I think I blog instead of vomit. Like nausea the need to blog keeps me awake at night, making me toss and turn until I regurgitate my thoughts on screen in an attempt to at least try and make some sense of them. These days that need comes less and less as I revel in my descent into obscurity.
One of the hardest questions I get asked these days is ‘why are you here?’ With a CV that is filled with wonder, adventure and excitement, most people don’t expect to find me working in a random minimum wage job, which is exactly what I am doing. It’s a question that I can’t really answer concisely, so instead I shrug and wander off and let people… well, think whatever they want because I don’t really give a shit.
But this question, it’s been bugging me. I’m obviously ‘here’ by a conscious decision. In fact, in a weird way, I am a lot happier being here. Everything seems a lot more honest. Coming from a world that was the exact opposite, it’s refreshing. I enjoy being able to make friends that are normal (read: the right kind of mentally unstable). I like the fact that I get paid regularly, even if the amount is small, and while I don’t particularly like being poor I know that in the long run my hard work will be rewarded as that is what I am being judged on, not something arbitrary like the size of my nostrils or my cup size.
Being well known for certain things burnt me out, it messed with my self worth and made me miserable as it was just too hard to maintain. Having to constantly be aware of what I looked like, how much I weighed, who I hung around with, who my (then) boyfriend was cheating on me with, how many selfies I had taken that day, etc, etc, got really fucking boring, not to mention expensive. I got sick of the sight of my own face. I got sick of the sight of everyone’s faces to the point where I woke up one day, realised I was surrounded by shitty people and had a bit of a WTF moment.
So I did what anyone would do in my shoes: I told them all to go fuck themselves.
Within the course of a year I had told my so-called “best” friend, my flatmate, my agent and the magazine that I worked for to all go and fuck themselves, and while it didn’t exactly do me many immediate favours, it felt good to purge what were essentially poisonous people out of my life for good. The key words there being: for good. You see, the great thing about telling people to go fuck themselves is that it doesn’t just burn bridges - it cremates them to a tiny non-existant nub - so you can never go back. And right now I would rather contract lifelong Norovirus than go back to any of them so I definitely made the right decision there.
So there is that.
Then there is this myth of celebrity. Now, I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a ‘star’ or a celebrity, I was simply well known in certain niche arenas (aka ‘Facedown’). However, I was unconsciously making choices that had me heading along that path and interacting with quite a few celebrities, either via work or randomly in real life. I say unconscious, as in my long hard quest to make a name for myself I’d never really stopped and actually thought about what I was doing. It sounds weird and naive but I was so caught up in the moment and that particular world that I never realised the irony in my actions: that I was subconsciously working towards being a celebrity when it was the very thing that I despised. What a dickhead.
Obviously there was a fair amount of pushing involved too. Namely by my agents who lured me with the promise of big money contracts if I got famous. In fact, it was the (2 1/2 year long) promise of a gaming show on Channel 4 that kept me with them for so long, before I realised that it was all just lies designed to keep me happy and complacent, like many of the things they told me. The only reason I stayed was in the quest of this mythical money and because I felt that I couldn’t do anything else.
Yet the more I interviewed celebrities the more I saw how affected and abnormal they were. How the world they lived in wasn’t real. Obviously they were real living breathing people, no different physically to you or I, but something had happened to them inside. Something had subverted their worldview and made them, well, either really creepy or boring. On a smaller scale I had found for myself that any kind of adulation rots you from within. One only has to look at Ian Watkins to see an extreme example of that. Attention and fame is addictive and hard to live without so people will do anything to keep that thrill, that buzz, forever. It’s why you see washed up stars on reality shows and carpet adverts, and it is 100% of the reason why The Rolling Stones will never stop touring, like, ever.
You see, most celebrities derive their self-worth from what strangers think of them. They feed on it like vampires until it becomes them. It’s why their relationships don’t last. One person’s love could never be enough, not when they’ve had the love of thousands. The energy of a crowd is a tangible thing, a commodity to be consumed, and in the wrong hands it can be evil. Celebrities seem to either use this energy to fill a hole within themselves by using it to replace something they lack, or they exploit it to feed increasingly perverted desires, which I could go into… but it would probably get libellous.
Most of the myths we are fed about celebrities are lies. Fabrications to keep us distracted so the bankers and the politicians and the real people in power can carry on undisturbed while we coo and fuss over Kim Kardashian’s latest handbag/baby. They are there to take away our real aspirations (why work hard for a living when you can do nothing and ‘just be famous’), to help us lower our morals and make us consume more and more products that we don’t fucking need. The myths conveniently hide the reality that many celebrities are poor and living hand to mouth on unstable incomes, not to mention how really fucking unhappy a lot of them are. We, as the public, are lead to believe the opposite as that’s what keeps the celebrity machine in motion and pays the people who have invested in it (the banks and the sponsors and the publicists and the agents and the brands and the entourages). They want us to think that celebrities live this charmed life when the reality is really quite different.
One example that sticks in my memory is the time I was at this large FPS franchise’s gaming launch party (which was mainly full of people who couldn’t give a shit and had never played a video game in their life), when I left early to find this commotion by what looked to be the back door of the venue. A scrum of paparazzis were gathered like a pile of sweaty bees, flashlights popping everywhere and surrounding this tiny, frail, bird-like guy who was rushing to get in to his car. The look of pure terror on his face and the way he hid in his car like a caged animal really affected me. I don’t particularly like Ashley Cole, but no human deserves to live like that, no matter how well they are paid. Sure, it’s a choice, people choose to be celebrities, but this lack of freedom we impose on them once they make that choice is probably not a part they willingly sign up for. Seeing him cowering like that I thought to myself: is this what I really wanted? No, that wasn’t what I wanted at all.
It was around that time that I withdrew and started seeing everything for what it was: counter-productive nonsense. I was never going to achieve anything notable working for some shitty lower level lads mag. I couldn’t walk into a job interview with a magazine cover, it wasn’t going to impress anyone. I wasn’t learning transferable skills, I wasn’t enlightening anyone, I was just pottering along in a bubble, addicted to attention like all the other self-obsessed idiots. Let me tell you, I wanted out of that fucking bubble like it smelt of hangover farts.
So I popped it, stepped outside, took a breath of fresh air and walked off. It’s actually done me the world of good. There are so many things that I don’t give a shit about anymore: fashion, clothes, shopping, magazines, parties, other people’s opinions… heck, even video games. Interests that I thought I had forgotten about have come back to me. I read more, I’ve started learning again, I knit and bake and make things. I take my self worth from myself and the people that I still care about, which is a very small list that comprises mostly of my close friends, my family, and my boyfriend. Yes my world is smaller now, but I chose to make it so. It was my decision. A decision that has been hard to live with as my ego cries and yearns for attention, but as the months go past that voice grows fainter and fainter. I realise it would have been easy for me to potter along and continue on that old path, gradually lowering all my morals until I was a 60-year-old husk, still trading on my fading looks in whatever way I could. Instead I chose to live better and give myself some credit. Sure it is hard, but all the things in life that are worth it always are.
I’m not going to lie, the past year has been draining. I’m not sure if this year is going to be any better but I have hope that things will improve as I feel like my motivations are purer: I want to work hard, make an honest living, build a home and start a family. If that means having to answer awkward questions by starting from the beginning in a minimum wage job then so be it. Maybe my ambitions these days are not so glamourous but trust me, what I’m working towards is a hell of a lot more precious than anything in the world I just came from.
I just wish other people could see that.