We’re All a Bunch of Fucking Failures – Get Over It

Dear KK,

I’m sure you won’t be in the slightest bit thrilled to know that you and your sister will again be receiving separate letters from your Badass Auntie.  You’re two.  You can’t read.  While I sometimes imagine your father and mother reading these to you as bed time stories, I somehow doubt that is happening. I do have some good news though. Your French Mimi has offered to become my editor-in-chief and has already cracked the whip to get me to tighten up on my grammar. I’m looking forward to receiving her critiques. She seems to think everyone else is too scared to do it. The good news is that if they are scared, then they fucking should be… and that’s how your Badass Auntie likes it. The people I respect in this world are never scared of me.

Now, onto important wisdom sharing for the day. I often ponder human dynamics and interactions. People are weird. That’s one thing you’ll just have to accept. You will, one day, like your Badass Auntie, believe that you have entirely ceased to be amazed and then, just then, another human being will do something that simply makes you squint in disbelief.  Be prepared to squint. A. Lot.

So, part of my pondering in recent days was how fucked up we are in the west – which, by the way, is a geographically completely misleading description.  Never mind. You understand what I mean, I’m sure. We, as a group of highly privileged humans, are abject failures. Considering that we, for the most part, have enough to eat, a dry comfortable place to sleep, clean drinking water – you know, the essentials for a decent human existence, we still manage to utterly and totally fail most of the time.

blondin falls at crystal palace

Why is that? Because, whether it’s an evolutionary trait or a societal convention, we pretty much all have unrealistic expectations. We set ourselves up to fail – and fail, most of us do, pretty fucking regularly. Want to know the worst part? Even when we succeed we then insist on setting even more unrealistic expectations so we can fail again.

These expectations range from what we want/expect from our interpersonal relationships with family, lovers, friends, neighbours, our colleagues and community, to how good we are in bed, at cooking, exercising, dressing, accessorising, dancing driving, slimming, playing, entertaining, gardening etc. etc. etc. The list is endless so that our potential for failure remains entirely achievable at all times. For many, at least those of us who think about things ocassionally, we even set ourselves up to fail at being good. I know I’m never good enough. I constantly am wracked with guilt over the way my behaviour impacts the world and I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that the only way I will ever not fail is by joining a Jain monastery.

Unfortunately, even though that would seem to be the epitome of ‘goodness’, cleansing me of any guilt I may have (Jainism is a religion that believes in becoming as harmless as possible, which sounds great in theory) there are two problems. There are always fucking problems. That’s why we always fail. The first problem is that it is a type of religion or spiritualism. As I am faithless and don’t believe in spirits and souls and all that stuff, I doubt they’d want me. The second and most annoying part is that even if I were spiritual, even if I went through all their quite difficult rites of passage to become a fucking Jain nun, that still wouldn’t be good enough and I’d still be a failure. Want to know why?  Because even those who claim to be fucking harmless still have to set some of us up to fail. They believe that if you are a woman, you have to be reincarnated as a man before you can reach their idea of enlightenment.  What the actual fuck? Harmless but sexist.

So, we are doomed to be failures. The reason I’m telling you this is because this is what my wisdom for today is about. We’re all going to fucking fail and it’s OK. There is nothing wrong with failing. I’m sure I even saw a meme recently that said something twee like ‘if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried’ and despite the fact that it’s a ‘deepity’ (special thanks to my friend LS for that brilliant descriptive word), it’s quite accurate. No one is fucking perfect. Not. A. Single. One. Of. Us. And, if we’re decent human beings, we’ll be harsher judges of our failures than anyone else will be. So, go easy on yourself. The world is a tough enough place without you making yourself feel even more shit.

When you fail, because you will – brush it off. Get over yourself and move on. I learned a really good measure for whether it was worth being stressed/embarrassed/disappointed for more than a few minutes about failures and fuck ups.   Whenever you get stressed, feel pressured, feel sorry for yourself or feel a case of ‘poor me syndrome’ coming on, ask yourself two questions: 1. Does anyone’s life really depend on this? If you happen to be the person who couriers organs for transplants, the answer might be ‘yes’, but otherwise, it’s unlikely.  Having worked with folks in the media and marketing for years, I discovered that they believe that every single thing that they do in that industry is of life threatening importance. Nothing infuriates them more than having to deal with people who don’t feel the same way.  2. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow and end up in hospital for 6 months with my legs in traction, will the world go on without me?  I can pretty much assure you that the answer will be ‘yes’.  So, accept that you’ll fail.  It’s part of life being a failure and once you own and embrace it – well, it sort of feels pretty damned good.

Much love from your Badass Auntie

Dear CK,

So, today I talked to your brother about the human condition of being a failure. I’m going to expand on that subject with you just a bit having been inspired by a recent encounter with two gentlemen that live in my neighbourhood.  I’ll start with a little preface.

