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Microchallenges

Another blog written with the baby sprawled across my lap, but this time, at least, the Shift key is accessible.

As we reach the end of the third week of the Ten Year Self Improvement Challenge – leaving, let me do the maths quickly, just under ten years – I thought I’d summarise my progress in the little auxiliary challenges I set myself. They’re all things which are smaller and more specific, so more achievable on a day-to-day level, than my main Holy Grail of becoming more optimistic. But they’re all things which in their little ways will contribute to that goal.

The portion of the Forum devoted to personal TYSIC records will soon be operative, but in the meantime keep up the blogging and I will publish a general summary as soon as I can. Once again there have been some fine efforts this week.

So, me:

Get back to playing drums – despite some offers of help I’ve done precisely zero percussion work these three weeks, unless you count rocking the baby rhythmically up and down to promote sleep (his, not mine). Hitting things doesn’t go all that well with raising an infant. I remain upbeat – at least, mid-tempo – about my chances of increased sticksmanship, especially as a number of people in the Challenge are making or learning music and I can surely smash away in the baackground at some point in the decade. As a yardstick I’d like to have played once in public, OR several times in private, by Christmas.

Less boozing – This has gone fairly well, even if admittedly it’s largely been forced upon me by the responsibilities of fatherhood. I’ve not been properly drunk for some weeks. On Monday I hosted the Chortle Awards, a comedy industry backslap with a free bar, and drank a reasonable amount, but still only about a quarter as much as I normally would. I’ve also managed not to reach for wine in response to problems these past three weeks, which tends to be one of my Achilles heels.

Meet Obama/get into space – Nope, but it’s early days. A Commenter pointed out  that a better objective for the next ten years would be to campaign against space flight, which is massively wasteful and ecologically unsound. I agree, really, but the thing is, I’d love to go into space.

Compliment every day – As described yesterday, this has begun well. Today it was just my wife but they were well-judged, timely compliments.

Stop comparing self to others – This is the hardest task of all and probably the key to my entire TYSIC. I’m in a career where comparison with others is almost inevitable, and where almost every day brings me into contact with more talented and/or successful people. This ought not to matter, because it’s not as if there’s only room for one person to ‘win’. It’s just that being a comedian is a bit like being a supermodel or something: because of the frailty of your ego and the cut-throat-ness of the industry, the excellence of others always amplifies your own failings.

Feelings of failure have followed me around for all my life so far: I always tend to feel that I’m not good enough at whatever I happen to be doing, and focus too much on my shortcomings rather than successes. This is a very bad habit and it’s a still worse habit to mix up that neurosis with paranoia about others. Nonetheless, I am tending to do that almost every day at present. It’s got to stop. I’m not sure how I will stop it, but we’ll see.

I apologise for being self-indulgent enough to air these thoughts. My excuse is that quite a lot of people participating in the TYSIC are taking on quite difficult and discouraging emotional terrain. I think it might be good to know that optimism for me is just as hard. But hey. There’s ten years.  

36 Responses

  1. tothesky says:

    This is my second week of TYSIC (I startd late unfortunately) but although there haven’t been major changes, I’m already noticing a different intneral attitude. My main TYSIC goal was to become less socially awkward and make an effort with people – basically try and overcome my shyness.

    Well this week on the bus I actually managed to start and sustain a converstain with a girl from my seminar group. I haven’t really spoken to her this term which made me proud. I’m also finding that I don’t feel as askward around some people anymore – I’m not running into room every single moment and actually mange to stay in the kitchen and have a bit of a chat.

    I’m also actually looking forward to to a new year of uni in September when I’ll be moving into a house with some lovely people (but I still don’t know them well) and in my mind I’ve decided I’m going to join in more and try and join more socities too – that should help right?

    Ooh, I also actually invited another firnd into my room to watch films. And piano lessons are going well. And I’m still writing daily.

    Thinking postively actually helps a tremendous amount.

  2. EmmaT says:

    Wish I was with you on the whole ‘less booze’ challenge. I have never been a big drinker but recently I have been forced to celebrate what with it being my birthday last week.

