Mundanity: Coffee

Mundanity is about exploring the mundane in detail, finding life, story and inspiration.

Mundanity is about exploring the mundane in detail, finding life, story and inspiration.

They’re there every day, same time, same place, same order, same story. Hand on metal, they can feel the aging paint flaking off the pole, like the trunk of a tree, each of the thousand or so hands that grabs it hacks away at the paint like an axe would its bark. Weathered over days, months, years, the paint falls away and the exposed metal beings to brown like autumn leaves. Their forearm tenses, obeying the command on the door they push through into the coffee shop, metal hits metal, a series of vibrations flood the air as the bell rings to announce their arrival. A few seconds later, ears adjust and the sound is drowned out by an orchestra of people, machines and bodies going through the motions.

With a screech as loud as a steam train the milk frother makes the particles of air dance across the room at speed, landing on their ears with a deafening tone, enough to make a dog turn tail a mile off. The machines continue their cacophony of noises, coffee beans being ground together, the violent action crushing and smashing each one, releasing the aroma, the flavour and the sweet nectar that draws so many into the shop.

Solid as stone yet light enough to drift, the scent of coffee rushes through their nose, so strong they believe it could manifest suddenly from thin air. Snapping out of the overwhelming rush of new yet familiar stimuli, they shuffle forwards into a line of bodies. Like towering buildings each individual forms a pillar of waiting, of patience. Each upright, varying in height, flinching forward in a mechanical way towards their end goal.

Conversations to digital ghosts compete for dominance, each mouth in the queue forming sentences at pace, important conversations, bickering, complaints and happiness swirl around the queue as it slowly shuffles forward. Only at the till do these individuals turn their attention to the actual human Infront of them, reciting the same string of words they do every day on the same spot. It’s not long until they’re absorbed back into their own world of chaos, drowning out the shop around them.  

Order. Their order. Eyes swim across the board as letters form and coalesce into words. Words and numbers, choices, the options overwhelm and confuse but they know. They always know. Order, choose, wait. Standing and swaying, swaying and standing in the mass of people waiting for their own specific order. Anxiety fills the group, one careless reach, one slip of the mind and the wrong order is taken away. Chaos ensues, anger rises and tensions tighten as people’s days are held up. The finely tuned machine of the shop comes to a grinding halt with one swift action.

Today their coffee arrives, complete with a misspelt name despite having visited this same shop every working day of the year. Hot to the touch, the cool air of the room is already condensing on the cardboard sides. Trickling down each droplet finds its way to the surface, pooling to make a mess of spilt coffee, milk and condensation. A black-brown swirls with white, colliding with the clear water dripping from the cups, the storm of liquid builds on the table, gathering speed and volume until a wet cloth falls upon it. Almost instantaneously the storm of fluid vanishes as it is drawn into the seams of the fabric. A raging storm vanquished with a single swiping motion.

Bringing the cup up to their face, the intoxicating smell assaults their senses, pupils dilate wide and fill with the view of the thick black liquid. Too soon to try, but never learned, they take a sip. The scalding drink cascades over their tongue spreading a wet fire across their mouth and down their throat. Nerve endings tingle so violently each individual muscle in their face tightens, contorting it into a grimace of regret.

Pain follows, flooding through the mouth, down the oesophagus and all the way down to the stomach. The wet fire spreads and reaches all it can before it slowly goes out, devastating the flesh and leaving a bitter taste in its wake. Tingling intensifies, all taste is lost, invisible pins prick at the tender flesh of the tongue. Ruined, scalded and ashamed, they leave the shop, the cause of their demise clenched tightly in their hand.

Growth

Personal growth is a funny thing, eliciting both positive and negative reactions from people around you, and maybe even from people you know. Growth, in its biological sense is pretty simple. Things grow, trees grow for years to become hulking wooden beings that help control the worlds atmosphere. Children grow into adolescents and eventually adults, nails grow continuously all our lives, and so does our hair, so why not apply this viewpoint of growth to personal growth.

Personal growth is a funny thing, eliciting both positive and negative reactions from people around you, and maybe even from people you know. Growth, in its biological sense is pretty simple. Things grow, trees grow for years to become hulking wooden beings that help control the worlds atmosphere. Children grow into adolescents and eventually adults, nails grow continuously all our lives, and so does our hair, so why not apply this viewpoint of growth to personal growth.

