Yes, I’m a Cynic. No, I Don’t Believe in Love.

If I had a dollar for every time I went to begin a blog post with “I’m not a positive person” or some such variation, I’d have a heckin’ lot of dollars. But that gets boring after a while, and incredibly depressing, when you think about it. It is, nevertheless, kind of true. I mean, I don’t sit around all day every day, staring at the wall with a glum expression, and thinking about all the bad things in the world. I do however, have a tendency to be incredibly cynical (or realistic, depending on your view, but I for my part, am very realistic about my cynicism), and often that comes across as the same thing.

I’ve been single for a very long time, and have never had what you would call a long romantic relationship. The reactions I get from people when they learn this, is generally one of shock and/or incredulity, expressed in some kind of over the top reaction that would be better suited to stage than real life. Yes, there are single people in the world and yes, when you get all dramatic about our lack of love life, we do kind of want to punch you a little bit. We don’t need to be pitied, and we’re not (necessarily) miserable. To be honest, I think single people are simply not the norm. Particularly single people in their mid 20’s; the time when many other twenty-somethings are married/having babies. There’s almost this unspoken expectation that if you’re not in a relationship (for a long period of time) then there must be something inherently wrong with you. We single people are not a different species, I promise you.

I may be single because I haven’t yet met the person I want to spend any significant amount of time with. And also because, well…I like being on my own, and people actually suck. But here’s where it gets into the heart of the matter; I simply do not believe in the adulated concept of love. I understand, of course, that love exists. There are probably millions of songs and poems and plays and movies dedicated to it, after all. So perhaps it is not that I don’t believe in love, but more that I don’t believe it’s sustainable in the long term. By this, I am of course only refering to love of the romantical* kind, not love of the platonical** kind; that’s a whole different beast. You often hear it said that “the honeymoon period is over”, but it seems that once this supposedly magical, yet apparently measurable period of time ends, so too does the effort it takes to maintain a relationship. I have lost track of the amount of people I know (or follow on social media) who have made grand announcements about engagements and marriages, only then to be separated months after their nuptials. Or people who have actually said “now I’m married so I don’t have to try anymore”. It’s like they care more about appearances and having the party than actually continuing to love their partner after the last guest has left.

I’m not bitter because I’m single, and these words don’t come from a place of malice or jealousy. I actually think not being in a relationship allows me to look at them with a clear head, and without the tint of rose coloured glasses clouding my judgement. Anyone who knows me, will have heard me say that I think marriage is a pointless institution, and archaic to boot. Look, maybe I’m wired wrong, but I don’t see the point in spending a billion dollars on a single day, when there’s a significant possibility that the marriage will end. Will I celebrate my friends getting married, and be happy for them? Absolutely. I don’t begrudge them a thing, truly. But I also won’t be surprised if they come to me in 12 months time and tell me they’re getting a divorce. Love can be a beautiful illusion, but I am fully aware of how quickly that illusion can be shattered.

You’ve all heard the saying “all good things must come to an end” and I can’t help but believe that this is particularly true about love. I realise that, in much the same way you don’t buy a car to crash it, you don’t get into a relationship with someone expecting to break up. But you can’t deny the possibility that you will. Think of all the partners you’ve had in your life, and how many relationships you had before you met “the one”. How do you know that this one won’t be like the rest of them? How do you know that when you say you want to spend your life with someone, that they will feel the same way? It’s true that, like anything, there are exceptions. I’ve seen plenty of cute hand holding little old couples that kinda make my heart warm. But in this day and age, they’re the minority.

The truth is, I never go into anything without considering every possibility, positive or negative. And the fact that I expect the worst outcome means that I am indeed a cynic. But the plus side is, when things do turn out well, at least it’s a pleasant surprise. At least that’s something!

*rarely used, but it is actually a word.

**not actually a word, but it I’m all about that continuity, don’t you know.

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Don’t. F*cking. Touch Me.

I was scrolling through Instagram this morning when I came across a post by one of the artists I follow. She was posting about how when she was out in town today, a man approached her directly and aggressively, so he could grab her arms and “look” at the tattoos there. As I read through the comments, almost every person that commented was a woman, talking about her own similar experiences. And naturally, I couldn’t help but think about mine.

