Where Do We Go From Here?

As the days turn to weeks and months, just tumbling from the calendar, I begin to wonder again what it is I want from life.

I am happy with my partner. It has brought a new dimension of contentment to life. But it has brought itself other worries. Money is never far from the equation; there just isn’t enough of it. A year ago I was earning about £3.5k net per month, if not better some months. These days it’s more like a few hundred pounds, and most of that is going to my partner. Not that he needs lots of money, but it’s just a more efficient way of dividing income. The tax advantages of partnership.

But as someone who was used to seeing regular steps forward, I now have a different perspective on life. It is now more like a single block of shitness, one month to the next, and then moving forward in one great leap. The trouble with this new model is I find it hard to keep myself motivated day by day…

I still worry that am going to change my mind one day, or decide that what I really need is my independence back, or, more probably, find myself completely bored of everything once again and find some desperate way to institute a change.

Right now I catch a fleeting few minutes of time on my own in the office. I am never without my partner. He is here in work with me. He is at home with me. We go out together everywhere. We just never leave each other’s side. I actually love it. It’s like us being a tag team for everything. I never thought I’d find constant contact so enjoyable.

But it probably isn’t healthy long-term. I leave the room for too long and my partner gets stressed. Vice versa is mostly true too, though I think I have a more balanced view on things. Mostly, the trouble is because my partner is a bit insecure about himself, his looks, etc. He feels the need for affirmation on a daily basis, and on bad days, more often…

I don’t know whether this will end badly. I am not at all unhappy with it right now. A tiny bit of me is sad that I never did achieve the sexual freedom that I longed to do so whilst I was “on the market” – but, then again, all I need to do is remind myself of the tragically dumb ways in which I handled my emotions back then, and suddenly I decide the grass is definitely greener on my side of the fence.

This is what my life is right now. It feels like I’ve reached a point where I could stay for a little while, but there are so many things that are actually just a little bit disappointing. Work. Life. Sex. Rest. Holidays. Partner. Money. Family. Truth. They are all things that are letting me down in some way…

I can ignore them all for now. But some of them will need to improve.

Where Is It Going?

The question on my mind the past week has been where the hell my life is going.

This week has probably been one of my best weeks since I started business. Several hundreds of pounds of profit, all from doing not very much at all. Laid end to end, you’re not talking more than three days of the week. But that’s never the way the cookie crumbles, so I suppose that’s not relevant.

And yet it feels like it’s been quiet. It feels like I haven’t had enough work, and that at any moment the whole thing is going to stop dead. And it probably will.

When it does, I’ll go out leafleting once more. And that in turn will, hopefully, get things moving again.

Unsurprisingly, this vision of my future has left me feeling a little… underwhelmed.

The real reason why I’m starting to worry is that the past couple of weeks have, despite profit, been a considerable disappointment. Several major leads in quick succession have failed. On all of those I had pinned many hopes that the business was going to start evolving into one that had important contracts with other businesses, thus providing me with a stable income, a solid platform to build from, and, with success more success will follow.

But none of that will now happen.

I’m sort of back to the drawing board. Until I get something like that, I will not feel like progress is being made. Doing odd jobs for home customers is all well and good, and earns me cash, but it is not secure, and it makes me feel like a bit of a spare part, who can do a few tricks with Windows. My work is valued, my customers like the service, but I don’t feel “valued” in a professional sense. Only other businesses can truly appreciate that.

I am ambitious for the future, but don’t want to wait. I feel like I’ve spent enough of my life waiting around for things to happen. But what can I do? I want the rate of progress to increase, but it is so slow it’s unbearable. I worry that I’ll still be in this exact position in a year’s time. That will be another year of my life gone, and still waiting for things to improve.

Maybe this is what life is like. Maybe I’m one of these people who will never be satisfied. That whatever happens, it’s happened too late, too slowly and not in a way that makes me feel like I’m heading somewhere.

A part of me says I should quit whinging and be grateful. But that would be succuming to fatalism, something I don’t believe in. I am in control of my destiny.

Except I’m not fully. I can do my part to get the word out, but whether people respond is another matter…

Still, it beats working nights in a petrol station.

The Line In The Sand

Last week I decided that the end would happen in March. The end being defined as the point at which my patience for business, and my new house, will run out.

I told this to my housemate, who was understanding. He tried to say that if I do get to a point of giving up in March, I should instead look to find a job in my new house down south. But I don’t think it’ll work.