We All Grow

Seems like a simple, if not redundant statement does it not. If you peel off the superficial layer of what this overused statement actually means you come to find a plethora of meaning, complexity and insight. We all grow, physically, mentally, personally. Just like that tree, we’re all growing until the very last breath we take, and then, the circle of life gives way to more growth, which can morbidly be seen as decay. However, this death also helps others grow, and not just the organisms that begin ‘eating’ your body. Death teaches others how to deal with loss, what death entails, it educates those who have lost someone how to deal with loss, through grief, resulting in growth.

Learning

Growth is part of our everyday lives in many aspects, as we’re continually learning and overcoming obstacles. If you were to read an article about something you like, say, video games, you’ll learn something new from the article – if it’s a good one that is. This is, technically, a form of growth is it not? It may seem simple, if not useless, but gaining that knowledge has helped you grow as a person, as a gamer and as an active member of a community.

That is quite a dumbed down yet important example of growth in the form of learning. Let’s look at something more long term and important to ourselves. You will make mistakes in life, it’s part of how you learn. Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and everyone learns from them. Everyone grows from the mistakes they make, learning how to avoid them in the future and better themselves. An entrepreneur may fail at their first business, maybe even their first few businesses, and whilst this may be disheartening, all the mistakes they made in their failed pursuits will teach them what not to do on their next business idea. Therefore, they learn and grow from their mistakes.

We don’t just learn by making mistakes, we learn passively too. We’re constantly absorbing information, be it through social media, public interactions or even the base senses of the human body. Drink a hot drink too soon, ouch, you get a burnt tongue which as we all know ruins the rest of the drink and what you eat for the rest of the day. You’ve learnt to wait a bit before you go at your unnecessarily long named coffee. Interacted with someone hostile and you learn how to deal with them, or how to avoid them entirely. You grow to understand why they’re hostile and how best to deal with people like this in the future. The constant stream of information we receive actively forces us to learn and adapt, which manifests as a sort of personal growth.

Change Is Inevitable

People change. Some people change their hair colour regularly. Some people lose or gain weight. However, change isn’t just physical. People value change as they get older, they put more value into different things. This could be as simple as liking a new music genre they used to think was naff, or this could be a person deciding to put more value in their close relationships. At the core of this change is growth, it’s a decision made by us that causes us to grow as people. As we grow older, where we place our values will constantly change, we grow in age as we do in mind. Heck, even as I grow older, I’ll change. I may look back at this article and scoff at it, or I may be able to build on it with my personal growth and gained knowledge. The truth is we don’t know how we will grow, change and develop as individual people, and whilst scary this can be an exciting way to view the future. A quick important thing to note is that people don’t always change for the better, and whilst we can work hard at helping people, you must put yourself and your development before anyone else.

It’s funny when people change, because you usually get one of two reactions. The first reaction, the negative one, highlights people’s discomfort with your change. This could be because they’re unwilling to change themselves, or – hopefully not so – that you’ve changed to conform. Most of the time it is the former, which is an unfortunate situation. The other reaction, the more positive one, highlights people’s joy that results from your change. “Oh my god, you’ve changed!” can be said in both a negative and positive way. Your change may inspire other people to change for the better, which means your growth can help others grow too.

Another important example of change is how the world is changing around us. Just like us, the world grows, society grows, and we must grow with it if we don’t want to be left behind. Governments fall and rise, celebrity culture influences millions and technology is progressing faster than we can keep up with. The best example here is the exponential growth of technology. To think how far we’ve come in just a few decades can boggle the mind. Ever faster processing power, increased graphical prowess, continually easier to use interfaces, all of this keeps growing and adapting year by year. We now use our faces or fingerprints to access our bank accounts, money can be sent and received instantaneously and our personal data is circulating all over the internet. Technology is a blessing and a curse, and in order to understand it and how to use it, we have to grow.

We all have that relative that has been left behind in the technological past. A grandmother who still doesn’t have Wi-Fi, an uncle who refuses to learn the simple commands of a MacBook or a parent who can’t use a track pad without smashing at it violently. There’s nothing wrong with this, some people are happy living how they always have been, and that’s their choice. However, if you want to keep up with the world, you must grow with it. I hope when I’m older that I don’t get stuck in the past, and I will always strive to grow along with the world and technology. In my opinion, everyone should be willing to grow with the world, as being left behind stunts not only your growth with the world but also your personal growth.

