When I Grow Up, I Want To Be…

When I was little, I wanted to be a doctor (read, surgeon). Not because I wanted to help people, but because I wanted to see what they looked like inside. You could say I was a bit of a morbid child, but don’t panic; I didn’t turn into a serial killer. I was just curious about the way things worked. It was probably that curiosity that drove my brain subconsciously toward the fascination with the death care industry, and my desire to become a mortician.

When I got a little older, I decided that being a doctor wasn’t for me. I thought maybe I would like to be an archaeologist instead, because I was fascinated by history, and how things got to be where they ended up, and the stories that could be told by bones and all manner of things one finds in the ground. Plus, I had a huge crush on Indiana Jones, duh. Soon, that dream too fell by the wayside, as I was struck by the revelation that there was so much study involved, and school was gross.

Of course, I’ve thought of doing many things over the years. Amongst many others, I considered being a teacher, a stewardess, a vet, a vampire slayer and, like almost every child in the world at some point (I’m sure), a rock star. None of these career goals lasted very long, and when I reached the age where I could actually go out and find I job, I went into the most easy and accessible field available; retail.

Now, at 26, I’m still working in retail, and still no closer to deciding what it is I want to do. I mean, yes, my ultimate goal is still to be a mortician. But as with anything, getting a job in a particular field is not as easy as simply having an interest and a desire to work within that field. I’m working on it, nevertheless, but in the meantime I need to find something that doesn’t make me want to shoot myself in the face every morning.

The one thing that has stuck with me all these years, is writing. I’ve always had a dream that maybe one day, I’ll write books for a living. This romantic notion comes complete with not having to wear pants, getting to work from home, being fabulous and reclusive, whilst also being friends with the likes of Neil Gaiman, J.K Rowling, and Gillian Flynn. And did I mention not having to wear pants? I lose motivation a lot, and I have writing lulls, and I doubt myself every time I put pen to paper. But one day, maybe.

For the moment, I have to content myself with the fact that I at least have a job, and a means to make money. I could certainly be a lot worse off, and I’m about to return to full time in the coming weeks, so I can at least go back to saving for a house sometime in the future. A job is better than no job, as they say. And unless I’m headed for some kind of untimely demise at any point soon, I’m sure I have plenty of time to follow my career dreams.

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Adios, 2018

Here we are. December 31st. The final day of the 365 that made up 2018. I, like many others I’m sure, am feeling a little reflective.

It occurs to me that at the end of every year, I focus on the bad. Even though the last few years haven’t been all bad, the culmination of each of these years has been negative. Though I’ve been fighting many battles, and even winning a few, it seems I’m constantly losing the great big war. So recently I’ve been doing a bit of…well, soul searching if you will. Trying to understand why I am where I am, and what I’m supposed to do. And if there’s one thing that I have discovered about myself in these last couple of weeks, it’s that I’ve been lost for a long time.

It’s difficult to put into words how I’m feeling. I feel like I’ve lost sight of the world around me, and the infinite possibilities that come with being human, with being alive. Imagine being in a room filled with hundreds of doors, and meticulously, systematically locking each of them in turn. That’s kind of where I am. I’ve allowed myself, however unintentionally, to become locked into a tiny space, and in turn locked out the world. Maybe I thought it was safer, maybe I thought I didn’t deserve more, maybe I’m just scared. Whatever the cause, I’ve realised that it’s time to start unlocking those doors again. Look, maybe it’s a hokey metaphor but I can’t think of any other way to put it.

I think setting goals can be an intensely personal thing. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because, as I’ve said before, the obligation to make them negates the possibility of improvement. What I do believe in, is setting achievable goals at any time of the year, so long as those goals are for you and not resulting from outside pressure to conform. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m setting a few personal goals myself. But I’m not going to share them here.

What I will say, is that I feel like I’ve been walking through a foggy mire, stumbling blindly through heaviness and all manner of things determined to hold me back, and drag me down. And I’ve been lost in that fog for the longest time, but now I’m ready to be found.

Expectations

Sometimes I find myself so caught up in who I’m “supposed” to be, that I forget who I am. I find myself constantly either battling expectations, or trying to meet them, and end up emotionally exhausted from the effort. I mean, come on; existing is hard enough, without having to try and conform to the version of you that other people think you are.

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure lately, to be the person other people expect. And I don’t mean that I’m actively going out of my way to change who I am for someone else, but rather that I feel the weight of everyone else’s expectations of who I am meant to be.

See, a couple of days ago, I cut off most of my hair. Before the big snip, my hair was somewhere around waist length, and was dyed a dark red. When I said I had booked in to cut it, almost everyone that I told expressed disappointment. “But your hair is so beautiful”, “but you’ve been growing it for so long” and “you’ll regret it” were the things I heard the most. I felt as if I had to constantly explain that I needed a change, that I wanted something lighter for summer, that it’s my goddamn hair and I can do what I want with it.

