Cultivating Your Peoplehood

We all have our people. You know, the friends and/or family members that just…get it. Those people who understand and accept you as exactly who you are. Those people who you can be totally open, and honest, and raw with. The people that will hear you without judgement, and allow you to be your most authentic self. My friend and I have a word for this group of folks that you surround yourself with. More than just “mates” or people that you just happen to know. Not necessarily family either, though not explicitly excluding those individuals. An all encompassing term we coined to describe your tribe/friends/soul mates all in one. We call them your peoplehood.

I’ve had many different groups of friends in my life. School friends, long distance friends, work friends. Some people I have associated with purely due to circumstance, and others that I have grown fond friendships with after meeting in completely unexpected ways. There has certainly been cases of friendships based solely on proximity, that end without animosity when the situation changes. Friends I had at one job, that I lost contact with when I changed jobs, for example. I’ve had friends that I thought I would have forever – like the group of girls I went to highschool with – that I have grown apart from. I suppose you could easily sum it up by saying that I have had different people along for the ride in different times in my life, and many were in my life for only as long as they needed to be. Hey, the Universe works in mysterious ways, what can I say.

Now, it’s no secret that I don’t particularly like people as a whole. I’m an introvert at heart, and largely impatient and easily frustrated by humanity. However in recent times, I have come to realise that I actually have a much wider group of friends than I had ever really considered. This realisation, and indeed, reality, is at odds with my overwhelming misanthropy. But, at almost 28 years old, I have long since learned that it is not about the amount of friends you have (be that a large or small number) but about the quality of those relationships. And reflecting upon my close group of friends – my peoplehood – and the wider circle of friends I associate with, I have to say that I have succeeded in surrounding myself with some truly stellar folks.

I think it is important – nay, essential – to make sure that the people around you are good people. And by that, I mean people with whom you are comfortable, and safe, and happy. People who support you and raise you up, instead of dragging you down. People who you can turn to, and who can be comfortable turning to you. A relationship in any measure is, after all, a joint effort. It is also important to recognise when a relationship is no longer a healthy one. Toxic, unhealthy relationships not only affect you on a base level, but on a spiritual level too. It can sometimes be hard to step away from something, and see it without rose coloured glasses, but being able to do so will benefit you in unimaginable ways.

The message here is essentially that you need to find your people. Spend time with folks who make you happy. But more than that, surround yourself with people who understand you, and who light your soul on fire. Your time and your energy are precious commodities, and wasting them on people who bring you down, or leave you feeling drained will only hurt you in the long run. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; cultivate, and nurture your peoplehood. You’ll thank yourself for it, and you will get back as much as you give, every time.

High School Reunion? Not a Chance.

I’ve never understood the concept of high school reunions. And I can not think of a single thing that I’d want to do less, than attend a gathering of former classmates ten years after graduating. It seems such a pointless and mundane idea, not to mention entirely unappealing. I knew it was coming. It’s been ten years since I finished my last year of school, and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone decided to organise a get together.

I briefly logged into Facebook tonight, searching for a photo of the wedding dress I made a couple of years ago. I didn’t find it, but I did get a pop up notification for a ten year school reunion event/group, which is what inspired this post. Now, I wasn’t actually invited, which is down to a couple of things. First of all, the name on my Facebook page is not my real name, so I’m not the easiest to find. Second, I keep my account permanently deactivated, only logging in perhaps once every 12 months for no more than ten minutes. And third, I’m actually kind of an asshole, so I don’t imagine I’d be high on the list of invitees, which doesn’t upset me in the slightest. Really, what is it about the idea of a reunion that gets so many people all hyped up? I mean, high school wasn’t exactly a stellar time, and quite frankly I’m happy to leave it in the past.

I think about the people I went to high school with, and the few times I have seen them in the years since. I have occasionally run into old classmates either at work, or in random unexpected situations. There is always polite, somewhat forced conversation, wherein the other party seems far more interested in talking about themselves, with the obligatory “so what have you been up to?” tacked on the end. So a whole night filled with those same conversations isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. The thing is, I wasn’t particularly sociable in high school, and I’ve gotten even less so as I’ve gotten older, so I honestly don’t care what a bunch of strangers are up to now, nor do I want to spend an evening with them. And I can’t understand how any of that is even remotely appealing.

