What is really beneath my desire to succeed?

“Success comes in waves. The movie industry is very competitive, and if you’re like me and you suffer from your own insecurities about whether or not you’re any good, that can be troubling. I became very angry at one point and I had to step away for a year. You can know your own strengths, but until you solidify them with actual evidence you’re never fully confident” – Guy Pearce.

Guy Pearce seems to have climbed into my mind, heard what I’ve been thinking about lately and articulated a perfect summary of it for a newspaper. What a clever Guy (sorry, it gets better!).

How acting made me angry

Despite being an actress at the bottom of the ladder compared to Mr Pearce’s A-List status, we have a few things in common.

I found the acting profession extremely competitive, frustrating and unfair, and I got really angry with it and really bitter. In the end I too decided that acting and I shouldn’t hang out with each other for a while, it just wasn’t doing me any good: the 98% of the job that wasn’t actual performing, that is.

I had become someone who saw ‘luck’ as a rare and precious commodity, which time after time passed me by. Sometimes it fell upon people with little acting training, experience and even little talent, and so I started to see my own training, experience and talent as meaningless. I had come to believe that ‘who you know’ was infinitely more important, and I didn’t know anybody. I resented other actors, even those who were my friends, who had family wealth behind them and thus didn’t need a 9-5 job as I did. Finally I was jealous of those who got more acting jobs than me. You see? Many negative qualities.

Once I stepped away I felt a tremendous amount of confusion because I had wanted to be an actress my entire life. If I wasn’t going to pursue it, what the hell should I do with my life?

I have to do something, I have to make my mark somehow.

Which led me to realise something rather huge: recognition is really important to me. What I have really dreamt of my entire life, is that my peers would one day give me a pat on the back and say ‘you are good at this, well done!’. I daydream about being on the stage or winning an award or seeing my published book in a window display – and my daydream is not about the process or the craft, its seeing my family and friends looking up at me with pride. Proving to them that I am worth something and could do something worthwhile. In my daydream, people respect me.

In reality my family and friends would, I’m sure, tell me they are proud of me already. They do tell me I’m good at things. I hear them but its as though I need a bigger acknowledgement: I want the world to know and I want my family and friends to see that the world knows.

Which makes me ask myself – who was I really trying to act for? And who am I really trying to succeed for?

And here is the monumental truth. I do not respect myself. I do not recognise myself. I do not reward myself. If I did, then I would not long so desperately for external acceptance.

 Confidence, when you have yet to see any success, is hard

Guy puts it so well:  “You can know your own strengths, but until you solidify them with actual evidence you’re never fully confident”.

Trying to press ahead, in anything, without any evidence that you’re on the right track is extremely hard. Sometimes other people don’t get that, particularly when self-confidence is not an issue for them.

Just a little nod that you’re on the right path can make all the difference in the world.

Having tried at acting (I force myself to say ‘tried’ rather than the more self-indulgent ‘failed’), I decided to give writing a shot. I have written a number of stories, plays and a third of a novel, all of which I have submitted for a number of competitions and never won any. I know this is the experience of the majority of writers and those who have succeeded did so by persevering. I know the chances of winning are slim with so much competition out there. I know I’m too quick to take rejection to heart, and too quick to assume I am not good enough. But I have not touched my novel for about 6 months. As with acting, I sort of feel ‘what’s the point?’.

How to move forwards

Notice how much I said ‘I know….but’ there? I feel like logic is on one side of the river and I’m on the other side of the river, and I can’t find the bridge that connects the two! It’s so frustrating!

And yet, you could also argue, I talk myself out of feeling confident, so that I remain in my comfort zone. I have all these reasons at my disposal that excuse me from digging deep and carrying on. And the reason for that is, my norm is feeling unworthy and not good enough – as long as I maintain that environment within myself, then all is right with the world.

Except it so isn’t!!

So here I am. I do not have my own acceptance. I do not have my own permission to be confident. I do not have my own power. I’ve given it away to everybody else.

Now I know this, I have already started on the path to changing it.

I am my own barrier.  But I am also my own bridge.

Posted in Fears, Goals and Passions, Naughty Brain, Self Development, Thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking a moment to feel proud

An article I have written, about my struggles to feel worthy alongside other women, has appeared on Tiny Buddha today. It is called ‘When We Think Other People Are Better Than Us’.

I am so grateful to Lori, the owner of Tiny Buddha, for choosing my article to be published.