Humans are social animals. Social animals don’t do well with equality. This is why communism doesn’t work, except in theory, unless there is some sort of dictator involved – preferably a benevolent one. Now, just in case I get any irritating people reading this, communism is not socialism. Socialism is successful in many forms all over the world and even in the USA, carefully disguised as ‘democracy’, which is a completely different issue and also a lie, but as so few people have a grasp of any of this shit – including myself – I’ll just leave it at that. Just remember that if you have an army, police and streets to drive on, socialism is at work in your world.

OK, back to the point. Humans are shit at equality for the most part, no matter how many noises they make to the contrary. There are pecking orders of various kinds in every situation that involves more than one human. It’s just the way we are. Trying to pretend we’re not is simply tomfoolery and not to be entertained. Such as it is, we all find ways to make ourselves feel superior no matter what our position is on the ladder of human inequality. There is always someone or even, many someones, whose presence on the planet can help us to feel better about ourselves.

Currently, there is a fad on social media to take photos of people in a shop called Walmart, in the USA, of people who have questionable dressing skills, or who may just be incredibly creative or even don’t give a single fuck what anyone thinks. People post these photos online and people share them to help themselves feel superior. I must admit that though the temptation is there, I like to make myself feel superior by not sharing them because I’m a self righteous cunt.  I do have my own self esteem issues that lead me to hunt down and identify other humans who make me feel smug and better than them. I tend to find these people on cruise ship forums and expat sites. Expat sites are, ironically, full of people who elevate their status by being the loudest complainer about the country they have chosen to live in, fighting among each other for some level of martyrdom as they outline all of the things they have to do without.  Cruise ship forums are simply fun places to go and observe people who don’t know what the word ‘travel’ actually means. I can even be found watching Fox News from time to time with glee, as they give me free access to a wide range of humans who lift my self esteem. For that I thank them.

So, the two gentlemen in my neighbourhood I was telling you about are both in wheelchairs. Not in the fancy wheelchairs you probably see. These are hardly functional and certainly have no electronic parts. One of these gentlemen was born here and has had both legs amputated above the knee. I believe that this was due to diabetes and his choice to not care for himself properly despite being warned he might lose his legs. The other gentleman is Spanish (and he’s also known by the nickname ‘Spanish’). I know a bit of his history and knew him before he was in a wheelchair. He came here when he was young, rich and beautiful. There are many stories about his shenanigans and all the girls (and probably quite  a few boys) loved him. He was an artist and a free spirit. Somewhere along the line he decided that he loved alcohol more than he loved life and that was that. I think his legs were run over and then he didn’t get any proper treatment. Pretty much another case of complete self neglect. Now he can’t walk.

So these two guys sit outside the shops in my neighbourhood, Spanish often on the ground because he’s fallen out of his chair, and wait for people to help them out. Spanish occasionally will shout at people in that gruff growl that is an international alcoholic language that only they really understand, trying to get them to buy him some cheap, moonshine like alcohol, but mostly they both sit politely and hopefully.  Usually they are some distance from one another. The other day, they were about twenty feet apart and thus, essentially outside the same shop. I always buy them big bottles of water when I see them and sometimes sandwiches if it’s lunchtime. It helps me to justify feeling smug at other times.

I came out and handed them both a bottle of water, but as I turned to leave, the guy with no legs grabbed my arm and gave me a stern lecture about whey I shouldn’t be helping out the other guy because ‘he’s not a good person’.  The guy with no legs is pretty much teetotal now. Losing both legs is the worst sort of wake up call I can imagine. But there you have it. Even when you’ve lost two of the largest appendages of your body and you’re trapped in a wheelchair outside a shop every day, hoping passers by will take pity on you, there will be someone else who can make you feel superior. In this case, it’s Spanish.

I sort of wish I could speak Spanish’s alcoholic growl language so I could find out who it is that makes him feel better about himself. There must be someone. But alas, I’ll probably never know. I do remember fondly the time he was pulled out of a pond where some crocodiles lived because he believed that he had a connection with animals which would somehow render him less prey like.  Fascinating stuff.

So, after all this, your advice from your Badass Auntie is to accept that there will be many people in the world, especially at school or in the workplace, who will consider you the ‘one’ who elevates their status, simply by existing. They might base that on how you look, how you dress, what your parents do for a living, the sort of car they drive, where you live – oh, trust me…they’ll find a reason. Make sure you keep a lock on your ‘fucks to give’ cupboard and turn tables on them.  Don’t be someone who elevates your status based on superficial and materialistic indicators. Do it based on your intellect, creativity and strength of character because then you will indeed be a better person than they are.

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Much love from your Badass Auntie

 

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