The Opposite of Popular

The online home of alleged author Victoria Leybourne

WTF am I doing with my life? Part I: Gap Year.


Everyone in my life knows me as Tory when they like me, so I know I’m in trouble when I get called Victoria. This song is basically a three-minute life crisis for me.

What? What did I do??

It’s also the name that I use when I’m in trouble with myself. (We’ve established that I talk to myself, right?) For instance:

“Victoria, you definitely came into this room for a reason, what was it?”

“Victoria, did you seriously just make yourself a sandwich for work and then lose it between the kitchen and the living room?” (Answer: yes, yes I did. Turned out I somehow immediately threw it in the bin. I am not a morning person.)


Oh no, Ross. It’s so much worse than that.

But by far the most frequent question I ask myself is the plaintive, frustrated:

“Victoria, what the hell are you doing?”

I’ve asked it a lot over the last year or so.

Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I suppose I should say “making a living by writing”, because there’s never been anything to stop me from picking up a pen or keyboard and arranging some words. This is not a very practical ambition. IF you have a talent for it and IF you can do it fast enough and IF you can reliably think of marketable ideas and then realise them… you still might never get anywhere with it because the other major factor in success as a writer is pure, elusive luck.

Frankly, if I didn’t have a burning, overriding, ridiculous urge to do it, I would think it was bloody stupid.

At school and university, I tried really hard to find a more realistic career option to aspire to. I did research. I did work experience. I did internships. I took a job after I handed in my last piece of university coursework, two months before I actually graduated. I was sensible for quite a long time.

Then I did something stupid.

In early 2014, I left a job I really didn’t like, in a field I wasn’t interested in and only got into by accident. It was a very serious job in a serious office building where a lot of serious people wore suits and carried serious files around with them. Some of the serious people were very nice, and actually not that serious at all, but I didn’t fit in there very well. I also couldn’t really explain to anyone what my job was, which was more depressing than I would have expected.

“So, what do you do with approximately a third of your waking hours?”

“Erm… stuff. At a desk. Sometimes I get coffee from a machine.”


Leaving this job wasn’t the stupid part. I had the money saved to job-hunt for a month or two and, since the parameters of my job search were “any full-time job that won’t make me cry when I have to get up in the morning”, I was pretty confident I’d find something.

I diverged from this plan.

I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I remember I got a bunch of books about writing from the library. One of them, in the introduction, probably just as a throwaway comment to help get you sufficiently motivated to read the rest of the book, said something like “Imagine being on your deathbed and regretting that you never got round to writing your novel.”

Here’s how I imagine the author thought readers would react to that:

“Gosh, no, I wouldn’t want that. That would be unfortunate. I suppose I should give writing a try, perhaps with the aid of a quality publication like this! By jingo, I’ll take it!”

Here’s how I reacted to that:

“Oh my God oh my God oh my God what if I go my whole life always meaning to become a writer one day and I never do and then I die? I’ll be old in like fifty years THAT DOESN’T LEAVE MUCH TIME OH GOD I CAN FEEL MYSELF AGEING AND FAILING AS I READ THIS.”

Or words to that effect.

And I remember making a spreadsheet (because I’m a mess of irrational anxiety but HOT DAMN do I love a spreadsheet) where I worked out how much money I needed to not starve or be homeless and then how many hours I would need to work at a realistic hourly rate to achieve that. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not “all of them”.

I remember applying for a pretty good part-time job I thought I probably wouldn’t get and then getting it.

I was giving myself a chance to be a writer. I was having a sort of gap year, except instead of backpacking around New Zealand like my sister did, I was going after the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do. It was exciting.

I remember it seeming like a perfectly good idea at the time. I also remember freaking the f**k out ever since.

Coming soon (because this post is getting long), Part II: The Panicking.

Also, hey, regular readers, how was this for you? I realise that I’ve tried a whole bunch of different stuff on this blog lately (shouty movie recaps, attempting to comment on social issues and now rambling about my life). Do you prefer any of those things to the others? Or should I just keep making this stuff up as I go along?