Feeling proud of something you’ve done, for me, feels a bit like seeing a dear friend you rarely get to see – its so rare that you embrace it with a massive grippy hug and don’t want to let it go. Even though naughty brain tells me its a bit ick to feel openly proud of yourself, I’m ignoring it.

In fact I am celebrating, albeit in an understated way: I am sitting in the garden drinking cream soda.

Why sitting in the garden? Because it is 28 degrees outside and, seriously, we here in Britain have not seen the sun since March. Last weekend I had the heating on it was so cold. Hell I’m not even wearing tights. Bare legs people!

Why cream soda? It was a treat when I was growing up, saved for a Saturday night while we ate my dad’s homemade chips and watched Baywatch followed by Gladiators. It feels like a little reward.

But giddy celebrations aside 🙂 The main reason I am proud, and grateful, is not just because a thing that I feel and wrote was published, but because other people saw my innermost thoughts today and (that I know of) didn’t judge, laugh or hate. There has been a lot of support and a lot of ‘I know how you feel’, and that is so special to me: to see that there are others who feel the same way as me, others who have the kindness and courage to show solidarity and support. Hopefully I have in turn offered my solidarity and support to them. I am left with a feeling that we are part of a community, all here to help each other to help ourselves feel better.

As I come to the end of this little post, in true English style, the sun has gone in 🙂 but like my moment of pride, I sure made the most of it.


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Inspiring artists who live(d) with depression


I just found this article on Huffington Post and it has got my skin a’tinglin’.

It’s a list of 11 incredibly well-known, well-respected and talented artists who had lifelong battles with depression.

Picasso. Van Gogh. Michaelangelo. Gaugin. Did you know they all had depression or bipolar disorder?

It is, to me, a brilliant reminder that depression and bipolar disorder can be worked with, not just in spite of. Picasso, for example, created a whole collection of works whilst heavily depressed which is known as his ‘Blue Period’.

I’m not an art expert – but I find it so inspiring to see that this collection of people, who produced so many beloved works of art, went through the same pain we go through. The same heartache, the same exhaustion, the same loneliness.

The article mentions one of my heroes, Tracey Emin. A British contemporary artist who creates incredibly personal and controversial works such as ‘My Bed’ (above) which is the actual bed in which she spent several days post-break up feeling suicidal, later turning the bed itself and accompanying detritus (such as dirty pants!) into an art work.

Whatever your opinion is of Tracey’s work, I admire her. Firstly, we both grew up in the same town so to me she represents somebody who came from my home town (albeit my childhood was way less traumatic than hers) and made good. Something I hope I might do one day 🙂

Secondly, her work is her feelings, moods, experiences laid bare. (Like, seriously laid bare. We’re talking nudity and articles stained with bodily fluids). Her work is so honest and she is committed to taking all these parts of her life and personality, even those that are dark or heartbreaking, and creating pieces for the world to see. That’s brave!

Usually I am the first person to think “that’s great for her/him/them, but I could never do that…” yada yada yada, the usual way my brain likes to remind me of my inferiority. Well, maybe I will follow their footsteps one day! I am writing a blog about it, that’s a good step!

The point is, they were able to create somethingif they can do it, so can we. I’m not referring to making art (although we can all pick up a paint or pencil) or wearing our mental health on our sleeves. I mean working with our true selves. Achieving whatever goals or desires we have. Getting up. Making something of the day, whether its working on a project or simply getting dressed and making ourselves some dinner.

Articles like this remind me that we are not alone. And that we can do it.

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My Story

I revisited my ‘About B’ page yesterday to give it a little refresh, and I decided that my story deserved a post of its own.

If anyone feels the way I am about to describe, then please know that things do get better for all of us. We just have to keep going and keep talking to our Doctor, counsellor and any trusted loved ones we have. We every one of us deserve to be here and have our gifts to offer xx

2009 – the year I finally had enough

In 2009 my life near enough fell apart. I was consumed with unrequited love. The guy was a work colleague so every day was painful. Disgustingly painful. As someone whose confidence and self-esteem has always been on the low side, my daily mantra was:

“I am not good enough”. 

I had a non-existent acting career and in its place a string of totally unrelated and completely unfulfilling temp jobs in finance, which I kept getting sacked from because I just couldn’t portray any semblance of enthusiasm for my life. I was there in person but there was no light behind my eyes. The career I’d trained for and dreamed of my whole life was a closed shop and, once again, the message glaring out at me (so I thought) was:

“I am not good enough”.