Looking Back

As we grow, learn and change it’s important to look back, to see how far we’ve come in our profession, skillset and as people. To grow is essential and a positive thing, and the best example of this is our former selves. Anticipating growth is another factor when looking back, like I’ve mentioned. I will probably look back at this article in time to come, and hate things about it. I’ll find mistakes, or I’ll have new knowledge with which I can build upon the discussion, and that’s ok. To accept that we will grow is important and is its own form of growth.

Creative Collaboration

Creativity usually stems from passion, inspiration and organisation coming together to form an idea that is like no other. It’s an incredible idea, a completely original piece of content. But it’s yours, nobody else can have it. You don’t want it to be stolen, do you? God forbid a collaborator takes your idea for their own. This can happen, I mean, look at massive copyright cases, stories of stolen ideas and intellectual property. Why enlist other people when there is such a risk? The answer is simple: because creative collaboration is KEY to fully realising a project.

Creativity usually stems from passion, inspiration and organisation coming together to form an idea that is like no other. It’s an incredible idea, a completely original piece of content. But it’s yours, nobody else can have it. You don’t want it to be stolen, do you? God forbid a collaborator takes your idea for their own. This can happen, I mean, look at massive copyright cases, stories of stolen ideas and intellectual property. Why enlist other people when there is such a risk? The answer is simple: because creative collaboration is KEY to fully realising a project.

Same Old Cook, Same Old Broth

Other people’s input, expertise and opinions can help better a creative project. You get stuck on how to put your idea into a good script? You’ll need help from writers, story boarders and you’ll need plenty of fresh eyes to read over your final project. Other people’s input is an essential ingredient to bringing a project to life, and whilst way too many cooks may spoil the broth, there’s nothing exciting about someone making the same old broth by themselves over and over again.

When I auditioned for a Masters in acting at a drama school, one of the key ideologies they pushed was creative collaboration. Something that really intrigued me was their approach to the audition. Acknowledging it was a competitive, difficult to get into degree, especially at the bigger drama schools such as this one, they didn’t deny that some people will not make it to the second recall or further. What they did state was whether you get into the course or not, the competition ends there and then. Once you are accepted, or even if you are not, you leave any semblance of competition in the audition room and you immediately begin collaborating with your peers.

There was a such a heavy importance on the necessity of collaboration, support and working as a team on the course and as a creative individual within the industry. One person cannot create an entire movie, show, performance without the help of others. To see this emphasised at a drama school audition was quite magical, as many drama schools and industry auditions themselves can be very competitive, corporate and callous, sucking the creativity and collaboration out of the process.

Solo and Stagnant

I’m sure any creative, in any medium of creativity, has run into this problem; you spend hours upon hours on your project, the endless grind to perfect it whittles away at your passion, sanity and creativity. In the end, you’ll stagnate, which simply put means you’ll not be able to contribute to the project anymore. Looking at it with the same eyes, the same mind, will garner nothing new. It can in fact become destructive, as you meticulously edit what was actually a good piece of work.

Working alone can be liberating, and it can be magical, but done too often it can cause you to stagnate. And as stated before, why would you want to make the same old broth over and over again? Brining in an outside eye can help you see faults in the project, it can help you overcome a problem you’ve been stuck on for weeks. Someone may be able to contribute a viewpoint that recreates a character, a theme, a colour scheme. The mental back and forth with another creative mind can inspire entire new storylines, even projects that go on to dwarf your current passion project in scope, creativity and meaning.

Why would you refrain from such great possibilities for yourself and your project? Usually it’s some form of fear, the fear of intellectual property being stolen, or it’s simply down to entitlement. Claiming that a project is yours alone, that nobody can envision it in its entirety but you, is a rather entitled statement. Whilst very rarely people do pull off entirely solo, self-righteous projects (and kudos to them), most of the time these projects end up being a solo, stale and stagnant affair.

Going It Alone

Say you decide you’re going to create something big and ambitious all by yourself. It might not even feel that challenging whilst you have the insatiable drive to create your dream project! It won’t take long until you realise there are many parts of content creation you’re not good at, you hate, and may require lots of expensive equipment and years of experience. Suddenly, doing it all yourself becomes the downfall of the project, and without external help or input, it’ll never come to fruition or wilt prematurely.