The artist in question mentioned how she was disappointed in herself for “standing there like a lost lamb” instead of reacting, and I got angry. Not because she was disappointed with herself, but because some guy, some creepy random dude, had made her feel that way. The scary truth is that this shit happens every day. People get assaulted, accosted, inappropriately touched without their consent. And it happens each and every time, because someone has taken it upon themselves to intentionally invade another person’s space and push their boundaries.

I have had many experiences in my life where I have been touched by someone, stranger or friend, when I didn’t give my permission. One of the most notable of these had quite an impact on me. As a teenage girl, waiting at the local shopping centre for a friend of mine one day after school, I noticed an older man with long hair and a beard. I didn’t pay him too much attention, right until he came up to me from behind, stood close, buried his face in my hair and took a long, audible sniff. I nearly screamed, and ran. I was young, I was uncomfortable, I had been touched by a stranger in a weird and inappropriate way. To this day, I can’t stand to have people touch my hair.

I remember another night, a few years later, sitting at a bar with my best friend. I was wearing a dress that had a low back because it was cute, and it made me feel pretty, and it really went with my shoes. I was having a drink and a laugh; listening to the band and having a good time. Suddenly I felt a stranger’s fingers run from the top of my spine down to the back of my dress. I turned, realizing I had raised my hand. The man who had touched me tried to explain away his actions by saying “I just wanted to look at your tattoo”. Shaking, goosebumps covering my entire body, I told him to get away from me. When he again tried to tell me that he just liked my tattoo, I told him that his poor excuse didn’t give him any right to touch me. I saw him return to his friends and say something to them, after which they all turned to stare at me. I spent the rest of the night on edge. I didn’t wear that dress again.

But, don’t get me wrong here, it’s not just men I have experienced this behaviour with. A couple of years ago I was in line at JB Hi-Fi, waiting for some paperwork for the purchase of a tablet. Out of nowhere, I felt two hands grab my shoulders and physically spin me around. It was so unexpected, I nearly fell over, having to grab hold of a nearby display to keep myself upright. Seemingly oblivious to my near fall, was the woman who was grabbing handfuls of my dress and actually running her hands over my waist, my hips and my thighs. I yanked the fabric out of her hands and stepped away with what I imagine was a look of combined rage and shock. She then had the gall to get angry at me and said “I only wanted to look at your dress because it’s so nice. I was giving you a compliment.” I snapped. Long gone was the teenager who would run away from strangers. I told the woman to get away from me, and that if she touched me again I would hit her. I told her she had no right to touch me without my permission. I said it calmly, but I meant every word. She left, muttering obscenities under her breath, and I went back to me paperwork, acutely aware of the stares I was getting from the people around me.

The thing is, in all of these situations, the people who touched me didn’t seem to understand, or want to admit, that they were in the wrong. They each tried to justify their actions. Y’all, if you “only want to look” you don’t look at people with your hands. That’s now how looking works! I mean, I grew up being told “you can look, but don’t touch”. It was a mantra drummed into us as children, and where I once knew I wasn’t allowed to touch that Ballgown Barbie on the shelf, I know now that I’m not allowed to touch another person without their consent. So why is it such a foreign concept to some people? No one, and I do mean no one has the right to accost you. Not because of the way you are dressed. Not because of the tattoos that you have. Not because they like your hair, or your jewelry, or your fingernail polish, or your shoes. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH YOU. WITHOUT. YOUR. CONSENT.

No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

“Does This Sound Stupid?” and Other Things Men Say About Engraving

My job is multifaceted, and there is quite a lot involved in what I do. One of the things that I do at my job is engraving by hand. I do everything from pet tags to birthday gifts, memorial plates to awards; basically if you give me anything metal or glass, I can engrave on it.

