The symptoms: easily distracted, trying to focus on everything and nothing, seeking a divine inspiration or spiritual awakening for focus. Typically I spot the signs early (wanting to pound my boyfriend’s face when he speaks, making eye contact with the teenage gaggle on the bus like I’m ‘She-Ra’ and screaming obscenities through the car window when drivers ahead of me don’t move the instant the light turns green), taking immediate steps to remedy the situation. This time it’s crept up and I’ve unwittingly (that’s a code word for lazily) ignored it, bogged down with fending off the usual headaches of life, that I didn't want to recognise my growing disdain for myself.
I have always been gregarious, in fact as a kid I was outright bodacious; I’d go as far as bad ass. I marched (never walked) with focus and intent, never letting my shortcomings de-rail my goals. At 16 I loved fashion. So I decided to host a fashion show in aid of charity. Such was my dogged determination I wrote mercilessly to head offices, beguiled store managers and even coerced the local club manager for space in his venue in exchange for a mention in the local paper - an article I was yet to secure when I made him the offer. The result was two spectacular sold out shows with over 20 high street retailers and front page of the local paper. I did the same again a few years later, this time having established my own business. At 18 I went to America for three months over summer to work and escape my mother. To ensure a lasting memory I jumped out of a plane - supposedly for fun. Then university in London where I went to every ‘it club’ around, watched footballers pour over blond anorexics with fake boobs and drank the lemonade (yes I was still tee total) offered by the Nigerian fraudsters my friends were dating at the time. We holidayed in Milan and New York, buying Gucci and Versace (ten years on I'm still paying off the student loan) and then returned home to our flat in central London. At 25 I bought a house. Today I leave for work at 6.45am and return home around 7pm after an epic 2 hour commute across London. It’s a stable but uninspiring job which enables me to pay the mortgage on my flat in a dodgy part of south London. I occasionally do an aerobics video when I get in (can’t afford the gym) and am in bed by 10pm. This has been the sum total of my life for months. The sky diving, Gucci and dancing on tables in China White is a distant memory.
Step one of my journey towards a ‘new me’ is to find childless friends with a wealth of interesting witty banter, living wild, inappropriate and somewhat dysfunctional lives. I’m still young for goodness sake. I’m done hearing about sleep times, feeding routines and fear of stitching (in areas no one but God should know of); no I don’t watch One Born Every Minute and whether it’s a girl or boy brings me no joy, only the dread of another blasted receipt for yet another overpriced baby grow that will within days be a perpetual shade of brown. Give me a story about inappropriate sex with a psychotic schizophrenic rapper (who is a genius – ‘so his crazy tendencies can be forgiven’: my friends words, not mine), a soliloquy about the role of gender bias in the Great Gatsby or a giggle over Vin Diesel’s muscles over baby chat any day.
In the past to combat my aimlessness I’ve turned to writing. In fact my first ever blog arose from one of my worst periods of disillusionment - Mid twenties, manless, in a no-where job with no room for progression (or a pay increase), in a flat I couldn’t afford, having no sex - despite my very sexy flatmate and basically wishing away my youth. I wrote about the one place from which I drew most frustration yet fulfilment; where I was destined to be shocked appalled, mesmerised and most of all entertained: my hair dresser in the depths of London’s blackest (ergo poorest) neighbourhood. It was great fun and the regularity of my posts gave me focus. At other times I’ve turned to sport. I joined a women’s boxing club one summer, when the size of my arse become unbearable. It was invigorating. As I pummelled a bag or the ribs of my sparring partner- the comments of 'wouldn't want to cross you in a dark alley’ or ‘your man must be scared of you’ from the menfolk were inspired.
Rekindling these hobbies is a pragmatic start but wall climbing, swimming, running or boxing is not going to nourish my soul. They are distractions from the bigger quandary of seeking a purpose…
Distraction: My pal Kerry calls. We spend an hour talking about her loathing for hideous job where the vastly male workforce take it upon themselves to scratch inappropriately in her presence, fart and then laugh without the slightest hint of embarrassment or tell her, her ‘tits look big - it must be her time of the month’. Her title is Project Manager, but she is only given the projects that no one else wants to deal with and then her boss takes the glory upon completion, having not even deigned to respond to her initial requests for a thorough brief at the onset. One of the bitchy men even started a rumour that she was having an affair simply because she went for a walk a few times a week with a colleague to rant about how underutilised she felt at work. This is a woman who desperately needs more out of life. Hopefully her three week road trip around America will help with perspective. It’s time to go, a new beginning beckons or I fear a claim of sexual harassment as the only viable alternative.
What about a language? Hmm I got a D in my French GCSE – despite crediting myself with a B on my CV - That’s what too much time down the alley with the smokers does for you. Or dance? Does the fact that I was the worst Azonto dancer (bar my dad) in Accra last Christmas stand in my way? I seem to have lost my rhythm around the time I stopped distinguishing the words in popular songs and thought it easier to make up my own e.g. Drake’s ‘On one’ could easily be mistaken for ‘Home grown’ which when you think about it is far more logical. Then there is my favourite option, trampolining Seriously, I would love to hurl myself in the air, twirling occasionally and landing in perfect symmetry only to do it all again, this time higher. But to be in gymnastics class with children, inevitably better than me would be a tad embarrassing. My father would tell me to do something that would derive an income. ‘An entrepreneur turns her hobby into a viable business proposition’, he would say. He’s right –maybe I could set up a trampoling school for adults?
I’m not really sure how to conclude. Life is tough and as you get older the glamour of your youth fades? Bulshit, your thirties are the best years of your life, so it’s time that I wake up, stop pondering and create some memories. It’s time to dust off my clear heels, because dancing on the table is back on the agenda