I think what it comes down to, is a pissing contest. People attend their high school reunions under the guise of friendly catch up, to see who is successful and happy, and who isn’t. It’s nothing more than an opportunity to try and outdo everyone else in the room. It’s a big competition to see who has the biggest rock in their wedding ring, who makes the most money, who has the most stereotypically boring suburban lifestyle that people in their late 20’s seem to froth over. Who has put on the most weight? Who is still single? Who is gay now? I can just picture a room full of people who are now married with children, chatting idly about their identically uninteresting lives, unsure of how to relate to former classmates outside of the designated cliques that seemed to dominate the high school years. Dull conversation, silent competition, and the inevitable drunken mess who can’t hold their liquor, and has to be led stumbling to a taxi in a fog of vomit scented embarrassment. Ugh. Thanks, but that’s one event I plan to avoid.

Still Here

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Lately, being an adult has kind of sucked. In between having less money (thanks, COVID-19), not being able to leave my house for the solo adventures that keep me sane, or have a few drinks with my friends (thanks, COVID-19), struggling to find motivation to do even the things I love, and just generally dealing with a whirlwind of emotions that are frankly giving me whiplash, it has kind of made me wish I was a kid again. Y’know, when existential crisis wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, and my life was generally more stable.

The thing is, I feel like some time in the last few months, I lost myself, and I’m not sure how to find myself again. I’ve cried a lot lately, mostly at night, when I’m in bed and not sure if I want to live or die. It sounds dramatic, I know. But I feel hopeless, and lost and so very exhausted with the weight of being, and living. I feel like I am stuck in this same monotonous rut, walking blind, with no light at the end of the tunnel. I have reached this point where even the idea of taking another step makes me want to just stop altogether, and check out for good.

It is a peculiar thing, this apathy for life. How can I even begin to talk to the people I know about this? I’ll either be labelled a drama queen, or lay down a whole lot of worry on the people I love and then feel guilty about that too. I don’t want to feel this way, and I wish there was some cure all pill to make it all go away. I want to be ok, I want to feel normal again. And I feel guilty because I’m not.

I try to find joy in small things, and sometimes I do. But I feel like I’m forcing myself to feel happy, and it doesn’t really work all that well. I tell myself that if I had this, or did that, then everything would be better. But I know that’s not the case, and besides which, I am tired of running away. I seem to always be doing that; running away from the reality of everything. I pretend to be really tough and carefree, but the truth is that I’m just scared that I’ll never be really, truly happy.

I don’t want to do this anymore. But I will. Because if nothing else, I’m stubborn. And there’s so much yet to see and do, even if I don’t want to see or do it right now. I have to believe that something better is coming just around the bend. It’s the only thing I can cling on to, the notion that this part of the river might be rocky and bumpy, and I might be holding on for dear life right now. But sooner or later, the rage will slow, and I will once again find myself in calmer waters.

Body Modifications vs So Called Professionalism

I had a job interview on Monday. I was dressed neatly, I had relevant experience, and I was informed I had been given “glowing references”. The interview went quite well, and the man who conducted the interview seemed satisfied, if not impressed with me as a potential candidate for employment. I have to admit, I was feeling quietly confident. There was just one thing that apparently was holding me back.

“That piercing, does it come out?”
“Well…it can…”
“Well obviously if you are successful, you will have to remove it. We have a girl here with a nose piercing, but a lip ring is just…not the way we do things here.”

There it was. The one tiny, insignificant detail about me that would be the difference between me potentially getting a job, and being rejected. The piercing in question is a vertical labret; a small, unobtrusive little metal bar that goes through the centre of my bottom lip (though I had a clear bar in at the time). I have had this piercing for seven years, and it has never once affected my ability to do any of the number of jobs I have held during that time. Now of course, I could understand if the job were at a law firm, or a doctor’s surgery, or some kind of factory where there was an inherent risk of injury resulting from jewellery/piercings. However, the job I applied for was a retail position.

The thing I found almost as silly as the notion of having to remove my piercing in the first place, was the apparent distinction between a nose piercing and a lip piercing. They are both on the face, after all. Why is one piercing more or less offensive than another? Why should I be expected to remove a lip ring, when someone else is permitted a similar kind of jewellery in their nose? Needless to say, after a lot of thought and reflection, I opted to withdraw my application for the job. In the end, I realised that it just wasn’t for me.

