Calling Bullshit on Loyalty

Recently I was reading back stuff of the posts I never made public and came across one about loyalty. In the post, I talk about loyalty being my base line for any relationship, but one that people fall short from so often (booooyyy, I was angry…I wonder who had pissed me off). I was clearly emotional when I wrote it and only a few weeks later and I feel completely differently.

Loyalty means, essentially, nothing. People grow apart, move away, have families. There’s always something new which claims the prize of someone’s loyalty. It’s an outdated concept which carries a lot of obligation and baggage, two of my least favourite things. There are other things that are much more important to strive for in relationships; trust, respect and mutual interest. Mutual interest, for me at least, makes the most sense. The people in your life should add to your happiness, and you should be fine in your life if that’s not the case. It might sound jaded, and even boring, but you know you can trust someone if when they let you down, they also suffer. If one benefits when they screw the other over, then someone is always going to be suffering. Loyalty comes with sacrifice, but what are you sacrificing if you really want to share your life with someone?

In reality, if someone is staying out of a false sense of loyalty, obligation or pride then you should just let them leave. Equally, if someone asks for your blind loyalty then they aren’t expressing their love. They want you to belong to them and serve them. It carries a burden of unfair expectations. Unless you’re a spy who has pledged an allegiance to take a bullet for your country, then loyalty is misapplied on a daily basis.

Building trust with honesty and respect is what makes relationships last and I don’t think you can compromise on those things. It seems obvious, but I can’t count the number of times people have lied to me to save my feelings. Forget that. Respect me and give me the credit I deserve, I am stronger than people think and I trust my friends to be honest when I need to be told the hard truths. It’s part of life and I will always do the same for them. Everyone makes mistakes, we’re only human, and when you have two humans involved in one way or another then things are bound to go wrong every now and again. If people love you and they really know that you love them, saying the hard stuff isn’t so bad. If you’re sure that they won’t leave, even if you say something they won’t like, then you can be honest and the world doesn’t end. Even if they do choose to leave, isn’t it better that they are making an informed choice than trying to build on a cracked foundation?

Anyone can just not leave, who the hell cares. You get out of relationships whatever you put in, so if you want to stay in someone’s life, you’ll have to do more than just stay.

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A History of Christmas

I don’t remember any Christmas’ in my first house before I was 10. I do remember a few houses along, when mum was so stressed out in general life that the pressure of the holidays meant she was exhausted and one glass of prosecco wiped her out by 11am. I remember when my little brother was born and I was so excited to have a kid in the family, but then he got really sick and I spent the whole week worrying about him. I remember my parents talking about cancelling Christmas because it was just too hard.

Then I grew up, and I moved away, and the hospitality life took over. I worked through most of the season, including Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (I guess you could say I was lucky enough to get the actual day itself off). It was busy and customers got mean. I still never had enough money to buy the presents I felt people deserved. Having a boyfriend, a fiancé, and then a husband came into play. Two celebrations! One with the new and wonderful stresses of having to buy people I didn’t know well presents and try and fit in with their bizarre traditions. I tried so hard that the first time I spent Christmas Day with them, I was tricked into eating game pate and threw up, a lot, on the way home. They all went pheasant shooting on Boxing Day and apparently, rather than ask me why I didn’t want to join, they figured it was appropriate to somehow induct me with this secret feeding. “You ate pheasant! One of us! One of us!”. (They never actually chanted. I’d imagine they would think that far too common). After that, things did get better. They weren’t exactly welcoming at the yacht club, but at least they left me alone. Last year, I had a terrible break up in November and it was still weighing on me heavily all over Christmas. I actually had 3 days off for the first time since I was 16, and had intended to spend the majority with him. Instead I sat on my parents sofa (also my bed at the time) and drank about 2L of gin.

