Tuesday 28 April 2015

Equal Rights are Equal...Right?!

(Photo credit to associationsnow.com)

One of the subjects I'm doing this semester at uni is Foundations in Gender Studies. Thus far it has been the most interesting and passion-inducing subject I've done in my degree.

Although my major is Philosophy and the unit I did last year on Mind, Meaning and Metaphysics was right up my alley, there's a whole new level of interest when it comes to things like women's rights and equality.

During the last tutorial, one of the girls in my class brought up a point which she'd heard from someone else saying that equal rights could never really be equal because men and women suffer from things that the other doesn't have to deal with.

It doesn't matter what side of the fence you're on when it comes to rights, you can't really argue with that logic.

I'm very passionate about women's rights, although not in the same league as some of the women I've read about or seen in the movies and clips that are shown in the lectures. I think and believe that a woman's body is her own to do with as she pleases. The idea of someone else, namely a male dictating what a woman should or shouldn't do with her body is baffling and potentially sickening.

Why should a man get to decide what a woman does? He's not her and she's not him. I mean it's fair enough if you're in a couple and one person's decision affects the other, but if it's something that really doesn't, then it's just about control and that's not healthy.

We discussed the topic of abortion given that it's the week's theme and also a controversial subject in itself and the tutor asked everyone for their input about it.

Personally, I'm pro-choice. I think if a woman falls pregnant and isn't ready to or just doesn't want to have a child, it's her call as to how she proceeds. As someone whose life was controlled by a lot of different people and left to feel helpless and suffocated, the last thing I'd want for a pregnant woman is to be in that position.

One of the points that was mentioned a few times during the class was that no one WANTS to have an abortion. Aside from the painful side effects, you are ending a life even if it's not with form or feeling yet. I can't think of any person who thinks on that kind of experience with happiness. In a lot of cases that I've heard of, it's because of economic issues, the mother's health is at risk, or they just don't think they're a capable parent. When you put all the reasons together, not that they should ever need one or have to justify their decision to anyone, but would you rather than have an ill mother with no money and resentment towards a child attempting to raise one which then puts more pressure on the government systems already in place, or would you prefer that she do what she feels is the best thing for herself, and terminate?

Another point that was mentioned was, what if the foetus that was terminated was going to be someone great, a famous composer or scientist? I'm a big believer in everything happens for a reason and when the time is right, so if a terminated foetus was going to be something great, either it won't be able to be terminated, or it will be born at a better time.

I think the biggest issue when it comes to abortion is the lack of comprehensive sexual health education. I speak from my own experience when I say this. Mine was completely baffling and I learnt more from talking about it with friends and reading or watching things than I ever did at school. To be fair, my school was also strict and religious. I get the impression that the only reason we were given any kind of sexual education at all is because it's part of the curriculum.

The more young people know about sex and the consequences, the better prepared they are to make decisions for themselves and their futures.

Of course it was mentioned that surprisingly there's more older women going to get an abortion than there is teenagers.

Admittedly when it comes to other issues such as equal pay for equal work, I haven't been in an environment where I've been affected by it so much.

I'm also not terribly well versed on men's rights given that they've always had the upper hand in almost everything so the focus has been put on fight for the females.

When it comes to things like domestic violence, I think it's incredibly important for anyone who's been a victim to come forward, as hard and scary as it is to do so.

Just because there's so much more emphasis on women doesn't mean that we don't care about men. That's equal, right?!

You Can Go Your Own Way

(Photo credit to www.thesweetblossoms.com)

It's kind of fun to go your own way.

To create your own path.

Follow the road less traveled.

Create your own adventure.

A friend of mine told me that it takes courage to break away from tradition and do your own thing. I never thought of it that way. For me, doing my own thing has felt like second nature, I just do it because it feels right. Yes, part of me does care what everyone else thinks because that's the way I've been taught, but if there's something I really want to do, I'll do it.

I've always thought that letting someone else's opinions or thoughts stop you from doing something that you really want to do was stupid. What's the worst they can do, judge you?!

There's a quote I found on Sue Fitzmaurice's Facebook page www.facebook.com/suefitzmauriceauthor which resonates strongly with me.

