Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Just Be Yourself

Everyone has heard this piece of advice before. "Just Be Yourself" is the one thing that everyone knows that you should do, but nobody ever does. I know that I for one am very rarely myself and I know that those around me are very rarely just being themselves. This doesn't mean we are all compulsive liars, just that we act with restraint, and inevitably tailor our behaviour to those around us. It's not dishonest, it's survival.

It's a lot harder than it sounds to be yourself. The advice often gets thrown at teenagers who are worried about fitting in and making friends, or people going out on a first date, and you can see the overwhelming temptation for them not to act as themselves. In terms of popularity, if you're not popular when you're trying, how damning would it be if you were unpopular when you were being yourself? In terms of dating, everybody has immeasurable amounts of quirks and oddities, but at the same time, some people dating may be in denial about this and be looking for somebody utterly perfect. You can't let all the crazy loose on a first date, and you can't let all the crazy loose when you're trying to find a niche in the world. Being yourself is fine so long as you are actually a pleasant person underneath layers and layers of social conditioning and second guessing, but my bet is that not many people are.

My girlfriend recently levelled a piece of criticism at this blog by saying that she didn't feel it was very personal and that she was reading it and couldn't feel that I was behind it. I think she may have a point here, but then, I don't think I really want to just open the door and let it all flood out on to the internet. I accidentally did that with a live journal once, and reading back on posts I'd made months and months ago came to the conclusion that I'd fallen into the "whiny emo trap" that I was dreading all along. I think that on this blog that I'm writing what I want to write, and what I think is worth writing about, but I'm not going to go on about my trials and tribulations of living in a flat in Camden with friends and my girlfriend, because everyone does that sort of thing every day and I don't feel that my particular version is going to be that different from everyone else’s.

Can you imagine how awful it would be if everyone was themselves all the time? I'm undecided whether or not people become themselves after a drink or twelve, but if it is true, hordes and hordes of people acting as if they are under the influence all the time would be a very bad idea. Even if people wouldn't act as if drunk, I don't really want to know everything about people I hardly know, and I certainly don't want someone to be themselves in a raw format the first time I meet them, because it's quite frankly overpowering, a bit frightening, and feels like an animal instinct of attempting to dominate the other party. We've all been in those conversations with people who are always trying to just say something slightly better than you, or that have done something slightly more impressive than you. That's all very well, and sometimes very interesting, I in no way begrudge being impressed or envious about someone's achievements, but most of the time it's just insensitive, rude and overpowering.

Maybe I'm just being a little on the Victorian side of things and trying to be repressive in respect of emotions and letting go, but I really think too much stock is placed on "Being Yourself". I'm not myself. I'm annoying, whiny and selfish deep down. I don't want anything to do with that. At the same time, I'm not going to go around claiming how much I enjoy watching football. I used to tell people I support "Swindon Town Football Club" if they asked, but that was just a lie, and it didn't really work out for me. Maybe that was just because of Swindon Town Football Club, but I think it probably had more to do with the fact that I didn't really see the point of watching football.

I think what I'm trying to say is a boring "you have to compromise" statement. A classic, David Hing, sitting of the fence answer, but it's the only one that will suffice. Don't be Yourself. Be thoughtful to those around you. Be sensitive, but at the same time, don't actually lie.

And if all that fails, Just Be Yourself. No one else is.

Additional Notes:
I once met somebody when I was working on the River Thames one summer who had the Swindon Town Football Club logo tattooed on back of his left calf muscle. It looked like he had been branded. Who knows, maybe he'd lost a particularly serious game of poker and fallen into servitude?

Monday, 17 March 2008

A Certainty of Failure

Currently, at work, I am in a bit of a quandary, as I have 60,000 letters to print out and send to union members and I have until last Friday to do it. Add into this the fact that I only started this (Monday after the last Friday) morning.

Put simply, it is utterly impossible to meet this deadline. There is A Certainty of Failure.

However despairing this may be however, it is also quite liberating. With a guaranteed failure regardless of what you do, there really isn't much incentive to work too hard and the pressure has completely gone. Of course, this is a slightly limiting view, as I have to mitigate this particular scenario by working as fast as possible, but the pressure is off all the same. The deadline passed, and the world didn't end.

I think it's a similar approach that I take to a lot of things in life. If I don't see any real urgency to do something, I'm more likely to do it. My comics for example have been lolling around in a state of hibernation for about 9 months and I've only just started working on them again, but only because I don't feel any great urgency. Admittedly, the only urgency I had before was the UK Web and Mini Comix thing and it was important to try and get some new stuff ready for it, but even this completely stifled any kind of creativity in the process.

It seems odd, and I'm sure I may be an exception to the norm, but with a Certainty of Failure, I seem to do quite well. Of course, I still fail, but it's one of those failures that makes people go "Actually, he did quite well, all things considering". Not a brilliant core attribute, but I'll take it.

Additional Notes:
Before throwing all of this into a spell checker, I managed to spell "failure" wrong every time I wrote it. I find this wonderfully ironic.

The UK Web and Mini Comix thing is held in a hall in Queen Mary University in East London and is on this Saturday. It's a decent day if you're into your webcomics, or would like to see how some people spend their hobby time. There are some genuinely interesting people (and some terrifyingly frightening people too, but less of these). Visit their website at .

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Reclaiming yourself

I recently embarked upon my long abandoned webcomic project. For ages, I had my homepage on my home computer set to my webcomics page, and for ages, every time I opened it I was confronted by the cold, harsh, embrace of the "Cannot Find URL". I think every time this happened, it chipped away at me and made me chew my lip a little more.

Finally, I managed to draw a few new pages, and get my website up and running again and up to scratch, allbeit in a fairly skeletal state. If you're interested, which I'm sure you are, it's at It's incredible how much of a good mood creating something can put you in.

I've also been trying to register for Google Adverts to try and sell out a little bit. The thing that people always forget to mention about selling out is that you get money from it.

Additional Notes:
Upon writing this, I have decided that skeletal state would make quite a nice band name, although it would lend itself to a band that was not very good...