Welcome to the waxing lyrical series in 2016. I did a small number of these posts last year and have decided to change things up this year. The series is now open to any creative (writers, artists, publishers, editors, musicians etc) who want to air their opinions on the creative industries, from any perspective. If you are interested in contributing please contact email@example.com for more information. The only real rule is no personal attacks, we don’t have to agree with you but we won’t support attacking a person or group of people.
Without further ado, Alec McQuay with some thoughts on positivity and support in the new year. It’s a bit sweary in places.
What if I told you… by Alec McQuay
Today, I’m going to have a little moan. Not about the gym, or at least not SPECIFICALLY about the gym, but on the subject of support.
It’s January at the time of writing this and the hills are alive with the sound of lives turning around, glass ceilings being smashed, goals being set and demons conquered and honestly, I think it’s brilliant. Even if a lot of the things people are promising themselves never come to fruition they’ve at least made that important first step of realising they’ve got a problem, or that there’s something in their lives that they want or something they wish to strive for. Say what you like about resolutions but pretty much everyone who achieves anything begins with that knowledge.
Now, that cheeky little meme up there. I find it funny, but it also irritates the living crap out of me, and not just because the lack of a question mark. Online and out in the wild I hear two things very often that tie into that poster for me. The first is that a person is unhappy with their health, fitness, weight or appearance and the other is that a person “has a book in them” or is struggling with their writing, getting published, getting a published book sold or whatever. That’s just my circle of friends and relations and your mileage will vary, but I’d bet good money against bad that we have something in our lives that people around us wish they could achieve. It might be signing up to the Open University, or learning to draw, learning a new language, getting a promotion, moving to a bigger house so they can finally have a baby, finally having two pennies to scratch their ass with…
There isn’t always anything you can do, but don’t hold other people back. It takes confidence to make a change in your life and that can be in short supply for some, for some people it’s never in anything but short supply, so when they finally do something the last thing they need is shit to make it harder. Especially from the people they call friends.
I’m not saying you have to take an interest in things that bore you senseless, but if you’ve got nothing constructive to add, would it kill you to just keep scrolling? If someone tells you they’ve finally managed to finish their manuscript, that’s not your moment to tell them you’ve always wanted to write a book but don’t have the time, or any one of the other bullshit excuses I’ve ever heard. Writing a book is hard for a lot of people and when they finally skid over the finish line, their radiator bursts, oil shoots into the air and all their wheels fall off, that’s their moment. It’s not yours. Back the fuck up a bit. You can have your turn later. Not now, Bernard.
Before you make some comment about “What if I told you you can go to the gym / dinner / on a date / get drunk / read a book / write a book / go to a movie / pass your degree / survive childbirth / teach your kid to ride a bike / complete Mortal Kombat without losing a single life (yeah right) / pass your driving test / learn Mandarin without telling Facebook about it,” try to remember that the people you put down today might well be the people you want support from in the future. Try to remember that what isn’t important to you might be the most important thing in another person’s life and that every now and then, all it takes is one last shitty, passive-aggressive, inconsiderate comment from someone to bring the whole house of cards tumbling down on them.
Chances are, there’s something you love that I would think was pretty stupid, but what do I know? I’m a 30 year old man who watches cartoons, plays with toy soldiers, thinks picking up heavy things is entertaining and emotionally fulfilling and writes stories in his spare (ha, “spare”) time. Try and be a bit supportive of people if you can, and if you can’t?
Jog the fuck on.