    This week has been a bit of a let down as I spent the weekend in Edinburgh and there was too much booze (what with the afore mentioned celebrations) and partying with an Irish Stag Do (my advice if you ever find yourself in this position – run for the hills and don’t look back).
    However I did not follow the above advice and well, what happens in Edinburgh stays in Edinburgh. I also had a three day hangover – which means I have avoided the gym since being back.

    I did go for a walk up to Arthur’s Seat on Sunday and took the tricky way up so that should help slightly when I get to Nepal!
    Oh I did have a small victory today… I did not ask for a lift home from the train station, which I usually do when it is chucking it down. I power walked home in the rain as I figure if it starts raining/gets a bit cold on the trek I shall not be able to call home and ask for a lift to the next teahouse.

  3. tothesky says:

    Gosh, sorry about all those typos!

  4. Corey says:

    In addition to my main challenges, I fully intend to start giving compliments or help where I can. Its just carrying it out when you get the chance!!!!, but I will do I promise. Just today during and after a very challenging day at work where I would have loved a ‘pick me up’ comment made me realize I should be dishing out the goodwill when a chance presents itself.

    Someones going to get a compliment tomorrow….wonder who it will be!?!

  5. Misha says:

    A good start there sir!
    You might be interested to know there’s now a compliments game going on the forum, just to keep that ball rolling.

    In personal TYSIC i’m working on the Bob Dylan still, trying to get it fully up to scratch, and I’ve arranged to do some hanging out with friends I’ve not seen in a while over the weekend and easter. Tomorrow I get to borrow peoples children for a bit!

    3 weeks already. Wow.

  6. Someone says:

    :) I’m not sure i’ve left my house all week. Which means I haven’t come into too much contact with people, other than my house of course, who don’t count as I’ve know them ages. And they’re mean.
    I commented yesterday i think that I’m not good with compliments, but i think i should probably try anyway, or at least the good deeds part, to help towards people-management tysic (managing around people). I did help an old lady reach the top shelf in a shop last week though… I can do that, I’m tall so it’s one thing i can do, provide a service of height. Temporarily though – they can’t have my limbs. That’s not a small good deed. That’s hefty.

  7. Kate says:

    Wow, I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since we started the TYSIC. I have got somewhere at least.
    My first challenge was to feature in a play in the West End. I have to say I havn’t got particularly far with this. However, I did do a drama exam on Tuesday and am currently awaiting results.
    My other challenges, like many others, was to be generally happier and to increase my self confidence. This has gone reasonably well as I have made a rule that I have to smile and laugh at least three times a day, and that is a genuinely smile/laugh not a fake one. So far I’m still going strong.
    And I have taken on the compliment a day idea. So far I have managed to keep it up for the last two days. I’d say it’s going well and, afterall we still have just under ten years left.

  8. lisa brunders says:

    Evening Mark.
    I’m making lots of small changes. Little things. I’ve stopped being late for work every day, I’ve rung my Dad twice this week, helped my Mum with her garden, blocking my negative thinking, don’t worry about not sleeping too well – with some good advice from yourself. I’m being nicer, less defensive. It’s all about the small steps I’m sure that’s the way to change.
    So keep on leading the way! And thank you.

  9. Lisa says:

    Since I chose to join in the TYSIC I will shyly update on my progress.
    I am trying to be more confident but still not very good at talking to people without panicking – but I have improved a bit. I had a good conversation about my plans/hopes/ambitions with someone, which I enjoyed and found really helpful.

    Also, I have had an interview for something kind of related to my human rights ambitions – it is only volunteering alongside my current job but I am still glad that I went for it, and the interview. I hope I get it – but even if I don’t, I feel its progress in the right direction!

    It turns out I am still struggling to post comments without pointlessly panicking though! But here goes anyway….