(Photo credit to www.pinterest.com)

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

How many times have you walked down the street and seen someone doing or wearing something you wouldn't consider 'ordinary'? How did you react?

Whenever I see someone wearing something outrageous I let it give me permission to wear something just as outrageous because it's really quite fun. Doing something a little crazy every now and again wakes you up, makes you feel alive. 

When I first saw the above quote, it made me think of all the nasty things people said and did to me throughout my childhood and through to teen years. To put it simply, I was misunderstood.

Everyone else is trying so hard to fit in at a cost to themselves most of the time. I tried fitting in and found that I felt worse for doing so because it wasn't with the right crowd, but at the time, that was all I had. There were a few friends I was close to that stood out from the pack in their own way and we all forged friendships from that. From my experience, the best crowd to get caught up in is the one where it doesn't take effort to fit in, you just do, and it feels great to do so.

Whenever I see groups of people, usually younger generations, hanging out, they never really seem to be all that happy. There's usually a leader and their sidekick, then everyone else just hangs around them silently as if waiting for orders or just playing with their phones for lack of anything else to do.

Thinking back to the times when I was caught in an awkward small talk situation at school or church, which wasn't an uncommon occurrence, it's laughable now. You just stand there, looking around, fidgeting with your clothes or whatever either waiting for someone to say something or for something interesting to happen, in the meantime you glance around to see what everyone else is doing and just stare at them if it's more exciting that what you're doing.

(Photo credit to judithmorgan.com)

Sheep. Bored sheep at that.

My strongest memories from youth group and school are the times when I didn't join in with the rest of the group and they just stared at me silently judging me for not doing so. I hated the feeling, but it would have been worse if I sat with them and felt it. At least as soon as I was out of eyesight I wouldn't have to worry about it so much.

See most of the cliquey girls had been friends from early childhood. Whilst I'd know some of them since that age, growing up with worldly influences in a religious environment didn't earn me many brownie points with them. Instead I was looked at like some kind of a freak as you'd expect from small-minded people who are scared of things or people that are different.

As hard as it is for a great number of people to actually be who they are instead of who they think they should be, it is by far the most liberating and gratifying thing you will ever do for yourself. Well that's been my experience anyway. When trying to be comfortable in your own skin, places less importance on whether other people will accept you for it and more importance on how happy you feel about being true to yourself.

Going your own way is the best way to go.

(Photo credit to stevenaitchison.co.uk)

Friday 17 April 2015

The Problem Is...

Have you ever come to a point in your life where it feels like nothing is happening?

You don't know what to do next, where to go or what you want and it's not a mental health issue. Life has just become...blah.

It's a tough spot to be in, especially when you see other people around you actually looking like they're enjoying life. Sure yours may be exciting from the outside, or maybe you have something that people around you want and you take for granted. But you don't see it that way.

The worst part is that because there's nothing giving you an edge or spark, you start something else for yourself. Drama.

I'm referring more to the busybodies out there.

I've rarely met someone who has a very little spare time and uses what little they do have to make trouble for others just to balance out their life.

Most busy people have either a really full life that doesn't require interference by other parties, others just don't have the time for it because they've already got so much happening.

I'd say I'm a half-half kind of person.

As mentioned in earlier posts and as a lot of people in my life know, I juggle work, uni and some semblance of a social life. Sometimes all three keep me busy beyond what I think I can handle, other times I have a few moments spare and when I'm not using them productively, it's not really a great outcome for me.

I think the problem for most people is, there is no problem.

There's a quote I've come across many times which says something along the lines that most of the problems people have are ones of their own causing, or problems are created by reacting to things differently. I'm not sure but they both kind of make sense.

When I think of busybodies, I think of meddlers. They have nothing exciting to do, so they see problems where there aren't any and try to fix them which actually creates a problem.

I've been known in the past to do similar things, although most of the time it's only affected me and my mental state rather than anyone else.

I tend to overcompensate in some things, when you're a people-pleaser it's what you do. You go out of your way to make others feel great so they'll make you feel great for making them feel great.

The problem there is that you can't control how people will react, and that creates a problem for you. You also can't control how much people will demand of you once they realize what you're doing. That creates another problem for you. But worst of all, you derive your value from doing the things that you do and therefore from the people that you do them for. It's almost like fighting a losing battle.

