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I’m aware that this newsletter instalment may come across as a type of misguided motivational speech, or like a Facebook comment at the end of which I’ll try and induct you into my pyramid scheme. But I’m also aware that I very rarely send a post of pure, cringey positivity, so I think I’ve earned this one.
It’s almost too serendipitous that the week after I considered giving up writing this newsletter, I received concrete proof of its worth. After six months of working on my writing, trawling Twitter for pitch calls, submitting unpaid work — today, I had a piece published in a national newspaper.
If you had told me that nine months ago, I would have laughed and then probably thrown something at you. Nine months ago I was sitting listlessly in my Brooklyn apartment, preparing to start divorce proceedings, with no career prospects and coming to terms with having to return to England with my tail between my legs, New York one big failed experiment. Next year, two books will be published with my name on the cover, credited as the translator from a language that I essentially taught myself in the last six months.
Nine months ago I was crying down the phone to my sister that I was a worthless piece of shit that no-one would ever love because I was so miserable. On Monday I walked down the street blasting Abba through my headphones, feeling the sun on my skin on the way to taking myself for a glass of wine to celebrate my undisputed victory over adversity. I have never felt so fucking powerful in my life.
I think so many people get stuck in miserable situations because they think that’s what’s life is about. And of course, life is miserable sometimes. But beyond the huge, force majeure events like death or illness, I’ve always believed there isn’t much that is beyond your control to change. You don’t have to stay in a job if it isn’t working for you. You don’t have to stay in a relationship that was once happy but no longer is. I’m obviously not saying that making changes to years-long patterns is easy — it took a lot of fucking hard work and a huge pay cut and working three jobs to achieve the things I listed above. It took a lot of grit and a lot of not-giving-up. It wasn’t easy. But fuck me, was it worth it.
Here comes the motivational speech part: if you want to do something, go and do it. Work out how to do it, and then do it. If it doesn’t come easily, try another way. If you’re staying in a relationship out of material concerns, or worries about having to find an apartment or get a divorce or move cities or WHATEVER, then leave. Life admin is shit. It’s one of the shittest things in the world. But it can be done. I did it. Anyone who spoke to me during that time can attest that it fucking sucked. Let’s not forget that infamous to-do list of mine: 1) get divorced. 2) rest of life. But I did it. I got divorced. And now I’m doing the rest of my life.
It's really easy to not try something out of fear of rejection, or imposter syndrome, or myriad other reasons. It is always going to be easier to not try at all than to try and fail. But what kind of life is that?
Nine months ago my life was in tatters. Now it’s fucking amazing. Pick yourself off the fucking floor and do what you want to do. Not to sound too much like Kim Kardashian and her infamous ‘nobody wants to work these days’, but this is not the kind of thing you can outsource. You have to fucking do it yourself.
As a tweet I once saw said (which I’m not going to look up and therefore am not crediting but hopefully saying this is enough of a plagiarism disclaimer), if Donald Trump can become president, literally anyone can do anything.
One good thing:
Also going to use this section to do an Oscars-style acceptance speech where I thank some people who made this fucking amazing thing happen: to K, who told me to start this newsletter in the first place, without which I wouldn’t have got in the habit of writing again; to my sister, who reads, praises and critiques everything I’ve ever written; to A, who said she’s going to frame this article; to R, who reads my newsletter out to her parents every week; and to everyone else who has read my writing and scraped me off the floor when I couldn’t get up. You’re all the greatest.
One bad thing: