Too Narrow-visioned

Writing

For some of us, life revolves around a career, for others it’s family. But should life really have a sole focus? Is it wrong to lead an existence where we strive for one thing and neglect another? Benefit in one area of our life  to the detriment of another?

Need we only look at the rich lonely business with money to burn on himself but no partner or child to share it with. Or the family with 5 mouths to feed who are living off of rations. A dichotomous pair, with polarizing values. Are they both wrong? Should life be less about a ‘single’ goal and more about having a ‘range’of goals? Should life even be about having goals at all?

Personally, I’m annoyed at myself for having the blinkers on, and neglecting  certain areas of my life, life shouldn’t really be about one thing or the other. Truly, I believe it should be about balance.

And it has only  been through experiencing mistake after mistake via bad life decisions for me to realise this unfortunately. One example for me is infact career. I don’t know exactly where my obsession with gaining certain career goals originated, whether it was from the mouths of pale and stale teachers at school or from the rosy-pink lips of the celebs interviewed on TV. But either way, my obsessive drive to become ‘X’ as a career completely overruled any other aspect of my life as far back as my early teens.

At school I remember threats were frequent – ‘if you don’t do well at this subject then you won’t be employable. If you’re not employable then you won’t get a job, so you won’t earn money. SO you’ll die!’ This general spiel was a common go to for my college careers teacher. A spiel which struck me to my very core, instilling me with a fear and a drive to seek employment, to seek approval from others.

The beginning of a bad end was soon to commence in terms of ‘dream jobs’ for me. At this stage I think it’s best to announce my age, from the number of jobs I’ve had you’d think I was immortal but infact at 25 years old immortality is exchanged for a quarter-life crisis instead. What a trade-off!

Ofcourse I can’t just blame my teacher’s threats on being the reason I’ve experienced so many mishaps on the careers ladder, but it helps so I’ll just go with it (hehe).

Although I’m 25 years of age, I’ve had 8 jobs in 4 years (this should be a pub quiz question). No, each one didn’t last 6 months and yes, there were gaps of unemployment where I found myself crying in the corner of my room, the room I was soon to be kicked out of had I not have found a job to pay my rent. At one stage I kid you not I was down to my last £30 in my account.

But I guess the question isn’t – ‘how may jobs have I had’ but instead, ‘why have I had so many’? A question I do ponder over deeply at times. A short answer of which would be to simply say that I found each one of them boring. But the truth runs much deeper than this. Really, I think the tip of the iceberg is hinted at by a statement I mentioned earlier – ‘to seek the approval of others’. In my little brain I think at some moment in my life I had a eureka moment and I found contentment in knowing that if I obtained a ‘successful’ enough career in everybody else’s eyes then I myself would be happy. And with this mantra moulded into the neurons of my mind I set foot on getting a job in the music industry. Notorious for it’s glitz and glamour or so I thought. But shock horror hit when I actually found myself number-punching into Excel spreadsheets in an office where the perk of the day was getting a free biscuit with my luke-warm cup of tea. The moral of the story was the music industry I experienced wasn’t the music industry I had envisaged myself experiencing. And from this a trend of falling in and out of a jobs list as long as your arm commenced. At one stage I thought I’ll take any job just to pay my extortionate rent as I figure out what way I want to maneuver myself within the music industry. Which sounds good on paper but when you have a 12 hour shift as a host in a restaurant where you can’t sit down and get groped every 5 minutes by one of the bussboys then you suddenly start thinking that the luke-warm tea back at the office didn’t actually taste that bad afterall. Over the last 4 years that I’ve been in London, my job titles have changed, my salary has changed, my career goals may have even changed but one thing which has not changed is my exasperating attempts to achieve some sort of career pinnacle. Some role which will make my parents proud of me, make me enough money that I won’t have to continuously set things back at the checkout, a role which will make my friends say wow, and make me feel genuinely happy. But here comes the irony. That doesn’t exist. And why not?

Because there’s an imbalance, just as I’ve been stressing over obtaining a career everyone can give a thumbs up too, other areas of my life have been neglected. It’s all well and good landing work experience with a big-name company, but as you’re stapling their meeting packs together the thought of ‘I haven’t seen my friends in a while’ might just start to sink in. Or ‘when’s the last time I’ve been to the gym, or ate correctly, or been on a trip?’.

For me a big thing is being too hard on myself, like, I would never reward myself for any wins be them large of small. It was always on to the next goal without hesitance. Whereas if I made a mistake along the way to achieving a goal it would be in the back of my head for weeks at a time. This stick over carrot mentality coupled with my blinkered attitude towards career alone meant that my dearest relationships became frayed. On ths desperate hunt for career success I no longer saw my friends, I wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, all because I had this hardcore belief that I had no time for ‘distractions’, that I needed to focus on achieving my career ambitions. Meanwhile, had I stopped for a second and realised that the areas of life such as relationships, self-love and health hold equal importance to a career if not more. I was blind-sighted by my own obsession to seek the approval of everyone else around me all while I was slowly losing any care I had for myself.  