My family can’t deal with a lot of interaction, and my mum usually works at least part of Christmas Day. My friends go off in all directions to their own families and have their own stupid traditions to stress about. It’s actually a very lonely time for me. I love my family and I love spending time with them, but this forced obligation just brings out the worst in everyone. No wonder customers were always mean around December. I have a weird family, but we do get on. We leave out the extended family, because it’s just more obligatory pressures and we stopped buying presents for each other a few years ago. Things should be better, they should be more simple and less stressful, but every year it’s something new.

I have a very different friendship group from this time last year and navigating the gift thing is always a game of nuance and mind games. The amount of people that have expressed sadness for me if this is the first Christmas they’ve known me makes me question my feelings. As if I should enjoy the whole crazy Christmas shopping experience, despite the busy shops, lack of money and zero originality about the whole thing. But when I check in with myself I realised that all the good things that Christmas is to everyone else is a part of my every day life. I make the effort to spend quality time with the people I love, I surprise them with gifts to let them know I think about them, I dress up and use too much glitter all the time, and I probably eat and drink too much of what I want every day of the week. So don’t feel sad for me. I don’t hate the holiday, it’s just that every day is better than Christmas. Especially without the garish wrapping paper and tacky decorations.

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How To Look After Yourself

Eat vegetables and fruit

But make sure you have treats sometimes too

Drink plenty of water

But not too much alcohol

Stay active

Sleep enough

But not too much

Get fresh air

Hug people you care about

Don’t smoke or take drugs

Spend time in nature

Laugh

Read and engage your brain

Express yourself in a creative way

Blah blah blah BLAH BLAHHHH….

We all know the drill. But we still prefer Netflix to running and cocktails to broccoli 95% of the time. Yes, all things in moderation but what I’m interested in is why we love the things that are so so bad for us, oh so much.

I had a conversation with a friend really about drugs. Recreational drugs or abusing prescription drugs can cause mood swings, irritability, heart palpitations and liver failure amongst countless other negative effects. We all know this *drugs are bad kids* and I’ve always been under the impression that happy people don’t take them. The truth is, life is hard for everyone and drugs make it easier. Especially during addiction. On the surface it seems obvious from the outside that people struggle to work, maintain relationships and live a normal life when in the grips of an addiction, but this is because the drug becomes the most important thing. It takes away the significance of anything else. Life is all about balancing plates but during addiction you just have one (admittedly very heavy) plate. Simple. I can understand the draw of that. In this conversation with my friend he spoke of someone who works with addictions who rather than persecuting an addict actually said to them “well done, you’ve found something that makes life bearable for you”. Drugs might be extreme but everyone has their things. I watch TV when I should be doing yoga. And I go to the pub when I should be sleeping. It’s so normal that it’s boring. We all have things.

So balance is key, but who’s to say what the right balance is? It’s just another thing that to me means pressure and guilt. I’m forever telling myself that I should do better and be better and looking after myself is just another subject in which I let myself down. That thinking isn’t good for me. Forcing myself to do things that don’t make me happy isn’t good for me. It’s a lifelong struggle of back and fourth between perfection and reality. It’s a feeling built in so deep that it’s not easy to tell the difference between the days that I’m choosing the bad choices because it’s what I really want, and the days when I’m doing it to punish myself or because I don’t feel worthy of being well. It all comes back full circle to my weight for me. I avoid mirrors lately, I’m not happy with my body and my body isn’t best pleased with me either. I know I would feel better if I worked out harder, for longer, but in my mind it’s a constant battle between “I’m not good enough, be thin, be better.” and “I don’t even deserve to look or feel good, so don’t even try”. Either way, it’s just self harm. If I eat better and exercise more, I’ll loose a bit of weight, I’ll feel better physically, but it’s really important to me that I know that these actions are coming from a good place, and I can never know that for sure. I can convince myself of absolutely anything and before you know it, I’m in an isolated, invisible hole again, drowning in empty starvation, screaming that I’m fine and I just want to be healthy.

