Poetry Blog: ‘About a time when I worried that I hadn’t really fulfilled my potential.’

This is another recently discovered poem. To cut a long story that I’ve told a million times before short, I think it’s one that I’ve written during a night when I’ve been unable to sleep. These are horrendous when you have work the next morning, yet enormously fulfilling when you can sit and write a few things for your blog! Unfortunately, once written down, some of them then tend to get lost in notebooks. This is always temporary though, hence this poem which was one of a ‘crop’ I discovered when flicking through an almost full notebook recently.

I think it must have been written when I was feeling a little bit down. I’ve struggled a little bit – nothing major and nothing that a good bout of telling myself ‘pull yourself together’ doesn’t solve – over probably the last 18 months or so and I think that this poem was written at some point during summer 2021 as I got particularly low at that time.

It’s a bit of a rambling title, but if you read regularly you’ll know that I struggle with titles. When I came to think of this one nothing succinct came to mind and every time I read it through I came back to the feeling that I hadn’t fulfilled my potential. It’s something I mildly beat myself up about on a fairly regular basis. Deep down, I think I’ve done alright though!

'About a time when I worried I really hadn't fulfilled my potential'

A rowing boat with a broken oar.
A home-made go-kart that doesn't quite steer right.
A shy child, hidden behind a parent's legs, clinging to a familiar hem.
A broken compass.
A book, bouncing between charity shops, corners curling more with every journey, pages thumbed smooth, seeking a shelf.
A grey pebble on a beach.
A crab in a rockpool, fighting the relentless pull of the tide.
A dandelion clock.
A partnerless sock.
A derelict building, stripped of its dignity.
A written off car travelling on an unfamiliar motorway on the back of a lorry for all to see.
A bag for life abandoned when the handle snapped.
A festival tent.
A once cherished trophy now confined to a box in the loft of a middle aged man.
An unfashionable toy at Christmas.

So this poem was written at a time when I felt a little bit broken. It’s a tough thing to admit, so usually I just stay quiet. I try to leave other people unburdened by my troubles and having been brought up in a family where how you felt wasn’t really discussed, I suppose it feels naturally. But at this point in time, I clearly needed to talk.

Although I can’t specify an actual day, I can pinpoint the time period of writing this poem. Without the routine of work, summer can sometimes get a bit dull and if we don’t get the weather – which we often don’t in England – it can become difficult to stop the routine of just doing not a great deal. And that kind of thing makes me suffer a bit. I don’t enjoy just sitting round, but if there’s little to do, I feel like I’m wasting the day. At the time of writing the poem, I was thinking about my age, my career and even my choices going as far back as going to high school. None of it made me feel very good. Lots of it made me think that I could have just been so much better at life, so the poem is just a list of what I felt I was like.

I have to say, I’m a lot calmer at the moment, a lot happier. But I still feel like some of the metaphors are apt. They’re probably apt for a lot of us.

I chose the dandelion clock because it’s just waiting to get destroyed and it doesn’t take a lot to do just that. A gust of wind can scatter them everywhere, such is their fragility. I think when I’m at a low ebb, perhaps that’s how it is. I’m OK to a point and then someone might say something, completely innocently and it’ll be the kind that I dwell on and probably devote far too much time to. Confidence, like self-esteem is a funny thing, I suppose.

The image of the shy child felt like it resonated too. I’ve never really been a confident person, just someone who can put on a front or come up with good ways of avoiding certain situations. Even at my age there are times when I could do with someone’s legs to hide behind.

I hope you enjoyed reading the poem and if it resonated with you, well I hope it helps a little bit. I think we all probably have times when we feel like we could just be that little bit better. The important thing is to realise how good you already have it. There’s almost always a positive if you look hard enough.

Author: middleagefanclub

Man, husband, dad, teacher, coach, Geordie. Former street dancing champion of Tyne and Wear, guinea pig whisperer, developer of the best-selling fragrance, Pizzazz and alleged liar. Ex male model and a devilish raconteur. No challenge should be faced without a little charm and a lot of style.

2 thoughts on “Poetry Blog: ‘About a time when I worried that I hadn’t really fulfilled my potential.’”

  1. I appreciate this poem for its simplicity in conveying its message very powerfully. I’d have named jt “Unfulfilled”, personally, but that’s just me (Sorry, I can’t help myself. I love naming things).

    Liked by 1 person

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