A (very) long time ago now, I tried to create a short film, all by myself, starring me, shot by me, everything by me. As you can imagine, I had an absolute blast! Wrong, it was an extremely taxing, frustrating and even upsetting experience that garnered disappointing results. First off, it was extremely lonely to create, and whilst sometimes fun, I found myself more annoyed than satisfied. Secondly, it was rubbish. I finished it, sure, but god was it terrible. To be fair, I had very little knowledge on other aspects of filmmaking which I now know a lot more about, but that knowledge has taught me I can’t shoot, star, light and boom the entire project myself, it’s physically impossible! These days I make projects with my creatively passionate friends, and the results get better and better with each project.

Let the Credits Roll!

We’ve all been at a busy cinema that’s packed to the brim with fans and movie enthusiasts. It’s an exciting affair. You’ve waited so long to see this film, you’ve watched every trailer, every interview with the cast and director. You’re ready to experience the film in all its glory, and it was everything you expected and more! Exasperated, on the verge of tears you forget you’re packed into a room like a tin of sardines which smells of some unnatural mix of body odour and popcorn, salty and sweet. Movies have such an incredible effect on us, as do many forms of storytelling. However, as soon as that credit roll begins, it’s everyman for himself trying to escape the dark stuffy room.

I completely understand this, we all have trains to catch, video games to get back to, kids to subdue, and so on. However, does anyone ever really appreciate the credit roll? (of course they do, but for dramatic effect, let’s pretend nobody does) If you ever want proof that creative collaboration is essential in creating the best content, look no further than a ten to fifteen minute credit roll. Hundreds if not thousands of names slowly roll up the screen to dramatic music, and all of them were essential to the creation of the film, no matter how small the role.

Of course, we get credit rolls in TV, video games and similar in books, but it’s very easy to close a book, turn off the TV or shut down the PlayStation. With cinemas, whilst you can leave, you cannot turn off the credits, and there’s something to be said about honouring the insane number of people who poured hours of their time and all of their hearts into the media you just (hopefully) enjoyed.

Essentially, what I’m getting at here is that what you just witness, played, read and enjoyed is the fruition of an unthinkable amount of creative collaboration, and that should be honoured even if for a split-second passing thought.

Scarlet Intoxication

Scarlet Intoxication

 With a movement it comes
 At first a bud and then a bloom
 Roses so big and full
 The depth the reds drown your senses
 Deep, sweet scarlet intoxication
  
 A blood red garden
 So thick you could swim
 An American beauty, a sin
 With inky slick movement
 The petal floats down
  
 So begins the decay
 All hope is lost
 What was once a marvel
 Now drips sadly in pain
 Dark, inescapable scarlet intoxication
  
 The passage of time is never kind
 Dried, crusty the rot sets in (or fall has come?)
 Beneath the bed you find the truth
 Although it scares you so
 The seeds of red you so try to sow
  
 The garden forgotten 
 To a past once lived
 A fog obscures the pleasure
 Dense and thick, but still you miss
 Pure, unadulterated Scarlet intoxication
  
 A mountain grows tall
 Where the seams detach
 The plates push and pull
 The garden is no more
 A mound of sand and waste
  
 What was once so sweet
 Now lost to time
 But it urges you still
 The push and pull 
 Of that deadly, scarlet intoxication 

Body

As an actor, our body is our instrument. As cliché as that sounds, and technically is, it’s entirely the truth.

As an actor, our body is our instrument. As cliché as that sounds, and technically is, it’s entirely the truth. As an actor, you need physical and mental stamina. Imagine doing a physically intensive show, one or two times a day, nearly every single day for a one to two month run. Insane right?! Imagine the physical demands of that, you’d have to have a certain level of stamina to even get close to attempting such a feat, and then there’s your voice. Safely projecting in a large space, for one to three or more hours, every night, requires such vital care of your vocal cords, lungs and throat. So yes, as cliché as it sounds, your body is your instrument, and you can’t play the guitar with an out of tune or broken guitar, so you can’t really act, at least not to the best of your ability, with an unprepared body.

That being said, there is a horrible stigma around body, in everyday life but also even more so in the acting industry. We live in a world where there is an ideal, a perfect body, which for a lot of people, if not most people, is either impossible or massively detrimental to one’s own mental health. We’re lucky enough to be living in a time where body positivity is on the rise, more and more mainstream media is representing all body types, including ridiculously fit models, but it’s still not enough, and there is still a long way to go.

