Remarkable, just how much you can manage to not achieve if you really put your mind to it. For example, in the last 12 months (8,760 hours) I have managed to achieve practically nothing of any note whatsoever.
If you could tell the past version of Zoe who woke up for a smug jog on the first day of January 2018 that she was about to begin a year of achieving nothing important at all, she simply wouldn’t believe you. In fact, Last-Year-Zoe was inexplicably certain that 2018 was going to be the year that changed everything. She couldn’t tell you why, or what. It was just a gut feeling that the ineffable thing she’d been waiting for all her life was almost certainly going to happen at some point in that year.
She was wrong.
She floated through the months of 2018 consistently not achieving anything at all. Each month began with optimism; the kind of optimism you feel when you play the Lottery, the tantalising possibility that you could really, actually become unimaginably rich overnight and escape the rat-race forever. Each month ended with a feeling of slightly embarrassed disappointment, the kind of slightly embarrassed disappointment you feel when you inevitably lose the Lottery, and start to think about all the other things you could have spent that two quid on, like a couple of packs of chocolate digestives, or a Co-Op sandwich.
Before I knew it (yes I’m back to first person. Smooth.), I’d floated all the way to December. Now I’m 28 and a half. I’m floating closer to 30, like an escaped balloon heading for a plane propeller. The anticipation of a possible mental breakdown is paradoxically speeding up its approach.
I’ve been listening to hypnosis before sleep, an Australian woman who whispers empowering messages into my ears. I wake up with my headphones slowly garrotting me and a YouTube advert shouting about great deals on Huawei phones.
A few weeks ago I bought a Huawei phone.
Let’s take a look at some of the main things I did not achieve in 2018…
1. I didn’t write enough blog posts
This blog is something I really enjoy doing. You’re all incredibly nice about it actually, and yet somehow this year (without really meaning to) I stopped doing it. I have about 10 half-finished posts in my drafts folder but somehow never found the time, or the guts, to finish them.
2. I didn’t win a short story competition
I entered one. I imagined winning it. I imagined myself on a stage collecting an award. Someone saying ‘this is the first competition she’s ever entered’, other people raising their eyebrows in an impressed sort of way. I imagined adding ‘award-winning author’ to my Twitter bio.
I did not win the competition.
3. I didn’t finish my novel
About halfway through the year I decided to scrap about 100 pages of my story in order to start again because everything I’d written thus far was horrible. This time it was going to be better. This time I was going to plough on right through to the end. I tried National Novel Writing Month in November and averaged 900 words a day. Don’t be fooled into thinking this was an achievement, because I was supposed to be writing 1,666 a day.
I have still not finished my novel.
4. I didn’t cultivate an Elle Macpheresonesque figure
I’ve always wanted to be athletic and fatless like a supermodel. I know I’m not supposed to want this anymore. This is the era of body-confidence and Real Women. I’m supposed to feel empowered by my blobfish-like stomach. Shaming myself is wrong. It’s an insult to my womanness.
However, the inescapable truth is that if someone offered to pay for me to have all of my stomach fat sucked out and pumped into my buttocks, I would not say no.
Also if someone offered me a piece of bannoffi pie, I would not say no.
I believe this is the problem.
5. I didn’t develop a zen-like attitude to food
That’s a lie. I developed a zen-like attitude to food for one day in 2018. I watched a YouTube video of a very healthy looking lady in Costa Rica who was doing a 7-day coconut water detox in which all she consumed was coconut water and claimed to have transcended the basic need to eat. I don’t know why this appealed to me, but it did. I get the fasting thing. It invokes a sense of control and power that I usually lack in day-to-day life. I did the detox for one day and felt brilliant. When I woke up the next day though I was ravenous and could not for the life of me remember why I was so keen to be powerful and skinny.
I have a strong survival instinct. My body is fully expecting the apocalypse and has independently decided it must always store at least 3 months of fat reserve in the midriff area. No amount of running, silly aerobic classes or weight pumping will change me. I must come to terms with this fact.
6. I didn’t keep both my guinea pigs alive
My funny, camp little Valentino died and a piece of me went with him.
7. I didn’t buy a house
8. I didn’t keep my engagement ring safe
Went to South France with my ring, didn’t come back with it. Not 100% my fault.
9. I didn’t become fluent in Italian
But I can tell you that my monkey eat apples, so not an entire waste. (la mia scimmia mangia mele).
10. I didn’t go to Fiji to research sharks
I did see what I think was a giant sunfish off the coast of Montenegro and that was exciting. Not shark-level exciting though. My younger self would be heart broken that I reached 28 without achieving the very simple dream of seeing a shark in the wild.
11. I didn’t manage to do the splits completely
My crotch is still at least half an inch off the floor.
12. I didn’t become a feminist
Still not ready to commit myself to any sort of cause besides sort of hoping for a mass plague that wipes out most of humanity except for the good ones.
13. I didn’t get rich
A large amount of money has not landed in my bank account yet.
14. I didn’t manage to get an interesting hair colour
I spent 3 hours in a hair salon looking alarmingly unattractive in a high-necked cape while a pretty teenager fluttered around me doing something to my hair that is still a mystery. I was supposed to end up with copper coloured hair ends that would make me look stylish and interesting, as if I had a complicated but captivating back story. In reality it turned an uninteresting shade of pale brown and I was too polite to complain. I deserve pale brown.
15. I didn’t become a vegetarian
I would really like to stop being culpable for the death of animals. I don’t even like meat very much, yet I still eat it because it’s convenient. I do believe I will pay for this one day, maybe in an afterlife in which I am born as livestock.
16. I didn’t manage to do a pull up
This has been an ongoing resolution for me. I think this year I got weaker.
17. I didn’t go to Cornwall
When I’m grown up one of the first things I’ll buy is a sea-facing cottage in Cornwall with a window seat. This year I meant to at least get myself an airbnb, yet things kept cropping up that meant I couldn’t go.
18. I didn’t do any painting
I really enjoy painting. I didn’t do any. I spent a lot of time on the Internet though.
With New Year’s Eve approaching, I’m excited to see how much I can not achieve in 2019. I’ll keep you posted. Or maybe I won’t.