If you don’t take care of yourself this can manifest into snapping at those who you do care about the most – your family and close friends. For a while I felt so pressured to become something so specific, I put deadlines on every objective I had, most of the time unrealistic ones which meant I was always in a stressed-out mood. Consequently relationships with certain family members became strained. And this was the wake up call I needed to realise that I had gotten myself into a  heightened-state of disillusionment and pressure. If trying to get a high-flying career comes with the cost of losing touch with my family then I don’t want the career. Better yet, what I’ve came to realise is that having a good career in itself isn’t the key to happiness nor is it the key to sadness, the true takeaway point is having a good balance between numerous elements in life: social life, looking after your health, hobbies and job.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim to become ‘X’ but what I will stress is don’t become ‘X’ at the cost of everything else in your life! Trust me, balance is more important that you may think. x

Are You Poorer Than Me?

Writing

I’m so sick of being poor. Yes I may have a roof over my head and food in my fridge but when you can’t decorate your rooms or make meals beyond tins of soup and sweetcorn then what’s the point? I might aswell be living in The Amazon, atleast then I’ll avoid the council tax and eyewateringly long queues at the supermarket checkout. 

 

Yes I may be whinging about a first world problem but I believe this is a key reason for my upheaval in the first place. If I did infact live in a tribe in a forest then I wouldn’t know what I’m missing necessarily. How can I miss the sight of some dope dealer sporting the latest balenciaga’s, or the gluttonous geezer buying the ‘extra special’ range in Sainsbury’s when I wouldn’t have the foggiest what either two of these concepts were? You can’t miss what you’ve never witnessed I guess. I would be comfortable and content with my relationships and my tribal lifestyle. 

 

Perhaps that’s just it, in the society I live in, less emphasis is placed on the value of social relationships, instead these are sidelined for the stars of this farcical pantomime I call life – materialism and capitalism. The terrible twins. They are the children you grimace at and purposely attempt to swap at birth, only to find them crawling and clambering their way into your back pocket as you exit the hospital. 

 

My experience living in London has made me reevaluate my perspectives on numerous things, none moreso that the value I myself place on money. Putting it short and sweetly, I now understand why some people may force themselves to do things others may deem shameful. For example, we can all hold our heads high, point our noses in the air, as we scoff at the single mum shaking what God (or her surgeon)  gave her in a strip club. But you put yourself in her 6 inch stilettos for merely a second and maybe then you would begin to empathise and understand that she may have a young mouth to feed on her own. Why? Because the dad walked out as soon as he found out she was pregnant. And let’s face it city ‘living wages’ need to be rephrased as city ‘suffocating wages’. Unless you are in the finance sector or as old as time itself then I’m afraid for the rest of us, youth and inexperience comes as a pretty big financial burden. 

 

I ask myself – why did I move to this city? A question which is becoming worryingly frequent. I’m from a small town in the middle of Northern Ireland, the rent I pay in London could have me living in two places twice the size back in a rural setting, so why am I here? 

 

The old line of ‘there’s loads more opportunities’ is becoming undone, fraying and feeling further from reality. Yes, there may technically be more ‘opportunities’ but let’s face it, no one’s going to throw me a wad of £50’s to take up the opportunity to soak up a West End show, or meetings with top CEOs. Unless ofcourse I turn to sugarbabying, which is a completely different can of worms I wish not open in this moment. 

 

Today, I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wards away threatening voices in their mind’s eye, tempting them to smash open their piggy bank into a million little pieces, only to find not much more than a hundred little pennies in the remnants of Mr piggy’s once round stomach. Financial hardship makes itself known to all of us at some stage in our lives, I have no doubt, but I say it has outstayed its welcome. So my question now is, how do I kick them out?

Rid them from my minimalist overpriced matchbox flat, where the walls lay bare out of fear that I may maim it’s clinical appearance with so much as a smudge of a marker, or stain from a sticker. Landlords in cities like London make Sherlock Holmes look like a babbling unobservant buffoon when it comes to hunting down the most miniscule of marks on a tenants leaving day, wouldn’t you agree?

 

And with this thought lingering I wonder whether I should indeed make myself scarce of it’s confinements, escaping the financial restrictions once and for all and bid this city goodbye. 

Poetry: Change

Writing

A leopard can change its spots.

But cheetahs never do.

Changing your mind is one thing.

But changing your heart, is about as easy as making a mountain move.

 

2020

A new year, a new you.

This year will be different.

A false promise? Or does here lie the truth?

 

Do you need to change your perspective?

Moreso than actually changing you?

Do you need to take more time reflecting?

Than taking time, faking, being too big for your boots?

 

Is It Nice To Be Nice To Others?

Writing

Living in a city, living on top of each other, I think it’s easy to get impatient and somewhat claustrophobic. Carrying out my own little experiment in the last couple of months has brought with it some striking revelations. 

I wanted to test the waters – does being nice to people make them nicer to you? 

So to test this, I carried out the following experiments, firstly I would be ‘impatient’ with people, not overtly rude, but instead show my disapproval to something I found they were doing annoying. Then following on from this, for the remaining weeks I would put effort in to be nicer than necessary e.g. smiling at a stranger in the park, asking an eldelry person if they needed help carrying their groceries and so on….. 

