You Do You… by SJV
2018/02/05  |  By:   |  Features  |  

I’m writing this, my latest column, on Monday morning on the way to work, as I have done for the past six weeks. The difference between those previous weeks’ columns and this one is that I have literally no idea what, why, how I’m going to conjure up a bunch of words that might be mildly interesting, amusing, or, loosely speaking, informative. How people do this regularly, for an actual living, continues to baffle me and I’m totally in awe of them.

Of course, columnists aren’t the only people I’m in awe of. Scientists, teachers, carers, sports people (gymnasts and the like, not overpaid pretty boy footballers), people who affect change – be they modern day suffragettes or those championing for free tampons for the millions of women around the world who can’t afford them. Yoga bunnies that can get both legs behind their head AT THE SAME TIME.  Eco warriors. People with the skill and patience to papercut stunning works of art like Rob Ryan:


The list goes on and on. And on.

And what do I do? Get up, fanny about with colour-coded spreadsheets, drink overpriced fancy cocktails. No gold stars here. No-one’s going to call for a blue plague over my door any time soon.

But wait, hold up. When I get up is now determined by when my cat wants me to, not by the insomnia that has plagued me for most of my adult life. I feed her. I stroke her to make sure she knows she’s loved. I play a good hard five minutes of feather to entertain her… and when I make my first coffee of the day, I also stick a teabag in a mug so that when Mr Bookminx gets up, he knows I was thinking of him too.

I do my absolute best at work to represent our authors and their books. I work my absolute hardest to grow their sales and protect their brand, to engage new readers and look after existing loyal ones. I respect my colleagues and my bosses and try to not be too naughty, too loud, too much trouble.  I nail every single colour-coded spreadsheet I need to complete like a boss…

I know good cocktails.  I drink them regularly.  By drinking them as often as I do, I’m pretty sure I help the economy in some way and my cocktail dollar goes towards the wages of the lovely people who make them, which in turn puts food on the table for the children of the lovely people who make them… that’s a good thing right?

It may not inspire awe in anyone, but really, we can’t all be extraordinary can we? If everyone was reaching for the stars how would we ever get the streets cleaned and the toilets scrubbed, the shelves stacked and the spreadsheets colour-coded?

Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe to expect to be extraordinary in some huge big ‘important’ way is the route and the reason why so many of us feel ‘less’ so often. Less happy, less important, less worthy, less less less.  Maybe, to some, our own more modest lives are seen as hugely important.  Awe inspiring.  Maybe those farmers who grow the crops to feed the starving wish they could pirouette like Sylvie Guillem.  Maybe when Carl Orff was composing Carmina Burana in 1935, he was inspired by Amelia Earhart flying non-stop from Honolulu to Oakland….becoming the very first person to fly to the US mainland from Hawaii.

Maybe those columnists I admire so much for their continual stream of interesting, amusing and informative words, wish they could master the fine art of colour-coding a spreadsheet?

Cause I know I’m the absolute bomb at colour-coding spreadsheets. Seriously, if there was a Spreadsheet Olympics, the gold podium could as well have a permanent flashing neon sign above it with my name on it.

In some weird parallel world, like The Matrix or Inception, perhaps there is an alternative me who’s revered and awarded for my contributions to grids. A Nobel Prize sitting on an alternative-world mantel piece and an alternative-world street named after me?

Could the secret to true happiness for many of us be to just…. don’t…  Admire your heroes but don’t compare yourself to them.  Accept that our day to day lives are pretty special and pretty amazing and the simple act of getting up and getting on is something to be admired and inspired by? Dream big, sure, but accept that big doesn’t have to be flying to the moon or speaking 17 different languages.  Big can be making sure to eat your five a day.  It can be cutting out your reliance on plastic water bottles, straws and throw away coffee cups.  Engaging in a ‘small change big difference’ way of life… buying local, volunteering, being kinder, feeding the birds….

So, what I’m trying to say is this – you do you and I’ll do me. And every single variation of that message that has come before, will come after and all the spaces in-between.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to google ‘Spreadsheet Olympics’.  I’ll let you know how I get on….