When I felt the weight of my locks disappear, I felt literally and metaphorically lighter. By the time the hairdresser was finished, and my long red hair had become a jet black bob, I knew that this was the change I had been craving. And the first in a series of changes I plan to make, in an effort to improve and progress.

It’s not just about my hair though. At work, I fight the endless battle against customer expectations that I can’t do my job because of my gender. When I tell people I don’t want kids, I get smug sneers and condescending comments about how I’ll change my mind, because women my age are expected to want families. I’ve been too afraid to admit that I might be a little bit lonely, because I feel like I need to be this strong, confidently single woman who don’t need no…other woman. Because for so long, that’s who I have been, and my brain keeps telling me that to admit that secret aloud is akin to selling out. It’s a heavily ingrained mindset and a hard habit to break.

The truth is, lately I’ve just been overwhelmed. Between an ongoing (and long drawn out) rental dispute and the accompanying anxiety, a weighty frustration at how this year has turned out, a heavy dose of newfound and unfamiliar self loathing, and the absolute wretchedness that is Christmas, I just want everything to stop. I want to run away to a quiet little cabin somewhere and get my bearings. And to shrug off all the expectation, to start fresh. But since I can’t do that, maybe the next best thing is to stand naked and barefoot on the grass under tonight’s bright full moon, and ground myself. Because, let’s be real, everything is better when you’re naked.

I made a change, don’t carry on; I left my locks at the hair salon.

Disheartened

Lately it seems like every time I try to get ahead, this adult life just keeps dragging me back. I’m living week to week, barely scraping though and hoarding every cent. I pay one bill, three more arrive in my email. I can’t even contribute to the everyday living costs at home yet, because I’m just not earning enough right now. The drama lies in breaking my lease. See, I’m paying rent on a house I don’t even live in anymore, and despite the rental demand, apparently the real estate agent and/or landlord ‘haven’t found a suitable tenant’. The house, mind you, has been on the market for five weeks. Five. Fucking. Weeks.

I’ve been travelling two hours each way to this house I used to call my home, scrambling to get everything done before I had to hand the keys back. I cleaned the entire house three weeks back, and moved everything out into a storage shed two weeks ago. The yard is the final thing, and I went back last week to try and finish it. I didn’t finish it, and have no more time. So now, I have to pay for a gardener to come in and complete it. Which is another cost to add to the every growing list. And still, they haven’t found someone to take over the lease. They’ve had inspections aplenty, because they email me and text me every time they do. So I find it very difficult to believe that they haven’t found someone suitable in over a month. Personally, I think they’re just biding their time because they know legally I have to keep paying rent until someone else moves in. So I expect to be paying rent on this house until well into next year.

It seems every time I move away from my home town, things go spectacularly wrong. Things were bad when I lived in the city, things turned sour when I moved to this new town. I just keep coming back to my home town, time and time again. Part of me wonders if I’m being drawn back for a reason, and another part of me is screaming that I am in charge of my own…fate, if you will. Whatever the reason, I think it’s gonna be a while before I’m brave enough to move away again.

The truth is, I’m just feeling really disheartened lately. For a myriad of reasons, not least being that I feel like I’m being a burden to my dad, who I’ve moved back in with, and the fact that I just can’t seem to catch up. I need a break in my bad luck. I’m not even talking winning the lottery, I’d just like to be able to get some sleep instead of lying awake because I’m so anxious. Or for the real estate to email me today and say they’ve found a tenant. Or, let’s be real, winning the lottery would be kind of awesome.

On Fear, and (Lessons From) Dimmu Borgir

Image result for dimmu borgir

Everyone is scared of something. Clowns, spiders, penguins….it takes all kinds, as they say. I have to confess that I am not particularly fond of moths, with their propensity for flying at my face at full speed, and their general creepy demeanour. But the thing that really, truly scares me is mediocrity. The idea that I will spend my life never getting to experience anything beyond mundane, everyday average-ness terrifies the absolute hell out of me.

I know you have all heard this story before. Twenty something working in a boring job just to pay the bills, seemingly the only single person in a world filled with couples, struggling to save for nice things whilst elsewhere, people are buying houses and travelling the world and living their best lives. They’ve literally made movies about my exact predicament, and mostly those movies are shit. Though, in the Hollywood way, most of the protagonists in those stories have some kind of life changing experience and they all live happily ever after, blah blah blah.

Look, it’s entirely possible that I’m being a little dramatic, and largely unrealistic. Am I, perhaps, putting too much faith in the idea that I am ‘on the right path’? Am I overlooking the fact that life itself is messy and unpredictable? Am I spending too much time simply wondering when my life is going to start, instead of realising that it already has, and that I am entirely responsible for my own happiness? The answers to all of these questions is a resounding yes. See, I have this infallible tendency to overthink, and then overreach, whilst simultaneously doubting myself. The result has never been anything less than a spectacular failure, which in turn leads to a rut that I find harder to climb out of each time.

