I’m a barbie girl, in a barbie world – By @aliceburden1

By Alice Burden


I’m a barbie girl, in a barbie world


Someone said to me on Friday that they expected I was the kind of person who would cry at school if they got an A when they could have got an A*. 


Reader, I was not that kind of person at all. 


I am the youngest of four girls. Growing up, my older sisters were all very high achievers.


My mother never pushed us. I’m not complaining, I had a fantastic upbringing; everything was our choice. My parents are labour voting atheist vegetarians but whether I chose to do any of those things was up to me. I ended up only doing one of those three, and my parents don’t love me any less for it.


Not being pushed worked for my sisters, I guess they were motivated by good grades. Academic success was not my main motivation as a child. All I wanted to do was read books or play with my Barbies. And I properly played. This was no basic baby playing. The Barbies had complex life stories. I lived for the stories. Here’s a secret, I kept playing with my Barbies well into year 8. I was 13. I was meant to be growing up. 


I did eventually get rid of the Barbies. But something I continued to do was make up stories for myself. I still do it now. When I’m feeling stressed out, I’ll lie in bed and tell myself a story. Each night a different episode.


I’m not a patient person. I get bored to tears listening to others talk about things that don’t interest me. I’m not a great writer. I can’t practice something that I don’t instantly have some kind of natural aptitude for. One thing I can focus on is a good story. And one innate skill I have is creating art.


Unsurprisingly, the only two subjects I did well at in school were art and drama, but even then I did dreadfully in the written parts. I simply can’t retain information I learn through listening. I did not get good grades at school.


Art college was next for me. What a f*cking let down that was. Zero structure, zero contact hours and zero inspiration. Oh, and zero friends too.


I left with a poor grade and I decided that since I didn’t have any decent qualifications, I could do something pretty left field with my life. So I pursued a career in stand up comedy. 


It was time to tell my stories. The ones I’d had in my head. I didn’t do too badly at it, it raised my confidence and gave me drive. Comedy almost completely erased my anxiety. It was an amazing outlet for all the thoughts and feelings I had inside my head. But it wasn’t right for me in the end, because I’m not really a great writer. I was still the same visual thinker I’d been all along. My stories weren’t words but images and sounds and textures. 


And that’s why I’m working so hard now. Because I’m finally able to express myself. And to express the things inside me, and communicate clearly with people. I’ve struggled throughout my life to communicate with “normal” people, meaning a large part of it has been quite unhappy. My brain jumps and skips ahead a million steps from what I’ve just said, so sometimes I say something which makes no sense to the conversation. It’s because the story is playing out before my eyes while I talk. But in this environment, everyone seems to do it. We fill in each other’s blanks. And I feel much more connected with people, more normal.


P.S. You should see my collector’s edition Barbies (mint condition in the box don’t ya know).

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