Sh*t, I’m 29 today.

Sh*t, I’m 29 today. At 7.42am to be precise. I mean, I actually don’t feel so bad about it right now. My feeling on this number seems to fluctuate. There are times when my mind gets thinking about all the things I thought I’d have achieved and the milestones hit by this stage in my life. And then I try to push these thoughts out of my mind – or, better yet, try to be still and tell myself to stop it.

It was only 2 years ago that I turned 27, and I wrote this post. On the one hand, there are some gems in there. On the other, it gives me a headache just looking at it. Years of consuming knowledge all spilled out onto a page. Constantly trying to self-diagnose, to find ‘better’ information, to seek answers to the big questions and somehow come up with this grand-theory-on-life.

How to be happy. What career to do.

The irony is, this constant information-consumption leads to over-thinking and anxiety. A state of paralysis and in-action. I’ve worried so much about what to do with my life work-wise, that I have found myself not working – which itself causes low mood. My identity has become so wrapped up in “work”, that my life used to be unbalanced and key parts of my life neglected. Friendships, family, exercise, sleep.

Even at the gym this evening, I found myself pondering the 5 or 6 projects I’m currently interested in, work-wise. I’m constantly worried about making the right decision, about where to focus, about which ones to choose and which ones not to choose. About what I’m supposed to do.

Fuck it’s exhausting.

It’s really hard for me to let go, and just commit to – and focus on – a couple of those projects. I get this ridiculous FOMO and worry about making the right choice. What the f*ck is the right choice?! Surely there isn’t one. I know this logically, but it’s not easy to untangle myself from this destructive mindset.

Because I spend so much time thinking and worrying, I stop myself from just going with it and enjoying the moment. Living in the present. I have recently gotten back on the Headspace app and I usually do a little meditation whilst sat in the gym jacuzzi after my workout. I incorporate stretching and yoga into my workouts to relax and ease tension in my body – and thus in my mind.

Anything to keep me as still and relaxed and as focused on the present as possible.

I’ve spent so much time reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts, trying to reconcile my life and my work with those free-living freelancers whose stories I have endlessly devoured. I love to learn new things and have always been curious – but all this info-consumption only makes me more anxious.

Not too long ago, I even put myself on a non-fiction diet to stop putting irrelevant information in my head. I wish I could just make a choice and stick with it. And not need reassurance from the stuff I read and the people I see online. Really, it comes down to self-belief and self-confidence. There’s a lightbulb moment right there.

It looks like I’m about to start a job working for a good friend of mine in an exciting business, and I’m feeling good about this for a lot of reasons. But then I ask myself what projects I should be working on on the side – which might potentially become ‘the thing; further down the line. Again, it comes back to those stupid expectations.

I am just trying to be still, to feel rather than think, and to do rather than ruminate. I’m pretty sure that once I start this new job of mine, I’ll largely be kept busy and engaged. So I reckon I’ll have time for just 1 or 2 side-projects, maximum.

And whilst I’m still teetering over which ones to focus on, I am trying to lean into feeling rather than thinking. Both my therapist, and a good friend of mine who is training to be a coach (none other than ‘Girl J’ – remember her?), have asked me to imagine myself how I feel and experience doing the thing I’m pondering over, rather than thinking and ruminating about it.

And that’s what I intend to do from here on in. Less thinking, more feeling. Less ruminating, more doing. Less anxiety about the future, more being in the present.

Happy 29th to me. Perhaps I’m becoming more of an adult after all.

by Jas

✏ Written: Monday 4th June, 2018

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I got ghosted after a job offer

[Edit] Ghosting: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Ghosting. It’s a horrible word to describe an act that has always existed, but has become all-the-more common in this age of Whatsapp, social media and dating apps. I’ve been on the end of it, and also done it – playing both ghoster and ghostee.

Gosh, it’s a horrible word.

A week ago today (actually, 2 weeks ago at the time of publishing), I was on the end of the ultimate ghosting. After taking some time off, I’ve recently started to actively look for jobs in a new field(s) – writing. I’ve been looking at journalist positions as well as content/copywriting positions. Rather than lean into the anxiety of starting a new job and working for someone again (the last time I worked for someone else – in sales – was nearly 3 years ago, and by the end I really wasn’t happy), I’m trying to embrace the opportunity for a new challenge and somewhat through caution to the wind – looking at businesses/roles that feel right, ideally doing something I give a damn about. #typicalINFP

After 5 years of sales experience, this is a completely new avenue for me, so I appreciate that I’m going to have to earn my stripes, and enter at the junior end of the market. As someone who was earning fairly decent money what I was doing before, applying for junior positions – and even internships – has been a humbling experience.

One of these positions was a part-time role with an animal welfare organisation, as a ‘media & communications intern’.

