Saturday, 17 November 2012

Happy

Being thin and beautiful does not make you happy.

I rarely like to talk about other people I know in this blog, but I think this is a great case in point - an image of everything I do not want to be, and was so very nearly close to becoming...

Two Friday's ago I went to catch up with a girl I worked with in my old job, Millie. She has long spiderly legs and a beautiful face. In a nutshell, she is thin and beautiful. I wrote about her first day in the office here.

She can get any guy she wants, has men begging to take her out, dates a different guy every month, sometimes every week.
This first time I saw her again since leaving that job, and she had invited me to a dinner party with some posh public schoolboy bankers. I don't want to write so much about the evening (which was a real non-event in terms of men) but more about her. She is 29, only left university the year before, had been very lost in life, and is still very lost in life.

If God allowed me to name three people I knew who I wanted complete happiness for, she would be one of them.

One of the things I understand most about Millie is her need for male attention. She has to be adored by men (and usually is) in every situation she is in. For all of the show and charisma and charm, I can see she is insecure and full of pain. A lot like me when I am on 'the stage'.
The ironic thing is that she wants a man so much - and indeed can usually get any man she wants - but can never keep them, because they can never deal with the craziness and instability and neediness.

I left that job in the City at the end of July and started in commodities trading in Mayfair. I swapped the big bustle for the small and secure. My office now is tiny, with a number of middle-aged men - no drama, no dressing up. My life is so much quieter and I am so much more at peace now. I wear flat shoes in the office. Sometimes, I don't even wear any eyemake up. Yes, dammit, I look plain.

But it's ok.

When I left my last job, one of the guys in the department I had wanted to join told me:
"Ophelia, keep working hard, do what you do with passion and you will succeed. And remember, you are fighting for a place in a man's world - I'm sorry but it is - and in a man's world, no one cares how expensive your shoes were, they only care about your brain."

I took that on board.

I worked incredibly hard to move departments in my old job, and because of office politics was denied the great opportunity I was right for. However, I got this new opportunity off the back of all that hard work and off the back of great recommendations from those in the office I had impressed. I did not get this job because of how I looked. I got this job because of my brain. I am respected and valued by those I work with because of how well I perform.

As I sat with Millie that Friday night, I listened to how she had taken clients out for lunch, flirted, how he complemented her on her tight dress:
"Damn right you appreciate it, I wore it just to get your signature on the paper!"
That was her life. Entertaining clients, flirting with them, making them feel special. Expensive dresses and shoes. Cocktails and sushi at the City's most exclusive restaurants.
And to talk to her, you would think she was living the dream.
But I know that she is not. I know she survives thanks to alcohol and cocaine. I know how much she cries every time another man walks away. I know how lonely she feels.

Being away from that world has been very good for me. And talking to Millie, I thanked my lucky stars that I had gotten away. If I had stayed, I could see myself turning into her. And that life is NOT what I want anymore. I do not want men that see me as another piece of ass. I do not want to have to dress up, vie for attention and receive it only when I look good enough. That life fucking destroyed me.

When I left that job I was distraught, because I really wanted 2012 to be the year I made it - the year when I was beautiful, thin, and extremely successful. Fuck, you know what, I have made it, I'm at peace, have a fulfilling job, and I don't feel the emptiness that I used to feel from putting everything into my looks.

Neither am I interested in the guys that I used to go for.

I went out with the nice boy again. He took me to the cinema to see Skyfall. It was the first time in a year that I went out with a guy in flat shoes and without getting my hair blow dried and styled at the hairdresser.
And he didn't even try and make a move. Usually that is the first thing a man does before even asking my name.

At first I didn't think I could be attracted to a guy like that, I didn't think that he would excite any passion in me. But maybe I am growing up. Having spent all day wishing I could muster up the courage to make an excuse and cancel on him, I was so glad I didn't. I smiled all the way home.
I could definitely love a man like that - safe. I think he would make me very happy - or happy in the way the usual definition of happy - safe, secure, content, loved.

You see, before, I thought that happiness was feeling high, feeling lust, feeling glamorous and adored. But I've found a new spot inside me now, in my heart, where I am feeling something for the first time - from quiet weekends, from enjoying work, from having time to relax, from being comfortable in my own skin, from being so much more me. For the first time, I almost feel blessed.

As Mary J Blige sung:

No more pain, no more game, no drama - no more drama in my life, no-one's gonna make me hurt again
No more tears, no more fears, no drama - no more drama in my life, I don't ever wanna hurt again...