It’s All About Perspective

Last week while I was at work, I got talking to this nine year old girl. We talked about her favourite books, school, and all the other things nine year old girls like. Somehow we got talking about age and I made the catastrophic mistake of asking her how old she thought I was.

“46?” came the reply. I laughed and said “Not quite!” Her next guess was 47 and it only went up from there. Now, I turn 23 tomorrow, so obviously I hope that I don’t look 47, but to a nine year old I clearly do look “old”. But let’s be honest, most kids aren’t great judges of age. I sure wasn’t, still aren’t! They see kids, big kids and grown ups. And maybe “old people”, you know, those people with grey hair and false teeth. Apparently those people are only a few years older that me!

I have to be honest, though. I did go home and check for wrinkles. Not because I’m old, but because I’m getting older and for the first time I’m starting to feel as though life is getting away from me.

When I was little I imagined a lot of things about being a grown up. Some things, like having my hair change naturally to black, having green eyes and a flawless tan, were not realistic. Other things, like being a vet, were. However if nine year old me could meet present day me, I don’t think she would be impressed. Her expectations of being married with kids, a farm and horses have not come to fruition. But at age nine, I thought people in their twenties had all that and more.

Silly me.

A little older, not much wiser, 13 year old me walked the school hallways looking at the year 12 students, 17 and 18 year olds, in admiration. They were so grown up and beautiful. They had relationships not just boyfriends. They drank coffee! They had it all together.

Ha!

Fast forward five years. 18 year old me: struggling with school, single, didn’t like coffee. I thought I’d turn 18 and go out clubbing. I went once to a place known as The Spewie and avoided it from then on. I thought I’d have my license and my own car. I still don’t. I despite that, I knew that I’d be married by 19. 20 at the latest!

Hahahahahaha!

Wrong again, past me. We’re currently on the cusp of 23, single and very much still trying to figure this whole life thing out. I have, in the past few years, leaned a lot, however. I’ve learned that no one really knows what they’re doing, but if you act enough like you’ve got it figured out, people will think that you do, and eventually, your life starts to look as if you’re a Proper Adult™. For example, I go to work every day. I complain about work. I save money. I buy an obscene amount of books. I’m about to buy my first car. And then I will learn to drive. From the outside, it’s starting to look like everything is coming up Milhouse. Finally, I’m an adult!

Except…

I don’t really understand taxes.

My little brother had to teach me the difference between a blue slip and a pink slip.

I can’t even keep my room tidy, let alone a house.

But the important thing is that this is all okay. I’m 22, nearly 23. Sure, some of my friends are married, some of them have kids. Hell, a couple of them have even graduated university! Some of them are really acing it. And some of them are addicted to meth. So, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not doing too badly.

It’s all about perspective.

 

 

Image credit: https://www.tes.com/lessons/s2mKePgAVVUC0Q/space-and-perspective

Complications of Love

When I was younger love seemed so simple. The movies made it seem so easy. You meet a prince, he falls in love with you, you get married and live happily ever after. I always dreamed of the day I would meet my Prince Charming – or, more accurately, my Prince Eric – and be swept off my feet, falling hopelessly in love. I didn’t think about how to maintain the relationship, I didn’t have to. I was a kid and the way I saw it, you just sort of… Lived together.

When I was nine my family traveled to America. One night we had dinner with a friend of my mum’s, Mick. Mick lived with his partner at the time, a man. Being nine and oblivious to the concept of homosexuality, I didn’t realise that they were together. I thought they were house mates. It wasn’t until years later that I connected the dots and went to my mum saying “Mick is gay, isn’t he?”. I didn’t have a problem with it, even then. It was just a fact of life. My father, however, has a big problem with gay people. He uses a lot of hate language towards them, which honestly makes me sick. So, I was raised hearing that it was wrong and unnatural, when it was acknowledged at all.

The idea of me liking girls, however, wasn’t something I even considered until I was in year eight. I developed a little crush on one of my friends. It didn’t last for long and in my mind I made up ever excuse not to accept that it was a crush. I didn’t like girls, I liked boys! I dated boys! That was that. You either liked boys or you liked girls, those were the options! Right? Nope.