  10. Anna says:

    Brief round up of this weeks achievements here ambitionsandfailings.blogspot.com/2010/03/tysic-year-one-week-three-progress.html

    Though I feel that I’ve failed on the being a good parent part tonight- Nicky launched himself off my lap while I was trying to take his socks off and landed head first on the doorframe, and now has a massive lump on his head. It goes nicely with the bruise under his eye he got from throwing himself at the radiator. So now I’m going to feel guilty every time I look at him until they fade.

    I’m beginning to get the feeling that everyone, no matter how successful/popular/attractive, secretly feels like they’re not good enough, just some people hide it better than others. As I’ve got nothing intelligent or insightful to say on the matter, I’ll link to a song that seems appropriate… tinyurl.com/cgnhqh

  11. Kathryn says:

    This is probably tied into a general “be more confident/less worried” part of my tysic but it’s jsut occurred to me I have to play piano tomorrow in front of 1000 people (ie my whole school). Oh dear. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
    In writing this comment I’m failing to not procrastinate. And I still haven’t started reading Paradise Lost. But it’s generally going well.

  12. Rachael says:

    I can’t help but think that everyone else is working harder at their TYSIC’s than I am, maybe mine were too easy. Firsty, I wanted to comment on every one of these blogs, that’s easy because it soon become a habit. The goat thing is abit harder since I need to get myself a house with somewhere outside for them to live first so it probably wont happen until the tenth year. Really I’m just waiting here til then.

  13. Jo says:

    Progress at week 3:

    1. Learn piano. I have found a piano teacher and she seems nice. No actual playing yet, but best not to rush into these things

    2. Marathon. This now seems a rather pathetic TYSIC, due to Izzard and his showing off. However, my latest training wass a nine mile power walk on Sunday. My feet fell apart and I had a little cry but it’s a mile furhter than last week. Progress.

    3. Affording to visit my family in Melbourne. Massive regress. Computer broke = £120. Special insoles for my dodgy feet to allow TYSIC 2 above = £300. Tickets to Camp Bestival = £300+. Pay rise announced this month = 0.00%. More crying.

    Roll on next week.

  14. Jo says:

    My two short-term achievable TYSIC tasks were to finally read “Dr Zhivago” and “Anna Karenina”. While I haven’t picked up either of these books from my bookshelf in the last three weeks, I have made a solid effort at finishing the book I’m currently reading, “Cloud Atlas” (which was initially a struggle, but I’m now being rewarded- really enjoying it and it’s nice to read something a bit different). So I’m slowly getting towards starting my two epic novels. I’ll let you know which I decide to read first…

  15. Catherine says:

    Positive stuff:
    I am reading this blog everyday. Contribute at least once a week.
    Made the effort this week to go to a couple of Spanish organization meetings on campus. May be going out Saturday with some young ladies from club to go learn salsa. The age difference between myself and the other members is constantly on my mind.
    Made my first 100% of the semester on a prueba (mini-test). Extra studying effort payed off.
    Made my airline reservations for Madrid. After Madrid, I am going to take the train to London by myself. Then fly from London back home to US. I don’t have a place to stay, but something will turn up. Don’t know what I’m going to do there. Will be there 5 or 6 nights. I really should develop a plan. The part about traveling alone with very little money has me nervous. But since I’m on that side of the world, I cannot not see London (sorry for the double negative).
    Checked on passport progress. The government assured me it’s going well.
    I’ve been generally upbeat all week. Watched Marathon Man 1-3 on YouTube. Eddie is really inspiring. Bought Believe on iTunes to watch tonight.
    Listened to Mark Watson, Ed Byrne, Tim Minchin and Duke Special constantly. I find that listening to them makes me laugh. Laughing is very helpful for keeping the dogs of depression at bay.
    Also watch Craig Ferguson everyday. He is a hoot!
    Watched the Chortle Awards on video last night. Good work, Mark! You are an excellent MC/Host. I would have been really excited to meet Eddie Izzard, too.