I, like I'm sure many others as well, have found myself at different times, not so much creating a problem that doesn't exist, but throwing so much of myself, of my energy at another person and been bitterly disappointed when they didn't return it or appreciate it as much as I'd hoped or more accurately, expected they would.

When there's something or someone that I want, think I want or tell myself I want, I look at what's stopping me from getting that or them and list all the reasons or ways to make that happen, even if it's a seemingly futile dream, and invest time that could really be spent doing better things, on that.

With guys in the past, I've looked at their lifestyle or what I know of it, and listed then convinced myself of all of the reasons why I would the best thing for them, why they should be with me, and try as innocently and subtley as possible to make it happen, although in every case I can think of it's never worked. It's being selflessly selfish or vice versa.

If someone looked happy, I'd convince myself that they really weren't and imagine all the ways I could make them so. Most of the time they were, and if they weren't, it wasn't my job to bring it to their attention, let alone actually do something about. I hated that feeling.

Stuff is an easier thing because it's just stuff. Most of the obstacles are monetary or logistical. If you want something badly enough you can save up and then you're off to some kind of a start.

The problem also comes down to control. When you or whoever it is doesn't have a great deal of control over their lives, or just feels like they don't, they overcompensate and try to take over other peoples.

When I lived at home with my family, I had very little control over anything, or at least that's how it felt most of the time. To make up for it I would reach out to people whose lives I envied immensely and tried to suck up to them as much as possible, it felt like the only thing I could do.

When my attempts didn't last long or just failed completely, I would mope around and think even worse things about myself. My insecurities would reign over me and I was remiss to find something that would make things better for me.

I kept thinking that there was something wrong with me, that people just didn't like me and didn't want to dwell on the reasons why. In most cases either people didn't need a reason, or I was way off track.

That's the thing when you don't have anything better to do, you think the worst and convince yourself that it's real and true. Then when you tell people they laugh it off because your thinking and their reasoning is so far apart it's hilarious.

Most of the time the problem is that there isn't a problem, but in order to fill a void in our own lives, we create one.

Thursday 16 April 2015

A Way To Get Lost In You

Hands up who uses social media?

Hands up who uses it more frequently than they do anything else in their life?

Any ideas why?

I sum it up to not so much being super convenient providing everyone you want to share the latest with in your life is using it too, but more so a method of escapism.

While it's good in some respects, in others it's downright depressing.

Take the case of any Kardashian, or just celebrities in general. If you look around at what's in your life and think it's not as good as it could be, as soon as someone big and fancy updates about their seemingly uber cool lifestyle, you're hooked!

Even if the image they post isn't terribly exciting, it still somehow ranks more exciting than anything else in your day or life put together.

I've heard many times that most things on social media are about putting your best foot forward, but it's ridiculously easy to get caught up in that. The best foot is really convincing!

I personally avoiding joining Instagram for as long as possible because I didn't want to get caught up in the lives of other people when it seemed almost fake in a way. If you're putting what you want people to see out there, what aren't you showing?

If I'm having a good time then sure I'd love to show it to the world if I feel it's necessary, and I'm sure that many people that do post images of themselves having a good time are completely genuine, but I've just never been a fan of the 'keeping up appearances' thing.

It's like when you feel terrible but you put on a happy face and show that to the world and no one is any the wiser. More than anything, I hate the aftermath of trailing through Instagram and Facebook feeds. Everyone else's life usually seems more exciting than what you're doing, even though in quite a lot of cases, it's really not.

I guess in a way it could be seen as a privacy thing. You don't want people to know what you're really going through so you don't show it or any hints of it.

For me it's a lot more personal. When I read about people who have suffered immensely but show no signs of it so others don't know what they're going through, especially when it's too late, it's devastating. You can't help someone if you don't know that they need help and if they don't ask for it.

I recently started following a few different celebrities that I admire because I like to see what they're up to, obviously. Whenever I read through the photo comments it's more often than not fans begging the person to follow them, heavily sucking up and ultimately expressing their desire for the life depicted in the post. It all seems superficial to me.