When it comes to engraving, women are – nine times out of ten – a hell of a lot more forthcoming with what they want to engrave. They buy a gift with the idea to engrave it already set in their minds, and more often than not, women are content to write down their sentiment without any shame or embarrassment. Alas, it is not always so with men. Today was a prime example of this very thing. A young man came to my counter with a heart shaped pendant, and wanted to get something engraved on the back. When I asked what he wanted to have engraved, he was suddenly struck dumb.

Ten minutes or so passed, whilst he deliberated, asked me what he should write (I dunno, man. She’s not my girlfriend), deliberated some more and finally settled on the phrase “I love you more than you love me.” Upon writing it down, he looked intently at the paper for a moment and then slid it across the counter and said, without meeting my eye, “Does this sound stupid?”

It’s something I encounter a lot, this strange kind of embarrassment from men when it comes to showing affection. It’s as though they’re ashamed to admit that they’re capable of any kind of sentimentality, or endearment. Oftentimes, they feel as though they need to justify their kind words for their significant others, and they do this in many ways. One of the most common things I hear is “you know how chicks love that kind of mushy crap” or some other variant. Another is “Yeah, I know it’s gay but there you go.”

I don’t know if it’s just because of some kind of societal expectation that men have to be gruff and uncaring that makes them get so awkward, or if perhaps they just genuinely are uncomfortable with showing affection. If it’s the latter, I can certainly relate; I’m probably the most emotionally awkward person I know! I almost feel like putting a sign up that says “Engrave what you want, we don’t judge” but I feel like that would just be drawing more attention to the discomfort, and these guys are clearly already weird about the whole thing enough as it is.

At any rate, I’ve engraved some sappy things, and some funny things, and some genuinely awful things. I really, truly don’t judge what people want to say to their friend/spouse/relative/significant other because at the end of the day, people show their affection in many different ways.

When Did I Get So Old?

Image result for pixabay grumpy old lady

I’m not old, in the scheme of things. At 26, many would argue that I’m actually still quite young. But a lot of the time lately, I’ve really felt as if my age is vastly older, not because of myself but because of my encounters with the people younger than me.

There’s something I have noticed about the “young people” of today. And when I say young people, in this case I am talking about anyone 22 or younger. Because the encounters I’ve had with people who fall into that age bracket have left me wondering how they can be so far removed from me, when there’s only a couple of years separating us in age.

Several times in the last few weeks I have had conversations with young people, and have been told outright that they don’t want to work. There’s nothing all that uncommon about not wanting to work for a living – hell, that’s pretty much the entire reason I buy a lottery ticket every week! The difference between me and many of the people I’ve spoken to in recent weeks, is that I go to work to do my job and these guys do the absolute bare minimum required to keep a ten hour a week job because anything more is “too hard”. One guy I was talking to a couple of weeks ago told me he quit his last job because making coffees was “too much effort” and I was astounded, not only that he openly admitted it, but that he expected me to agree with him and sympathise.

At what point did young people get so entitled as to expect a 6 figure salary without having to work for it? Too many people I know refuse to accept lower level jobs because they think they deserve to just walk into cushy, high paying jobs with little to no effort. They think working 9-5 is beneath them. Yes, I completely agree that working for eight dollars an hour is ridiculous in this day and age, and I wouldn’t accept a job that paid less than minimum wage either. But to expect to get paid a King’s sum for doing a jesters job is ignorant, and entitled.

But it’s not just their unwillingness to work. I look at younger people who come into the shopping centre where I work, and the arrogance and attitude that they bring with them makes me want to throw some punches. On more than one occasion in the last couple of months, I have been subjected to smart mouths and condescending attitudes from kids still in school uniforms. Nothing raises my ire quite like sarcastic teens who assume they’re smarter than me. Trying to prove that you’re an adult, whilst acting like a petulant 12 year old is not going to win you the respect y’all so desperately crave (all whilst trying to pretend like you’ve too bitter and jaded to care about anything!). Yes, I like hearing kids speak their minds and engage in intelligent debates, if they have something to bring to the table. But if all they can contribute is smartass comments, then I am quick to lose interest.

I realise that I sound exactly like a cranky, prematurely old person complaining about the “insufferable youth of today”. Pretty soon I’ll be holed up with fifteen cats, and screaming for people to get off my lawn. Watch out, folks. The Wrinkle Rage is imminent.

