Saturday, 20 November 2010

Acting Lessons

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, last Friday, I went back to my university city for the big reunion dinner that evening. As is protocol now, fasting, laxatives, exercise preceded. This could not shift the scales from the undeniable fact that I was 5 kg fatter than when I went to this reunion dinner this time last year. Yes. Fucking Yes.

I had my appointment with my psychologist in the morning before I got on the train. She helped me get through it. She is amazing. It's good to write down and map out all my irrationalities.
I didn't crumble that evening - I went, I held my head up high, and I still looked nice. I did it.

The immeasurable waste. It's always a waste isn't it, this stupid quest of mine. It's never made me happy. All the money and the hours of aching muscles and the nights of hunger and vomit... I do it for something grand, something wonderful, something I deserve... something I can't put my finger on, perhaps because it's not really there...

This was my first big performance on the public stage since Alex left and I fell apart. Tonight I was going to be a glittering diva again. I spent £50 on a new dress. £88 on new shoes. £75 on getting my hair styled. £10 on lashes and makeup. £60 on a hotel room so I could get ready in private. £40 on trains. £10 on taxis. £30 on dinner. £10 on drinks. £10 on binge food.
All that for... for what? So I could turn up at an event with people I used to know and new people and look beautiful. That's it.  I chatted and laughed loudly with old friends, did the polite rounds of old acquaintances, happy, quirky, vibrant Ophelia, danced a little, ranted, drank, screamed in joy, had a cigarette... and felt unequivocally empty - because I did all this, I spent all that money, I put in all that effort, took all those laxatives, forbid all that food... for something, for sparks, for fireworks, for love, for passion, for SOMETHING...
I spent pretty much the entire evening talking about 'my ex-boyfriend' and how 'i hate men'. All I kept thinking was that I wanted Alex to see how wonderful a show I had put on, and how beautiful I looked on the public stage again after hair and makeup and costume had done their work. His ghost stood over me, completely.

I left on my own in a taxi at 5am without saying goodbye to anyone. I silently undressed in my hotel room, slipped under the cold sheets and ate a cheese and pickle sandwich.
That university and that life of drinking and flirting was who I was - and is not who I am now. I am past all the charades.
I was supposed to be staying for the Saturday night as well to see some other uni friends who couldn't come on the Friday - but I'd had enough. My skin was tired and so was my soul.
And so I gave my body shitloads of food - as is habit and protocol after every big, draining performance.

I seemed to have a lot more to say about the whole situation when I was thinking about this post last weekend - but now, a week later, that's all I have to write. I found out yesterday that one of my friends pulled two guys that weekend - both of whom have girlfriends. So I politely told her off. There are enough cold-hearted cheats and assholes in this world without us helping them along. Women should all be on the same side.

I'm struggling to get over this infatuation I have in thinking that men are the enemy. I've been reading lots of feminist literature and theory, trying to get at some understanding of the link between femininity and madness. I feel like so much of what is wrong with me stems from that - from being a woman - and from being utterly unable to cope with the demands of being such.
At the core of my illness lies this simple fact - I want to be a perfect woman with all the fairytale ideals that come with it. I want to be beautiful, I want to be thin, I want to be glamorous, I want the beautiful dress and beautiful shoes, I want the charming prince, I want to be loved, I want to be adored, I want to be kind and lovely, I want to be dainty and demure, I want to be intelligent and witty, I want to be well-spoken and well-educated, I want to be charming and individual. And everything I have done to try to fit the damn plastic mould has made me mad. And not even mad for myself, but mad for society, for men, for the everyone else to see I am well moulded.

The story of Kate Middleton's engagement to Prince William has been interesting to me in a way. She (or her parents) have been social climbers. To look at her and hear her speak, you'd think she could quite easily have come from an Aristocratic background because she is well-dressed in a quintessentially English manner, has a posh voice and comes across in a very elegant and sophisticated way. That's how you get by in this world - you carve yourself out into what you need to be - you force yourself into a certain mould that's gonna get you places.
I taught myself to speak with a well-spoken English accent, I chose my fashion tastes to reflect my femininity and elegance, I taught myself the way to act and come across in a corporate, polished manner so that I could become an asset to a team in an Investment Bank.
I am a daughter of a single immigrant mother on basic wage in South London - but people who meet me think I went to an excellent private school, come from a well-off family and have always been confident and charming and happy. Because I moulded myself that way. And because of that moulding I can get a job in an Investment Bank, and I can have friends with huge trust funds and I can be the girlfriend of a wealthy ex-boarding school boy who attends black tie dinners.
It's not who I am, but who I have moulded and presented myself as being, which has brought me everything I got.


I have to sign the contract for the job at the Investment Bank on Monday or I lose it.
I went for an interview for an assistant position at a Boarding School in the countryside on Thursday and got the job - of course. Great if I want to continue with my 'ideal' career into teaching. But I don't know. The countryside is beautiful. I will have so much spare time for long walks and runs, I can wear whatever clothes I feel comfortable in and plain makeup... but I'm afraid I'll get bored, I'm afraid I will still crave the city and the stage and bright lights too much... and it will be too late for me to return once I have cut these ties, I know.
And where, where would I ever meet a man to love me if I'm hidden in the countryside...