Year eleven brought around the State Drama camp. I met this girl called Georgina. She wasn’t beautiful in the traditional sense, but I thought she was stunning. I was painfully shy and she was the most talented girl there. She asked me to be partners in class one day and was so nice and friendly that I couldn’t help falling for her. She was just so down to earth, so easy to talk to, and so talented. I never saw her again after that week, but she was a turning point in my life.

It was around that time that I learned of the term “bisexual”. I thought, “Hey, I’ve had crushes on girls. I must be bisexual!”. I still thought it was that simple. But I didn’t want to tell everyone, to ‘come out’. I spoke to one boy in our friends group who is bi, then I spoke to my mum. The conversation went like this: “Mum, I think I might like girls.” “Yeah, I thought you were that way inclined.” And that was sort of it. It hasn’t been brought up since. But I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being bisexual.

That was five years ago, and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what I am. I know you don’t need to put labels on things, but I like labels. They help me simplify things. See, I’ve known for years now that I fall for girls. I’ve known for even longer that I fall for boys. But I’m not sexually attracted to girls in the same way I am guys. Physically attracted, yeah, but not sexually.

So, it wasn’t as simple as I thought.

I thought that if you’re bi you feel the same way about boys and girls, but that’s not the case. Sexuality and romance are so personal, I doubt anyone works the exact same way as anyone else. It’s more like a spectrum  than “gay”, “bi”, “straight”. Trying to figure out where I fit on this spectrum has been really difficult for me, and has bothered me for a long time. I want to know exactly who I am, and having something this important in my life that I’m so unsure about is deeply unsettling.

At the start of this year I joined my university’s GSMA (Gender and Sexual Minorities Alliance). I was so scared going to the first meeting. I was terrified that somehow my father would see me there and find out what I was, even thought I didn’t know what I was. I was scared that one of my friends would see me. I was scared that I wouldn’t fit in. I was scared that I was straight and that I wouldn’t belong. I was just plain scared.

I shouldn’t have been, of course. They were welcoming, friendly and fun. I liked fitting in with the group, I felt like I belonged there. But I still didn’t have the answers about what I was. I filed myself between Bisexual and Questioning, and just sort of hung out there. It was okay, it didn’t matter what you were in the group, as long as you were polite, friendly and willing to joke around.

Part way through this year I encountered another term. “Bi-romantic”. Someone who is bi-romantic is romantically attracted to both males and females (as well as other genders), but not necessarily sexually attracted to both. Yes! I thought, that sounds like me! And it did. And does. I fall in love with people no matter what their gender is, I can’t help it. It’s just the way I am. But I’m not really sexually attracted to females. I find them beautiful and attractive, but as I said earlier, it’s different from the attraction I have to males.

But, unfortunately, figuring out that I’m heterosexual and bi-romantic didn’t make everything easy like I thought it would. Instead, it just made me more afraid. What if people find out I like girls? Will my friends think I’d perve on them? Would they judge me? What if my family found out? These are all things that freak me the heck out. I think a few people are aware of my sexuality, but I keep it hidden from most people. It’d like to be open about it, but I’m scared of being judged, being teased, being isolated.

And that sucks.

Because right now I am falling for this amazing girl. She’s beautiful, smart, funny and we get on really well. She likes things I like, and talking to her about them makes me feel so alive. I want to hold her, to kiss her, to take her on dates. But I’m also too scared. It’s not just the fear that she’ll reject me, although that is ever-present, it’s that if we walked down the street hand-in-hand, people might stare. That if I took her as my date to the work Christmas party, people would think I was weird. That I couldn’t have her around to meet my family because of my father. I’m scared because I still can’t fully accept that I like girls, even though I like her so much.

When I was a kid, I thought love was straightforward. The older I get, the more complicated it seems. I’m hoping it’ll start to go the other way after a certain age, that it’ll start to seem more and more simple. I hope that one day we’ll reach a place where the LGBTQI+ community won’t have these fears. Most of all, I hope that one day I can call this girl my girlfriend, and be brave enough to walk through the mall holding her hand.

Things I’m Grateful For

Tomorrow I turn 22. It’s not a particularly important age, but it’s one step closer to being in my mid-twenties, which is a terrifying prospect. Since tomorrow is my birthday I’ve been thinking back over what I’ve accomplished as a 21 year old. Not a whole lot, to tell you the truth, but I’ve had a lot of experiences and that’s something.