Here’s the thing; it’s 2020. We are living in a time where it’s probably more unusual to not have any kind of body modification. So I find it really difficult to understand why there are people and businesses out there who still subscribe to this outdated idea of professionalism. In all my years of working in customer facing jobs, I have only ever had the odd question about a piercing or tattoo. But I have never received a complaint, or been told that someone finds it offensive. I mean, it’s not as if I had some obscene phrase tattooed across my forehead.

At the end of the day, any job that requires me to remove a piercing or cover my tattoos, is not a job that I want. I am wholly, unabashedly myself, body modifications and all. And I have no intention of stamping my personality out just to fit into someone else’s idea of what a retail employee should look like.

I Need a New Job

My life has turned into this endless search for alternative employment. I check the recruitment websites daily, I’ve applied for a number of jobs since the start of the year – and have subsequently received a number of rejections. I am desperately seeking a change, and at this point almost anything will do.

I’ve had a bad week. And it’s only Wednesday! My need for a new job is the most pressing issue in my life currently, and I’m hoping that something presents itself soon. I am trying to think positively about it, because I know that my time with my current employer is coming to an end. Recent events have made that even more clear, and so I know that the right job will come to me at the right time. Or at least, I have to believe that it will, because it’s the only thing I can focus on at the moment. And if things continue they way they are for much longer, I’m going to do something stupid and just quit on the spot. I’ve come extremely close to doing just that, particularly in the last couple of weeks.

At the crux of it, my problem is a lack of work/life balance. Six days of work and one day off is not enough, particularly if you’re like me, and cannot do nothing. I am endlessly filling every ounce of spare time I have with extraneous activities, and then I wonder why I am so exhausted all the time. It’s all a part of my restless nature, but I’m not helping my cause any. And the days I spend at work are dull, monotonous, and equally draining. I’m not expecting my dream job to just pop up out of nowhere, not least because I’m still not sure what my dream job would be. But if not that, I would at least settle for a job that doesn’t make me want to carve my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.

So, because a little extra luck never hurt anyone, cross your fingers for me, friends. May a new job present itself soon, and may my life become something more than a long, endless grind.

Wherefore Art Thou, Creativity?

Outside of blogging, it’s been a long time since I’ve put pen to paper – or in the case of modern technology, fingers to keyboard – to write something creative. There was a time when every spare moment I had was used for writing creatively, even back into the days where I would buy blank notebooks and fill them with words. I used to love writing, in a way that I can’t seem to anymore. I don’t know if it is perhaps because my childish enthusiasm has waned as I have fallen into the mindless trap of adulthood, or if it simply that I can no longer do it. Regardless of the reason, I can’t help but feel like something is lacking, and it is something I intend to rectify.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this inability to create is my lack of time. Working six days a week leaves me very limited time to do anything fun, and often I end up doing things by halves, in an attempt to fit as much into my singular day off as possible. Writing has felt like a chore for a long time, if I am being honest, an my lack of spare time could be a contributing factor in all of that. But I’m not one for hiding behind excuses, and the other significant reason for my lack of writing, is because I haven’t been inspired. Lack of inspiration leaves me staring at an empty screen, and I end up giving up entirely, to the point where I don’t even try anymore. Where writing was once easy, these days its akin to pulling teeth out with a pair of chopsticks; ineffective, and frustrating.

I have this notion, that if I lived in my own house, and had a dedicated writing space, and all the time in the world, then I would write constantly. But despite the pretty fantasy, the truth is that I probably still wouldn’t write like I used to, I’d just perhaps be more content with my life. I feel like my creativity is being slowly, systematically stamped out of me by the daily grind, and monotony of adulthood. Can I still be called a creative person if I haven’t written anything creative in months? If I can’t recall the last time I sat at a sewing machine and made a garment? If my painting has fallen by the wayside, and I’ve not picked up a brush in six months? I feel like a part of me is missing, and I don’t know how to get it back.

I notice it even in my most recent blog posts, as I read back over them I notice a distinct lack of style. My writing has begun to sound lazy, childish. I need a reset, or…I don’t know, something. At this point I’d take a baseball bat to the head if it meant I would come out of it with my creative streak energised. Whatever the cause of this creative block, I need to find a solution, and fast. Because I’m lost, and my life is a whole lot more dull and colourless at the moment.

My Sexual Preference is Not a Waste

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This one is for any same sex attracted person out there who has been on the receiving end of unwanted comments by strangers who think they have the right to cast judgement, and give opinions where they are not wanted.