In Which Roller Skates Are the Only Thing Getting Me Through

I’m feeling overwhelmed. This is my first official week back as a shop manager (of sorts) with no one above me to take the fall should things go wrong. This week alone I’ve already told a would be customer to blow me, because he was so rude. With a massive stock delivery, and work coming in faster than I can do it, this week has been hectic. We’re starting a new trainee in a couple of weeks, but I plan on winning the lottery before then anyway. My job has never made me particularly happy, but this week it’s making me ruddy miserable.

This high strung tension may have something to do with my impending period too. My boobs ache like they’ve just been beaten with a mallet, and I’m all heavy and feeling somewhat lacklustre. Add to this the fact that I will be working 6 days a week every week until the end of time (or a new job) and it’s pretty much a recipe for a breakdown.

On an emotional, not work related topic, I’ve been feeling lately like I seem to be putting a lot of time and effort into things, only to yield very mediocre results – if any at all. This is true for creative endeavours, relationships, and adult stuff alike. I’m floundering a little at the moment, and I’m searching for some kind of answer to any of life’s big questions that plague me from time to time. I’m struggling to find the positive side in many situations which, whilst not altogether uncommon, is particularly frustrating right now because I’m actually trying for a change. I’m trying to believe that something good is coming soon, or that I’m on this particular path for a reason, but truly I’m mostly just exhausted, and more than a little fed up.

There is one shining light amidst all this bleakness, however. I ordered some roller skates last week and, despite a couple of speed humps (see what I did there?) in finalising the order, they should hopefully soon be on their way to me! I am incredibly excited for a myriad of reasons, not least because I cannot wait to skate around town like some kind of glorious 70’s goddess. I just need to find a gold, glittery helmet and I’ll be ready to go! It might not seem like much, but at the moment it’s the best thing I’ve got to cling to, and so cling to it I shall.

Is Resting Satan Face a Thing?

Image result for pixabay funny satan

I’m not in any way a religious person. I was baptised in the Catholic church, and attended a Catholic school (and I had no say in either of those things), but I eschewed all gods years ago, and am quite content living as a heathen. Whilst I do understand why some people need religion, it’s not something that appeals to or resonates with me, for a myriad of reasons. A lot of my experience with organised religion, and indeed, those who follow “God” has been negative. I remember distinctly, being screamed at in public by an elderly woman, who took my holding hands with a female friend as a reason to tell us that we were going to “burn in hell for our sins”. I was sixteen at the time.

I was approached at my counter a few weeks ago by an older gentleman in a wheelchair. He didn’t want or need anything from my shop, but rather wanted to give me something. As it turns out, what he wanted to give me was a A4 framed piece of paper, on which he had painstakingly written out and decorated an entire, page long prayer. He told me that when he saw me, he couldn’t walk past without giving me this gift, and he told me that he hoped I would put it somewhere in my house, so that God would bless my home and myself. He was very kind, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I am the possibly the least religious person he could have chosen to bestow his prayer upon. I found out shortly after, that he had gone to a few shops in the centre, handing out these same prayers, but it didn’t lessen the irony.

I didn’t think any more of the encounter until a couple of days ago, when I was approached by a young woman. She walked past me at first, and smiled. I smiled back and continued writing at the counter. Moments later she returned. “I’m sorry, I know this is probably a little random, but I wonder if I could have a moment of your time, so that I can draw you something?” she asked. Another customer approached my counter at that moment, and she shied away a little. For a fleeting, egotistical second, I wondered if perhaps she was going to write down her number for me. It would have been a pleasant change from the guys who occasionally try to pick me up at work, and don’t take no for an answer. But, alas, the pretty girl wasn’t coming to my counter to ask me out.