Within our very vain, very perfection-oriented industry, body image is a huge problem, and it is a ‘selling point’ for us actors. Whilst there is more and more media out there representing other body types, and sometimes even throwing away the idea that body image is even a necessary casting requirement, it is still a prevalent issue to be the best body you can, aesthetically rather than mechanically as your instrument. This can wreak havoc on a person’s mental health and their actual physical body too. Abuse of diet, eating disorders and other unhealthy paths to industry standard ‘ideals’ leave an actor with a ruined mental state and ironically a poor actor’s instrument.

It’s important to fight this ideal, and fight for the healthy ideal that is necessary for a working actor. Aesthetics have nothing to do with a healthy body, and with the media selling us the idea of ‘perfection’ the journey to the desired body can leave you with an extremely unhealthy, and potentially chronically injured one. There is a massive difference between an aesthetically pleasing body and an actual healthy body that allows an actor and person to work and live to the best of their ability.

Obviously, where a role calls for a specific body image, say a biopic, or body specific storyline, there lies a difference. Continuity can become a factor in ‘controlling’ your body image in screen acting, and it is so important in these jobs you work with professionals to keep your mind and body at the level required but also in a space that is monitored, and allows for you to work safely under specific body restrictions.

I think it is essential that the world, and our industry in particular, has an open and honest conversation about the importance of physical and mental health with it comes to body image and acceptance of one’s self. It is essential to blindly ‘body cast’ where possible and provide as much professional help as needed where a project, role or just a person requires it. Celebrate diversity and look after your friends, your actors and most importantly, yourselves.

Virality

Virality

 Terrifying times, terrifying times
 What was once just lines and lines
 Of code and data, technological rhymes
 Is now taking form it's original crime
   
 We go viral all the time
 Go viral with our minds
 Viral with our rhymes
  
 We go viral through lines of code
 Go viral in attack mode
 Viral me is unopposed 
  
 But what is virality?
 Is it the totality 
 Of our own morality?
  
 It goes viral in thin air
 It goes viral and doesn't spare
 It goes viral without a care
 Keep your distance and don't share
  
 But what is virality?
 Is it the totality 
 Of our own mortality?
  
 Virality is back, Virality is here
 Virality is calm, virality is fear  

Take A Break

“What have you done with all your free time?”

“What have you done with all your free time?”

“How creative have you been?”

“I’ve done so much during quarantine!!”

“Have you seen all the opportunities?!”

And so on…

We’ve all seen it, all over social media, people are going crazy, being productive and sharing their intense fruits of labour for the whole world to see, and it’s fantastic, but it can also create a sense of competition and disappointment in one’s self.

My mind is very intense, to say the very least. Lots of thoughts racing around. Several ideas at once, flying around my head and bumping into each other, it’s really something to behold, and it’s a shame only I can ‘behold’ it. It’s chaotic, unorganised and simply mad. It likes to keep busy and being busy is the name of the game right now.

The global pandemic has crippled our industry, the arts has never suffered so greatly economically, and whilst we all eagerly await the bounce back (whenever that may be), there has been a sudden and welcomed drive to be creative, to adapt, to write and create and self-tape and apply for auditions and 1-2-1’s and watch endless amounts of professional webinars by industry titans, to be multi-faceted to stand out to get that recognition. That online presence. It has never been so important to adapt and put yourself out there for the world to see your brilliance, and that is a LOT of pressure, to say the least.

All these opportunities, these incentives, these calls to adapt and overcome are fantastic and so, so important. But you can’t help but feel overwhelmed. With so much going on, and such an emphasis to be ‘seen’, it’s absolutely essential you know when to take a break, when to turn off, when to tell yourself “enough twitter for today” or “I have done enough”.

We live in a 24/7 culture that drives the world forward and wears people down to their very last bone. Recently, a friend of mine, who;

  • Shot two short films
  • Is part of a web series
  • Is part of a couple of improv groups doing regular online improve sessions
  • Was cast in an online play
  • Is currently finishing their one-year intensive drama school degree
  • Has been signed by an agent
  • Is writing a one person show for their degree

Told me that they feel like they’re not doing enough, and what I understood from this is that they saw other people, doing other things, and felt the need to be doing those things too. They didn’t give themselves credit for what they had done, and they are one of the hardest working people I know.

