I stepped off the stage, forehead sweating and heart racing from the adrenaline. I felt claps on my back and muffled voices that sounded like congratulations, but it all felt distant. I did it, and I felt proud. Everyone congregated in the downstairs bar for well-earned post show drinks. All evening people had come up to me, congratulating me on a job well done.
In a sea of brilliant, talented, witty, funny women, I was drowning.
In my eyes, everyone had something that made them unique, and I had nothing.
I tried to emulate the styles of my social media crushes, to no avail. That style was reserved, already being done, hence why mine felt like a watered down version. Better to be a first-rate version on yourself than a second-rate version of someone else, and all that.
I have been so fixated on others and their uniqueness, that mine wasn’t shining through. Or it was, but I didn’t deem it good enough.
Over the summer, I enrolled on a little online course called the Superlatively Rude Summer School.
If that sounds familiar, that’s either because 1) you were enrolled on it yourself, 2) you saw me talk about it relentlessly on Twitter, or 3) you’ve seen the short stories I’ve posted written because of that very course.
The summer of 2014 was an interesting time. I had just finished uni for good, and left a job I wasn’t particularly fussed about. Well, I say left, I was more pushed out of the door, after they conveniently decided to downsize two months after hiring me. But I guess that’s the nature of sales jobs, one day you’re in, the next you’re out. Anyway.
I still had a large chuck of the summer ahead of me, and when I wasn’t searching and attending interviews for jobs that I actually wanted, I had a lot of time to kill. And how else does a millennial kill time, but browse on Tinder? It’s not that I was particularly interested in meeting anyone… but I was looking for ways to pass the time.
They saw one another from across the park. Their eyes met briefly before she looked away again, happily chattering on the phone. A sudden shriek of laughter erupted from her lips, and he could have sworn that a flock of nearby birds took off into the grey sky as she did. Her cackle was almost as loud as her natural register as she spoke, and he wondered how someone could be so unaware of her volume control.