This is how it unfolded:

The Supermarket Face Smasher

If you read my post on pet peeves then you’ll know my utmost deteste for queue jumpers, almost as much as I hate when someone shoulder barge me to get out of the queue.  Lining up at the self-checkout a random woman decides she no longer wants to be in the queue, which is fine (I thought). She proceeds to try and exit the queue through the most awkward of routes, squeezing passed everyman man, woman and child still in the queue instead of just going through the self checkouts. As she passes me in the queue she almost knocks me flying.

This is where I have a decision to stfu or say something, as it’s the mean experimental month I utter ‘you could’ve said excuse me’, she then says ‘excuse me’ in an aggressive tone to which I repeat ‘you could’ve said excuse me’ her next comment was ‘I’ll smash your face in!’ Security de-escalated the issue pretty quickly but let’s just say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. She may have looked like your plain Jane but really probably is the kind of person who acts like their sh*t doesn’t stink and would quite happily lock their husband/wife up in the downstairs basement for not hoovering the floor by the time they got back from strangling their colleague at work. 

Note to experiment – don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Should I have said something? I think not!

Tut Tut Tut

Train etiquette for anyone with manners is – if you’re at the platform waiting for someone to get on then you wait until anyone exiting the train carriage has gotten OFF! Obviously some ignorant individuals didn’t get the memo because as I approached the exit doors of the train all I could see was this keen bean of an ignoramus prancing up onto the carriage just as the doors were opening, I try to step off but he basically baracades me in the carriage, I swerve passed him tutting as loud as a jet engine into his left ear, to which he responds with an inferior tut, I then wanted to have the last tut so I tut again, he then looks round at me as the train doors are closing, he, now inside the carriage and me on the platform tuts again, I watch the train pull off now unable to see him clearly as the windows are slightly blacked out but still stubborn I gave one final tut and walked off laughing at both of our pettiness. 

Tutting wars! I’m sorry but this guy was all self with – ‘I want on the train, I don’t care if I block you getting off, blah blah blah’ marked across his forehead.

Should I Have tutted? No (I should’ve fly-kicked him back out the train doors).

The list of petty squabbles goes on ashamedly, but all for the name of science!

Fast forward a few weeks later and the mother Therea in me makes an appearance in full force, I’m rescuing kittens from trees, stopping crime in its tracks, helping old ladies cross roads. Ok maybe not this far but I did try and go out of my way to be nicer than what would be accepted as normal, and in the process got a few weird looks but also a few genuine smiles. Let me tell you why:

It’s In The Eyes

For the most part we go through life minding our own business, especially when walking down streets. Here, it can sometimes feel like the pavement is a magnet for our eyes in order for us to avoid the awkward eye contact with a passerby. I wanted to see if I could break this  internal awkwardness and see if I could instead show eye contact to a total stranger alongside a polite smile to see if it could be reciprocated. 

The success rate was surprisingly promising, not that I walked around in public like a grinning cheshire cat, I chose my targets wisely and pleasantly enough us city dwellers are warm when given the chance. 

Note: The acknowledgment of someone else’s existence should be encouraged more! 

Volunteering

My previous post outlines my recent volunteering experience, but to be clear I didn’t choose to volunteer for an experiment it was for much deeper personal reasons I may share in the future. But nevertheless it really emphasises that doing good for others in return can make you feel better about yourself. 

Note: Help others and you help yourself.

Conclusion

I carried out minor behaviors to see if it changed my external environment, if it changed people’s interactions with me, and in conclusion I believe it did.

Does being nice to people mean they’ll be nice to you? Not all the time, but I definitely think it does for the majority of time. 

I’m not saying you should change how you act just to get people to like you but I think on a minor level, simply being aware of your behaviour in more settings will help both you and the people around you. This is what I have found in my own experience, it is nice to be nice to people. And that most people are nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Biggest Pet Peeve(s)?

Writing

This thought infiltrated my mind with the waft of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ on the train during my early morning commute to work today. For anyone unfamiliar with this term ‘ploughman’s lunch’, you’ve lived a very sheltered childhood, a very lucky childhood. It’s basically a cheese (sewage) and pickle sandwich, and the scent and sight of it makes my skin crawl. 

 

Today my attention was brought to a rather ravenous commuter munching on his sandwich like he was attending the last supper. Which I found particularly revolting in itself, no hand sanitizer + grotty train = hepatitis by mid-afternoon. But little did I know the levels of grossness this guy would sink to had no limits. Once he finished (thank God), he proceeded to throw the sandwich foil on the ground and started picking his nose rather aggressively. I turned my head away in a knee-jerk reaction to this, but like we all do, when someone is doing something abnormally gross we have to keep peering back. Like, whenever we chop garlic and then can smell it on our fingers for days, we keep checking our fingers daily to see if the smell remains, don’t you do that? I peer down the train carriage at him as he digs for gold, my brow furrows even deeper the more he digs into his flared nostrils. Repulsive! Thank goodness I got off at the next stop, I can only fear what he would’ve done next!

