Tuesday, 11 September 2012

It is never okay to bring someone else down.

Usually, I take a while to create a title for my blog posts; to me, they are important indicators of the content of the post, and I like to select them carefully so that they gently, subtly ease the reader into the post topic. I like to play with words, capturing their particular nuances and implications to sell my point and give it a little more mystery, a little more allure before its full presentation. Today, subtlety and style seem far less important than the substance of the post itself. Which is exactly why today's post header has all the delicacy of a sledgehammer.

To give a little back story, and explain the drive behind this particular post, it's maybe important to tell you that I recently took a break from Facebook and deactivated my account for, at the time, an indefinite period.

Admittedly, the hiatus didn't last particularly long (around ten days), but the decision to reactivate was based solely on the fact that communication is far easier via Facebook, and unfortunately while trying to organise a wedding, communication is key. Perhaps once Michael and I are married, I can leave the site on a more permanent basis as, having been back online for a mere forty-eight hours, I am already highly disillusioned.

My departure from the site had been probably quite long in the offing now that I consider it, but the eventual prompt came from a couple of different sources, and a few rather malicious, spiteful comments flung my way regarding what I choose to post on my personal page. Now, having modelled for a year (and faced rejection from many different sources for a far longer period than that), I'm not all that unused to nastiness. It's just another one of those facets of life -  an unpleasant one certainly, but one that unfortunately we will all be confronted with at some point in our lives, and hopefully overcome. However, these particular messages were unnecessarily cruel, and were especially unwelcome considering that the focus of their disdain was my daughter, Charlotte.

This post isn't really about delving into the gory details of what was said, but suffice it to say that the main gist was a putdown of rather large proportions - that my constant status updates of my 'average-looking' baby were boring everyone to tears, amongst other casual slurs about my life as it is now. My pictures of my daughter, my anecdotes of our moments together, my happiness at my new baby, all were unwelcome, apparently, to these people whom I used to consider my friends. These opinions were offered up to me with no trace of remorse or compassion. Unprovoked, uncalled for, and gratuitously hateful.

Now, I am acutely aware that not everybody wants to read about every detail of my life with a new baby - I understand completely if somebody wishes to 'hide' my posts, or even unfriend me. It really is okay with me that you don't find me or my daughter all that interesting; a lot of the people I have on my Facebook friends list are, for the most part, young people, and I can imagine that motherhood and babies don't feature highly in their lives. Just because I'm a mum now doesn't mean that I think everyone else should be, or that everyone else should have a vested interest in my life as a mother. The lack of interest in itself doesn't offend me.

But here's the thing. You don't have to like what I post, but that doesn't mean I have to stop posting it. What makes people so fascinating is our differences; the quirks, the variations, the multiplicity in our separate interests that all weave together to create the richness and diversity of our society. The old adage "It would be a boring world if we were all the same" springs to mind here. Why can we not appreciate and even revel in the fact that we are all unique, all separate entities with our own joys, sadnesses and pursuits?

Even in the short time since I reactivated my Facebook account, I have seen numerous posts that have been created and published purely to lambast others' choice of posting material. I'm not just talking about people complaining about mothers oversharing (I have seen numerous of these, of which I'm sure a few have been undoubtedly aimed at me), there are a whole range of interests and topics being criticised, from people talking about their job to people talking about their pet, and almost everything in between. The level of scathing derision from one person to another is astounding, and somewhat saddening. When did it become so popular, so achingly hip, to start mocking someone else's lifestyle choices, and their subsequent decision to talk about those choices via their Facebook account? While you are taking the time out of your oh-so-riveting, exciting schedule to ridicule someone else's 'boring' status updates, maybe before clicking the 'post' button, you should reflect on your own posting style. It must be lovely to believe that whatever you post is relevant, interesting and worthy of attention from everyone on your friends list, but the sad reality is that no single post will ever be of interest to every person that it is being broadcast to. No matter how wonderful you believe your life and your status updates to be, there will always be at least one other person who couldn't care less.

