Last year mum made a vanilla and strawberry cake for my sister’s birthday.
I carried it from Surrey to my sister’s place in East London, via two trains and a bus. Mum didn’t have a tupperware container big enough for it so it was on a plate and there was some strange net thing put over it, the kind of thing that you put over food when it’s outside on a summer’s day. Something to stop the flies.
This made travelling in rush hour pretty challenging – I kept thinking someone was going to bump into the cake and send it flying but they didn’t. Rush hour that evening was like no other rush hour I’ve ever experienced. People smiled at me, people moved out of my way, people even chatted; ‘That looks nice,’ they’d say, looking at the cake. Their face would soften. The hard, tired, determined, ‘I hate life’ look most us adopt on tubes would melt.
It was really weird. It was like everyone become human again.
A couple of months ago I said F**K It to something quite major and I didn’t tell you about it because I worried I’d made a big mistake. I was worried that it was a sure sign that self-help had made me crazy.
In April I was offered a book deal and I turned it down.
I was offered something that I’ve dreamt of my whole life and said ‘No, thanks.’
Well I’m back from my F**K It week and I don’t know what to say except it’s been emotional. Much more than I was expecting. I thought the week would involve standing in the sun shouting ‘F**K It’ with a bunch of strangers and then maybe doing some sort of embarrassing dancing. And maybe some tree-hugging.
As it turned out there was no dancing and only one tiny little bit of shouting, right on the last day. There wasn’t even much swearing, actually. In fact it was more deep and beautiful than boisterous and funny (the tone of the book) and that’s a good thing. Although I did hug a tree – but that was for a laugh. The tree did not laugh back, which is a relief.
Hello! How’s everyone? Did you have a nice weekend?
I celebrated by drinking lots of wine. As per usual. This is bad because enlightened self-help lovers don’t seek happiness at the bottom of a bottle – but it’s also good because I’m more likely to do rejection therapy when I’m drinking.
This time it was asking to join the band, pull a pint and ride a stranger’s motorcycle. Hurrah! I’m back with bells on…
It all happened on Friday night, when I went out with my sister and her best friend. We had a very civilised dinner (well, not that civilised but there was no rejection therapy involved) and then we went to a pub, which happened to have a jazz band playing.
Thank you so much for the lovely messages on Friday – they were really kind, especially the ones which told me to spend the week watching crap TV as an antidote to self-improvement. It turned out to be too sunny to do that but I wholeheartedly approve of the sentiment.
Thanks also to the reader who told me he liked me more for being knackered, grumpy and fed up with it all. I promise you that knackered, grumpy and fed up is my natural state but it’s frowned upon in self-help land so I’ve been keeping those moments to myself. I’ll let them all hang out in the future…
But for now, my self-help loathing is sort of over and I’m back on the saddle again by asking total strangers if I can play tennis with them and shoot some hoops.
Well the last couple of weeks have been a struggle. We’re now the middle of May and I HAVE NOT BEEN DOING REJECTION THERAPY properly and I’m beating myself up over it. Shock horror – finding ways to be rejected everyday is hard, stressful and uncomfortable. So I just haven’t been doing it. I’ve been making excuses, saying I’ll double up tomorrow or that I’m too busy with journalism work etc.
Then I did what I always do when I’m unhappy/overwhelmed: I got sick.
I’ve spent most of this week in bed with a cold, hiding from rejection and anything self-help related.
I think I’m just tired.
The four months of jumping out planes/wallowing in my bank statements/chatting up strangers has taken its toll. The high points have been really high but it’s all quite intense.
I am spun out from waking up in the morning and thinking ‘how can I get rejected today?’, I have stopped looking at my bank accounts and telling myself my life is ‘full of abundance.’ It’s not. It’s full of debt. As for the affirmations and belief that ‘it’s all happening perfectly’, well, that’s gone out the window too.
Last Friday night and I’m in the supermarket. My tummy is rumbling but I’m not looking for something for dinner, or even a bottle of wine, I’m looking for a man. Yup. Again.
This rejection therapy month appears to be turning into a ‘throw yourself at men and see what happens’ month.
And before you ask about The Greek, he is now back in Greece for the summer. He’s messaging me from Starbucks in Athens and I’m replying from whatever coffee shop I’m in but I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. He’s a lovely man and I so grateful that we met but our lives are in different places. Literally.
Because I’m now a weird self-help junkie I believe that our paths were meant to cross and that we both made each other’s lives better but that doesn’t have to mean we stay together forever. Look at me being all open and New Age-y…
Anyway, I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime I want to keeping facing my fears when it comes to men.
My lovely friend Adrian got married at the weekend to an equally lovely girl called Stephanie. For many years Adrian had a checklist of what his perfect woman would be like and despite countless speed dates/internet dates, he never found one that ticked off everything.
We worried that he would never meet his perfect woman and that his standards were unrealistically high. Until he met Stephanie. I wasn’t there but the story goes that the first time he took her to meet his friends they went to a bar that played hip hop and served ribs. She ate the ribs and knew the lyrics to every hip hop track that came on.
Our friends’ words to Adrian were simple: ‘Marry her.’
So I saw the Greek again and it was lovely. We went to a pub in Hampstead (a pretty, old part of London) and then got dinner. He paid. I don’t know if this makes me a crappy person but this kind of thing now means a lot to me – not because I want a man to pay my way but because it feels like a sign of old-fashioned respect.
Just as we did the first time we met, we chatted for hours. He is clever and well read and a very good listener too. It was easy and he made me laugh.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of all our conversation because I’m not sure he’d like that but he said some very nice things, which made me feel embarrassed at the time but which I ran over and over in my head when I got home.
He said that the day before I came up to him in the coffee shop he’d been talking to a friend about his ideal woman. Then ‘this beautiful woman’ walked up to his table and seemed to be everything he had on his list. ‘And that was just your appearance. Then we started talking and it got even better. I could not believe my luck,’ he said.