 

It got me thinking, what’s your biggest pet peeve? For me the list is never ending but to save time I’ll have to go with these top 3 in no particular order :

 

  1. Loud talkers
  2. People who smack with their mouths while eating
  3. Queue jumpers

 

Let’s see what some countries voted as their top pet peeves courtesy of Forbes:

 

  • Americans get more irritated than other nationals by co-workers taking others’ food from the office refrigerator.
  • Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.
  • Germans are annoyed by dirty common areas (the community microwave or refrigerator) more than the rest of the world.
  • Indians react more negatively to irritating mobile phone ringtones.
  • Japanese are more peeved by office pranks than others.

 

Relate to any of the above?

Poem: Stress

Writing

Stress.
The subtle strangler.
It manifests itself in many ways.
A fabrication of the mind.
Sending cortisol coursing through our veins.

Life – so full of precious pressures.
So petty, so small, minute.
‘A busy life is a happy one.’
A lie disguised as truth.

Poem: Anger

Writing

Teeth grit like vice grips on steel.

The metallic hiss rings unforgivingly long.

I raise my hands to the air

Empty handed I surrender.

Empty handed I look for answers.

Yet none rings true for this.

Like a swinging pendulum

I’m hot and then cold

Impatience – an unwelcome friend yet makes itself all too known.

Trying to pacify myself is like

Trying to run backwards up a hill.

Continuously falling downwards.

Makes for a bitter

Pill.

To swallow.

I wallow,

I’m self pity.

Woe be to me for I have seen more tragedy,

In my little mind’s eye than you’ve seen wrongs over rights.

More sleepless nights,

As the hag rides,

Drive bys

Seem like nursery rhymes

Compared the stories I rewind at bedtime.

Change

Writing

I feel like I’m in such a weird space at present, no sooner have I moved flat than I’m trawling the jobboards of everything from Indeed.com to Craigslist (ok maybe not Craigslist).  Being a seasoned veteran on these job sites is not something I’m proud of, frequenting them so much that Google ads now pop up with ‘need a new job?’ as I’m downloading a voucher off Groupon for a pair of discounted leggings.

What’s going on with me?

I just have this inbuilt element of restlessness, like the kind you get when you sit on a computer chair for too long and your ass starts getting really itchy. I have to get up and move, find something different. I truly think there’s something not right with me, I honestly get bored of things too frequently and too quickly. Tell me I’m NOT the only one who feels this way?!

This attitude has seeped its way into every aspect of my life, from where I live to what I eat. I’m a glutenous pig for chips, but I just can’t stomach any other food item repeated more that twice in a row.

This element of ‘change’ has sprung to mind in more recent times as I think about how much change I’ve actually went through since moving to London. Change to me is like a flame to a moth, I’m attracted to it but with dangerous consequences.

Jobs, housing, hobbies, hair colour! I’ve done it all! I seriously ask myself if I’m having some sort of identity crisis, a quarter life breakdown, perhaps? But these frantic thoughts and feelings are swiftly pacified by a session of binge eating and multiple episodes of ‘Botched’. But  I guess you can only suppress your feelings for so long, sooner or later they creep back out from under the woodwork. Manifest themselves in mysterious ways. If you’ve ever found yourself getting annoyed at the checkout lady in the supermarket for not scanning through your groceries fast enough then maybe it’s actually a sign that you’re internally annoyed at yourself for something. or if you find yourself crying after impulsively ending the short life of a housefly which landed on your homemade Victoria sponge, maybe it’s time for some self-reflection.

At least this is what I’ve found in my own life, frustration in myself can wrongfully be taken out on those closest to me. One thing I get frustrated about is this sense that we have such little time on this planet and it’s as if I change what I’m doing a little too often because in some subconscious way I have massive fomo (fear of missing out). Life is short I want to try as much as I can, I guess. But is this really the best attitude to have?

There’s really no point getting worked up about time, I know that but sometimes you can’t help it. When you see people your age travelling or enjoying certain experiences you can’t help but wish you had those too, right? That’s why I think social media on the whole isn’t a good thing for people’s mental health. We are being bombarded by a plethora of photoshopped pictures, and rented out rich lifestyles. Photos and opinions are liked and disliked, all of it a facade at the end of the day.

Apologies, I feel like I’m going off on a bit of a tangent, I just wanted to share with you this element of change I’m going through currently. I wonder if I’m alone with this, or have you went through change as frequently as I?

I’ll leave this with you, the words of Greek Philosopher Heraclitus (terrible choice of name):

change is the only constant in life.”

 

 

 

 

Poem: Stress

Writing

An advantage or a hindrance?

The Goldilocks analogy, 

Too much – and you can’t handle it.

Too little – and you’re indifferent.

 

Your blood, now laced with cortisol,

Your mind is always racing,

Synapses twitch like rabbits nostrils,

Your patience is fast erasing.

 

What can you do to make it stop?

You internally ask yourself?

Yet there is nothing you can do,

No saviour, resolve or help

 

For stress is not the real enemy here,

Moreso the mind it occupies. 

Change your perspective of how stress appears.

Then perhaps you’ll have alot to realise.

Poetry: Success

Writing

The sweet scent of success,

If only it lingered just that little bit longer.