I’m so scared of falling into my own trap again, that when it comes to looking after myself, I would rather keep my head down and ignore these pulls. I try and fill my days with decisions that I know come from a healthy foundation, but unfortunately, I struggle with the things that you can never just avoid and abstain from completely. Lately, I feel like my brain is catapulting from one extreme to another and it’s causing some kind of hurricane in my brain, that sucks in all my thoughts until I can’t separate them. Sometimes, I wish I had a drug problem instead. At least then maybe, people could understand how hard it is to live with every single day, I could do a 12 step plan, I would have some answers. Instead, I’m making up my own answers to questions that escape me. I do feel like it would be simpler to be a drug addict some days. I could pick my poison and let it swallow me whole, but 27 years down the line I’m still not. Let’s just celebrate that for now and let it be enough. Maybe I won’t live forever, but yay for not being a drug addict.

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“You’ve never succeeded at anything Kim”

 

Harsh words right? And from my therapist none the less. He’s not wrong though. Let me give you some context here…

I’m in my second year of uni and I’ve just started a new job. I’m doing content creation for a tech start up which is exactly the kind of job I want to do when I leave. I spoke to him about the prospect of dropping out and just finding another job like this. I also spoke to him about the idea of taking a work placement abroad for a year next year and delaying my final year. That’s when he ran through all my stories in his head and what he came to was that I’ve never succeeded at anything. He also said I excel, I impress and I’m very successful. But I never truly finish things.

I’ve just never felt comfortable at the idea of committing to anything. I poke things, I ruin things and I run away. I do whatever I need to to make sure things don’t last and I can’t crawl back and change my mind. My favourite choices are the ones that have an ending before they begin; a relationship with someone who’s moving or a fixed term contract in a job. It’s a massive reason why uni is so scary for me. Even though I love Bristol, I was limiting myself to staying and ignoring any other opportunity that might come along in favour of my degree. I’m less than half way through that commitment and I’m already bottling it. To be fair, I’m pretty proud of myself for coming this far and I would never pass it up for something that wasn’t amazing. I have a great way of making sure I’m always moving upwards, so my bail outs never look like bail outs. They always seem to other people that I’m giving up something for an alternative that is better and more progressive in one way or another. The idea of staying still has never appealed to me.

A few people recently have suggested that this is a bad thing and that maybe I should “settle down”. That word settle. That’s not a nice word to me. It literally means “to reach a decision about” or “to resolve or reach an agreement”. To me, it just screams “accept what you have and don’t fight for more”, but I was always brought up to question and change things that I am not happy with. Sometimes, you can’t change things and that’s okay, that’s the moment to accept, but the rest of the time I think we should strive for better. Wherever and however we possibly can.

I don’t see it as a weakness that I like moving on. So many people are scared to let go. I’m scared to have something that really matters to me, something I want to hold onto and care about and keep. It’s a different issue, but lets have a silver lining moment for a second. This means I have this ability to let go and move on that most people don’t have or understand. It’s a gift that I don’t want to let go of, but it would be good to face my demons too. It’s a challenge for me to care enough to see things through. Uni is my first real attempt at this so we’ll see how that pans out. To be honest, lately it’s been very overwhelming and I’m fighting my natural instinct to turn and run, but through all of my failings, all of my bailings and all my letting go and running away, I have learnt that I’ll be okay no matter what.

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World Mental Health Day.

 

It was mental health awareness day yesterday, so my social media feed has been inundated with messages of hope and support for those struggling. Sorry, but I’m going to shit all over that now.

 

Firstly, let me just say that I think it’s wonderful that people encourage others to talk about their issues and want to let them know they aren’t alone. Loneliness kills, so by sharing their own stories they can make a real difference. It’s also cathartic to put your real truth out there (I should know, that’s essentially my entire blog). The other thing I love about this day is that resources are shared. Mind and the Samaritans logos are pushed out into every corner of every news feed and people may find services they weren’t even aware existed. Great work. The rest of my feed looks like this…

 

“Talk to someone… It’s important you ask for help… Speak to your friends…Ask for help.”