I was broke. Always broke. I couldn’t afford to go out socially and as I got more depressed I stopped wanting to. I spent my evenings laying on my bed in the dark. Every night. I didn’t always have money for food. If my clothes or shoes got ruined or broke I couldn’t afford to replace them. My self-esteem sank further and further and I was sure that my appearance reflected how poor I was, and it only reinforced how unattractive I felt. I compared myself to other women, and my brain screamed:

“I am not good enough”.

I had a lot of people leaning on me to help them as well, some of whom also felt extremely sad and hopeless and needed my time and energy to support them. But my reserves were desperately low. And then a couple of people I knew passed away. 

I spent my days breaking down in tears at work, and my nights in the darkness of my bedroom hoping I would not wake up in the morning. I looked at the cars driving along the busy road I lived on and wished I had the courage to walk in front of one.

I felt terribly ashamed, and regretful that my life had turned out as it had and I felt sorry for my parents that they had such a daughter. I actually apologized to them that I’d become such a screw-up. I felt guilty. My self-esteem was down to zero, I couldn’t see any redeeming features in myself whatsoever. I was a waste of good oxygen.


In the end, I went to the Doctor and was diagnosed with depression. She prescribed me anti-depressants. I had never imagined myself taking them and I remember sitting in Trafalgar Square with my dear friend who had used them before, feeling like a total failure that my life had come to this, and asking him how I would feel if I took them. Would I still feel like me, or would they alter my mind drastically?

I am glad that I decided to take them. They saved my life in that darkest period. I started to feel a bit lighter. They enabled me to carry on. I kept using them until I had the energy to do a little work on myself and at this point I stopped taking them. I should have followed my Doctor’s advice and weaned myself off gradually, as I felt quite sick withdrawing them so quickly, but I was now keen to move forwards and start making some changes.

I got into reading. A lot. Books on depression, websites and blogs on confidence and improving your self-belief. I meditated every day, once before work to get me up and then again on my lunch hour to help me finish the day. I sought advice endlessly. I leaned heavily on one or two amazing, freakishly patient, endlessly giving friends, and I had an inexhaustable supply of love from my parents.

Moving forwards

Getting through it and coming out the other side was ultimately my own doing and one of my greatest accomplishments now I look back. I decided to commit wholeheartedly to making myself feel better. I worked hard to understand my negative thought patterns. I released myself from unhealthy relationships and removed myself from unhealthy situations. I isolated myself but this time it was because I was protecting myself, meditating, thinking, reflecting, studying and figuring things out.

I recognized that I was bullying myself. I would never dream of telling anybody “you are not good enough”, yet I did it to myself all the time. It simply was unacceptable and rationally I knew I hadn’t done anything to warrant being so horrible to myself; I now had to lose the habit.

I also worked on discovering what I want in life. Just in theory. What would make me happy. What do I deserve. What do I need. What gifts do I have? What have I already accomplished? And what is real success? 

Eventually, I began daring to hope again. It was hard because I had grown to believe that hoping for anything would always leave me broken-hearted. The universe always let me down. But I kept working and working on feeling better about myself, and I gradually started to feel more worthy, and with that it became more feasible for me to hope.

I have had depression since, as I have documented here. By no means am I completely cured or have everything figured out, nor have I pulled myself together into a totally rational, fully confident and contented person. I still have moments of “I am not good enough” – it is so deeply ingrained in me, it will take many years to remove that particular catchphrase from my brain’s vocabulary.

But I am so much better off than I was. I actually think that this depression was necessary – I went down to the depths in order to realize that my life choices and my mental habits were not working for me. It allowed me to make incredibly positive changes and make huge leaps towards being the real me. While I do not necessarily want to relive it (although I have, and probably will again because its part of who I am), I can see that it was a turning point, and a mass of good things have come from it. 

And, in a lovely little happy ending, my unrequited love became available, and became requited 🙂

Posted in Depression, Fears, Goals and Passions, Life, Naughty Brain, Self Development, Spirital ponderings, Thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Afraid to stand up…but glad I did

I wrote this yesterday: 

Isn’t it strange how you can suddenly uncover yet another way in which your past affects your present?

I’ve just realised that a particular person still has more power over me than I thought. I say “still” because we have a very turbulent past of which I have so many painful memories; of being alienated, abused, crushed, defeated and broken-hearted. I was mentally beaten down to such very low depths. We are both older now, and we’ve become friendly. But today this person upset me and I realised that I am still afraid to stand up to them.