If only it tasted just that little bit stronger.

 

Is success a waiting game,

Or a game of chase?

Should I give it my all,

Or should I accept my fate?

 

Success.

The word on the tips of all of our tongues.

Yet what it actually means,

Is anyone’s guess,

So has yours ended or begun?

I Finally Did It!

Writing

If you’ve been following my quarrels and qualms in my quest to find a new humble abode here, then it may come as a surprise to both you and I that I have done the impossible and actually managed to find a place to live come September this year!

 

But before I bathe in blissful sunlight with a sigh of relief, let me remind you of the moment when I was wallowing in petty self-pity. It was the moment an estate agent tried to do me wrong! Nothing new there, you might say! It was several days ago, I had viewed a property that I’d quite liked the look of, I put in an offer literally the same day. Having heard absolutely nothing for the next two I then decided to ring up the letting agents, to which the blandest voice on the other side of the phone whispered ‘it’s been taken. But if you want you can put in an offer to the landlord.’’Ok, um …what offer did the other bidders put in’. I asked, to which he replied ‘I can’t tell you that information, just that it was higher than yours’. Well no shit Sherlock! I placed an offer higher than my original price out of pure desperation, then I hung up the phone and began sobbing in the toilets at work. Ok so maybe not sobbing but I definitely paced back and forth like a lunatic who badly needed to use the toilet but couldn’t decide which empty cubicle to use. After 5 minutes of pensive pondering I then flushed one of the loo’s randomly (and washed my hands ofcourse), and this was when I had my eureka moment. The estate agent was lying! He just said there’s been a higher offer so that I would push mine up in order for him to make  higher commission!!! 

 

This thought stuck in my mind like minty gum to the underside of a school desk, Mr Bland has tried to steal my money I internalised! I later got an email from him saying that the place was taken, that there was nothing more I could do, my offer wasn’t high enough and that was that! Not taking no for an answer, I proceeded to send him emails as a paper trail, asking for proof of the offer, one thing he did say was that this ‘higher’ offer was made on Friday, I viewed the property on Saturday so why would you show others around a property which has had an offer on it way above the original asking price? Anyway, his answers via email were more than lacklustre so I decided to take the detective measures into my own hands. Goodbye Natasha, hello Charlie! Charlie my other self, makes the odd appearance when I’m doing a bit of undercover work i.e. like when I’m sending emails to dodgy estate agents asking them if a property is still on the market! Charlie was able to get a ‘yes’ from Mr. Bland, yet Natasha somehow got a ‘no’. Conclusion – someone’s been lying! Finding this out made me even more angry but then it hit me, would I really want to have dealings with a lettings agency who lies to people like this just to line their own pockets? The short answer is ‘no’. And with that I gave up on that place I liked the look of and about a week later found, in my opinion, a place twice as good as it, for just that little bit more money. I guess the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ really does ring home in this instance.

 

Speaking of money,  because I was so desperate to get the place, I put down a holding deposit immediately to take it off the market, and now I’m broke af. 

 

Yes, I have a home, and now a new challenge arises! Survive 2 weeks in London on £30 in total! I’m not even joking this is all I have left until payday on the 24th of July. I just picture myself ending up like Voldemort baby in Harry Potter by the end of this week,nevermind the end of next. Either way, it will most certainly be the end of me! I will definitely let you know how this goes!

 

Le Moi:

4AkiO

Poem – A Little Thing Called ‘Fear’

Writing

Fear,

The lovechild of stress and caution.

An unwelcome neighbour,

Making itself at home in your delusion.

It’s intentions  – unclear.

 

It picks it’s moments,

Most uncalled for.

Like lying in your bed and hearing the front door become ajar.

Or hearing your name whispered very softly from afar.

 

Fear,

It’s a teaseful breed.

Unlike lust and greed, for it, we have no need.

Or do we?

How Do I Get Over My Fear Of Public Speaking?!

Writing

If you’re only a few months into a job and your bosses bring you into a room and ask you if you’d like to do a presentation, do you honestly think you could say ‘no’ in that moment?

 

This was my exact predicament and now I’ve landed myself right in it. I’ve a presentation to do infront of 18 year olds who are potentially considering doing law at university/college and I’m having kittens about it! ‘Oh but they’re young therefore less intimidating’ you may think, I’m not that much older than them, I’m 24! Plus teenagers can be incredibly judgmental, so they’re gonna notice the bean stain on my shirt and my one grey hair before I’ve even finished my first sentence of the presentation no doubt. 

 

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I work for a TV  broadcasting company and with this comes alot of ‘compliance’ work to ensure songwriters and artists get their fair share of royalties for the music played on the broadcasted shows. Yes, I don’t blame you if you’re yawning by now, I really am too, but this stuff is important at the end of the day, it ensures the longevity of the music business for although you’ll always have people who will make music for the sheer passion of it, you do have those who need to make a living from it which is fair enough. So I think it’s a good thing to ensure copyright is enforced on people’s creative property to prevent theft and to give the creator credit.