 

Sure. Now, I am someone who has suffered with mental illness for as long as I remember, I’ve also known a lot of people who have to varying degrees, so I’m not just pulling this out of nowhere but what a load of complete bullshit. You’re talking to people who are suffering. Maybe they feel like a burden, like they aren’t worth your time, maybe they find it hard to speak to people about the weather let alone their dark and twisty thoughts, maybe they can’t even get out of bed. He’s an idea … why don’t YOU speak to someone? Why don’t YOU reach out and ask if someone’s okay? Why are we once again putting the pressure on the victim for their troubles and making sweeping statements to cover our own backs.

 

I am a talker. A lot of people I know, I have spoken to about my issues at one time or another, whether that was for my own benefit or to maybe explain that I’ve been in a similar place and can relate to what they’re going through. When I struggled I did talk about it, I did try to talk to friends and I did ask for help and about 90% of the time I was shot down. Professional services are under funded and frankly, under-perform. I waited 9 months for treatment on the NHS. My room mates literally watched me in possibly my worst mental health crisis, then chose to isolate me after and chastise me for me erratic behaviour (one was even a mental health professional). I have told people that I’m struggling to eat and they meet me with jealousy that I’m loosing weight, or want tips on how they can “diet” too and ask me to go to exercise classes with them. I’ve opened up to people about health concerns, and been met with defensive anger and hostility because somehow, they have to make it about themselves. Sometimes it’s even as simple as asking someone to hang out because I’m bored and lonely and my head is going into overdrive, someone I know has felt like I do, and being rejected more than once. I know I can ask for help, but how many times do I have to ask before someone hears me?

 

This isn’t a cry for help. I’ve got my own back these days and I’m very well at the moment. I have learnt from these mistakes and I have built my resilience. I can understand that not everyone is there yet though, so do you know what I do when I think someone’s having a tough time? I don’t tell them to talk… I talk to them! I know right, mind blowing idea. I don’t wait for them to tell me they’re having a bad time, I ask them how they are. The other day, a friend said he was having a “me” day and ignoring his phone, so I figured in the evening I’d just check in and let him know I was there and hope he had a good day. For me, when I isolate myself like that, it’s usually so I can be self destructive without people bothering me and trying to convince me I’m not alone, so even though he said he was okay I just wanted to let him know I was thinking about him. That’s all it takes sometimes. Reach out to people first. If someone’s not messaging you like they usually do, text them first. If someone sounds miserable over message, then give them a call. And please, please, please when someone is trying to ask you for support, don’t be a dick. If someone says they’re sad or lonely, they probably aren’t doing it for fun or attention. Sometimes there are more important things than Netflix and video games. And if you’re really set on doing that, then do it sat next to someone who might need the company.

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The Most Ridiculous Creature I Love

My oldest friend messaged me last night for the first time in a while. I can’t tell you why because, even with my level of candour, it’s way too inappropriate. But that’s pretty much how our friendship goes. We don’t chat for a few weeks then it’s either an essay length catch up or a few crazy dark texts that literally make no sense to anyone else. We’ve been friends for almost 20 years and I’m pretty sure you can tell as soon as we’re together.

We met when I moved to her area when I was 9. From my memory, she basically forced friendship on my because I had dogs, but we definitely clicked straight away and she was definitely a nightmare from day one. People constantly asked me why she hated them, and my only defence was “no no, that’s just her face all the time”. She routinely bought a block of marzipan from our local shop (with a different friends money), had one bite, then threw the rest away. There was the time I kicked a shampoo bottle on the pavement, fell flat on my back, and got whiplash which lead to strangers standing over me asking if I was okay while my friend basically wet herself laughing. Then there was the time that we were playing hide and seek with a bunch of kids that we lived near. We were squashed into a random hedge together when I said something, probably mildly humorous at best, which of course she reacted to like it was the first and funniest joke she’d ever heard (because that’s how she reacts, to this day, to almost anything remotely funny). Laughter, once again, lead to the standard response of her bladder almost loosing control, so we rolled out the hedge as fast as possible and lost the game. I’m pretty sure I still have a scar on my arm from the scratches of that one. I’m pretty sure I have a few scars I can attribute to that girl.