I mean, physically there is nothing stopping me. But emotionally it is a frightening prospect, because I know from past experience that it would be just as unpleasant and fruitless as it was trying to resolve our issues at the time they were happening. And those times were hell.

In that respect I guess this person has gotten me pretty well trained to take any crap they sling at me, right?

I want to express that I am upset. But I know the hurt I’ll feel, the guilt they’ll inflict, the impact on others caught in the middle. And I don’t want to hurt their feelings either. So I’d rather keep quiet.

I have no desire whatsoever to dig up the past with them. I’ll take the relationship we have now because at least its better than it was before. I can get upset in private, moan to a few friends, work through the emotions, write this blog, and clear the anger out of my system that way instead.

Here’s what’s interesting though: This morning, I did decide to talk about it.

Because I’ve grown up now. I can initiate an attempt to resolve problems in a calm, mature fashion.

I’ve also grown up to believe that we need to stand up for what’s right.

I got a fairly reasoned, fairly calm response. To my face anyway. Whether I uncovered the truth about this person’s motives or not, I don’t know. But I am glad I did it. Little ‘yay’ for me! J

I can count this as a little success for myself, because:

  • I recognised I had a thought process based on fear, based on the past.
  • I acted in spite of it, staying true to my morals and the person I am now.
  • I got a better understanding of the situation that upset me yesterday, releasing my negative energy and my negative emotions towards that person.
  • I learnt that whatever the emotions this person arouses in me, I have the power in me to resolve them.

This whole experience will leave its residue on me for a little bit, reliving painful memories always does. But I will go to bed feeling a little lighter. Emotionally that is … maybe not physically, as I intend to reward myself with a large slab of cheese and a piece of cake J

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The Frenemies – or – Having friends who don’t like me

Under my friendship umbrella, there is a plethora of people.

Some are true, sweet, gentle and patient. Like Ladyface E. They love me just as I am and I feel totally free and accepted with them.

But there are some who, when I stop and think about it, don’t seem to actually like me the way I am. I sense (or in some cases have heard about) their unhappiness about certain core aspects of my personality, such as my need for frequent solitude, or my commitment towards my self development. I think it triggers a response from their egos, either they feel rejected or jealous or betrayed, and it results in them making comments or behaving in ways that, in turn, let me down. And once I’ve been let down, I pull away. And they get more pissed.

So really, its all just one big mix-up isn’t it? They think I’m crap, I think they’re crap. If I really wanted to, I could sit us all in a room with many bottles of wine and cheese-based snacks, and we could talk about it.

But I have to wonder, are these sorts of friendships worth saving? Firstly because, although I have this psychological explanation, it doesn’t automatically delete all the emotions, the hurt, the anger, the disappointment. It can be worked through but do I really want to at this point – and, if the problem boils down to an intrinsic clash between your personality vs. theirs, is this friendship meant to be?

And what if they’ve let you down in rather major ways? For example, how would you feel about a friend who:

  • Doesn’t reach out when you have depression.
  • Doesn’t show interest in or support for your dreams. Or worse, sees it as a bad thing, or even a personal attack against them.
  • Has mutual interests and hobbies with you, but doesn’t want to share or experience them together with you.
  •  Competes for the friendship of mutual friends and gloats if they feel they are winning.
  •  Doesn’t contact you but complains that you don’t contact them. Often ignores you when you do get in touch, and if they do respond its to berate you for never getting in touch.

Why would we have this person as a friend? Are they an old friend? Does the idea of cutting them off make you feel guilty? Do you keep hoping they’ll change?

Does their firm belief that you’re an inadequate friend make you question whether they’re right?

For me this is a yes. After all I am prone to depression, it doesn’t take much for me to blame myself for everything. I know I’m not perfect. I wonder whether they have their own list, like mine above, of majorly bad things they perceive I’ve done to them? Would they argue that I’ve caused them to act that way through terrible behaviour of my own? They are clever, mature adults, I can’t discount their judgement as completely ludicrous. Can I?

And what about the well-known theory that the traits you find most annoying in other people, are a reflection of the traits you most fear you possess? Do I have the traits I’ve described in my list? I sure know that I strive not to.

I guess I’ll never know, without sitting them down and talking about it. I do occasionally daydream about a chance to say how I really feel, but it’s not going to happen. I don’t want to hurt anybody and I’m pretty sure it would not end in them having a flash of revelation and thanking me for it.

