Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Head in the desert island sand

Sometimes, you don't realise how you're behaving until somebody points it out to you.

"Hols," the BBC said tiredly ten minutes ago. "We need to work out where you're going to be for TBJITW results on Thursday."
"I haven't decided yet," I replied nervously.
"You need to decide, because we need to work out hotels etc. And you also need to pick up your phone when we call you."
"Sorry," I said in a small voice. I couldn't argue with it: the producer has rung me four times in the last 12 hours, and each time I've listened to my phone ringing from another room and pretended - to myself, as well as to the BBC - that I couldn't hear it. The final time, I actually put my head under the duvet and convinced myself I was asleep.
"We know it's tough," the BBC said kindly. "But it's going to happen, and you need to just brave it out."
I'm sorry, I texted the producer ten minutes after I had shamefacedly put the phone down. I'm just scared.
I know, the producer texted back. Of course you are. But try and be scared and organised at the same time.

And this is what I do. When there's nothing left for me to do but wait, I stick my head firmly in the sand and pretend that the decision isn't there, or I'm not there: whichever makes it easier to bear. I did it when I got my GCSE results, and I did it when I got my A Level results, and I did it when I had my heart broken and couldn't get out of bed for three days (apart from to pee, and I had to make sure this was done when nobody else was in, or my friends would have lynched me en route and carried me, sobbing, to the pub). I did it when the rabbit died and everybody was crying, and I did it when I made a horrendous mistake at work and sent out an embargoed press release with the wrong embargo on it. I'm brave and I'm courageous, until all control has been taken away from me. When there's nothing left for me to do - when I've done absolutely everything I can - I panic, and I hide away. Partly because I'm terrified, partly because I'm terrified of being terrified, and partly because I hate not having any control over my life or my fate. All control feels like it has been taken temporarily away from me: my future is in the hands of other people, and it makes me very, very scared.

So I'm hiding. Or - I should say - I've hidden. I have always opened exam results in private, tucked away in a corner, and I wanted to do the same this time round. Not because it would make me happy, but because I didn't have the courage to do anything else. It's not about feeling ashamed in front of friends and family if I don't get in to the top 11 (for whatever reason, they appear to love me anyway), or even about appearing smug if I do get in to the top 11. It's just about making myself as small and invisible as possible, and shutting myself off as much as possible, so that I don't get hurt.

But I will get hurt. I know that. Yes, it's a big reality-competition, but it's also something that would change my entire life; more importantly, it's something I know I would be brilliant at. I could make it amazing, and it would make me better. And I want it. I'm scared of saying that I want it - because it's opening myself up - but I do. Hiding myself away is not going to make me hurt less: it's just going to be another thing I push away where it shouldn't be, like the sunflower seed my sister stuck up her nose when we were children.

Come on, my friend texted me. Don't do this. Don't sit on your own.
Five minutes ago, I finally replied.
Okay, I messaged. I'm coming. I'm terrified, but I'm coming.

And I'm going to go. I will be in public, with my friends, with a tv camera, and I will take the results on the chin. I will open myself up to something that matters to me, and let myself be upset if I don't get through (preferably in the toilets, where the BBC can't film me). I will take a deep breath, and I will let somebody hold my hand through it. Because if I've learnt one thing throughout this process, it's that I have to be brave. And I have to allow myself to want things, and want them openly.

When this process comes to an end, I want to finish it differently to how it began. Not locked away in the dark, and walking with my head held high.