Now doesn’t that sound a little bit crazy? Doesn’t that make you feel like you’re not doing anywhere near enough? The same feeling I felt from them. Does that not scream ‘SLOW DOWN’?!

Take a break.

Go and read that book you wanted to get into, not because it’s on your list and you must absolutely get through it, but because you want to read it, at your own pace. Go spend some time on your gaming backlog or start that new series everyone Is talking about. You are allowed to take a break.

If you’re the kind of person to hyper-organise, schedule in time to break. A phenomenal playwright, Ella Hickson recently said something that really struck a chord with me. She talked about scheduling, routine, and how important it is to creatives, especially those with hyper-active minds. What really rang true was that she knew when she was productive in the day, and when she was better off working out, having a break, taking a nap, or whatever floats your metaphorical boat. The idea to schedule in your break time, your ‘me time’, however obvious that seems, is so important.

Take a breath, and remember that you’re human, and not a machine. There will always be more to do, so take a break.

Vulnerability in a Modern World

Vulnerability, the quality of being exposed to the possibility of being harmed, either physically or emotionally, as defined by oxforddictionaries.com.

Vulnerability, the quality of being exposed to the possibility of being harmed, either physically or emotionally, as defined by oxforddictionaries.com.

Vulnerability can be discussed in many different ways. For example, in the age of social media, where everyone posts their day to day lives, everyone is exposing themselves for the entire world to see, and maybe even ridicule, harass and hate. Another example is being vulnerable to theft, having your phone sticking out of your back pocket makes you vulnerable to being pickpocketed, living in an area with high rates of crime leaves you vulnerable to be a victim of said crimes. Vulnerability can be seen in the high school kid who gets picked on, the partner who is a victim of domestic violence, the person who dares to speak their mind against the masses.

This topic, this word really interests me because it covers so many bases, it takes so many different forms which ultimately can be generalised into the same definition. Being vulnerable can be a superpower, it can be a downfall, it can be a strength or a weakness. In this article I’m going to talk more about the positive aspects of vulnerability, where it can be used as a strength, and power, and a stand against the oppression in the world.

Social Media

Technology has connected the world like never before. Instantly talk with your friends across the globe. Watch the latest events live online, watch people go viral overnight and become globally famous instantaneously. It’s a crazy world and it’s only going to get crazier. Putting yourself out there is the new normal, in fact, we’ve surpassed that even. Putting yourself out there is essential. Marketing yourself, as a public figure, professionally, visually, even graphically is the way into most industries these days. Is it right? Not in all cases, but it’s becoming, or more so has become, an essential part of everyday life in a lot of industries.

Going back to social media, vulnerability has become a part of our day to day lives. Constantly updating our feeds with selfies, kids, pets, possessions and everything in between, there has never been a time to be more vulnerable. We share this content with the world; what we ate today, how we’re feeling every minute of the day, our successes and our downfalls. Everything is published to the world and no detail is spared. Some people find this over saturation of people’s lives unnecessary, dangerous and vain. Others see it as a celebration of life, love and who we are as individual people. This is a generalised way to say, our social media content is criticised and adored. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable to such an extreme extent that the bounds of privacy have changed.

Is this a good or bad thing? That’s subjective, but the unmistakable rise in being truly vulnerable to the entire world cannot be denied. Vulnerability online even goes as far as putting out graphic content of yourself, with the massive boost in ‘independent’ pornographic content from websites like Only Fans and even social media giants like Twitter. There doesn’t seem to be an end to how we can be globally vulnerable today, and I expect it will only become more and more common.

Power To The People

Being different, and being loud and proud about it, is a form of being vulnerable. Whilst some people may disagree, opting for the ‘empowered’ definition of this personal expression, it still falls under the definition of vulnerability. So why can’t it be both? Essentially, it can. To be empowered through difference, adversity and change is to open yourself up to the possibility of emotional or physical harm, which, in turn, it to be vulnerable.

One of the best things to come out of social media vulnerability is the rise in activism and rights. Mental health advocation, body positivity and LGBT+ rights have become massive issues highlighted by people being vulnerable on social media. Disabilities, medical conditions and more have seen a rise in awareness, charities and foundations have seen increased funding from social media trends.

Ultimately, the increase in vulnerability online has educated millions, given people a voice and even saved lives the world around. Whilst yes, we live in a day and age where people are posting an alarming amount about themselves online, opening themselves up to manipulation, hatred and outrage, people finally have a voice, a form of ‘freedom of speech’ and power that allows for mass education and mass debate amongst the population.