I know this: we retain the negative more than the positive. We hold onto criticisms more than compliments. Maybe these types of friends represent the criticisms we hold onto. Letting them go would be like allowing myself to let go of the negative voice “keeping me in check” (read: making sure I remember at all times that I’m a crap person), and daring to believe that I’m actually awesome. Not easy!

But that negative voice needs to be released, and hold us back no longer. I have my quirks and I have my issues. They are actually perfectly acceptable parts of me, whether they are agreeable to other people or not. I’ve repressed aspects of myself for many years and now through depression, recovery and self-development, they are coming to the fore and I am changing. In a really good way. I am learning who I am.

And I love those who love me for being that person.

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Ramblings about confidence, goals and dreams – and what really matters

I’m so bored and under stimulated right now. I keep going on the internet every few minutes and that’s just on my work computer; on my mobile I can’t get through an entire minute without seeing if anything has happened on Facebook or checking whether anyone has emailed me. I’ve exhausted the celebrity gossip (even though I don’t want to support our culture of celebrity worship, I still get sucked in!), the culture pages, lifestyle pages, a google search of INFJ (my personality type), a google search of other people’s personality types, a google search of people I studied with… I am very bored indeed. And the worst part is that I was told we ‘may’ get let go at 3pm today…it is now 3.26pm the big boss man has fecked off skiing and forgotten about all of us sat here, post-end of tax year, dreaming of being on the outside.

If this was my perfect job I would be sitting in my own little studio surrounded by craft materials, paints and pieces of paper. Oh and puppies J I would be sketching a character or writing something. This would be something that somebody is going to pay me for.

What stops me committing to and working towards this dream? Well, mixed priorities for one. I’ve just moved in with my boyfriend and I love spending every evening talking with him, eating together and snuggling up. I have also joined a gym and I’m trying to find time to go 3 times a week. I’m rather enjoying it. Nothing wrong with that? Just means my focus is split. The bigger problem, I suppose, is the next issue…

Lack of confidence. Which leads to lack of drive, which is driven by lack of success in the past. My experience as an actress taught me that success in the arts is extremely hard, competitive and often unfair. I struggle to believe that anything I produce will be good enough (my naughty brain is quick to add “it hasn’t been so far”).

Lastly, I struggle to think up ideas. Or at least I tell myself I do. What’s more likely is that points 1 and 2 above prevent me from bothering to try, because if you’ve tried a few times already and you didn’t succeed, and you no longer believe you can succeed, why waste your time having ideas much less working on them?

Then I wonder: is it the wrong time to tackle the career thing? Am I in a ‘nesting’ phase and focusing on other, equally important things, such as enjoying my life for the first time in years? Enjoying such novel things as financial stability, trust and intimacy? I am not wrong to be taking my time to appreciate these new gifts in my life. I have laboured for too long under the belief that career is the main measure of ‘success’, when actually the bigger picture of ‘success’ is about inner peace, happiness and love.

But this wish for a fulfilling career is like an itch that won’t go away. A question which I can’t rest until I have the answer to! So if I want it I will have to put myself out there, front foot forward. No-one’s going to say ‘I know you haven’t gotten very far in your previous endeavours and that’s why you haven’t produced anything or don’t have any ideas, but I’m going to pay you anyway to have your own studio and produce something magical in your own time. Go”.

Although, could I produce anything good anyway? Can I pull something amazing out of the bag? I like to think so. This is only backed up by the voice I’ve always had in the back of my mind, telling me I have something special. Whether that belief was a coping mechanism I developed to deal with difficulties of my childhood, or whether its a gut instinct, I don’t know. I struggle to have blind faith the older I get. And that other factor, ‘luck’, in my experience has never been particularly forthcoming.

So then my choices seem to be: enjoy the ‘nesting’, space to think, make new discoveries about myself and about a world which has recently become more accessible to me. So far I have been happier than I have felt in years, healthier, content in myself and full of gratitude. Or, push myself, push for ideas, be disciplined, make goals, work hard. They are both positive scenarios so neither can be the wrong decision. One takes me down a comfy, gentle path. The other out of my comfort zone to fight for my place in the world, stare rejection down and dare to stake my claim. Sounds quite scary now I write it down. I can see why I choose the former!

Well I don’t have the answer yet. Intuitively I think I am going to keep snuggling for now J and naturally increase in confidence to the point I feel I have gifts to offer the world again, and I shouldn’t pressure myself in the meantime. I suppose the main thing is that success comes in many shapes and forms. If I get that career, then the moment I finally felt the confidence and belief in myself to achieve it will be a bigger success than the career itself.

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