Am I normal? A question I think a lot of us ask ourselves on a somewhat daily basis. From something minute and as irrelevant as concocting a great new sandwich combo, to pondering the inner, most secret demons we face within ourselves; no one thinks they are normal.
But what happens when you're casual "I'm not normal" turns into an "oh fuck, I'm seriously judging myself now"? Well, that's where I am lost.
For years I have done one thing with my life consistently: float. I am a self confessed floater. I don't stick at much, anything I find remotely difficult or challenging, I throw the towel in. It's funny though, because with most things in my life, I prioritize things wrong. I give up soooo easily on important, sensible, real life stuff such as jobs, education, good relationships and I dwell on, obsess over and down right won't let go on all the bad parts. I don't quit toxic friendships or toxic relationships. I NEVER want to leave the bar, even when it's closed and the bouncers are physically chucking me out. I also have a horrendous problem with arguments, I'll pick a fight and make sure I end it. All the trivial pointless things in life I make into absolute mountains and all the important, substantial things that should be Mount Everest, I turn into molehills and stamp on at the earliest available opportunity.
Now the problem with floating is very simple, you lose yourself. My dad always tells me that getting (and sticking to) a real job will help me with my self worth and self respect. I've worked extremely hard for the last 2 years to build up my self esteem, self worth and self respect and I did pretty much all of it without a "normal" full time job. I've been very blessed and very lucky in life to be in a position I never really HAD to work. I've had everything handed to me and I guess I've grown complacent. The funny things is that when I was a kid I was extremely business savvy. I was a young Alan Sugar in a way, only slightly illegal.
I grew up despising where I came from and what I had. I lived in a middle class area but it was clear that I was one of the "posher" ones. My dad had done very well for himself in life but always remained extremely modest. I admire that in a way and I will touch on that in future blog posts. My friends weren't really from the same background, though none of them were from council estates or "rough areas", though a lot of them acted like it. Now that I'm older and have a lot of friends from different parts of the country and ACTUAL council estates I completely see the difference. All the "hard" or "rough" kids from the "poor" areas of town were still from pretty well off families. I don't actually think there even is a real council estate in my (extremely tiny) town at all! But they would all act like they were tough and hard and had a really terrible upbringing. I would actually do the same to some degree, you'd of never thought that I lived in a 4 bedroom detached house placed in 2 acres of land. I spoke chavvy and I would get into trouble, I didn't have expensive things or designer clothes and if I did I wouldn't really show anyone. I would always share everything I had and I didn't want anyone to think that I was better than them. I wanted to be equal, I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be NORMAL.
Business was always a key part of life for me back then, I was always thinking of ways to be my own boss and that was all I wanted for my future. I didn't want to work FOR anyone, I didn't mind working with people though. I hated anyone criticizing me or bossing me around. I've always been a fiercely strong character and my confidence and decision making often ended up with me being the leader. My friends would always turn to me for advice, I was always (and still am) very rational, fair and balanced when I look at other people's problems. I can often see both sides of the story and not just the facts, but also the emotions, reasonings and motives behind the actions involved. I'm both sympathetic and empathetic and I can easily put myself in other's shoes.
I very quickly learned that the easiest way to make quick money in vast quantities was to provide something exclusive. The harder it is to get your hands on, the easier it is to 1. sell and 2. profit from. Now, back in my school days (I'm only really talking primary school here but will touch on secondary a little bit later) the kids would go through phases. My primary school was very small and probably only had about 500/600 students in total. There was about 100 in my year and everyone got on pretty well. I was always the funny one, the class clown and the rebel. I was popular in the sense that everybody liked me and I was genuinely friends with everybody, not so much in the sense that I was in the popular "gang" and everybody was jealous/secretly hated me. The second thing I learned in business, is that the more popular you are and the better your reputation, the more you will sell. People are sheep at the end of the day. We can deny it but we are. Especially as children, it's extremely monkey see, monkey do. I capitalized on that. You had to target the groups, find something that the ring leader wants, and you've just got 6 sales! Girls are the easiest to sway, as us ladies are more pack like and jealousy is a powerful thing. Every girl (no matter what they say) tries to subconsciously compete and outdo their competition. It's natural instinct. So when one person has something, the rest certainly don't want to be left out.
The first great scheme of mine was pretty simple- conkers.