I’ve also got a lot of figurative scars that would still be full on, gory, horror movie style wounds if it wasn’t for her. She was the first friend I had that really knew all my issues, and I knew hers. I mean, it’s pretty unbelievable that we made it through the stuff we went through collectively and ended up as remotely sane human beings (up for debate, sure, but 27 and not one forced institutionalisation between us so I’m taking that as a win!). She was the first friend I was truly vulnerable with, and she taught me how to be brave anyway, despite our differences on the surface. Think her in a matching grey tracksuit, hair scraped back and me dressed in black and studded belts with far too much eyeliner. I used to ask her all the time why we were even friends, but it was never a real question. We always managed to cut through the superficial bullshit, even in our angstiest teenage days. Our relationship wasn’t always simple, but we always had each other backs, and she was the one that set a standard for friendship for me going forward.

I’m not a sentimental person particularly. I don’t hold onto history like it’s the only thing that matters. I would rather focus on the values that are more present and relevant. There’s nothing wrong with admitting when you grow apart, and I have had many very close friends that I have drifted from. Over the years me and my friend have been through a million life changes, moved across the country and could have easily gone our separate ways, but that hasn’t happened. Strangely, in a lot of ways, we have come to the same decisions and understanding about life, even though we may have taken very different paths. That’s not history at work, it’s something deeper. We don’t talk every day, and sometimes when we do talk, it’s just a few inside jokes that promise us a VIP spot in hell, but I love her. Whatever happens in my life, whatever changes good or bad, wherever I end up, I always know that she’ll be there with me. Probably laughing too loud and nearly wetting herself.

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When I grow up, I want to like myself

 

 People talk all the time about what they want to do career wise, how they want a house and a family and a retirement plan that is sustainable so they can travel and grow vegetables and be happy, whatever the hell that means. It’s odd really, because I know very few people who actually grow vegetables at my age and enjoy it. I don’t see how you’d start loving that when you turn 60, but each to their own. I have no idea how people know what they will want in 40 years, let a lone what will make them happy at that point.

 

I think our generation, at least, has managed to let go of the idea that you need to know what career you want when you’re 16. I think things have changed a lot since I was at school. I was under a lot of pressure when I was in school to go to uni. I was academically gifted and was basically told that my only options were going to uni or getting a dead end job in McDonalds, in which I am effectively accepting that I’m a failure. Firstly, McDonalds is a great company in a lot of ways. They provide a lot of management training if you want it and they offer flexible working if you have other priorities. It’s only a dead end job if you make it into one. Secondly, looking at employment statistics, 82% of graduates were employed in 2017, compared to 78% of people of the same age who didn’t have a degree. A 4% difference is notable, but really, is it enough to pressure people into feeling like they have to go to uni to achieve something? Then there are the people who have no idea what they want to do before they’re 21. Who can blame them really, with the limited options and exposure to the job market that the national curriculum gives them? I always wanted to help people, so naturally I gravitated towards the caring professions, but I was mature enough to know that there was a lot I didn’t know, and one of those things was what jobs people actually do in the real world. I was fortunate to have my mum to support me in making decisions which were off the beaten path, so I left school and fell into business management. At 16, if you had told me that I would be good at business I probably would’ve laughed in your face. Capitalism bullshit that only hurts people. I’ve found my way into using my skills into helping people in my own way now though, and I’m much more prepared to invest the time and money that education takes, in myself and my future.

