I wrote this poem based on what a teacher asked me, about my future. I was not doing well in school and this teacher asked what am I going to do when I leave, if I don’t receive qualifications and achieve my exams, what will I do? And you know when you’re a kid, so many adults want to know what you have planned for the future and I think in particular when you are a teenager, you have to make decisions based on – what? We change and grow so much as teenagers. To then spend our twenties trying to undo a lot of damage from pursuing the wrong things. And I have always known I am a writer, someone who creates stories. I don’t know at what point I learnt that was not the correct response, that being a writer was unrealistic and unlikely to achieve success. Success to the adults seemed to be money and status. I think my perception of success become skewed and I became very stressed trying to pursue employment in a sector that was only harmful for me. It carries more weight to empower people by encouraging them, telling them that they can do something. When you add in the complication of having anxiety and depression, I imagined leaving school after exams was tantamount to walking off a cliff. I was going to spend the rest of my life in my bedroom, pretending that I didn’t exist and hoping that someone would help point me in the right direction. I was 15 years old when I left school, I was one of the youngest because I’m a summer baby, and that’s a small number of years to be alive. 15 years old and I knew I hadn’t a future. I don’t think it is meant to be that way.
I wrote this poem when I was 17 or 18 and I didn’t feel like I got it right then. It wasn’t a poem I felt compelled to put right. I guess I have always been a solitary person. I was a pushover as a kid and so shy and sensitive, it was painful and not having a great deal of personality or confidence, I probably wasn’t the easiest of kids to be friends with. It isn’t something I find is easy, making friends. I learnt to do as I was told and bend over backwards to accommodate somebody, because that’s how I thought friendships worked and to keep them, I had to do shit I wasn’t comfortable with. To be honest, I didn’t want to be friends with half of the kids that I tried to be friends with, but it’s as if it is normal to have friends, like a requirement. Books and movies and popular culture said it was so. It’s pathetic if you don’t have friends and hang around with yourself. It’s a lot of work covering up who you are and faking a whole different personality, that’s against who you feel you are or want to be. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised this, the relentless drive to fit in when you don’t even want to fit in is pointless. Especially if you have lost yourself in the process. Because what are you left with? Nothing. Literally, nothing. No sense of self, self-esteem, confidence, friends.
i wonder if
that could be me soon
wearing the uniform of employment,
the clothes stamped with a logo to determine which factory you work in
and bearing the face of detachment, of routine and labour in my gait
evidence that you are a success
and declaring you belong -
you fit in
i didn’t feel as if i belonged then
and very little has changed since.
I wrote this poem when i was 17 and I think you can tell I wasn’t looking forward to employment /j
2 smoked mackerel fillets, in one vacuumed sealed plastic wrapping, seemed to sum up their marriage. They had purchased them on the Monday, with plans to serve them for breakfast the following day. Only, that morning came, and she gave them a peck on the cheek and said ‘I’m in a hurry. I’ll grab something from the shop’
This had become an ingrained routine. If it wasn’t a hurry she was in, it was an early start to fit in a gym session before going into the office.
The 2 smoked mackerel fillets, in one vacuumed sealed plastic wrapping, reached their expiry date. She couldn’t stomach them and they both loathed fish.