That is precisely why every single person on Facebook should apply to themselves the rule of "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." As one day, that scathing, hilarious status update that you aimed at your 'boring' friend will come back around to bite you in the ass, when you yourself post a less-than-scintillating titbit and get called out for it with the same nastiness you yourself were so quick to apply.

Everyone has the right to select the material that they view according to their interests, and also conversely the right to not read any information that isn't relevant to theirs. This seems pretty obvious to me. There are plenty of posts that appear on my news feed that I have almost zero interest in, but the information is obviously important to that particular person, so using that logic I would never dream of criticising them for posting it. If these posts continue, I can quietly hide them - meaning I don't need to consistently view something that doesn't really interest me, but the person whom it does interest can carry on posting happily without intrusion or censorship from me, as is their right.

Of course you don't have to love everything that you see on your news feed; that in itself is a bit of an absurd concept. But what I am saying, is that as you have actively chosen to be a part of that person's Facebook network, you have chosen to view their posts and chosen to continue doing so when you are not being forced to, I would suggest giving that person, your apparent 'friend', a little courtesy and a little respect. I will again state that you have the right to view or not view whatever you like. What you definitely do not have the right to do, is belittle and demean someone else because of your own preferences. What may not be important to you is quite obviously important to them, and as such, as their friend or acquaintance, is worthy of your respect.

I will repeat my title.

It is never okay to bring someone else down.

Monday, 13 August 2012

A Resurrection.

Hello, all. It's been a very long time - nearly a whole year since I last updated this poor neglected blog.

A year is but a drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of a person's life, but I can quantify my last year in terms of a rekindled love, a pregnancy, an engagement, two house moves and then suddenly, staggeringly, a baby. The past year has been so unremittingly packed full of these rather high-impact 'life events', that I must admit to still feeling a little like I'm waiting for the pause, so that I can catch my breath. I think I've fitted into twelve months what most sane people would spread over a few years, yet there is still a lot more to come in the foreseeable future. Caring for a brand new, utterly dependant tiny person demands enough time and effort in itself, and rightfully so. But, true to form, I've decided to couple this with planning a wedding, starting my long-delayed writing, and pivotally, my plans to restart my education.

The desire spurring on these plans, coaxing into action a brain sluggish from lack of use, is the overwhelming one of self-preservation. In the last year, I have gradually, subtly, but most definitely changed from the person I was pre-pregnancy - that person has been submerged and relegated, in her place a mystical new being, whose primary concerns relate more to such oddities as nappy brands and anti-colic milk bottles. This is spurring a feeling rising within me now; a panicked realisation that I am losing myself, and the passions that once helped to define and shape me, to the Mumzilla I'm becoming.

Now, I am acutely aware that these words can be easily misconstrued, to imply that I'm not enjoying motherhood or that I resent my child in some way. Just to be clear, my daughter - Charlotte, for anyone wishing to know - is more precious and important to me than anything else in this world. I adore her completely; becoming a mother is more rewarding and joyful than I could ever have imagined. I humbly accept that my daughter has given me more happiness, in the short time that we have thus far known her, than I could ever have achieved otherwise.

However, I don't believe that becoming a mother and also retaining your own identity and pursuits should necessarily be mutually exclusive. A mother, with all of her desires to nurture and care for her child, and a woman, possessed of her own ambitions and desires outwith the child, do not have to exist as separate entities. Surprisingly, even in this day and age, something I keep hearing from too many sources (and far too many of them women) is that motherhood should be 'enough' for a woman, the implication being that bearing a child should extinguish any other yearnings a woman may have. But in my view, surely suppressing all other ambitions for the sake of a child will only harbour resentment in the long term? What happens when the child is fully grown, flown the familial nest, and said woman is left with a life she finds simultaneously unsatisfying and suddenly empty? I hasten to add that if a woman is truly happy with a life lived as a mother, then of course that is completely her choice and to be respected, and commended. Raising children is by no means an easy role. But with that said and acknowledged, that is not the life I would choose for myself.

