Being is Hard

It is not an easy thing, to be alive. You’ve got to worry about breathing, and speaking, and managing the ins and outs of living every day. You have to deal with your emotions, and make sure you’re expressing the right ones at the right times. You have to find a job, and pay your bills, and remember to eat, and watch your weight, and try to carve out some semblance of a life within your existence. I mean, it’s an exhausting thing, being.

Maybe it’s just me. After 55 days without a proper day off (but who’s counting?), I think exhaustion is my new normal. My permanent state of being, I guess you might say. It’s hard to imagine a life where things aren’t complicated and just a little bit shit. But there is light at the end of the tunnel; I have a weekend off. I have plans already, because I don’t know how to have a day off without filling it with things, but the point is that there will be two consecutive days where I don’t have to go to work, or think about work, or deal with anything work related. As you can imagine, I am thrilled.

I’ve been having a bit of a bad time of it lately. Staving off impending blackness by throwing myself into my endless days of monotonous work which, paradoxically only add to the negative swirl of emotions circling me like ravenous vultures. It’s a vicious cycle, y’all. What I would really like is to win the lottery, move to Tasmania and sleep for a year, uninterrupted. It’s a record breaking lottery this week so you never know, maybe I’ll get lucky. Then again, knowing my luck – not to mention the statistical improbability of actually winning the lottery – I’ll probably win nothing.

Maybe I’ll feel better after I cry. Maybe all this exhaustion is getting to me, and my poor little broken heart will be able to start healing herself after I’ve let go of the negative energy I seem to have been unconsciously holding on to. Maybe being won’t seem so hard afterwards. Who knows, I might even start to feel normal again afterwards. I’ll let you know.

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.

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.

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!

Fractured (and a Little Bit Lost)

I’m not going to pretend I’m writing my second blog post in as many days because I have anything particularly interesting to say. The truth of the matter is that I have nothing to do at work, and I am kind of grumpy, and I am angry at myself for doing something last night that I told myself I wasn’t going to do anymore. Plus, in typical Amy fashion, I am wallowing in existential angst and wondering what the hell I am supposed to be doing with this life of mine, that seems to be casually passing me by.

Image result for pixabay fractured

Right now I feel about as fragile as a piece of glass, and the smallest amount of pressure is going to be enough to fracture me into a billion tiny pieces. My emotions feel like a raw, exposed wound and I am struggling to keep it all together, even though all I really want to do is explode out of my skin.

I am so, so very sick of feeling this way. I feel like I post about it periodically, which I’m sure you’re all tired of reading about. But no matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake this feeling. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am, and how I think who I am is being shaped by my circumstance, and my location. I said to a friend of mine on the weekend that I feel like I can’t really become the person I am meant to be until I get out of this state.

I don’t think it’s an uncommon thing, particularly amongst people in their 20’s, to feel like they’re still becoming. I think as a general rule, we have this notion that we’re not who we’re supposed to be yet, and that we have to spend the next however many years figuring that out. That’s certainly how I’ve been feeling lately. I feel like I’m not able to be authentically me yet, because I don’t have the freedom to reinvent myself into who I want to become. I feel as though I am living in this shell of myself, and that I need something explosive to break it open and reveal the real Amy underneath. Logically, I know that moving away isn’t going to change who I am. I know this, because I’ve moved away a few times, and I’ve always come back to my home town more or less the same person. But it doesn’t stop me from dreaming of the day I can finally have my own house. And when I think about that house, I think of it as being as far away from my home town as I can get without moving to another country.

What I think I need, is to move so far away that it isn’t easy to just come back home. I need something completely new and fresh, and different. Yes, wherever I go there will still be people who annoy me (thanks, customer service) and I know that wherever I go, my mental health is going to come along for the ride. I know that I will still have doubts, and states of depression, and fears and probably a lot of sleepless nights. I am not naive enough to think that moving away is going to change my life so drastically that I’ll wonder why I never did it sooner. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that a fresh start can be cathartic, therapeutic even. At any rate, I have to believe that there is something better for me than what I have now.

I wrote this post today, because I needed to create something. I am stuck at work until 5:30 and every particle of my being is screaming out to make art, in one form or another. I feel trapped here, stuck in this godforsaken shopping centre, and this small square shop, and I am battling my very emotions, as well as my very irresponsible desire to just leave and never come back. But, as yesterday’s post will attest, I have a stupid adult obligation to stay where I am, at least until I have enough of a financial buffer behind to allow for the kind of freedom I so desperately crave.