The other day at work, I served an older male customer. I put a battery in his watch, the same way I do countless times in a day. Apparently he was impressed with how quickly I completed the task, and proceeded to tell me that I was a “good girl” and that “your husband is a lucky man.” Now, I should have just let it go, but, in typical Amy fashion, I bit back at the assumption, and stated that I wasn’t married. The old man laughed, as though this was the funniest thing he had ever heard and responded with “ah well, your boyfriend then.” Again, I should have just shut my mouth but again, my sass won out and I replied with “I don’t have one of those either.”

Now, in a way, the resulting conversation was of my own doing. Had I just shut up and let the man go on with his archaic assumptions, it would have been just another dull interaction with another ignorant customer. But alas, I am argumentative, to a fault. And I wasn’t in the mood for this guy, and his attempts to be funny. So, when he proceeded to go on about how a “pretty girl [like me] should be married”, and how “any man would be lucky to take you out” I snapped and said “Well, I don’t really like men, so it’s a moot point”. And then it really began. I was barraged with comments, questions, further insistence that I should be with a man. Then it got worse.

While all this unsolicited bombardment was going on, a younger man approached, who it turned out was the son of the ignorant twit I was dealing with. And said ignorant twit then turned around and tried to set me up with his son. Let me repeat that; the old man, who by this point was highly aware that I was in no way interested in men, tried to get me to go on a date with his very male son. The son looked a little bewildered as his father went on about how attractive he was, and how we would look nice together, and how “even though you say that’s not your thing, how could you say no?” And finally, he told me that my being attracted to women is a waste. At this, his son ushered him away with a mumbled apology to me and I was left to ponder what I had just experienced. I thought that was the end of it.

Today, that same old man walked past my shop. That same old man stopped me while I was working, and once again – as if he didn’t make it clear enough the first time – felt it necessary to reiterate his earlier contention. He said “I still think it’s a waste.” Now this time I just threw my hands up and walked away. Sir, I am sleep deprived and of a generally irritable disposition; I am not in the mood for your shit today. I mean, why is it such a supposed waste? It’s not like your crusty ass would be getting the benefit of it if I liked men anyway! I just grow increasingly tired of hearing the same old shit from jerks who think I care what they think.

So, to all the people who have told me it’s a waste. To all the people who have told me I just “need a good dicking”. To all the people who have asked “How do you know if you’ve never tried?” To all the people who have asked if they can watch me and another girl get it on. To all the people, past and future, who have ever or will ever give me an unsolicited opinion about who I am attracted to, the decisions I make regarding marriage, and the way I choose to live my life. Allow me to offer you an aggressive, and resounding FUCK YOU.

Rumours and Reflection

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Whisper, whisper, lies are sinister…

A few years ago, when I was working in my current job the first time (which is to say, before I quit and subsequently returned a year later), I had a woman accuse me of wearing her shoes. She had dropped them in to have heels replaced, and have them stretched. When she returned to pick them up, she asked my boss if anyone had been wearing her shoes, and looked pointedly at me. She said they were stretched out, completely ignoring the fact that one of the things she had requested that we do to her shoes, was stretch them. Obviously the accusation was denied, because there was no truth to it, but the woman didn’t appear convinced.

A short time later, one of the shopping centre security guards approached the shop with a grin, and informed us that the very same woman who had made her accusation, had gone into the security office and demanded to be shown the security footage of me walking out of the shop with her shoes under my arm. Of course, no such footage existed, because I hadn’t taken her shoes home to wear them. Not least because they were hideous, but also, and more importantly, not something I would do. When she was refused this by the security guards, she went one step further and left an online review for the shop, claiming that she would never be returning, because “The girl there wears customer’s shoes”.

I think back on it now, as I reflected on it at the time, and can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the whole situation. Some people, when they get an idea in their head, just run with it – regardless of how bizarre or outlandish the idea may be. And when someone is determined to drag your name through the mud, there is very little you can do about it. At the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want to believe, and you are not responsible for how people perceive you. What matters is that the people that are important to you know the truth.

I remember this story, because just recently I found myself in a similar situation, though this time it was considerably closer to home. A few months ago I met a girl through a mutual friend. We began seeing each other, and then began officially dating. Shortly after, I realised that it was not the right time for me to be in a relationship (based on certain things that I won’t go into detail about here), and I broke things off in what I thought was an amicable split. A few days later, I found out that she had changed the story of our breakup to the people she worked with, claiming that I had broken up with her because I “couldn’t handle the issues with [her] mental health”.