Socially Savvy

To put yourself out there, to advertise yourself as a professional actor, copywriter, business person, model, chef and so on is opening yourself up to the world, showing off what you can do, and ultimately, being vulnerable. Say, you’re a young aspiring creative, you’re eager to climb the metaphorical ladder in your chosen profession. You’re going to need an online portfolio, you’re going to need to sell yourself online and in person. You need to expose yourself to criticism, constructive or destructive, you need to be vulnerable.

An actor needs a showreel, they need to showcase their talent for casting directors and agents. A scientist needs to publish research and attempt to prove a hypothesis, which may be contested and disproven by other studies. A politician must choose their party, their morals and what they will advocate for, knowing full well they will be met with opposition, slander and hatred from members of the public. Vulnerability is a key part of professional life, without it we cannot progress professionally, we cannot have a voice and we ultimately won’t get anywhere with our chosen careers.

Do You Love Me?

Another form of vulnerability I want to talk about is vulnerability in relationships. Being with someone, being a best friend, being a parent, child or carer, are all forms of relationships that are founded on mutual trust, compassion and vulnerability. Being with someone, sleeping with someone, sharing your struggles with someone is being extremely vulnerable. Exposing the best and worst of yourself to family and friends, exposing things you hate about yourself, crying in front of people, all of this is at its core a level of vulnerability we don’t even show on our social media channels (although, this too is becoming more and more common).

The vulnerability shown in intimate relationships and family bonds can be highest level of being vulnerable, breaking down wall after wall that we put up to defend our vulnerability. Sometimes, this form of vulnerability can be more difficult to accept, or expose, than the form we put out on our social media. Showing off our faces, bodies, flaws and so on online is easy in comparison of opening yourself up emotionally to another person. I guess this could be thought of as a sort of mental vulnerability, where all physical layers are stripped away to show the complex, naked and entirely human mind that lies beneath.

Venting, a term now used regularly, is a way to expose your mental vulnerability to a friend, lover, family member. Being able to discuss deep personal issues is a form of exposing yourself, a heightened state of vulnerability, and as stated, becoming more and more public with use of social media. Whether that is a good thing or not is entirely down to a case by case matter. You can easily over-share online, exposing yourself knowingly to a backlash you weren’t ready for, or you could empower others to be open and forge better, healthier lives. In reality, these are two extremes on a never-ending spectrum, because nothing is black and white, everything has layers upon layers of context, sub context, discussion and meaning that need to be hashed out in order to be remotely quantified a supposed ‘place’ on said spectrum.

It Goes Further And Further

A while ago, I listened to a fantastic episode of a podcast I’m truly in love with, The 98%. In episode 11 of series 2 of the podcast, named #RegulateAndState, the two actors Alexa Morden and Katie Elin-Salt go in-depth into the abuse of vulnerable actors via casting websites such as Mandy.com, where casting calls are put out (mainly targeting female identifying actors) with sketchy descriptions and sometimes asking actors to do extremely inappropriate things.

If you haven’t cottoned on, this usually refers to the sexual exploitation of actors who are so desperate for work, they may be willing to do things far outside of their comfort zone. Before we move on, let’s make sure we don’t shame people who want to do these types of jobs, as this is an important art form that needs to be celebrated too. However, abuse of a person who does not wish to do a job, through promise of money and credits to put on your resume, is an abuse of vulnerability. I urge you to listen to this podcast, or at least this episode, however this is not this week’s endorsement!

Superpower

Vulnerability is essentially a superpower, right? The openness to potential harm, technically, helps us advance, grow and become better people. In the most biological of senses, harm teaches the mind what not do to and what do to in future encounters with said cause of harm. For example, you stub your toe on a piece of furniture, after several minutes of saying a multitude of obscene four-letter words at varying volumes, you learn not to do it again. You understand that it will cause you pain, and you adapt to deal with that pain. Whether that is to avoid the pain altogether, or you rearrange your furniture, depends on the situation. Hell, you may even throw it out and invest in a better piece of furniture that has less risk of colliding with your sensitive toes! You take this knowledge, this epiphany and let other people know about the dreaded corner of death. Your barefooted stride is your openness to the chance of physical pain, your vulnerability, and in walking around like this you allow yourself to learn and adapt from life experiences, which is yes, in this analogy, stubbing your toe.

