Tuesday, 16 October 2012

It's My Birthday

Failed at 27 Club
To the left is the actual cake my work collegaues got me.

Turning 28 was never something I intended to do. Some people freak out when they turn 30 or 40 or some other landmark number, but for me 28 was always the age I never wanted to reach. No doubt for many of you this may seem ridiculous or dramatic, and perhaps in some ways, it is. However, it has been on the forefront of my mind for a long long time, and I’m going to try and get it off my chest right now, before your very eyes.

It becomes a little easier to understand my troubles when you take into consideration that I have been thinking this way from as young as 14 years old. I had recently come across various writings to do with the legendary 27 Club, and had instantly developed an obsession with it. Kurt Cobain was my hero above all heroes, and the romantic spooky aura surrounding that special age which had swallowed up my god was swallowing me up too. Brian Jones. Jim Morrison. Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. It fascinated me that, for some reason, these pioneers and pinnacles of rock music had all passed at such a specific time of their life. Do a little research and you will find there is no other age like this. There is no 26 club. There is no 28 club. And there is a reason for that. So, armed with this new found knowledge, I birthed a plan.

It’s disorientating as to how fast time slips away, and it’s even more disorientating at how glaringly obvious this fact becomes when a birthday is upon us. For as long as I can remember, I was the kid who practiced the Grammy speech in front of the mirror, or had an imaginary interview with Oprah before I went to bed. I know we all did that to some degree, but I still do that every single day, to this day. In my head, my heart and my soul, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that all my dreams would come true. Even before I was a teenager, I would draw pictures or write songs, and I could hear the screaming fans as they marveled at my work, despite the fact no one ever saw those projects. In my drawer right now I could show you hundreds and hundreds of pages worth of comics, short stories, concepts and drawings which I have never shown anyone. I have over 500 songs written that were never recorded and about 6 albums worth of recorded material that (up until recently) nobody had ever even heard. But it didn’t matter to me that I never showed anyone, because I had convinced myself I was a genius and an asset to the art world. It would simply be a crime of fate if I wasn’t discovered.

Reality bites, and it bites harder the older you get. Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that a large portion of my older friends are sneering at that remark right now. A 28 year old talking about getting old? What could this child who can’t grow a beard and has never had a grey hair possibly know about age? And that’s fair enough. But in my imaginary world, things did start to collapse a bit even by the time I turned 18. Why hasn’t anyone knocked on my door offering me money yet? Where are the screaming girls mugging me outside my house? Slowly but surely, the weight of it all began to solidify in my mind. This wasn’t going to just happen. I was going to have to do something about it.

When I turned 24 and I moved to London, it hit me as hard as the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac. It was almost in that instant that I realised I was not going to get anywhere if I kept creating art in a world inside my head. It was great to already be a superstar in my mind, but ultimately useless when no one else was granted access. I freaked out. From that day in August 2008, I frantically did as much as I could, and if you look at what I did, it’s quite a lot. I made a facebook group that clocked more than a 1000 people before getting shut down; I started an art website which hosted work from more than 40 artists; I made a website to meet Lily Allen and succeeded; I started this very blog website which I still regularly update with 12 substantial posts a year (more substantial than your blog posts anyway); I joined a 6 man film crew who have put out 18 videos to date; and I released a 4 track EP of songs, each with their own cartoon music video. This was all done while holding down a 9-5 job, and over the space of a mere 4 years. One can always work harder, but I worked pretty hard. I was trying to make up for lost time, because while my entire life had changed, one thing had not: I needed to be something. I needed to be something bigger than what I already was. I wanted to be discovered and recognized.

But with turning 28, for the first time in my life, a dream did not and can not come true. I guess it is a rare case, being the only major dream I had with a time limit and all, but it’s a failed dream all the same. I wanted to get famous before 28, and then die. I wanted to join the ranks of Brian and Jim and Jimmy and Janis and Kurt and, yes, even Amy. I never once doubted that this was going to happen, until recently when reality bit, and as of today it is impossible. All the countless years I spent researching the topic; all the essays I wrote and pictures I drew; all the material items I purchased on the subject... are now pointless. Because you can’t be a 28 year old obsessed with The 27 Club. That would be sad.

It’s at this point that I warn you I have no idea where I am going with this. I started to write down my thoughts in hope that I might work something out. It was a reflection piece to try and make sense of how miserable I have been feeling over the last few days. I have attempted to speak to people in person about it, but they can’t seem to grasp the concept that I am literally unhappy because I am not dead. They fail to see the importance of the whole thing. Yes, I am grateful for my life, and yes, I am sure staying alive will be beneficial in the long run. But I just lost a fucking dream. A big one. It’s gone. And I don’t feel any better now that I’ve put it to paper.

However, I am a trained optimist, and there are some silver linings (as there always will be). For starters, age means nothing to me from here on out. My life’s thought process has always revolved around being dead by now, so ages like 30 or 40 or above don’t scare me. If I’m older than 27, then I’m not 28 or 29 or 42 or 56. I’m just older than 27. And as I used to tell my friends: I will either die at 27, or I will live forever. I guess that can be my new obsession. It’s a fairly common one.

The other silver lining is that I feel less desperate now. Whether you achieve a dream or you don’t, the result are much the same. You stop trying to achieve it. I can’t go back in time, and so I have to gracefully accept that God fucked me once again, and watch this dream shatter. It is the first dream I have ever watched shatter, and it hurts, but it does lift a lot of pressure off of my future. I no longer have a deadline. I no longer have to panic about reaching a certain plateau before a certain time. Now I can just forget about myself and grow old with everyone else. Like the normal person I never wanted to be. It fucking sucks, but what can I honestly do? Suggestions?

In closing, I’d like to say that this is the worst birthday of my life. Thanks for reading.

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