How Much is Too Much?

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These days I see increasing pressure to be a fantastic all round person and it is killing my friends. People are trying to do too much, and it’s not healthy.

[I would like to note that this is written from a female perspective, concentrating on women, simply because this is my own personal experience as a woman. However, this happens to men too, so I welcome comments and experiences from men.]

The 1950’s gave us the modern model of perfect family. A man had a good job and provided well for his family, expected to uphold certain social requirements and maintain networks and look smart. The women were expected to be women who not only looked impeccable, but were also accomplished in many things. They were expected to follow the latest fashions and trends, spending time ensuring their aesthetic portrayed the perfect housewife, they were expected to be good cooks, good at crafts, good at being a mother, good at sports, good at dancing and singing, good at being a wife, good at entertaining, good at being entertaining, good at socialising, good at being a friend, good at maintaining a home. Trying to do it all and be perfect.

We may be in 2017, but this attitude hasn’t left us. Women still strive to do all of these things, but on top of that they are now expected to go out and get a career on top of all of that. I see countless friends who have full time jobs trying to portray an image of themselves on social media of someone who eats healthily, who manages to go for a run or to the gym, who tries and succeeds at many crafts, who is a wonderful mother, who has a social life, and who cares about social justice and politics.

Gym, crafts, food, design, social life, film, pop culture, beauty, work, education, growing veg, meditating, career, friendships, current affairs, global affairs, local affairs, all these things flood my news feed but not because I have amassed a collection of friends with massively varied interests, they are all coming from the same people. People are exhausting themselves to try and be a polished “someone” and no facet can be left unturned. Then away from the spotlight of the news feed I receive personal messages, texts from friends saying “I’m exhausted, I’m so stressed, any chance we can chat, do you have time for a coffee sometime? I can squeeze you in between 11:13 and 11:49 on 28th July this year.”

So I find myself surrounded by friends that I never see, unless we actively arrange to meet up and do an awesome thing that can be tagged on Facebook. I don’t mean to imply that all my friends are social media obsessed, but it is becoming an increasingly important factor in people’s lives and in the way they express themselves or define themselves.

I am guilty of trying to do too much. I was dissatisfied in my job so tried to build an empire of self-employed avenues to enable me to leave the job I was currently in. I also decided to do a degree at the same time, and lose weight and maintain my meditation practices and groups on top of all the other things.  It wasn’t possible and something had to give. Fortunately, just before I was the thing that broke, I decided to cut down on my list of “current activities”. The only thing I achieved in doing all of these things was not looking after myself.

Self care is so important. It is not selfish, it is necessary, and something that everyone should do every day. One thing a day for you that has no purpose other than to make you happy. It doesn’t matter whether that one thing is awesome or not. It is not to be judged, just enjoyed.

Here are some of the “self-care” things I have done for myself over the last week.

Mon 8th May – had a pint by myself in a nice pub.

Sun 7th May – had a good cry after sorting through memories

Sat 6th May – Got a tattoo

Fri 5th May – indulged in some of my favourite foods

Thurs 4th May – dyed my hair and watched drag queens

Weds 3rd May – went to yoga

Tues 2nd May – wrote a letter to my penpal and drew him a stupid picture

These aren’t massive things. They are things I enjoyed and did purposefully. Everyone’s self care is different. Sometimes it is just saying “No” to something you don’t really want to do, or saying “Yes” to something you would ordinarily turn down, but want to do. Sometimes it is just embracing your flaws and spending time with them rather than trying to hide them.

So many people are chasing the image of a perfect person, believing that being this person will make them happy. For me happiness is not the goal. Happiness is another thing we chase that is killing us. We are not meant to be perfect, and we never will be.

https://amiagrownupyet.com/2017/05/09/the-constant-quest-for-happiness/

 

Who Am I?

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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

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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!

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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.

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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….

Searching for Inspiration

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It can be difficult, when you are cooped up in an office, doing work that is uninspiring, to find motivation and inspiration. It is hard to maintain an ignited flame, with the stifling, stuffy office environment suffocating it. In times like this, where I feel my soul being sapped away with the tapping of the keyboard, I look to other people for inspiration. I sneak off for a quick 5 minute phone break, and devour stories of women achieving, their utter bad-assery, against the odds, doing what they believe in, making a difference. Not always women, but their stories are somehow greater to me.

It is people like this that can re-ignite that flame. People who’s own flames are burning brightly, they light up that stuffy, suffocating darkness, and call to your inner flame, willing it to be relit, willing you to get up and do something. Sometimes I feel as though my creativity has up and left and may never come back, but I know that it just needs nurturing, encouraging and letting out.

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I often talk about feeling like a caged animal. Stuck inside a building all day, stuck at my desk all day, frowned upon for leaving it, maintaining an unnatural posture to prevent posture problems when I am older, nothing about my working day is natural. I feel as though my creativity comes from that natural place within, so it is no wonder it feels stifled and trapped, unable to burst free and express itself.

I feel tempted to start a creative meetup, where all people from all walks of life can meet and bounce off one another, allowing the creativity to zoom about the place igniting all the flames that struggle to keep burning through the dogmatic ideas of modern life, working to live, in order that you can die with no debt to your name. We are born into a debt, that we spend the rest of our lives paying off, and at what cost. Who might we all have been if we hadn’t been forced to forgo creativity and concentrate on bill paying?

I should try and do one creative thing each day, no matter how small, as long as I have totally devoted myself to doing it, and let my creativity free. I’ll post each day, my little thing, and keep the little flame burning.