Perfect, I thought. this is something that I feel is important and a worthy cause. It’s a small team, and I’ll be working closely with the Media & Comms Manager. I should have broad exposure and the chance to learn a lot… exactly what I’m after. Even though I’d only be paid .a pretty small amount, pretty much just covering my travel expenses, that was okay. It’d be a chance to dip my toe back into the working world, learn and gain experience, and in a capacity as a volunteer – so with less pressure than an official employee on the payroll.

I met the Media & Comms Manager that I’d be working with at a co-working space with a cool vibe. We got on well. She asked the usual stuff, about me and my career so far, and why I liked the look of this particular position. I was honest about my career story (why I’d left sales, etc.), and what I now wanted, and we had a useful back-and-forth conversation about what was needed, and how I could help / the ideas I had.

I was offered the role there and then. Great, I thought. It was somewhat a surprise to be offered right there, but not so much as I knew this was a voluntary position and I had a fairly reasonable portfolio of articles, plus ideas I had about how to engage on social media without potential donors. She encouraged me to think about it over the weekend, and let her know by Monday. She even mentioned getting me in for training next week if I accepted. And the fact that, in a couple of weeks, they were moving to a different office, and confirming that that was okay.

Pretty confident I would accept, I went away and reflected. I texted her on the Saturday – thinking it’d be nice to show I was eager, and also not keep her “hanging” over the whole weekend; I also wished her a good weekend, and that I wasn’t expecting a response till Monday as I’m sure she had better things to do on a Saturday, and so forth. I sent her the same message on email and text, in fact (again, figuring that it was nice for her to see the message in some capacity, so she knew one way or another).

Monday came around and… nothing. Close to noon on Tuesday, I sent her a follow-up email to make sure she had received my last one. Nothing. I added the number that I had texted to my iPhone phonebook – there she was, on Whatsapp, looking all bohemian and carefree in the pic.

WTF?!

I mean, this was a little old. I was confused, and a little p*ssed off too.

How can you go from talking about my joining one minute and then, in the space of a couple of days, seemingly do a U-turn? What’s happened here?

I actually wasn’t as gutted as I might’ve been, thought. Returning to work for someone for the first time in nearly 3 years (Masters, doing my ‘own thing’, then taking time out), there was some going-back-to-work anxiety as I mentioned earlier, especially as it would be doing something new where I don’t feel super-confident in my abilities. #fakingit #impostersyndrome

Also, I think I’ve become more introverted as a result of being in my own space more – ironic as, in my sales days, I was in an open-plan office and talking to/meeting clients all day long. It brought out the social side of me, but it was exhausting.

Probably the worst thing is – she seemed really nice! I know I had only know her for an hour, but *still*. I like to think I’m a pretty good judge of character. #IThoughtWeWerePals

Either way, my feeling is that what has happened here is probably a blessing in disguise. They may well have messed me around when I started, and this could have been stressful.

By Wednesday that week, I had decided that, even if I did hear from them, it was gonna be a “thanks, but no thanks” from me. It just wouldn’t feel right. I’m a believer in things happening for a reason, and the universe was doing me a favour here.

It’s not the most pleasant thing to be ghosted after a job offer – or at all, for that matter. But if it potentially saves me from future sh*t that I don’t need, I’ll take a ghosting any day.

✏️ Written: Friday, 23rd February 2018 @ 0.00am

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What about you? 👻
Have you been ghosted, online or in-person? Have you been a ghoster? (be honest!) I’d love to hear your ghost-related experiences – whether shocking, hilarious, or frightful.

Introducing: Cute Gym Girl

About 12 months ago (woah, I hadn’t realised it’d been that long) I started going to a new gym. I’d been going to another branch of the same gym, but one had just opened up (actually, taken over), nearer to me. The gym area was bigger, with more space (and studios for solo-stretching etc. when classes aren’t happening), and the swimming pool and spa are bigger too. Plus, there’s a jacuzzi. A jacuzzi.

Also, especially when I joined, no one knew me. I’d been going to my last one for years, and as I knew a lot of people there the “hi’s” and chatting (#peoplepleaser) often distracted me and kept me from focusing on my workout. At new gym, I’ve been a lot more focused – and grumpy. (Seriously, I haven’t yet found the balance with eye-contact/wave/”hey” and then feeling OK doing nothing after that. I’m pretty sure a lot of folks now see me as the grumpy guy who just keeps to himself and doesn’t interact with anyone).

Anyhow, these days more and more girls are going to the gym. Which equates to more and more cute girls going to the gym. And – my word – part of me thinks that leggings were invented to distract males. I mean, seriously.

There’s this one particular cute girl in the gym who often worked out in the weights section, tending to keep her headphones on and do her own thing. I think I’d seen her briefly chat to someone just once. She was brunette, slim with a great figure, with a pretty face.

I saw Cute Gym Girl a few times, and we’d both just do our own thing. I initially felt she was wayyy out of my league. But this one time, I couldn’t help feeling that stuff was going on. There was some proximity, some un-tying and re-tying her hair, and some fidgeting with her mobile. I mean, she was playing her songs on her headphones via her phone, but one time she went to the water fountain and left the phone right there on the floor.

