Just be better. Way better. At EVERYTHING.


‘Why am I not a much better person?’

This has to be the most frequently asked question that my psyche asks. Why am I not better? Why am I not much better? Why am I not a million times better than I currently am? And I’m not just asking why I’m not better at one thing, I want to know why I’m not better at everything.

My head is overcrowded with variations of this question – a constant swarm of voices telling me to just. Be. Better.

Way better.

There are so many things that I need to not suck at doing, that I’m completely overwhelmed as to what I should stop sucking at first. As ever, please consult the scientific diagram below which fully illustrates my neuroses:

Be better at everything

I know that it’s bad to compare yourself with other people and not to quote Desiderata too much, (there will always be greater and lesser people than yourself) but I do. I still compare myself with other people because people are getting married, and promoted and having babies all over the place. And while I’m not jealous because I don’t really aspire to any of those things, I still feel as though I’m seriously lagging behind.

In my head, my life should be an all-round wholesome sphere of joy and harmony, and I should feel engaged with life rather than detached from it.

In the infinitely-better-version-of-me:

  • I get up at 6am everyday, do yoga while eating organic yogurt and homemade granola and reading The Guardian from cover to cover and tweeting  my every thought on Twitter to improve traffic to my blog.
  • I write 2000 words of a potentially best-selling literary masterpiece, before briskly walking to work feeling somewhat alert and spiritually Zen and wearing clothes that are sharp and stylish and make me look super-hot.
  • I have some cool job or other, which involves having a desk by the window, a cappuccino machine, pleasant telephone conversations and people asking me for my opinion.
  • At lunch I meet my agent or editor or whoever to discuss my latest creative  project, and afterwards I go to David Mitchell‘s house for a cup of tea and chat about all the stuff I’d read in The Guardian that day, as well as his recent article in The Observer and I’m all ‘David, today’s article was brilliant,’ and he’s all ‘Thanks Jo, would you like sugar in your tea?’ and I’m  all ‘David, you’re so funny – you KNOW I don’t take sugar because I’m so damn wholesome and well-rounded,’ Then we laugh and eat organic wholemeal scones.
  • I go to the gym and work out like a ninja before sprinting home to cook some kind of delicious culinary taste-fest for my friends (of which there are many), who later descend on my trendy city centre loft apartment for an evening of philosophical discussions, cocktails and Nintendo (not necessarily in that order) until the early hours of the morning when I snuggle up in my King size bed and have a restful sleep that doesn’t involve having troublesome nightmares about zombie-cat-vampires.

And that’s pretty much it. That’s all I want out of life. Oh, and maybe bigger boobs. And a smaller nose. But in my head this is the person I should try to be… A British, politically minded, Carrie Bradshaw who is big chums with David Mitchell. And is really good at Nintendo.

Actually, thinking about it, SJP has a big nose and small boobs and everyone freaking loved her as Carrie Bradshaw (except some people kind of hated her with a passion). So I guess, that technically, I don’t need to worry about the boobs and the nose for now.

Anyway, given the unlikeliness of any of this ever filtering into my petty existence, not to mention how worryingly idealistic I am, it’s little wonder that I give myself such a hard time for being the exact opposite:

The Reality of Jo

In and amongst the endless list of things to do to change and become an infinitely better person, there’s this list of startling reality points which I endlessly torture myself with.

Earlier this week, I read this blog post by the fantastic Hipstercrite, and I actually began to feel a little, sort of, maybe okay again. Because even though I shouldn’t constantly compare myself with other people, at least I can be safe in the knowledge that I’m not alone. There are other people stuck in the colossal nightmare that is their twenties, still bumbling around in a post-graduation haze wondering what it is they’re supposed to do with their life. And they’re all poor and in miserable admin jobs too. The twenties is a suckfest decade. And all I can say is that I hope I get this self-doubt confusion stuff out of my system now. If only to prevent myself from having a complete meltdown in the future – when I’m a forty-year old British, politically-minded ninja Carrie Bradshaw and regular tea and scone guest at David Mitchell’s house.

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Comments: 10

  1. Steven Chapman August 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm Reply

    It’s that stupid bloody filter that writers have! Most people can block out certain thoughts or have the ability to group and prioritise. They can let ideas, worries, fears trickle from a tap that they can adjust – fast, slow, drip. Writer’s brains are like a rogue fireman’s hose, turned on to full blast and then dropped by the absent-minded fireman, the massive pressure making it snake around the ground and air like…well, a snake…but a really pissed off snake.

    I think like this (see I AM a writer!), I’m always questioning myself, looking at everyone else and thinking “how the bloody hell do they get everything right?”. Sometimes I ask them and they tell me “Well, some things go wrong for me.” But that doesn’t help me because it feels like ‘everything’ goes wrong for me. So them saying occasional things go wrong still sounds like an ideal alternative my shitty life.

    There is no way around it I’m afraid, at least not one that I’ve found, you’ll just have to accept that you’re broken…unless of course your parents kept the receipt?

  2. Steven Chapman August 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm Reply

    Don’t let anybody tell you that you should enjoy your life exactly how it is! It’s a writer’s right to wallow in self pity and misery and its one of the things that keeps us striving to get those ideas on paper, so we can ‘escape’ normal life. If you enjoy life too much then you won’t want to escape into a book, or delve deep into one of your own stories in order to write it properly.

    The ideal life you plotted out does sound pretty cool, but David Mitchell? David Mitchell? David? Mitchell? You crazy girl.

    Oh and look out for that zombie-cat-vampire behind you…

    p.s. What’s wrong with baggy clothes!

    p.p.s Stupid intensedebate not letting me put large comments in one post!

  3. Steven Chapman August 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm Reply

    p.p.p.s Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Desiderata, very enjoyable

    p.p.p.p.s Sorry for making you think you had three comments!!

  4. Sasperella August 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm Reply

    Dude, imagine how dull you'd be without neuroses. What the hell would you blog about? Talk about? What thoughts would fill your newly quiet mind? Wouldn't you be in danger of letting horrible stuff slip in, like worrying about whether your clothes should be washed less regularly at a hiher temperature or more regularly at a lower temperature or about what day the bin collection is or about whether you can get any money off coupons for baked beans from your regular weekly magazine?

    It sounds disgusting; neuroses all the way. Anyway, if you think about it 'neuroses' is a bit like 'new roses', and roses are pretty nice …


    (That was supposed to be supportive but I think I lost it a bit at the end there)

  5. alonewithcats August 4, 2011 at 3:31 am Reply

    I, too, fantasize about having some cool job or other, which involves having a desk by the window, a cappuccino machine, pleasant telephone conversations and people asking me for my opinion … and I don't even drink cappuccino. Yet another thing that I need to be better about.

  6. Simone August 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm Reply

    1. carrie bradshaw isn't real; she was invented by a writer
    2. compare = despair
    3. be yourself because you are amazing
    4. boobs are overrated and they end up sagging
    5. sandwiches are god's gift to the world

  7. Megan -Best of Fates August 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm Reply

    Me! I'm in my twenties and in a crappy office job too! Me!

    Oh, is that just sad. Hm. Then just read the previous line again without the exclamation points.

  8. Kristen August 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm Reply

    Replace 'nightmares about zombie-cat-vampires' with 'has nightmares about shark-ninjas' and we are the exact same person.

  9. Lori Dyan September 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm Reply

    The so-called "ideal" you sounds suspiciously like Gwyneth Paltrow. I like the real you infinitely more.

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