When the other customer had been served, the young woman took a pen and a piece of paper, and began to draw me a diagram. She drew as she talked about sin, and filling emptiness with more emptiness, and how God created the world with love. She prefaced this by saying “I saw you, and I felt compelled to come and talk to you. I should tell you that I am a follower of Jesus, and I just couldn’t walk past without talking to you.” Here it was again. Another religious person, who felt compelled to come and have a chat to me, possibly the least religious person on the planet. Once again, she was perfectly lovely, and nothing about her demeanour or speech gave me the sense that she was trying to save my soul or convert me to a life of loving God. To be honest, all she wanted to do was talk about Jesus for a little bit, her relationship with him, and how finding him had ‘filled an emptiness’ she had felt. She told me about how she used to be filled with anxiety, and how once she would have been terrified about talking to a stranger. She told me how finding Jesus had given her a kind of peace that she had been missing before. As encounters with religious people go, it was definitely one of the better ones. We had a bit of a chat, and then she wished me a good day and went on her merry way.

I don’t know really what I should be taking from this. I mean, it’s not like I suddenly want to go out and confess my sins, or start attending mass every Sunday. Hell, I’d probably go up in flames if I set foot in a church these days. It’s possible I’m just reading too much into it, and perhaps they were just two kind people who wanted to talk to someone about their faith? Or it could be that I just look like I need saving. You’ve heard of resting bitch face, maybe I have Resting Satan Face? Who knows!

Anxiety in Learning, and People Who Refuse to Understand

How do you explain anxiety to someone who doesn’t understand it? How do you open a discussion about how you’re feeling, when the other person is sitting across from you in judgement, and telling you that you’re wrong? These are questions I asked myself this week, when I had an encounter with a friend that left me feeling frustrated for those very same reasons.

I do not have anxiety in any diagnosed sense. But, like every other person in the world I’m sure, there are certain things that do make me incredibly anxious. I find being in crowds acutely uncomfortable. Meeting new people either turns me into some kind of overly expressive, unintentionally aggressive(ly energetic) person, or into a silent, dismissive, seemingly moody person who can’t make conversation. But another thing that makes me feel anxious is learning from other people, one on one.

I like to teach myself things, for a few reasons. Firstly, I am as stubborn as a mule. I like tackling challenges – despite often getting a little overwhelmed by them – because I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after completing something that I spent time and effort on. Of course, this doesn’t always mean it’s an effective way to learn; my lack of musical ability (despite trying to teach myself various instruments over the years) is a testament to that. The other major reason why I enjoy trying to teach myself things as opposed to learning a skill from another person, is because I hate feeling like I’m stupid. And as silly as this might sound, learning new things can make me feel incredibly stupid.

See, the thing about learning from someone else, is that somewhere in my brain there is a little voice that tells me that the teacher is judging my inability to do ‘the thing’. And even though I know realistically they’re not thinking that at all, I can’t help but feel awkward when I’m learning something new that I haven’t yet mastered. It’s one of many reasons why starting a new job makes me nervous. The idea that I might not get it right, that I might take too long to learn, that the teacher might get frustrated with my questions and think I’m an idiot…these are all factors that contribute to the feeling of anxiety and inadequacy. I like to learn in solitude, where no one can witness my inevitable mistakes, and where it doesn’t matter how long it then takes me to fix them. Learning from someone else can come with a level of pressure that doesn’t come from teaching yourself how to do something.

I was trying to explain this to my boss the other day. I said learning new things can sometimes make me feel stupid, and his exact verbatim response was “Well, you’re wrong, but ok.” There it is. You’re wrong. With those two words, he managed to simultaneously belittle me, and prove my point. When I tried to further explain what I was talking about, he cut me off and told me that it didn’t make sense, and that feeling like that was weird and “not normal”. Which brings us back to my original question; how do you explain a feeling to someone who is determined not to understand?

There are always going to be people who think you’re weird for feeling a certain way. There are always going to be people who don’t understand. I usually try to avoid having to have those conversations, but in this case it was unavoidable. I guess at the end of the day, I don’t need to explain myself to anyone, and I certainly don’t need to justify how I’m feeling, especially not to someone who refuses to understand. But, I can get mad about it and vent on my blog. Have any of you ever had that experience? Have you ever struggled to explain how you’re feeling to someone else? Tell me your stories!