 

Anyway enough of me going off on a tangent, how am I gonna present this info! If I can’t even keep your attention for very long how am I expected to keep teenagers?! Did I mention that I have to do it 3 times, back to back, 30 mins each! That’s it, I’m pulling a sicky! 😦

 

Just from the taster of music copyright above you can see that it’s quite a complicated topic to talk about, and lucky for me my knowledge barely skims the surface, so I’m pretty much f*cked it’s safe to say! One thing that does happen to me if I’m put on the spot and if I’m nervous is I go blank and of course if this info is hard to digest to begin with it looks like it’s gonna be a mime act from me next Thursday!

 

Oh wish me luck! I’m off to binge eat then write one whole sentence of the powerpoint presentation before watching netflix. 

Male Suicide

Writing

‘Death of A Salesman’ by Arthur Miller

The Young Vic’s adaptation of the 1949 play was simply faultless. So well executed was the storyline that I went home overcome by an aura of melancholy, unshakeable even by watching the funniest of comedies on Netflix.

If you are unfamiliar with the play, it happens to be one of Miller’s most telling and rawest of pieces. Focusing on a working class family, in particular, the patriarchal dynamic of that of an American salesman’s.

From loss of finances to a loss of respect from his two adult sons, the man becomes broken, his internal antagony is played out publicly to the audience. From his affairs to combat his loneliness despite sharing his home with a loving wife, to his power struggles in asking his boss for a raise. All too similar is the narrative of this fictional character’s life to that of so many individuals today. This relatability made for an engaging reenactment of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play.

With the final moments of the performance crescendoing to catastrophic events leading to the fatality of the father, I asked myself the question – ‘how many men in this audience’ relate to his actions?

This led me to think back to another event I had attended at the Young Vic merely a few months prior. The event focussed on masculinity.

The event was an open Q +A style discussion among an audience on the topic of masculinity. The evening was incredibly insightful, with one question in particular demanding my attention:

“Does society’s limitations on men to open up and visibly share their emotions explain the suicide rates among men?”

In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women. This ratio is similar internationally also. The BBC reported that women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, yet it is men who use more violent methods to commit suicide meaning there is a higher chance of completion before intervention.

These statistics should not go ignored. With a society becoming more and more tolerable and understanding of topics which decades ago would have been shunned and looked down upon such as: race, religion and sexual identity. There is still an elephant in the room, which the world just seems to ignore – the stereotype of masculinity.

The outdated inaccurate views that being masculine directly equates to being macho, to hiding your emotions, that crying is a sign of weakness, that men have to be the breadwinners.

Personally as a woman I do feel like the pressures that women face are much more ‘common knowledge’ because as women is seems to be that you’re allowed to ‘talk ‘ about them more openly, and listened to more readily. But for men this is unfairly not the case even still today. Some cultures may be more progressive and ‘open’  than others but I still feel that overall, the role men feel they need to fill has a substantial impact on their mental health.

Noting some of the comments people at the event on masculinity gave below as I feel they are both honest and genuinely food for thought, raising points which I believe all of us should take onboard:

  • A man (18 – 24) – What Role Does Society Want Me To Play?

“I believe suicide rates are increasing among men because of the ‘disenfranchisement’ of the traditional male. Society nowadays wants you to be more ‘open-minded’ yet still be the ‘provider’ for the family. Men are getting more mixed signals from society today than it did before, now there is more pressure.

  • A woman (18 – 24) – Male Suicide  Female Suicide Comparison

“Women  may attempt more suicides, yet it is men who do so in a more violent manner (slitting wrists, use of firearms) and have higher rates of completion than women.”

  • A man (25 – 35) – Violence

“Violence was used as a way to vent out those emotions society wouldn’t allow me to.”

  • A Woman (25 – 35) in response to the man (25 – 35)

“Isn’t violence a tool to someone committing suicide rather than a way to vent emotions?”

With mental health starting to be gain the attention it needs, shouldn’t an extension of this mean we have a duty of care to address the potential factors leading to the mental health of all genders and sexual identities? And not to simply take a generalised approach to mental health?

Whether you are reading this from within the UK or from outside of the UK, ff you feel like you need support for your mental well-being contact your local health service. It is not a sign of weakness, being proactive is a sign of strength.

Some UK based organisation that I know of:

The Samaritans Call 116 123

Mind  call 020 8519 2122

NHS Mental Health Services

Creative Constipation: Writing About Writer’s Block

Writing

Tell me I’m not the only one who suffers from creative constipation too?! For the whole of day today I’ve been struggling to write a word nevermind a sentence on my blog. Regardless of how hard I try and focus on what I want to write about, my mind keeps wandering off to the most random of places. Like ‘what’s that under my nail? Dirt, food or a hybrid of both (:( )? Or ‘look how sunny it is outside, why am I in here writing (or atleast trying to) about food under my nails like an absolute saddo?’ Yes, these are the kinds of thoughts which gallop through my mind on a daily basis. And with that I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to read any of my posts again.

 

But if you did, then you may on a fortunate yet infrequent occasion get  a rare glimpse into posts such as: ‘Veganism – Cult or Culture’s Best Move Yet, what is masculinity really and is being a sugar baby really that bad?’ Yes, all in the works, all saved for a rainy day when my mind doesn’t want to embark on a  journey into unchartered territory for an abnormally long period of time.