I have a habit of looking at the negative side of things, a habit I’ve been trying to break for a long time and am gradually improving on. I’ve decided that in order to celebrate my birthday I’m going to try to list 22 things that I’m grateful for. Here we go:

  1. My nieces and nephews. I’ve written before about how much I love being an aunt, but I really didn’t do it justice. Being an aunt is such an amazing thing to me. I feel like it’s one of the most important things that I can do. I get to be apart of these amazing kids’ lives, I get to be the parental back-up, remembering things like insect bite cream and bandaids when we go on picnics. It’s so rewarding and I love every minute of it.
  2. My friends. They’re crazy, they get caught up in their own lives, we go weeks without talking sometimes, but they’re always there. We could spend a year without talking and when we got together it would be exactly the same as always. They’re always there to listen to me complain and to share in my triumphs. They are beautiful, amazing and incredible.
  3. Fast internet. Seriously, as a university student, fast, reliable internet is a God send. Before we got this internet our old router would shit itself at the worst moments, for example, right before a deadline. This causes panic, tears and a lot of swearing.
  4. Medical care. I wanted to say health, but I haven’t been properly healthy in a long time, so I’m grateful for medical care. I’ve never had to wait more than two days to see a doctor and I have access to medication when I need it. And even though I hate getting them, vaccinations are, literally, life savers.
  5. Books. I love reading. I love immersing myself in different worlds. People are so amazingly creative with the stories they come up with, I find it so inspiring.
  6. Comedy. I’m a huge fan of comedy, especially British comedians. If I’m having a bad day I’ll put Russell Howard or Jimmy Carr or someone like that on and within minutes I’m laughing. Last night I put Billy Connolly on and laughed so hard I cried. Comedy is a true blessing.
  7. Clean water. There are so many ways that I’m privileged, but having clean water is a huge one. I can go to one of many taps in my house and have fresh hot, cold or lukewarm water immediately. It’s something that we take for granted, but we should take the time to appreciate it a bit more.
  8. Animals. I don’t have pets at the moment, but when I did they brought me a lot of joy. Now I just have videos on the internet, but even those bring me endless joy. I love watching cats doing stupid things or dogs barking in ways that sound like human speech. Animals are fantastic things.
  9. Music. I listen to music extremely frequently. Sometimes it’s just background noise while I’m working on something, other times I’m making up dance routines to it in my head or pretending I’m on stage singing it. It’s so versatile. There’s music for every mood, every occasion. Right now I’m listening to Swagger Jagger by Cher Lloyd. I don’t know the mood/occasion for it, but I’m enjoying it.
  10. Youtube. This ties in with music and animals, but it’s also very helpful. I submitted an assignment through it once. I also use it to play rain or ocean sounds if I’m having trouble sleeping.
  11. Glasses. I am so happy that I have my glasses. I have about 15 – 20 cm of vision without them on, and that’s terrifying.
  12. Zoos and aquariums. I love animals, but I’m also a bit of a scaredy-cat. I’m so glad that we have places where we can go and see lions and sharks without the risk of being eaten by them.
  13. Pooh Bear. Not Winnie-the-Pooh in general, just my Pooh Bear. It’s a teddy that I won in a McDonalds competition when I was six and he’s been my cuddle buddy ever since. He goes everywhere I go. Although recently I’ve started leaving him at home when I go on overnight stays, if I’m away for more than two nights, he comes along. I’m grateful that he’s never been lost or left behind or thrown away.
  14. Aloe vera. I’m a ginger, I have fair skin and I burn easily. Today I was waiting outside for my mum to pick me up for about 15 minutes and I got burnt. Not lightly pink, burnt. I spent half an hour outside reading a couple of weeks ago, not even in direct sunlight, and I got so badly burnt that I blistered. Aloe vera is soothing, doesn’t smell too bad and makes the redness fade more quickly.
  15. Sunscreen. Following on from Aloe vera, maybe this should have been the other way around, but I’m grateful for sunscreen. 50+SPF is an absolute miracle. Finally, I can walk to the letter box without looking like a lobster for days after! I say finally, sun screen has been around for a very long time, but when I was a teenager I thought it was for losers. I was wrong. Maybe this should be gratitude for growing up?
  16. University. I’m not a huge fan of university, I’ll be honest. I don’t really enjoy my course, my classes are okay, but I’m sort of only doing it because I haven’t figured out what I actually want to do. But I am grateful for the social side of things. There are lots of clubs and groups I can join and meet people with things in common with me. Already this year I’ve made a few new friends, which as an adult isn’t easy.
  17. Head rubs. They don’t happen often. In fact, in the last year I’ve had one, but that just makes me more grateful when they do happen. Having my head rubbed is what I imagine heaven to be like. As soon as someone touches my head, my whole back relaxes and I start to drool a little. If I could employ someone for the sole purpose of rubbing my head, I would.
  18. Adult colouring books. That name makes it sound like it’s lewd pictures in black and white, but what I mean is the new craze of colouring books for adults. I got two for Christmas, plus another from a friend, and I love them. They’re so relaxing. I can do them while listening to a pod cast or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  19. Colours. I love colours, I love rainbows, I love them all.
  20. Air travel. I love England. I love everything about it. I want to go back there. It’s about a 36 journey there, depending on stop overs and all that, which seems like a long time, but if you think about how long it would take by boat-! I’m grateful for air travel.
  21. Nice smells. I love pretty smells. I love the soft wiffs of smell you get after you’ve washed your hair. I love the smell of fresh laundry. I love the smell after rain. I love the smell of freshly mowed grass. I love the smell of my heat protect spray. There are so many smells I love and I’m grateful that not everything smells like vomit and dog poo.
  22. I’m grateful that this is the last item on the list. It was quite hard to think of things and that made me feel bad. Not because I’m not grateful, but because I’m grateful for a lot of thing, but they’re small things. Like pillows or yarn or lip balm. Small, inconsequential things that my life would be a tiny bit worse without.

