Who Am I?

0

untitledddddd

Who Am I? What Am I?

I have always struggled with these kinds of questions. I literally have no clue how other people perceive me. My usual answer to these questions is “quiet, a bit weird” or “laid-back, friendly?”.

I recently did an art piece using words to describe me, words that I had come up with and words I had asked other about. When it was finished I was pleased that I had come up with so many words, and I started going through them, but I realised that whilst the words written in front of me did in fact describe me, they could also describe billions of other people on the planet. Yes I was looking at an accurate description of myself, but not one that anyone would look at and guess immediately, “That’s got to be “L”!”.

So what would make someone say that? What could I put onto paper, that wasn’t a picture of myself, that would make someone say, “That’s you, definitely you.”

Is that what makes us, us? The bits in the middle, the bits that don’t seem important but that are unique to you.

I sat staring at it, feeling deflated, and wondering what I was missing. What was I?!

I am a girl woman who refers to herself as a girl when she really isn’t one anymore.

I am a woman who traces facial features, clothing hems and outlines, signs, traffic, and subtitled punctuation with her thumb obsessively, constantly and unconsciously.

I am a woman who drinks weak black decaf coffee and strong green tea. I drink weak gin and tonics and strong commercial beer.

I am full of regret and sadness.

I am full of hope and ideas.

I am a disillusioned Disney Princess who likes a drink.

I am a childless mother.

I am a walking existential crisis.

I am a health conscious smoker.

I am a workshy workaholic.

I am a depressed therapist.

I am the socially awkward life of the party.

I am a walking fucking contradiction, and I still don’t know if any of this is something people would read and say, that’s “L” right there.

What do you think constitutes as making someone “Who they are”?

Feeling Vulnerable

0

I am wearing a nice dress today (discussed earlier in my post “stop touching my tattoos”), and I look pretty. I felt pretty and I was in a good mood.

Today an older man at work, who is in a very senior position compared to me, coincidentally ended up in the kitchen with me twice and made small talk. I’ve been here three months and today is the first time it’s happened. His office overlooks who enters the kitchen, and, therefore, this is a creepy enough coincidence, but what he did shocked me. He looked at me, blantantly, in the chest, eyes skimmed down to my legs, which were in thick black leggings, and back up to my chest. It was so surreal, in the fact that he wasn’t even trying to hide it. I was stunned and didn’t know quite what to do. I have been checked out plenty of times, catcalled, grabbed, hollered at, but never in such a creepy way. I felt so vulnerable. I just wanted coffee, and yet here I was, feeling nauseous and trying to pull my cardigan over my chest, wishing that he would go away. (Note to self, going to grab a coffee at work is becoming a hazardous and infuriating ordeal – see my mansplaining post).

 I pulled my cardigan over my chest awkwardly and felt so ashamed of myself for not doing something, saying something, but I already feel like an outcast, and I need my job. If I was to say something, I knew that it would become a massive issue, and that I would be frowned upon for “making a massive deal out of nothing” when I can just put up with it and ignore him. But that’s not how it should be. That is never how it should be. And in that moment I felt completely stripped of all power. I wanted to snap at him, call him out on his behaviour, but I didn’t. And isn’t that just all shades of wrong there, summed up in a nice nutshell.

Don’t touch my tattoos!

0

This is a real bug bear of mine. My tattoos are not for touching. I have tattoos on my back, and today the dress that I am wearing shows some of them. It is not a low cut dress, it simply shows a little more of the back of my shoulders than a cardboard box might. Someone at work approached me and touched one of my tattoos with their finger and said “Ooh what’s that?”.

The fact that my dress may reveal what is below is not an invitation to touch me, nor is the very ink I choose to put on my skin. People have said to me in the past, “Well you put them there, you obviously want them to be looked at.”

I do want them to be looked at…. by me!!

Incredibly, despite me being a woman, I am not put on this earth to appeal to others. My physical attributes, appearance and general being is not for others. I do not choose to dress for others to look at. I do not choose to tattoo my body for others to look at. I don’t want to be touched by random people, who think that because there is something pretty on my skin, it must be ok for them to touch it. It is an incredibly disconcerting feeling to be touched suddenly, on your bare skin, and especially in a place not many people touch, like the centre of your back.

IMG_20161102_194958

The “touchable” tattoo and dress

Don’t get me started on people who ask me “What does it mean? What does that one mean? Does it mean something to you?” The meaning is for me, not for you.  I get people “informing” me, “You are inviting people to touch and ask by putting them on your body.”

No, I am not. No woman is ever inviting you to touch, discuss, or enquire about their body unless they specifically tell you they are doing so, or tell you it is ok. If you receive from me a sparkly envelope with a beautiful invitation inside, proclaiming that I feel comfortable enough being intimate with you to have you touch me, then you may do so. If you do not receive this in the post, you may not.

It still amazes me everyday, the trouble that people have with consent and women’s bodies. I could go on for hours, but I don’t have time, I am sneakily writing this at work whilst my blood boils.

Perhaps tomorrow I will wear something that shows as many tattoos as possible, and every time someone approaches me about them I will bark like a rabid terrier until they leave me alone. Somehow, I still don’t think they would understand….

Mansplained to death

0

We all know mansplaining is a thing. Chances are everyone has been mansplained at some point in their lives (yes even men get mansplained, I watch it happen to my O.H.), but the facts are women get mansplained at a lot more often, and with more ferocity.

Well, yesterday I got mansplained at, and I acted shamefully. I smiled and agreed with him. I was so angry at myself afterwards. I thought I was angry with him (I was!), but I realised that I was more angry with myself than anything, for not setting him straight. But my genuine reaction in the moment was…..”I can’t be arsed, it’s not worth it”.

“It’s not worth having this conversation. It’s not worth arguing with this guy who is so clearly cock-sure in his limited (and wrong) knowledge. I just want to finish making my coffee, I don’t want a weird tense thing happening at work with this large intimidating, socially angry man.”

What happened was this: Somehow in an awkward, small talk situation around the kettle, the subject of my being a vegetarian came up. I said to him that I had been a vegetarian since I was a baby, as my family were vegetarians, (read, this is not a passing phase).

He mentioned that that was ok, because at least I could eat fish. I said that no, I could not and did not eat fish. He said “Ah, so you’re actually more a vegan than vegetarian.”

In my life, I have encountered this a lot. I always get asked if I eat fish. No I do not. I am a vegetarian. I do not eat fish. “Some vegetarians do.” No they don’t. Pescatarians eat fish. Vegetarians do not. If a vegetarian eats a fish, they are no longer a vegetarian are they? It is quite a simple, black and white matter. You do not get vegetarians that “sometimes” eat bacon. You do not get vegans that “sometimes” eat cheese.  You do not get vegetarians that “sometimes” eat fish.

imagesXXJHIG8J

I smiled at him in the end and said “Yeah, I guess so” because his insistence that he knew more about the issue than me was frankly quite intimidating. He is a least a foot taller than me and largely built, and has a tendency to undermine women at any given opportunity, so I acquiesced.

But I felt angry, angry that I had backed down, angry that I had allowed myself to be intimidated and angry that I felt powerless to do anything in the situation.

It was a trivial matter, but to have someone insisting that you are something you are not, to the point where they want to hear you say it back to them, to validate the fact that they are right and you are wrong, is a weird and unsettling experience.