There are so many things that I want to do, to see, to learn. My brain is like a sponge, wanting to soak up as much as I possibly can. I want to curate a life of experiences so that when I die, I can say that the time I had was well spent. Is it morbid to be thinking about my death at the ripe old age of 26? Probably. The thing is, I often find it hard to remember that there is plenty of time and opportunity ahead of me. I need to stop beating myself up about the fact that I am here, when I want to be over there. More importantly, I have to learn to be kinder to myself, which is not an easy thing when the only pet you’ve ever had is the proverbial black dog.

The thing that scares me above all else, is the notion of existing without actually living. It is a kind of underlying, insidious fear that permeates every little aspect of my life. But, in the same way I overcame my fear of spiders a few years ago, I know I can overcome this too. I just need to take things one day at a time, go slowly, and remember what Dimmu Borgir taught me;

“The keys are in your hands. Realise you are your own sole creator of your own master plan.”

Forgotten Friends

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately, about the people in my life, and the people who aren’t in it anymore. As a self confessed hater of people, it’s not unusual for me to quietly remove myself from the lives of people I once knew. People with whom I have not had a conversation in a year. People that I no longer share common interests with, or who I can safely say I don’t even know anymore. People with whom I have simply mutually agreed not to talk to anymore. There are a lot of reasons why people come into our lives, and a lot of reasons why they leave.

I was thinking first of my school friends. I don’t recall the last time I really saw or spoke to any of them. Where once we were as close as family, I see the occasional social media post from these girls and realise, I have no idea how they got to where they are, or what they are currently doing with their respective lives. Sure, there have been halfhearted attempts to stay in contact in the years following high school, but those attempts have long since stopped entirely. And there’s certainly no malice in it. It’s not that I’ve had any kind of falling out with them. It’s more that a distance has grown between us, as happens to school friends as you get older. I bear none of these girls any ill will, and would hope that they feel the same way about me.

Then I think about people I used to work with. Friends who, at the time, felt as close to me as any person I had known. But, as happens, jobs change and people change and all of a sudden you realise it’s been months, or years since you last saw those people. And in a way, I’m saddened by that. I have made friends through work that I thought I would have forever. I’ve shared great times with them, and now I think of the people I worked with and I feel separate from them, in a way I didn’t realise would effect me quite so much as it does.

People live their lives in different ways, ways that take them in different directions from friends and family. Sometimes it’s worth holding onto friendships, and sometimes it’s better to just let them fade away into acquaintances. Then, of course, there are those people who it’s better to just walk away from altogether. More than once, I’ve ended a relationship (in this case, both romantic and non romantic relationships) bluntly and with no possible hope for reconciliation. When something is done, it’s done. And I’m all about letting go of the things that hold you back or drag you down.

I think a lot of us buy into the idea that ‘friends for life’ are the only kind of friends worth having. And certainly, when we meet and become close with someone, it’s difficult to imagine that there may be a time when that closeness is gone. No one likes to consider the possibility that a relationship might end, especially one that both parties get a lot out of. I know myself that I have people in my life that I can’t imaging being without. But you can’t predict the future (or at least, I can’t), and nothing is set in stone. And anyone can be a friend, regardless of whether you know them your entire life, or just for a week. We need to let go of the idea that we have to maintain failing relationships. Of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but there comes a point when trying is futile. Letting go of useless or toxic people, might hurt initially but it’s going to be better in the long run.

As I got older, I came to realise that it’s not about the number of friends you have, or even necessarily about the amount of time you spend with them. I have two best friends, both of whom I mostly see at work. I have a very close friend that I talk to at least weekly, and a handful of friends I see semi regularly, or whenever we’re able. I have very few close friends, but those I have I am extraordinarily fond of. And even if something happens and my friendships with these people disintegrates over time, at least I can say that the people I have in my life at any given time, are the people who are meant to be there.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I got a hair cut yesterday. I’ve been hankering to chop off my locks for months, despite pretty much everyone I know telling me I shouldn’t. The salon finally called me back this week and I booked my appointment, much to my relief. I sat in the chair yesterday, and watched my hair fall to the floor. I felt better and better with every snip of the hairdressing scissors.

The change was not drastic. I lost maybe three inches of length, tidied all the layers and finally found a hairdresser who actually knows what a side fringe is. But it was enough to make me feel considerably better. And I didn’t even necessarily feel bad, just tired of the same old look. My hair, falling to somewhere around waist length, is the one feature I get complimented on most often. Which, I suppose, is why everyone was so hesitant to see it get hacked off (not that I care overly about other people’s opinions on what I should do with my own hair, mind you). But I’ve been growing it for five years, so for me the change was overdue.

It’s kind of funny how something as small as a haircut can make all the difference to one’s mental state. Now, if I could just lose ten kgs and actually fit into some of my old clothes again, I’d feel heaps better! But either way, a haircut is just the beginning. An overhaul is coming. I need to break free of the cycle of negative I’ve been trapped in for months, and with this new look, I feel I can focus on a new outlook.