 

I still have no idea what I want to do. I have ambition, maybe too much sometimes. I want everything. I want to write a book, I want to live comfortably, without worrying about money, I want to travel more. But I also don’t want those things enough to be miserable. I make decisions daily, about how I am going to live, just the same as everyone else, but my main priority is always my mental health. I keep in mind that not all instant gratification is good and I’ve got to know myself well enough to know what has a bad impact later on (sleep for instance, is key). I think sometimes people mistake my priorities for their own issues. Of course there are people who are terrified to leave the safety net of their boring jobs, some people have a fear of failure so just never try, some people don’t like to think too deeply about what they want in case they never have it. I’m not those people. I know I have a lot of options ahead of me, sometimes that’s a little scary. I’m stressed out at the moment of the idea of going back to uni, just because it’s getting closer and closer to graduation and it’s really important to me that I do this right. Of course I can get a first, anyone can if they put in the work, but if I don’t the I’ll know I sacrificed that for something more important. Uni is absolutely the top of my list and when I’m done with that, my career (whatever I choose that to be) will replace it. But I’ll never regret compromising a result for the sake of my well-being if that what it takes. Maybe it sounds backwards, but I think it’s this attitude that will make me successful in whatever I choose to do. Only by chasing the next best thing and putting status on a pedestal can you forever feel like you’re reaching for something that doesn’t exist. 

 

That’s what I mean when I say I want to like myself. I have no idea where I’ll end up, I might work with my degree, maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll even grown some vegetables. Sure, I want to be happy, but no one’s happy all the time and actually, I’m doing pretty good right now. For me, my aspiration is to know myself, to keep learning about myself and to like what I see. If I don’t like it, then I’m going to change it. I’m working harder at that every day and it’s only helping me achieve in every other part of my life. So, I’m letting go of societies expectations and what everyone else thinks I’m capable of because I know I’m towards something far more important and far more sustainable. Everything else will work out.

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To Follow Your Heart or Your Head…

crossroad.jpg

 

We’re always told to trust our gut and follow our hearts, but really how often do we? Intuition gets a bad rep in the western world. We’re taught to think logically and make lists of pros and cons to decide every detail about our lives, but emotions aren’t illogical. All emotions are a reaction to information in our brain. They aren’t dumb responses that should always be ignored or reasoned away, they are appraisals of what you’ve just experienced or thought about in contrast to past experiences and knowledge. Gut feels are just the same. They are part of what scientists call the “predictive processing framework”. In basic terms, it’s constantly collecting and comparing sensory information and current experiences against stored knowledge of past experiences and using this to predict what comes next. It’s a useful function for keeping us safe and stopping us from experiencing the same traumas again and again.

 

The problem is, because our culture doesn’t really respect these emotions and intuitions we aren’t taught how to listen to them. How do we know when to take them seriously and when they are just getting in our way? On my most anxious days, I get a bad feeling that something is going to happen and I can’t explain it. I just know that something bad is going to happen. I used to let it take over and it would be a huge struggle to get showered and dressed, most of the time I couldn’t get out of bed. These days, I know how to turn it off and it very rarely takes a hold of my head. I’ve also been in situations where, if I hadn’t listened to my feelings then something bad would have actually happened. Those moments when you see a car crash before it has a chance to happen. Then there are occasions when I get a vibe about something that I ignore, and I regret it. I’ll never forget the first time I met this girl when I was at a bar with my ex. I had a bad feeling about their relationship from the start, but she was his student so I tried to ignore it. Lo and behold, 6 months later I found out he had slept with her and a year on from that they’re still together. If I had brought up that feeling I had honestly with him in the first place, maybe I could’ve saved everyone a lot of pain.