    Not so positive stuff:
    I tried to not to be a c*** yesterday. I went to lunch with my mother determined to enjoy the meal. Failed. Am very impatient with her. I might be PMSing but she gets on my nerves. I love her, though, cuz she’s my mom.
    My 22-year-old nephew has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Tomorrow he goes under the knife to remove the offending testicle. They (doctors) are afraid it’s stage 3 or 4 because he has been in pain for a while and wouldn’t go to the doctor. So guys, males, men who read this: check your testicles at least once a month. It’s most common in young men 20 – 35 years old. I now have to have the talk with my grown sons. I doubt their MPU (male parental unit) did it.
    Liking the look of the TYSIC board. I look forward to being able to use it.
    Sorry this is so long. Had a lot on my mind.
    Good night!
    Cathy

  16. Marie says:

    I’m rather excited about my TYSIC update! In my mission to improve my self-confidence, I decided to tackle my lack of public speaking skills. So this evening, I went to a meeting of a public speaking group, and actually stood up and spoke! Twice!

    While it didn’t go *amazingly* well (my mind went blank halfway through), I did something that absolutely terrified me and even though the ‘worst’ happened, I recovered, carried on and learned that the ‘worst’ was not that bad after all.

    I am so incredibly grateful to you, Mark, for starting the TYSIC which gave me the push I hadn’t realised I needed. Even though we’re only three weeks in, I feel like I’m in a much better place than I was. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring.

  17. Liam says:

    I have only just found the TYSIC but love the concept. I have a lot of life goals about living in other countries, becoming a published author etc.

    But for this challenge I want to try and appear as an extra in as many films and TV shows as possible in the next 10 years. I have no aspirations to act or gain any sort of serious role in any production, only to stroll past camera for my 10 seconds of fame as much as possible.

  18. End of week 3 progress report in full on my blog = The Little Lost Puppy, the Husband and the Humdrum erinlondon.blogspot.com/

    Here’s a quick summary:

    Overarching TYSIC = Improve my Emotional wellbeing
    Mainly improving this week, partly due to spring-like weather.

    THE LITTLE LOST PUPPY
    (TYSIC = Open to opportunities, taking risks, try new things, be more proactive)
    I rescued a puppy this week – carried him home when I found him roaming the street in danger from cars with no collar/identification! Put a collar & lead on him and went back out to see if his owners’ house was nearby – Found the owners out looking for him (at last!). Happy ending.

    THE HUSBAND
    (TYSIC = enhance relationship with husband)
    A mixed result this week: a few positive efforts but some quite negative aspects too, with a rather negative reaction by him to my perceived obsession with Tim Minchin.

    THE HUMDRUM
    (TYSIC = Be less lazy, more productive & procrastinate less)
    Great progress this week, including tackling some humdrum chores, particularly yesterday (24/3). I’ve realised that it’s the humdrum and tedious chores of life that are the heart of this TYSIC for me. I explain why more fully in my blog.

    TYSIC: Going to live entertainment –
    Just back from seeing 2 Aussie films introduced by Tim Minchin (normally cinema doesn’t count for this TYSIC, but am making an exception for this) A group of us got to meet Tim for a chat between the films, which was ace, and I also had fun getting to know several other members of Tim’s forum. As well as ‘going to live entertainment’ I could also count all of this towards my other TYSIC about trying new things and taking risks. So glad I went – had a blast!

    Relationship with my sons – not much to report

    Enjoy time with Parents – nothing to report

  19. ElizabethD says:

    Utterly failed in the quest to try and get more people to have read my work this week. Mailed script total: 0. The closest thing I have to a defense is that trips to Kinkos are more expensive than they used to be.

    But not all totals this week are grim:
    Wrote 24 pages this week and only crossed out 3! That seems incredible to me. I was telling a friend of mine today that I’ve worked harder in the last 3 weeks than in the last 3 months.

    The hidden acts of kindness challenge with my family is going well. It’s even a bit fun, there is a sneaky aspect of it that appeals to the part of me that wanted to be a spy when I grew up. Being nice is one thing, trying to be nice in a way that no one finds out about is tricky.

  20. Katy says:

    I only really properly thought about my TYSIC this week and put an objective in writing: Be less scared of the world and more sure of my self.

    I hope to achieve this by doing small thing, which I’ve yet to think about properly as its slightly daunting.