So, that’s the end of the list and this is the end of my time as a 21 year old. Tomorrow I’ll be 22 and maybe I’ll wake up feeling older and wiser, but probably not. Who knows, maybe 22 is my year.

 

Image credit: Google, I’m not sure of the original source as it was on pinterest.

What do you want to be…

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” seems to be the default question we ask children. I can remember being asked that in primary schools by extended family, friends of my parents and older siblings and that occasional strange woman who would tell me how much I’d grown and insist I’d met her as a child.

My answer to this question changed as I grew up from writer to vet to singer. And then I noticed that the question started to change too. Suddenly it was “What university courses are you applying to?”. It went from “What do you want to be?” to “How are you going to get there?”. But I wasn’t ready to answer the first question yet! I didn’t know what I wanted to be, let alone how the hell I was going to get there! Out of nowhere the form was placed in front of me and I was supposed to sign up to a career path.

And then the question changed again. “What are you going to do once you finish university?”. Apparently there is a wrong answer to this question. The answer is not “Oh, I don’t know, I’ll see what happens.” No. This answer will result in prompting from the asker as to a more pleasing answer: “Well, are you going to work? Are you going to move? Have you thought about working overseas?”

Before I had even gotten close to finishing university, suddenly the question had changed yet again. “So, are you thinking about kids?”

To answer honestly, I have thought about having kids. I’ve also thought about how cool it would be if I could turn into an animal. The thing is that I’m nearly twenty-two. And although I can legally vote, drink, own property and get married I’m not really all that grown up, I’m still figuring things out. I’m not at the life stage where I could answer “Yes!” to “Are you thinking about kids?”. I’m not at the life stage where I can tell you what I plan to do after university. I’m not even at a life stage where I can tell you what I want to be when I grow up, because I simply don’t know.

Sometimes it scares me, not having the answers to these questions. I’m in my second year of university, so I should be able to at least tell you what I want to be, right? I feel like I should have everything together. But then I look around me and I realize that no, I shouldn’t have everything together because no one does. My best friend has just finished her under graduate degree, is starting honors, has a car, a house, a good relationship and a pet rabbit. And even she doesn’t have everything together. How do I know? She tells me. All the time.

When I tell old family friends what I’m doing at university they always point out that I wanted to be a vet and express shock that that’s not what I’m doing, as though the seven year old me who told them that should have known. She didn’t, I don’t and 30 year old me in the future probably can’t tell you either. But that’s okay, because if I never grow up, I never have to answer.