Why do you feel like you don’t belong here?

Other, Relationships

Dear Rat Brain,

Here’s a (terrible) picture of you that I drew during lunch at work, where I know you like to go a bit mental.


It’s only been a little over a week now so it’s not entirely surprising you’d feel like you’re some kind of ignorant alien – like you have no idea what you’re doing. That’s how we operated throughout most of university after all… And secondary school…

(And primary school? Who knows).

You squeak:

What if I don’t belong here? What if they find out I don’t know what the hell I’m doing? What if they realise I’m mentally about five years old and whenever I do things right it’s a complete accident? What if I mess up?

Obviously, it doesn’t matter to you that you get good grades, that you come up with good ideas, or that you can explain concepts to people when they need it. It doesn’t matter that you’re on top of your work. It doesn’t matter that when stuff goes wrong you know how to fix it.

It takes longer than a week to fit into any workplace, let alone your first one. But you’re not willing to put in that time to be bad so you can eventually be good. You’re also not willing to realise that no one else knows what the hell they’re doing either; the standards you set for others are not the standards you set for yourself.

When you’re always aiming for impossible imperfection, is there any wonder you always feel like a failure?






Why can’t you let go?


Dear Rat Brain,

Here’s something I know sends you spinning — the prospect of having to let go of someone. An ex-friend, an ex-partner, an ex-random-person-you-spoke-to-for-a-few-days-years-ago-and-got-overly-invested-in; they all collect like dust in the corner of your cage. Sometimes you might think about cleaning it away, but –

What if?  What if there’s more to learn here? What if they realise the error of their ways and they want to be in my life again? What if letting go means I forget what I’ve learned about boundaries, and I hurt someone else or get hurt again? What if letting go means I must face my real emotions, and I won’t like what I see —

Even more egregious is when you scurry around, flipping out whenever a thought or feeling comes up, in case you’re not letting go:

What if? What if I’m letting go in the wrong way? What if I’m just digging everything up again by talking about it? Am I boring or annoying other people?

Why am I not over [insert thing that happened to me years ago?] They’re over it, surely. How pathetic, how childish —

Get off the wheel, Rat Brain.

There’s no right way to grieve, or let go. There’s no way to force yourself to accept that something is over; trying to do so, ironically, is the opposite of acceptance.

You don’t have to talk about it X amount of times, with Y amount of people, for Z amount of time.

You don’t have to rake the Trauma Leaves into a neat pile in order to make it easy to process.

You don’t need to do compulsions (you know the ones) to deal with ‘bad’ emotions, like sadness or anger or anxiety. There aren’t any; only things you’ve been taught are unacceptable to feel.

You don’t have to find the moral of the story; there is none.

You don’t have to have a carefully curated list of what someone did wrong, in order to feel justified in letting someone go. It is enough to simply want to let them go.

But first, you have to want to.


Why are you scared of writing?


Dear Rat Brain,

I see you – I felt you, earlier, sitting at my computer and staring blankly at a screen while I waited for inspiration to hit. I feel it now lying face down on my carpet hoping the format for this blog immediately lands in my hands, fully packaged and ready for the world. I felt it this morning, the panic and scrabbling on the inside of my skull as I stared at my novel outline and wondered if I should just give up, as I have many times for the last 7-8 months. I was once 60k into this book, but now I’m starting from scratch. And although it’s for the best, I can always feel you running into your panic stations every time I open up Scrivener…

‘How are we ever going to finish this novel?’

‘What if people don’t like it?’

‘What if people laugh at me when it’s finished because I put so much time into it?’

Thank you, Rat Brainbut no need to call 999 today.

It’d be easier to stop; I get it. It’s always easier, and wouldn’t we both rather watch shitty kpop videos in bed?? After all we’re both so exhausted from… What, exactly?

Here’s a story I wish I could have read as a teenager: about what happens after you come out as queer. How the fuck do you conduct a healthy LGBTQ+ relationship when all the examples on TV, books and movies either end in one half dying, or one half turning evil? (Sometimes both?)

And what do you do if you’re in an unhealthy LGBTQ+ relationship … but neither of you are dead, so you have to actually live with your shitty choices? These are questions I had but never really got solid answers for.

And if nothing else, I want to provide that story for one person in the world. So as tempting as random kpop videos are, maybe we have something more worthwhile to do today.