The reason being is that the whole purpose of the move was to do a joint business venture with him. None of that has happened. We were supposed to be working on various websites, and a website design and construction business. Hasn’t happened. He has no interest in it, despite insisting he does every time. He also claims that he does have time to do it, but I’ve pointed out to him and told him many times that he simply doesn’t, and I understand.

Otherwise, every time we come up with an idea, it falls on its arse within minutes because of a lack of time on his part.

I knew this would happen, but I hoped it wouldn’t. I don’t know how many times I’ve fallen for him suggesting an idea, or saying he has something ready for me, which never actually happens.

And it has happened again lately. He’s been banging on for ages about forming a partnership with a shop in town which sells printer cartridges but doesn’t do PC repairs. He finally got round to approaching them, and told me he sounded very positive and drafted a suggested e-mail for me to send to the owner.

I did.

And nothing has happened.

Nothing ever happens. Every time I try something, the response is poor. 150 leaflets, four customers, two of which did not even receive the leaflet but had passed it on. There just seems to be no way in.

I’m not really sure what I can do any more. Short of wasting vast sums of cash on advertising, most of which will be wasted, I don’t know how anyone breaks into any sector in business.

Anyway, this disaster is why I don’t want to stay living with the current housemate if the business venture doesn’t take off. I have no intention of just having a normal life living there. It’s too weird. It was meant to be a stepping stone to something bigger. None of that has happened.

So three months to go before I decide whether to join the real world, accept that I’m just another tedious, boring person with nothing special to offer, and clog up the arteries of the world in yet another office.

Bloody hell. What a shit year I’ve had.

Where Did It Go Wrong?

I spent yesterday travelling North, as I’m going to stay home for Christmas now. And beyond into the New Year.

During the trip, I had a little chat with my housemate. One in which I disclosed a number of the depressing issues I’ve been battling with over the past few weeks.

Key amongst them is my brain is plagued with regret. It’s all rubbish, of course, and my rational brain knows it. For all I know, I could have taken a different course and still been miserable. Still been wishing I had done something else.

I like to look back and think that maybe I should have done something musical as a career. I enjoy performance, and I like being involved in group efforts. Perhaps I should have stuck to one of my very first plans, which was to do TV, music, film, theatre, whatever production. In my school career I did a lot of backstage work on a number of plays, and I loved them all. I did it again earlier this year, and loved it.

But I still don’t know whether it would have satisfied me. I would no doubt have been still thinking about the political side of me, and thinking I should have done that as a career, since, I wouldn’t have had the joy of the hindsight I currently experience, that there is no way I could do or even survive politics for very long. I find it interesting, but more as a hobby than as a way of life, which is what you need to be in public affairs.

What else could I have done? Science, yes. I abandoned that aspect of me at the end of GCSEs, for no good reason really. I enjoyed the sciences. But I wanted to pursue something else.

Mathematics? That might have been more me. I did do a Maths A-Level, though I found it difficult and feared I wouldn’t make the grade in university. i probably would have, as I normally succeed academically once I put my mind to it. Who knows. It’s all academic now.

That’s what depresses me, though. I look back at all these choices I made, and I made every single one without any real consideration of where I was going. Big mistake. Back then life seemed so full of promise in every angle, and to me my mind was simply saying, “no matter what you pick you will make it work”. I used to be filled with optimism, endless glowing teacher reports, so much confidence that I really did have the raw talent to succeed no matter what I turned to. I wrote something about this last year.

Totally wrong. And none of these decisions can be revisited now. My friend suggested maybe doing music qualifications to see. But it’s just not worth it. I’d only be doing them because I wanted to prove I could. It wouldn’t go anywhere. I wouldn’t suddenly emerge in a new career. Life isn’t like that.

The problem is that I thought it was. Maybe I grew up in an innocent age where it seemed like everything was succeeding and I would be immediately spotted and plucked out to rise to greatness. Now, with the disastrous economy and closing of opportunities, everything seems so much darker and unachievable.

I like to think that maybe if I had grown up in a middle class family, with the right contacts and connections, and the money, I would have got the breaks I needed.

But that just sounds so awful. I have nothing but love for my family. They did their very best with me. The rest I have to do myself.

I just don’t feel like I can do it any more. Confidence, zapped.

Happy Christmas.

Where Did The Year Go?

It’s hard for me to look back on this year. 2009 has turned out to be a year of real change for me. Yet nothing has really changed all that much.

