet. The boredom still lurks around sometimes.

My only escape was to shut it all off. A short time later I had my first breakdown, at 15. It was brief but returned a year later. Again brief but this time I was really present with it and I was scared. Everything went cold and under me was a dark pool of terror.

I stopped feeling anything all together for the next eight years. The only thing I could feel in that time was rage or nothing.

I smiled, I laughed, I looked for love and lived my life but it was hollow.

It scares me looking back at those words and realising the gravity of it all. When you’re young none of this stuff matters because kids bounce and you still think you’re immortal and all you know is that nothing is certain and nothing is forever. You just went along with it.

But as time goes on you realise that even with all the work you’re putting into getting better and with all the work you’re putting into trying to live your life despite it all, some things you can’t fix in time before they become rusted on.

This is where I am now. I’ve fixed pretty much everything else but this fear of being trappend and under-stimulated remains. Until this point I’ve been trying to solve this rubix cube on my own. After that meeting I had the other day, I realised the missing piece was that I can’t. I need someone to hold my hand. I don’t want to face that on my own.

Now, I’m ready to start.

On The Topic of Inspiration and Self-Doubt

I have been on an overseas holiday the last little while. I would call it “traveling” but I think there’s a few more people out there who lend more legitimacy to that descriptor than I do. I was humbled to be a special guest at a very special event and from there I continued on my own driving around a foreign land. I’m staying in hostels for the most part and I have mixed feelings about the experience. Its been five years since I last traveled alone in a foreign place. I won’t say it is harder than it used to be, it isn’t, but I have to admit that I like it less than I used to. A lot less. I still find the value of travel in confronting my known assumptions but then again, I put myself into those situations at home and challenge what I thought I knew as a matter of course. That part of the trip has been my favourite. Well, in some ways yes and in some ways no.

My absolute favourite thing about the trip has been meeting a group of new people who inspired the hell out of me. This isn’t a common phenomenon but it is one of the few that I am already to identify and savour. I was lucky enough to meet a handful of hands-down excellent people at this event and its had two really opposite effects. All of my memories are that of being immediately accepted into a close-knit group of people. Being accepted like that and how special that made me feel will sit in my heart forever. The other effect as I got to know this group and some individuals in particular, was I realised that they weren’t average people. The innate intelligence, care and kindness that permeated this group was a breeding ground for a kind of wealth and success that I’ve only seen come similarly out of nowhere in circles where being an arsehole opportunist was the predominant trait. This didn’t make sense to me at all. In the days that followed as I reflected on what I had experienced my wide-eyed inspiration had given way to a sinking feeling.

A sinking feeling that I am not smart enough, not well-connected enough, not good enough to realise my impossible dreams.

I know you aren’t supposed to compare yourself to others as you’re trying to carve your own path, but you have to take inspiration from somewhere, right? So what do you do if that glimmering sword of inspiration blackens into a dagger of self-doubt? I’ve come a long way and it’s hard to hear others tell me I’ve reached the zenith in life and in work yet where I want to be is still only on the horizon.

Without being too self-referential, I’m trying to provide solutions rather than give unanswered problems with this blog-form writing exercise, but some shit I just don’t know about. I’m trying to figure it out, though.


On The Topic of Building Capital

Let the record show that I have been on over one hundred Tinder dates. The vast majority of them happened within one year.

They say that love finds you when you’re least looking for it. I say that love, like death, runs by its own clock. There’s nothing neither you nor I can do to stave or hasten either of them. The best we can hope for is that one doesn’t follow the other without at least a few good innings in between.

When you date by numbers you learn a few things. You learn that as a girl, being ernest for a boy is a cardinal sin. You’re ’emotionally too available’. You stand out by standing down. The oldies, aghast, look at the world of online dating and wonder aloud what happened to the old fashioned dumb-struck refrain: “I like you, wanna go out with me?”

Dumb-struck, I shrug back in response.

Online dating, otherwise known as the sushi train of who’s going to buy Tuesday’s beer, is like buying a first home in this million-dollar property market. After spending all these years building capital to be interesting enough to date, you go to inspection after inspection before one of two things happen: you are priced out of the market you want because you’re not good enough, or you are blindsided by a bid you didn’t see coming before the last gavel sounds and the show is over.

So with other options dried up you keep playing the numbers anyway, lowering your expectations and your standards just to get into the market. You take the stream of advice given to you and you drift further and further from the person you thought you were. Further from the person you wanted to be. You hear the occasional story of people who meet online and sometimes an invitation to their wedding is even on your fridge. Sometimes you hear of people who meet online and buy their first home instead. You went to their housewarming. All the while you find yourself in places you don’t like and in places where you don’t want to be.

I took a break from the numbers game after twice being heartbroken, which followed two more before that. This period was concurrent with coming out of a long term relationship and a career change which failed. I went on the dole. I had suffered a breakdown a year earlier and the subsequent depression was still eighteen months away from lifting. Seeing my GP for pain that I couldn’t afford to treat, she stepped me on the scales. I was clinically obese.

I was interviewing all over the city. My flatmate moved out. It was three weeks to Christmas. I deleted Tinder.

On all fronts I found rejection was of a specific kind “we absolutely loved you but there’s someone better qualified”.

The irony wasn’t lost on me. As my money ran out, I was forced to choose how I wanted to live my life. I saw the three pools of life, love and health and had to decide – keep doing the same thing and admit that theres something so wrong with me that I can’t fix my situation or push through. It was a bit hard thinking how to work upwards from rock bottom when depression is trying to suck you under the water. It takes all your energy to keep your chin up just so that you can breathe. To get back to dry land, or rather, to touch my feet on the dry land of stability for the first time, I needed to cash in my capital.

With the help of my support network, I employed my resourcefulness and my resilience in exchange for courage. I thought I was brave before, leaving my stable six-figure dead-end government job for risky company to get my foot in the door.

I was naive. But that didn’t hold a candle to what I had to do next.


A year on from that period I am no longer depressed. I am no longer obese. I found a dream job leaving my last salary in the dust. I decided that this will be the last company I work for.

I’ve been told my whole life to play the game, but I don’t like its rules. They don’t work for me. So I’m changing them. You learn that when a game is played by the numbers you become a statistic. Thing is, so does everything that you are looking at too. The best thing I ever did was spend my capital on fucking it back.