I'm not saying that I want a life away from my baby, far from it. What I am saying is that I want to be allowed the chance to build a life that will both make me happy as an individual, and ultimately create a better life for our family as a whole. Some may think it selfish that I am currently considering going back into education in the very near future, while my daughter is still in babyhood and will require looking after by somebody who isn't me. However, the long-term benefits that I can attain through education and a subsequent career, are difficult to deny.

I excel when my brain is met with a challenge. I have been removed from education and learning for well over a year now, and to me this is now becoming painfully obvious. It has allowed me to become lazy with my mind, and also left me bereft of any real direction in my life overall. As I mentioned earlier, I have grown sluggish; mentally lethargic, if you like. And now that I've began to take note of this negative slide, I feel somewhat restless and ever so slightly ashamed.

Currently, I am not a good role model for my daughter and I really make no bones about that. My worst fear is that one day when she is older, she will look at me and reject academia for herself because her mother did nothing with her own life. Conversely, if she does choose to pursue further education, I do not want her to look at me and feel no pride for the mother who wasted her own mind and talents. I will have no achievements to demonstrate to her; there will be nothing for her to want to emulate, and I will have only myself to blame for not being proactive at this stage. I must add that I'm not looking for sympathy or a pat on the back here, this is just the way it is. That's why I intend to change it.

This blog is in itself rather symbolic for me, resurrecting an old blog and an old hobby (my writing) to coincide with this rediscovery of my own identity. For a while I have been toying with various different grand ideas, a whole host of wide-ranging university courses and career plans that are all so pie-in-the-sky that I know, and the people around me know, that I'll never follow through on them. Now, I have decided to pare it all back, to get away from aspiring to courses and careers that I really have no knowledge of and no real burning interest in, just because they 'sound good', and focus instead on what really matters to me. As I've lost myself, so too have I lost my passions, and what really drives me. I used to write pages upon pages of prose and poetry on a daily basis - a battered and dog-eared notebook would always be found in my bag, full of random characters, plot ideas, a pretty sentence to be used in something, somewhere... Pen poised to capture any new inspiration as and when it appeared. Now, I have not bought a new notebook in months, more likely years, as this blog post is the first thing I have written, at all, in around six months. It's probably rather sad how much I am enjoying creating this post, feeling the flow of words and enjoying the liberation that comes with their expulsion onto the screen.

So with all that said, instead of pursuing new things that only incite within me a lacklustre enthusiasm at best, I am going back to basics and sticking with what I know, what I'm good at, and what has consistently made me the happiest. You've guessed it, I want to go back and try my hand at English Literature again. When I left university, I did so because I had the luxury of selfishness - I had no responsibilities and when I grew bored, that seemed like enough to make the course invalid and unworthy of my time. Now, with the benefit of hindsight and the newly-acquired maturity that motherhood has instilled in me, I can see that university is the means to an end. I may not enjoy every part of the course; at times I expect I will utterly despise it. But what it will give me at the end - a degree, a way in to a career that I have always wanted, and a way to both better my family and enhance my daughter's future -  is immeasurable.

I'm not stupid or naive or under any illusions. Going back into study is going to be bloody hard, and sacrifices will undoubtedly have to be made to allow this venture. It's not going to happen overnight; it may even be a good few years before we are stable enough, both financially and logistically, for me to even begin the education process again. But I've had what I would consider a small but highly significant epiphany, and since it's taken me so painfully long to come to this realisation (my fiancĂ© and family will happily attest to this), I don't intend to be so negligent from now on. I also realise that I come across like I have something to prove, but in all honesty - yes, yes I do. I have something to prove to my family and my daughter, to the people who doubt my ability to better myself (and have expressed that doubt oh-so-condescendingly), but above all else, I have something to prove to myself. And I am not going to let a small thing like having a baby render me any less capable than anyone else.

I am ready to be me again.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Skeleton Club.