12 thoughts on “WTF am I doing with my life? Part I: Gap Year.

  1. Laughed out loud at the dog gif. Threw my head back and everything! Wondering if you ever got published or whatever.


    • Thanks for commenting! I want to say something super mysterious like “Oh, you’ll just have to wait and see…” except this story does not have much in the way of a climax. I CAN promise more gifs, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a big fan of your life rambles and also very much enjoyed your post on Feminism. And the Disclaimer post made me snort loudly. In public. On a plane. o.O But, I think making it up as you go along is best. That way you’re free to write whatever strikes you when you feel like writing. Or when you realize you haven’t blogged in a while.


    • Ah, so you’ve figured out what triggers me to blog 😛

      Seriously, though, thank you, that’s useful feedback. I still haven’t figured out what this blog is really for and I would sort of like to so that I know if/when I’m achieving anything with it, but I guess the most important thing is that I actually enjoy doing it – because otherwise I won’t. You’re awesome, thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • TBH, the blogs I like best aren’t really about any specific thing. I occasionally read blogs that are always about “a thing” – feminism, recovery, parenting, writing, etc. And while those are often great blogs, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m connecting with a person, it’s more like connecting with a topic.

        One of the reasons, I enjoy your blog, besides your delightful voice, is that it feels like there’s an equally delightful person at the other end. And this person has good stories to tell and interesting insights to share. I feel the same way about The Bloggess’ blog, Shanna Germaine’s, Hyperbole and and Half and Jenny Trout’s. Though Jen’s is a bit different since she’s a dear friend IRL, but I think that even if I didn’t know her, I’d be reading her blog for the same reasons I read yours and the others.

        Not sure if that makes sense or is in any way helpful. But I’m excited to see what you do next. And this post reminds me that I need to add you to the blog roll. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    • Something is rotten in the state of comment threading on my blog.

      Thank you so much! Your last comment has really made me smile 🙂 I LOVE Jenny Trout’s blog (although it feels a little creepy to say that to someone who knows her IRL… “HI I’M A PERSON ON THE INTERNET WHO LOVES YOUR FRIEND *freakishing unblinking stare*”) and Hyperbole and a Half and on your recommendation I look forward to losing large quantities of time on The Bloggess and Shanna Germaine 😀 And thank you for adding me to your blogroll! I really appreciate that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello person on the internet who loves my friend. It’s all good. She is indeed love-worthy. 😀 I think you’ll be especially delighted by The Bloggess.


      • I was reading the Bloggess yesterday, actually! She is indeed delightful! And you’re right, her blog has so much of her personality in it. I want to be her friend, except that I’d always be just the tiniest bit worried that she might buy me some questionable taxidermy. Thanks again for the recommendation!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Let’s be honest here, is there any taxidermy that exists that *isn’t* questionable?

        Also, this is the first post I read and it made me utterly fall in love with her. You know…in the internet way.


      • I just noticed that this went to Spam somehow… as though after leaving a whole bunch of comments that clearly weren’t spam, you were like “Excellent, I have earned the blog’s trust!” and then decided to get your spam on?

        I share your views on taxidermy. I am irrationally afraid of dead things and that applies even when they’ve been hollowed out.

        Finally, I hadn’t got to that blog post yet, and it was wonderful. She is exactly what I will be if I ever have any money.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My friend sent me the Beyonce link and said that I needed to read it because it was the Texas version of me and my husband. I laughed until I cried. Then I read it aloud at a family gathering because *everyone* needed to know of the wonder that is Beyonce. My kids will now yell, “Knock, knock, motherfucker!” whenever they see a big metal chicken. I like to think it’s responsible parenting on my part.

    You will be her – minus the dead rodents in tiny, adorable clothing. 😀


  4. Pingback: 3 Things I’ve Learned In A Year And A Half Of “Trying To Be A Writer” | Victoria Leybourne: The Opposite of Popular

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