I may be reading a bit too much into things here, but I’m pretty sure I’d recently googled “signs she’s into you” (true story) and I was picking up on some subtle signs here. Besides, we’d exchanged some glances in the past, I’m sure of it.

In typical fashion, I almost bottled it. Multiple questions ran through my mind, and that inner voice was saying “Dude, what if all of this stuff isn’t signals at all, and you’re barking way up the wrong tree here”. F*ck. This was typical.

I nearly bottled it. I went through my whole workout and then right at the end, plucked up the courage to kinda wave as I walked near her to get her intention (I knew I’d have to make it pretty obvious to get her attention, especially seeing as she had her headphones in). I did my best situational-flirt-line I could (pre-planned, duh), noticing her phone had no case, and I was like “You should really get a case for that, especially for the gym, you could drop something on it” or something along those lines. I’m reasonably confident it sounded a little better in the moment. She received it pretty well, and was like “Oh, yeah, thanks – I hope you haven’t jinxed me though” (I think I’d mentioned she’d done well to keep it in such good condition with no case). She seemed shy-ish, a vibe I had kinda got anyway.

From what I could tell, she didn’t mind the approach. Hell, she might’ve even liked it. I think I asked her name, told her mine, and said I’d see her around.

So with that done and dusted, then comes…. THE AWKWARD SECOND CONVERSATION.

Why the f*ck do I have to over-think everything? Now that I’d spoken to her, I thought that any subsequent interactions would make it obvious I liked her? Wouldn’t they?

You’d think after I’d spoken to her the first time it’d be easy to at least say “hi” or gesture/wave or whatever, but oh no. Not this guy. I think one time I saw her coming off one of the running machines near where I was, on her way to walk past me, I walked IN THE OTHER DIRECTION to the water machine. Idiot.

I think I might’ve seen her another once or twice from a distance (i.e. working out in different areas). One time, I thought I’d head over to the weights area where she was to try and do some stuff and say “hi” / get into a conversation, and I saw/heard her talking to another guy. This was the 2nd time I’d ever seen her interact with someone (aside from me), and the most animated I’d seen her. To this day, I still feel she was trying to get my intention. But then there’s always. that. nagging doubt. F*ck sake. I did my pull-ups, and went down to the spa.

After that, there was a period of weeks where she seemed to disappear. I went away in the Summer for a bit, and then came back and she didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. Where had she gone? Had she left the gym? Had she just gone away for a while?

My chance looked like it was gone, forever.

And then…

Around a month ago, Cute Gym Girl finally reappeared. It was like the second time I’d ever done an early morning workout, getting to the gym just after 6.30am. Around 7, she made an appearance. She was doing cardio and then working out on one of the mats. She looked like she’d put on a little bit of holiday weight, but she still looked great.

The thing is, by now it had been so long. And now the prospect of striking up conversation felt even more difficult. FML. After trying to concentrate on my workout whilst wondering if she’d come this way, or whether I should head that way… she disappeared and had gone.

The next time I saw her, a couple of weeks ago, she was in the weights area, like me. I didn’t have time to fully register/worry/plan what to do. However, for whatever reason, I was particularly grumpy that day. I think I’d spent the day indoors and on my own. And perhaps yesterday too. I get more awkward/closed-off if I’ve gone through a period of no social interaction. Sh*t. Coupled with it being so long since I’d seen her, I was well and truly f*cked.

At one point fairly early on, she walked close and right past me (probably on purpose) and what do I do? I looked semi-down and semi-straight-ahead, avoiding her gaze at all costs.

WHY THE F*CK DO I DO THESE THINGS?! 🤦🏽‍♂️

After that, I’m pretty sure we were both checking each other out a number of times during our workouts.

When I saw her in the weights area again just a matter of days later, at one point I tried to catch her gaze as she walked not-too-far-away… guess what? She looked ahead and carried on walking. No sh*t, Sherlock. Maybe it’s because you totally f*cking blanked her the last time, fool.

I haven’t seen her since.

One of these days, I pray that I talk to Cute Gym Girl again. And that it’s not awkward. I get a good energy off her, and it’d be cool to at least get to know her a bit more. I hope I don’t over-think things and dwell too much on the pressure of striking up a conversation with a good-looking girl at the gym. With others watching. Eek.

A friend of mine who works at the gym says “I’ve been saying this for ages, the gym is the new nightclub, man. It’s the place to meet people”.

As someone who’s a Personal Trainer there, you have an excuse to randomly talk to people! I wish it felt as easy for us mere, gym-going mortals.

✏️ Written: Monday, 19th February 2018 @ 11.27pm

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What about you? 👀
Are there any gym hotties at your place? How do you go about flirting, or showing interest, without making it #awkward? I’m all ears (well, eyes).