    However I made progress this week. I went to a gig on my own. Which may not seem like a big deal to people, but I was terrified and tried to talk myself out of it for most of the day. Still I went and though shaking for the first part of it, I did it and stayed right til the very end.

  21. Simon says:

    Training for my challenge to run the entire length of the Central line is going really really well. I’m slowly getting fitter (a relative term) and amazingly, various people from around the country are planning to accompany me! Read about it here:

    tuberunner.blogspot.com/2010/03/training-part-iii.html

  22. Rose says:

    Check out Learned Optimism, Marty Seligman!
    x

  23. amycool says:

    It’s nice to see that lots of us are doing well with our TYSICs, and for those that haven’t progressed as well as they had hoped, we still have almost 10 years left! :-) You don’t want to get burned out in the first 3 weeks.

    I drank banana milkshake last night.
    I also bought tickets to a gig.
    And I have a plan to improve my running.

    So steady progress for me. Today is day two of trying to be easier to work with so we’ll see how I cope on a Friday night when all the kids have just broken up for Easter.

    Next week: I’m attending my sister’s wedding. I was 3 last time I went to a wedding. I don’t think you’re allowed to sit under the table at my age.

  24. Anji says:

    Paying compliments. Well Mark, compare yourself to who you want – but remember all the things you have acheived. Like, this, baby, wife, career, etc etc. It’s a bloody lot! And probably a bloody lot more when you really look at it ( I figure you know you way better than I do!)
    I think it’s safe to say we’re all glad your you, mark, and that no matter what your unique!

    I think we all compare ourselves for the negative bits. Soinso did it in days, I took weeks. So what – I did it! I did it dispute x, y and z!
    Why is it so hard to say ‘yeah I rock!’ or other upbeat saying?!

    Everyone, I think you all rock, even taking a small step towards something, be that thinking about it, or actually doing part of it, it’s better than not doing anything! Well done and keep going! 10 years is a long time and gives us all time to reach a goal.

    Rant over, and I shall try taking my own advice (rantings) and keeping the positives at the front and telling the negatives to ‘do one’. =)

  25. Jane says:

    I’ve had an idea which might help with your optimism – you say you focus on failures rather than successes, and think you should be better at doing whatever you are doing. I share this problem.
    Why don’t you think of one thing you’ve done well every day, beyond the complementing and the non-wine-guzzling. You can report it to us via the blog. If you’re struggling, get your wife to help. Or the baby. It doesn’t need to be something really big – did you cook a nice dinner, or make the baby smile, or write a joke you think is good? Did you get to the bus stop just as the bus arrived? Did you walk to the shop one minute faster than yesterday?
    There is a blog called “three beautiful things” – google it – it’s a bit girly/hippyish but you’ll get the gist.
    I could tell you it has completely changed me and made me more optimistic. It hasn’t, but it has helped. And as you say, you’ve 10 years. Every little bit helps

  26. Cat :) says:

    Awww, I think everything you’re doing is amazing. I have been reading all of your blogs!! Sorry I haven’t been commenting on them, but Uni leaves me practically no time [except the tremendous amount of time I spend on public transport (thank you CATE XD)] in which case I end up reading all of them on my 2 and a half hour commute to Uni every day on the train and bus (that’s one way, so I do end up travelling for 5 hours).
    However on my phone I cannot send comments!!!! So often I am left frustrated with not being able to tell you everything I would like to (depending on how much you care about your number 1 XD). As annoying as Uni is, it’s actually leading me towards my ultimate 10 year goal of getting the perfect job working with animals.
    I don’t know exactly what yet but I do like birds as I said XD. So if I keep ploughing on, I have been taking each of these assessments as a new step towards my goal. And surprisingly, with your help they’re a lot easier to manage despite my ever growing hatred towards Uni and it pulling me away from the friends I care about most.
    I only have one more week until midsemester reak. And in that time I have 3 assessments and a test. I can do this! I just need to keep thinking of my favourite comedian in the whole wide world. And remember I’ve always thought you the nicest person in the world. Imagine what turning into an optimist would do, you’re already amazing!
    I haven’t really come up with short term goals but I guess as I said my assessments are kind of that at the moment. Though I would like some short term goals that perhaps don’t involve something as mundane as getting a job eventually. As exciting as it is to me, it’s probably not that exciting to you…
    Miss you!