At the end of the day I think it's about validation for a lot of people, hence the 'follow for likes, pay for likes, etc' type things that are everywhere. People want attention and for other people to notice what it is they're doing so they can feel like they've done a good job or whatever.

Thanks to the incredible variety of social media platforms, it's that much easier to find a way to get lost in another person's world, their life, their everything. Just make sure you don't lose yourself in the process.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Crisis of Faith: Losing and Finding Religion

In the process of writing my book, my summary for therapy and just random conversation, I thought about my crisis of faith and how strongly I was committed to religion growing up.

Truthfully I'm not sure if I ever really believed everything I was being told. I was always more excited for play time or to go home and watch whatever was on TV. When I was at church it was always just some guy on stage reading from a really old book that people took seriously and recycled the same thing over and over again.

I was taught that homosexuality was bad although after watching a few episodes of Will and Grace I wasn't entirely convinced by the argument.

I was taught that premarital sex was wrong, the number of times it was repeated made me think that it was worse than anything else that was considered a sin. Sure you can murder someone, just don't fornicate beforehand!

I was taught that alcohol, drugs and swearing were to be avoided despite the alcohol in the wine which represented Jesus' blood. Drugs were an obvious one, but sometimes swearing just felt too good not to do.

There were countless other things which I've since let go of because they were just ridiculous to me and I saw no point in following something which was about someone else having control over you rather than following the bible's teachings.

When I went to TAFE in year 11, I met some of the most amazing people and it completely changed my life. There wasn't anything specifically special about them except that they made me feel special. For the first time in my life I was good enough. I was accepted. And I was finally able to just be me.

After all the years I spent in church and feeling like an outsider, it was amazing to finally feel what I'd always longed to feel. Free.

The more time I spent with people at TAFE, the more my world was broadened, thoughts challenged and beliefs questioned. Everything I'd been told had come from a close-minded source and I was in an open-minded environment where it wasn't black and white any more.

During that time I was trying to process a lot of other things which I'd never experienced before and wasn't sure how to deal with. I caught up with my aunt (dad's sister) for a sleepover. She had always been my personal hero and saving grace. I could talk to her about things that I couldn't talk to my parents about and although she didn't always give me specific advice, it was always filled with love and positivity, two things I was short of in my own life.

Around the age of 17, after finishing that TAFE class and spending time questioning family and religion with my aunt, I really started struggling with what I'd been told and how true any of it actually could be.

It felt so wrong to be told that people who didn't have hope for Jesus to return were unhappy and basically doomed for eternity when the people I knew who didn't care about religion were happier than any of the people that I'd known in church. How could that possibly be?!

Everyone else was living life on their own terms and loving it as much as possible. The people at church were living their lives for God and saw anything else as being wrong and some kind of selfish.

The more I went to church with conflicting beliefs, the worse I felt for having done so. How could the only time I'd ever felt accepted be wrong in the eyes of God? If I continued following this religious path which I'd rarely found happiness on, would God seriously be pleased that I was miserable at obeying his commands? None of that seemed right.

I made the decision one day to tell my dad that I didn't want to go to church any more because I didn't believe in it. I told him my aunt had said that religion had divided his family and I couldn't possibly be a part of something that had the power to destroy a family.

My aunt had given me photo albums of my grandparents when they were younger and some of the love letters and whatnot my grandfather had written her. He had been madly in love with her, yet I was living in an almost post-apocalyptic world where I saw my grandfather maybe once or twice a year before my grandmother died and even less afterwards. If a religion and its people were capable of doing that kind of damage, I wanted nothing to do with them.

For a while I searched out answers in different places which made more sense to me. My aunt's influence had lead me to try angel cards and I had been completely blown away with the result. She never pushed anything on me or told me not to go to church, she merely opened her home and a part of her life to me and showed me how beautiful freedom could actually be. It was like a massive breath of fresh air I'd never known before.

I started to get more into spirituality over the years and eventually found a group of people who share similar interests to me. The main difference I've found is the lack of judgement spiritual people have and how much positivity there is. The basis of it is living your best life and doing what makes you happy. Seeking angelic wisdom for guidance is part of the fun.