When I first heard it, I was angry. Here was someone I had hoped to remain friends with, lying about me to people I had no way of defending myself against. I was being made out to look like the insensitive jerk, the coward who couldn’t deal with the complexeties of mental illness. I am the last person in the world who would sit in judgement of someone suffering from mental health issues. Then, after a long conversation with my best friend, and a bit of personal reflection, I realised that getting angry was going to do nothing more than exhaust my energies on something that was entirely beyond my control.

I cannot control the actions and words of other people, but what I can control is whether or not those people have a place in my life. So, after some consideration, I decided that my ex was no longer someone that I wished to remain in contact with. Perhaps I am getting wise in my old age, or perhaps it is simply that I have no time or tolerance for petty, petulant high school drama. Regardless of the reason, I am no longer prepared to spend my time with people with whom I can find no genuine connection. At the very least, I am not going to waste any time on people who live for rumour and lies. And if nothing else, my recent dating experience had left me with no doubt that being single is highly underrated.

Low Battery vs the World

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My mind is swirling with a series of unrelated, half formed thoughts. I have tried to begin this post six times, and deleted the paragraph each time. I am thinking about the weight of expectation, and the way people have a tendency to disappoint us, and how unfulfilled I feel, and I am thinking about the clothes I want to make, and the places I want to travel, and the things I wish I had done. My mind is a very busy place at the moment, which is probably a good thing, because my workplace is very much the opposite of busy. That’s where I am, right at this very moment. I am sitting on my bench at work, writing this post whilst all around me, people are milling about, living their lives, doing their thing, and paying me absolutely no mind.

Truth be told, I don’t mind being invisible sometimes. It means no one is in my face, demanding things of me. My time, my attention, my affection, my energy. I think we often spend so much of our time giving to other people, that we don’t leave enough for ourselves. Then again, perhaps this is only true of people who are of a similar disposition to me. I have friends who seem to have boundless energy and sunlight to give to people, but I guard my energy more closely. It’s draining to give to much of yourself to other people, and I think sometimes we feel obligated to give more than we can afford to lose, just so we don’t have to incur any disappointment. They expect so much, don’t they?

I am running on an ever draining battery. Customer service has that effect too. I spend all day dealing with others, helping them with the things that need fixing, offering smiles and conversation and losing a little more of myself with each passing interaction. The nineteen year old girl I am training also requires my time and attention, and I try my best to fill the role of both manager and trainer, but I have found my tolerance for the everyday routine is waning, and I find it harder and harder to maintain the facade. Every part of me is screaming for a break from all the people. I need a quite place alone, where I can think and get my head straight, and refuel and recharge. Bukowski said it best when he wrote “People empty me. I have to get away to refill.”

Small things bring me joy, amidst all this loss of energy and self. A text from a friend brings me a smile. I am making progress with two particular financial goals I have set for myself. I started writing again. These things are the things I cling to, when everything else seems less than satisfactory. I guess that’s what it’s all about, in the end. You just have to appreciate the small things.

Here and Now

I am heading towards a reincarnation. A reinvention. A revamping. A re-something or other. Whatever you want to call it, I am aching for it. Again, I find myself in a state or same-same, and I am looking for a way out of my slump. Yes, there is the obvious looking for a new job and trying to find time for my passions in between. But this is something more than just wanting out of my current situation. I am craving a full overhaul. I want to throw out my entire wardrobe and start from scratch. A part of me wants to go one further and just throw out everything I own, if I’m being honest. I am overwhelmed with negativity at the moment, and – if you’ll forgive me an overused cliche – I need a blank canvas to work with.

I am seeking some kind of enlightenment, perhaps. Or answers to questions I can’t even put into words yet. I am trying, in my own strange way, to improve. It’s not easy. I’m fact, as someone often bogged down by the very chemicals in my brain as well as an unsatisfactory life situation, at times it feels like a completely impossible task. But in this moment, filled with a peculiar energy that I can’t begin to describe, I’m suddenly positive that I can. It doesn’t need to be a massive change to be a significant one, but the realisation at least, that I need to change my mindset before I can take any steps forward, is enough to keep me going.

Here is not where I want to be. But I have to keep reminding myself that I am ever growing, moving forward, changing in tiny ways. Here and now does not mean forever. Things will get better. I need to remember to enjoy the small things, and more importantly, to find ways to reignite my passion for things I loved, once upon a time before here and now happened to me.

I don’t know where this has come from, but I am going to embrace it, and see where it takes me.