It's very difficult for me to let go, on such an open blog. I kept an anonymous blog because I wanted an outlet, but then I realised I disliked the very reason I began it - the anonymity, the feeling that I was being somehow untruthful. One of my little quirks; starting a blog where I could lie and feeling in some way too guilty to fully utilise that one little comfort. It didn't help that I gave out the address and allowed people in, it tainted the purpose somehow, and meant I stopped the posts as I couldn't relax. It's not that I distrust those who I offered it to, it's just that to let them in instantly put me on my guard, and I realised that these people had access to intimate details about my life, and if I continued to use the blog they would indubitably learn details that I would rather keep very much locked away. The skeletons in my closet have plenty of room to dance around privately, without giving them public licence to embarrass me too.

It brings me to wonder whether I can ever truly open up like I'd love to be able to. Annoyingly, I know it would make me a far better writer, if I could attain a certain candor that as of yet I haven't been able to bring to my words. Connection is the key, and so far it has totally eluded me.

It's another reason I'd like to introduce more of my fictional writings to this blog; the falsity a writer like myself loves because it deflects attention from their own weaknesses, both literary and personal. This blog becomes a daunting challenge when it's centred upon 'reality', as it means I have to focus on myself - and if I don't like writing about my deeply personal thoughts and feelings, what else is left to say? It becomes hollow, stodgy and stale, missing the passion that a blog (essentially an internet diary) deserves.

So how do I change this? Do I even want to change this? Is it possible? I really don't know.

Initially this blog post had been entitled 'The Patriot', in relation to my recent trip to the Isle of Skye, which was both breathtaking and inspiring. And it was then that I realised, that to fully explain all of the emotions that the island had awoken in me, I had to understand and relate to the reasons I had connected to the place so entirely. The idea of the Skeleton Club came naturally, it seemed to fit perfectly with what I began writing about... The troubles and issues that have thus far prevented me from writing as well, as emotively and as eloquently as I want to. Skye, my writing, the skeletons - everything so intricately interconnected.

Opening up will take time, and I don't think I'm over-dramatising when I say that. My family know about this blog, they can see it, and if I'm entirely honest they know very little about who I really am and what I have endured as a person, and that really does restrict me, in bonds that I don't know if I'll be able to shake. My problem is that I offer excessive and unnecessary care to the thoughts of others, but hopefully time will erode the self-consciousness and the insecurity that have so far hampered my passion.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Prolonged Absences...

...Make it far more difficult to begin again.

I've been trying to kick-start this blog again for weeks, if not months now. I won't lie, a lot of my motivation just seemed to have vanished, with every aspect of life, but I'm beginning to view things with a sharper sense of focus now and things need to change. They just need to get better, simple as that.

My boyfriend has a beautifully simplistic view of the world, and I'm going to attempt to let that view wash over me too; me, the over-complicating, complex nutjob. As a luxury for a girl who drives herself to the brink of insanity on a near daily basis, I'm treating myself to a little dose of 'simple'.

And so I have some simple goals:

  • Write, and write for me. One of my favourite quotes by Cyril Connolly - "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
  • Sing again. For no reason, for no purpose, other than for enjoyment. Why must everything in life, be it hobbies, passions, loves, tattoos, be categorised and necessarily meaningful?
  • Adopt a new way of looking at the future. And decide what I want to do with my life, not what makes anyone else happy or proud.
  • See more of the people that make me smile, and laugh, and cry. Friendships are easily faded and I want mine to remain bright, shiny, untarnished by time.
Are these too idealistic? Possibly. Will I try my best to hold on to them? Absolutely.

Hopefully, I'll get the chance to blog again soon, and for longer. Maybe I'll start requesting topics, who knows...

Monday, 2 May 2011

Because there's nothing left to say and this will say it all.

Well you've done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
and now I'm trying to get back
Before the cool done run out
I'll be giving it my bestest
Nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon its again my turn to win some or learn some

I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment people dance and sing, we're just one big family
It's our God-forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved

So I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I'm sure

There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours

Do you want to, come on, scootch over closer dear
And I will nibble your ear

I've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and I laughed
I guess what I'll be saying is there ain't no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons
It's what we aim to do
Our name is our virtue

But I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find that the sky is yours
so please don't, please don't, please don't.
There's no need to complicate
'cause our time is short
This oh, this oh, this is our fate, I'm yours.