The feeling of hope and lightness that I've heard people speak of when they go to church is what I feel when I'm around spiritual people. It's happy, it's friendly, it's loving, it's free.

I still have no interest in attending church services and when I meet my parents for lunch on the odd Sunday after the services, I tend to either wait outside or thereabouts until I know they're ready to go and I don't have to listen to anything that demeans my newly found positive nature.

It's great to hope for something, and I know clinging to hope that all the evilness and nastiness will be wiped away one spectacular day and everyone who is worthy will live forever and forever together, but my hope was always that I'd make something big of myself, I'd made a difference in the world and ultimately, that the hell that I lived in would be escapable and I'd finally know what it was to be truly free.

Even though I have an endless list of reservations about religion, my family still attended regularly but I can see that it's not doing wonders for them as people. In losing religion I found myself, that's some crisis of faith.

Monday 6 April 2015

Who Am I?!

In the process of dealing with everything that's going on with Mum at the moment, I've found myself having intensely emotional moments which are taking me back to being a teenager since that was the last time I found life so hard to cope with.

With each therapy session I take a summary of what's happened over the past month which helps me to mentally process everything, but also gives my therapist an idea of where my head is at and so she knows the focus point of the session.

A lot of stuff has come up this past month in particular. I'm having weird dreams about random things and people, mostly from high school which isn't unusual given my emotional state, but it's left me questioning a lot of things which I thought I knew about myself and my life but find myself reevaluating.

I was watching Monsters University with mum earlier today, even though I wasn't a huge fan of the first two movies, but I wanted something light and entertaining to watch and mum preferred that over The Lego Movie.

I almost immediately related to Mike Wazowski. He was tiny, had one eye and often got left behind. Everyone underestimated him, told him and made him feel like he didn't belong, but he used that to get ahead and go further than anyone ever had. Even the Dean of MU told him she was surprised which was something that had never happened to her before.

In a strange way she kind of reminded me of my Health teacher back in high school. I wasn't sure what her problem was, but I sensed she was projecting her own insecurities onto me and made me feel like they were somehow my problem instead of hers.

She herself wasn't that much taller than me, yet nearly every chance she got she made a deal of me being short. No one else seemed to care about my small stature or that I was overweight, if they did I either repressed the memory or they did it behind my back. She did though.

Whenever she'd make jokes, or what she considered to be jokes, I just laughed along awkwardly with her but never found it funny. I wasn't hurt by it, I was annoyed.

A few years after I graduated I was asked to come back and present an award that I'd won during my time at school. I sat in the front row with some of the staff including the school counselor who I'd come to know quite well and considered a friend. The Health teacher sat on my other side and at one point asked me if I was around the same height as the Kindy teacher who wasn't that much taller than her students.

At the end of the evening when my parents were ready to go home, I decided enough was enough and wanted to get to the bottom of it. I approached the teacher and asked her if I'd done something to offend her because of all the jokes she'd made over the years about my height. She made some excuse and told me a brief story which was completely unrelated to my query. I got the sense that it was all she was going to say and said my farewells before leaving with my parents.

As I watched the movie I started to question a lot of things. What was my inspiration for doing the things I did? What was my ultimate goal? Did I really try to fit in or was I proud to stand out from the crowd?

Before the movie started I flicked between a few different channels and settled on an entertainment news show which I always loved watching as a teen. Halfway through there was an ad for some kind of hair care product and it reminded me of the girls in my class back in high school.

Truthfully I had tried desperately hard to fit in but it just didn't feel right. I never felt good enough to sit with or hang around the other girls and I got the sense that they didn't particularly like hanging around with me either. So I didn't.

I was Lilo from Lilo and Stitch. I felt alone because my family wasn't the same as everyone else's. It's like that vibe you get when someone is your kind of people and when you need to find another crowd because the current one just isn't working for you.

I remember school excursions at the start of high school and the class running off in pairs to explore while I just hung behind buddyless and wanting to go back to the sanctuary of my room.

One time I actually did break down in tears after I lost the rest of my class and started freaking out. Luckily the teacher who had always looked kindly on me came back to find me and bring me to the rest of the class whilst telling them off for running ahead in the first place.