In a much more complex and psychological way, this could mean that being vulnerable on any level is allowing yourself the ability to learn, to adapt and to progress against adversity, and teach others in the process. Crying in front of others is embarrassing, highly emotional and not very pleasant. However, in doing so, you learn to adapt to this pain, grow from it, and let others know it’s ok, it happens, and life goes on. If this isn’t a modern-day superpower, I’m not sure what is.

Mundanity: Toilet Seat

Mundanity is about exploring the mundane in detail, finding life, story and inspiration.

Mundanity is about exploring the mundane in detail, finding life, story and inspiration.

Their eyes peeled open like a budding flower. Lazily throwing a hand to the side, their fingertips clattered along the wooden surface, almost knocking over the glass of stale water that had been sat on their bedside for 4 nights in a row. Continuing its search, the hand brushed over metallic loose change, toppling neat piles like a giant would topple buildings. Onto a glass surface, but not the one it searches for, the hand glides across it leaving an oily smear across an already grimy lens. Finally, the hand reaches its destination and the room is illuminated by an artificial blue light, blinding them suddenly and causing those flowers to close to a squint.

03:00. Three in the morning. Several notifications tussle for their attention but the unwelcome light show is rudely interrupted by a sudden pressure. Building stronger and tighter, they know that she is calling. The legs join in and the pressure intensifies, nature calls, the bathroom awaits. Leaving the warm cocoon created by a sea of silk and body heat, the stagnant night air crawls across their skin, rushing up their legs as they stand, tickling each hair upright. The hard floor is abrasive against the soles of their feet, dry and rough from work and age. Each step forward a stiff and silent wrench.

Cocoon broken, their body haphazardly floats to the bathroom. In a graceful yet drunk dance, the exhausted body and mind whirls its way through the cold air towards the toilet. Pre-empting the jarring light, their fingers reach out for plastic. Muscle memory guides the arm, the hand and finally the fingers to a place already known. Impaired by a post slumber haze, the fingers first crash against the rough painted wall before finding the smooth plastic light switch. With a single click, the automatic light is disabled. Pushing past the door the all-consuming darkness begins to reveal its secrets. Eyes adjust, the porcelain world comes into smokey view.

Lowering down with the pinpoint precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, skin finally meets cold, hard seat. Icicles pierce the skin, a cold sinks deep into the legs and spreads fast like a venom, shuddering at speed up the back and through the spine. The muscles pulling the hairs taught reignite and a rippling sensation travels through the entire surface of their skin. With this shock quickly comes relief, the pressure is burst, the body and mind are satiated. A wet warmth funnels out of the body at speed, crashing hard against the recently bleached surface. The stream rushes and sound follows, the body’s hot expulsion followed by steam. Warm and cold air intermingle as scent floods the air. The stale night now filled with the sour smell of the yellow fluid, their nose retracts like a rabbits.

Empty, drained, relieved. Sat on the cold toilet seat, the journey back begins. They rise from their perch and their hand blindly grasps for the flush. Hand crashes with metal, a few failed jerks and finally the water flows. The final turn causes the hurricane to begin. Violent waters rage in the small sea that dominates the bowl, waterfalls come crashing down and the sound is as violent as the image it conjures. An over aggressive palm slams down onto the plastic, causing more gel to spew out than necessary. They rub their hands in a slow, silent motion that lathers the soap in every direction. Great big spheres form and threaten to consume their hands entirely, sud after sud creep up the hand, until, in one jarring motion they vanish. Like a fire smothered by wind and water the hands move under the tap and nothing remains of the ever-growing world of bubbles. The cold water against the hands, a new yet familiar sensation that once again shocks their system. The seemingly never-ending cold sweeps into the final extremities of their body.

Deed done, they wonder slowly into a slumber that takes hold in their newly formed cocoon. Wrap after wrap of cool silk caresses their skin, as if made for their sole body and nothing else. The cold night air is barred off, protected by layers of fabric that repel the shiver. Like a wood fire beaten and bullied by the wind, a calm comes over them and it reignites. Fighting off the deep, dark cold that has infected the body their internal fire spreads throughout. The heart beats the warmth to every inch and the cocoon is finally home again. With the journey over, they finally fall back into a deep slumber. A notification illuminates the phone, out of view of their protected gaze. 03:10am.