 

It’s tricky to be honest about these feelings. The amount of times that I have been made out to be crazy or just a mad over thinker simply because I expressed my feelings. It’s hard to be honest and say that you’re not 100% comfortable with something, when you have no cold, hard facts to back it up. People don’t take you seriously. I can understand that sometimes, these feelings are based on very specific experiences that are only individual to that situation so aren’t actually relevant in this new situation, but that doesn’t make them less valid. The cheating example, for instance, is a very common one. I know so many people who have been cheated on in the past that are maybe over cautious in picking up on things that could lead that direction again. I think it takes reassurance, patience and a built up trust to restore those autonomic reactions to healthy ones. But often, we’re met with defensive/aggressive responses and treated like unreasonable and jealous psychos.

 

I’m at a real crossroads in life lately. I have a hundred different options in front of me and it’s going to take listening to my heart to get me where I need to be in life. What I don’t need is people who will make me doubt myself for doing that. If I get a bad feeling about something, why shouldn’t I be listened to? It’s not always bad feelings though. Sometimes you are just drawn to people, places or doing certain things. So, equally when I have a good feeling about something, maybe I should learn to trust my instincts, be honest and go for it anyway. Not everything in life is logical and that’s okay. I know it can be hard to jump in with both feet when you have no hard copy list of the reasons why you should, to fall back on. It’s okay to want to let go of control and switch your brain off occasionally. It’s also okay to not be completely confident in every single decision you make. It’s definitely part of the step that I need to take in learning to live my life as authentically as possible. The worst that can happen is that I have more information for the future, learn from my mistakes and hone my intuitive feelings even further.

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Sometimes “Boring” Is Best

 

To give you some context to start, picture this: it’s 11.30 Friday night, I’ve got home from work and had a quick shower to wash off the general public from my mind and body and I’m sitting on my bed, scrolling through social media, thinking about what I should do. There’s a right answer here. Sleep. I’ve had a mad week and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Still, as I flick through shots of people dressed up at pre-drinks and looking trashed in videos of noisy bars I’m getting serious FOMO (fear of missing out, for anyone not in the loop for the last 5 years). Everyone gets it from time to time, its natural. The question is, what to do about it?

 

The thing is, I know the people I want to be with are miles away, or busy, or both. I have friends spread across the country and it does get me down when I see them having fun in the places I used to frequent, or places I’ve heard all about, but it’s not like I can hop in a taxi and make the 150 mile trip to go for a couple of drinks. This leaves options for tonight limited. I could hit up work friends or some acquaintance from somewhere and I’m sure they’d be happy to have me join whatever they’re up to, but is it worth the money, time and energy? Probably not. I’m still tempted. FOMO.

 

I probably get this feeling more than most because I’m busy. I choose to be busy. I’m studying, and I’m one of those lame students who does it right. I go to all the lectures and seminars, I do the reading and the work because I love it and it’s important to me. I work as a waitress, which okay I don’t love, but I do it to afford a life style that’s not full of struggling by. It also means that when I am free, I get to take part in whatever I want to, and so much less FOMO there. I’m also starting a volunteer position, helping young people to have a voice and campaign for what they think is important. I don’t live for the weekend, I fill my every day with what’s important and what will make me happy long term. It’s taken getting to know myself and figure out what’s important to me and not just shiny, happy, instant gratification. I think it’s all too easy to forget that a lot of what I see on social media is just the weekend warriors highlight reel.

 

Okay so I haven’t spent my night sleeping early, I’ve spent it writing. Another thing I try do at least a few times a week. It connects me with myself again. I guess it’s my version of “me time”. I don’t think I’ll ever regret staying up all night writing. I’ve had too many nights out drinking too much with people that don’t offer me all that much that I absolutely regret. Maybe this is what happens when people are happy in themselves. If niggles of doubt are the worst of it, then I’ll take it. It’s much better than trying to do everything, something has to give at some point and I’ve made my choices and I’m happy with my sacrifices. I have plenty of fun. Tonight, I’m going to sleep, and I’m going to sleep a bit better and a bit happier, knowing that I could be out if I wanted but I’m not missing out on anything.