I told another former teacher who I'd always been close to the other day when we caught up that it was exhausting trying to play with the other girls in the class when they had chosen their groups and although when a teacher came past they'd let another person join in, but otherwise it just wasn't my crowd. I had the option of falling in with them and what they liked, or staying by myself and liking the things that I liked. I chose the latter.

My best friend found it easier than I did to relate to the other girls, probably because she had more in common with them. At first glance they all had relatively happy family lives, I'm pretty sure each of them had at least one sister and a good or close enough relationship with their mother, they didn't get up every single day struggling to find meaning in their lives because they felt so low about themselves. If they did, they hid it incredibly well. I didn't have enough energy to even do that.

For me, I had a mentally ill mother who refused to acknowledge that there was a problem, my dad was between jobs for most of my life so we relied on Centrelink and my grandparents to pay for education and even basic things when a credit card had been maxed out.

I felt like a scholarship kid at a fancy private school, if you hold the 'fancy'.

I remember one of the girls talking about buying something one weekend which had cost $40 but said it like it was nothing. For me, $40 was a luxury.

When other kids were buying phones and any other expensive items, I was given a share phone with my brother when I was 15 which was a Nokia brick phone while I saw other kids playing with camera phones and whatever else. I wished I could afford something like that but my budget never exceeded $20 and the phone I used barely hit that mark.

Every time I tried to fit in it just ended up backfiring for me. I couldn't do normal because my sense of normal wasn't like anyone else's and it was too hard to pretend otherwise.

I still feel hurt by a lot of stuff that was said and done to me back in high school. Sometimes it got so bad that I did feel like giving up, especially when I went home after a particularly bad day at school and felt worse because of what I had to deal with there. Other times I wanted to get even and prove them all wrong, like a close friend of mine told me when we caught up a few months ago. He himself had been through a pretty tough time at school but he kept telling himself that he needed to keep going because there were so many people to prove wrong. I knew exactly what he meant.

When I was talking to the former teacher and telling her about my struggles in high school when we compared notes on dealing with religious people, I told her that when you have a big and open mind around close and small minded people, it's hard. They make you feel like there's something wrong with you for thinking or behaving the way you do just because they don't see things the same way.
I always felt stifled in that environment. Hearing people talk about things that I didn't see as important or passing judgement and criticism on something they knew next to nothing about, and that type of behavior was both rewarded and encouraged.

My incredibly sensitive nature, ability to see outside the square that everyone else seemed to live in, distrust of a lot of religious people given how they'd treated me growing up and inability to take jokes that I didn't think were particularly funny because they were at the expense of another person, they made life just that little bit harder for me, but on the plus side, they taught me incredibly valuable lessons from an early age, most of which I probably wouldn't have been able to learn any other way.

For me, the most precious and valuable gift someone can give you is their trust. It's hard to earn for some people and as I experienced a lot of, those who don't value it or you for that matter, just throw it away.

I've always seen it as a bond of sorts. When someone trusts you, they let you in on something amazing and incredibly special. They give you a part of them that they don't let anyone else see. They leave themselves vulnerable and it's up to the receiver not to ruin it for either person. Once trust is broken, it's incredibly hard to get back. I've never considered myself the kind of person to break that for any reason which I believe is the secret to having some truly amazing friendships and relationships.

As things come up I'm still trying to process them, but for now I have some idea of who I am. I'll figure out where I'm going as I go, and will know what I want to do once I get there. Life's an adventure if you let it be one!

(Photo credit to https://www.pinterest.com/BrandiLynn713/lion-king3/)

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Anyone But Me

Given the heaviness of things that I had to deal with at a young age and the conflicting messages I got from society and my parents, my greatest wish if I couldn't be loved and accepted for who I was, was to be someone else.

The number of times I wrote down or told a counsellor that I wanted to be Hilary Duff or Jessica Alba, someone that people loved, looked up to and respected, I've lost count.

The first time Jessica came to my attention was in Dark Angel which I absolutely loved. The character she played was her own hero. She took care of her own, fought and fended for herself and did so from the tender age of about 9.

Aside from my love of the show, I thought Jessica was really pretty and fit, as most females in Hollywood are meant to be. More importantly, the guy I was crushing on thought she was attractive, so I decided that if I wanted him to like me, I had to be as much like her as possible.