For instance, right now I’m writing this post while sitting in my parents’ house. All this in spite of the fact that I allegedly moved out of the parental home in October. I think, with hindsight, this was a bad move. So far the transition to living away and trying to make a living of my own has been a total failure.

Hence why I’m here. Indeed, the main reason why I’m back in the old home right now is that I’ve had loads of work to do this week. Work that has paid me some cash and will definitely see me through Christmas. I could have had a lot more if I’d stayed here, I’m sure.

But on the other hand, I had to go. I needed change. I needed a break. I just wish I hadn’t move somewhere so far away and so inaccessible.

This has been the biggest change this year. My life is now on its head. Split across a couple of hundred miles. Travelling all the bloody time.

And yet, I don’t really know why the year has gone so quickly. In truth, it has been a year of inactivity. With so much time to spare, and so little actually done in it, I should have been bored out of my mind, sitting here watching the clock.

There has been a bit of that, but broadly speaking time has flown by. It has been frustrating and immensely depressing, but it hasn’t mattered. Time has gone.

At the start of the year I knew it would be important. I remember saying as much to my fellow New Year revellers. But I don’t think I’ll truly know the significance of this year until I can look back on it in a few years time. Whether this was a false start, and a waste of money. Or whether it was the stepping stone to turning myself into the entrepreneur that right now exists in my dreams only.

I keep setting myself deadlines at which I need to have achieved X. They come and go, without me achieving anything. But I still don’t feel brave enough to scrap the current gamble and accept I really ought to live an ordinary life like other people, rather than sitting, waiting for customers.

It depresses me too much. That alone should make me reconsider. I once thought I was a fan of change, exciting, different things happening each day. But I also long for a bit of stability and predictability. And more predictability than being able to confidently predict that today would, yet again, be a lost day.

There’s something seriously wrong with me. I have no motivation any more. I am filled with depressing thoughts constantly. A feeling of total inadequacy.

And I don’t want to do anything about it.

2009 has been a great let down. Maybe it was for the best that it’s gone so quickly.

Now all that’s left is to hope that I’m not too down over Christmas. That would be extremely difficult for me.

Payment By Results

In my line of work, there really is no other pay other than performance-related. To try to encourage customers I don’t charge if I can’t solve their problem.

In fact, that has never happened. I have always been able to fix it. And, without a doubt, much cheaper than what they would have had to pay if they’d gone to PC World for the same service. And I work much faster than them too.

But, when it comes to the world of cleaning, all results are not equal. I get paid £6/hour for the brief two hour stint I do every morning, almost regardless of how much effort I put in. Sadly, I am much too conscientious to be a slacker, and do the most half-arsed job possible while still picking up my wages.

No, instead I toil and do everything I’m asked to do to a bloody high standard. So much so that many of the staff there have started commenting, “I wouldn’t be bothered with that” when I started cleaning a urinal, and “she was crap anyway” about the cleaner whose job it is I’m covering.

It’s just in my nature, unfortunately. It means I’m always taken advantage of when I work for other people. I can’t help but put in more effort than necessary to complete a task. I just like to see things done properly.

It’s also one of the reasons why I’m desperate to make working for myself succeed. Because, as far as self-employment is concerned, hard work is invariably rewarded in some way. Either through customer satisfaction, extra pay, extra tips, or better, recommendations via word-of-mouth. Which, as all businesses know, is the publicity money simply can’t buy. Even better, that hard work directly benefits me. It doesn’t line someone else’s pocket.

But around these parts, when work is scarce (as it, sadly, is again this week) I have to find things to do to keep me occupied. Before I started my cleaning job, one of the things I would invariably do is clean up here.

But now… by the time I get home, iron my clothes, have a shower and get dressed, it’s virtually lunch time. Once that’s done, I have a couple of hours before my brother and sister get home from school. I used to do a lot more in this time cleaning-wise.

Now, I really can’t be bothered. I can’t imagine anything worse than doing cleaning and not getting paid for it! At least when I’ve got my hands in the khazi in work there is some financial reward for doing so. Here? Not a chance. Not even any appreciation.

In any case, I don’t really have much energy left. After a five mile round trip to work, on top of the physical effort, I’m pretty much done for the day. So I’ve dropped to doing the bare minimum to keep my mum quiet.

Still, it’s more than was done during the summer holidays. The house has been a bit of a mess for the last six weeks. It’s been nice to get a bit of peace back…

Holding Pattern

So I’ve spent the last week considering very carefully what my next move in life should be.

The problems outlined in my previous post still remain, and are no nearer to being solved. In fact, each day they go on drives me just a little bit more insane. Will I ever see my passport again? What a stupid bastard I was to hand it over in the first place.

