Sunday, 21 August 2016

Life in the hot-house

The new Dolly Parton album, released on Friday and well worth an hour of anybody's time has a song called 'Never Not Love You' which opens with the fantastic and Partonesque lines;
'I may not climb Mount Everest, 
win praise in others eyes, 
I may not win the Lottery, 
or win the Pulitzer Prize...' 
It's a pretty wide list of things, I'll admit. I don't know if anybody has done all four, and if they have I'd like to meet them - but it's a pretty rare thing nowadays, to list things that you probably won't succeed in. It felt fitting because for the past two weeks, we've all rightly been celebrating the incredible sporting achievement of hundreds of athletes who are doing things that most of us never will.

It's a well-trodden joke now, but I won't lie to you. Yesterday I found myself criticising Tom Daley's pike position, but it was a fleeting comment made between combing my social media accounts and eating crisps. I'd love to be somebody who didn't recognise the irony of it all, but I'm not. Like Dolly, I think we'd all do well sometimes to recognise the things that we're good at and the things we're not and try and find joy in that.

But Jesus, is it hard.

More and more lately, I feel like my generation (it may not be my generation explicitly) have grown up in a bit of a hot-house. Within an hour of waking up, I'll have realised that I can't sing like Cynthia Erivo, I'm not celebrating the birth of my first child, I haven't just been promoted at work, I'm not having a hashtag-epic time on a mini-break in New York and unlike Kim K, whilst my arse might do many things it's never going to break the internet.

From New Labour's target that 50% should get (and pay for) a University education, to The X Factor's third-place SHAME of having to go back to NORMAL LIFE - getting by and doing good has never been undervalued so much. You have to be amazing, or worse, 'awesome'. If Mo Farrah can win the double double, then who on earth am I?

Well, here's an answer. I'm somebody who is trying hard and doing alright. I hold down a job and I do it well. I go to the gym. I manage to not be an absolute shit to people working in shops, which as I know, isn't a gift everybody is blessed with. I try and make time for people and sometimes I succeed. I'm a great laugh at a party, and I try and let other people get a word in edgeways after I've had a few wines.

None of this means that I begrudge anybody their success. If you have a baby and you're proud of it and you want to plaster the wrinkly little bugger all over Facebook, I'm joyous for you and you should do it. If you've passed your Driving Test, you rake in the likes all day long - you deserve it. When I reached my weight loss target, basking in the social media afterglow was bloody well delicious. The problem is, nobody ever posts on Facebook when they've had a bit of a cry and they're feeling better, thanks. Nobody posts on Facebook when they're treating themselves to a brownie because its a Thursday. Nobody posts on Facebook when they've successfully talked themselves into going to work. And let me tell you, if you did post those things, Facebook would probably filter the hell out of them.

It's all fine - we just need to be more aware of it. I'm not about to go all pious and say I'm deleting my apps and putting on a bonnet and waiting for my husband to come home - what's the bet that if I deleted Twitter, Justin Bieber would totally get his thing out again, and hell, we're all human. But we all need to have in mind that it's all really warping. My Facebook feed is a neat little digest of 600-odd people's 'best bits' reels, it's just that they're all playing concurrently. Just as one person is celebrating their wedding, another has passed an exam, another is at the best party, like, ever... and I'm sitting on the 184 back to Radstock trying desperately not to breathe in the fumes of the poor bastard in front of me.

I'm 24, I'm paid pretty well to meet people all day long and try and save them money on their banking, savings and insurance. That money pays the bills, it pays for holidays and it'll pay for my wedding next year. My life isn't an endless whirl of glamour, but I'm getting through the days and I've got prospects.

If you, like me, have spent too many hours scrolling through Facebook feeling like chopped liver while everyone else is out living their best life, just remember that whilst Dolly's right, and we may not win the Lottery or the Pulitzer Prize - we're getting on with shit and we're doing alright. A big pat on the back to you, my friends.

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