When that didn't seem to be working out for me, I turned a little more close to home.

I started watching Hilary Duff in Lizzie McGuire as many people came to know her well for. She wasn't some trashy celeb, but actually seemed like a wholesome rolemodel to look up to.

I saw a lot of myself as I'm sure most girls did, in the character of Lizzie. But more importantly, I just wanted to be Hilary herself. Her life seemed so glamorous and fun, scores of people lined up just to get a glimpse of her, she had it all and I wanted it.

It was all a method of escapism although I didn't know it at the time.

With the advent of social media it's become that much easier and quicker to become besotted with someone else's life, especially when you're unhappy within yourself and your own.

It doesn't matter how many times people say that everyone is just putting their best foot forward on these various accounts and that's what people are envying, you still want to be part of someone else's life, peer in the windows or get a foot in the door to observe.

I previously wrote a post about my somewhat guilty pleasure of Facebook stalking and how it lead me to cut down my time on Facebook altogether. I didn't trust myself not to keep doing it and eventually my life got more exciting than what I felt like sharing or getting caught up on when I logged on.

I admit that I have moments where I do slip. It's the overwhelming urge to see how the 'other side' is living even if I know what either there won't be anything to see or whatever I do find will make me feel worse about my own life hence why I take a look in the first place. It's cyclical and kinda nasty.

This time though I gave myself some slack. With everything that's going on with my family at the moment, even my therapist and a few of my friends have said that if I feel the need to occasionally divert back to old ways to help me cope with the bigger things that are harder to cope with, that's completely justifiable.

When I was briefly checking out various people's profiles which I guess wouldn't exactly be considered stalking although I felt in my core that it was, only a small part of me was hoping to see something mildly miserable that was fixable so I would know that I'm not the only one going through a tough time, but mostly it was just to not think about my life and things I didn't want to deal with, if only for a brief moment in time.

It's kind of cruel to think that you feel better when you know someone else is going through a tougher time than you are, but I suppose it makes you grateful that your problems aren't that bad, not that it helps any.

There's a quote that I found back in high school or sometime afterwards that says something along the lines of "If everyone in the world put their problems in a pile, you'd want to take yours back". I think Russell Peters also made a joke which was similar saying that in India you go alone the slums and see one person with a problem and they seem to be managing well and say that they don't have it as bad as the next person, and the line keeps going until you get to the person in the worst possible condition and they're still positive because they make the best of their situation and say that it could always get worse.

I can only recall one time in my life so far when I've ever been thrilled beyond belief to be who I was. Just before I turned 25 things were going well for me, I had a great support network around me, I was enjoying uni and my other hobbies, work was working, there was nothing for me to be unhappy about. I think the biggest thing was being tagged in various posts by people I knew on Facebook, it was confirmation that I was important, that I mattered. Nothing could bring me down because I was more okay than I had been in a very long time.

That level of confidence didn't last too long though. When it came time to plan my birthday celebrations which I hadn't had too much time to consider before then, suddenly everything was up in the air. I wanted my friends to be able to come but since my birthday is on Halloween and it's increasing popularity in Australia or at least Sydney, I had to accommodate other people's plans to fit in with what I wanted to do and that got harder and harder.

I ended up having a nice group of friends together which was all that mattered. The people that were most important to me came to spend time with me. We sat around the lounge room and chatted about anything and everything between food and drinks. It was simple and nice.

It's taken a really long time for me to even get to that point. The point where I've stopped concerning myself so much with whether people like me for me, because for most of my life they didn't, but now I know that they do or they wouldn't be in my life. There's no two-facedness about it.

I remember watching That's So Random! late last year and Selena Gomez was performing 'Who Says' with lyrics like 'wouldn't want to be anybody else'. My inner cynic thought, well sure you have a successfully career, you're pretty, popular and dated Justin Beiber, there are countless numbers of people who'd kill to be you.

I think the funny thing is while you're wishing to be someone else because you don't know what's really going on for them, people love you for who you are and others wish they could live your life. It's a crazy thought but it's not entirely untrue.

