30 Things I Haven’t Done:
1. I have never tried heroin.
2. I have never been in a helicopter.
3. I have never been to China.
4. I have never been skydiving.
5. I have never had sex in a car.
6. I have never knowingly killed any animal bigger than an insect.
7. I have never been in a jungle.
8. I have never swum with dolphins.
9. I have never done jury service.
10. I have never been married.
11. I have never had children.
12. I have never ridden a motorbike.
13. I have never seen a dead body.
14. I have never shot a gun.
15. I have never sent an unsolicited dick pic. (Except to Sean Preston of Open Pen, and it was flaccid and non-sexual so this doesn’t count. Needless to say, though, he was impressed.)
16. I have never swum naked in the sea.
17. I have never done yoga without having a panic attack.
18. I have never been to the Isle of Wight.
19. I have never been on the Croydon tram.
20. I have never stood for elected office.
21. I have never knowingly smuggled.
22. I have never had sex with a man.
23. I have never had – what I would consider – a one-night stand.
24. I have never been a member of a gym.
25. I have never, if I’m being honest, understood the hype around “craft beer”.
26. I have never eaten a steak or jamón ibérico or ‘ndjua or venison or any other “fancy” meat product. Or any seafood, except prawns and one oyster.
27. I have never broken a major bone (I have broken a toe, and I got neither a cast nor sympathy, so it doesn’t count.)
28. I have never been in a car crash.
29. I have never been fired from a job, though I probably should’ve been a couple of times…
30. I have never really felt completely comfortable or relaxed anywhere.
30 Things I Have Done:
1. I have seen vineyards and olive groves.
2. I have bought myself a dog who I love.
3. I have got a book of poetry coming out soon. (preorder here because it’s my birthday and, honestly, it’s a good book: www.openpen.co.uk/buy)
4. I have been skinny-dipping (though, as I said, not in the sea).
5. I have travelled alone to beautiful places.
6. I have eaten crocodile, zebra and antelope (a long time ago), and more recently I ate sheep’s brain, which I hated (obviously).
7. I have consistently tried to not be a sanctimonious prick about my vegetarianism.
8. I have made many wonderful, caring, kind, generous, funny, intelligent and non-dickhead friends. (NB: all readers of TriumphoftheNow.com are considered friends.
9. I think I’ve pretty much managed to cut all the people who aren’t nice out of my life.
10. I have accrued medium-sized debts due to, while in a period of severe depression, buying a boat to live on that turned out to be structurally unsound. Lol. Classic me.
11. I have read loads and loads and loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of incredible books. And quite a few shit ones.
12. I have maintained this blog for over five years, sustaining and maintaining my core readership in an increasingly fragmented marketplace.
13. I have, begrudgingly, come to terms with my masculinity and my heterosexuality.
14. I performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. A long time ago and very badly, but I fucking did it.
15. I have appeared on BBC3 talking about hair loss (and also did a vlog for Huffington Post).
16. I have learnt how to cook meals that I really enjoy eating.
17. I have been scuba-diving one time lol.
18. I have learnt how empty the glamour of luxury is, and I think that knowledge – not opinion, knowledge – is going to make the rest of my life easier.
19. I have been bullied, over and over again by lots of different people, and I am scared that, no matter how much stronger I feel now, this is something I’ll experience throughout my life, but fuck it, I’m not getting regularly bullied by anyone at the moment, so that’s nice.
20. I have a mature, adult, friendship with my sister, which pleases me.
21. I have been able to make an emotional connection with my father, which I had never thought I’d get to do.
22. I have learnt a foreign language to a passable level, however the fact that this is a notable achievement draws attention to the small-minded, navel-gazing dull emptiness of my middle England origins.
23. I have become, I suppose, wise. At least wise to myself. I’ve become better at understanding myself.
24. I have been in and out of therapy for about a decade, and this has helped me.
25. I have accepted that I need to be on anti-depressants to feel OK, and that’s fine, that’s not something to be ashamed of (like being bald).
26. I’ve learnt to drive.
27. I’ve gained a good working knowledge of wine, lol, because I am just old enough to remember who drank “craft beer” before it became fashionable and, much like heroin, it will forever be an unaspirational life choice.
28. I’ve completed two degrees, though I haven’t really had a job where either of them matter.
29. I have come to understand the value of emotional expression, the fallacy of presumed care and the importance of listening to your gut fucking instincts, especially in regards to meeting people you think are fundamentally unkind.
30. I have learnt that wanting things isn’t inherently bad, and that the only way to get things that you want is to know what they are, and to try. Life is easier if you try. Try. Try Try Try.
That is what I have learnt how to do, and what I want to continue doing: trying. There are many dickheads in the world, but I’m not one and though, yes, dickheads are mean to me with some regularity, fuck ’em: I know, now, that just because someone behaves like they’re “better than me”, it doesn’t mean they are. In fact, going around behaving like you’re “better than people” means you’re probably a worthless piece of shit.
I’m thirty years olf now, which means I’m definitively no longer “young”, just “youngish”. And I’m trying. I’m trying every day. Me and my dog are gonna have ourselves a nice little life. I know who I am and I know what I want. And maybe it’s not what nasty voices in my head (and real life) have told me I “should” want, but (again): fuck ’em. Don’t tell other people how to live. Don’t presume the way you have chosen to live is the right way to live. My new life wouldn’t suit many people, but it’s my life and I want it and I’m going to have it.
Here’s to this big, significant, birthday, and here’s a promise to myself to listen less to dickheads and listen more to myself. I recommend you all do the same, and if you’re reading this and know you’re a dickhead, maybe listening a bit more to yourself might help you become a nicer – and then happier – individual.
Everyone can be better. Especially people who think they can’t.
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