  27. Zoe says:

    Yesterday brought the biggest (and as it turns out, the sorest) part of my own TYSIC. Opinion will be divided on this one I’m sure but I took myself off to Birmingham for breast enlargement surgery.
    I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores of this decision. My reasons are all based around self esteem issues that some will understand and some won’t.
    The experience in itself (never mind the new boobs) has been a confidence builder since I had to go it alone, leaving the old man to hold the fort with the children.
    I amazed even myself at how (blowing my own trumpet here) brave I was. There were no tears or nervous breakdowns. I just got on with it. I am proud of myself today. Sore but proud.

  28. Julie says:

    Have you ever read Hugh MacLeod’s work? His ‘How To Be Creative’ series is really interesting: gapingvoid.com/2004/07/25/how-to-be-creative/.

    The one piece of advice which has stuck with me regards how we see ouselves as compared to others. It says to “Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside”. Here it is in context gapingvoid.com/2004/08/11/the-chimneypiece/

    Funny how we all think we’re alone in feeling inferior, then you read something like that and you realise it’s not just you. That even successful people feel like that! Who knew?

    :)

  29. clara81 says:

    TYSIC hasn’t really progressed this week.

    Teaching – went to seminars about traing as a teacher & spoke to lots of course providers. Almost all laughed at my poor degree. Should hear about Teaching Assistant application soon, then I can start asking schools if I can observe some lessons.

    Parenting – Son said “You’re a rubbish Mommy, I wan’t a new one” several times this week, mostly when I said he couldn’t have chocolate.

    Looking my age – was asked for ID buying (non-alcoholic) wine again this week. I had actually remembered to take my passport for a change. The lady almost fell over when she realised I’m 28…

  30. Seamus says:

    If anything, my TYSIC has moved backwards this week. However, it’s not my fault, so I’ll just keep working at what I can, and hope everything else works out ok. Basicly, the laptop I have been using for the past year or two, which contains musical notation and recordings for most of the things I have written over that time frame has broken. Worse still, the problem is a corrupted hard drive. I know I should have backed this stuff up, but I didn’t, and it’s too late now. It is currently with some people more nerdy than me, and it should in theory be fixed by Wednesday next week, if it doesn’t need any new parts. Until then, all I can do is keep my fingers crossed.

  31. Lally says:

    Jane, thanks for the reminder and suggestions about switching focus, and the blog suggestion, too.
    So many people trying to be a bit better has got to improve the general level for all of us. Thank you.

  32. Lenneke says:

    Turning thirty I am having a bit of a early midlife crisis. Assessing my life, I came to the conclusion that I have allowed myself to drift to a comfort zone where there are little highs or lows, just the daily routine.

    In order to break this habit of taking the easy road I have committed to doing something challenging every week thus conquering the fear of the internet (Oh yes !), the fear of public speaking, my fear of heights and my fear of spiders to name only a few.

    I started out all right by joining some forums I have been following, setting up a twitter account and now writing a comment here. I also joined a dating site (don’t ask).

    I am not sure what my next step should be. I have decided to ask everyone I know for suggestions. So if anyone has any thoughts on this, please let met know (@l3nn3k3)

  33. John says:

    I’ve not really been posting about my TYSIC successes, because there haven’t been any yet. Still, that’s hardly the attitude!

    I’ve applied for a job blogging and vlogging for the Dave channel, which involved me submitting the article that inspired this whole thing and making a video to showcase my shapely and eloquent self. No news yet, but if I somehow make it through to the final round there’ll be an open vote on the Dave website. I’m hoping for a mass TYSICer rally!