Sometimes a small part of me wishes I could be someone else, but not for very long. It's usually when I'm having a down moment and struggling to get back up again. I've been fortunate enough to have met and still have people in my life that make me incredibly glad to be no-one else but me. :-)

The Other Side of Marriage

I was reading through some of my old fanfiction the other day. Back in high school I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction to get me through the day and out of the world I didn't particularly like.

I mainly wrote Harry/Hermione stuff because it seemed like the most obvious coupling to write about. But then I stumbled upon the Draco/Hermione pairing and kinda liked it, a lot.

I've written a couple of stories on both couplings, in each Dramione one Draco isn't the same character he is in the books, he's actually a decent guy who's capable of the basic human emotions which is completely different to how he's portrayed, or how I read him in the books.

In one of the stories the plotline is that the Ministry of Magic discovers that the Granger's are actually pureblood and given that Hermione is the brightest witch of her age, she presents a great threat to Voldemort. Since the Malfoy's have always been loyal followers of Voldemort, he allows them the 'privilege' of marrying off Draco to Hermione in order for them to produce a genius heir for the dark side. Hermione doesn't agree, everyone she loves gets killed, so naturally she goes ahead with it.

As the story develops there's plenty of romance which I attribute to my hormonal teenage brain as well as the ridiculous amount of Mills and Boon books I read as a teen. If I couldn't have romance in my life I could still read about someone else's.

The ideas that I got from rom-coms and romance novels as well as any kinds of TV shows were all overdone with drama and happiness most of the time, that's what I had the idea marriage would be like and it was idyllic. Who doesn't want love and passion and all the super fun happy things?!

Throughout this particular story there was a lot of intimate moments where they were holding each other or being affectionate or whatever. There was also a lot of reiterating that as the characters were married, they didn't have to hold off on how intimate they could be. Looking back on it makes me realize how ingrained religious views on marriage were for me growing up. Pretty much everything except for holding hands, hugging and kissing was seen as a sin.

A lot of the actions and words I wrote now make me cringe at how into it I had been. I remember almost obsessively writing these stories because it made me feel like I was part of them. I could have the romance and passion and whatever else I was capable of writing because my imagination came up with the ideas and I could quite easily and happily live in there.

As a child that grew up with fairytales and overly romanticised Disney movies, I was convinced that it was exactly what marriage was like. An idyllic fairytale, and I wanted in more than anything!

As I grew up I started to realize how little I actually knew about life and romance in general. Of course movies looked great because they're meant to. Once the director yells cut and the lights are off, it's a completely different story. I didn't like to think about that.

I get that some people aren't interested in the same types of romance and whatever that I love, some couples are like that, and others keep the PDA to a bare minimum which makes you wonder if they're a happy couple when you look at them. I always equated affection to the amount of love between a couple and ultimately their longevity, even though it was hardly ever the case.

I still have my reservations about marriage. It is a huge step no matter what your culture or background is. Life is unpredictable at best, but then I guess that's why people commit themselves to another person, they want to know that someone will be there to weather the unpredictability of life with them. I think everyone knows how great it is to have somebody to share the highs as well as the lows.

My views are, like a lot of peoples, based on what I saw of my parents marriage growing up. That's not what I really strive for, but given the dramas that went on before I was born, it's hard to say how different things could have been if things hadn't happened how they did.

I don't want to feel tied down to or by one person for the rest of my life. I want to be equal to someone else, not better or less than. I want to have the comfort of knowing that they'll always be there or at least try to be there when I need them and vice versa. I want to be able to trust completely and love unconditionally another person and for them to do the same for me without hesitation from either party. That's always been a tough one for me to do.

I was telling some of my friends that back in high school when I was bored and in a mushy romantic mood I'd spend hours searching google and ebay for wedding dresses and rings that I loved and still had a few folders on my computer from things I'd saved over the years. I'd imagine the whole thing in my head, the only part that didn't have an identity was the person at the end of the aisle I was promising myself to for the rest of my life. Sure in some scenarios it was whoever I had my eye on at the time, but even that that didn't always seem right. I was interested in them, but didn't see them as marriage material.

At the end of the day everyone does marriage differently and makes it work for them. I'd say that's the other side of marriage. Doing what works best for you.