Now this goes back the limited and hard to get your hands on. Pretty much everything I did with my underground playground business was against the rules. But when you're 8 years old selling a few forbidden items really isn't that serious and no one can really get you into trouble.
In primary, there was this one massive conker tree on the edge of the field and in autumn every break and lunch people would go and play with the conkers and have conker fights. Some people took it too far, as most kids do, and people got a few minor injuries and hurt feelings. Now, being primary school and the start of overprotective, PC, health and safety age; the school banned conkers.
We weren't allowed conkers at all. We even got banned from going near the conker tree and it was boarded off with caution tape. The lunch ladies were on constant conker watch and it was forbidden to have conkers at any time on the school premises.
Me being me, OF COURSE disregarded all the rules and found a way to break them (undetected might I add). I was in year 5 by this point and I decided that the best thing to do would be to fuck all the rules and push the boundaries. So every lunch, I would get my little squad and we would sneak over to the conker tree (the long way, which we were banned from going down anyway) and crawl through the trees and bushes to collect conkers. We always stayed undetected. The conkers were pretty awful and we left most of them in a pile there but we would always stash a couple to bring back to show our friends, almost as if they were medals.
Whenever I would show someone my conkers, they would congratulate me or marvel at how much of a rebel I had been (fucking LOL) and they'd always ask me to get them some. Again, I was really liked and I knew that staying on people's good side and being genuinely liked was important if I was going to start going into the primary school black market. I couldn't have people grassing on me. I made sure only people I knew and trusted (which was pretty much my whole year barr maybe 5 people) were in on the secret. I would spread the message round just before break or lunch that conker wars would be in a secluded spot and if anyone wanted to come and watch they could. It was all very hush hush and I felt like an absolute gangster. I was also the school conker champion, I beat everyone. Male, female, older, younger, bigger conker, smaller conker- I beat them all. The craze was starting to heat up and everyone wanted in but they were all banned. So, I found a solution.
To be able to play conker wars, you HAD to have a conker on a string. I had figured out the perfect conker to string ratio and been extremely successful in defending my championship of top conker player. It was all well and good having plenty of conkers, but without punching a whole through it and putting it on a string, you couldn't play. I was one of the few in the school that had an older dad and he had taught me how to win at conkers and how to be unbeatable (the trick was to set the conker in vinegar). Jealousy spread and everyone wanted to have a go, so being the nice person I am, I decided to make some for my friends so that they could all play too.
I had a conker tree in my garden at home, so when I came home from school, I went outside and collected some really nice, big conkers. I got my dad to punch a hole through them and then I soaked them in vinegar (but not enough to beat me, and all at varying lengths of time so some were better than others) and tied the strings through. I took them into school proudly the next day and at lunch we had a massive crowd watching the conker fight. I got a lot of interest and of course, everyone wanted to play. At the end of that fight, I spur of the moment announced that if everyone kept it quiet, I would make a batch of conkers ready for fighting and bring them in tomorrow. I told everyone that if they wanted them they would cost 50p each. I took about 10 pre orders and decided to make a batch of 20.
I went home that night and I roped my sister into setting up our little workshop on the porch front step. I got my dad to help as well even though he didn't realize that this was completely banned from school and I could actually get in trouble- stupid, gullible dad haha. My sister and I went conker hunting for a couple hours, making sure we picked the best ones. Then we washed them in a bowl of water to the get the dirt off, then moved them along to the drying station where we dried them and gave them a bit of a polish. Then we would deliver them to our dad in batches of 5 and he would punch the holes. One of us would collect them, bring them back to the step and soak them in the vinegar. Then we would let them dry off while we cut the string to the appropriate lengths and finally we would tie the knots, slip the conker on and voila! The perfect conker for battle.
The conkers were an absolute success and even though the teachers confiscated a couple and would constantly get the head teacher to have assemblies about the issue, I was never detected as the culprit and I made about £15 in total! It was short lived like most of the crazes at our primary school and I knew when to cut my loses. It was always done a lot more for fun rather than the profit and I really enjoyed the whole process of it. The fact that it was undercover and forbidden made it even better, as I've always loved danger and being a little bit naughty. This was only the start of my playground black market days!
Stay tuned for the riveting round 2 edition of my selling scandals.
- I really just needed to release some thoughts and write something. I wrote this at 3am and I didn't proof read or edit it so there may be a few mistakes. I hope you enjoyed it and it would mean the world if you could share this post, or maybe even follow or bookmark my blog. Thanks for reading.x-