 

With writing resistance rife today, I decided to have a browse on a range of things online, notably tips and tricks to overcome writer’s block, I stumbled across the following, are you inclined to agree with them:

 

1. Go for a walk – because the best way to get sh*t done is to take lots of little steps in the opposite direction from it. *thumbs up

This one is a good one actually, physical activity is beneficial for bursting out of a rut and resetting the brain.

2. Make a routine – write at the same time each day/week, as creatures of habit this one could work. Yet noting we are also creatures of procrastination! Wait! I will not allow myself to be negative! I must be the kind of person who sees the silver lining even in a mushroom cloud!

3. Write with others – (The Guardian recommended this one) because there’s nothing better than not only letting yourself down but letting the whole team down as they cross their t’s and dot their i’s on their final drafts of the team written novel – ‘My Chamber of Secrets’, all while you’re scrambling to think of a name for your main protagonist. Thanks for this one!

4. Write absolute sh*te – otherwise known as ‘freewriting’ this is where you spend time spinning sh*t on a page in hope that it gets your creative juices flowing. I already write nonsense most of the time, why do I need a free writing session? Well, perhaps there is some merit in the madness as it turns out making a habit of  picking a prompt and writing about it under a time constraint does have its benefits. Deemed to be emotionally cleansing,  it declutters the mind and calms the emotions. It’s easy to get stressed out I’m sure if you’re writing to deadlines for an article submission or novel, so this method may actually work. It can also help you naturally find your own writing rhythm and voice. Also the fact that you do the exercise under time constraints means that you train yourself to be a better time manager which can not only help you in writing but in other areas of life also.

 

Well, hopefully one of the above sets you on your merry way of making the New York Times Bestseller list this year. Me, on the other hand? I think I need a few more attempts at randomly writing about mushrooms for 15 minutes straight before I give the bestseller list a go!

 

Peanuts To A Monkey

Writing

They say religion is used to control the masses when really the truth is that it’s money.

We give value to pieces of paper and metal, to invisible numbers forever changing in our online accounts. As humans, as a society, we have given value to something which if you really think about it is valueless. You might as well pick up a leaf next and start paying your taxes with it.

Money – evolved as a means of bartering and trading now as a status of power and segregation of class by wealth. I wonder to myself, what would the world be like if we didn’t have money? Not just you or I, but all of us. With no monetary value placed on materialistic items would capitalistic attitudes and habits of consumerism simply dissipate? Would we instead put value into the relationships we form, into the experiences we have? Would we see people for who they are, not what they have? Or is this Utopian dream merely deemed a damnation, a falsehood which would never truly grow wings?

It saddens me that society decides the value of a person not by their own morals or merits, but  by the numbers in their bank account. I ask myself where did this all start, how did it all begin? And for this we must look at the psychology behind what it means to place value on something.

The psychology behind value – post up tomorrow.

Stress: The Real SERIAL Killer

Writing

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.

 

The link between mind and body is far deeper than we may have realised. You only have to listen to Ted’s Radio Hour episode entitled ‘Hardwired’ to come to the stark realisation that stress and how we respond to it plays profounding roles on the biology of our bodies, right down to the cellular level. From changing the number of white blood cells  (immunity) in the bloodstream to affecting important DNA systems, the onset of stress can be deemed beneficial in short bouts but staggeringly damaging if prolonged.

 

“People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.” — Epictetus

 

I write about stress today as I recline on my couch with a cup of tea in my hand, I’m overcome with the sensation of a pain in my lower stomach I soon come to realise is the release of tension I’d been carrying around all day. My shoulders lower, my jaw relaxes. My body deals with stress by tensing up, perhaps yours does too. I doubt anyone enjoys these sensations despite people saying they flirt with fear for the ’kick’. Perhaps they do momentarily but I doubt they want that affair to become full-blown mariage! As my body begins to relax, my mind starts to wonder – why am I so stressed, what effect is this having on me?

 

The Cause

Stress can enter the arena of our lives from a range of areas. From both internal and external sources, be it our own thoughts, the relationships we have with others, and our work environment to name but a few.

With stress mounting from various locations, it begs the question, who’s duty is it to alleviate the stress? Society? Your loved ones? Yourself?

Not pointing fingers but to not tip toe around the point of how stress-inducing the workplace can be. With the study conducted by Mind, the mental health charity, showing that 1 in 3 of us find worklife either quite or very stressful, that workplace stress has lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts. We therefore can’t shy away from the problems with worklife structure.

As much as stress comes down to our own perception of it, our internal coping mechanism, I so too believe that certain (external) facilitators in reducing the levels of stress experienced in our environment should be implemented. Specifically in that of the workplace. Do you think the same?

Another reason I wanted to write this post was to share with you the benefits I felt when my workplace did just that. I work for a TV broadcasting company and to my surprise they arranged for a handful of fortunate individuals to gain a  dose of ‘puppy cuddling’ (paws for life). Chosen by signing up on a first come first serve basis I was so pleased when informed that I’d gotten a place. Losing 30 mins of my time from work meant the company and I both actually benefited. I went back to my desk with a buzz and was alot more productive for the remainder of the day.

