PART 5: Dear Charlotte - Chapter 3

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I'm no good at putting words on paper, as is obvious after another ten pages of notes I quickly tear out, scrunch up, and drop in the recycling bin in the kitchen

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I'm no good at putting words on paper, as is obvious after another ten pages of notes I quickly tear out, scrunch up, and drop in the recycling bin in the kitchen. I want to ask some of our friends for advice, but the problem is that they're all our friends, mine and Charlotte's; after four years of being so devoted to each other, it was inevitable.

And I'm not sure I trust any of them to keep it to themselves while I figure it out, to be honest. There are a choice few people – like her sister, Laura, or like my best friend from my old job, Jack – who know us both so well that I know their advice would be invaluable, but I also know both of them would start dropping hints to Charlotte, too excited to stay schtum.

So I'm in this alone.

Well, except for Reddit.

I do create a throwaway account and ask for advice in one of the forums I visit a lot, but while everyone's very supportive and encouraging, the clearest bit of advice I get is just 'be yourself!' – which honestly, is not that helpful.

I'm no good at putting words on paper.

It takes me until late in the afternoon to realise what I am good at. Or at least, better at.

I get myself a fresh cup of coffee, sit down in front of my computer and switch on my camera. My vlogging set up is ready from the video I recorded first thing this morning, and I switch it all on mainly out of habit, even though I could probably get away with just my Mac's webcam for all of this. I turn on the lightboxes and spend some time readjusting the curtains to reduce the glare, then settle back into my chair.

I hit record, and take a deep breath.

"Okay." I take another deep breath, looking at myself on the screen and nodding. My hair's standing up more than usual and my shirt is a little rumpled. I straighten my glasses and gulp. "Okay, Ethan, come on, you can do this..."

I was never good at public speaking.

I used to do my best to get out of giving presentations at school. I got so nervous doing one to my tutorial group of six students in university that I actually threw up. Whenever I meet strangers for the first time, I get so in my head trying to not make a bad impression, at the very least, that I think most of the time they think I'm just being standoffish and rude. Lucky for me, Charlotte's a natural charmer, and good with people, and it's easy to ride on her coattails when we have to mingle with strangers at our friends' weddings and stuff.

I started making video diaries after a suggestion from my therapist, who thought it would help with my social anxiety – and would at least help me get through the video interview stage of all the jobs I was applying for, during my final year of uni. And she was right: There was something about talking to the void and interacting with a handful of total strangers on the internet that was strangely comforting.

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