But there has been a modicum of success business wise lately. Yes, I can’t believe it either. I’ve sold three PCs, all about the same time. How can this be? How can people suddenly arrive with requests for PCs all at the same time? Life is very weird. But all of these orders have now been fulfilled… with only minor farce resulting from the delayed arrival of one hard drive.

Then, as I fully expect, all will return to silence again. The phone will stop ringing. The e-mails will not arrive. All that will be left is just me. Sitting. Waiting. Wishing. As Jack Johnson sang. Good tune that.

Over the weekend just gone I had a meeting with a friend of mine. It was mostly to talk business… because he and I have big plans in formation. I’m fed up with life here. He’s fed up with his life. It just so happens that our talents and plans have co-incided for the first time in our lives. He’s been made redundant. I’ve been sitting around doing naff all for well over a year. Perfect!

We think we may be able to do my business and do it properly. Combining beautifully with his new media talents. Oh, and his ability to drive. And some new territory. Up North, no one really seems to care about computers. Down South… well, maybe it’s more likely to be the Land of Milk and Honey. And silicon.

This plan would involve me moving down South. Permanently. Well, permanently if it works. If it doesn’t work I’ll be back home by the time six months is up. But I’m prepared to take this gamble.

I’m starting to feel old. I’m starting to feel like my opportunities to take big gambles with my life are shrinking. I need to be doing something productive with my time, something that is genuinely going to be able to make me live a life. A life that’s actually worth living. Not like now.

Perhaps the stresses of having bills to pay and obligations will focus my mind, make me work harder at it. Because I know full well that I’ve not really given this my all. Partly through not being prepared to risk much. But also my lack of transportation and not wanting to put more upon my parents.

That’s another reason why I have to leave. I really must get out from under their feet. I’m no bother. I help out a lot. But I need to move on. They understand. I’m too big for the nest now.

Let’s just see what happens.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It’s a truism of my life that I can sit at home for days, enjoying the nice weather, but then when I’m actually required to do something, actually go somewhere, the weather will turn.

And so it has came to pass again this morning. The rain is pounding away on the roof above me, and I’m sitting here desperately hoping that it will stop by 11am – the time I need to be heading out of here.

It’s been a desperate few days. Not only have we been dealing with my brother’s broken nose, and the nightmare of trying to get the police interested (even though we have a photo of the perpetrator, his name, contact details and CCTV footage!), but in my own life there have been the usual turns for the worse.

Number 1 – I have wasted a significant degree of time chasing after people and applying for jobs that either a) don’t exist; or b) were already sewn up. I’ve tried to secure some part-time work recently, including applying for an old job I once did. Now my calls aren’t returned, and in any case it was their turn to reply after I’d jumped through all the hoops. If they’re not bothered, then fuck them. I’ve had enough of being pleasant to people only to get it thrown back in my face. It is any wonder why I want to be self-employed properly? I hate sucking up to bosses – “Oh yes, I really want this job because it will be a wonderful challenge for me and I want to work for such an outstanding company that will help me develop as an individual!”. Bullshit. You want the job because you need the cash and you’re sick and tired of watching Flog It! and Jeremy Kyle.

Number 2 – the football club seems to be heading into ruin because of the incident, and ongoing traumas which were enhanced still further on Saturday. Not only is it a logistical nightmare, but the so-called “kids” were playing against (many of them are overage) are thugs and have no class. Same goes for the managers. Then there is the problem of leagues threatening to go renegade and quit the local FA structures. Total nightmare, and all because of a few egos and the low level of intelligence that most people running football clubs and leagues have.

Number 3 – due to my brother’s broken nose, I have assumed all his responsibilities for delivering his newspaper round. Yes, that does mean I take his pay, but for £20 it’s a lot of pissing around. For instance, today I’m going to a job, then coming home to do the paper round, then going back out to do another job. Lunacy. But it has to be done, and no one else can do it.

Number 4 – my elder sister is a constant source of agony and woe to us all, but particularly my mum, who feels like she has to help her do everything, from pay her bills, to finding her a new place to live.

And in the midst of all this, there are birthdays and Father’s Day. They’re meant to be happy, joyous occasions. But no one feels like celebrating anything because of the continuous compounding of misery we’ve suffered the past two weeks or so.

I despair. I really do. I wish I had good news to report, but there just never seems to be any. The only good news is that at least I’m fit and healthy. Not everyone can say that.