 

As you can see below:

 

 

What does your workplace do to reduce stress levels in your life?

And the even bigger question – what do you do personally to reduce the stress in your life?

 

bed cute dog female why am I so tired?

Why Do I Feel So Exhausted?

Writing

At the ripe old age of 23, it’s safe to say that fatigue should be a common occurrence, right? Wrong! Then why is it the norm for me to walk around like a zombie and  to fight to keep my eyes open by noon? Lots of us feel tired alot of the time but we’re no marathon runners so what’s the reason behind it?

Well, according to the NHS, psychological causes of tiredness are much more common than physical causes. Examples of which are stress, trauma, depression and anxiety.

How we can help to potentially relieve these:

Stress

  • Exercise – this sounds almost counter intuitive in trying to alleviate the feeling of tiredness. But it is a proven theory that exercise does indeed help lower stress levels in the body.
  • Sleep – another obvious one considering we are talking about tiredness! But studies have shown less sleep = more irritability which as a result increases the chances of a more stressful situation arising for you.

Trauma

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – an interactive psychotherapy technique , the therapist asks the patient to relive the traumatic experience while directing their eye movements. The validity of this therapy is still undergoing testing.
  • Support Groups – It may be difficult for people who have not experienced a traumatic event to truly understand how someone who has feels. This is where support groups offer a chance for people to get things off their chest and find emotional support in sharing the fact that they have all gone through a traumatic experience and thus can learn from each other,
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this treatment aims to change how you think and act. It is a practical form of therapy, Read more about it here.

Depression

  • Exercise – according to the NHS, exercise can lower your risk of depression by 30%. Releasing endorphins and improving overall body confidence as the body becomes fitter.
  • Keep Social – when you’re feeling low, it’s easy to want to lock yourself in your room. This is exactly what you don’t want to do, instead going out with friends or family will keep moods from dropping and helps build relationships so that you can have someone to talk to if you’re feeling down at times.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – as mentioned above, it can be used as a treatment for a range of needs.

Anxiety

  • Breathing Exercises – anxiety can lead to a build up of tension and shortness of breath which can result in panic attacks. Trying to control our breathing (abdominal vs chest) is a common way to reduce tension and maintain control when we feel anxious. See here.
  • Yoga and posture – Harvard findings here

**Wikihow has some good tips here.

Ofcourse exhaustion could just be down to physical demands, be it from your job, your exercise regime or the burden of life (bit deep)! These are obvious things that make you tired but I think it’s important for us all to take time to reflect on our own mental well-being, for if looked after properly, I’m pretty sure all of our lives would be vastly improved beyond simply alleviating the feeling of tiredness.

ASMR Youtube phenomenon close up photography of woman wearing blue collared shirt

ASMR – Does It Work On You?

Writing

Sometimes I have out-of-body body moments and starkly  realise that I’ve just been entranced by some sorcerer on YouTube swishing saliva about in her mouth, repeating the word ‘stipple’ about a million times and making weird butterfly motions with her fingers. Please help me!

Is anyone else grossly engrossed by this phenomenon?

Some of my favourite videos include:

 

Why do we like ASMR so much?

‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’ or as The Guardian so eloquently puts it, these ‘head orgasms’ are a result of our senses being stimulated, specifically by an external source known as a ‘trigger’ which creates a tingling-like sensation normally starting at the scalp and evolving down the spine.

The human reaction to the stimuli varies from person to person, with some people not even reacting to the triggers at all (poor people). Science is yet to quite understand why this characteristic has came to be, what purpose does it serve?

Whether we know this answer scientifically, I myself find it useful in combating stress, others have reported the beneficial effects ASMR also, including  lowering levels of depression and increasing relaxation. So surely it serves some purpose, and morseo, a positive one.

Some popular triggers include:

  • Mouth smacking
  • Whispering
  • Nail Tapping
  • Crinkling

Why doesn’t ASMR work on everyone?

It may be that different people have different thresholds to biological stimuli, as The List states. Going further it may infact BE on a physiological scale. With the focus being on how endorphins are produced in each of our bodies. It may be that people who produce endorphins more easily or have sensitive endorphin receptors  will react to an ASMR stimulus more easily than someone with a lower or slower endorphin rate of release.

Who knows, maybe it’s just one of these quirks of nature? Let’s see what science says  in the coming years. As something tells me ASMR is staying around long enough to have a few lab tests ran on it!

 

**I don’t own any copyright to the videos**

 

 

Poem – Money

Writing

Money,

It slips through my fingers,

Like slithers of bottle-green seaweed submitting to gravity.

 

I chase it every day,

But yet I still feel drowned at its mercy.

I am submerged.

Will anyone take mercy?

 

Celebrities live a life of luxury,

Yet still, some show signs of misery.

If more money is all of our end goals,

Then how can we avoid this unpleasant possibility?

 

It’s a lie to say that money isn’t necessary,

It’s a lie to say we don’t want it.

Are we all doomed to live this rat race intensively?

Or is a mouse trap the only way round it?