I feel like, I have this great opportunity to be "successful" in the eyes of others. I mean - I care so much (too much) about what people think of me. Telling people I work as an assistant in a boarding school says to them that I am weak, unambitious and couldn't get a better job OR to tell people that I work in the city, I deal with big people, work on big deals and make loads of money says to them that I am smart, driven and successful. When I went back to see my old uni friends I was shocked at how many graduates were shop assistants/unemployed/working in a call centre... they would kill for the opportunity I have.

If I turn down the Investment Bank and go to the boarding school, I will have to be a teacher. It's a big career move and you cant go back. I'd be on half the wage as well. But I might be happy. And I'm sure I said, the pursuit of happiness is everything. Fuck the social standards and the social hierarcy.
...But casting all that aside means casting aside the mould of social perfection I have been striving for all my life... a mould which I know gets you 'places'... and which I believe will earn you 'love'.




10 comments:

  1. Stay in the city. You can always leave..
    take care,
    m

    ps. alex was an asshole.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh darling, another beautiful, insightful post. If it were me, I would be at that boarding school in an instant.. even though I understand (and myself happen to face) the crossroads you're at.

    We share a similar dream, and I think that sometimes regular ambition doesn't stand a chance against ambition of the heart.

    All my love,
    Adeline xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have the chance to brake free from the character you made of yourself...a chance to be you...that must be really scary but you´ll have to do it eventualy. The character I had made of myself was pretty amazing too but I couldn´t let that mask take over all I was and though I won´t lie and say i´m happy now...at least, I am me, whoever that is.
    I think if we were man we would be screwed up too...i think there´s a part of this that is born with you, man or woman.
    I hope whatever you choose makes you happy sweetie, I really do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happiness is the most important thing in a person's life. If you don't have that you have nothing. Do what will make you happy!

    ReplyDelete
  5. "I am a daughter of a single immigrant mother on basic wage in South London - but people who meet me think I went to an excellent private school, come from a well-off family and have always been confident and charming and happy."
    This sounds really horrid. as if your mother is nothing or something one should hide and forget.it must hurt her so much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It may be a big career move either way, but you can always go back. It might not be easy, but you could certainly go back. You can do anything you set your mind to.

    A lot of us are struggling towards that fairytale ideal. Something hazy and distant and beautiful--something that we hope we'll recognize when we find it. Such a conundrum. :/

    I think Anonymous completely missed the point of your post.

    xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh honey, thank you for your comments you made me cry hahahaa! I wish I could hug you right now.

    Be yourself, live your life the way you want to, make a few mistakes, fall flat on your face and climb back up.
    Take a few deep breaths before you make every decision and follow your heart, stay strong eat less and you will get your perfect fairy tale, at least.. That's what I keep telling myself :) So here I am telling you the same, you can do this babe, you can.

    Love, x

    ReplyDelete
  8. My dear, that is a massive choice. All I can say is that if you do not do what YOU YOURSELF enjoy, you will never be happy. This I know from experience. Sure the commerce degree would have seen me get a high paying job, made contacts and generally been 'Successful' But i would have been bloody miserable the whole time, doing something I didn't enjoy and turning myself inside out kissing arse to climb the corporate ladder.

    Fuck. That. Shit.

    No matter how hard it is, I'm going to do what I enjoy because I enjoy doing it, and FUCK what society thinks. Wanna be a rebel with me? I don't mind if you do or don't, so long as you do what makes you happy. Coz you DESERVE to be happy, dammit!

    Aww man, soggy leaves! I did some handstands in the grass for you before my flatmate attacked it with the weed whacker >.< Mary gave me some tips to make my handstands better so one day I'll be able to do it properly!

    Mental flatmate got taken down a few pegs. Wal yelled at her when she pushed the boundaries too far. I'm waiting for my turn with glee. . . Especially since he now realizes how unreasonable she is being! (Bitch? Me? Naaaaw!)

    I hope you have a good Monday, love.

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  9. go with your gut and your heart. remember money doesn't buy happiness. neither does thin. you already know this. do what you honestly feel will fulfill YOU AS A PERSON. THE REAL YOU and not some ideal that you have always tried to live up to.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I really understand what you're saying about molding yourself. I did that and everyone I know that doesn't know much about my personal life/family life thinks I came from a well off family, when in reality I was pretty poor growing up. And some members of my family are some of the most fucked up people you will ever meet. But, my co-workers don't have the slighest idea.

    I also agree with how you feel when it comes to a "career". I'd much rather be a stay at home mom than in the job I am in now, even though it's a good job that people believe is "successful". I measure my success with how happy I am, not with how others measure it. But I still feel pressured.


    Do what makes you happy, darling. Take that wonderful sounding job in the country and love every minute of it. It's YOUR happiness that matters most...not what other people THINK your happiness should be.

    ReplyDelete

Don't be anonymous, leave a name at least so I can identify you back :)