Unfortunately, the privacy of this blog was drunkenly violated by a colleague of mine who I can only refer to as Edward B. No, wait, that’s too obvious. How about E. Bataillard. The extent of his transgression obviously has an effect on what I can write. This is a shame, as I intended to disclose the inner machinations of my mind, the darkest vaults of my tainted soul; to write about this loneliness and existential angst that latently torment me, concealed on a daily basis behind small talk about cannulas and eportfolios; plus I have a ‘load’ of jokes about wanking. Wahey. /Lad. Perhaps ‘twat’ is more pertinent.
Yet, no publicity is bad publicity. Ermm, hang on, that’s semantically ambiguous. There is no such thing as bad publicity. That’s better. Clearly there is bad publicity – just ask Andrew Wakefield or the GMC. To be fair, I don’t think such semi-anonymous, tongue-in-cheek musings cast aspersions on my fitness to practise. Ironically, my reproductive fitness (which desperately requires practice) is probably negatively affected by this blog. I’m going to be honest; aside from therapeutically feeding my conspicuous self-obsession, I have other motives in writing this blog. The desperation has hit such an extreme, that I secretly hope you show this blog to your single, female (preferably fit) friends and they become consequently enamoured to this pseudo-existentialist verbal diarrhoea.
In the Prologue, I justified my underlying reasons for joining Guardian Soulmates. Now it’s time to create a profile.
Being brought up in a Sri Lankan culture, part of me thought that a lot of mate selection is based not on common interests, complementary personality types or adorable idiosyncrasies, but essentially on one’s CV. Excel at school, attend a top university, become a doctor – the girls will be wetter than a Welsh summer at the sight of you. It soon transpired that this was, like my non-medical contact with erogenous areas to date – all bollocks. If anything, the anti-intellectualism endemic in my Essex hometown renders reproductive potential as inversely proportional to educational attainment.
I’ve only learned relatively recently, that, apparently, confidence, not Cambridge, is the key to a woman’s heart. Other people seem to know this intuitively, but for me it resulted from trawling broadsheet agony aunt columns and googling phrases such as ‘how to get a girlfriend’ ad nauseam. Confidence is such an alien concept to me. It smacks of used-car salesmen, charlatans, vacuous MPs. It’s an acting game, an often dangerous acting game, the preserve of the same ‘fools and fanatics’ that annoyed Bertrand Russell:
‘The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts’ – Bertrand Russell.
Even those situations that arguably necessitate confidence, such as talking to patients’ relatives or requesting an MRI scan in front of an infinitely higher-qualified radiologist, make me feel uncomfortable. On the rare occasion my MRI request is granted, I still feel queasy, as if I have deceived or cheated my way to success.
Don’t get me wrong, I am confident in some respects. But confidence ought to be like morality, in that it should be relative to one’s situation, not absolute. Ask me whether I can run a half-marathon in under 1 hour 30 minutes, and I’ll reply ‘Yes.’ I’ve done so before, this apparent confidence is grounded in experience: tried and tested. Ask me whether I’m good at running and the answer is ‘it depends.’ There are plenty of people who can run a half-marathon in much faster times. There are also plenty of people who, when attempting to run, expend more energy waddling laterally like a dopamine-deficient, capricious drunk rather than propelling themselves forward. Continuing the medical analogies (because I clearly have nothing else going on in my life), a consultant may make a diagnosis, borne from years of clinical practice, much more confidently then a junior doctor. Confidence, possibly like the eudaimonic happiness that eludes me, must be earned, surely?
I did once actually have a brief relationship that emanated from me ‘acting’ confident and emotionally intelligent. Spurred by the familiar cramps of desperation and an article by psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman entitled Self help: forget positive thinking, try positive action (1), I thought that you have to ‘fake it until you make it.’ The crux of the article was that by behaving as if you are in a certain emotional or cognitive state, you actually start to adopt that state. According to the article, if you force yourself to smile, you actually become happier. Even more preposterously, subjects who forcefully adopted ‘dominant poses’ such as “interlock(ing) their hands behind the back of their heads” became more confident and blood tests revealed higher levels of testosterone in these subjects. That’s science. You can’t argue with science.
So life it seems, both of the love and non-love kinds, are just games. While I may actively dislike and not agree with the rules of this ridiculous love game, I was left with no choice but to, as Bruce Lee would say, ‘be like water,’ to adapt, to transmogrify into something fitting of this strange social infrastructure. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” refrained rapper Ice-T. It was time to become the player, to behave as if I was some confident, rugby-playing, socially dominant male.
Unfortunately, contrary to whatever studies Richard Wiseman cited, I could not keep up this acting game. The illusion was shattered. Plus, the opportunity cost of trying to retain the hands-behind-the-head dominant pose was the use of my hands. I needed them to, you know, do shit. You try drinking some coffee with both hands interlocked behind your head! Anyway, is it even possible to change fundamental personality traits or cognitive diatheses engrained over 26 years of existence in this world? If Richard Wiseman’s effect on my life is anything to go by, there definitely is no such thing as nominative determinism! Well, only if you just consider Dick’s surname.
She soon realised that I was not confident, not Don Draper from Madmen, but an actual mad man, a man-shaped receptacle of neurosis. A bit like Virginia Woolf, but bereft of any her literary talent. I was dumped. Cue a period of heartache, excessive exercise and listening to A Girl Never Knows by Connie Stevens on repeat. I don’t know why I’m dredging up painful memories of unrequited love. Perhaps it’s useful to reflect backwards to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ I’m sure George Santayana would have loved me quoting him in the same essay as Bruce Lee and Ice T.
In the aftermath of this relationship; partly due to my prevailing mood and partly due to a television-addled attention span that renders me unable to read anything over 200 pages, I started reading a lot of existentialist novellas. One of these books was L’Etranger or The Outsider by Albert Camus. The main character Mersault is put on trial for showing a lack of overt emotion at his mother’s death and then shooting an Arab without any apparent guilt. In the same period, he also had a relationship with a lady called Marie – the callous, lucky bastard! Ignoring the wider absurdist implications of this story, the book is, in Camus’ words, about a ‘hero…condemned because he doesn’t play the game.’ Mersault ‘refuses to lie…he says what he is, he refuses to hide his feelings and society immediately feels threatened.’ If you can’t see where this is going, I’ll point it out to you: Mersault = me.
Monsieur Camus concludes that The Outsider is ‘the story of man who, without any heroic pretensions, agrees to die for the truth.’ Woah, easy there, I’m in no way prepared to die for the truth, but I’m definitely prepared to be romantically rejected for the truth. I should also mention that the author admits that he ‘tried to make (his) character represent the only Christ that we deserve.’ I’d like to point out that I do not suffer from delusions of grandeur and I’m in no way comparing myself to Christ. That said, I have the vocational ability to treat leprosy, I’m clearly very preachy and, if I don’t find love soon, I’ll probably marry a prostitute called Mary.
Christ, I’ve exceeded 1000 words and I still haven’t made my point. What this, somewhat prosaically, all redounds to is that I should be honest in my profile. Honest in my picture, honest about my height, honest about my interests. There is no point in lying, I am not confident. Socially, I have about as much confidence as a speculator on the Greek economy. I don’t know where the fuck I am going in life. I am not a social butterfly at parties. I do not have a full head of hair. *
Honesty may not be the best policy, but, to me, it is the only policy.
*If there are any girls reading this, I am confident, I know where I’m going in life, I’m most definitely a social butterfly at parties, I am hirsute and I look like Ryan Gosling.