    I’ve also been looking into any other writing jobs I can find – irritatingly, I stumbled across one which would have a) been perfect, but b) necessitated abandoning my floundering degree to an even greater extent than is currently the case. I’m still keeping my eyes open – if anyone else knows of any London-based publications looking for contributors then please do drop me a line.

    Finally, and somewhat self-indulgently, I’m thinking about putting myself in for the Guardian Student Media Awards. In my defence, this is something my girlfriend’s been trying to talk me into rather than an idea I’ve had myself, but I suppose it won’t do any harm to submit a few articles for consideration.

    I’ve been drifting towards pessimism rather with all of this, because it seems like such a quantum leap to get from my status as substantially lowly blogger and pseudo-comic Tweeter to where someone like Mark or Caitlin Moran is. Essentially, the problem is that I’ve never wanted to put in the work. Time to start.

    J

    PS I haven’t wanted to link to my blog before, since it’s been a little quiet for the last week or two, but it should be attached to this post now. Do come and have a read :-)

  34. Jamie0S says:

    I haven’t been leaving comments about my TYSIC (getting an urban farm up and running), mainly because the whole situation changes the moment I decide it’s heading somewhere.

    This week had been surprisingly good though so I’ll jump in with a big comment.
    We went to an event last weekend to whip up some support, and no one stole any chickens. It did little more than point out we exist, but the kids loved the chickens, the chickens weren’t fussed by all the moving about, and there was a teacher that reinforced ideas I’d already had about it all.

    We then had a response from a certain government-owned company that has a big chunk of land doing nothing.
    It had taken a while to find out who to speak to, then they’d ignored us, and recently they’d been adamant there was no chance we could use the land. I persisted and explained the situation to them, and now they’ve agreed we could graze animals on it.
    There’s a lesson: if you’re pretty sure you’re right, and you want to do it, you don’t have to take no as an answer.
    That’s what Pol Pot thought as well of course, so I’ll add the caveat: remember, you could be wrong, so don’t go crazy.

    There’ll be a fight over that place in a few years, but we’ll deal with that when it happens.

    We’ve also been offered some money (we just have to ask apparently), two sheep we bought (but are elsewhere) have given birth to triplets and twins, and I arranged to plant some edible flowers next to a playground (and I also arranged for someone else to plant them for us – genius!).

    As always though, when things seem to be going well, a local woman decided to shout at me for two hours. She seems to find every action we take towards the farm a personal attack on her for some reason – this certainly isn’t true as we’ve done an awful lot to help her.
    This week she had a problem with a sign I put up: ‘Please do not feed the chickens’. She doesn’t feed the chickens, they’re not her chickens, and they’re not on her land, but somehow this sign was an affront to her existence.

    This isn’t the first time she’s berated me for nothing, and I’ve been told to ignore her, but I find it incredibly draining.

    We plough on though (literally, as we have some wheat to put in).

  35. Jamie0S says:

    Going to add a quick extra comment on a mini-challenge I probably should set myself and how that was given a jolt this week.

    I have no faith in humans whatsoever. This has led me to have low-expectations for everything, as everyone will ultimately let me down.

    However, I went to a public meeting this week expecting it to be a jeering mob. But once the politicians had finished their inarticulate nonsense, every member of the public who spoke had a valid, intelligent point to make. They actually cared and had thought about it sensibly. I was quite surprised and it really made me think, maybe I shouldn’t write everyone off.

    It’s a shame it couldn’t be harnessed better somehow, because those with the power were the least impressive in the room.

  36. Knox says:

    “I always tend to feel that I’m not good enough at whatever I happen to be doing, and focus too much on my shortcomings rather than successes. This is a very bad habit and it’s a still worse habit to mix up that neurosis with paranoia about others. ”

    oh. god. i could have written that. completely.

    not sure that i can think of anything to say except this – despite how much it feels like people are just being nice when they say how well you’ve done stuff, they can’t all be, so there must be something to it. and also, i found a bit helpful talking to other people about my perceptions of my self, and other people’s perceptions, and having to rationalise my thoughts/feelings. not a quick or sure-fire way to change those perceptions, but definitely opened the door to learning to consider they might not be true after all.

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