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Be the Fucking Change

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Recently, I went out with a group of lads. I tagged along with a guy I know and they were all very friendly, normal guys. One guy in particular was very aware that I was a female, or “a lady”, in a group of males so made the effort to be chivalrous and polite. It took about 3 more drinks for this guy to suddenly turn that awareness into latched on creepiness. In the 5 seconds that the guy I was with left my side, he jokingly put his arm around me and asked if I was into older guys. I laughed it off. Then he started making comments on my body. He persistently brought up my thighs and even congratulated the guy I was there with. I’m not sure what for, he didn’t sculpt my thighs from marble or something. I’m used to guys objectifying me, I’m used to being treated like someone’s property, and neither is a nice feeling.

 

Okay, the objectifying. This wasn’t just one comment, it was persistent. It went on for about half an hour, everyone felt quite uncomfortable but laughed along. If this was a guy I had no connection to, I would’ve barraged him with questions. Why did he feel like that was appropriate, worth mentioning or at all interesting or funny?! But this is a friend of a friend in a group of people I don’t know, but he works with every day. Maybe I should’ve been stronger, I have it in me to be that outspoken girl that pulls people up on their shit but I’m also aware that I’m a fighter and sometimes I need to pick my battles. In this situation, I was the odd one out and no one really knew me that well, so I chose to keep quiet. I do wonder though, if I hadn’t been there, if I had been a girl in the distance, how many of those other guys would join in? Did they laugh along and not know what to say because usually, they would be making those comments too? It makes me uncomfortable knowing that the people I socialise with aren’t the upstanding men that they appear to be when they have women around. It’s horrible enough when you’re subjected to that from strangers, but when you realise that these strangers are friends with people just like you, it’s a new low. It’s like no one is safe. It makes me loose faith in the male species just a little more.

 

Objectifying is one thing, but being treated like property is a whole other problem. In this situation, the creep in question gave the guy I was with a cheers because I have nice legs, like I’m only there to be a trophy on his arm. In the past it’s been trying to get a guy on a night out to leave me alone, being ignored, so using a fake boyfriend as an excuse and immediately getting the response I wanted. I’ve had random guys pretend to be my boyfriend so that the creeps leave. I’ve had waiters only address the man I’m with in restaurants. I’ve had men wait for another man to introduce me, rather than just speak to me of their own accord. It makes my blood boil. I am my own person, I am independent and I am not just a daughter/sister/girlfriend.

 

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing this. At the end of the day I am a strong woman. I make my presence known and I don’t have to flirt or use my body to do it. I stand up for what I believe in, hopefully in situations where people are ready to hear me. Unfortunately, in a lot of situations that’s not the case. This particular instance, the guy was pretty drunk. It’s not an excuse, and if something happened to a woman when she was drunk she would twist from the victim to “asking for it”, but I feel like people excused his behaviour because he’d had a drink. However, it’s relevant because there’s no way he would have been receptive of any kind of rational argument I had to offer. I wonder though, if a man had stood up to him if he would’ve listened. A theory I’m yet to prove because I’ve never actually seen a guy stand up to a douche like this. The day I do I swear I’ll throw a fucking parade. I have plenty of men in my life that talk a big game. Say they are feminists, say they respect women and hate to see us put down, but where’s the actions to back it up?! It should be expected, it should be the norm, if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. Maybe they are scared or don’t like the confrontation but I’m sick of being the one that has to deal with it. I’m not asking for any man to fight my battles, merely stand by my side when I do instead of laugh along and join in when my back is turned. Real change won’t happen until men decide it’s a valid cause. It will happen in locker rooms and pubs when the girls are away and someone decides to say, “you know what, it’s not okay to talk about women like this, regardless if they’re around to be offended by it or not”. More and more my faith that this is even possible is shaken. I have a lot of male friends and it makes me want to distance myself, because this is important to me, as it should be to everyone.

I don’t even know what to say.

Just be better.

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