Life is hard, and I’m angry and I kind of just want someone to bring me their dog so I can cuddle it.

Lonely and Alone

When you’re single, you do a lot of things by yourself. For example, I go to see movies alone, I take road trips by myself, I go to bed at night without someone else. You get so used to doing things by yourself, that you sometimes forget that not everyone else does. I’m a perpetual third wheel whenever I hang out with friends, and I’m forever getting the “when are you going to get out there and meet someone” questions. I’ve learned to deflect and ignore those questions when they come up, but last week was a bad time. On top of being a hormonal mess (thanks, period), by brain decided to send my emotions into hyper drive. I spent a lot of last week crying, and suddenly my being alone felt like a really horrible thing.

When I picture my future, I see it alone. I have a four year plan (because it’s going to take me that long to save any significant amount of money), and when I see myself buying a house, I’ve never considered the notion that I will have to share that space with someone else. I look at houses online that I will never be able to afford, but I sit there and think “yes, that could be my sewing room, and that will be my guest room, and that will be where I hold elegant dinner parties for all my friends.” Ok, so maybe not that last one, but I do think about the life I want to have, and it never includes another person.

But last week, my emotional state of mind meant that I was sitting there, crying over one thing or another, because everything seemed to set me off (seriously, it was a very wet week). Amidst all the tears and negative thoughts that brought them on, I wondered for the first time in a long time, if perhaps I should try and meet someone. Because maybe coming home to someone, and cooking with someone, and getting into bed next to someone at night, isn’t the worst thing in the entire world. I didn’t go so far as to sign up to Tinder, but I did spend a fair bit of time wondering about the appropriateness of wearing a sign declaring my single status, and the phrase “girlfriend wanted, enquire within”.

My emotional state has calmed down significantly in the last few days. I was able to clear my head, and brush away the last of the negative thoughts that plagued me last week. Much like the way you sweep the floor during a spring clean, I purged all of the malicious, insidious thoughts from my mind and now I’m back to my normal, contentedly single, people hating self. But the thing I need to remember going forward, is that even the most content single people feel lonely sometimes too. There’s nothing wrong with me for occasionally craving human connection. Actually, I think most people would agree that it is actually perfectly normal. Ah well, so I’m the weird one, what else is new?

Dear Amy

Dear Amy,

I know that life feels complicated sometimes, and I know that you often get anxious about your time and how you spend it. I wanted to tell you that it’s ok to wonder about where your life is headed, and it’s normal to sometimes compare where you are to where your friends are. But I also wanted to gently remind you that, at age 26, your life is far from over. You have a lot of time left to work out where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Please don’t worry so much. You’ll figure it out.

I wanted to let you know that it’s ok to let go of things that don’t feel right anymore. Things and people come into your life at different times, for different periods of time. Some are meant to be with you for your whole life, and others just for a small part of it. I know it sounds like a cliche, but trust your instincts. You’re generally a pretty good judge of what is right for you, and you’re rarely wrong. Don’t be afraid to try new things, meet new people, have new experiences. Do things that terrify you, if for no other reason than to say you’ve done it.

You sometimes doubt your ability to succeed. You have a tendency to try and take on too much at once, and often get too overwhelmed as a result. Slow down a little, and take things one at a time; trust me. You are capable of achieving your goals, but you need to pace yourself or you’re going to get burnt out. Again; you have time. You don’t have to learn everything right this very second, and all things take some time to get right. Set your goals, and allow yourself the appropriate time to achieve them. Don’t get disheartened if it doesn’t all go perfectly the first time. And if you feel like you’ve failed? Just remember that piece of advice you were given by one of the smartest people you know, and keep failing until you don’t. But also remember that on the days that you can’t bring yourself to try, you don’t need to feel guilty. Which brings me to my next point.

Take care of yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard, physically or mentally. Recognise when you’re at your limit, and learn to take the time to recuperate before you wear yourself out. You don’t have to be on the go all the time. Stop and read a book, or enjoy a cup or tea, or try to have a nap in the afternoon. Whatever it is, just make sure that you do it. You’ll thank yourself, and so will your body.

Finally, I just wanted to remind you to be kind to yourself. And remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out. You’re doing ok, and I believe in you, and I love you very much.

Sincerely, and with great affection,

Amy.