A handful of years ago I moved with my wife to a house on a quiet street in a quiet town and lay quietly in a room for a long time.
I used to love an adventure, and I had jobs on magazines (remember magazines?) which provided the opportunity for plenty of them, but when I hit my thirties I started to become increasingly afraid of the world, until I was too frightened to even go outside at all. And I had no need to go outside: I’d somehow wangled it so my job was mostly tweeting, which meant no colleagues, no bosses, no office, no alarm clock, no deadlines . . . just me, my phone and my social media feeds. Doesn’t sound too healthy, does it? It wasn’t.
Everything went bad.
Rob Temple runs a social-media empire from the comfort of his sofa. Living the dream! But what happens when a lack of colleagues, bosses and alarm clocks means that your sofa, and the four walls of your very quiet living room, become your whole world?
In this tender and life-affirming memoir, Rob explores what it will take for him to become a little less Bear (Pooh) and a little bit more Bear (Grylls), and how mild-mannered, anxious rule-followers can get their own share of (gentle) adventure from time to time.
What and funny and sweet read Born to be Mild is. I have been a big fan of the Very British Problems Twitter account for years- it never fails to make me smile and think ‘ahh me too!’. Well, think of this book as a longer version of those tweets- but not as laugh-out-loud, as it has some heavier themes running through it.
Rob tries to answer the question – can socially awkward, anxious people get out there and have a good time regardless? Can they take on exciting new experiences and have adventures?
Rob decides to take on lots of new experiences, which he relays to the reader. He also takes us through various points in his life where his anxiety and ultra mild-mannered-ness has impacted his life, and how he, therefore, interacts with others. His success with Very British Problems, how this led him to work from home permanently and that in turn resulted in a persistent and, at times, debilitating feeling of anxiety for Rob.
Though you don’t want to feel as if you’re laughing at Rob’s life, I found this book really funny and, to me, it didn’t feel like you were laughing at his expense – rather laughing along with Rob as he relays lots of humorous, albeit awkward, experiences that lots of people can no doubt relate to, whatever their personality type. It just sums up so much of what it means to be ‘British’ in a humorous, entertaining way – but the inclusion of Rob’s personal experiences and very difficult times add a very real and important message about mental health to this book. You might not assume that someone who manages a funny, light-hearted social media account could be suffering from anxiety, but you never know in reality. It manages to drive home the impact of poor mental health without feeling preachy or over the top, and remains a entertaining and fun read.
I enjoyed Born to be Mild – on the whole it was very easy to read, thought-provoking and I found myself completely absorbed in Rob’s tales. Definitely recommended!